by Alan Heil
When I led VOA during a couple of years in the mid-1990s, we debated what might lie ahead on for the world and the U.S. as we deployed more than a score of correspondents around a post-Cold War planet.
Who then, or for more than two decades since, could have foreseen the challenge of a 21st century pandemic costing the lives of more than 3,117,000 world citizens, not counting so far tens of thousands of other casualties or potential victims yet to be reported.
That’s why farsighted diplomatic efforts to end COVID-19 will be central to so many lives in so many corners of our planet. In the few weeks ahead, the world’s attention will be focused on the deadly disease and measures to contain it.
Here are some events to watch in June 2021:
Overseas missions by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris
The President is heading to Europe to discuss a wide range of topics, including climate change, and co-ordination on emerging technologies. He is expected to reassure America’s European allies that Washington is resolved to work more closely than during the Trump years on these issues as well as COVID-19.
Mr. Biden also is scheduled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of his trip to Europe. He’s quoted as saying he wants to re-establish a more stable, predictable U.S. relationship with Moscow. The U.S. and Russia have extended the sole remaining nuclear arms treaty, New START, to 2026. Counter-terrorism and cyber-security are other issues on the table.
Meanwhile, Vice President Harris is heading south to Guatemala and Mexico. Her mission, in addition to a shared interest in curbing COVID, is to find ways to discourage migration to the United States from Mexico and Central American countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
The U.S. fight against Covid-19 goes global
After long delay, the U.S. has committed to contribute vaccine and supplies worth $2 billion to the vaccine alliance (GAVI) and to ship six million doses of the COVID vaccine to the Americas and seven million doses to India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Egypt, the West Bank, Gaza, Ukraine, Jordan, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines and Yemen, and to U.N. frontline workers in other countries, as well. As of June 1, more than 60 million Americans had received one or both essential anti-COVID shots and the administration has pledged to reach a goal of at least ten million more U.S. citizens by July 4th.
Biden’s trip to Europe, in his own words
In a June 6 column in the Washington Post, the President outlined goals for his first overseas mission as chief executive.
“It is a trip stacked with meetings with many of our closest democratic partners — including the Group of Seven nations, our NATO allies and the leadership of the European Union, before concluding with Vladimir Putin.
“In this moment of global uncertainty, as the world still grapples with a once-in-a-century pandemic, this trip is about realizing America’s renewed commitment to our allies and partners, and demonstrating the capacity of democracies to both meet the challenges and deter the threats of this new age.
“As new technologies reshape our world in fundamental ways, exposing vulnerabilities like ransomware attacks and creating threats such as invasive surveillance, the world’s democracies must work together to ensure that our values govern the use and development of these innovations — not the interests of autocrats.”
The President characterized this “as a defining interest of our time: can democracies come together to deliver real results for our people in a rapidly-changing world? Will the democratic alliances and institutions that shaped so much of the last century come together to deliver real results for our people in a rapidly changing world? I believe the answer is yes. And this week in Europe we have the chance to prove it.”
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More