The United States is back and ready to work with like-minded nations to find solutions to the world’s pressing problems, President Joe Biden told the Munich Security Conference today.
The virtual conference is the clearest take yet that the United States is abandoning the America First program to work with allies and partners around the world.
Biden is no stranger to the Munich forum. He has attended and spoken to the group as senator, vice president, and in 2019, as a private citizen. “I speak today as president of the United States at the very start of my administration, and I’m sending a clear message to the world: America is back; the trans-Atlantic alliance is back. And we are not looking backward. We are looking forward together,” he said.
Over the past four years, the challenges the world faces have shifted, the president said. “We’re at an inflection point,” he said. “The global dynamics have shifted. New crises demand our attention. We cannot focus only on the competition among countries that threatened to divide the world or only on global challenges [that] have threatened to sink us all together if we fail to cooperate. We must do both, working in lockstep with our allies and partners.”
Biden bluntly and clearly sought to assuage any doubts allies and partners may have about U.S. policies moving forward. “The United States will work closely with our European Union partners and the capitals across the continent — from Rome to Riga — to meet the range of shared challenges we face,” he said. “We continue to support the goal of a Europe whole and free and at peace. The United States is fully committed to our NATO alliance. And I welcome Europe’s growing investment in the military capabilities that enable our shared defense.”
He called America’s commitment to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty that established NATO an “unshakable vow” that an attack on one ally is an attack on all.
He also said the United States will consult closely and often with allies and partners in other parts of the world on regional and global problems.
Afghanistan is an example of that, and the United States and allied nations will work together to ensure Afghanistan never again provides a base for terrorist attacks against the United States, its allies and interests.
“Our European partners have also stood with us to counter ISIS,” he said. “Just this week, NATO defense ministers endorsed significant, expanded training and advisory mission in Iraq, which will be vital to the ongoing fight against ISIS.”
The United States has launched a global posture review of the U.S. military. “While the United States is undergoing a thorough review of our own force posture around the world, I’ve ordered the halting of withdrawal of American troops from Germany,” Biden said. “I’m also lifting a cap imposed by the previous administration on the number of U.S. forces able to be based in Germany.”
The United States must “earn back” the trust it lost over the past four years, the president said. “The United States must renew America’s enduring advantages, so that we can meet today’s challenges from a position of strength,” he said. “That means building back better our economic foundations; reclaiming our place in international institutions; lifting up our values at home and speaking out to defend them around the world; modernizing our military capabilities while leading with diplomacy; revitalizing America’s network of alliances and partnerships that have made the world safer for all people.”