President Joe Biden has vowed not to pursue “a new Cold War, or a world divided into rigid blocks.”
Addressing the UN General Assembly, Biden declared that the United States was moving into a “new era of relentless diplomacy” as it tackles emerging technological threats and the expansion of autocratic nations.
Biden used the highest UN platform to present the paradigm shift in Washington’s approach towards global issues: “Instead of continuing to fight the wars of the past, we are fixing our eyes on devoting our resources to the challenges that hold the keys to our collective future: ending this pandemic; addressing the climate crisis; managing the shifts in global power dynamics; shaping the rules of the world on vital issues like trade, cyber, and emerging technologies; and facing the threat of terrorism as it stands today.”
The president defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, driving home a message that the move has opened a new chapter of intensive American diplomacy.
The use of force should be “our tool of last resort, not our first,” he said, arguing in favor of recalibrating priorities away from two decades of wars toward newly emerging threats.
He underscored that the world must choose between democracy and autocracy, indicating the stark difference since the Taliban again took control of Kabul and reversed 20 years of democratic gains.
In his inaugural address to the annual gathering of world leaders at the UN, Biden called for a new era of global unity against the compounding crises of COVID-19, climate change and insecurity.
“Simply put, we stand…at an inflection point in history,” he said. “We must work together as never before.”
Biden assured leaders attending the UN General Assembly that Washington intends to partner with allies to “help lead the world toward a more peaceful, prosperous future for all people.”
“Today, many of our greatest concerns cannot be solved or even addressed by the force of arms”, he stated, reminding that “bombs and bullets cannot defend against COVID-19 or its future variants.”
He noted that U.S. planes carrying vaccines have landed in more than 100 countries, offering a “dose of hope,” and said that he would be announcing additional vaccine commitments soon.
Biden also called for a new global health mechanism to “finance global health security” and mooted the creation of a Global Health Threat Council to stay ahead of emerging pandemics.
Without naming his predecessor, Biden stressed that his Administration has shifted away from President Donald Trump’s America first style of diplomacy towards one of multilateralism.
“We’re back at the table in international forums, especially the United Nations, to focus attention and to spur global action on shared challenges,” he said, pointing to the U.S. government’s re-engagement with the World Health Organization; participation in the COVAX vaccine initiative “to deliver life-saving vaccines around the world”; re-joining the Paris climate agreement; and preparing to run for a seat on the Human Rights Council next year.
He also elaborated on a new U.S. goal under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gases to 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and talked about investments under discussion with Congress, including for “green infrastructure and electric vehicles.”
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