President Joe Biden spent his first trip overseas highlighting a sharp break from his disruptive predecessor, selling that the United States was once more a reliable ally with a steady hand at the wheel. European allies welcomed the pitch — and even a longtime foe acknowledged it.
But while Biden returned Wednesday night to Washington after a week across the Atlantic that was a mix of messaging and deliverables, questions remained as to whether those allies would trust that Biden truly represents a long-lasting reset or whether Russia’s Vladimir Putin would curb his nation’s misbehaviors.
Biden’s mantra, which he uttered in Geneva and Brussels and on the craggy coast of Cornwall, England, was that “America was back.” It was Putin, of all people, on the trip’s final moments, who may have best defined Biden’s initial voyage overseas.
“President Biden is an experienced statesman,” Putin told reporters. “He is very different from President Trump.”
But the summit with Putin in Geneva, which shadowed the entire trip and brought it to its close, also underscored the fragility of Biden’s declarations that the global order had returned.