At UN, Biden’s ‘America Back’ Message Faces Uphill Struggle

At the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, US President Joe Biden called on world leaders to unite to face the threats facing the world today, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis. However, he faced an uphill battle to convince allies that America was back and ready to lead.

In his first address to the UN General Assembly, US President Joe Biden said his government is ready to help the world overcome global challenges.

“Ending this pandemic, tackling the climate crisis, managing shifts in global power dynamics, shaping world rules on critical issues such as trade, cyber and emerging technologies, and confronting the terrorism threat we face today.”

While acknowledging the increasing tension in US relations with China and Russia, Biden said major world powers must manage relations and avoid conflict.

“The United States stands ready to work with any country that advances and seeks peaceful resolutions to common challenges, despite our intense disagreements on other areas, because we will all feel the consequences of our failures,” he added.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers remarks at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters, New York, September 21, 2021.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers remarks at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters, New York, September 21, 2021.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also urged immediate action. “COVID and the climate crisis have exposed the immense fragility of society and the planet. But instead of humility in the face of these great challenges, we see arrogance. Instead of a solidarity pact, we are at a stalemate to destruction.”

Biden pledged to increase funding to $11.4 billion to help developing countries cope with the effects of climate change and build more environmentally friendly economies. Some are skeptical of his commitment.

Joseph Majkut is director of the Energy Security and Climate Change Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He said, “The US also has a history of making sizable promises of internet support for national climate finance but missing them once it’s time to actually send money.”

However, Biden’s speech was different from his predecessor’s rejection of multilateralism and globalism. But he faces an uphill battle in convincing allies that America is back and ready to lead.

Michael Kugelman, senior research fellow for South Asia at the Wilson Center, said, “The failures that occurred in Afghanistan during the American military withdrawal a few weeks ago have certainly caused a lot of concern in many important countries. And I think President Biden needs to use global forums like the UN General Assembly to try to send a very important message to the world, and engage his partners in NATO and allies in Asia, that regardless of what happens in Afghanistan, the United States remains committed. against his allies and partners.”

Despite the chaotic US withdrawal, Biden called the US exit from Afghanistan the end of “relentless wars” and the start of “a new era of relentless diplomacy.”

But on the diplomatic front, Biden has faced French anger over the recent UK and US announcements of supplying nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, scrapping President Emmanuel Macron’s conventional submarine deals.

While the shaky relationship needs to be repaired, analysts say, this is unlikely to have a lasting impact.

Stacie Goddard, professor of international relations at Wellesley College, said, “The bigger issue with US credibility is whether the US can continue to signal that it is willing to provide global public goods, security, economic assistance to its allies and partners. , and where necessary, cooperate with the rest of the world.”

That opportunity will come Wednesday (22/9), when Biden convenes a virtual summit on COVID-19 to gather world leaders to recommit to the fight against the pandemic. [uh/lt]

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