President Joe Biden addressed the UN General Assembly on Tuesday for his first time as President of the United States.
The UN General Assembly is a yearly gathering of all of the world leaders who are members of the United Nations. Biden was joined by fewer representatives than usual due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden greeted an audience eager to hear his approach to the assembly after former President Donald Trump championed an “America First” isolationist approach.
The Commander-in-Chief has also stoked tension with staunch European allies like France, who recalled its ambassadors to both the US and Australia in the fallout of America’s brand-new AUKUS alliance, entered into with the United Kingdom, in an attempt to strengthen Australia with nuclear submarines and counter China’s strength.
The deal caused Australia to abandon a $90 billion submarine deal with France, leaving the nation feeling angered and betrayed, causing them to recall its ambassadors, although experts say that the French submarine deal with Australia had been fraught with problems and they were not scheduled to be delivered until the year 2035.
With these tensions in mind, the President made a point to assure his audience that the U.S. would “compete vigorously and lead with our values and our strength to stand up for our allies and our friends.
“We’re not seeking — say it again, we are not seeking — a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs,” he added.
Biden said that the United States the first time in 20 years is not at war. “We’ve turned the page. All the unmatched strength, energy, commitment, will, and resources of our nation are now fully and squarely focused on what’s ahead of us, not what was behind.”
For the first time in 20 years, the United States is not at war. We’ve turned the page.
All the unmatched strength, energy, commitment, will, and resources of our nation are now fully and squarely focused on what’s ahead of us, not what was behind. pic.twitter.com/4n3HlIiUlY
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 21, 2021
Biden addresses complex web of issues at UN General Assembly
But this was just one of the myriad of urgent issues Biden was tasked with addressing at the event. The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and the recent takeover by the Taliban in Afghanistan were also on the table. Biden said that the UN leaders must draw strength from Democratic forms of government to engage with the growing number of struggles the world is facing.
“No matter how challenging or how complex the problems we’re going to face, government by and for the people is still the best way to deliver for all of our people,” said Biden.
The President directly addressed the pandemic, saying that: “We need a collective act of science and political will,” he said. “We need to act now to get shots in arms as fast as possible, and expand access to oxygen, tests, treatments, to save lives around the world.”
He also issued a stark warning on the scale of the climate crisis.
“This year has also brought widespread death and devastation from the borderless climate crisis,” Biden said. “Extreme weather events that we’ve 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.”
Biden’s statements on climate change appear to echo the remarks he gave in response to Hurricane Ida, a storm that ravaged much of the east coast and caused major flooding in New York City.