Tag Archives: National Security

Biden Signs Executive Order Ensuring Responsible Innovation in Digital Assets, Crytpocurrencies

Outlines First Whole-of-Government Strategy to Protect Consumers, Financial Stability, National Security, and Address Climate Risks

President Biden signed an Executive Order outlining the first ever, whole-of-government approach to addressing the risks and harnessing the potential benefits of digital assets and their underlying technology. The Order lays out a national policy for digital assets across six key priorities: consumer and investor protection; financial stability; illicit finance; U.S. leadership in the global financial system and economic competitiveness; financial inclusion; and responsible innovation (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

Digital assets, including cryptocurrencies, have seen explosive growth in recent years, surpassing a $3 trillion market cap last November and up from $14 billion just five years prior. Surveys suggest that around 16 percent of adult Americans – approximately 40 million people – have invested in, traded, or used cryptocurrencies. Over 100 countries are exploring or piloting Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), a digital form of a country’s sovereign currency.

[My personal belief is that Russian oligarchs, looking for places to stash their billions, had something to do with the run-up in value. The administration stated that the use of cryptocurrency we do not think is a viable workaround to the set of financial sanctions we’ve imposed across the entire Russian economy and, in particular, to its central bank,” but that does not take into account purchases that might have been made before sanctions were imposed, or these new protections. A request for comment was unanswered.]

The White House provided this fact sheet detailing Biden’s whole-of-government strategy to protect consumers, financial stability, national security and address climate risks posted by digital assets: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 
The rise in digital assets creates an opportunity to reinforce American leadership in the global financial system and at the technological frontier, but also has substantial implications for consumer protection, financial stability, national security, and climate risk. The United States must maintain technological leadership in this rapidly growing space, supporting innovation while mitigating the risks for consumers, businesses, the broader financial system, and the climate. And, it must play a leading role in international engagement and global governance of digital assets consistent with democratic values and U.S. global competitiveness.
 
That is why President Biden signed an Executive Order outlining the first ever, whole-of-government approach to addressing the risks and harnessing the potential benefits of digital assets and their underlying technology. The Order lays out a national policy for digital assets across six key priorities: consumer and investor protection; financial stability; illicit finance; U.S. leadership in the global financial system and economic competitiveness; financial inclusion; and responsible innovation.

Specifically, the Executive Order calls for measures to:

  • Protect U.S. Consumers, Investors, and Businesses by directing the Department of the Treasury and other agency partners to assess and develop policy recommendations to address the implications of the growing digital asset sector and changes in financial markets for consumers, investors, businesses, and equitable economic growth. The Order also encourages regulators to ensure sufficient oversight and safeguard against any systemic financial risks posed by digital assets.
     
  • Protect U.S. and Global Financial Stability and Mitigate Systemic Risk by encouraging the Financial Stability Oversight Council to identify and mitigate economy-wide (i.e., systemic) financial risks posed by digital assets and to develop appropriate policy recommendations to address any regulatory gaps.
     
  • Mitigate the Illicit Finance and National Security Risks Posed by the Illicit Use of Digital Assets by directing an unprecedented focus of coordinated action across all relevant U.S. Government agencies to mitigate these risks. It also directs agencies to work with our allies and partners to ensure international frameworks, capabilities, and partnerships are aligned and responsive to risks.
     
  • Promote U.S. Leadership in Technology and Economic Competitiveness to Reinforce U.S. Leadership in the Global Financial System by directing the Department of Commerce to work across the U.S. Government in establishing a framework to drive U.S. competitiveness and leadership in, and leveraging of digital asset technologies. This framework will serve as a foundation for agencies and integrate this as a priority into their policy, research and development, and operational approaches to digital assets.
     
  • Promote Equitable Access to Safe and Affordable Financial Services by affirming the critical need for safe, affordable, and accessible financial services as a U.S. national interest that must inform our approach to digital asset innovation, including disparate impact risk. Such safe access is especially important for communities that have long had insufficient access to financial services.  The Secretary of the Treasury, working with all relevant agencies, will produce a report on the future of money and payment systems, to include implications for economic growth, financial growth and inclusion, national security, and the extent to which technological innovation may influence that future.
     
  • Support Technological Advances and Ensure Responsible Development and Use of Digital Assets by directing the U.S. Government to take concrete steps to study and support technological advances in the responsible development, design, and implementation of digital asset systems while prioritizing privacy, security, combating illicit exploitation, and reducing negative climate impacts.
     
  • Explore a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) by placing urgency on research and development of a potential United States CBDC, should issuance be deemed in the national interest. The Order directs the U.S. Government to assess the technological infrastructure and capacity needs for a potential U.S. CBDC in a manner that protects Americans’ interests. The Order also encourages the Federal Reserve to continue its research, development, and assessment efforts for a U.S. CBDC, including development of a plan for broader U.S. Government action in support of their work. This effort prioritizes U.S. participation in multi-country experimentation, and ensures U.S. leadership internationally to promote CBDC development that is consistent with U.S. priorities and democratic values.

The Administration will continue work across agencies and with Congress to establish policies that guard against risks and guide responsible innovation, with our allies and partners to develop aligned international capabilities that respond to national security risks, and with the private sector to study and support technological advances in digital assets.

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 Declares Way Forward in Afghanistan: ‘It’s time to end America’s longest war. It’s time for American troops to come home’

President Joe Biden pays his respects to the fallen at Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery where recent war dead are buried, including many of the women and men who died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Biden, announcing that US troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan, America’s longest war, by September 11, 2021, 20 years after the terror attacks, keeps a tally of how many have died in Afghanistan, 2,448, and 20,722 wounded © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On April 14, speaking from the Treaty Room in the White House, President Joe Biden declared that American troops would be out of Afghanistan, America’s longest war, by September 11, 2021, 20 years after the terror attacks masterminded by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda that left 3000 dead New York, Washington DC and Shanksville, PA. here is a highlighted transcript:

Good afternoon.  I’m speaking to you today from the Roosevelt — the Treaty Room in the White House.  The same spot where, on October of 2001, President George W. Bush informed our nation that the United States military had begun strikes on terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.  It was just weeks — just weeks after the terrorist attack on our nation that killed 2,977 innocent souls; that turned Lower Manhattan into a disaster area, destroyed parts of the Pentagon, and made hallowed ground of a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and sparked an American promise that we would “never forget.”

