Gaza, Ukraine, border: Biden touts leadership with big plans

US President Joe Biden has made major policy changes on Gaza, Ukraine and migration (JULIEN DE ROSA)
US President Joe Biden has made major policy changes on Gaza, Ukraine and migration (JULIEN DE ROSA)

Joe Biden is looking to convince voters of his leadership credentials with a striking flurry of major announcements on Gaza, Ukraine and the Mexican border, analysts say.

In the space of just six days, the 81-year-old US president unveiled bold proposals to tackle arguably the three biggest policy challenges facing the White House ahead of November's election.

Experts say that behind the rush is both a desire to bring order to a set of crises that have bedeviled the past year of his presidency -- and to show that he is better placed to do so than his election rival, former president Donald Trump.

"Part of what you're seeing is -- there's stuff to do, so the president of the United States is doing it," Peter Loge, a media and public affairs professor at George Washington University, told AFP.

"The other part is from a campaign perspective, because everything is viewed through a campaign lens. It's not enough to do a good job, you have to be seen doing a good job."

The veteran Democrat's triple whammy began a week ago on May 30 when he partially lifted his ban on Ukraine using US-supplied weapons against targets in Russian territory.

It was a sea change for a president who has long worried that the war could trigger a nuclear conflict.

Biden believed there was no choice but to help Ukraine fight a new Russian offensive -- one that came as Moscow took advantage of a lull in US aid while Republicans blocked fresh supplies.

In an apparent coincidence, the Ukraine decision emerged on the same day as a jury found Trump guilty in his adult film star hush money case, making him the first former US president to be convicted of a criminal offense.

The very next day, Biden made the surprise announcement that Israel had offered a new peace roadmap for Gaza after nearly eight months of devastating conflict.

That too comes at a critical time. The White House is desperate for a solution to the situation in Gaza, not just because of the horror of the conflict but also because of the protests Biden has faced over his support for Israel.

- 'Sense of energy' -

Finally on Tuesday it was the issue that polls show is one of the biggest threats to Biden electorally -- the US-Mexico border.

He gave another speech at the White House announcing that he was shutting the border to asylum seekers, due to a surge in the number of people crossing illegally.

That announcement came hours before Biden flew to France for high-profile ceremonies for the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day landings, where he will stress American leadership and again contrast himself with Trump.

The White House said Biden's "sense of energy" was in response to the multiple foreign policy challenges the world faces.

"What you're seeing is the president moving out with an appropriate sense of urgency on some of the key foreign policy issues of the day," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

Yet there is also a clear sense of Biden trying to show that he can draw a line under three issues that have dogged the past year of his presidency.

Ukraine, Israel and the border have been a single, giant political headache ever since he lumped them together in one funding bill last October that Republicans spent six months blocking.

Meanwhile on a personal level, America's oldest president is seeking to prove wrong the doubters that he is too old to beat Trump.

"This is absolutely a way for Joe Biden to demonstrate that he's the president of the United States, acting decisively and clearly on important global issues -- while Donald Trump is trying to talk his way out of jail," said Loge.

His burst of activity is already being used as evidence to counter a story in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that said Biden shows "signs of slipping".

"Think about the last week, Joe Biden has come forward with three major new policies," Richard Haass, an American diplomat who heads the Council on Foreign Relations, told MSNBC.

"You may like the policies, you may not -- but this is clearly a president who is driving an agenda."