Biden declares America, transatlantic alliance 'back'

Grant Boone
February 20, 2021

Following a virtual summit of G7 states in London, with a focus on the coronavirus pandemic with financial contributions pledged on a global vaccine rollout, they gave virtual addresses to the annual Munich Security Conference on problems lying ahead.

The Trump administration withdrew the USA from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in 2018, but Biden campaigned on reentering it and rescinded Trump's efforts to reimpose United Nations sanctions against Iran.

That means building back better economic foundations, reclaiming its place in worldwide institutions, lifting up values at home, and speaking out to defend them around the world.

But he said he believes democracy will and must prevail.

Biden said his administration is "fully committed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance", using language starkly different from that of Trump, who particularly in his first year as president frequently criticized the organization as obsolete and accused members of not paying their fair share.

"Biden will really need to develop and invest in a sophisticated Europe strategy if he is to unlock this and get the levels of transatlantic cooperation he desires".

After one month in the White House, it may be too soon to speak of a "Biden doctrine" but he has quickly carried out a sharp reversal of the brash "America First" philosophy of his predecessor Donald Trump, who delighted in needling friendly leaders. We have to defend it, fight for it, strengthen it, renew it.

When Biden last addressed the conference two years ago, he sought to assure allies shell-shocked by Trump's "America First" policies that "this, too, shall pass". A year earlier, the audience was similarly jarred after a speech by Vice President Mike Pence that some participants said would have been more appropriately delivered at a Trump campaign rally.

Biden said his administration strongly supports the diplomatic processes underway and to bring an end to this war that is closing out 20 years.

"It comes down to this", he declared.

Biden's remarks will build upon his actions in office so far. But unlike Trump - who berated allies for not spending more on their militaries, expressed affinity for dictators and generally sowed unease on almost all of his trips overseas - Biden offered only steadfast reassurance. "That's what I expect, and that's what I welcome", he said.

Joe Biden will attend his first meeting as U.S. president with Group of Seven leaders on Friday (19 February) to discuss plans to defeat the novel coronavirus, reopen the battered world economy and counter the challenge posed by China.

Biden: Standing up for Ukraine

The US was even more vocal in framing the friction as an ideological struggle of democracies against autocracies - a central theme of Mr Biden's message. He added: "We'll keep faith with Article 5 in which an attack on one is an attack on all". That is our unshakeable vow.

We remain committed to ensuring that Afghanistan never again provides a base for terrorist attacks against the United States and our partners and our interest.

Hosford expected Biden to choreograph statements with allies but said the administration could also encourage coordinated efforts, such as on sanctions against human rights violators.

"The Kremlin attacks our democracies and weaponises corruption to try and undermine our system of governance", he said. "Russian leaders want people to think our system is more corrupt or as corrupt as theirs".

"In close cooperation with Gavi, this additional $2 billion in funding will serve to expand Covax's reach", the White House note said.

Biden called for European leaders to be "clear-eyed" about historic levels of necessary spending to compete with China as well as protection of intellectual property.

Mr Biden said, specifically, the United States and its allies must be "prepared together for long-term strategic competition with China".

Though Biden has cast China as the "most serious competitor" of the United States, China was mentioned only once in the communiques.

Similarly, US partners should stand together against "the Chinese government's economic abuses and coercion that undercut the foundations of the worldwide economic system", he said.

For their part, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the return of the multilateral diplomacy and shared concerns toward China, but in perhaps less-forceful ways. "The last four years have been hard, but Europe and the USA have to lead with confidence once more", Biden said.

Stuart Lau contributed reporting.

US commits $4 billion to COVAX vaccine initiative
Biden administration officials said their focus was also on vaccinating Americans and sought to separate the domestic and worldwide efforts.

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