We went to Afghanistan in 2001 to root out al Qaeda, to prevent future terrorist attacks against the United States planned from Afghanistan.  Our objective was clear.  The cause was just.  Our NATO Allies and partners rallied beside us.  And I supported that military action, along with overwhelming majority of the members of Congress.

More than seven years later, in 2008, weeks before we swore the oath of office — President Obama and I were about to swear — President Obama asked me to travel to Afghanistan and report back on the state of the war in Afghanistan.  I flew to Afghanistan, to the Kunar Valley — a rugged, mountainous region on the border with Pakistan.  What I saw on that trip reinforced my conviction that only the Afghans have the right and responsibility to lead their country, and that more and endless American military force could not create or sustain a durable Afghan government. 

I believed that our presence in Afghanistan should be focused on the reason we went in the first place: to ensure Afghanistan would not be used as a base from which to attack our homeland again.  We did that.  We accomplished that objective. 

I said, among — with others, we’d follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell if need be.  That’s exactly what we did, and we got him.  It took us close to 10 years to put President Obama’s commitment into form.  And that’s exactly what happened; Osama bin Laden was gone. 

That was 10 years ago.  Think about that.  We delivered justice to bin Laden a decade ago, and we’ve stayed in Afghanistan for a decade since.  Since then, our reasons for remaining in Afghanistan are becoming increasingly unclear, even as the terrorist threat that we went to fight evolved.

Over the past 20 years, the threat has become more dispersed, metastasizing around the globe: al-Shabaab in Somalia; al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; al-Nusra in Syria; ISIS attempting to create a  [caliphate] in Syria and Iraq, and establishing affiliates in multiple countries in Africa and Asia. 

With the terror threat now in many places, keeping thousands of troops grounded and concentrated in just one country at a cost of billions each year makes little sense to me and to our leaders.  We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create ideal conditions for the withdrawal, and expecting a different result. 

I’m now the fourth United States President to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan: two Republicans, two Democrats.  I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.

After consulting closely with our allies and partners, with our military leaders and intelligence personnel, with our diplomats and our development experts, with the Congress and the Vice President, as well as with Mr. Ghani and many others around the world, I have concluded that it’s time to end America’s longest war.  It’s time for American troops to come home. 

When I came to office, I inherited a diplomatic agreement, duly negotiated between the government of the United States and the Taliban, that all U.S. forces would be out of Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, just three months after my inauguration.  That’s what we inherited — that commitment. 

It is perhaps not what I would have negotiated myself, but it was an agreement made by the United States government, and that means something.  So, in keeping with that agreement and with our national interests, the United States will begin our final withdrawal — begin it on May 1 of this year. 

We will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit.  We’ll do it — we’ll do it responsibly, deliberately, and safely.  And we will do it in full coordination with our allies and partners, who now have more forces in Afghanistan than we do. 
 
And the Taliban should know that if they attack us as we draw down, we will defend ourselves and our partners with all the tools at our disposal. 

Our allies and partners have stood beside us shoulder-to-shoulder in Afghanistan for almost 20 years, and we’re deeply grateful for the contributions they have made to our shared mission and for the sacrifices they have borne.

The plan has long been “in together, out together.”  U.S. troops, as well as forces deployed by our NATO Allies and operational partners, will be out of Afghanistan before we mark the 20th anniversary of that heinous attack on September 11th. 
 
But — but we’ll not take our eye off the terrorist threat.  We’ll reorganize our counterterrorism capabilities and the substantial assets in the region to prevent reemergence of terrorists — of the threat to our homeland from over the horizon.  We’ll hold the Taliban accountable for its commitment not to allow any terrorists to threaten the United States or its allies from Afghan soil.  The Afghan government has made that commitment to us as well.  And we’ll focus our full attention on the threat we face today. 
 
At my direction, my team is refining our national strategy to monitor and disrupt significant terrorist threats not only in Afghanistan, but anywhere they may arise — and they’re in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere.

I spoke yesterday with President Bush to inform him of my decision. While he and I have had many disagreements over policies throughout the years, we’re absolutely united in our respect and support for the valor, courage, and integrity of the women and men of the United States Armed Forces who served.  I’m immensely grateful for the bravery and backbone that they have shown through nearly two decades of combat deployments.  We as a nation are forever indebted to them and to their families. 

You all know that less than 1 percent of Americans serve in our armed forces.  The remaining 99 percent of them — we owe them.  We owe them.  They have never backed down from a single mission that we’ve asked of them.

I’ve witnessed their bravery firsthand during my visits to Afghanistan.  They’ve never wavered in their resolve.  They’ve paid a tremendous price on our behalf.  And they have the thanks of a grateful nation.

While we will not stay involved in Afghanistan militarily, our diplomatic and humanitarian work will continue.  We’ll continue to support the government of Afghanistan.  We will keep providing assistance to the Afghan National Defenses and Security Forces. 

And along with our partners, we have trained and equipped a standing force of over 300,000 Afghan personnel today and hundreds of thousands over the past two decades.  And they’ll continue to fight valiantly, on behalf of the Afghans, at great cost.  They’ll support peace talks, as we will support peace talks between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban, facilitated by the United Nations.  And we’ll continue to support the rights of Afghan women and girls by maintaining significant humanitarian and development assistance.

And we’ll ask other countries — other countries in the region — to do more to support Afghanistan, especially Pakistan, as well as Russia, China, India, and Turkey.  They all have a significant stake in the stable future for Afghanistan. 

And over the next few months, we will also determine what a continued U.S. diplomatic presence in Afghanistan will look like, including how we’ll ensure the security of our diplomats.

Look, I know there are many who will loudly insist that diplomacy cannot succeed without a robust U.S. military presence to stand as leverage.  We gave that argument a decade.  It’s never proved effective — not when we had 98,000 troops in Afghanistan, and not when we were down to a few thousand.

Our diplomacy does not hinge on having boots in harm’s way — U.S. boots on the ground.  We have to change that thinking.  American troops shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip between warring parties in other countries.  You know, that’s nothing more than a recipe for keeping American troops in Afghanistan indefinitely. 

I also know there are many who will argue that we should stay — stay fighting in Afghanistan because withdrawal would damage America’s credibility and weaken America’s influence in the world.  I believe the exact opposite is true. 

We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago.  That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021. 

Rather than return to war with the Taliban, we have to focus on the challenges that are in front of us.  We have to track and disrupt terrorist networks and operations that spread far beyond Afghanistan since 9/11.

