MOSCOW, 28 Sep 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.
On September 21, Joe Biden addressed the United Nations General Assembly for the first time as President of the United States. In his short term, his presidency was marked by a series of crises in both US domestic and foreign policy, with far-reaching geopolitical consequences.
In the context of the declining authority of the United States, Joe Biden’s speech can be quite clearly defined as the current situation is seen from the White House and how its inhabitants want to see the world. At the very beginning of his speech, Joe Biden stated:
“We meet this year in a moment of — intermingled with great pain and extraordinary possibility. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the clear and urgent choice that we face here at the dawning of what must be a decisive decade for our world — a decade that will quite literally determine our futures. As a global community, we’re challenged by urgent and looming crises wherein lie enormous opportunities if — if — we can summon the will and resolve to seize these opportunities.”
This phrase reminded me of the UN Secretary-General’s statement when, in the context of promoting green energy, he said that recovering from a pandemic is a good opportunity to reengineer the economy and rethink the future of the world. In the future, the similarity of the positions of the US and UN leadership will appear again and again.
Biden went on to focus on the global coronavirus pandemic: “Will we work together to save lives, defeat COVID-19 everywhere, and take the necessary steps to prepare ourselves for the next pandemic? For there will be another one.”
You may have been surprised, but Biden really talks about a new pandemic as already something inevitable. However, he continues, “Or will we fail to harness the tools at our disposal as the more virulent and dangerous variants take hold?”
I think once again it should be noted that the US leadership sees the world in the near future within the framework of the current and even new pandemic – this will help to better understand the logic of the subsequent statements of the American president.
Biden then announced that in his speech, he wants to share how the United States intends to work with partners and their allies to fulfil his administration’s commitment to help lead the world to a more peaceful, prosperous future for all people.
Therefore, instead of continuing to fight the wars of the past, the United States will focus on the following issues: climate change, human rights, managing changes in the dynamics of global power, shaping the world’s rules on such vital issues as trade, cyberspace and new technologies, and countering the threat of terrorism.
“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,” Biden said. A characteristic feature of this sentence, in my opinion, is the use of the same adjective for the words war and diplomacy – relentless can also be translated as ruthless. This clearly reflects the US approach to the process of establishing peace, when, as in the old Soviet joke, not a stone can be left unturned.
After these words, the American president paid attention to his allies. Adding that the United States is focusing on the Indo-Pacific region, Biden explained that they will do this through cooperation with allies and partners:
“To ensure that our own future, we must work together with other partners — our partners — toward a shared future. Over the last eight months, I have prioritised rebuilding our alliances, revitalising our partnerships, and recognising they’re essential and central to America’s enduring security and prosperity”.
Despite the pathos, the last two sentences clearly state that the United States is achieving “enduring security and prosperity” at the expense of its allies.
Thanks to a British diplomatic memo published in Bloomberg, we already know that at the G7 summit in June, Biden promised his allies that the United States would maintain a presence in Afghanistan sufficient to support allied activities in Kabul even after the withdrawal of the main US forces.
However, the withdrawal of US troops proved to be a disaster for President Ghani’s regime. And following the flight of the Americans, the Europeans also had to randomly curtail their presence in Afghanistan. That is, the United States never intended to take into account the interests of its allies in its agreements with the Taliban to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Continuing the theme, Biden said in his speech: “We have reaffirmed our sacred NATO Alliance to Article 5 commitment. We’re working with our Allies toward a new strategic concept that will help our Alliance better take on evolving threats of today and tomorrow. We renewed our engagement with the European Union, a fundamental partner in tackling the full range of significant issues facing our world today.”
Such statements clearly contrast with the words of the head of the French Foreign Ministry, Jean-Yves Le Drian, who explained that in connection with the organisation of the alliance, Australia + The United Kingdom + the United States (AUKUS) and the termination of the Franco-Australian contract for the construction of submarines in favour of the United States, the relationship within NATO will be changed.
According to the head of the French Defence Ministry, Florence Parly, at the suggestion of France and Germany, the strategic concept of NATO will be revised. “Being allies does not mean being hostages of the interests of another country,” the head of the French Defence Ministry concluded.
Top EU leaders have directly accused US President Joe Biden of disloyalty to the transatlantic alliance because of the new initiative, wrote Politico, which also quoted EU President Charles Michel as saying “What does it mean that America is back? Is America back in America or somewhere else? We don’t know”.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in an interview with CNN, demanded an explanation from Biden about the situation with France: “One of our member states was treated in an unacceptable way, so we want to know what happened and why. And so you will first clarify this before you continue to do normal things”.
