Category Archives: Foreign Policy

FACT SHEET: The Biden-Harris Administration’s National Security Strategy

Read the full strategy here


President Joe Biden outlined much of his National Security Strategy in his address to the United Nations General Assembly © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via MSNBC.

The White House released this fact sheet outlining the Biden-Harris Administration National Security Strategy:

President Biden’s National Security Strategy outlines how the United States will advance our vital interests and pursue a free, open, prosperous, and secure world. We will leverage all elements of our national power to out-compete our strategic competitors; tackle shared challenges; and shape the rules of the road.

The Strategy is rooted in our national interests: to protect the security of the American people, to expand economic opportunity, and to realize and defend the democratic values at the heart of the American way of life. In pursuit of these objectives, we will:

  • Invest in the underlying sources and tools of American power and influence;
  • Build the strongest possible coalition of nations to enhance our collective influence to shape the global strategic environment and to solve shared challenges; and
  • Modernize and strengthen our military so it is equipped for the era of strategic competition.

COOPERATION IN THE AGE OF COMPETITION
In the early years of this decisive decade, the terms of geopolitical competition will be set while the window of opportunity to deal with shared challenges will narrow. We cannot compete successfully to shape the international order unless we have an affirmative plan to tackle shared challenges, and we cannot do that unless we recognize how heightened competition affects cooperation and act accordingly.

Strategic Competition. The most pressing strategic challenge we face as we pursue a free, open, prosperous, and secure world are from powers that layer authoritarian governance with a revisionist foreign policy.

  • We will effectively compete with the People’s Republic of China, which is the only competitor with both the intent and, increasingly, the capability to reshape the international order, while constraining a dangerous Russia.
  • Strategic competition is global, but we will avoid the temptation to view the world solely through a competitive lens, and engage countries on their own terms.

Shared Challenges. While this competition is underway, people all over the world are struggling to cope with the effects of shared challenges that cross borders—whether it is climate change, food insecurity, communicable diseases, or inflation. These shared challenges are not marginal issues that are secondary to geopolitics. They are at the very core of national and international security and must be treated as such.

  • We are building the strongest and broadest coalition of nations to enhance our collective capacity to solve these challenges and deliver for the American people and those around the world.
  • To preserve and increase international cooperation in an age of competition, we will pursue a dual-track approach. On one track, we will work with any country, including our competitors, willing to constructively address shared challenges within the rules-based international order and while working to strengthen international institutions. On the other track, we will deepen cooperation with democracies at the core of our coalition, creating a latticework of strong, resilient, and mutually reinforcing relationships that prove democracies can deliver for their people and the world.

INVESTING AT HOME
The Biden-Harris Administration has broken down the dividing line between domestic and foreign policy because our strength at home and abroad are inextricably linked. The challenges of our age, from strategic competition to climate change, require us to make investments that sharpen our competitive edge and bolster our resilience.

  • Our democracy is at the core of who we are and is a continuous work in progress. Our system of government enshrines the rule of law and strives to protect the equality and dignity of all individuals. As we strive to live up to our ideals, to reckon with and remedy our shortcomings, we will inspire others around the world to do the same.
  • We are complementing the innovative power of the private sector with a modern industrial strategy that makes strategic public investments in our workforce, strategic sectors, and supply chains, especially in critical and emerging technologies.
  • A powerful U.S. military helps advance and safeguard vital U.S. national interests by backstopping diplomacy, confronting aggression, deterring conflict, projecting strength, and protecting the American people and their economic interests. We are modernizing our military, pursuing advanced technologies, and investing in our defense workforce to best position America to defend our homeland, our allies, partners, and interests overseas, and our values across the globe.

OUR ENDURING LEADERSHIP
The United States will continue to lead with strength and purpose, leveraging our national advantages and the power of our alliances and partnerships. We have a tradition of transforming both domestic and foreign challenges into opportunities to spur reform and rejuvenation at home. The idea that we should compete with major autocratic powers to shape the international order enjoys broad support that is bipartisan at home and deepening abroad.

  • Our alliances and partnerships around the world are our most important strategic asset that we will deepen and modernize for the benefit of our national security.
  • We place a premium on growing the connective tissue on technology, trade and security between our democratic allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific and Europe because we recognize that they are mutually reinforcing and the fates of the two regions are intertwined.
  • We are charting new economic arrangements to deepen economic engagements with our partners and shaping the rules of the road to level the playing field and enable American workers and businesses—and those of partners and allies around the world—to thrive.
  • As we deepen our partnerships around the world, we will look for more democracy, not less, to shape the future. We recognize that while autocracy is at its core brittle, democracy’s inherent capacity to transparently course-correct enables resilience and progress.

AFFIRMATIVE ENGAGEMENT
The United States is a global power with global interests; we are stronger in each region because of our engagement in the others. We are pursuing an affirmative agenda to advance peace and security and to promote prosperity in every region.

  • As an Indo-Pacific power, the United States has a vital interest in realizing a region that is open, interconnected, prosperous, secure, and resilient. We are ambitious because we know that we and our allies and partners hold a common vision for the region’s future.
  • With a relationship rooted in shared democratic values, common interests, and historic ties, the transatlantic relationship is a vital platform on which many other elements of our foreign policy are built. To effectively pursue a common global agenda, we are broadening and deepening the transatlantic bond.
  • The Western Hemisphere directly impacts the United States more than any other region so we will continue to revive and deepen those partnerships to advance economic resilience, democratic stability, and citizen security.
  • A more integrated Middle East that empowers our allies and partners will advance regional peace and prosperity, while reducing the resource demands the region makes on the United States over the long term.
  • In Africa, the dynamism, innovation, and demographic growth of the region render it central to addressing complex global problems.

Diplomacy, Economic Development , US Global Leadership Are Key to Biden’s New Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability

Letter from the President on the Implementation of the Global Fragility Act

 

President Joe Biden, speaking in Warsaw, points to Russia’s unprovoked, criminal invasion of Ukraine in advancing his U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability, in which the United States plays a leadership role – maximizing diplomacy and economic development – in helping countries address the root causes of conflict. ‘The world stands today at the dawn of a decisive decade — a moment of consequence and peril, of profound pain and extraordinary possibility.  Perhaps now more than ever, we have seen how the most urgent challenges of our time do not confine themselves within national borders. .. It is against this backdrop — at this inflection point in history — that America must lead.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc

The world stands today at the dawn of a decisive decade — a moment of consequence and peril, of profound pain and extraordinary possibility.  Perhaps now more than ever, we have seen how the most urgent challenges of our time do not confine themselves within national borders.  A global pandemic that has claimed more than six million lives.  A climate crisis that threatens the future of every continent.  An emboldening of autocrats who believe that democracy and multilateralism cannot deliver in the 21st century.  These tests, and more, are among the sternest that the world has ever faced.
 
It is against this backdrop — at this inflection point in history — that America must lead.  We know all too well that today’s most pressing challenges — their root causes as well as their impacts — are global in nature.  We know that America’s security and success hinge in no small measure on the peace and stability of the world beyond our borders.  We know that beneath the global crises we face lie breathtaking opportunities for our Nation and the world — if we can summon the will to seize them.
 
This document — a prologue to the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability — represents an assertion of American leadership to take on the defining global challenges of our time.  Driven in large part by the tireless commitment of humanitarian advocates and civil society organizations working on the front lines of conflict, this Strategy is the product of a bipartisan vision, manifested by the passage of the Global Fragility Act in December 2019 with overwhelming bipartisan majorities.  It provides a roadmap:  a 10-year effort to strengthen the security and prosperity of people everywhere by helping to fortify the footing of parts of the world that continue to grapple with challenges that can lead to destabilizing conflict and violence.  It is, in short, an investment in global peace and security — one which will deliver critical returns not only in the nations with whom we’ll be working, but, most of all, here in the United States.
 
The heartbreaking images we are seeing in Ukraine — the result of a vicious and unprovoked attack by Vladimir Putin — are only the latest reminder of the tragic consequences of global conflict and the need to avert violence before it erupts.  We know that working broadly, strategically, and cooperatively to prevent conflict and instability is the greatest investment we can make in America’s future, and in the future of the entire world.  In Ukraine, as in Ethiopia, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere around the world, the incalculable toll of lives lost, families separated, economies destroyed, and social fabrics torn threatens to spiral whole regions into cycles of violence and loss that can linger for generations.  Doing all that we can to assist communities around the world in their conflict prevention efforts is more than just the right thing to do.  It saves lives, safeguards Americans’ own security and prosperity, and establishes the United States as a trusted partner — a force for peace and stability in the world, and a nation that can be counted on to work and learn productively alongside the nations of every region to tackle common challenges and strengthen our shared future.
 
This Strategy lays out a whole-of-government approach to advancing America’s national interests on the world stage.  This means tapping into the expansive expertise and resources that reside across our Government, sharpening and updating those tools where needed, humbly applying the costly and painful lessons from the past, and transforming the way we work with each other.  Our diplomats, officers, and experts in the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Treasury, and others across Government, as well as members of the Foreign Service and Armed Forces, will work in close cooperation with multilateral organizations and a wide variety of local partners in each nation where these efforts will be pursued — including civil society organizations, community leaders, businesses, and government officials. 

Those who are closest and most vulnerable to these challenges know best where the opportunities for peace and stability lie — they represent the strongest source of promise and immunity from destabilizing forces, and we must support their strength and resilience.  From strengthening social institutions and state-society relations, to mitigating the spread of extremist ideologies, to confronting the corrosive impact of gender inequality, to cultivating greater trust between security forces and citizens, to guarding against the destabilizing threat of climate change — we will help foster locally led, locally owned solutions grounded in mutual trust and long-term accountability.
 
Prevention is hard work — measured not in days and weeks, but in years and generations.  Its successes are never as evident as its failures, and it requires us to remain focused on lasting peace and stability over the allure of easier, more temporary gains that may not strengthen our position in the long term.  But, with this Strategy, we are committing ourselves to the effort.  As we implement this Strategy, my Administration looks forward to working closely with the Congress on a bipartisan basis, and in close consultation with civil society institutions and stakeholders on every level.  United in our vision, America can and must lead this essential new effort to interrupt potential pathways to conflict, alleviate threats before they escalate and arrive on our shores, and help safeguard the economy, health, and security of our Nation for generations to come. –Joseph R. Biden, Jr. 
 

Addressing the Collective Challenges of our Time:

Implementing the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability

Every country, including our own, experiences risks and challenges related to stability and conflict.  The international community grapples with issues that cut across borders, societies, ways of life, and economies.  As the world has witnessed too often, the effects of conflict and instability are not constrained by borders or technologies.  Cooperation and long-term investments in conflict prevention and stabilization are needed now more than ever to build peace across divided communities and boundaries.  We must collectively bolster societal resilience to prevent and reduce the heavy human and financial costs of conflicts that undermine global peace, security and sustainable development. 
 
On March 24, 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration launched the implementation of the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability with partner countries across the globe.  The Strategy outlines a ten-year, evidence-based, whole-of-government effort to foster peace and long-term stability through integrated U.S. diplomacy, development, and security-sector engagement with dual goals of strengthening national and regional peace, resilience and stability and enhancing the way our government operates in a variety of contexts.
 
