Biden Shaping U.S. Europe Policy

Perhaps more than anyone else, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is shaping Washington's Europe policy. As a result of his foreign-affairs work in the Senate, Biden has enormous credibility in Europe, and he has made four trips there this year--more than the president or the secretary of state. It was Biden who announced that America wanted to press the "reset button" with Moscow, reaffirmed Kosovo's independence, and helped ease tensions with Serbia. He also delivered blunt messages in Ukraine and Georgia on the need for political reform, while reassuring those nations that the reset policy would not come at their expense. Damon Wilson, a National Security Council official under George W. Bush, says that Barack Obama's three Europe trips were largely focused on global issues. Biden, by contrast, has "tackled the toughest issue on the continent: how to advance a Europe whole and free that includes the Balkans and Europe's east." Even Biden's comment that Russia's "withering economy" may force it to make concessions to the West, derided in foreign-policy circles as impolitic, shows that he's sending the most direct signals now on U.S.-Europe relations.