To understand the lack of changes in US rhetoric towards European partners after the creation of AUKUS, you can read the briefing session that was held at the White House before the speech of the American president at the UN General Assembly. During this briefing, one of the journalists asked: “How do you square that with the criticism that the U.S. is facing from close allies — that the U.S. is not engaging with its partners and that it’s moving on its own?”
The White House official explained that the solution to such serious problems as COVID-19, raised issues on trade and technology, is carried out in consultations and joint actions with allies and partners. Based on the vast agenda that remains to be discussed, “American foreign policy can play a vital role in rallying the world and especially rallying like-minded democracies to solve the great challenges of our time”. Thus, the representative of the White House reduced the indignation of France against the background of US global plans to a third-rate problem.
Let’s return to Joe Biden’s speech from the UN rostrum, where he warned that the United States will continue to protect itself, its allies and its interests from attacks. He noted that military operations should have a clear and achievable goal, and be conducted with the informed consent of the American people and, if possible, in partnership with allies.
“US military power must be our tool of last resort, not our first, and it should not be used as an answer to every problem we see around the world. Indeed, today, many of our greatest concerns cannot be solved or even addressed through the force of arms. Bombs and bullets cannot defend against COVID-19 or its future variants,” Joe Biden said.
From these words, it can be concluded that the United States, although not ready to publicly admit that it has lost the role of hegemon and the possibility of projecting overwhelming power anywhere in the world, but masks the reality with the above-mentioned, peace-loving formulations. The United States has lost its former lead in the latest types of weapons and wants a “respite” to catch up. Once again, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the United States considers COVID-19 or its variants as an integral part of the near future.
In this regard, Joe Biden goes on to say that fighting a pandemic requires a collective act of science and political will: “And for the future, we need to create a new mechanism to finance global health security that builds on our existing development assistance, and a Global Health Threat Council that is armed with the tools we need to monitor and identify emerging pandemics so that we can take immediate action”.
After reviewing these proposals, I was reminded of Bill Gates’ speech in 2015, where he proposed the creation of special units to combat pandemics based on NATO units, after which this proposal was supported by WHO.
Then, in his speech, Biden turned to the topic of climate change. “The 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 has 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,” the American president said.
“To keep within our reach the vital goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, every nation needs to bring their highest-possible ambitions to the table when we meet in Glasgow for COP26 and then to have to keep raising our collective ambition over time,” Biden said.
In a continuation of this theme, he mentioned that the United States is striving for “a clean-energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050”, and finance under this is a chance for each country to invest in itself and its own future.
Thus, the issue of anthropogenic influence on climate warming is not a subject of discussion for the United States, and the November UN climate change conference will focus on green energy and “zero emissions”. However, whether “green energy” will become a driver of growth in the economies of Western countries is still questionable, since the current situation with the price of gas and electricity in Europe shows how flawed such a strategy is.
Separately, the US president promised that the US will double international funding to help developing countries fight the climate crisis, and this will make the US a leader in public financing of climate change. Given the problems of the United States due to the growth of public debt, it is still difficult to believe in these statements.
Later in his speech, Biden voiced the urgency for the world of cyberspace issues and a “new era of technologies and possibilities” that require the development of common rules of interaction. Biden promised that the United States will work with partners to ensure that new technologies are used to promote human freedom, and not to suppress dissent.
He also mentioned that the United States will follow “new rules of global trade and economic growth that strive to level the playing field so that it’s not artificially tipped in favour of any one country at the expense of others. We will strive to ensure that basic labor rights, environmental safeguards, and intellectual property are protected and that the benefits of globalisation are shared broadly throughout all our societies.”
Of course, it is worth paying attention to the fact that the United States has started talking about some “new rules for global trade” and “levelling the playing field”, since China has increasingly begun to benefit from the old WTO rules in the current situation. At the same time, in the text of his speech, Biden mentions that the United States will support the old rules of international interaction, such as freedom of navigation and arms control.
After that, Biden returned to the issue of international security, explaining that all the world’s major powers must carefully manage their relations so that they do not give rise to a transition from responsible competition to conflict.
“The United States will compete, and will compete vigorously, and lead with our values and our strength. We’ll stand up for our allies and our friends and oppose attempts by stronger countries to dominate weaker ones, whether through changes to territory by force, economic coercion, technological exploitation, or disinformation,” Biden said.
How these words contrast with the regime of political and economic sanctions imposed by the United States on many countries of the world, and the restriction of competition on their part for political reasons, readers can judge for themselves.
