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Waiting for Biden

Most international leaders have congratulated US President-elect Joe Biden, and many welcome the prospect of reviving moribund multilateralism once he takes office in January. But how can Europe and other US allies best engage with Biden's administration on key global issues, and how should America wield its declining relative power in an increasingly complex and polarized world?

In this Big Picture, Josef Joffe of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, who sits on Die Zeit’s editorial board, argues that Biden will not completely reverse America’s inward turn, which predates President Donald Trump. At a minimum, says former Spanish foreign minister Ana Palacio, convincing the US to resume its international leadership role will require the European Union in particular to demonstrate a greater willingness to share burdens.

To that end, the Brookings Institution’s Kemal Derviş and Sebastián Strauss urge EU leaders to work closely with the Biden administration on issues such as climate change, defense, and trade. Likewise, former German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel and John B. Emerson, a former US ambassador to Germany, call for renewed US-German cooperation – not least to provide an economic counterweight to China.

But Daniel Gros of the Centre for European Policy Studies argues that the Biden administration should accept China’s continued economic and technological rise, rather than engage in futile and costly attempts to hamper it. A less globally preponderant America, says Harvard’s Joseph S. Nye, Jr., will have to rediscover the importance of the multilateral organizations that Trump treated with contempt.

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