We have to shore up American competitiveness to meet the stiff competition we’re facing from an increasingly assertive China.  We have to strengthen our alliances and work with like-minded partners to ensure that the rules of international norms that govern cyber threats and emerging technologies that will shape our future are grounded in our democratic values — values — not those of the autocrats. 
 
We have to defeat this pandemic and strengthen the global health system to prepare for the next one, because there will be another pandemic. 
 
You know, we’ll be much more formidable to our adversaries and competitors over the long term if we fight the battles for the next 20 years, not the last 20. 
 
And finally, the main argument for staying longer is what each of my three predecessors have grappled with: No one wants to say that we should be in Afghanistan forever, but they insist now is not the right moment to leave. 

In 2014, NATO issued a declaration affirming that Afghan Security Forces would, from that point on, have full responsibility for their country’s security by the end of that year.  That was seven years ago. 

So when will it be the right moment to leave?  One more year, two more years, ten more years?  Ten, twenty, thirty billion dollars more above the trillion we’ve already spent? 
 
“Not now” — that’s how we got here.  And in this moment, there’s a significant downside risk to staying beyond May 1st without a clear timetable for departure. 
 
If we instead pursue the approach where America — U.S. exit is tied to conditions on the ground, we have to have clear answers to the following questions: Just what conditions require to — be required to allow us to depart?  By what means and how long would it take to achieve them, if they could be achieved at all?  And at what additional cost in lives and treasure?

I’m not hearing any good answers to these questions.  And if you can’t answer them, in my view, we should not stay.  The fact is that, later today, I’m going to visit Arlington National Cemetery, Section 60, and that sacred memorial to American sacrifice. 

Section 60 is where our recent war dead are buried, including many of the women and men who died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.  There’s no — there’s no comforting distance in history in Section 60.  The grief is raw.  It’s a visceral reminder of the living cost of war. 

For the past 12 years, ever since I became Vice President, I’ve carried with me a card that reminds me of the exact number of American troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That exact number, not an approximation or rounded-off number — because every one of those dead are sacred human beings who left behind entire families.  An exact accounting of every single solitary one needs to be had. 

As of the day — today, there are [2,448] U.S. troops and personnel who have died in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel — our Afghanistan conflicts.  20,722 have been wounded. 

I’m the first President in 40 years who knows what it means to have a child serving in a warzone.  And throughout this process, my North Star has been remembering what it was like when my late son, Beau, was deployed to Iraq — how proud he was to serve his country; how insistent he was to deploy with his unit; and the impact it had on him and all of us at home. 

We already have service members doing their duty in Afghanistan today whose parents served in the same war.  We have service members who were not yet born when our nation was attacked on 9/11. 

War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multi-generational undertaking.  We were attacked.  We went to war with clear goals.  We achieved those objectives.  Bin Laden is dead, and al Qaeda is degraded in Iraq — in Afghanistan.  And it’s time to end the forever war. 

Thank you all for listening.  May God protect our troops.  May God bless all those families who lost someone in this endeavor.

Biden Signs Executive Order to Create Resilient, Secure Supply Chains for Critical Goods

From masks, to syringes, to vaccine, from medicine to computer chips, President Biden signed an executive order to create more resilient and secure supply chains for critical and essential goods so that Americans are never again left in the lurch. “This is about making sure the United States can meet every challenge we face in this new era — pandemics, but also in defense, cybersecurity, climate change, and so much more,” he said before signing an executive order. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com 

President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order to help create more resilient and secure supply chains for critical and essential goods. 

In recent years, American households, workers, and companies have increasingly felt the strain of shortages of essential products—from medicine to food to computer chips. Last year’s shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line healthcare workers at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic were unacceptable. Recent shortages of automotive semiconductor chips have forced slowdowns at car manufacturing plants, highlighting how shortages can hurt U.S. workers. 

While we cannot predict what crisis will hit us, we should have the capacity to respond quickly in the face of challenges. The United States must ensure that production shortages, trade disruptions, natural disasters and potential actions by foreign competitors and adversaries never leave the United States vulnerable again. Today’s action delivers on the President’s campaign commitment to direct his Administration to comprehensively address supply chain risks. The task of making our supply chains more secure can also be a source of well paid jobs for communities across our country, including in communities of color, and steps will be taken to ensure that the benefits of this work flow to all Americans. 

The Executive Order launches a comprehensive review of U.S. supply chains and directs federal Departments and Agencies to identify ways to secure U.S. supply chains against a wide range of risks and vulnerabilities. Building resilient supply chains will protect the United States from facing shortages of critical products.  It will also facilitate needed investments to maintain America’s competitive edge, and strengthen U.S. national security. 

Here are President Biden’s remarks before the signing of the executive order:

The Vice President and I had a very productive meeting with a bipartisan group of senators and House members to address an issue of both concern to our economic security, as well as our national security: the resilience and reliability of our critical supply chains.
 
This is a critical area where Republicans and Democrats agreed it was one of the best meetings — it’s the best meeting I think we’ve had so far, although we’ve only been here about five weeks.  But it was like the old days — people actually are on the same page. 
 
Good, bipartisan work has already been done.  The leaders of this operation in the House and Senate already have done great work, and I want to thank them for their leadership.
 
We’re here to build on that.  And the bottom line is simple: The American people should never face shortages in the
goods and services they rely on, whether that’s their car or their prescription medicines or the food at the local grocery store.
 
And remember, the shortages in PPE during this pandemic –that meant we didn’t have the masks; we didn’t have gowns or gloves to protect our frontline health workers.
 
We heard horror stories of doctors and nurses wearing trash bags over their gown — over their dress in order to — so they wouldn’t be in trouble, because they had no gowns.  And they were rewashing and reusing their masks over and over again in the OR.
 
That should never have never happened.  And this will never happen again in the United States, period.  We shouldn’t have to rely on a foreign country — especially one that doesn’t share our interests or our values — in order to protect and provide our people during a national emergency. 
 
That’s why one of the first executive orders I signed, as some may remember, was to ensure that we’re manufacturing more
protective equipment for healthcare workers here at home.
 
And today, I’m shortly going to be signing another executive order that’ll help address the vulnerabilities in our supply chains across additional critical sectors of our economy so that the American people are prepared to withstand any crisis and rely on ourselves.
 
This is about making sure the United States can meet every challenge we face in this new era — pandemics, but also in defense, cybersecurity, climate change, and so much more.  And the best way to do that is by protecting and sharpening America’s competitive edge by investing here at home.  As I’ve said from the beginning, while I was running: We’re going to invest in America.  We’re going to invest in American workers.  And then we can be in a much better position to even compete beyond what we’re doing now.
 
