Feb 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden to defend democracies in security meeting speech

Joe Biden is seen addressing the Munich Security Conference in 2015.

Joe Biden at the 2015 Munich Security Conference. Photo: Timm Schamberger/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President Biden will deliver a robust defense of America’s own democracy, and the broader power of democracies to face autocratic threats from China and Russia, during a virtual address Friday to the Munich Security Conference.

Why it matters: Biden is seeking to repair the transatlantic alliance after four years of President Trump, who harangued allies about their defense spending and questioned America’s commitment to NATO.

An administration official who briefed reporters said the new U.S. president is trying to reassure allies and adversaries America is committed to global alliances. Using a signature line, he'll also say it’s never safe to “bet against America,” the official said.

  • Biden will be making his case after America’s democracy was shaken at home by the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6, with many in his audience wondering if Trump was a populist, nationalist aberration or sign of things to come in the U.S.

The big picture: The conference convenes a national security who's who. Biden made numerous appearances as a senator and three as vice president.

  • During another amid Trump’s presidency, he vowed, “We’ll be back. We’ll be back.”
  • He received a standing ovation for that promise two years ago, speaking after then-Vice President Mike Pence articulated Trump’s "America-First" vision for the country and world.

Go deeper: During his speech, to be delivered late Friday morning from the East Room, Biden also will address Iran’s nuclear program, the economic and national security challenges posed by China and the nearly two-decade war in Afghanistan, the official said.

  • Biden won’t get into a specific timetable for negotiations with Iran but generally express an openness to reengaging in diplomacy to bring Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.
  • He will specifically single out Russia for its efforts to attempt to discredit and destabilize democracies.

Between the lines: Biden will participate earlier Friday morning in a virtual G-7 summit, where countries are expected to pledge to work together to combat COVID.

  • They also are expected to agree to pursue expansionary fiscal policies that will help the global economy avoid a prolonged contraction.
  • As of Friday, the U.S. will officially be a party to the Paris climate accord again, the administration official said. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement in 2017.
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