Joe Biden Faces Backlash Over Inept UN Speech
© REUTERS / KEVIN LAMARQUEU.S. President Joe Biden addresses the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, U.S., September 21, 2021.
© REUTERS / KEVIN LAMARQUE
Biden told his international peers that the world stands "at an inflection point in history," promising of multinational cooperation, and addressing a number of shared global challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging technologies and climate change — as well as the withdrawal of US military assets from Afghanistan.
Biden gave a speech to the UN General Assembly Tuesday that received criticism from several political figures over the lack of context on how America is leading.
Former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley criticized President Biden's address to the U.N. General Assembly, saying the speech "ignored the reality and seriousness of America's threats and enemies."
“With Joe Biden asleep at the switch, our friends don't trust us, and our enemies are rejoicing.”
Biden promised to “build back the world better,” and stressed the importance of global cooperation on critical issues.
"A collective act of science and political will" will be required to fight the pandemic, he added.
Amid Biden’s “chaotic” withdrawal from Afghanistan and the barrage of criticism his administration received after abandoning 38 million Afghan allies as the Taliban* set up a government in Kabul, his declaration that America “stands up for allies and friends” came into question.
21 September, 17:49 GMT
Biden framed the US withdrawal from Afghanistan as ending "a period of relentless war" and starting "a new era of relentless diplomacy."
While not mentioning China, he spoke of several challenges the US has with Beijing, that include cyberattacks, disinformation, freedom of navigation, economic safeguards, and protecting intellectual property.
Biden declared that "government by and for the people is still the best way to deliver for all of our people."
"We are not seeking the new Cold War, or the world divided into rigid blocks," Biden said, seemingly pointing to China, and adding that the US "is ready to work with any nation that pursues peaceful resolution to shared challenges.
Haley, who served under former President Trump, said what Biden "failed to address were the security threats imposed.”
She added that under the Trump administration, “the world knew where we stood.”
Congressional Republicans said Mr. Biden’s address contradicted the “messy” pull-out from Afghanistan, which they said invigorated American adversaries and undercut allies.
“Tough talk is useless if it’s followed by weak actions,” said Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Biden's speech to the UN may give him the opportunity to "reset the agenda" with countries concerned about the US commitment to multilateralism, said Alynna Lyon, a University of New Hampshire professor.
"Words are pretty hollow right now," Lyon said. "He can't just say he wants to work with other countries.”
It also needs to be accompanied by actions and resources, she said.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has also released a statement on Biden's speech, saying he "has damaged longstanding alliances, emboldened [US] enemies, and failed to stand for freedom", adding that the US president "has lost all credibility at home and abroad".
Biden's image both at home and abroad has been damaged indeed, mostly over the pullout from Afghanistan, which, some said, had not been appropriately planned. Many, including former President Donald Trump, suggested that it would have been more logical to withdraw American civilians and US weapons first, and only then — the military personnel.
Apart from Afghanistan, Biden has faced criticism over his handling of the border crisis and COVID-19 pandemic, while his approval rating has sunk in key battleground states.
* A terrorist organization banned in Russia