Resilient, diverse, and secure supply chains are going to help revitalize our domestic manufacturing capacity and create good-paying jobs, not $15 an hour — which is what we need to do someday.  And sooner is better, in my view.  But jobs that are at the prevailing wage. 
 
We’re going to spare new — spur new opportunities for small businesses, communities of color, and economically distressed areas.  And I will drive new investment in research and innovation and our workforce, investing in training and university partnerships that are going to lead to new technologies and new solutions. 
 
And all this won’t just strengthen our domestic capacity, it will help unleash new markets around the world and grow opportunities for American businesses to export their goods that we’re going to be making. 
 
These are the kinds of commonsense solutions that all Americans can get behind — workers and corporate leaders, Republicans and Democrats.  It’s about resilience, identifying possible points of vulnerabilities in our supply chains, and making sure we have the backup alternatives or workarounds in place. 
 
Remember that old proverb: “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.  For want of a shoe, the horse was lost.”  And it goes on and on until the kingdom was lost, all for the want of a horseshoe nail.  Even small failures at one point in the supply chain can cause outside impacts further up the chain. 
 
Recently, we’ve seen how a shortage of computer chips — computer chips like the one I have here — you can hardly see it I imagine; it’s called a “semiconductor” — has caused delays in production of automobiles that has resulted in reduced hours for American workers.  A 21st century horseshoe nail. 
 
This semiconductor is smaller than a postage stamp, but it has more than 8 billion transistors — 8 billion transistors, 10,000 times thinner than a single human hair in this one chip.  These chips are a wonder of innovation and design that powers so much of our country, enables so much of our modern lives to go on — not just our cars, but our smartphones, televisions, radios, medical diagnostic equipment, and so much more.
 
We need to make sure these supply chains are secure and reliable.  I’m directing senior officials in my administration to work with industrial leaders to identify solutions to this semiconductor shortfall and work very hard with the House and Senate.  They’ve authorized the bill, but they need (inaudible) $37 billion, short term, to make sure we have this capacity.  We’ll push for that as well.  But we all recognize that the particular problem won’t be solved immediately. 
 
In the meantime, we’re reaching out to our allies, semiconductor companies, and others in the supply chain to ramp up production to help us resolve the bottlenecks we face now.  We need help to stop — we need to stop playing catch up after the supply-chain crisis hit.  We need to prevent the supply chain crisis from hitting in the first place. 
 
And in some cases, building resilience will mean increasing our production of certain types of elements here at home.  In others, it’ll mean working more closely with our trusted friends and partners, nations that share our values, so that our supply chains can’t be used against us as leverage. 
 
It will mean identifying and building surge capacity that can quickly be turned into and ramped up production in times of emergency.  And it will mean investing in research and development, like we did in the ’60s, to ensure long-term competi- — competitiveness in our manufacturing base in the decades ahead.
 
The order I’m about to sign does two things.  First, it orders a 100-day review of four vital products: semiconductors — one; key minerals and materials, like rare earths, that are used to make everything from harder steel to airplanes; three, pharmaceuticals and their ingredients; four, advanced batteries, like the ones used in electric vehicles.
 
There’s strong bipartisan support for fast reviews of these four areas because they’re essential to protecting and strengthening American competitiveness.
 
Second, this order initiates a long-term review of the industry basis of six sectors of our overall economy over the next year.  These reviews will identify policy recommendations to fortify our supply chains at every step, and critically, to start implementing those recommendations right away.  We’re not going to wait for a review to be completed before we start closing the existing gaps. 
 
And as we implement this work, my administration will draw on a full range of American talent — including labor and industry leaders, policy experts, scientists, farmers, engineers — to get their input. 
 
I’m grateful for the members of Congress who came to see me — Republican leaders, as well as Democrats.  They’re leading the way.  We’re going to stay in close contact with members of both sides of the aisle and keep advancing our shared goals. 
 
Everyone has a role to play to strengthen our supply chains in our — and our country.  This is the United States of America.  We are better prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century than any country in the world.  There’s nothing, nothing, nothing we’ve ever failed to achieve if we work together.  And that’s what we decided to do today, and that’s what we’re going to do: work together. 
 
So I thank you all.  I’m very optimistic about the meeting we had today with our congressional colleagues.  And now I’m going to walk over and sign that executive order.
 
(The executive order is signed.)

FACT SHEET:
 Securing America’s Critical Supply Chains
 

First, the order directs an immediate 100-day review across federal agencies to address vulnerabilities in the supply chains of four key products.  

  1. Pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical agreements (APIs). APIs are the part of a pharmaceutical product that contains the active drug. In recent decades, more than 70 percent of API production facilitators supplying the U.S. have moved offshore.  This work will complement the ongoing work to secure supply chains needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  2. Critical minerals, including rare earths. Critical minerals are an essential part of defense, high-tech, and other products. From rare earths in our electric motors and generators to the carbon fiber used for airplanes—the United States needs to ensure we are not dependent upon foreign sources or single points of failure in times of national emergency.  
  3. Semiconductors and Advanced Packaging. The United States is the birthplace of this technology, and has always been a leader in semiconductor development. However, over the years we have underinvested in production—hurting our innovative edge—while other countries have learned from our example and increased their investments in the industry.  
  4. Large capacity batteries, such as those used in electric vehicles: As we take  action to tackle the climate crisis, we know that will lead to large demand for new energy technologies like electric vehicle batteries. By identifying supply chain risks, we can meet the President’s commitment to accelerate U.S. leadership of clean energy technologies. For example, while the U.S. is a net exporter of electric vehicles, we are not a leader in the supply chain associated with electric battery production. The U.S. could better leverage our sizeable lithium reserves and manufacturing know-how to expand domestic battery production.

The 100-day review will identify near term steps the administration can take, including with Congress, to address vulnerabilities in the supply chains for these critical goods.

