Biden is seeking to reestablish US leadership, which has been AWOL on the pandemic and climate change. He also hopes to bolster the world’s democracies against the influence of Putin’s Russia and Xi Jinping’s China.
Biden is assured of a warm welcome — largely because he isn’t Trump. Recall that in 2019 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron were caught on camera privately mocking the previous US President. It was hardly surprising, since Trump spent his presidency attacking America’s longtime allies and buttering up its traditional geopolitical foes. Allied leaders now are not looking to agree with the US on every issue. But they do badly need strategic stability, coherence and predictability from the world’s most powerful nation.
Biden still has his work cut out for him, though. Europeans aren’t necessarily convinced by the President’s declarations that “America is back.” There are fears that Trump or a populist, nationalist leader in his image will be back behind the Oval Office desk from January 2025, ready to rip up deals like the Paris climate accord.
Political uproar within the United States will also undermine Biden’s message. As he warns that global democracy is under assault, Republican-led states back home are busily passing new laws making it harder to vote and easier to steal elections. And the world will not forget the refusal of Trump’s supporters to recognize Biden’s election victory, lies about fraud and the Capitol riot. In many ways, the US is fast becoming the kind of nation plagued by political corruption, disputed elections and fantastical propaganda that it once stood as a bulwark against.
Call off the search party
Call off the search party. We finally found something that even Republicans and liberal Democrats can agree on: China.
The difference between being secure now or a victim later’
Pay attention now, or be a victim later.
The message to America’s corporate sector by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco could hardly be more stark following a wave of cyberattacks on basic US staples, targeting water, food, gasoline, transport and health care. The ransomware hackers — who demand companies pay bounties for the release of their computer systems — are highlighting the vulnerability of America’s basic infrastructure.
The Biden administration and top lawmakers are sounding the alarm, taking steps to protect government data and cranking up pressure on Russia to rein in perpetrators who often operate from its soil. But a big part of the problem is that many of the services and critical building blocks of modern life are in the hands of private firms that have historically been loath to splash profits on network security.
Now Monaco says they have no choice. “The threat of severe ransomware attacks pose a clear and present danger to your organization, to your company, to your customers, to your shareholders, and to your long-term success,” she said. “So, pay attention now, invest resources now. Failure to do so could be the difference between being secure now or a victim later.”
In a rare coup, the FBI managed to track down the ransom payment and retrieve more than $2 million in Bitcoin that Colonial had paid out. But Blount said that despite spending an average of $40 million a year on cybersecurity, Colonial simply didn’t have the kind of defenses against ransomware that Monaco is pleading with companies to build.
It’s easy for disgruntled members of the public to lash out in France, where the bain de foule is a political tradition — leaders “bathe” in the crowd to mingle and shake hands. But public exposure in any context comes with risk. In February 2012, front-running French presidential candidate Francois Hollande was attacked onstage by a woman with a bag of flour while giving a speech in Paris.
And a double duck by then-President George W. Bush during a trip to Baghdad in 2008 became the stuff of legend, after an Iraqi journalist threw both shoes at him in protest of the US-led invasion. The journalist, Muntadhar al-Zaidi, spent nine months in prison for the offense — then used his newfound celebrity to run for office himself.