Thursday October 21, 2021

US not seeking Cold War, says Biden

AFP
September 22, 2021
US not seeking Cold War, says Biden

UNITED NATIONS: President Joe Biden told the world Tuesday the United States is not seeking a new Cold War with China as he vowed to pivot from post-9/11 conflicts and take a global leadership role on crises from climate to Covid.

Addressing the UN General Assembly for the first time as president, Biden promised to work to advance democracy and alliances, despite friction with Europe over France’s loss of a mega-contract.

The Biden administration has identified a rising and authoritarian China as the paramount challenge of the 21st century, but in his United Nations debut he made clear he was not trying to sow divisions. "We are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs," Biden said. "The United States is ready to work with any nation that steps up and pursues peaceful resolution to share challenges even if we have intense disagreement in other areas." Biden did not mention China by name, other than voicing alarm about human rights in Xinjiang.

Biden declared himself to be the first US president in 20 years not to be running a war after his controversial pullout of troops from Afghanistan, where the Taliban swiftly took over. Instead, America is “opening a new era of relentless diplomacy” in which military power must be the “tool of last resort.”

“The mission must be clear and achievable, undertaken with informed consent of the American people and whenever possible in partnership with our allies,” Biden said. Opening the General Assembly, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of growing divisions between the United States and China and urged dialogue.

“I fear our world is creeping towards two different sets of economic, trade, financial and technology rules, two divergent approaches in the development of artificial intelligence — and ultimately two different military and geopolitical strategies,” Guterres said. “This is a recipe for trouble. It would be far less predictable than the Cold War.”

The UN General Assembly is meeting in person for the first time in two years but at limited capacity and with pandemic precautions. The measures include replacing the microphone after each speaker — likely welcome news for the 78-year-old Biden who spoke after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who defied guidance only to attend if vaccinated.

Biden has called a virtual summit on Wednesday on defeating the pandemic and teased that he will announce “additional commitments.” “We seek to advance the fight against Covid-19 and hold ourselves accountable around specific targets on three key challenges: saving lives now, vaccinating the world, and building back better,” Biden said. He also said Washington would double financing on climate change — a key element in reaching an ambitious new accord in November at a UN conference in Glasgow as temperatures and severe weather rise dangerously. The United Nations says there is a $20 billion shortfall in the $100 billion fund that developed countries promised to mobilize annually from 2020-2025 for helping poorer nations adapt to climate change.