Displaying items by tag: Joe Biden

Thursday, 03 March 2022 21:25

USA: Biden’s State of the Union speech

Joe Biden's first formal State of the Union speech came as only 40.6% of Americans are happy with his job performance. After describing his foreign policies on the invasion of Ukraine, Mr Biden confronted a host of domestic troubles dogging his presidency, from the enduring pandemic to soaring consumer prices, a wave of violent crime, and inflation hitting a 40-year high even though the jobless rate has sunk to 4%. The president sought to empathise with hard-pressed working families, saying ‘I get it.’ He promised a plan for ‘building a better America’ by boosting domestic production of cars and semiconductors, as well as rebuilding the nation’s roads and bridges. Republican response to the speech portrayed a presidency reflecting the late '70s ‘when runaway inflation hammered families, a violent crime wave crushed cities, and the Soviet army was trying to redraw the world map’.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 17 February 2022 21:04

USA: concern for Biden’s mental health

Republicans have questioned Biden's cognitive abilities since before he was elected in 2020. Biden's doctor said, after November’s physical, that he was healthy, vigorous and fit for office. Republican senator Roger Marshall, also a physician, expressed interest in having the president take an annual cognitive test, much like he has an annual physical examination - citing concern for his health. Marshall said he feels there has been a ‘deterioration’ in Biden's ‘mental capacity’ over the past year: ‘I think we're all very concerned about his health, and it is a national security issue.’ On 15 February, 38 Republicans sent a letter to the president requesting he take a cognitive test. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Marshall's comments or the letter. Biden is 79, the oldest person ever to be elected president.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 03 February 2022 20:24

USA: troops deployed to NATO allies

3,000 additional American troops will aid in defending NATO allies in Eastern Europe. A recent satellite image shows Russia has an entire new housing area, established in the past ten days, next to the existing military vehicles in Russia-occupied Crimea. Russia now has 130,000 troops encircling the Ukrainian border, increasing the threat to the region’s stability. The USA said its moves are designed to respond to the current security environment. Moreover, its troops are not going to fight in Ukr; they are there to ensure the robust defence of NATO allies. A thousand US soldiers will reposition from Germany to Romania in the coming days, adding to the 900 currently there. 2,000 additional troops are being moved from the USA to Europe. The 82nd Airborne Division is deploying an infantry brigade combat team and key enablers to Poland. 8,500 US troops remain ready to move if called.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 27 January 2022 20:13

USA / Russia / Ukraine: tensions and threats

Joe Biden said there would be ‘enormous consequences’ globally if Russia invaded Ukraine and threatened personal sanctions on Putin if he does. His comments came as other Western leaders warned Russia would pay a heavy price for an invasion. The UK said it had ruled nothing out, including sanctions on people, banks and businesses. It wants all its allies to do the same, as collective action would deter Russia. Biden also said Europe must match America’s sweeping sanctions. However, Europe imports 45% of its gas from Russia, and Putin has used gas for geopolitical leverage before. Also, Ukraine is not a NATO member, so NATO has no obligation to defend it. Putin objects to Ukraine joining NATO as he wants to have more power there. Invasion is hard to imagine, but so is the prospect of Putin backing off without major concessions from NATO. Recently Russian, Ukrainian, German and French diplomats gathered for talks.

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Thursday, 28 October 2021 21:28

Israel: a nail in the peace coffin

Joe Biden plans to open a consulate in Jerusalem. This amounts to an actual US embassy to the Palestinians on Israeli territory. Many believe its true purpose is to undermine Israeli sovereignty in its own capital city. It will also jeopardise future prospects for peace between Israel and Palestinian Arabs. As well as betraying Israel, Biden's diplomatic signalling also appeases his hard-left supporters and is a betrayal of the Palestinian people. They have suffered too long and too hard under the hostility of their leadership, which has consistently refused to entertain all proposals for peace with Israel that could lead to the establishment of their own state. Successive Palestinian leaders have been encouraged in their inflexibility by the US and Europe, who have for decades extracted concession after concession from Israel while Palestinians make none. The intended consulate in Israel's capital will encourage greater support for Hamas, currently ruling Gaza.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 30 September 2021 21:46

