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Thu Jan 21, 2021, 11:43 AM

International sighs of relief as Biden settles into White House


International sighs of relief as Biden settles into White House
There were international sighs of relief when Trump lost in the fall. Those sighs were a little louder yesterday as Joe Biden took the oath of office.
Jan. 21, 2021, 9:20 AM EST
By Steve Benen


Those sighs of relief were a little louder yesterday.

With almost palpable relief, longstanding American allies welcomed Joe Biden as he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday. Some signaled hopes for a radical change in the White House, particularly in its approach to climate change and the coronavirus pandemic. And a few took parting shots at Donald Trump and his nationalist, "America first" agenda. The European Union's top politician, Ursula von der Leyen, said that "after four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House."

Spain's prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, was more candid than most, declaring, "Five years ago, we thought Trump was a bad joke, but five years later we realized he jeopardized nothing less than the world's most powerful democracy."

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier acknowledged the extent to which he was "greatly relieved," but added a note of caution.

"Despite all the joy we feel today, we must not forget that even the most powerful democracy in the world has been seduced by populism," the German official said. "We must work resolutely to counter polarization, protect and strengthen the public square in our democracies, and shape our policies on the basis of reason and facts."


Biden took several worthwhile steps yesterday to re-engage the world, including embracing the Paris climate accords, ending Trump's Muslim ban, and renewing ties with the World Health Organization.

It was a heartening foundation upon which to build.

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