Through collective action and partnership, the United States seeks to advance the vision and goals of the landmark Global Fragility Act through this Strategy in four diverse countries and one sub-region facing a wide variety of challenges to peace and stability.  This Strategy advances U.S. national security and interests.  The work now underway represents an important milestone, and next step, in the implementation of the Global Fragility Act, which continues to enjoy strong support within the U.S. Congress and among civil society.  Through a spirit of partnership, we can and will build on strengths of communities, governments, and nations to rebound from shocks, confront negative global trends and create new paradigms for broader cooperation.  The Strategy and Prologue chart a new path toward positive results that strengthen democracy, rule of law, security, good governance, gender equity and equality, health, education, and respect for human rights all aligned to fuel reservoirs of peace, strength and recovery and extinguish potential discord before it is sparked.
 
The United States will partner with Haiti, Libya, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, and Coastal West Africa (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, and Togo) guided by these principles:

  • Work collaboratively with government and civic partners on an integrated approach to prevent conflict, promote resilience and stability, and advance economic development;
     
  • Look beyond urgent crises and near-term needs to focus on mutually determined strategic goals and interests through whole-of-government ten-year plans;
     
  • Utilize development, diplomacy, and security-sector means in a coordinated way to support the pursuit of goals, foster an enabling environment, and solidify progress;
     
  • Provide new tools and insights to strengthen democratic institutions, for example in the areas of rule of law, anti-corruption, law enforcement, and fiscal transparency, and to promote human rights and gender equity and equality;
     
  • Adapt to and learning from changing conditions, anchor efforts in local communities, and make strategic adjustments based on joint analyses, research, and monitoring and evaluation; and
     
  • Take a multifaceted approach to address other current and emerging challenges, such as the climate crisis, global pandemics and declining democratic practices. 

The U.S. Congress authorized up to $200 million a year for these efforts and appropriated $125 million in Fiscal Year 2022 for the Prevention and Stabilization Fund, which supplements existing bilateral U.S. assistance to these partner countries.  This funding will support the development of ten-year implementation plans and related regional and multilateral activities.

The Biden-Harris Administration will closely monitor progress, milestones, and accomplishments under the Strategy.  These efforts will endure across future U.S. Administrations and advance much needed innovative approaches to peace and stability.

Read the Biden letter on the Global Fragility Act Implementation

Biden Announces New Sanctions in Response to Russia Invading Ukraine

President Joe Biden announces new sanctions on Russia after Putin initiated an invasion into Ukraine. “Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belonged to his neighbors?  This is a flagrant violation of international law, and it demands a firm response from the international community…. He directly attacked Ukraine’s right to exist.  He indirectly threatened territory formerly held by Russia, including nations that today are thriving democracies and members of NATO.  He explicitly threatened war unless his extreme demands were met. And there is no question that Russia is the aggressor.  So we’re clear-eyed about the challenges we’re facing.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc

Today, in response to Vladimir Putin increasing hostilities against Ukraine, deploying Russian forces into Ukraine and giving a speech in which the Russian President dismissed Ukraine’s right to exist as a free and sovereign nation, President Joe Biden issued a tranche of new sanctions.

“Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belonged to his neighbors?  This is a flagrant violation of international law, and it demands a firm response from the international community…. He directly attacked Ukraine’s right to exist.  He indirectly threatened territory formerly held by Russia, including nations that today are thriving democracies and members of NATO.  He explicitly threatened war unless his extreme demands were met. And there is no question that Russia is the aggressor.  So we’re clear-eyed about the challenges we’re facing.

Here is a transcript of his remarks:

Yesterday, Vladimir Putin recognized two regions of Ukraine as independent states and he bizarrely asserted that these regions are no longer part of Ukraine and their sovereign territory.  To put it simply, Russia just announced that it is carving out a big chunk of Ukraine. 

Last night, Putin authorized Russian forces to deploy into the region — these regions.  Today, he asserted that these regions are — actually extend deeper than the two areas he recognized, claiming large areas currently under the jurisdiction of the Ukraine government. 

He’s setting up a rationale to take more territory by force, in my view.  And if we listen to his speech last night — and many of you did, I know — he’s — he’s setting up a rationale to go much further.

This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, as he indicated and asked permission to be able to do from his Duma. 

I’m going to begin to impose sanctions in response, far beyond the steps we and our Allies and partners implemented in 2014.  And if Russia goes further with this invasion, we stand prepared to go further as — with sanction.

Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belonged to his neighbors?  This is a flagrant violation of international law, and it demands a firm response from the international community. 

Over the last few months, we have coordinated closely with our NATO Allies and partners in Europe and around the world to prepare that response.  We’ve said all along and I’ve told Putin to his face more than a month ago that we would act together and the moment Russia moved against Ukraine. 

Russia has now undeniably moved against Ukraine by declaring these independent states. 

So, today, I’m announcing the first tranche of sanctions to impose costs on Russia in response to their actions yesterday.  These have been closely coordinated with our Allies and partners, and we’ll continue to escalate sanctions if Russia escalates. 

We’re implementing full blocking sanctions on two large Russian financial institutions: V.E.B. and their military bank. 

We’re implementing comprehensive sanctions on Russian sovereign debt.  That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing.  It can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either.

Starting tomorrow [today] and continuing in the days ahead, we will also impose sanctions on Russia’s elites and their family members.  They share in the corrupt gains of the Kremlin policies and should share in the pain as well. 

And because of Russia’s actions, we’ve worked with Germany to ensure Nord Stream 2 will not — as I promised — will not move forward.

As Russia contemplates its next move, we have our next move prepared as well.  Russia will pay an even steeper price if it continues its aggression, including additional sanctions.

The United States will continue to provide defensive assistance to Ukraine in the meantime.  And we’ll continue to reinforce and reassure our NATO Allies. 

Today, in response to Russia’s admission that it will not withdraw its forces from Belarus, I have authorized additional movements of U.S. forces and equipment already stationed in Europe to strengthen our Baltic Allies — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Let me be clear: These are totally defensive moves on our part.  We have no intention of fighting Russia.  We want to send an unmistakable message, though, that the United States, together with our Allies, will defend every inch of NATO territory and abide by the commitments we made to NATO.

We still believe that Russia is poised to go much further in launching a massive military attack against Ukraine.  I hope I’m wrong about that — hope we’re wrong about that.  But Russia has only escalated its threat against the rest of Ukrainian territory, including major cities and including the capital city of Kyiv.

There are still well over 150,000 Russian troops surrounding Ukraine.  And as I said, Russian forces remain positioned in Belarus to attack Ukraine from the north, including war planes and offensive missile systems.

Russia has moved troops closer to Ukraine’s border with Russia.  Russia’s naval vessels are maneuvering in the Black Sea to Ukraine’s south, including amphibious assault ships, missile cruisers, and submarines. 

Russia has moved supplies of blood and medical equipment into position on their border.  You don’t need blood unless you plan on starting a war. 

And over the last few days, we’ve seen much of the playbook that Secretary Blinken laid out last week at the United Nations Security Council come to pass: a major increase in military provocations and false-flag events along the line of contact in the Donbas; dramatically staged, conveniently on-camera meeting of Putin’s Security Council to grandstand for the Russian public; and now political provocation of recognizing sovereign Ukrainian territory as so-called independent republics in clear violation, again, of international law. 

President Putin has sought authorization from the Russian parliament to use military force outside of Russian territory.  And this set the stage for further pretexts and further provocations by Russia to try to justify further military action.

None of us — none of us should be fooled.  None of us will be fooled.  There is no justification. 

Further Russian assault into Ukraine remains a severe threat in the days ahead.  And if Russia proceeds, it is Russia, and Russia alone, that bears the responsibility. 

As we respond, my administration is using every tool at our disposal to protect American businesses and consumers from rising prices at the pump.  As I said last week, defending freedom will have costs for us as well, here at home.  We need to be honest about that. 

But as we do this, I’m going to take robust action and make sure the pain of our sanctions is targeted at the Russian economy, not ours.

We are closely monitoring energy supplies for any disruption.  We’re executing a plan in coordination with major oil-producing consumers and producers toward a collective investment to secure stability and global energy supplies. 

This will be — this will blunt gas prices.  I want to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump.  This is critical to me. 

In the last few days, I have been in constant contact with European leaders, including with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy.  Vice President Harris met in person with leaders in Germany over the weekend at the Munich Conference, including President Zelenskyy. 

At every step, we have shown that the United States and our Allies and partners are working in unison — which he hasn’t been counting on — Mr. Putin.  We’re united in our support of Ukraine.  We’re united in our opposition to Russian aggression.  And we’re united in our resolve to defend our NATO Alliance.  And we’re united in our understanding of the urgency and seriousness of the threat Russia is making to global peace and stability. 

Yesterday, the world heard clearly the full extent of Vladimir Putin’s twisted rewrite of history, going back more than a century, as he waxed eloquently, noting that — well, I’m not going to go into it, but nothing in Putin’s lengthy remarks indicated any interest in pursuing real dialogue on European security in the year 2022. 

He directly attacked Ukraine’s right to exist.  He indirectly threatened territory formerly held by Russia, including nations that today are thriving democracies and members of NATO.  He explicitly threatened war unless his extreme demands were met. 

And there is no question that Russia is the aggressor.  So we’re clear-eyed about the challenges we’re facing. 

Nonetheless, there is still time to avert the worst-case scenario that will bring untold suffering to millions of people if they move as suggested. 

The United States and our Allies and partners remain open to diplomacy if it is serious.  When all is said and done, we’re going to judge Russia by its actions, not its words.

And whatever Russia does next, we’re ready to respond with unity, clarity, and conviction. 

We’ll probably have more to say about this as we — if it moves on.  I’m hoping diplomacy is still available. 

FACT SHEET:
United States Imposes First Tranche of Swift and Severe Costs on Russia 

U.S. joined by Allies and partners to hold Putin accountable; Will impose additional costs if Russia goes further with this invasion


Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin of Russia recognized two regions of Ukraine as independent states and today claimed that recognition to include all of the Donbas region. The Russian Parliament also authorized the deployment of additional Russian forces into this Ukrainian territory. 
 
As President Biden and our Allies and partners have made clear, we will impose significant costs on Russia for Russia’s actions. Today, the Administration is implementing the first tranche of sanctions that go far beyond 2014, in coordination with allies and partners in the European Union, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and Australia. And as President Biden promised, we worked with Germany to ensure the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will not move forward.

The President has directed the following measures:

  • Full blocking sanctions on two significant Russian financial institutions. The Secretary of the Treasury will impose full blocking sanctions on two large state-owned Russian financial institutions that provide key services crucial to financing the Kremlin and the Russian military: Vnesheconombank and Promsvyazbank and their subsidiaries. Collectively, these institutions hold more than $80 billion in assets and finance the Russian defense sector and economic development. These measures will freeze their assets in the United States, prohibit U.S. individuals and businesses from doing any transactions with them, shut them out of the global financial system, and foreclose access to the U.S. dollar.
     
  • Expanded sovereign debt prohibitions restricting U.S. individuals and firms from participation in secondary markets for new debt issued by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, and the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation.  These prohibitions will cut off the Russian government from a key avenue by which it raises capital to fund its priorities and will increase future financing costs. It denies Russia access to key U.S. markets and investors.
     
  • Full blocking sanctions on five Russian elites and their family members: Aleksandr Bortnikov (and his son, Denis), Sergei Kiriyenko (and his son, Vladimir), and Promsvyazbank CEO Petr Fradkov. These individuals and their relatives directly benefit from their connections with the Kremlin. Other Russian elites and their family members are on notice that additional actions could be taken against them.
     
  • Today, the Secretary of the Treasury will determine that any institution in the financial services sector of the Russian Federation economy is a target for further sanctions. Over 80% of Russia’s daily foreign exchange transactions globally are in U.S. dollars and roughly half of Russia’s international trade is conducted in dollars. With this action, no Russian financial institution is safe from our measures, including the largest banks. 

These actions come in addition to steps being taken by our Allies and partners and represent our first response to Russia’s actions. As President Biden made clear, Russia will pay an even steeper price if it continues its aggression


From the US State Department: G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on Russia and Ukraine 

President Joe Biden, at his February 7 meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to express solidarity in deterring Russia from invading Ukraine. The G7 issued a statement, declaring “We reaffirm our solidarity with the people of Ukraine and our support to Ukraine’s efforts to strengthen its democracy and institutions, encouraging further progress on reform. We consider it of utmost importance to help preserve the economic and financial stability of Ukraine and the well-being of its people.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

The text of the following statement was released by the G7 foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union.

We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union, remain gravely concerned about Russia’s threatening military build-up around Ukraine, in illegally annexed Crimea and in Belarus. Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified massing of military forces, the largest deployment on the European continent since the end of the Cold War is a challenge to global security and the international order.

We call on Russia to choose the path of diplomacy, to de-escalate tensions, to substantively withdraw military forces from the proximity of Ukraine’s borders and to fully abide by international commitments including on risk reduction and transparency of military activities. As a first step, we expect Russia to implement the announced reduction of its military activities along Ukraine’s borders. We have seen no evidence of this reduction. We will judge Russia by its deeds.

We took note of Russia’s latest announcements that it is willing to engage diplomatically. We underline our commitment vis-à-vis Russia to pursue dialogue on issues of mutual concern, such as European security, risk reduction, transparency, confidence building and arms control. We also reiterate our commitment to find a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the current crisis, and we urge Russia to take up the offer of dialogue through the US-Russia Strategic Stability Dialogue, the NATO-Russia Council, and the OSCE. We commend the Renewed OSCE European Security Dialogue launched by the Polish OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office and express our strong hope that Russia will engage in a constructive way.

Any threat or use of force against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states goes against the fundamental principles that underpin the rules-based international order as well as the European peace and security order enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act, the Paris Charter and other subsequent OSCE declarations. While we are ready to explore diplomatic solutions to address legitimate security concerns, Russia should be in no doubt that any further military aggression against Ukraine will have massive consequences, including financial and economic sanctions on a wide array of sectoral and individual targets that would impose severe and unprecedented costs on the Russian economy. We will take coordinated restrictive measures in case of such an event.

We reaffirm our solidarity with the people of Ukraine and our support to Ukraine’s efforts to strengthen its democracy and institutions, encouraging further progress on reform. We consider it of utmost importance to help preserve the economic and financial stability of Ukraine and the well-being of its people. Building on our assistance since 2014, we are committed to contribute, in close coordination with Ukraine’s authorities to support the strengthening of Ukraine’s resilience.

We reiterate our unwavering commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders and territorial waters. We reaffirm the right of any sovereign state to determine its own future and security arrangements. We commend Ukraine’s posture of restraint in the face of continued provocations and efforts at destabilization.

We underline our strong appreciation and continued support for Germany’s and France’s efforts through the Normandy Process to secure the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements, which is the only way forward for a lasting political solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. We acknowledge public statements by President Zelensky underlining Ukraine’s firm commitment to the Minsk Agreements and his readiness to contribute constructively to the process. Ukrainian overtures merit serious consideration by Russian negotiators and by the Government of the Russian Federation. We call on Russia to seize the opportunity which Ukraine’s proposals represent for the diplomatic path.

Russia must de-escalate and fulfil its commitments in implementing the Minsk Agreements. The increase in ceasefire violations along the line of contact in recent days is highly concerning. We condemn the use of heavy weaponry and indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas, which constitute a clear violation of the Minsk Agreements. We also condemn that the Russian Federation continues to hand out Russian passports to the inhabitants of the non-government controlled areas of Ukraine. This clearly runs counter to the spirit of the Minsk agreements.

We are particularly worried by measures taken by the self-proclaimed “People’s Republics” which must be seen as laying the ground for military escalation. We are concerned that staged incidents could be used as a pretext for possible military escalation. Russia must use its influence over the self-proclaimed republics to exercise restraint and de-escalate.

In this context, we firmly express our support for the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission, whose observers play a key role in de-escalation efforts. This mission must be allowed to carry out its full mandate without restrictions to its activities and freedom of movement to the benefit and security of the people in eastern Ukraine.

Biden Lays Down the Law for Putin: ‘We are Ready to Respond Decisively to a Russian Attack on Ukraine’

President Joe Biden:  “This is about more than just Russia and Ukraine.  It’s about standing for what we believe in, for the future we want for our world, for liberty — for liberty, the right of countless countries to choose their own destiny, and the right of people to determine their own futures, for the principle that a country can’t change its neighbor’s borders by force.  That’s our vision.  And toward that end, I’m confident that vision, that freedom will prevail. If Russia proceeds, we will rally the world to oppose its aggression.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

I feel so much more secure with President Joe Biden managing the Russia crisis – it’s threat to invade Ukraine. Russia is threatening the worst violence in Europe since World War II, and this bit of brinksmanship is the worst since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Biden is using just the right measure of carrots and sticks and showing extraordinary leadership in keeping the allies together, on the same page. Putin miscalculated Biden, incorrectly assessing the Afghanistan exit as weakness and lack of resolve instead of fortitude and competence (the largest air lift in that short amount of time remarkably). In  his speech, Biden spoke directly to Americans and the allies in stating the importance in defending democracy and Ukraine’s self-determination and sovereignty against Russian imperialistic, autocratic aggression, recognizing that just like Chamberlain and Hitler, appeasement (as after Russia invaded Georgia and then took Crimea), would not stop with Ukraine.

Biden spoke directly to the Russian people, too, noting that they are not the enemy, but Putin acting out of ego and selfish obsession with power, putting their lives and economy at risk. He was firm and clear about what Russia would face if Putin stepped a foot into Ukraine territory – releasing declassified intel to take away Putin’s ability to mount a false-flag operation or cyberattack. And he spoke to Americans as well, to prepare us for the fall-out – such as higher energy prices. Preserving democracy has a cost, he said, while giving assurances his administration was doing what it could to mitigate the bad impacts. And he has been on top of the planning – with table-top exercises to react to whatever happens.

He was firm that while he is interested in a diplomatic, rather than military, solution, he has no interest in appeasement.

Imagine if Trump were in the Oval Office – he’d shut down NATO, shut down United Nations and give his puppetmaster a green light (What did Trump react to, today? His accounting firm, Mazar’s, firing the Trump Organization as a client, saying they couldn’t vouch for the reliability of its tax returns from 2011-2020.)

Here’s a highlighted transcript of Biden’s speech—Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  Today, I’d like to provide an update on the crisis involving Russia and Ukraine.
 
From the beginning of this crisis, I have been absolutely clear and consistent: The United States is prepared no matter what happens. 
 
We are ready with diplomacy — to be engaged in diplomacy with Russia and our Allies and partners to improve stability and security in Europe as a whole. 
 
And we are ready to respond decisively to a Russian attack on Ukraine, which is still very much a possibility.
 
Through all of the events of the last few weeks and months, this has been our approach.  And it remains our approach now.
 
So, today I want to speak to the American people about the situation on the ground, the steps we’ve taken, the actions we’re prepared to take, and what’s at stake for us and the world, and how this may impact on us here at home.
 
For weeks now, together with our Allies and partners, my administration has engaged in non-stop diplomacy.
 
This weekend I spoke again with President Putin to make clear that we are ready to keep pursuing high-level diplomacy to reach written understandings among Russia, the United States, and the nations of Europe to address legitimate security concerns if that’s what — his wish.  Their security concerns and ours.
 
President Putin and I agreed that our teams should continue to engage toward this end along with our European Allies and partners.
 
Yesterday, the Russian government publicly proposed to continue the diplomacy.  I agree.  We should give the diplomacy every chance to succeed.  I believe there are real ways to address our respective security concerns.
 
The United States has put on the table concrete ideas to establish a security environment in Europe.
 
We’re proposing new arms control measures, new transparency measures, new strategic stability measures.  These measures would apply to all parties — NATO and Russia alike.
 
And we’re willing to make practical, results-oriented steps that can advance our common security.  We will not sacrifice basic principles, though.
 
Nations have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity.  They have the freedom to set their own course and choose with whom they will associate.
 
But that still leaves plenty of room for diplomacy and for de-escalation.  That’s the best way forward for all parties, in our view.  And we’ll continue our diplomatic efforts in close consultation with our Allies and our partners.
 
As long as there is hope of a diplomatic resolution that prevents the use of force and avoids the incredible human suffering that would follow, we will pursue it.
 
The Russian Defense Ministry reported today that some military units are leaving their positions near Ukraine.
 
That would be good, but we have not yet verified that.  We have not yet verified that Russian military units are returning to their home bases.  Indeed, our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position.  And the fact remains: Right now, Russia has more than 150,000 troops encircling Ukraine in Belarus and along Ukraine’s border.
 
An invasion remains distinctly possible.  That’s why I’ve asked several times that all Americans in Ukraine leave now before it’s too late to leave safely.  It is why we have temporarily relocated our embassy from Kyiv to Lviv in western Ukraine, approaching the Polish border. 
 
And we’ve been transparent with the American people and with the world about Russia’s plans and the seriousness of the situation so that everyone can see for themselves what is happening.  We have shared what we know and what we are doing about it.
 
Let me be equally clear about what we are not doing:
 
The United States and NATO are not a threat to Russia.  Ukraine is not threatening Russia. 
 
Neither the U.S. nor NATO have missiles in Ukraine.  We do not — do not have plans to put them there as well.
 
We’re not targeting the people of Russia.  We do not seek to destabilize Russia.
 
To the citizens of Russia: You are not our enemyAnd I do not believe you want a bloody, destructive war against Ukraine — a country and a people with whom you share such deep ties of family, history, and culture.
 
Seventy-seven years ago, our people fought and sacrificed side by side to end the worst war in history.
 
World War Two was a war of necessity.  But if Russia attacks Ukraine, it would be a war of choice, or a war without cause or reason.
 
I say these things not to provoke but to speak the truth — because the truth matters; accountability matters.
 
If Russia does invade in the days or weeks ahead, the human cost for Ukraine will be immense, and the strategic cost for Russia will also be immense.
 
If Russia attacks Ukraine, it’ll be met with overwhelming international condemnation.  The world will not forget that Russia chose needless death and destruction.
 
Invading Ukraine will prove to be a self-inflicted wound.
 
The United States and our Allies and partners will respond decisively.  The West is united and galvanized.
 
Today, our NATO Allies and the Alliance is as unified and determined as it has ever been.   And the source of our unbreakable strength continues to be the power, resilience, and universal appeal of our shared democratic values.
 
Because this is about more than just Russia and Ukraine.  It’s about standing for what we believe in, for the future we want for our world, for liberty — for liberty, the right of countless countries to choose their own destiny, and the right of people to determine their own futures, for the principle that a country can’t change its neighbor’s borders by force.  That’s our vision.  And toward that end, I’m confident that vision, that freedom will prevail.
 
If Russia proceeds, we will rally the world to oppose its aggression.
 
The United States and our Allies and partners around the world are ready to impose powerful sanctions on [and] export controls, including actions we did not pursue when Russia invaded Crimea and eastern Ukraine in 2014.  We will put intense pressure on their largest and most significant financial institutions and key industries.
 