Second, the order calls for a more in-depth one-year review of a broader set of U.S. supply chains. The one-year review will include: 

  • A focus on six key sectors: the defense industrial base; the public health and biological preparedness industrial base; the information and communications technology (ICT) industrial base; the energy sector industrial base; the transportation industrial base; and supply chains for agricultural commodities and food production. 
  • A set of risks for agencies to consider in their assessment of supply chain vulnerabilities: Agencies and Departments are directed to review a variety of risks to supply chains and industrial bases.  For example, these reviews must identify critical goods and materials within supply chains, the manufacturing or other capabilities needed to produce those materials, as well as a variety of vulnerabilities created by failure to develop domestic capabilities.  Agencies and Departments are also directed to identify locations of key manufacturing and production assets, the availability of substitutes or alternative sources for critical goods, the state of workforce skills and identified gaps for all sectors, and the role of transportation systems in supporting supply chains and industrial bases.  
  • Recommendations on actions that should be taken to improve resiliency: Agencies are directed to make specific policy recommendations to address risks, as well as proposals for new research and development activities.
  • A sustained commitment to supply chain resiliency: The government will commit to a regular, ongoing process of reviewing supply chain resilience, including a quadrennial review process. 
  • Consultation with external stakeholders: The government cannot secure supply chains on its own. It requires partnership and consultation with the American people. The E.O. directs the Administration to consult widely with outside stakeholders, such as those in industry, academia, non-governmental organizations, communities, labor unions, and State, local, territorial, and Tribal governments.

  The E.O. will build on bipartisan Congressional action and leadership on this issue, and the Administration will remain in close touch with Congress to solicit recommendations during the review.  President Biden has also directed his Administration to work with U.S. partners and allies to ensure that they too have strong and resilient supply chains.

President Biden has directed his Administration to ensure that the task of building resilient supply chains draws on the talent and work ethic of communities across America, including communities of color and cities and towns that have for too long suffered from job losses and industrial decline. As the Administration implements the Executive Order, it will identify opportunities to implement policies to secure supply chains that grow the American economy, increase wages, benefit small businesses and historically disadvantaged communities, strengthen pandemic and biopreparedness, support the fight against global climate change, and maintain America’s technological leadership in key sectors. 

Biden Rebukes Trump Administration’s ‘Roadblocks’ to National Security Transition Team as ‘Nothing Short of Irresponsible’

President-Elect Joe Biden issued his sternest condemnation yet of the Trump Administration’s “roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget” of his transition team, which will endanger national security as the Biden administration takes over in January. “It’s nothing short of irresponsible.”  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President-Elect Joe Biden issued his sternest condemnation yet of the Trump Administration’s “roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget” of his transition team, which will endanger national security as the Biden administration takes over in January. “It’s nothing short of irresponsible.”  

In remarks following briefings with his National Security team, Biden laid out the challenges he faces and a blueprint for his administration’s approach:

“Many of the agencies that are critical to our security have incurred enormous damage. They’ve been hollowed out. In personnel.  In capacity. In morale. In policy processes that have atrophied or been sidelined. In the disrepair of our alliances. In our absence from key institutions that matter to the welfare of the American people. In a general disengagement from the world.
 
“And all of it makes it harder for our government to protect the American people and to defend our vital interests in a world where threats are constantly evolving and our adversaries are constantly adapting.  Rebuilding the full set of our instruments of foreign policy and national security is a key challenge that Vice President-elect Harris and I will face upon taking office — starting with our diplomacy.”

Issues ranging from climate change to global pandemic to fair trade and economic opportunity, he said, will depend on “the power of smart and effective American leadership” with partners, effectively doing a 180-degree turn from Trump’s “America First” policy.

It also means “modernizing our defense priorities to better deter aggression in the future, rather than continuing to over-invest in legacy systems designed to address the threats of the past. And we have to be able to innovate and reimagine our defenses against growing threats in new realms like cyberspace.

Biden said he would work immediately to roll back the restrictions at the southern border, but cautioned that new processes and procedures will take time to implement. “We will have to have a process to ensure everyone’s health and safety, including the safety of asylum seekers hoping for a new start in the United States free from violence and persecution…

“We will champion liberty and democracy once more.  We will reclaim our credibility to lead the free world. And we will, once again, lead not just by the example of our power, but by the power of our example,” Biden declared.

Here is a highlighted transcript of his remarks on December 28, from Wilmington, Delaware:

Good afternoon.

Before I begin, I want to say a few brief words on the explosion that took place Friday 
in Nashville.

Federal, state, and local law enforcement are working around the clock to gain more information on motive and intent. 

This bombing was a reminder of the destructive power that individuals and small groups can muster, and the need for continuing vigilance. 

I want to thank the police officers who worked quickly to evacuate the area before the explosion occurred, and all the firefighters and first responders who jumped into action early on Christmas morning.
 
Their bravery and cool-headedness likely saved lives and prevented a worse outcome — and we are all grateful for that.

And I know the hearts of all Americans are with the people of Nashville as they rebuild and recover from this traumatic event.

Now, Vice President-elect Harris and I, along with our nominees to lead our national security institutions, have just been briefed by some of the professionals who have been conducting agency reviews as part of our transition.

This is a long-standing part of the orderly transition of power in American democracy. 

We welcomed teams from the incoming Trump-Pence administration four years ago. 

And over the past few weeks, teams of genuine policy and management experts, many with previous government experience, have gone into agencies across the government to conduct interviews with personnel to gather information and to assess the state of the federal government that we will shortly inherit. 

These teams worked under incredibly difficult circumstances — taking COVID-19 precautions, 
and waiting weeks for ascertainment — but they have done an outstanding job.

From some agencies, our teams received exemplary cooperation from the career staff. 

From others, most notably the Department of Defense, we encountered obstruction from the political leadership. 

And the truth is: many of the agencies that are critical to our security have incurred enormous damage.

They’ve been hollowed out. 

In personnel. In capacity. In morale.
 
In policy processes that have atrophied or been sidelined.
 
In the disrepair of our alliances.

In our absence from key institutions that matter to the welfare of the American people.

In a general disengagement from the world.
 
And all of it makes it harder for our government to protect the American people and to defend our vital interests in a world where threats are constantly evolving and our adversaries are constantly adapting.

Rebuilding the full set of our instruments of foreign policy and national security is a key challenge that Vice President-elect Harris and I will face upon taking office — starting with our diplomacy.

Today, we heard from the leaders of the State and USAID agency review teams about the critical early investments we are going to need to make in our diplomacy, in our development efforts, and in rebuilding our alliances to close ranks with our partners and bring to bear the full benefits of our shared strength for the American people.
 
When we consider the most daunting threats of our time, we know that meeting them requires American engagement and leadership, but also that none of them can be solved by America acting alone.
 
Take climate change for example.

The United States accounts for less than 15 percent of global carbon emissions. 

