President Joe Biden on Tuesday detailed his vision for leading the United States into a new era of diplomacy as he sought to reassure allies — some freshly skeptical — he was moving past the “America First” era of foreign policy.
He used his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly to describe a world where American civic leadership, rather than military power, acts as the driving force to resolve persistent problems like coronavirus, climate change and cyber war.
And while he didn’t single out China as the dominant global threat, he insisted the US would seek to counter rising autocracies while avoiding “a new Cold War.”
It was an altogether different message from his predecessor, whose mix of isolationism and confrontation caused deep rifts with other nations. Instead, Biden delivered a more traditional address hailing the United Nations’ mission of multilateralism and proclaiming a new chapter was beginning after he decided to end the war in Afghanistan.
Biden called the next 10 years a “decisive decade for our world” that will determine the global community’s future, and declared the planet stands at an “inflection point in history.”
The global community’s response to pressing challenges like the climate crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic will “reverberate for generations yet to come,” Biden argued. But he said those challenges must be tackled with technological innovation and global cooperation, not war.
“We’ve ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan, and as we close this period of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy, of using the power of our development aid to invest in new ways of lifting people up around the world,” Biden said.
The speech was a return to many of the themes Biden has spoken about since entering the White House in January, framing the future of global relations as democracy versus autocracy and emphasizing the US’ plans to strengthen relationships with its allies.