Biden Argues for Democracy and Diplomacy as He Starts Europe Trip
In his first overseas trip as president, Mr. Biden said no nation can solve its problems alone, and that democracies must prove that their way is better than autocracy.
In Britain, Biden called diplomacy and alliances vital to the world’s future.
Biden Calls for Democracies to Face Global Challenges Together
President Biden described America’s democratic alliances as vital to the world’s future during an address to American troops in Britain on Wednesday. The speech kicked off his first foreign trip as president.
This is my first overseas trip as president of the United States. I’m heading to the G7, then to the NATO ministerial, and then to meet with Mr. Putin to let him know what I want him to know. [applause] At every point along the way, we’re going to make it clear that the United States is back, and democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges and the issues that matter most to our future. That we’re committed to leading with strength, defending our values and delivering for our people. These partnerships have hardened, and have been hardened, in the fire of war. And generations of Americans and servicemembers who fought them. Like the original Bloody Hundredth and those are RAF pilots, and their shared mission in World War II — flying, fighting, winning, it’s done together. I believe we’re at an inflection point in world history. The moment where it falls to us to prove that democracies will not just endure, but they will excel. As we rise to seize the enormous opportunities of a new age, we have to discredit those who believe that the age of democracy is over, as some of our fellow nations believe, we have to expose as false the narrative that decrees of dictators can match the speed and scale of the 21st challenges. You know, and I know they’re wrong. Generation after generation of American heroes have signed up to be part of the fight because they understand the truth that lives in every American heart. That liberation, opportunity, justice is far more likely to come to pass in a democracy than in emerging autocracies in the world.
President Biden described America’s democratic alliances as vital to the world’s future during an address to American troops in Britain on Wednesday. The speech kicked off his first foreign trip as president.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
R.A.F. MILDENHALL, England — President Biden began his first overseas trip by telling American troops in Britain that the future of the world depends on restoring the longstanding alliances with European countries that have been “hardened in the fire of war” and built by “generations of Americans.”
Speaking to troops at R.A.F. Mildenhall, he called his weeklong diplomatic overture “essential,” saying that no nation acting alone can meet the world’s challenges. But he also vowed to stand up to adversaries like China and Russia, pledging to tell President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia “what I want him to know.”
On the eve of meeting with European leaders rattled by Russia’s aggressive movement of troops along Ukraine’s borders, Mr. Biden pledged to “respond in a robust and meaningful way” to what he called “harmful activities” conducted by Mr. Putin.
Mr. Biden also cast his trip in broader terms, as an effort to rally the United States and its allies in an existential battle between democracy and autocracy.
“I believe we’re in an inflection point in world history,” Mr. Biden said, “a moment where it falls to us to prove that democracies not just endure, but they will excel as we rise to seize enormous opportunities in the new age.”
Mr. Biden called out autocrats like the Russian president for promoting false stories about the failings of democracies.
“We have to discredit those who believe that the age of democracy is over, as some of our fellow nations believe,” he said.
The R.A.F. base at Mildenhall is used almost exclusively by American forces and is a critical air refueling wing. Its history reaches back into World War II, and it was a key base in the Cold War for the United States’ Strategic Air Command, which maintained its nuclear deterrent. In the ’70s and ’80s, it was also a frequent site of antiwar and antinuclear protests.
But those are largely gone, and in 2015 it seemed like the base would be closed. Two years ago it got a reprieve, and remains one of the strongholds of U.S. forces in Britain.
Mr. Biden will hold his first face-to-face meeting of the trip with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain on Thursday, ahead of the formal start of the Group of 7 meeting.