But without a clear, coordinated, and committed approach from the other 85 percent of carbon emitters, the world will continue to warm, storms will continue to worsen, and climate change will continue to threaten lives and livelihoods, public health, and economies — and our very existence on our planet.
 
We’ve learned so painfully this year the cost of being unprepared for a pandemic that leaps borders and circles the globe.
 
If we aren’t investing with our partners around the world in strengthening health systems everywhere, we’re undermining our ability to permanently defeat COVID-19, and we’re leaving ourselves vulnerable to the next deadly epidemic.
 
And as we compete with China and hold China’s government accountable for its abuses on trade, technology, human rights, and other fronts, our position will be much stronger when we build coalitions of like-minded partners and allies to make common cause with us in defense of our shared interests and values.
 
We are almost 25 percent of the global economy on our own, but together with our democratic partners, we more than double our economic leverage.
 
On any issue that matters to the U.S.-China relationship — from pursuing a foreign policy for the middle class, including a trade and economic agenda that protects American workers, our intellectual property, and the environment — to ensuring security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, to championing human rights — we are stronger and more effective when we are flanked by nations that share our vision for the future of our world.
 
That’s how we multiply the impact of our efforts and make those efforts more sustainable.
 
That’s the power of smart and effective American leadership.

But right now, there’s an enormous vacuum.

We’re going to have to regain the trust and confidence of a world that has begun to find ways 
to work around us or without us.
 
We also heard from key leaders on our intelligence and defense review teams, including Stephanie O’Sullivan, former principal deputy director of national intelligence, and retired Army Lieutenant General Karen Gibson.

We talked about the different strategic challenges we will face from both Russia and China, and the reforms we must make to put ourselves in the strongest possible position to meet these challenges.
 
That includes modernizing our defense priorities to better deter aggression in the future, rather than continuing to over-invest in legacy systems designed to address the threats of the past.
 
And we have to be able to innovate and reimagine our defenses against growing threats in new realms like cyberspace.
 
We are still learning about the extent of the SolarWinds hack and the vulnerabilities that have been exposed.

As I said last week — this attack constitutes a grave risk to our national security. 

And we need to close the gap between where our capabilities are now and where they need to be 
to better deter, detect, disrupt, and respond to these sorts of intrusions in the future.

This is an area where Republicans and Democrats are in agreement — and we should be able to work on a bipartisan basis to better secure the American people against malign cyber actors.

And right now, as our nation is in a period of transition, we need to make sure that nothing is lost in the handoff between administrations.
 
My team needs a clear picture of our force posture around the world and of our operations to deter our enemies.

We need full visibility into the budget planning underway at the Defense Department and other agencies in order to avoid any window of confusion or catch-up that our adversaries may try to exploit.
 
But — as I said at the beginning — we have encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget. 

Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. 

It’s nothing short of irresponsible.

 
Finally, we spoke about the day-one challenges that we will need to address immediately, drawing on the skill sets of the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
 
We were briefed on the steps needed to clean up the humanitarian disaster that the Trump Administration has systematically created on our southern border. 

We will institute a humane and orderly response.

That means rebuilding the capacity we need to safely and quickly process asylum seekers without creating a near-term crisis in the midst of a deadly pandemic.
 
These are hard issues. 

And the current administration has made them much harder by working to erode our capacity. 

It’s going to take time to rebuild it.

And we’re going to work purposefully and diligently to responsibly roll back Trump’s restrictions starting on day one.
 
But it’s not as simple as throwing a switch to turn everything back on — especially amid a pandemic.

We will have to have a process to ensure everyone’s health and safety, including the safety of asylum seekers hoping for a new start in the United States free from violence and persecution.
 
Of course, an essential part of this will be managing the safe, equitable, and efficient distribution of vaccines to as many Americans as possible — as quickly as possible.
 
FEMA has an enormous part to play in this, and we heard from the former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate today.

We want to make sure that our administration is poised to make full use of FEMA’s domestic reach and capacity in managing our COVID response.

Finally, from every briefer, I was heartened to also hear about the incredible strength 
we will be inheriting — the career professionals working across these agencies.

They never stop doing their jobs and continue to serve our country day in and day out to keep their fellow Americans safe, just as they have always done.
 
These agencies are filled with patriots who have earned our respect, and who should never be treated as a political football.

I’m looking forward to the honor of working with them again, to asking for their advice and inputs to help shape the best possible policies for all Americans.
 
And I want to thank the incredible folks who have served on all the Agency Review Teams as part of this transition. 

They’ve dedicated their time, energy, and vital expertise to help ensure Vice President-elect Harris and I are ready to hit the ground running.

As we look forward to the start of a new year, fresh with hope and the possibilities of better days to come, but clear-eyed about the challenges that will not disappear overnight, I want to reiterate my message to the American people:

We’ve overcome incredible challenges as a nation. And we will do so again.

We’ll do it by coming together.
 
By uniting after a year of pain and loss to heal, to rebuild, and to reclaim America’s place in the world.

This is the work that lies ahead of us, and I know we are up to the task. 

We will champion liberty and democracy once more. 

We will reclaim our credibility to lead the free world. 

And we will, once again, lead not just by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. 
 
May God bless you all.

May God protect our troops.

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.

Nearly 500 Retired Top Military, National Security Officials Endorse Joe Biden

Memorial Day Commemoration, North Hempstead, Long Island, NY nearly 500 retired top military and national security officials endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States. The generals, admirals, ambassadors, and other former national security leaders pointed to Joe Biden’s empathy, honesty, experience and leadership as necessary traits required to navigate America through a painful time. The leaders, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, also cited Donald Trump’s failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other monumental crises facing the nation. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Those who have served know empathy is a vital leadership quality – you cannot do what is best for those you lead if you do not know their challenges. Joe Biden has empathy born of his humble roots, family tragedies and personal loss. When Americans are struggling, Joe Biden understands their pain and takes it upon himself to help.”

Today, nearly 500 retired top military and national security officials endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States. In an open letter, the generals, admirals, ambassadors, and other former national security leaders pointed to Joe Biden’s empathy, honesty, experience and leadership as necessary traits required to navigate America through a painful time. The leaders, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, also cited Donald Trump’s failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other monumental crises facing the nation.
 
Read the full letter below and see the full list of signatures here:

National Security Leaders for Biden: An Open Letter To America

To Our Fellow Citizens:
 
We are former public servants who have devoted our careers, and in many cases risked our lives, for the United States. We are generals, admirals, senior noncommissioned officers, ambassadors, and senior civilian national security leaders. We are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We love our country. Unfortunately, we also fear for it. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven America needs principled, wise, and responsible leadership. America needs a President who understands, as President Harry S. Truman said, that “the buck stops here.”
 
