Joe Biden has pledged “unwavering” US support for the transatlantic alliance in what he described as an era-defining struggle to safeguard democracy.
Biden used his virtual debut on the world stage on Friday, in videoconference remarks first to the G7 and then to the Munich Security Conference, to assure America’s allies of his determination to bury the legacy left by his predecessor.
Donald Trump was not mentioned, but almost every sentence in Biden’s speech at the Munich conference was framed by how the new president of the United States would reverse the policies and approach of the last four years.
In the wake of an insurrection in Washington in which Trump supporters had tried to overturn the outcome of the US elections by force, Biden said that neither he nor European leaders could take democracy for granted.
“In many places, including Europe and the United States, democratic progress is under attack,” Biden said. Historians are going to examine and write about this moment as a turning point and I believe with every ounce of my being that democracy will prevail and must prevail.
“That, in my opinion, is our galvanizing mission,” the president said, in a speech broadcast live to Munich, where he shared the virtual stage with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. “Democracy does not happen by accident. We have to defend it, fight for it, strengthen it, renew it ”.
While Barack Obama had made a trademark of the optimistic quote from Martin Luther King insisting that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it leans toward justice,” four years later, Biden said that the world’s democracies now ” they have to show that our model is not a relic of history ”.
He said the United States would have to work to regain the trust of its allies if it wanted to regain a leadership position, listing all the concrete steps it was taking to repair the many cuts left in the transatlantic partnership.
He noted that the formal return of the United States to the Paris climate agreement took place on Friday, and that the day before, the United States had announced its readiness to restart the multilateral nuclear talks with Iran, organized by the EU. Both movements reversed Trump’s policies.
The United States also returned to the World Health Organization, and Biden made it clear that he was urgently funneling money into the collective fight against Covid. It announced $ 4 billion in new support for the global vaccine effort, Covax – $ 2 billion immediately and another $ 2 billion over the next two years, once other donors had delivered on their promises.
In his own comments, Macron argued that providing money was not enough. The West, he said, had to deliver doses of vaccines to Africa, or else Africans would use Western money to buy Russian and Chinese vaccines, making Western influence “a concept but not a reality.”
Much of the Munich speech focused on strengthening NATO, an alliance that Trump had viewed with suspicion, and that he often portrayed as a European scam to make the United States pay for the defense of the continent. Biden’s predecessor questioned the United States’ commitment to defending some of the smaller member states, calling into question the principle of collective defense contained in Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty. His former national security adviser, John Bolton, had predicted that the United States could leave NATO entirely if Trump were re-elected.
In admitting that “the last four years have been tough,” Biden’s language was emphatic in addressing European misgivings.
“The United States will keep faith in Article 5,” the president said. “It is a guarantee that an attack on one is an attack on all. That is our unwavering vow. “
He confirmed that he had reversed Trump’s order last year to cut US troop levels in Germany, an order issued without consulting Berlin, allegedly out of irritation with Merkel over her reluctance to attend a G7 summit she wanted to organize during the pandemic. .
The revitalization of the Atlantic alliance was essential to roll back Russian sabotage of Western democracies and meet the long-term challenge posed by China, argued Biden. His harsh words to Vladimir Putin and his support for Ukraine marked another stark contrast to Trump, who avoided all direct criticism of the Russian president and had used America’s backing of Kiev as a lever to try to acquire compromising material on Biden.
Putin seeks to weaken the European project and our alliance with NATO. He wants to undermine transatlantic unity and our resolve, because it is much easier for the Kremlin to intimidate and threaten individual states than it is to negotiate with a strong and closely knit transatlantic community, “said Biden. “That is why defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine remains a vital concern for Europe and the United States.”
Merkel backed Biden’s call for a united position toward Russia, calling for a “joint agenda” that seizes opportunities for dialogue and recognition of differences. He did not mention German support for the Nordstream 2 pipeline from Russia, whose opposition is one of the few things that Biden and Trump agree on.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism