In his first public meeting with US European allies, President Joe Biden described the new struggle between the West and authoritarian forces. He declared that “the United States is back” while also acknowledging the impact on its power and influence over the past four years. Damage.
Biden addressed the Munich Security Conference at the White House. His speech emphasized the importance of revitalizing the alliance and working to defend Europe. This is to be expected.
But there are also some objections, especially the retreat of French President Emmanuel Macron. In his speech, he expressed enthusiastic defense of the concept of “strategic autonomy” in the United States, which shows that Europe can no longer be overly dependent. America now. More and more countries are focusing their attention on Asia, especially China.
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Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who stepped down within a year, praised Biden’s decision to cancel the withdrawal of 12,000 U.S. troops from the country and warned that “our interests are not Will always converge.” This seems to be Germany’s ambivalence when confronting China. China is the main market for its cars and other high-end German products. It is also related to the ongoing battle of the United States in building the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Russia.
However, the three leaders seemed to recognize that their first virtual meeting was a moment to celebrate the end of the “America First” era. Macron and Merkel welcomed Biden back to politics. They had been since the Senator. Very knowledgeable and vice president.
Biden used this moment to warn that in the Internet-powered narrative jointly promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, a common strategy is needed. This is the chaos surrounding the US election, which is democratic and democratic. One signal weakness and fading.
Biden said: “We must prove that democracy can still bring achievements to our people in this changing world, and we must prove that our model is not a historical relic.”
For the president, after serving as the vice chairman, he was an official visitor to the meeting, and even attended the meeting as a private citizen. The meeting was arranged as a video conference for this year’s host, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. European leaders decided to hold the same meeting for the brief, private meeting of the Group of 7 that Biden also participated in.
The pandemic permits, and the next face-to-face summit is still planned to be held in the UK this summer.
Biden never mentioned his predecessor Donald Trump in his speech, but around them erased traces of Trump’s attitude toward the world. He celebrated his return to the Paris climate agreement that took effect before the meeting, and announced a new initiative on Thursday night that, together with the United Kingdom, France and Germany, will diplomatically engage with Iran in a bid to restore Trump’s withdrawal in 2015. Nuclear agreement. .
But Biden did not elaborate on the agenda. Instead, he remembered the original principles that led to the formation of the Atlantic Alliance and NATO in 1949 before the start of the Cold War.
The President said: “Democracy does not happen by accident.” “We must defend it. Strengthen it. Renew it.”
In contrast to Trump’s intention, Trump once talked about withdrawing from NATO and repeatedly refused to recognize the United States’ responsibilities under Article 5 of the Allies’ Charter to assist the attacked members, but Biden prepared the United States to take it. The key responsibility of the alliance.
He said: “We will abide by our obligations,” adding that “an attack on one person is an attack on everyone.”
But he also urged Europe to think about challenges in a new way, which is different from the Cold War, even if the two biggest geostrategic opponents seem familiar.
He said: “We must jointly prepare for long-term strategic competition with China.” He named “cyberspace, artificial intelligence and biotechnology” as a new field of competition. He argued that he would overthrow Russia-he was named Putin by his last name and had no title. He specifically mentioned the need to respond to SolarWinds attacks on federal and corporate computer networks.
Biden said: “Resolving Russia’s behavior and intrusion into the United States and the entire European and world-wide computer networks have become vital to protecting collective security.”
The President avoids delving into the thorny issues of how to make Russia pay without exacerbating confrontation. A senior White House cyber official told reporters this week that the scope and depth of the Russian invasion is still under study, and officials are clearly looking for ways to fulfill Biden’s promise to make Putin pay for the attack.
But it was Macron’s motivation that caught people’s attention. Macron used to criticize the NATO alliance as being close to “brain death” and no longer “relevant” since the disappearance of the Warsaw Treaty.
Macron hopes that NATO will play more of a role as a political institution, where the status of European member states is equivalent to that of the United States, without being affected by the tendency of the United States to lead decision-making.
Macron insists that a Europe that is better able to defend itself and is more autonomous will make NATO “more powerful than before.” He said that Europe should “be more responsible for its own security” and increase its commitment to defense spending to “rebalance” transatlantic relations.
In many European countries that do not want to spend the required funds, this is not a common view. Central and Eastern European countries are unwilling to trust their security to any country other than the United States.
Macron also urged the update of NATO’s security capabilities to include “dialogue with Russia.” NATO has always claimed to be open to building better relations with Moscow, but Russia is not interested in this, especially since it has maintained international sanctions as long as it seized Crimea from Ukraine about seven years ago.
But Macron answered a question in English, and he also believes that Europe cannot rely on the United States as it has in the past few decades. He said: “We must bear more of the burden of protecting ourselves.”
In fact, it will take many years for Europe to build a defense agency that can be more self-reliant. But Macron is determined to start now, just as he is determined to improve the EU’s technical capabilities in order to reduce dependence on the US and Chinese supply chains.
In contrast, Biden hopes to deepen the hardware and software supply chain between like-minded Western allies in order to reduce China’s influence. He is preparing to propose a new joint project for European and American technology companies in semiconductors and Russia’s software used in SolarWinds hacking.
Given that Merkel is both a competitor of the West and a necessary partner of the West, it is Merkel that focuses on the complexity of dealing with China.
Merkel said: “In recent years, China has gained global influence. As a transatlantic partner and a democratic country, we must take some measures to deal with this problem.”
She said: “Russia continues to plunge European Union member states into mixed conflicts.” “So it is important that we put forward a transatlantic agenda for Russia. On the one hand, we propose cooperation offers, but on the other hand we clearly point out the differences.”
Although Biden announced that he will honor the U.S. pledge to donate $4 billion to the movement to accelerate the creation and distribution of coronavirus vaccines worldwide-the Democratic-led House of Representatives and the Republican-led Senate approved this move last year- There were obvious differences in methods during the meeting.
Macron emphasized the importance the European Union attaches to Africa and calls on Western countries to provide African governments with 13 million doses of vaccines “as soon as possible” to protect health workers.
He warned that if the alliance fails to do this, “our African friends will be pressured by their populations, so it is correct to buy drugs from China, Russians or directly from the laboratory.”
Macron said that vaccine donations will reflect “a common desire to increase and share the same value.” Otherwise, “the power of the West, Europeans and Americans will be just a concept, not a reality.”
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, also urged countries and pharmaceutical manufacturers to accelerate the global production and distribution of vaccines on Friday, and warned that if the world can “Back to Square 1,” some countries continue to carry out vaccination campaigns, while others are lagging behind.
Tedros said at the Munich conference: “Vaccine fairness is not only the right thing, but also the wisest thing.” He believes that the longer the population in each country is vaccinated, the longer the pandemic will be out of control. .
This article was originally published in The New York Times.
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