These measures are ready to go as soon and if Russia moves.  We’ll impose long-term consequences that will undermine Russia’s ability to compete economically and strategically.
 
And when it comes to Nord Stream 2, the pipeline that would bring natural gas from Russia to Germany, if Russia further invades Ukraine, it will not happen.
 
While I will not send American servicemen to fight Russia in Ukraine, we have supplied the Ukrainian military with equipment to help them defend themselves.  We have provided training and advice and intelligence for the same purpose. 
 
And make no mistake: The United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power.  An attack against one NATO country is an attack against all of us.  And the United States commitment to Article 5 is sacrosanct. 
 
Already, in response to Russia’s build-up of troops, I have sent additional U.S. forces to bolster NATO’s eastern flank.
 
Several of our Allies have also announced they’ll add forces and capabilities to ensure deterrence and defense along NATO’s eastern flank.
 
We will also continue to conduct military exercises with our Allies and partners to enhance defensive readiness. 
 
And if Russia invades, we will take further steps to reinforce our presence in NATO, reassure for our Allies, and deter further aggression.
 
This is a cause that unites Republicans and Democrats.  And I want to thank the leaders and members of Congress of both parties who have forcefully spoken out in defense of our most basic, most bipartisan, most American principles.
 
I will not pretend this will be painless.  There could be impact on our energy prices, so we are taking active steps to alleviate the pressure on our own energy markets and offset rising prices.
 
We’re coordinating with major energy consumers and producers.  We’re prepared to deploy all the tools and authority at our disposal to provide relief at the gas pump. 
 
And I will work with Congress on additional measures to help protect consumers and address the impact of prices at the pump.
 
We are not seeking direct confrontation with Russia, though I have been clear that if Russia targets Americans in Ukraine, we will respond forcefully.
 
And if Russia attacks the United States or our Allies through asymmetric means, like disruptive cyberattacks against our companies or critical infrastructure, we are prepared to respond. 
 
We’re moving in lockstep with our NATO Allies and partners to deepen our collective defense against threats in cyberspace.
 
Two paths are still open.  For the sake of the historic responsibility Russia and the United States share for global stability, for the sake of our common future — to choose diplomacy.

 
But let there be no doubt: If Russia commits this breach by invading Ukraine, responsible nations around the world will not hesitate to respond. 
 
If we do not stand for freedom where it is at risk today, we’ll surely pay a steeper price tomorrow. 
 
Thank you.  I’ll keep you informed.
 

United States Advances Shared Interests with G20 World Leaders

For the first time ever, G20 Leaders agree to establish a historic Global Minimum Corporate Tax

 The White House provided this fact sheet summarizing what was accomplished at the G20:

At the G20 Summit in Rome, President Biden coordinated with fellow Leaders on shared interests, including the climate crisis, global health and pandemic preparedness, and the global economic recovery, using the power of diplomacy to address key issues that matter to the American people. Together with the European Union, we achieved a major breakthrough arrangement to negotiate the world’s first carbon-based sectoral arrangement on steel and aluminum, protecting and creating American jobs and lowering costs for families while fighting the climate crisis.  
 
Throughout the G20 President Biden stressed the need for balanced, well-supplied, and competitive global energy markets to underpin an inclusive economic recovery that supports working families at home and abroad. Leaders committed to guaranteeing just and orderly energy transitions of our energy systems that ensure affordability, including for the most vulnerable households and businesses as we recover from the global pandemic. They expressed their intent to explore among other things, paths to enhanced energy security and markets stability.
 
President Biden met with Leaders from France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to discuss the risks posed to international security by Iran’s escalating nuclear program, and hosted a supply chain summit with 14 countries and the European Union to discuss how we collectively tackle the immediate supply chain challenges from this unprecedented economic recovery and build long-term supply chain reliance for the future. President Biden also held bilateral meetings on the margins of the G20 with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore.
 
After the Summit, the G20 Leaders came to a consensus across a host of issues, including:
 
Historic Global Minimum Tax: G20 Leaders representing 80% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) endorsed the establishment of a historic Global Minimum Tax (GMT) to end the race to the bottom, ensure giant corporations pay their fair share no matter where they are located, help prevent the offshoring of good American jobs, and invest in our people at home. One recent independent study found that this agreement to establish a 15% GMT—up from 0% today—would lead to at least $60 billion in revenue per year in the United States alone. Today’s announcement is a testament to American diplomacy and leadership. 
 
COVID-19 Pandemic and Health Security: The Leaders came together in support of the COVID-19 response and global vaccination targets. The Leaders also decide to take next steps toward the design and establishment of an inclusive, sustained, and adequate financing facility to improve global health security and bolster pandemic preparedness around the world. The Leaders agreed to establish a G20 Finance and Health Task Force to enhance global cooperation to detect and response to emerging health threats. The G20 Leaders also came out in support of a global ambition to channel $100 billion worth of reallocation of special drawing rights (SDRs) to help the world’s most vulnerable countries and restructuring debts for low-income countries on a case by case basis – a major step towards global economic recovery. The Leaders also supported efforts to shorten the cycle for the development of safe and effective vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics from 300 to 100 days (following the identification of such threats) and work to make them equitably and widely available. This work follows calls for more urgent action and continued focus from the United States following the President’s Global COVID-19 Summit.
 
Climate Change: G20 Leaders came out in support of ending public finance for new unabated coal power generation abroad, to contribute to keeping a 1.5 degrees Celsius limit on global temperature rise with reach. They stressed the importance of fully meeting, as soon as possible, the developed country collective goal of mobilizing $100B per year to help developing countries in the face of climate change. After a four-year absence of U.S. federal leadership, President Biden’s commitment to climate finance, alongside strong new pledges from other donors, are fundamental to achieving this goal no later than 2023. This is a decisive decade for climate action and the President will continue to rally the world to tackle the climate crisis together. 
 
Anticorruption and Ransomware: The Leaders also lifted up the global fight against corruption as a shared priority, which includes transparency for beneficial ownership and real estate, and they committed to fight any new and sophisticated forms of corruption. The Leaders recognized the need for international cooperation to counter ransomware and other forms of cybercrime. Just this month, the Biden Administrationheld a meeting with more than 30 countries to accelerate cooperation to counter ransomware, including to improve collective resilience, address the misuse of virtual currency to launder ransom payments, and investigate and prosecute cyber criminals. This work builds on U.S. international efforts to promote cybersecurity, including our commitment to work with G7 partners to address criminal ransomware networks, our support for updating NATO cyber policy for the first time in seven years, and our continuing efforts to work with allies and partners to attribute malicious cyber activity, as evidenced by the broad international support we garnered in our attributions for SolarWinds and Hafnium malicious cyber activity. 
 
Leaders also committed to achieving food security and adequate nutrition, particularly in famine-stricken parts of the world where armed conflicts have exacerbated these problems—such as Ethiopia. Leaders will continue to enhance concrete measures to advance gender equality in national policies. President Biden issued the first-ever national gender strategy to advance the full participation of all people – including women and girls – in the United States and around the world.

Biden to Rally Allies, Partners & Institutions to Address the Major Challenges of Our Time in Speech to UN General Assembly

President Joe Biden arrives on Air Force One at J.F. Kennedy International Airport for his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in which he will rally allies, partners and institutions to deal with the major challenges of our time © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features, news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden will use his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly to rally allies, partners and institutions to deal with the major challenges of our time: “COVID-19; climate change; emerging technologies; rules of the road on trade and economics; investments in clean infrastructure; a modern approach to counterterrorism; and vigorous competition with great powers, but not a new Cold War,” said a senior administration official during a press call to preview the President’s speech.

“The speech will drive home the message that ending the war in Afghanistan closed a chapter focused on war and opens a chapter focused on purposeful, effective, intensive American diplomacy defined by working with allies and partners to solve problems that can’t be solved by military force and that require the cooperation of many nations around the world as well as nonstate actors from the private sector and nongovernmental organizations and international institutions,” he said.

These big, hard challenges “will define the scope and shape of prosperity and security for the people of the United States and for people of the world in the years ahead.”

The President “will reinforce the notion that our futures and our fortunes are really interconnected and bound up with one another.  And so, we all have to work together to cooperate in service of solving problems and seizing opportunities that lie before us.”

After arriving at Kennedy International Airport, President Biden was to have his first extended one-on-one meeting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, to discuss issues including Afghanistan and Yemen, as well as big global challenges like COVID-19 and climate change. 

President Joe Biden is greeted upon his arrival at J.F. Kennedy International Airport by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and his wife Chirlane McCray © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

At the end of the week, the President will host the first-ever in-person Quad Summit, “a gathering of likeminded, democratic partners to tackle these big challenges — COVID, climate, economic investment, technology.”
 
He will hold bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia in New York on Tuesday, followed by a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom in the evening in Washington; Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India on Friday, as well as an engagement with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan on Friday in Washington. 
 
On Wednesday, President Biden will host a summit on COVID-19 “to rally the world urgently to work towards ending this pandemic as rapidly as possible and building our systems better to be able to handle the next pandemic. 
 
“He believes that it is high time for the world to come together — and not just national leaders, but he’s placing a heavy emphasis on international institutions, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations — all of the actors who collectively have the capacity to beat COVID-19.  And he is going to call for an all-hands-on-deck effort that can end this pandemic much more rapidly than if we allow for things to unfold without the kind of focused, sustained energy and effort that is required,” the official said.
 
The summit will involve setting bold goals to hit on everything from vaccinations to the supply of lifesaving medications and technologies.  And it will also set out a pattern of high-level meetings through the coming months to ensure that we are holding ourselves and the world accountable to following through on achieving these goals. 
 
The United States will also have a series of announcements about further contributions above and beyond what has already been contributed to ending the pandemic globally.

Earlier in the day, the Biden administration announced it was easing up restrictions on foreign travel into the United States, by opening access to foreign nationals who have been vaccinated and have had a negative COVID-19 test within three days of travel. In addition, airlines will be required to keep information for contact tracing, should that be necessary.  The new, strict protocols will be in place by early November.  

“Critically for our European partners and for the UK, this policy means that we will no longer be implementing the current 212(f) travel policies for individual countries as of early November.  We’ll be moving to a consistent requirement for all international air travelers coming to the United States. 
 
“But we’re very proud of the fact that we’ve been able to develop a protocol that will permit travel by individuals and families and business people from the E.U. and the UK, as well as from Brazil and India and other countries, to the United States with proof of vaccination.”

Responding to a question about the controversy over the United States selling nuclear submarines to Australia – which angered France –and whether this would be a new precedent for the United States to sell nuclear technology, the official said, “This is a unique set of circumstances involving a unique actor — Australia – which is a model nonproliferation citizen in the world, has incredibly high standards, has a history of proving out its commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  It has proven that not just by word but by deed, decade after decade. 

“And so, President Biden felt that with the unique case of Australia and then a unique set of safeguards for this material — the highest possible standards of safeguarding the HEU, stewardship of the HEU, consistent with the International Atomic Energy Agency, with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in consultation with the relevant international bodies — that we will be able to show that this is not a broad precedent that opens the doors but rather a very narrow-use case involving the combination of a unique set of circumstances.”

There is no plan to sell such technology to South Korea or any others.

With respect to President Macron, he said, President Biden plans to discuss the way forward, and reinforce his deep commitment to the U.S. alliance with France – “an alliance that has fostered security, stability, and prosperity around the world for decades.  The President wants to communicate his desire to work closely with France in the Indo-Pacific and globally, and to talk about specific practical measures that we can undertake together. 

