‘A Playground for Putin’ – JINSA

This week, NATO leaders will gather in Washington, D.C., for the defensive alliance’s 75th annual summit. The high-profile gathering comes at a moment of political turmoil in the United States, as President Joe Biden struggles to demonstrate his fitness to lead following a poor debate performance late last month.

The 81-year-old Biden, by his own admission, had a very “bad night” as he faced off against former President Donald Trump on the debate stage. But the perception of an enfeebled U.S. president could have consequences that go beyond the ballot box. Amid a period of global unrest, American allies fear bad actors may view the weakened Biden on display at the debate as an opening to push their own agendas.

“America was the real loser in the presidential debate,” a headline for the Iranian state-controlled Tehran Times declared following the June 27 faceoff. The Russian-run news site RT, which covers the president’s public stumbles with a laser-sharp focus, mocked Biden’s “debate disaster.” The Chinese state news agency Xinhua, meanwhile, described the debate as an “American-style reality show” indicative of the broader failure of U.S. democracy.

Yet Biden has struck a defiant tone despite the jeers, insisting he’s up for a taxing presidential campaign and, more importantly, another four years in the world’s most powerful office. In a prime-time interview with ABC News on Friday, the president said that only the “Lord Almighty” could get him to bow out of the race. Biden also used the opportunity to tout his foreign policy record: a brewing peace plan in the Middle East, alliance-building in the Indo-Pacific, and a strengthened NATO. But going into this week’s summit, which will span from Tuesday to Thursday, it’s unclear if U.S. allies remain confident in the leadership on display in Washington.