We the undersigned endorse Joe Biden to be the next President of the United States. He is the leader our nation needs.

We believe that Joe Biden is, above all, a good man with a strong sense of right and wrong. He is guided by the principles that have long made America great: democracy is a hard-won right we must defend and support at home and abroad; America’s power and influence stem as much from her moral authority as it does from her economic and military power; America’s free press is invaluable, not an enemy of the people; those who sacrifice or give their lives in service of our nation deserve our respect and eternal gratitude; and America’s citizens benefit most when the United States engages with the world. Joe Biden will always put the nation’s needs before his own.
 
Those who have served know empathy is a vital leadership quality – you cannot do what is best for those you lead if you do not know their challenges. Joe Biden has empathy born of his humble roots, family tragedies and personal loss. When Americans are struggling, Joe Biden understands their pain and takes it upon himself to help.
 
We believe America’s president must be honest, and we find Joe Biden’s honesty and integrity indisputable. He believes a nation’s word is her bond. He believes we must stand by the allies who have stood by us. He remembers how America’s NATO allies rushed to her side after 9/11; how the Kurds fought by our side to defeat ISIS; and how Japan and South Korea have been steadfast partners in countering North Korean and Chinese provocations. Joe Biden would never sell out our allies to placate despots or because he dislikes an allied leader.
 
While some of us may have different opinions on particular policy matters, we trust Joe Biden’s positions are rooted in sound judgment, thorough understanding, and fundamental values.
 
We know Joe Biden has the experience and wisdom necessary to navigate America through a painful time. He has grappled with America’s most difficult foreign policy challenges for decades, learning what works – and what does not – in a dangerous world. He is knowledgeable, but he also knows that listening to diverse and dissenting views is essential, particularly when making tough decisions concerning our national security. Many of us have briefed Joe Biden on matters of national security, and we know he demands a thorough understanding of any issue before making a decision – as any American president should.
 
Finally, Joe Biden believes in personal responsibility. Over his long career, he has learned hard lessons and grown as a leader who can take positive action to unite and heal our country. It is unthinkable that he would ever utter the phrase “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
 
The next president will inherit a nation – and a world – in turmoil. The current President has demonstrated he is not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office; he cannot rise to meet challenges large or small. Thanks to his disdainful attitude and his failures, our allies no longer trust or respect us, and our enemies no longer fear us. Climate change continues unabated, as does North Korea’s nuclear program. The president has ceded influence to a Russian adversary who puts bounties on the heads of American military personnel, and his trade war against China has only harmed America’s farmers and manufacturers. The next president will have to address those challenges while struggling with an economy in a deep recession and a pandemic that has already claimed more than 200,000 of our fellow citizens. America, with 4% of the world’s population suffers with 25% of the world’s COVID-19 cases. Only FDR and Abraham Lincoln came into office facing more monumental crises than the next president.
 
Joe Biden has the character, principles, wisdom, and leadership necessary to address a world on fire. That is why Joe Biden must be the next President of the United States; why we vigorously support his election; and why we urge our fellow citizens to do the same.

DNC: National Security Advisors Testify to Joe Biden’s Leadership Qualities to Address Nation’s Historic Challenges

Sally Yates, the former acting Attorney General who refused to enact Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim Travel Ban and alerted the White House to a compromised Michael Flynn, told the Democratic National Convention, “Public servants promise to defend our Constitution. Uphold our laws. And work on behalf of the American people. But from the moment President Trump took office, he has used his position to benefit himself rather than our country. He’s trampled the rule of law, trying to weaponize our Justice Department to attack his enemies and protect his friends.” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The second night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention was themed “Leadership Matters” drawing a stark contrast between the lack of leadership of the incumbent, and the experience, integrity, competence and compassion to address the historic challenges facing the nation that former Vice President Joe Biden brings to the office of president.

“A moment like now demands real leadership. A leader who has the experience and character to meet the moment. A leader who will unite us, tell us the truth, take responsibility, listen to experts and be an example for the nation. Strong people and strong countries rise up during crises, don’t shy away from what is tough, and lead with competence. With Joe Biden as our president, we will restore honesty and integrity to our government, and stake out a renewed leadership role in the world. And we will create more justice, more fairness and more equality for all.”

Here are highlights from the evening’s speakers:

FORMER SECOND LADY OF THE UNITED STATES DR. JILL BIDEN

“You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors. The rooms are dark and the bright young faces that should fill them are confined to boxes on a computer screen.”

“How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.” 

“There are times when I couldn’t imagine how he did it—how he put one foot in front of the other and kept going. But I’ve always understood why he did it…He does it for you.” 

FORMER ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL SALLY YATES

“Public servants promise to defend our Constitution. Uphold our laws. And work on behalf of the American people. But from the moment President Trump took office, he has used his position to benefit himself rather than our country. He’s trampled the rule of law, trying to weaponize our Justice Department to attack his enemies and protect his friends.”

“We need a president who respects our laws and the privilege of public service. Who reflects our values and cares about our people. We need a president who will restore the soul of America.” 

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (New York)

“But if we’re going to win this battle for the soul of our nation, Joe can’t do it alone. Democrats must take back the Senate. We will stay united, from Sanders and Warren to Manchin and Warner—and together, we will bring bold and dramatic change to our country.”

 FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES JIMMY CARTER

“Joe has the experience, character, and decency to bring us together and restore America’s greatness. We deserve a person with integrity and judgment, someone who is honest and fair, someone who is committed to what is best for the American people.”

FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES BILL CLINTON

“Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple. At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos. Just one thing never changes—his determination to deny responsibility and shift the blame. The buck never stops there.”

“Our party is united in offering you a very different choice: a go-to-work president. A down-to-earth, get-the-job-done guy. A man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide. Our choice is Joe Biden.”

ADY BARKAN, HEALTHCARE ACTIVIST

“Even during this terrible crisis, Donald Trump and Republican politicians are trying to take away millions of people’s health insurance. With the existential threat of another four years of this president, we all have a profound obligation to act, not only to vote, but to make sure that our friends, family, and neighbors vote as well.”

FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY

“Donald Trump pretends Russia didn’t attack our elections. And now, he does nothing about Russia putting a bounty on our troops. So he won’t defend our country. He doesn’t know how to defend our troops. The only person he’s interested in defending is himself.”