“We understand the French position.  We don’t share their view, in terms of how this all developed, but we understand their position.  And we will continue to be engaged in the coming days on this.  And we look forward to the phone call between President Biden and President Macron once its time is fixed on the books.  We think that will be an important moment and opportunity for the two leaders to speak directly with one another.”

He countered an assertion that the Afghanistan evacuation and the unilateral decision with Australia warrant criticism that the U.S. is not engaging with its partners and that it’s moving on its own.

“If you look at the most significant challenges, the highest-priority issues facing the world today, you see the United States has been deeply engaged with allies and partners and with the relevant international institutions. 
 
“The President is hosting a summit on COVID-19 on Wednesday where allies, partners, and even competitors have been invited to talk about how we find a collective way forward. 
 
“The United States and the European Union are holding a ministerial-level meeting of the Trade and Technology Council on September 29th.  This will be an opportunity to talk about how we shape a common way forward on our economy and on emerging technologies, and it’s an unprecedented vehicle to be able to do that. 
 
“So, when you walk through those significant issues — the depth and richness of the engagement with our allies and partners, the work that we have done with the European Union, the work we have done with Asian allies and partners, the deepening of the Quad as a vital part of the institutional framework of Asia — I think the picture is actually quite positive, despite the differences in perspective on Afghanistan and the issues we are dealing with France right now.”

He said that the US and France can find a productive pathway forward, working together on critical security issues. 
 
“So, if you look at the totality of the Biden foreign policy — of the ways in which we have worked on the big issues and done so very much in coordination, consultation, and common action with allies and partners, and then you look at the months ahead and what’s on the docket and the trajectory that we’re setting for ourselves — the President feels very good about the path forward and about how American foreign policy can play a vital role in rallying the world and especially rallying like-minded democracies to solve the great challenges of our time.”

Hosting the leaders of the Quad fundamentally is a demonstration of the priority Biden’s foreign policy is placing of engaging in the Indo-Pacific, including through new multilateral configurations designed to focus on 21st century challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and clean-energy,  partnering on emerging technologies in cyberspace, promoting high-standards infrastructure, and an overarching commitment at the core of the Quad to promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific.

 ____________________________

© 2021 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Global Leaders Respond to Biden’s Call for Action to Address Climate Crisis

Jokulsarlon Glacier, Iceland. Iceland was one of 40 participants at the roundtable at President Joe Biden’s Leaders Climate Summit, responding to the call for action to address the climate crisis. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This summary of outcomes of President Joe Biden’s historic Leaders on Climate, held April 22-23, 2021, was provided by the White House:

 After fulfilling his promise to bring America back into the Paris Agreement, President Biden convened 40 world leaders in a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate this week to rally the world in tackling the climate crisis and meeting the demands of science. The United States and other countries announced ambitious new climate targets ensuring that nations accounting for half of the world’s economy have now committed to the emission reductions needed globally to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5-degrees C within reach.  Many leaders underscored the urgency of other major economies strengthening their ambition as well on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in November 2021 in Glasgow.

The Summit, which was the largest virtual gathering of world leaders, convened the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (the world’s 17 largest economies and greenhouse gas emitters) and included the leaders of other countries especially vulnerable to climate impacts or charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy.  President Biden was joined at the Summit by Vice President Harris, members of the President’s Cabinet, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, and National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, as well as senior representatives of other countries and leaders from business and civil society. The full agenda and list of participants is available at https://www.state.gov/leaders-summit-on-climate/.

With the science telling us that the world needs to significantly increase the scale and speed of climate action, President Biden considered it vital to host this Summit within his first 100 days in office to make clear that it is a top U.S. priority to combat the climate crisis at home and abroad.   

Vice President Harris opened the Summit by emphasizing the intertwined imperatives of addressing the climate crisis, creating jobs, and protecting the most vulnerable communities.  Her remarks set the stage for the launch of the Summit’s five sessions, which were live-streamed [https://www.state.gov/leaders-summit-on-climate/].   

President Biden began Session 1 (“Raising Our Climate Ambition”) by framing enhanced climate action as necessary both to address the crisis and to promote economic opportunity, including the creation of good-paying, union jobs.  He told Summit participants that the United States will halve its greenhouse gas emissions within this decade, noting that countries that take decisive action now will reap the economic benefits of a clean energy future.  To enshrine this commitment, the United States submitted a new “nationally determined contribution” (NDC) under the Paris Agreement setting an economy-wide emissions target of a 50-52% reduction below 2005 levels in 2030. Secretary of State Blinken conveyed a strong sense of urgency in tackling the climate crisis, noting that this is a critical year and a decisive decade to take action.  He noted the U.S. resolve to work with other countries to engage in all avenues of cooperation to “save our planet.” 

Participants noted the need to work rapidly over the course of this decade to accelerate decarbonization efforts and are taking a range of actions to that end. Announcements during this Session included, among others:

  • Japan will cut emissions 46-50% below 2013 levels by 2030, with strong efforts toward achieving a 50% reduction, a significant acceleration from its existing 26% reduction goal.
  • Canada will strengthen its NDC to a 40-45% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, a significant increase over its previous target to reduce emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • India reiterated its target of 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 and announced the launch of the “U.S.-India 2030 Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership” to mobilize finance and speed clean energy innovation and deployment this decade.
  • Argentina will strengthen its NDC, deploy more renewables, reduce methane emissions, and end illegal deforestation.
  • The United Kingdom will embed in law a 78% GHG reduction below 1990 levels by 2035.
  • The European Union is putting into law a target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and a net zero target by 2050.
  • The Republic of Korea, which will host the 2021 P4G Seoul Summit in May, will terminate public overseas coal finance and strengthen its NDC this year to be consistent with its 2050 net zero goal.
  • China indicated that it will join the Kigali Amendment, strengthen the control of non-CO2 greenhouse gases, strictly control coal-fired power generation projects, and phase down coal consumption.   
  • Brazil committed to achieve net zero by 2050, end illegal deforestation by 2030, and double funding for deforestation enforcement.
  • South Africa announced that it intends to strengthen its NDC and shift its intended emissions peak year ten years earlier to 2025.
  • Russia noted the importance of carbon capture and storage from all sources, as well as atmospheric carbon removals. It also highlighted the importance of methane and called for international collaboration to address this powerful greenhouse gas.

Session 2 (“Investing in Climate Solutions”) addressed the urgent need to scale up climate finance, including both efforts to increase public finance for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries and efforts to catalyze trillions of dollars of private investment to support the transition to net zero emissions no later than 2050.  President Biden stressed the importance of developed countries meeting the collective goal of mobilizing $100 billion per year in public and private finance to support developing countries.  He also announced that the Administration intends to seek funding to double, by 2024, annual U.S. public climate finance to developing countries, compared to the average level of the second half of the Obama-Biden Administration (FY 2013-2016). This would include tripling public finance for adaptation by 2024. President Biden also called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and announced that his Administration will undertake a series of steps to promote the measurement, disclosure, and mitigation of material climate risks to the financial system.

Treasury Secretary Yellen highlighted the role of multilateral development banks in supporting the transition. She also said that the Treasury Department will use all its tools and expertise to help support climate action. Special Envoy Kerry moderated a discussion among leaders from government, international organizations, and multilateral and private financial institutions. These leaders noted the importance of concessional finance to leverage much larger sums of private capital, as well as to provide finance to technologies, activities, and geographies where private capital is not flowing.  They noted the urgent need to increase finance for adaptation and resilience in developing countries.  The participants also recognized the need for governments to embrace key policies, including meaningful carbon pricing, enhanced disclosure of climate-related risks, and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. Several of the private financial institutions expressed their support for coalitions such as the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero and the Net Zero Banking Alliance.  They also referred to recent commitments by U.S. banks to invest $4.16 trillion in climate solutions over the next ten years.

Session 3 elevated four specific topics for more focused consideration by government officials and, in some cases, a broader range of stakeholders. 

  • The discussion on climate action at all levels, hosted by U.S. EPA Administrator Regan and including participation from a wide range of governors, mayors, and indigenous leaders from around the world, illustrated the importance of marshalling a multi-level “all-of-society” approach to climate action.  The Session showcased States, cities, and indigenous groups that are committed to an equitable vision for advancing bold climate ambition and building resilience on the ground.  Participants discussed the critical importance of building just and inclusive societies and economies as they accelerate efforts to transform their communities in line with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Participants discussed not only the importance of leadership at all levels of society and government, but also the importance of collaboration between national and subnational governments to catalyze additional ambition.
  • The discussion on adaptation and resilience, hosted by Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack and Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas, focused on innovative ways in which countries from a wide variety of regions are responding to climate change in the areas of water and coastal management, food security, and human impacts. On the theme of coastal and water management, panelists offered up innovative solutions to prepare for water-related climate challenges, such as locally-owned disaster insurance instruments, relocation, and the use of green and blue bonds to finance nature-based solutions. Focusing on food security and climate, participants highlighted the need for better technology to address a changing agricultural landscape as well as the importance of supporting small-scale farmers. On human health and security, the discussion centered on scaling up locally-led solutions to climate vulnerability, emphasizing that economic opportunities are key to keeping communities healthy and stable. The session emphasized that adaptation and mitigation go hand in hand. 
  • The discussion on nature-based solutions, hosted by Interior Secretary Haaland, addressed how achieving net zero by 2050 is not possible without natural climate solutions, such as stopping deforestation and the loss of wetlands and restoring marine and terrestrial ecosystems.  She announced U.S. support of a proposal to protect the Southern Ocean through the three marine protected area proposals under the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). All participants highlighted their support for protecting and conserving land and marine areas to sequester carbon and build climate resilience, and several made announcements.  Seychelles is dedicating a chapter of its enhanced NDC to ocean-based solutions and is committing to protect at least 50% of its seagrass and mangrove ecosystems by 2025 and 100% by 2030, with support. Canada, for its part, is committing $4 billion in its new federal budget for land and ocean protection. In addition, Costa Rica underlined its co-leadership of the High-Ambition Coalition for Nature and People and the intention to have 30% of its ocean under protection by 2022; Peru highlighted that more than a fifth of its NDC measures are associated with nature-based solutions; Indonesia discussed its Presidential decree to permanently freeze new license for logging and peatland utilization, as well as its mangrove rehabilitation program; and Gabon noted that its intact and logged forests absorb four times more CO2 annually than its total emissions across all sectors.  Representatives of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities and of the Kharia Tribe of India highlighted the need to recognize the contributions and traditional knowledge of local and indigenous communities in ecosystem protection.  
  • The discussion on climate security was hosted by Defense Secretary Austin.  His remarks were followed by remarks from both Director of National Intelligence Haines and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas-Greenfield, who then moderated a panel discussion.  Speakers included NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, defense officials from Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Spain, and the UK, as well as the Philippines’ finance minister.  A common theme throughout the discussion was how climate impacts exacerbate security concerns and, as a result, affect military capabilities, heighten geopolitical competition, undermine stability, and provoke regional conflicts.  Participants further emphasized that their nations and regions are vulnerable to extreme weather events, including sea level rise, cyclones, typhoons, drought, and increasing temperatures.  All of these intensify underlying political, social, and economic conditions, which in turn can lead to food insecurity and water scarcity, violent extremism, and mass population movement, with disproportionate effects on vulnerable populations, especially women.  Defense officials noted that their ministries are increasingly called upon to respond to disasters, which taxes their resources, thus elevating the need for enhanced disaster preparedness and response.  In looking at their own operations and readiness, they showcased current efforts to decrease their militaries’ emissions, emphasizing how incorporating climate considerations into their operational planning can increase the agility of their forces.  Additionally, they described the benefits of collaboration between defense ministries on shared climate risks. Participants highlighted the NATO climate security action plan and called on countries to incorporate climate considerations more broadly into multilateral fora, including UN peacekeeping missions.  Perhaps most noteworthy, this was the first-ever U.S. Secretary of Defense convening of Secretaries of Defense focused on climate change.  

