President Joe Biden addressed global challenges Tuesday and promised that the United States is “not seeking the new Cold War” with China during his first address to the United Nations General Assembly since becoming president.
Biden’s lengthy speech – which lasted for roughly 34 minutes – addressed the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and cybersecurity issues, among other subjects. The president first warned that this decade “will quite literally determine our futures” and later promised that America will work “with any nation that steps up.”
“We are not seeking the new Cold War or the world divided into rigid blocks,” Biden declared. “The United States is ready to work with any nation that steps up, that pursues peaceful resolution to shared challenges, even if we have intense disagreement to shared challenges, because we will all suffer the consequences of our failures if we don’t come together to tackle COVID-19, climate change or threats like nuclear proliferation.”
Biden first highlighted the global pandemic, noting that the world is “mourning more than 4.5 million people.” He promised that leaders will “work together to save lives” and said he’ll be “announcing additional commitments” dedicated to helping combat COVID-19 worldwide during Wednesday’s virtual COVID Summit.
“As we look ahead, we will lead on all of the greatest challenges of our time, but we will not go it alone,” Biden said. “We will lead together with our allies and partners, with all who choose and believe as we do, that this is within our power to meet challenges, build a future, lift all of our people and preserve this planet.”
The president made climate change another focus of his speech, warning that the world is at a “code red for humanity.” Biden said scientists and experts are cautioning that “we are fast approaching a point of no return.” (RELATED: ‘Code Red’: Biden Amps Up Messaging On Climate Change)
“Will we meet the threat of climate change already ravaging every part of our world with extreme weather?” the president asked. “Or will we suffer more intense fires and hurricanes, longer heat waves and rising seas?”
Biden touted what his administration has done since taking office, largely ignoring current crises like the border and the chaotic exit from Afghanistan. He said this administration has “prioritized rebuilding our alliances, revitalizing our partnerships, and recognizing they are central to America’s enduring security and prosperity,” but failed to address tensions with France after America’s new trilateral agreement with the U.K. and Australia.
While the president focused on highlighting a strong and united front – namely against China – he never mentioned the country by name. He noted the human rights violations against religious minorities occurring in China’s Xinjiang region but didn’t speak directly to security threats coming from areas like China.
“President Biden’s speech ignored the reality and seriousness of America’s threats and enemies,” former UN ambassador Nikki Haley told Fox News after Biden’s speech. “China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Afghanistan, and terrorism, to name a few.”
Biden briefly mentioned Iran when he promised the U.S. is “committed to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” He highlighted terrorism – both abroad and at home – during Tuesday’s speech and brought up the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after nearly 20 years of conflict.
Biden didn’t highlight the chaotic exit from Afghanistan, nor did he focus on the allies and Americans left behind when the U.S. left on Aug. 31. Instead, the president declared the exit to be a sign of the “new period of relentless diplomacy” and the end of a “relentless war.” He also vowed to limit military use and instead expand the country’s use of diplomacy, a point he’s made during past remarks.
At the same time, the president promised that America “will continue to defend ourselves and allies against threats,” but noted “the mission must be clear and achievable.”
“I can tell you where America stands,” Biden said as he finished his remarks. “We will choose to build a better future. We – you and I – we have the will and capacity to make it better. Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot afford to waste any more time. Let’s get to work.”
Another crisis facing the administration is convincing the world that America truly “is back,” as the president has claimed. A senior administration official described Biden’s week, which is focused on bilateral meetings, as being “an important, consequential week for … Biden and his leadership on the world stage.”
“As President Joe Biden makes his presidential debut at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, the question is not whether America wants to lead the world any longer, but whether it can,” one CNN analysis noted.