“Joe’s moral compass has always pointed in the right direction, from the fight to break the back of apartheid to the struggle to wake up the world to genocide in the Balkans. Joe understands that none of the issues of this world—not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis—none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

Other speakers testifying to Biden’s leadership and presidential qualities included Colin Powell and a gaggle of national security advisors who have served in prior administrations, and Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy and former Ambassador to Japan, and her son, Jack Schlossberg, JFK’s grandson.

With Latest North Korean Missile Test, Biden Attacks Trump for Foreign Policy Failures

Former Vice President Joe Biden, in a hotly contested race for President, attacked Donald Trump for his failed foreign policy in the wake of yet another missile test by North Korea. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Former Vice President Joe Biden, in a hotly contested race for President, attacked Donald Trump for his failed foreign policy in the wake of yet another missile test by North Korea.  Foreign policy is Biden’s greatest strength among the Democratic rivals for 2020. Here is his statement:

This morning, North Korea fired two missiles in a deliberate attempt to provoke its neighbors and intimidate the United States — again. It was the 12th such test the regime has conducted since May in violation of UN resolutions, and which President Trump has down-played. After the latest round of denuclearization talks collapsed almost immediately in Stockholm earlier this month, these tests are a stark reminder that Donald Trump — a self-proclaimed deal maker — has achieved nothing but a string of spectacular diplomatic failures that are making the American people less safe.    

His “love letters” to murderous dictator Kim Jong Un have delivered little more than made-for-TV moments. North Korea today has more fissile material and more capability than when talks began, and Trump has given away our leverage — including suspending military exercises with our allies and granting Kim co-equal status at two summits with the president of the United States of America — for practically nothing in return. Now a more confident Kim is ticking up the pace of his violations because he believes he can pressure Trump to bend to his will. There is no deal, because there is no strategy and no patience for the kind of tough, hard diplomacy that actually produces results.

It’s a pattern we see over and over again. Donald Trump talks a big game, promises the greatest deal ever, then gives away America’s best negotiating tools in exchange for a photo op for himself. He only cares about his own self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. And every single time, it’s the American people who end up paying. 

He pulled us out of the successful Iran nuclear deal, promising he’d get a better one. He hasn’t. And now, Iran has taken its nuclear program out of the deep-freeze and ramped up its aggressive acts across the region — and Trump has no strategy to deal with these predictable responses.

He pulled us out of the Paris climate accord and dismisses climate change as a hoax. In less than a week, we will officially notify our departure from Paris, even as California is on fire and states throughout the Midwest are still recovering from record flooding over the summer.

He scuttled negotiations with the Taliban that might have opened the door to a peace settlement, reportedly because he didn’t get the Camp David moment of glory he wanted. Meanwhile he’s significantly weakened our negotiating position by imposing a possibly politically-motivated timeline for removing our troops from Afghanistan, without extracting any concessions from the Taliban in return.

His vaunted Middle East peace deal has yet to emerge. He gave away our strongest asset to take on ISIS by precipitously withdrawing our troops from Northeast Syria. He promised to get tough with China, saying trade wars were “good and easy to win.” But at more than a year in, what do we have to show for it? Nothing but pain for American farming and manufacturing, and vague promises that would only restore trade levels with China back to where they were before Trump’s irresponsible trade war.

The American people can’t afford four more years of Donald Trump’s art of no deals.

Biden: Baghdadi Was Win for National Security Professionals But Trump’s Reckless Foreign Policy Makes Nation Vulnerable to Terrorism

Vice President Joe Biden on the assassination of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, praised the skill and commitment of our military, intelligence, and national security professionals “beyond compare,” but criticized Donald Trump saying, “He has no strategy for securing our nation against terrorist threats. He has no strategy for anything. Every day that Donald Trump directs American national security is a dangerous day for the United States.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden, candidate for the 2020 candidate for President, issued a statement criticizing Trump’s “lack of strategy to secure our nation against terrorist threats.”

The successful operation to take Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi off the battlefield was a win for American national security. And it’s an important reminder of the skill and commitment of our military, intelligence, and national security professionals. They are beyond compare. 
 
I’m glad President Trump ordered the mission. But as more details of the raid emerge, it’s clear that this victory was not due to Donald Trump’s leadership. It happened despite his ineptitude as Commander-in-Chief. 

It’s been reported that Trump’s reckless decision to withdraw our troops from northern Syria forced the planning for the mission to be accelerated and the timeline compressed. His erratic behavior made it harder and more dangerous for the special forces carrying it out. And they had to fly through territory that is now hostile to the U.S., taking fire along the way—including territory we controlled just weeks ago. 

Trump has also made it less likely we will be able to successfully replicate a mission like this in the future. The operation leveraged a limited presence of U.S. counterterrorism capabilities in the region, which he keeps trying to dismantle. It was made possible by the work of intelligence professionals, who he has relentlessly attacked. It relied on allies he has belittled, undermined, and in some cases betrayed and abandoned.  

Trump’s total disregard for our alliances and partnerships endanger any future intelligence sharing or cooperation. In fact, the first people he saw fit to thank after our brave troops were the Russians and the Iranian-backed Syrian government. All this makes us less safe and less prepared for whatever terrorist leader emerges next.
 
And make no mistake, the threat is not gone. One man does not constitute an organization, and Trump has opened a path for ISIS to reconstitute itself under new leadership by withdrawing troops from the region. In doing so, he has given up our best asset to keep the pressure on ISIS during a dangerous period of organizational chaos. His fixation on keeping troops in the region to defend the oil fields betrays his true priorities—profit seeking—and will surely serve as a tool for future terrorist recruitment. And with his decision to slash humanitarian assistance to the region, it’s more likely that ISIS will be able to insinuate itself back into areas where we had successfully rooted it out. 

There is a difference between deploying hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to the Middle East indefinitely, and keeping small numbers of special operations and intelligence assets in place to maintain local partnerships and keep pressure on terrorists. That’s the smart, strong, and sustainable strategy we pioneered during the Obama-Biden Administration. That’s the effective policy we put in place, which laid the groundwork to end ISIS’s territorial caliphate. That’s the way we built the very relationships that ultimately delivered this victory.
 
Now, Trump wants to tear it all down and walk away.
 
He has no strategy for securing our nation against terrorist threats. He has no strategy for anything. Every day that Donald Trump directs American national security is a dangerous day for the United States.