Session 4 (“Unleashing Climate Innovation”) explored the critical innovations needed to speed net-zero transitions around the world and highlighted the efforts of governments, the private sector, and civil society in bringing new and improved technologies to market. Energy Secretary Granholm and Commerce Secretary Raimondo emphasized the economic rewards from investing in innovation as multi-trillion dollar markets for clean technologies emerge in the coming decades and announced reinvigorated U.S. international leadership on innovation. The discussion underscored the urgent need for innovation: 45% of the emissions reductions needed for a swift net-zero transition must come from technologies that are not commercially available, according to the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, and Bill Gates urged investment to drive down “green premium” prices of most zero-carbon technologies compared with fossil fuel alternatives. Several leading countries — Denmark, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Kenya, Norway, and Singapore — described their approaches to investing in mitigation and adaptation technologies. These included clean fuels such as hydrogen, renewables such as offshore wind and geothermal energy, energy storage, clean desalination, carbon capture, advanced mobility, sustainable urban design, and monitoring technologies to verify emissions and stop deforestation. Leaders from the private sector, including from GE Renewables, Vattenfall, and X, as well as from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, focused on training the diverse innovators of the future and investing in technologies for digitalized, electrified, decarbonized, and resilient energy systems. Special Envoy Kerry closed by emphasizing that raising our innovation ambition enables us to raise the world’s climate ambition. 

Several speakers made announcements during this Session: Denmark announced a technology mission under Mission Innovation to decarbonize the global shipping sector, in collaboration with the United States, and that it will build the world’s first energy islands to produce clean fuels and supply power to Europe. The United Arab Emirates launched the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate in partnership with the United States, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Singapore, and Uruguay. Bill Gates launched the Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to drive public, private, and philanthropic capital to scale up critical emerging technologies. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced the Institute for Energy, the Built Environment, and Smart Systems to decarbonize urban systems. GE Renewable Energy announced that the GE Foundation is committing up to $100 million to increase the diversity of the next generation of engineers. And X, Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory, announced a Moonshot for the electric grid. 

President Biden began Session 5 (“The Economic Opportunities of Climate Action”) by recognizing the opportunity that ambitious climate action presents to countries around the world to create good, high quality jobs. He noted that countries that prioritize policies that promote renewable energy deployment, electric vehicle manufacturing, methane abatement, and building retrofits, among other actions, would likely reap the rewards of job growth and economic prosperity in the years ahead. The U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Tai, Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, and National Climate Advisor McCarthy underscored that the climate agenda could be a race to the top for countries that are pursuing the most ambitious methods to tackle the crisis, noting the American Jobs Plan that President Biden has proposed. 

Participants echoed this vision and elaborated their own projects and programs to maximize the economic benefits of their climate actions. Leaders of countries recognized that the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity for countries to build back better and invest in the industries of the future. Community, tribal, private sector, and labor leaders also weighed in on the opportunities that decarbonization provided. Panelists noted that climate action presents economic opportunities to all parts of society, from energy workers to vehicle manufacturers, from large businesses to small. In particular, there was general alignment among both country representatives and other participants that governments should promote equitable opportunities for workers and that labor unions can play a key role in promoting high quality employment opportunities for people around the world. To that end, Poland announced that they had just concluded negotiations with coal mine labor unions to ensure a just transition of workers as part of their coal-fired power phasedown. In response to the discussion, President Biden closed by emphasizing that climate action might represent the largest economic opportunity of this century and urging leaders to stay focused.
 
In between the five Sessions, several other speakers provided important perspectives. Youth speaker Xiye Bastida, declaring that climate justice is social justice, underlined that youth need to be a part of decision-making processes and called for a stop to fossil fuel subsidies and extraction. Current and future Conference of Parties Presidents Minister Carolina Schmidt (Chile) and MP Alok Sharma (UK) discussed the urgency of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Minister Schmidt noted that COP25 included, for the first time, a mandate to address the ocean-climate nexus, while MP Sharma noted that we must put the world on a path to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 through long-term targets and aligned NDCs, as well as immediate action, such as phasing out coal. Pope Francis, who has been a climate leader for many years, underlined the need to “care for nature so that nature may care for us.” Chair Mallory of the White House Council on Environmental Quality highlighted the Biden Administration’s commitment to environmental justice and introduced Peggy Shepard, Co-Chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council; she underlined the need to build back better to lift up the communities struggling with climate impacts and environmental injustice.  Michael Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions, noted the key role of cities and businesses in tackling the climate crisis.

Alongside the Summit, Special Envoy Kerry hosted two Ministerial Roundtables to provide a broader group of countries an opportunity to contribute to the discussions.  He heard from representatives of more than 60 countries from all over the world, reflecting a wide range of regions, geographic features, and national circumstances, and summarized their input for leaders on the second day of the Summit.  Many Roundtable participants expressed concern about the inadequacy of global climate action to date and/or shared the unprecedented climate impacts they are experiencing. At the same time, participants enthusiastically reported on the significant, exciting efforts they are undertaking to confront the climate crisis, even while facing the global pandemic. Beyond many commitments to net zero emissions, enhanced NDCs, and innovative adaptation efforts, participants included a carbon-negative country, countries that have successfully decoupled economic growth from carbon emissions, leaders in carbon storage, countries with extensive forest cover, issuers of green bonds, and countries focusing on gender-responsive approaches and the participation of indigenous communities.  It was notable that many of those passionately embracing climate solutions contribute far less than 1% of global emissions.  The Roundtables contributed to the Summit’s sense of urgency as countries rally around increased ambition on the road to Glasgow.

Roundtable participants represented:  Afghanistan, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Federated States of Micronesia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, North Macedonia, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Republic of Congo, Romania, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, The Bahamas, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, and Zambia. 

A list of new climate-related initiatives announced by the United States at or around the Summit can be found in this Fact Sheet [https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/23/fact-sheet-president-bidens-leaders-summit-on-climate/].  

Biden in First Foreign Policy Speech: ‘America is Back’

President Joe Biden visited the US State Department to give his first major foreign policy speech in which he declared emphatically, “America is back.” He noted the importance – the obligation – of America to assert its global leadership, and said he would repair the alliances broken and weakened by the Trump Administration, along with reinforcing his respect and commitment to the people who serve in the diplomatic corps, often in dangerous and difficult circumstances.

He emphasized that diplomacy is not just because of the moral imperative, but also helps America and Americans prosper and live in peace.

And he said he would reassert American values in diplomacy: reinstating a refugee admissions program that would accommodate up to 125,000 in the first full fiscal year of his administration; would seek a ceasefire in Yemen and would send humanitarian aid; and would stand up for human rights.

He said he would assert American interests in Russia and China, and suggested there would be sanctions against the military leadership that fomented a coup in Myanmar. “In a democracy, force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election,” he declared, in a statement that had eerie resonance in the United States.

Investing in our diplomacy isn’t something we do just because it’s the right thing to do for the world.  We do it in order to live in peace, security, and prosperity.  We do it because it’s in our own naked self-interest.  When we strengthen our alliances, we amplify our power as well as our ability to disrupt threats before they can reach our shores.  

“When we invest in economic development of countries, we create new markets for our products and reduce the likelihood of instability, violence, and mass migrations.  

“When we strengthen health systems in far regions of the world, we reduce the risk of future pandemics that can threaten our people and our economy.  
“When we defend equal rights of people the world over — of women and girls, LGBTQ individuals, indigenous communities, and people with disabilities, the people of every ethnic background and religion — we also ensure that those rights are protected for our own children here in America. 

“America cannot afford to be absent any longer on the world stage.  I come today to the State Department, an agency as old and as storied as the nation itself, because diplomacy has always been essential to how America writes its own destiny.”

Here is a highlighted transcript of President Biden’s remarks:

President Joe Biden visited the US State Department to give his first major foreign policy speech in which he declared emphatically, “America is back.” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It’s great to be here and stand alongside our most recent and senior diplomat, Secretary Tony Blinken.  Mr. Secretary, thank you for welcoming us today.  We’ve worked together for over 20 years.  Your diplomatic skills are respected equally by your friends and our competitors around the world.

And they know when you speak, you speak for me.
 And so — so is the message I want the world to hear today: America is back.  America is back.  Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy.

As I said in my inaugural address, we will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again, not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s.  American leadership must meet this new moment of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing ambitions of China to rival the United States and the determination of Russia to damage and disrupt our democracy.  

We must meet the new moment accelerating global challenges — from the pandemic to the climate crisis to nuclear proliferation — challenging the will only to be solved by nations working together and in common.  We can’t do it alone.  

That must be this — we must start with diplomacy rooted in America’s most cherished democratic values: defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity.

That’s the grounding wire of our global policy — our global power. That’s our inexhaustible source of strength.  That’s America’s abiding advantage.

Though many of these values have come under intense pressure in recent years, even pushed to the brink in the last few weeks, the American people are going to emerge from this moment stronger, more determined, and better equipped to unite the world in fighting to defend democracy, because we have fought for it ourselves.

Over the past few days, we’ve been in close cooperation with our allies and partners to bring together the international community to address the military coup in Burma.

I’ve also been in touch with Leader McConnell to discuss our shared concerns about the situation in Burma, and we are united in our resolve.  

There can be no doubt: In a democracy, force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election.  

The Burmese military should relinquish power they have seized, release the advocates and activists and officials they have detained, lift the restrictions on telecommunications, and refrain from violence.

As I said earlier this week, we will work with our partners to support restoration of democracy and the rule of law, and impose consequences on those responsible.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve spoken with the leaders of many of our closest friends — Canada, Mexico, the UK, Germany, France, NATO, Japan, South Korea, Australia — to being [begin] reforming the habits of cooperation and rebuilding the muscle of democratic alliances that have atrophied over the past few years of neglect and, I would argue, abuse.

America’s alliances are our greatest asset, and leading with diplomacy means standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and key partners once again.

By leading with diplomacy, we must also mean engaging our adversaries and our competitors diplomatically, where it’s in our interest, and advance the security of the American people.

That’s why, yesterday, the United States and Russia agreed to extend the New START Treaty for five years to preserve the only remaining treaty between our countries safeguarding nuclear stability.

At the same time, I made it clear to President Putin, in a manner very different from my predecessor, that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions — interfering with our elections, cyberattacks, poisoning its citizens — are over.  We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interests and our people.  And we will be more effective in dealing with Russia when we work in coalition and coordination with other like-minded partners.

The politically motivated jailing of Alexei Navalny and the Russian efforts to suppress freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are a matter of deep concern to us and the international community.  

Mr. Navalny, like all Russian citizens, is entitled to his rights under the Russian constitution.  He’s been targeted — targeted for exposing corruption.  He should be released immediately and without condition.

And we’ll also take on directly the challenges posed by our prosperity, security, and democratic values by our most serious competitor, China.  
We’ll confront China’s economic abuses; counter its aggressive, coercive action; to push back on China’s attack on human rights, intellectual property, and global governance.

