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In first address to UN General Assembly, Biden describes a world entering 'decisive decade'

President Joe Biden
Posted at 5:04 AM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 11:06:11-04

In his first address as president to the UN General Assembly, Joe Biden on Tuesday said the planet was entering a "decisive decade for our world," outlining the challenges the Earth faces in a rapidly changing climate and a raging pandemic.

Biden noted that the next 10 years would "quite literally determine our future" and stressed collective action and international cooperation to address global challenges.

"Whether we share to fight for our shared future or not will reverberate for generations," Biden said.

In calling for collective action to fight climate change, Biden re-committed the U.S. to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to up to 52% by 2030 and called on every country to bring "their best ammunitions to the table" at an upcoming UN climate summit in Glasgow. He also noted that "every country" was seeing extreme weather events prompted by climate change and warned that such events would only get worse with continued inaction.

He also noted that the U.S. would pursue diplomacy with the hopes of "championing the democratic values that go to the very heart of who we are as a nation and people — freedom, equality, opportunity, and a belief in the universal rights of all people."

Biden specifically mentioned women's rights and LGBTQ+ rights as those that the U.S. would seek to support around the world.

Biden also addressed the U.S.'s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last month, noting that the end of the war opened a new chapter of "relentless diplomacy."

"I stand here today for the first time in 20 years with the U.S. not at war. We have turned the page," Biden said. "All the 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 his country would continue to pursue diplomacy over military action, adding that military power "must be our tool of last resort, not our first. And it should not be used as an answer to every problem we see around the world."

"We are not seeking — I'll say it again — we are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocks," Biden added.

Biden's address came as the U.S. faced questions from its closest allies, particularly on the administration's chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and the country's response to the pandemic.

The U.S. withdrawal from the 20-year war in Afghanistan was chaotic, with the Taliban taking control of the country weeks before the U.S. fled the country. Military members also faced attacks from ISIS terrorists and bungled a drone strike that killed Afghan civilians.

The Associated Press reports that the Biden administration's withdrawal was "out of sync" with many U.S. allies. On Monday, the AP reports that EU Council President Charles Michel criticized the Biden administration's lack of "transparency and loyalty" in policymaking,

The Biden administration is also in the midst of a spat with France, the U.S.'s oldest ally. Last week, the U.S. agreed to equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines in the hopes of countering the Chinese military's aggressive stance in the East. However, the deal scuttled a lucrative $66 billion defense contract that France had signed with Australia.

Finally, Biden has faced criticism from European Allies for keeping non-essential travel closed for European travelers coming into the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic, even though the EU has allowed U.S. travelers to enter for several months. The Biden administration took steps Monday to ease those concerns by announcing that fully vaccinated travelers from the EU and U.K. could resume travel in the U.S. by November.