It is always dangerous to judge the premature outcome of the summit between the United States and Russia. But the meetings in Geneva between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are close enough to be a success for both sides, and both Biden and Putin had their speeches to the press. Neither side attempted to please or humiliate the other, which is normal when adults and professionals practice diplomacy. Each president returned home to declare that he did not budge on any issues of substance—because both sides, it seemed, chose not to attempt to resolve any of these issues at this first meeting on neutral ground. A major advance for American interests and the United States’ position in the world. After four years in which Donald Trump was openly hostile to America’s NATO allies and timidly fearful of Vladimir Putin (and personally), it was a relief that Biden returned to the role every American president should play: leader of a Democratic coalition Biden went to Geneva prepared, as One might expect from a president with a decades-old foreign policy resume. He began his journey not by alienating our allies, but by visiting and conferring with them, a reminder to Moscow that the President of the United States represents a gigantic alliance of nearly a billion people and that the Kremlin faces a fragile set of unsavory clients. Unreliable partners and unwilling subjects. Biden has had very few unprotected moments of his trademark, although his assertion that “all foreign policy is an extension of personal relationships” was, if not a gaffe, the kind of popular wisdom that Biden knows is not true. But Biden was relaxed and in control, undoubtedly baffling his critics at home who tried to portray him as too corrupted to be a big match for Putin, in fact, Putin himself seemed comfortable facing Biden at the top. The two presidents are opponents, but Putin knows Biden, and seems to consider him a more serious man – as he certainly sees himself – then either Trump or Barack Obama, whom he personally hated. While Putin may have enjoyed Trump’s apparent fearlessness, the stupidity and unpredictability of an American president is dangerous, and Russians may take comfort in the knowledge that Americans are once again able to have normal conversations about important matters. Fewer expectations about whether Russian-American relations will improve any time soon. But there were good signs. During the Cold War, peaks were judged by relatively clear metrics, such as progress in arms control, resolution of regional disputes, and trade agreements. The biggest measure of all – and still the most important – has been maintaining the nuclear peace between two of the world’s most heavily armed nations, and at least in that respect Biden and Putin have taken positive steps. Whatever Putin’s other vices may be, he has no interest in a nuclear exchange, incidental or otherwise, with the United States, and both reaffirmed the joint pledge, initially made by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in the old world in the late 1980s, that a nuclear program and no It must never be fought, and both Biden and Putin have at least agreed to consider steps to enhance strategic stability, a goal in which the Russians have a clear interest. The two sides agreed to resume the normal exchange of ambassadors, which remains vitally important for maintaining peace, even in an era of immediate personal contacts. No humiliation this time: Joe Biden did not shame America in Geneva as Trump did in Helsinki. It seems strange to say that, but reaffirming the importance of nuclear war might be the easy part of the Cold War summit. Issues like cybersecurity are more difficult, in part because the cunning Russian president doesn’t feel comfortable lying when it comes to the mischief of his regime in cyberspace. Interestingly enough, Biden appears intent on creating something like a Cold War-era deterrent structure around cyber issues, ruling certain targets out of bounds and declaring the American right to inflict massive damage in return if those targets are attacked. See”—or take Reagan’s famous evocation of the Russian phrase, “Trust but verify”—might be better evidence than optimism. But Biden, at least, has marked American priorities. Rather than openly betraying U.S. intelligence agencies, as Trump did at the Helsinki summit Shameful of 2018, Biden warned Putin that those agencies could be fearful adversaries if the Russians chose to go down the path of more chaos Remind Putin – and the world – of what was really at stake in Geneva Democracies face an ad hoc attack from authoritarian regimes in Russia, China, Iran and other nations Other. For a long time, the Democratic Alliance remained leaderless. Worse, the most powerful country among them was led by a man who was himself an outspoken anti-democracy, and that time is over. Biden told Putin that “no president of the United States can maintain his confidence With the American people if he doesn’t speak up for our democratic values,” and that human rights “will always be on the table.” MAN: Biden needs to be tough with Putin and impose a higher cost on Russia, and that shows how far America has fallen over the four years. past, Where Biden had to reaffirm one of the central responsibilities of the leader of the United States and NATO, but he could not be made clearer when he indicated that he had raised Putin’s treatment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Biden said, “How can I be president of the United States of America, and not speak out against human rights abuse?” How really. There is much work to be done to repair the damage done to American foreign policy, but whatever may come from this first meeting in Geneva, the return of moral clarity about America’s role in the world is something Americans and their allies celebrate. Tom Nichols (RadioFreeTom), USA TODAY Board of Contributors and Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College, is the author of Our Worst Enemy: The Insider Attack on Modern Democracy. August. The opinions expressed here are only his.