President-elect Joe Biden said on Tuesday the United States will be “ready to lead” again on the global stage, turning the page on President Donald Trump’s unilateralist policies as he pledged to work together with America’s allies.
Introducing his new foreign policy and national security team, the Democratic former vice president signaled he intends after taking office on Jan. 20 to steer the United States away from the “America First” nationalism pursued by Trump.
The Republican incumbent has unsettled many U.S. allies, in Europe and elsewhere, with an antagonistic approach toward the NATO alliance and trade relations, abandonment of international agreements and warm relationships with authoritarian leaders.
Biden said his team, which includes trusted aide Antony Blinken as his nominee for U.S. secretary of state, would shed what the president-elect described as “old thinking and unchanged habits” in its approach to foreign relations.
“It’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it, once again sit at the head of the table, ready to confront our adversaries and not reject our allies, ready to stand up for our values,” Biden said at the event in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.
The world is much changed since Democrats were last in the White House four years ago. China is on the rise and emboldened, Russia has sought to further assert its clout, U.S. influence has waned as it has pulled out of various accords, and American moral authority has been dented by turmoil at home.
Biden also has tapped Jake Sullivan as national security adviser, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security and John Kerry as envoy on climate-related issues. They appeared with Biden and underscored his message.
U.S. foreign policy under a Biden administration is likely to take more of a multilateral and diplomatic approach aimed at repairing Washington’s relationships with key U.S. allies and pursue new paths on issues such as climate change.
Biden said he has been struck in calls with roughly 20 world leaders “by how much they’re looking forward to the United States reasserting its historic role as a global leader.”
His promise to embrace alliances, including in the Asia-Pacific region, follows a deterioration in bilateral ties between the United States and China, the world’s top two economies, that has triggered comparisons to the Cold War.
This final year of Trump’s administration was marked by frequent China-bashing as the two powers sparred over China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, deteriorating freedoms in Hong Kong and territorial issues in the South China Sea.
While China is unlikely to find a soft alternative to Trump with Biden, diplomats and analysts expect a more measured tone and intensified efforts to strengthen alliances to counter Beijing.
In his remarks, Biden said that working with allies would help keep America safe without engaging in “needless military conflicts.” He did not reference the country’s longest war – the Afghanistan conflict – as Trump moves to reduce U.S. forces.
TRANSITION MOVES FORWARD
Biden has moved swiftly to assemble his team and make Cabinet choices after defeating Trump in the Nov. 3 election. Trump has waged a flailing legal battle to try to overturn the results, falsely claiming the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud.
Biden urged the Senate to give his nominees who require confirmation by the chamber “a prompt hearing” and expressed hope he could work with Republicans “in good faith to move forward for the country.”
“Let’s begin that work … to heal and unite America as well as the world,” Biden added.
Some Republican senators, however, indicated they may be prepared to stand in the way of his Cabinet appointments. Marco Rubio, a Foreign Relations Committee member, wrote on Twitter that Biden’s Cabinet picks “will be polite & orderly caretakers of America’s decline.”
Trump has said he will never concede the election but after weeks of limbo his administration on Monday finally gave the green light for the formal transfer of power to begin. That process had been held up despite Biden emerging as the clear winner and world leaders recognizing him as the next president.
In another sign that Trump had all but accepted his election loss, the White House gave the go-ahead for Biden to start receiving the president’s daily intelligence briefing.
Critics have said Trump’s refusal to accept the results undercut the incoming administration’s ability to combat the intensifying pandemic that has killed about 259,000 Americans and left millions more without jobs.
Pennsylvania became the latest pivotal state on Tuesday to certify that Biden had won. The Nevada Supreme Court on Tuesday also confirmed Biden had won the state, sending the results to Nevada’s Democratic governor for final certification.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, David Morgan, Patricia Zengerle, Humeyra Pamuk; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom, Doina Chiacu, Lisa Lambert, Karen Freifeld, Noeleen Walder and Tom Hals; Writing by Paul Simao: Editing by Ross Colvin and Will Dunham)