President Joe Biden speaks virtually to the Munich Security Conference in Germany from the eastern room of the White House in Washington, DC on February 19, 2021.
Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden pledged on Friday to repair what he described as “strained” relations with European allies and NATO partners as part of his predecessor’s “America first” foreign policy.
Addressing the annual Munich Security Conference, Biden said the United States will “regain our position as a trusted leader” and tell the virtual audience, “America is back.”
“I know, I know that the last few years of strain have put our transatlantic relationship to the test, but the United States is determined to get back to Europe,” Biden said, without naming former President Donald Trump.
“Our partnerships have endured and grown over the years because they are rooted in the richness of our shared democratic values. They are not transactions. They are not extractive. They are based on a vision of the future in which every voice matters.” Said Biden.
Biden, who rose to the nation’s highest office a month ago, also said the United States was fully committed to the NATO military alliance.
“An attack on one is an attack on all. That is our unwavering vow,” said Biden, referring to NATO’s mutual defense clause known as Article 5.
So far, the 30-strong alliance has invoked Article 5 only once – in defense of the United States after the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Biden’s remarks follow his administration’s debut this week at the NATO Defense Minister’s meeting. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reiterated Washington’s commitment to the world’s most powerful military alliance and a more coordinated approach to global security.
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Trump often disguised NATO members during his presidency and previously threatened to leave the alliance.
During a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels in May 2017, Trump declined to reaffirm US commitment to the alliance’s Article 5 clause.
Speaking outside NATO’s 9/11 memorial, Trump thanked allies for their swift response to Article 5, but did not specifically say whether the US would do the same.
Two months later, Trump ended his conspicuous silence on the matter and said during a Rose Garden speech that he “commits the United States to Article 5”.
In December 2019, at the NATO leaders’ meeting in London, Trump reiterated that too many members were still not paying enough and threatened to cut US military support if the allies did not increase spending.
Trump pointed out to Chancellor Angela Merkel that she had failed to meet the target of 2% of GDP set at the 2014 NATO summit in Wales.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) watches US President Donald Trump (R) walk past her in a family photo during the NATO summit at the Grove Hotel in Watford, northeast of London, on December 4, 2019.
“So we pay 4[%] to 4.3% if Germany pays 1[%] to 1.2% with a maximum of 1.2% of a much smaller GDP. That’s not fair, “said Trump at the time.
At the time, Germany was only one of 19 NATO members who had not achieved the GDP expenditure target of 2% set at the 2014 summit.
Last year, the German President opened the annual Munich Security Conference with a look at the foreign policy approach of then President Trump “America First”.
In his opening speech, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned that the USA would put its own interests first at the expense of its allies.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will speak on February 14, 2020 in the opening speech of the 56th Munich Security Conference in Munich.
Christof Stache | AFP | Getty Images
“Our closest ally, the United States of America, under the current administration rejects the concept of the international community,” he said. “Great again, but at the expense of neighbors and partners,” added Steinmeier, without naming Trump, but referring to his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”.
“Thinking and acting like this hurts us all,” he said.