“But we’re not seeking — I’ll say it again — we are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs” Biden explained. With this statement, he responded to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who called for avoiding a “cold war” between the United States and China. However, by this very response, Biden acknowledged that the unipolar world no longer exists. In addition, it is now obvious to everyone that the United States itself is forming an anti-Chinese bloc, intending to add India and Japan to the AUKUS alliance.
A little later, Biden said that the United States will counter terrorist threats in cooperation with local partners to avoid a large-scale military deployment.
This statement of Biden and quoted just above, once again confirm the fact that today’s United States, having lost its former power, is trying to avoid the dispersion of its forces and is not ready for direct conflict with such a world power as China. Given the creation of the new alliance AUKUS, we can say that the United States is deploying a strategy to contain China.
Apparently, in connection with the curtailment of the projection of US power in the world, Biden said that one of the most important ways to effectively strengthen security in the world is “seeking to improve the lives of the people all over the world who see that their governments are not serving their needs”.
Biden explained that the United States, as leader, has an obligation to respond to the cry for dignity – the demand of people that their governments meet the basic needs of the people. The United States is making a $10 billion commitment to end hunger and invest in food systems at home and abroad.
This statement is very cynical, since as a result of the unlimited monetary issue of the US dollar, food prices have increased significantly around the world. The UN notes the aggravation of the problem of hunger in the world.
According to Biden, the United States is going to redouble its diplomatic efforts and commit to political negotiations, rather than resort to violence as the first means to resolve tensions around the world.
“The commitment of the United States to Israel’s security is without question. And a support — our support for an independent, Jewish state is unequivocal. But I continue to believe that a two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel — Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state living in peace alongside a viable, sovereign, and democratic Palestinian state,” Biden said.
Here it is necessary to explain that the other day, at the initiative of representatives of the “progressive wing” of the Democratic Party, lawmakers froze $1 billion provided for financing the Israeli Iron Dome missile defence system in the draft US budget for next year.
However, after Republicans accused the Democratic Party of anti-Semitism, funds for Israel were unfrozen. However, from this situation, it becomes clear that the future of Israel is not exactly in the same priority for the current White House administration as it was under President Trump.
Biden went on to announce that the United States will continue to stand up for the democratic values that are the DNA of the American nation. The United States will stand up for women’s rights everywhere, from Central America to the Middle East, Africa, and Afghanistan.
The American president called on everyone to condemn the persecution and oppression of racial, ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang, northern Ethiopia or anywhere else in the world. He also said that it is necessary to protect the rights of the LGBT community so that they can live and love openly and without fear, whether in Chechnya or Cameroon.
The fact that the United States is shifting its focus from general human rights to the issue of racial inequality and support for disadvantaged communities, which primarily include LGBT people, has been repeatedly noted in previous RUSSTRAT materials. Now we can clearly state that the protection of gay rights in Chechnya is part of the US state policy.
“Authoritarianism — the authoritarianism of the world may seek to proclaim the end of the age of democracy, but they’re wrong. The truth is: The democratic world is everywhere. It lives in the anti-corruption activists, the human rights defenders, the journalists, the peace protestors on the frontlines of this struggle in Belarus, Burma, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, and everywhere in between,” Biden said.
In this case, the United States declares that it will continue to support the liberal opposition in countries where the political leadership does not meet their standards of democracy and, of course, this is not a complete list of such countries. Only Biden again forgot about the United States and the massive falsification of voting results in his favour in the last presidential election.
The President of the United States concluded his speech by saying that looking ahead, he sees that America continues to lead the world: “We will lead on all the greatest challenges of our time — from COVID to climate, peace and security, human dignity and human rights. But we will not go it alone. We will lead together with our Allies and partners”.
Announcing Joe Biden’s speech at the UN, the publication Politico, close to the US Democratic Party, explained Biden is seeking to reassure world leaders that the United States is once again ready to embrace multilateral diplomacy at its core, after the tumultuous years of Donald Trump’s “America First” message. But, as we can see, this will not be easy at all because of the mistakes made by the new administration.
At the same time, after studying Joe Biden’s speech, it seems that the White House speechwriters deliberately ignored the consequences of a series of scandals in US foreign policy and did not even try to somehow “smooth the corners” in relations with their allies.
The United States, as always, refuses to admit mistakes made and simply takes a step back, then breaks through and goes in the same direction again. But today, the US forces are not what they once were, and democracy is not the only way to achieve prosperity. If they continue to use the old methods, they may eventually be left without the allies they now rely on.
In general terms, the future of the United States looks rather bleak, especially in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the struggle for “green energy” with falling energy consumption and the imposition of new rules for the use of advanced technologies. In the current situation, we can only hope that the Russian leadership will show political will, abandon the imposed paradigm of “green energy” and present its own version of the future of all mankind.