President Biden pressed the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday to work together on challenges like COVID-19, climate change, and human rights abuses, even as U.S. allies question his leadership on the world stage.
In his first speech as president to the U.N., Mr. Biden defended his widely panned military withdrawal from Afghanistan and assured leaders around the globe that the U.S. will take the lead in international diplomacy.
“We’ve ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan and as we close this era of endless war, we are opening an era of endless diplomacy,” Mr. Biden said.
During the nearly 40-minute speech, Mr. Biden ticked off a list of crises that nations must work together to solve, including trade, cyber threats, and terrorism.
He argued that the world is entering a “decisive decade” for determining the global community’s success, saying that each nation’s welfare is dependent upon its allies. The president said the U.S. does not seek another Cold War, without mentioning adversaries China and Russia by name.
“As a global community, we’re challenged by urgent and looming crises wherein lie enormous opportunities if — if — we can summon the will and resolve to seize these opportunities,” the president said.
The president laid out his case for cooperation before a skeptical audience whose members have been disappointed in some of his foreign policy missteps.
Mr. Biden frustrated allies following the U.S.’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and angered France after announcing a security pact with the United Kingdom and Australia.
The move undercut France’s own multibillion-dollar nuclear submarine deal with Australia. French officials claimed they were blindsided by the deal and recalled ambassadors to both nations.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Tuesday that Mr. Biden“has damaged longstanding alliances, emboldened enemies, and failed to stand for freedom.”
“The first eight months of the Biden presidency have been riddled with crises he has created and failed to address – from a humanitarian disaster at the border to a catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, to folding to totalitarian governments in China and Cuba,” she said in a statement. “Americans and the world know Biden has lost all credibility at home and abroad.”
Still, Mr. Biden pledged to work with world leaders, asserting that the U.S. will resume its traditional leadership role in international diplomacy.
“As the United States seeks to rally the world to action, we will lead not just with the example of our power, but God willing, with the power of our example,” he said.
He declared the U.S. is “back at the table” by re-engaging the World Health Organization and rejoining the Paris climate agreement, adding that America will also take a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Former President Trump had pulled the U.S. out of both the WHO and the Paris Climate agreement as part of his “America First” agenda.
Mr. Biden highlighted the moves as part of his effort to mend fences among world leaders who view him as having the same go-it-alone approach as Mr. Trump.
Several NATO allies had urged Mr. Biden to push back his self-imposed Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline in Afghanistan, but the president rebuffed their calls.
Others griped that the chaotic scenes at the Kabul airport left them scrambling to get their own citizens out of the country ahead of a Taliban takeover.
Mr. Biden used his speech in an effort to turn on the page on the bungled withdrawal.
While insisting that the U.S. will continue to defend itself and its allies, Mr. Biden said “bombs and bullets” cannot defend against COVID-19 or climate change.
“Instead of continuing to fight the wars of the past, we are fixing our eyes on devoting our resources into the challenges that hold the keys to our collective future,” he said.
Mr. Biden pledged to battle terrorism by working with local partners, not through large overseas military deployments. He noted that the world has changed in the 20 years since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
He also stressed the need to combat climate change, noting that his administration pledged to double international financing to assist developing nations with tools to tackle the issue.
Mr. Biden said he would work with Congress to double the funds again to make the United States the leader in financing climate change efforts.
BIDEN: “The extreme weather events…represent what the Secretary General has rightly called ‘code red’ for humanity. And the the scientists and experts are telling us that we’re fast approaching a point of no return, in a literal sense.” pic.twitter.com/TUGVjMbnER
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) September 21, 2021
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