(The Post Millennial) – President Biden addressed the UN General Assembly for the first time during his presidential term on Tuesday. He spoke about the tragedy of the pandemics, mourning each death as a “heartbreak,” but saying that our “collective future” will depend on “our common humanity and our ability to act together.”
He said that the global community is challenged by extant and emerging crises, which he views as opportunities. Covid was one of those, and Biden said the world needs to prepare for more pandemics on the horizon.
Biden spoke about the need to “meet the threat” of climate change and “extreme weather,” saying that failure to do so will result in more bad weather.
Human dignity and human rights were also on the president’s mind, as well as the “core tenets of the international system.” New technologies and new threats are also concerns, he said, and we must be on guard for the “pursuit of naken political power.”
The choice, he said, is whether we “choose to fight for our shared future or not.” Biden said that we are at an “inflection point in history.” A “peaceful prosperous future for all people” is the mission of his administration, Biden said.
Pandemic, climate crisis, power dynamics, trade, cyber threats, and emerging technologies, are all on his mind as we “open a new era of aggressive diplomacy.”
“Our own success is bound up in others succeeding as well,” he said, touting a collaborative approach to a “shared future.”
“We must work together as never before,” Biden said. Biden touted his 8-month record in diplomacy, as well as the new partnerships between Australia, the US, and the UK, as well as those with Japan and India.
“Focus on people’s urgent needs” is a big component of his administration’s approach toward “shared challenges,” he said. Biden spoke about the Paris Climate Accords, and the US having rejoined them under his leadership.
“US military power must be our tool of last resort, not our first, and should not be used as an answer to every problem we see around the world,” he said.
“Bombs and bullets,” he said, are not useful tools “in the fight against Covid-19,” and he pressed for the effort to spread vaccinations globally. Biden would like to have a global health initiative, he said, to prevent pandemics and to elevate health outcomes worldwide.
“Saving lives now, vaccinating the world, and building back better,” he said, are his key goals.
“This year has also brought widespread death and devastation from the borderless climate crisis,” Biden said. “Extreme weather events that we have seen in every part of the world, and you all know it and feel it represent what the Secretary General is rightly called Code Red for humanity. And the scientists and experts are telling us that we’re fast approaching a point of no return in the literal sense.”
Biden wants to limit global warming and reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030, and to have net zero emissions by 2050. This isn’t just “good climate policy,” he said, “but an enormous opportunity” to “improve the quality of life for all of our people.”
Funding for developing nations to combat the climate crisis, including adaptation efforts, is also part of Biden’s announced plans. $100 billion will be pledged to help developing nations.
Biden addressed new technical capabilities, too, saying that it must be determined if they will “empower people” or further repress them. 5G, AI, and other tech must be used to “lift people up,” he said, not suppress dissent.
“We will strive to ensure that basic labor rights, environmental safeguards, and intellectual property are protected,” he said as regards cyber security.
“We will stand up for our allies and our friends, and oppose attempts” by stronger countries “to dominate weaker ones.”
“We are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocks. The United States is willing to work with any nation,” he said, that stands up to do so even if there are stark disagreements.
Preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons is a commitment the president made. Biden wants to use diplomacy for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula, he said.
Terrorism is also a concern, whether “emanating from distant places in the world or our own backyard.” “Those who commit acts of terrorism against us will continue to find” a fight with the US.
“Corruption fuels inequality, siphons off a nation’s resources,” he said, “and generates human suffering.” He called this a “national security threat.”
Biden called for the respect of “dignity” for people worldwide, stating that the lack of dignity is part of the global problem. He said that “infrastructure can be a strong foundation,” but that when it’s built with corruption it doesn’t help anyone.
“We will be the world’s largest contributor to humanitarian assistance,” he said, offering a $10 billion commitment in food aid globally.
“We must seek a future of greater peace and security for all people of the Middle East,” he said. While he said that the US supports Israel’s right to exist, he said that there needs to be a “two-state solution” to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Biden spoke against the fighting in Ethiopia and Tigray. “The United States will champion democratic values,” he said, “and a belief in the human rights of all people.” He said that is “stamped into our DNA as a nation.”
Biden said that “freedom, justice, and peace in the world” are the primary components of international human rights obligations. Biden upheld the tenets of the UN.
The president said that a key mission is to advocate for the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan and to hold the Taliban accountable to that mission. He also condemned the oppression of religious minorities, as well as “LGBTQI individuals.”
“I am not agnostic about the future we want for the world. The future will belong to those who embrace human dignity, not trample it,” he said, saying that leaders need to respect the rights of their people.
“The democratic world is everywhere,” Biden said, speaking against authoritarianism, touting the activists globally who fight for human rights, despite being squashed and suppressed in the process.
This all as “we face down violence and insurrection,” Biden said, before reiterating the main points of his speech.
“These are the challenges that we will determine what the world looks like for our children and grandchildren,” he said.
“None of this is inevitable. It is a choice,” Biden said, noting that America “will choose to build a better future!”