Biden’s Policy of Relentless Diplomacy

By Lakshman I. Keerthisinghe | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 26 2021
Columns Biden’s Policy of Relentless Diplomacy

By Lakshman I. Keerthisinghe 

“There are no military solutions - dialogue and diplomacy are the only guarantee of lasting peace” 

- Martin McGuinness-Irish Politician 

“In a world of complex threats, our security and leadership depends on all elements of our power - including strong and principled diplomacy” 

-Barack Obama 

US President Joe Biden has said in a speech at the UN that the US is opening a new chapter of diplomacy after ending the two-decade Afghan war. “We’ve ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan, and as we close this era of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy,” Biden said in his first address to the UN General Assembly. The US military completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan in late August under Biden’s order, ending the longest war in American history. The president pointed out the US military power “must be our tool of last resort, not our first,” and should not be used as an answer for every global problem. 

“Many of our greatest concerns cannot be solved or even addressed through the force of arms. Bombs and bullets cannot defend against Covid-19 or its future variants,” he added. “To fight this pandemic, we need a collective act of science and political will.” Biden said the US will “compete vigorously” with other major powers while emphasising it is not “seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs. 

The United States is ready to work with any nation that steps up and pursues peaceful resolution to shared challenges, even if we have intense disagreements in other areas,” he continued. “Because we’ll all suffer the consequences of our failure if we do not come together to address the urgent threats like COVID-19 and climate change or enduring threats like nuclear proliferation.” Biden said that Washington will remain to engage with Tehran diplomatically and seek a mutual return to the Iran nuclear deal. The US seeks “serious and sustained diplomacy” to pursue the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. 

He also reaffirmed both US security commitment to Israel and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Biden’s debut at the UN General Assembly came after controversial foreign policy decisions without sufficient consultations with allies, including the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and a diplomatic rift with France over a nuclear submarine deal with Australia. Under a new security partnership unveiled between Australia, the UK and the US, known as AUKUS, Australia will build nuclear-powered submarines with the US and the UK technology. 

Australia then announced it would scrap the deal with France signed in 2016 to purchase 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines. Outraged by the abrupt move without notice, France recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia for consultations. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in New York that the trilateral move between the US, the UK and Australia represents a “crisis of trust” between allies that requires explanations. 

President Biden also defended the messy end to the war in Afghanistan and made a case that the world can come together to confront global threats such as climate change and the Coronavirus, as he sought to address allies’ in his first speech to the United Nations as President, Biden affirmed U.S. support for it and other international partnerships. He pledged additional support for poorer countries often disproportionately affected by climate change We’ve ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan, and as we close this era of endless war we are opening an era of endless diplomacy,” Biden said. 

His measured address was notable mostly for its contrast to the boastful tone and sour reception that marked addresses by President Donald Trump. Biden drew applause when he closed with a note that his speech was the first by a U.S. President in “20 years with the United States not at war. ”We’ve turned the page. All the unmatched strength, energy and commitment, will and resources of our nation are now fully and squarely focused on what’s ahead of us, not what was behind,” Biden said. 

“I know this — as we look ahead, we will lead — we will lead on all of the greatest challenges of our time, from covid to climate, peace and security, human dignity and human rights, but we will not go it alone.” U.S. forces continue to serve combat tours in Iraq, where about 2,500 American troops protect a handful of bases with the consent of Baghdad. In conclusion, Biden announced plans to double U.S. funding for poorer nations seeking to address climate change, if Congress agrees. Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a recorded address, appeared to one-up Biden with a surprise announcement that China will no longer build coalfired power plants abroad. It must be said that present stand of US is conducive to world peace indeed. 

The writer is an Attorney-at-Law with LLB, LLM, MPhil.(Colombo) [email protected]  

By Lakshman I. Keerthisinghe | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 26 2021

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