Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets in October 2016 with Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States of America. (Photo: Government of Canada)

Neigh­bors, friends and recent­ly alien­at­ed allies of the Unit­ed States react­ed with bare­ly con­cealed relief to Joe Biden’s pres­i­den­tial win, hope for coop­er­a­tion on cli­mate change and pan­dem­ic recov­ery, plus shout-outs to Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Kamala Harris.

Don­ald Trump went with­out men­tion, even by such Trump allies as India’s Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and Britain’s PM Boris Johnson.

“Wel­come back Amer­i­ca!,” said Paris May­or Anne Hidal­go.

British Columbia’s Pre­mier John Hor­gan became a hawk on bor­der clos­ing after wit­ness­ing the Trump Administration’s ini­tial fum­bling of COVID-19 response.

On Sat­ur­day, he extend­ed con­grat­u­la­tions with a let’s‑get-going empha­sis to both Biden and Har­ris.

“The Unit­ed States is a close friend and part­ner of British Colum­bia and we have tak­en impor­tant steps togeth­er with our neigh­bor to fight cli­mate change, grow the inno­va­tion econ­o­my and build a more sus­tain­able future,” said Horgan.

Canada’s Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau ini­tial­ly tried to flat­ter Trump, only to set off the Trump ego with bare­ly crit­i­cal remarks at a press con­fer­ence fol­low­ing a trade sum­mit in Cana­da. The incum­bent fired off insults from Air Force One.

Hence, on Sat­ur­day, Trudeau was con­grat­u­lat­ing Biden and Har­ris and effus­ing over “shared geog­ra­phy, com­mon inter­ests, deep per­son­al con­nec­tions and strong eco­nom­ic ties.”

The relief could be sensed in a Trudeau tweet: “Our two coun­tries are close friends, part­ners and allies. We share a rela­tion­ship that’s unique on the world stage. I’m real­ly look­ing for­ward to work­ing togeth­er to build­ing on that with you.”

Modi staged a ral­ly for Trump when No. 45 vis­it­ed India, and trav­eled to Texas for an event designed to boost Trump’s appeal to Indi­an Americans.

That was then. On Sat­ur­day, Modi showed a pic­ture of him­self with Biden and con­grat­u­lat­ed the Pres­i­dent-elect on “your spec­tac­u­lar victory.”

He had praise for Kamala Har­ris, the first woman Veep, and first Vice Pres­i­dent with South Asian ances­try. “Hearti­est con­grat­u­la­tions Kamala Har­ris,” tweet­ed Modi. “Your suc­cess is path­break­ing, and a mat­ter of immense pride not just for your chit­tis, but also for all Indi­an Amer­i­cans. I am con­fi­dent that the vibrant India-US ties will get even stronger with your sup­port and leadership.”

The UK’s Boris John­son, allied with Trump on Brex­it, tweet­ed: “Con­grat­u­la­tions to Joe Biden on his elec­tion as Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States and to Kamala Har­ris on her his­toric achieve­ment. The Unit­ed States is our most impor­tant ally and I look for­ward to work­ing loose­ly togeth­er on our shared pri­or­i­ties, from cli­mate change to trade and security.”

Pres­i­dent Emmanuel Macron of France tried to get on with Trump, invit­ing the 45th Pres­i­dent to cel­e­brate Bastille Day in Paris and wit­ness the Republic’s annu­al mil­i­tary parade. Trump returned home and want­ed to stage his own grand parade down Penn­syl­va­nia Avenue.

“The Amer­i­cans have cho­sen their Pres­i­dent,” Macron said Sat­ur­day. “Con­grat­u­la­tions Joe Biden and Kamala Har­ris. We have a lot to do to over­come today’s chal­lenges. Let’s work together.”

You can sense his relief.

NATO’s Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al Jens Stoltenberg was also very hap­py.

“I warm­ly wel­come the elec­tion of Joe Biden as the next Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States,” the Alliance’s chief­tain said in a state­ment. “I know Mr. Biden as a strong sup­port­er of NATO and the transat­lantic relationship.”

“A strong NATO is good for North Amer­i­ca and good for Europe,” the Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al observed. “Togeth­er, NATO Allies rep­re­sent almost one bil­lion peo­ple, half of the world’s eco­nom­ic might and half of the world’s mil­i­tary might.”

“We need this col­lec­tive strength to deal with the many chal­lenges we face, includ­ing a more assertive Rus­sia, inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ism, cyber and mis­sile threats, and a shift in the glob­al bal­ance of pow­er with the rise of Chi­na. We can only be secure and suc­cess­ful if we face these chal­lenges together.”

The gov­ern­ment of Ger­many, led by Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel, is per­haps the most eager of all of Amer­i­ca’s allies to mend bro­ken fences.

“I sin­cere­ly wish him the best of luck and every suc­cess and I would also like to con­grat­u­late Kamala Har­ris, the first female vice pres­i­dent-elect in the his­to­ry of your coun­try,” Merkel said in a state­ment. “I look for­ward to work­ing with Pres­i­dent Biden. Our trans-Atlantic friend­ship is indis­pens­able if we are to deal with the major chal­lenges of our time.”

Ger­many’s For­eign Min­is­ter announced that Merkel’s gov­ern­ment will offer “con­crete pro­pos­als” to Biden’s team for address­ing Chi­na’s behav­ior, the cli­mate cri­sis, and the nov­el coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic through a transat­lantic partnership.

The new for­eign min­is­ter of New Zealand, Nana­ia Mahuta, first Maori to hold the post, pref­aced her offi­cial state­ment with a smi­ley face.

She not­ed a 2016 Biden vis­it to New Zealand, and then cel­e­brat­ed Kamala Har­ris, say­ing the Veep-elect will bring “some very unique attrib­ut­es to their lead­er­ship” as the first woman of col­or in the job.

Leav­ing unsaid the unco­op­er­a­tive atti­tude of Trump as lead­ers’ meet­ings, New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter Jacin­da Ardern added: “There are many chal­lenges in front of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty right now, the mes­sage of uni­ty from Joe Biden posi­tions us well to take these chal­lenges together.”

The mes­sage from across the Tas­man Sea was the same.

“Aus­tralia wish­es you every suc­cess in office,” said Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son to Biden and Har­ris. “The Aus­tralia-Unit­ed States Alliance is deep and endur­ing, and built on shared val­ues. I look for­ward to work­ing with you close­ly as we face the world’s many chal­lenges together.”

The feel­ing is that with lift­ing of the Trump bur­den, the world can coop­er­ate to face oth­er bur­dens. Can lead­ers make up for time lost?

About the author

Joel Connelly is a Northwest Progressive Institute contributor who has reported on multiple presidential campaigns and from many national political conventions. During his career at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he interviewed Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush. He has covered Canada from Trudeau to Trudeau, written about the fiscal meltdown of the nuclear energy obsessed WPPSS consortium (pronounced "Whoops") and public lands battles dating back to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Adjacent posts