Declaring that "America is back," President Joe Biden has said that his administration will "repair" the country's strained relations with its allies during the previous Trump administration and engage with the world once again.
Declaring that “America is back,” President Joe Biden has said that his administration will “repair” the country’s strained relations with its allies during the previous Trump administration and engage with the world once again. In his first major foreign policy address as president, Biden said America cannot afford to be absent any longer on the world stage. “We will compete from a position of strength by building back better at home, working with our allies and partners, renewing our international institutions and reclaiming our credibility and moral authority, much of which has been lost,” Biden said on Thursday as he visited the State Department for the first time after being sworn in as the 46th US President on January 20.
“We cannot do it alone,” Biden said, putting particular emphasis on the need to rebuild the country’s moral standing after four years under his predecessor Donald Trump, who often rebuffed America’s traditional alliances. “I want the world to hear today: America is back. America is back. Diplomacy is back at the centre of our foreign policy,” Biden, who was accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, said. “We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again, not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s. American leadership must meet this new moment of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing ambitions of China to rival the United States and the determination of Russia to damage and disrupt our democracy,” Biden said.
The US, he said, must meet the new moment accelerating global challenges — from the pandemic to the climate crisis to nuclear proliferation — challenging the will only to be solved by nations working together and in common. “We must start with diplomacy rooted in America’s most cherished democratic values: defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law and treating every person with dignity. That is the grounding wire of our global power. That is our inexhaustible source of strength. That is America’s abiding advantage,” he said.
Though many of these values have come under intense pressure in recent years, even pushed to the brink in the last few weeks, the American people are going to emerge from this moment stronger, more determined and better equipped to unite the world in fighting to defend democracy, because they have fought for it themselves, Biden said. In his address to the employees of the State Department, the president said he has come to the building to reassure them that his administration is going to empower them to do their jobs, not target or politicise them.
“We are going to rebuild our alliances. We are going to re-engage with the world and take on the enormous challenge we face dealing with a pandemic, dealing with global warming and again, standing up for democracy and human rights,” he said. Biden said his administration will work with partners to support restoration of democracy and the rule of law, and impose consequences on those responsible. “Over the past two weeks, I have spoken with the leaders of many of our closest friends — Canada, Mexico, the UK, Germany, France, NATO, Japan, South Korea, Australia — to begin reforming the habits of cooperation and rebuilding the muscle of democratic alliances that have atrophied over the past few years of neglect and, I would argue, abuse,” he said.
America’s alliances, he asserted are its greatest asset and leading with diplomacy means standing shoulder-to-shoulder with US allies and key partners once again. “By leading with diplomacy, we must also mean engaging our adversaries and our competitors diplomatically, where it is in our interest, and advance the security of the American people,” he said. On day one of his presidency, Biden said, he signed the paperwork to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change. “We are taking steps led by the example of integrating climate objectives across all of our diplomacy and raise the ambition of our climate targets. That way, we can challenge other nations, other major emitters, up the ante on their own commitments,” he said, adding that he will be hosting a climate leaders’ summit to address the climate crisis on Earth Day this year.
America must lead in the face of this existential threat. And just as with the pandemic, it requires global cooperation. “We have also re-engaged with the World Health Organization. That way, we can build better global preparedness to counter COVID-19, as well as detect and prevent future pandemics, because there will be more,” he said.
Biden said he would keep US troops in Germany, which Trump had suggested pulling out, and increase the number of refugees the country would accept from the world’s trouble spots to 125,000 annually, a figure his predecessor had cut to 18,000.
“We are also stepping up our diplomacy to end the war in Yemen — a war which has created a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe. I have asked my Middle East team to ensure our support for the United Nations-led initiative to impose a ceasefire, open humanitarian channels and restore long-dormant peace talks,” Biden said. Biden said he was ending US support for the Saudi-led military offensive in Yemen, calling it a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe.” Instead, he said, the US hopes to end the five-year conflict in Yemen through diplomacy.