USA: disillusionment with Joe Biden

Numerous factors are pointing to a presidential meltdown. At home, Biden’s handling of the pandemic attracted growing criticism during a summer Covid surge. There has been continuing mistreatment of Mexico border migrants, which he promised to end. A Biden-backed police reform bill, prompted by George Floyd’s death, was rejected in Congress. His reputation for foreign policy competence was shattered by the Afghan withdrawal and deaths of Americans and Afghans. The row with France over a US-UK-Australia defence pact deepened disillusion over his commitment to multilateralism. While international perceptions matter, it is Americans who will make or break this presidency. Before next year’s midterm elections, Mr Biden wishes to enact an extraordinarily ambitious legislative agenda including a $3.5tn social spending plan and a $1.1tn infrastructure package. A new survey gives Donald Trump a 48% favourability rating to Biden’s 46%.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 05 August 2021 21:05

USA: international religious freedom roles

On 30 July President Joe Biden announced his intention to create four key international religious freedom roles in his administration. Rashad Hussain will become ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom; he previously served in the Obama administration countering anti-Semitism and protecting religious minorities. Khizr Khan and Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum will be commissioners on international religious freedom. Both have a background in human rights advocacy. Biden’s nominee for special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism is Deborah Lipstadt, who also has a strong background in advocacy against persecution and founded the Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University.

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As US troops withdraw and Taliban fighters gain ground, President Biden said, ‘The partnership between Afghanistan and the USA will be sustained. Our troops are leaving, but our support for Afghanistan is not ending.’ The bulk of the 4,000 US soldiers now in Afghanistan will be moved out in the next two weeks, and the US expects to remove American and coalition commanders by 4 July. Biden praised Afghans for their ‘difficult jobs’ and efforts to bring unity among the leaders, saying, ‘The Afghans are going to have to decide their future, what they want. And it won’t be for a lack of us providing help.’ The Taliban said they have the right to react if US troops stay in Afghanistan. Meanwhile the government is arming local volunteers and suggests that the war-torn country now stands on the precipice of civil war.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 24 June 2021 22:36

USA: spike in violent crime

President Joe Biden is launching a renewed effort to tackle crime in the US, as a series of major cities experience spikes in violent offences. Police departments define violent crime in slightly different ways, but the data usually includes murder, robbery, assault and rape. There were 25% more murders recorded in 2020 than the previous year. Major US cities have tended to follow the national trend in becoming safer since the 1990s, but some have recently seen a sharp rise in murders. Spikes in the biggest cities are a considerable concern to Biden's administration, with Chicago having the worst records for murders and a continuing upward trend in 2021. A rise in the number of shootings in many major cities runs parallel with the president's attempts to strengthen firearm regulations to combat gun violence. The administration hopes strong action now can stem the violence and prevent murders increasing further this summer.

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Thursday, 17 June 2021 21:25

USA / Russia: relations warming

Before talking in Geneva relations between the USA and Russia were at rock bottom. After talking, both presidents praised their talks but have made little concrete progress at the first such meeting since 2018. Disagreements were stated, said Joe Biden, but not in a hyperbolic way, and he said Russia did not want a new cold war. Vladimir Putin said Mr Biden was an experienced statesman and the two ‘spoke the same language’. They agreed to begin a dialogue on nuclear arms control and said they would return ambassadors to each other's capitals. However, there was little sign of agreement on cyber-security, Ukraine, or the fate of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence in a penal colony. Mr Biden said there would be ‘devastating consequences’ for Russia if Navalny died in prison. Mr Putin hinted at a possible deal on exchanging prisoners, saying he believed compromises could be found.

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