But we are ready to work with Beijing when it’s in America’s interest to do so.  We will compete from a position of strength by building back better at home, working with our allies and partners, renewing our role in international institutions, and reclaiming our credibility and moral authority, much of which has been lost.

That’s why we’ve moved quickly to begin restoring American engagement internationally and earn back our leadership position, to catalyze global action on shared challenges.

On day one, I signed the paperwork to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.  We’re taking steps led by the example of integrating climate objectives across all of our diplomacy and raise the ambition of our climate targets.  That way, we can challenge other nations, other major emitters, to up the ante on their own commitments.  I’ll be hosting climate leaders — a climate leaders’ summit to address the climate crisis on Earth Day of this year.  

America must lead in the face of this existential threat.  And just as with the pandemic, it requires global cooperation.  

We’ve also reengaged with the World Health Organization.  That way, we can build better global preparedness to counter COVID-19, as well as detect and prevent future pandemics, because there will be more.  

We’ve elevated the status of cyber issues within our government, including appointing the first national — Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology.  We’re launching an urgent initiative to improve our capability, readiness, and resilience in cyberspace.  

Today, I’m announcing additional steps to course-correct our foreign policy and better unite our democratic values with our diplomatic leadership.  

To begin, Defense Secretary Austin will be leading a Global Posture Review of our forces so that our military footprint is appropriately aligned with our foreign policy and national security priorities.  It will be coordinated across all elements of our national security, with Secretary Austin and Secretary Blinken working in close cooperation.  

And while this review is taking place, we’ll be stopping any planned troop withdrawals from Germany.   We’re also stepping up our diplomacy to end the war in Yemen — a war which has created a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe.  I’ve asked my Middle East team to ensure our support for the United Nations-led initiative to impose a ceasefire, open humanitarian channels, and restore long-dormant peace talks

This morning, Secretary Blinken appointed Tim Lenderking, a career foreign policy officer, as our special envoy to the Yemen conflict.  And I appreciate his doing this.  Tim is a life — has lifelong experience in the region, and he’ll work with the U.N. envoy and all parties of the conflict to push for a diplomatic resolution.  

And Tim’s diplomacy will be bolstered by USAID, working to ensure that humanitarian aid is reaching the Yemeni people who are sufferinguunendurable devastation.  This war has to end.  

And to underscore our commitment, we are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales.  

At the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks, UAV strikes, and other threats from Iranian-supplied forces in multiple countries. We’re going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.

We also face a crisis of more than 80 million displaced people suffering all around the world.  The United States’ moral leadership on refugee issues was a point of bipartisan consensus for so many decades when I first got here.  We shined the light of lamp on — of liberty on oppressed people.  We offered safe havens for those fleeing violence or persecution.  And our example pushed other nations to open wide their doors as well.  

So today, I’m approving an executive order to begin the hard work of restoring our refugee admissions program to help meet the unprecedented global need.  It’s going to take time to rebuild what has been so badly damaged, but that’s precisely what we’re going to do. 

This executive order will position us to be able to raise the refugee admissions back up to 125,000 persons for the first full fiscal year of the Biden-Harris administration.  And I’m directing the State Department to consult with Congress about making a down payment on that commitment as soon as possible.  

And to further repair our moral leadership, I’m also issuing a presidential memo to agencies to reinvigorate our leadership on the LGBTQI issues and do it internationally.  You know, we’ll ensure diplomacy and foreign assistance are working to promote the rights of those individuals, included by combatting criminalization and protecting LGBTQ refugees and asylum-seekers. 

And finally, to successfully reassert our diplomacy and keep Americans safe, prosperous, and free, we must restore the health and morale of our foreign policy institutions.

I want the people who work in this building and our embassies and consulates around the world to know: I value your expertise and I respect you, and I will have your back.  This administration is going to empower you to do your jobs, not target or politicize you.  We want a rigorous debate that brings all perspectives and makes room for dissent.  That’s how we’ll get the best possible policy outcomes. 

So, with your help, the United States will again lead not just by the example of our power but the power of our example.

That’s why my administration has already taken the important step to live our domestic values at home — our democratic values at home.

Within hours of taking office, I signed an executive order overturning the hateful, discriminatory Muslim ban; reversed the ban on transgender individuals serving in our military.  

And as part of our commitment to truth, transparency, and accountability, we stated on day one — we started on day one with daily briefings of the press from the White House.  We’ve reinstituted regular briefings here at State and at the Pentagon.  We believe a free press isn’t an adversary; rather, it’s essential to the health of a democracy.

We’ve restored our commitment to science and to create policies grounded in facts and evidence.  I suspect Ben Franklin would approve. 

We’ve taken steps to acknowledge and address systemic racism and the scourge of white supremacy in our own country.  Racial equity will not just be an issue for one department in our administration, it has to be the business of the whole of government in all our federal policies and institutions. 

All this matters to foreign policy, because when we host the Summit of Democracy early in my administration to rally the nations of the world to defend democracy globally, to push back the authoritarianism’s advance, we’ll be a much more credible partner because of these efforts to shore up our own foundations. 

There’s no longer a bright line between foreign and domestic policy. Every action we take in our conduct abroad, we must take with American working families in mind.  Advancing a foreign policy for the middle class demands urgent focus on our domestic economic renewal.

And that’s why I immediately put forth the American Rescue Plan to pull us out of this economic crisis.  That’s why I signed an executive order strengthening our Buy American policies last week. And it’s also why I’ll work with Congress to make far-reaching investments in research and development of transformable technologies.

These investments are going to create jobs, maintain America’s competitive edge globally, and ensure all Americans share in the dividends. 

If we invest in ourselves and our people, if we fight to ensure that American businesses are positioned to compete and win on the global stage, if the rules of international trade aren’t stacked against us, if our workers and intellectual property are protected, then there’s no country on Earth — not China or any other country on Earth — that can match us.

Investing in our diplomacy isn’t something we do just because it’s the right thing to do for the world.  We do it in order to live in peace, security, and prosperity.  We do it because it’s in our own naked self-interest.  When we strengthen our alliances, we amplify our power as well as our ability to disrupt threats before they can reach our shores.  

When we invest in economic development of countries, we create new markets for our products and reduce the likelihood of instability, violence, and mass migrations.

When we strengthen health systems in far regions of the world, we reduce the risk of future pandemics that can threaten our people and our economy.

When we defend equal rights of people the world over — of women and girls, LGBTQ individuals, indigenous communities, and people with disabilities, the people of every ethnic background and religion — we also ensure that those rights are protected for our own children here in America. 

America cannot afford to be absent any longer on the world stage.  I come today to the State Department, an agency as old and as storied as the nation itself, because diplomacy has always been essential to how American — America writes its own destiny.

For the diplomacy of Ben Franklin helped assure the success of our revolution.  The vision of the Marshall Plan helped prevent the world from foundering on the wreckage of war.  And the passions of Eleanor Roosevelt declared the audacious idea of universal rights that belong to all.

The leadership of diplomats of every stripe, doing the daily work of engagement, created the very idea of a free and interconnected world. We are a country that does big things.  American diplomacy makes it happen.  And our administration is ready to take up the mantle and lead once again.

Thank you all.  And may God bless you and protect our troops, our diplomats, and our development experts, and all Americans serving in harm’s way.  

President-Elect Biden Presents his Foreign Policy, National Security Team

Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris: “Today’s nominees and appointees come from different places. They bring a range of different life and professional experiences and perspectives. And they also share something else in common: an unwavering belief in America’s ideals.  An unshakeable commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. And they understand the indispensable role of America’s leadership in the world. These women and men are patriots and public servants to their core, and they are the leaders we need to meet the challenges of this moment — and those that lie ahead. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today in Wilmington Delaware, President-Elect Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, presented his nominations and staff for critical foreign policy and national security positions in his administration. Collectively, they brought a sigh of relief – their professionalism, expertise, their values. For the first time in four years, you had a sense of a functioning government, working on behalf of its people and building upon its ideals and values. Here are highlights from their remarks:

President-Elect Joe Biden:

Today, I am pleased to announce nominations and staff for critical foreign policy and national security positions in my Administration.

It’s a team that will keep our country and our people safe and secure.

And it’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back. 

Ready to lead the world, not retreat from it. Ready to confront our adversaries, not reject our allies. And ready to stand up for our values. 

In fact, in calls from world leaders in the weeks since we won this election, I’ve been struck by how much they are looking forward to the United States reasserting its historic role as a global leader.

This team meets this moment.

They embody my core belief that America is strongest when it works with its allies.

Collectively, this team has secured some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory — made possible through decades of experience working with our partners.

That’s how we truly keep America safe without engaging in needless military conflicts, and our adversaries in check and terrorists at bay. 

It’s how we counter terrorism and extremism. Control this pandemic and future ones. 

Deal with the climate crisis, nuclear proliferation, cyber threats and emerging technologies, the spread of authoritarianism, and so much more.

And while this team has unmatched experience and accomplishments, they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet these challenges with old thinking or unchanged habits.

For example, we are going to have the first woman lead the intelligence community, the first Latino and immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security, and a groundbreaking diplomat at the United Nations.

We are going to have a principal on the National Security Council whose full-time job is to fight climate change — for the first time ever.

And my national security team will be coordinated by one of the youngest national security advisors in decades.

Experience and leadership. Fresh thinking and perspective. And, an unrelenting belief in the promise of America

I’ve long said that America leads not only by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.

I am proud to put forward this incredible team that will lead by example.

As Secretary of State, I nominate Tony Blinken. 

There is no one better prepared for this job. 

He will be a Secretary of State who previously served in top roles on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and in the State Department.

And he delivered for the American people in each place. 

For example, leading our diplomatic efforts in the fight against ISIS. Strengthening America’s alliances and position in the Asia-Pacific. Guiding our response to the global refugee crisis with compassion and determination.

He will rebuild morale and trust in the State Department, where his career in government began. And he starts off with the kind of relationships around the world that many of his predecessors had to build over years. 

I know. I’ve seen him in action. He is one of my closest and most trusted advisors.

And I know him, and his family — immigrants and refugees, a Holocaust survivor who taught him to never take for granted the very idea of America as a place of possibilities.

He is ready on Day One.

As Secretary of Homeland Security, I nominate Alejandro Mayorkas.

This is one of the hardest jobs in government. The DHS Secretary needs to keep us safe from threats at home and from abroad.

And it’s a job that plays a critical role in fixing our broken immigration system.

After years of chaos, dysfunction, and absolute cruelty at DHS, I am proud to nominate an experienced leader who has been hailed by both Democrats and Republicans.  

Ali, as he goes by, is a former U.S Attorney. Former Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Former DHS Deputy Secretary.

Helped implement DACA. Prevented attacks on the homeland.  Enhanced our cybersecurity. Helped communities recover from natural disasters. Combatted Ebola and Zika.

And while DHS affects everyone, given its critical role in immigration matters, I am proud that for the first time ever, the Department will be led by an immigrant, a Latino, who knows that we are a nation of laws and values.

And one more thing — today is his birthday.

Happy birthday, Ali.

As Director of National Intelligence, I nominate Avril Haines, the first woman in this post.

To lead our intelligence community, I did not pick a politician or a political figure.

I picked a professional.  

She is eminently qualified: Former Deputy Director of the CIA. Former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama.  

A fierce advocate for telling the truth and levelling it with decision makers.  

I know because I’ve worked with her for over a decade. Brilliant. Humble.

Can talk literature and theoretical physics, fixing cars, flying planes, and running a bookstore cafe, in a single conversation — because she’s done all of that.

