President Biden finds himself under intense scrutiny from world leaders who don’t see many differences between him and his predecessor, former President Donald Trump.
Although Mr. Biden has sought to differentiate himself from Mr. Trump by promoting multilateralism, world leaders remain skeptical. A French politician last week even declared there was no difference between the two men.
Skepticism from allies and Mr. Biden’s need to defend his botched Afghanistan exit are among the reasons his speech Tuesday before the United Nations General Assembly was highly anticipated.
Here are five takeaways:
The president is still defensive about the Afghanistan pullout
Mr. Biden sought to turn the page from his widely panned Afghanistan withdrawal by framing it as a step toward cooperation among world leaders.
Leaving Afghanistan, he said, has created a “new era of relentless diplomacy.”
It’s unclear whether world leaders will buy his attempt to reposition the Afghanistan withdrawal as a move to usher in diplomacy. NATO allies have criticized the chaotic exit as “shameful” and a “catastrophic error in judgment.”
He is convinced that not being Trump is sufficient
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said last week that Mr. Biden‘s “unilateral, brutal and unpredictable” decision to undermine his country’s submarine pact with Australia resembled something Mr. Trump would do.
Mr. Biden tried to draw distinctions between himself and his predecessor by mentioning the “cool kids” clubs that the U.S. has rejoined since he became president.
He said the U.S. has reengaged with the World Health Organization, has rejoined the Paris climate accord and intends to regain its position on the U.N. Human Rights Council. Mr. Trump withdrew the U.S. from all of those.
Biden wants the U.S. to foot the bill for global problems
As if spending nearly $4 trillion on social safety net projects at home isn’t enough, Mr. Biden vowed to commit nearly $130 billion of U.S. taxpayer funds to help other nations solve their problems.
He pledged to spend $100 billion to help developing countries combat climate change and vowed to work with Congress to double that amount.
Mr. Biden announced that the U.S. will commit $10 billion to help end hunger around the globe.
He said the U.S. had spent more than $15 billion to ship COVID-19 vaccines to developing nations.
Biden considers himself a peacenik
Mr. Biden hammered home his idea that war is a thing of the past and called for diplomatic negotiations to replace armed conflict. He boasted that the U.S. is no longer at war for the first time in 20 years. The resources, he said, should be shifted to fight COVID-19, climate change and human rights abuses.
The president said “bombs and bullets” cannot defend against the challenges facing the global community.
Biden is timid about calling out the big boys
Without mentioning China or Russia by name, Mr. Biden said the U.S. isn’t looking to start a Cold War-type conflict. Instead, he called for the U.S. to stand up to international bullies by using its “values and strength.”
It was the second time since Mr. Biden arrived in New York that he emphasized the U.S. isn’t looking to reignite a cold war by taking on China. He made similar remarks Monday night in his meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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