Above all, if she gets word of a threat coming to our shores — like another pandemic or foreign interference in our elections — she will not stop raising the alarms until the right people take action.  

People will be able to take her word, because she always calls it like she sees it.

We are safer with Avril on the watch.

As the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, I nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

A seasoned and distinguished diplomat with 35 years in the Foreign Service, who never forgot where she came from, growing up in segregated Louisiana.

The eldest of eight. Her Dad couldn’t read or write, but she says he was the smartest person she knew. First in her family to graduate from high school, then college, with the whole world literally ahead of her, as her Dad and Mom taught her to believe.

Posts in Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria, Jamaica, and Liberia — where she was known as “the People’s Ambassador.”

Willing to meet with anyone  — an ambassador, a student, working people struggling to get by  — and always treating them with the same level of dignity and respect. 

She was our top State Department official in charge of Africa policy during the Ebola crisis.  

She’s received overwhelming support from her fellow career Foreign Service Officers. And she will have cabinet status because I want to hear her voice on major foreign policy decisions.

As my National Security Advisor, I choose Jake Sullivan.

He’s a once-in-a-generation intellect with the experience and temperament for one of the toughest jobs in the world.

When I was Vice President, he served as my National Security Advisor.

He was a top advisor to Secretary of State Clinton. He helped lead the early negotiations that led to the Iran Nuclear Deal. Helped broker the Gaza ceasefire in 2012. Played a key role in the Asia-Pacific rebalance in our Administration.

And in this campaign for the presidency, he served as one of my most trusted advisors  on both foreign and domestic policy, including helping me develop our COVID-19 strategy.

Jake understands my vision that economic security is national security.

He will help steer what I call a foreign policy for the Middle Class, for families like his growing up in Minnesota, where he was raised by parents who were educators and taught him the values of hard work, decency, service, and respect. 

What that means is to win the competition for the future, we need to keep us safe and secure, and build back better than ever.

We need to invest in our people, sharpen our innovative edge, and unite the economic might of democracies around the world to grow the middle class and reduce inequality — and do things like counter the predatory trade practices of our competitors and adversaries.

And before I talk about the final person for today, let me talk about this new position.

For the first time ever, the United States will have a full-time climate leader who will participate in ministerial-level meetings — that’s a fancy way of saying they’ll have a seat at every table around the world.

For the first time ever, there will be a principal on the National Security Council who will make sure climate change is on the agenda in the Situation Room.  

And for the first time ever, we will have a Presidential envoy on climate.

And he will be matched with a high-level White House Climate Policy Coordinator and policy-making structure — to be announced in December — that will lead efforts here in the U.S. to combat the climate crisis and mobilize action to meet this existential threat. 

Let me be clear: I don’t for a minute underestimate the difficulties of meeting my bold commitments to fighting climate change.  

But at the same time, no one should underestimate for a minute my determination to do just that.  

As for the man himself, if I had a former Secretary of State who helped negotiate the Paris Climate Agreement, or a former Presidential nominee, or a former leading Senator, or the head of a major climate organization for the job, it would show my commitment to this role.  

The fact that I picked the one person who is all of these things speaks unambiguously.  

The world will know that one of my closest friends — John Kerry — is speaking for America on one of the most pressing threats of our time.

To this team — thank you for accepting the call to serve.

And to your families, thank you for your sacrifice. We could not do this without you.

Together, these public servants will restore America’s global leadership and moral leadership. 

They will ensure our service members, diplomats, and intelligence professionals can do their jobs free of politics. 

They will not only repair, they will reimagine American foreign policy and national security for the next generation. 

And they will tell me what I need to know, not what I want to know.

To the American people, this team will make us proud to be Americans. 

And as more states certify the results of the election, there is progress to wrap up our victory.

I am pleased to have received ascertainment from GSA, to carry out a smooth and peaceful transition of power so our team can prepare to meet the challenges at hand — to control the pandemic, build back better, and protect the safety and security of the American people.

And to the United States Senate, I hope these outstanding nominees receive a prompt hearing, and that we can work across the aisle in good faith — move forward as a country.

Let’s begin the work to heal and unite America and the world.

Thank you. May God bless you. May God protect our troops.

I’ll now turn it over to the new team, starting with our next Secretary of State, Tony Blinken

Nominee for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken

That’s who we are. 

That’s what America represents to the world, however imperfectly.  

Now, we must proceed with equal measures of humility and confidence.  

Humility because most of the world’s problems are not about us, even as they affect us. We cannot flip a switch to solve them. We need to partner with others.  

But also, confidence, because America at its best still has a greater ability than any country on earth to bring others together to meet the challenges of our time.

That’s where the men and women of the State Department — foreign service officers and civil servants — come in. I’ve witnessed their passion, energy, and courage to keep us safe, secure, and prosperous.  I’ve seen them bring luster to a word that deserves our support: diplomacy.  

If confirmed, it will be the honor of my life to help lead them.

Nominee for Secretary of Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas

The Department of Homeland Security has a noble mission: to help keep us safe and to advance our proud history as a country of welcome. There are more than 240,000 career employees who selflessly dedicate their talent and energy to this mission. Many risk their lives in doing so. I would be honored to return to the Department and support these dedicated public servants in fulfilling their responsibilities and realizing our country’s greatest hopes, all in partnership with the communities we serve.

Nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Ambassador Avril Haines

I know, Mr. President-elect and Madame Vice President-elect, that you have selected us not to serve you, but to work on behalf of the American people — to help advance our security, prosperity, and values. That, the call to service in this role, is what makes this nomination such a tremendous honor. 

If afforded the opportunity to do so, I will never forget that my role on this team is unique. Rather than that of a policy advisor, I will represent to you, Congress, and the American public, the patriots who comprise our Intelligence Community. Mr. President-elect, you know that I have never shied away from speaking truth to power, and that will be my charge as Director of National Intelligence. We have worked together for a long time, and I accept this nomination knowing that you would never want me to do otherwise — that you value the perspective of the Intelligence Community and that you will do so even when what I have to say may be inconvenient or difficult. I assure you there will be those times. 

And, finally, to our intelligence professionals, the work you do — oftentimes under the most austere conditions imaginable — is indispensable. It will become even more complex because you will be critical to helping this administration position itself not only against threats such as cyber attacks, terrorism, and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons but also those challenges that will define the next generation — from climate change, to pandemics, and corruption.

It would be the honor of a lifetime to be able to work alongside you once again to take on these challenges together.

Nominee for United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Mr. President-elect, I’ve often heard you say how all politics is personal. That’s how you build relationships of trust and bridge disagreements and find common ground.

In my thirty-five years in the Foreign Service across four continents, I put a Cajun spin on it. It’s called Gumbo diplomacy. Wherever I was posted around the world, I’d invite people of different backgrounds and beliefs to make a roux, chop onions for the holy trinity, and make homemade gumbo — my way to break down barriers, connect with people, and start to see each other on a human level: a bit of lagniappe as we say in Louisiana. 

That’s the charge in front of us today. The challenges we face — a global pandemic, the global economy, the global climate crisis, mass migration and extreme poverty, social justice — are unrelenting and interconnected. But they’re not unsolvable if America is leading the way.

Appointment for National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan

I pledge to you and to the American people that I will work relentlessly in service of the mission you have given us: To keep our country and our people safe. To advance our national interests. And to defend our values.

I pledge to the exceptional national security team you have named today — and to the brilliant and diverse career professionals in national security across our government — that I will manage a humane and rigorous decision-making process that honors their work…

Sir, we will be vigilant in the face of enduring threats, from nuclear weapons to terrorism. But you have also tasked us with reimagining our national security for the unprecedented combination of crises we face at home and abroad: the pandemic, the economic crisis, the climate crisis, technological disruption, threats to democracy, racial injustice, and inequality in all forms. The work of the team before you today will contribute to progress across all of these fronts.

You have also tasked us with putting people at the center of our national security. The alliances we rebuild, the institutions we lead, the agreements we sign — all of them should be judged by a basic question: will this make life better, easier, safer, for working families across this country? Our foreign policy has to deliver for these families.

And you have tasked us with helping unite America through our work, to pull people together to tackle big challenges….

I promise an open door to those who disagree. Our whole team can learn from them and it will make us better. 

To the American people, I had the honor of serving as Joe Biden’s national security adviser when he was vice president. I learned a lot about a lot. About diplomacy. About policy. Most importantly, about human nature. I watched him pair strength and resolve with humanity and empathy.

That is the person America elected. That is also America itself.

So Mr. President-elect, thank you for giving this kid from the heartland an extraordinary opportunity to serve the country I love so much. 

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, Former Secretary of State John Kerry

Mr. President-elect — you’ve put forward a bold, transformative climate plan that lives up to the moment. But you’ve also underscored that no country alone can solve this challenge. Even the United States, for all our economic might, is responsible for only 15% of global emissions. The world must come to this table to solve this problem. 

You’re right to rejoin Paris on day one, and you’re right to recognize that Paris alone does not get the job done. 

At the global meeting in Glasgow one year from now, all nations must raise ambition together – or we will all fail, together.

Failure is not an option.

Success means tapping into the best of American ingenuity, creativity, and diplomacy — from brainpower to alternative energy power — using every tool we have to get where we need to go.

No one should doubt the determination of the country that went to the moon, cured supposedly incurable diseases, and beat back global tyranny to win World War II. We will immediately, again, work with friends and partners to meet this challenge too.

The road ahead is exciting. It means creating millions of middle-class jobs. It means less pollution in our air and in our ocean. It means making life healthier for citizens across the world. And it means we will strengthen the security of every nation on earth.

In addressing the climate crisis, Joe Biden is determined to seize the future. 

Fifty-seven years ago, this week, Joe Biden and I were college kids when we lost the president who inspired us both to try and make a difference, a president who reminded us that here on Earth, “God’s work must truly be our own.” 

President Joe Biden will trust in God, and he will also trust in science to guide our work on earth to protect God’s creation.

Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris:

Congratulations Mr. President-elect on bringing together this extraordinary team. 

I have always believed in the nobility of public service, and these Americans embody it. 

Their lives and careers are a testament to the dedication, sacrifice, and commitment to civic responsibility that have strengthened our democracy — and kept America’s promise alive — for more than two hundred years.

President-elect Biden and I have long known that when we were elected, we would inherit a series of unprecedented challenges upon walking into the White House. 

Addressing these challenges starts with getting this pandemic under control, opening our economy responsibly, and making sure it works for working people. 

And we also know that overcoming our challenges here at home is a necessary foundation for restoring and advancing our leadership around the world.

And we are ready for that work. 

We will need to reassemble and renew America’s alliances; rebuild and strengthen the national security and foreign policy institutions that keep us safe and advance our nation’s interests; and confront and combat the existential threat of climate change that endangers us all…. 

I can say with confidence that they are — to a person — the right women and men for these critical positions. 

And I look forward to working alongside them on behalf of the American people — and on behalf of a President who will ask tough questions; demand that we be guided by facts; and expect our team to speak the truth. No matter what. 

A President who will be focused on one thing and one thing only: doing what’s best for The People of the United States of America… 

Today’s nominees and appointees come from different places. They bring a range of different life and professional experiences and perspectives. And they also share something else in common: an unwavering belief in America’s ideals. 

An unshakeable commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. 

And they understand the indispensable role of America’s leadership in the world. 

These women and men are patriots and public servants to their core, and they are the leaders we need to meet the challenges of this moment — and those that lie ahead.