After spending two weeks sparring with his presidential primary opponents, Joe Biden sought to again rise above the Democratic fray Thursday, delivering a sweeping foreign policy address that denounced President Trump as incapable of global leadership and called for a new commitment to international diplomacy.
In broad but unequivocal terms, Biden delivered a scathing assessment of Trump’s leadership, saying his judgment has tarnished the country’s reputation abroad and undermined its ability to achieve its foreign policy goals. As a counterpoint, Biden set forth his own foreign policy vision that includes putting diplomacy first and working with other countries — rather than unilaterally — toward collective goals.
“The threat that I believe President Trump poses to our national security and who we are as a country is extreme,” Biden said in a midday speech in New York City. He called the president “dangerously incompetent’’ and incapable of global and domestic leadership.
From the outset, Biden hammered Trump for his cozy relationships with President Vladimir Putin of Russia and other authoritarians, including Kim Jong Un of North Korea. “He undermines our Democratic alliances while embracing dictators who appeal to his vanity,” Biden said of the president. “Make no mistake about it, the world sees Trump for who he is: insincere, ill-informed and impulsive.”
Among his specific proposals was a plan to convene a summit of the world’s democracies to “try to refocus on our common purpose.”
“Leaders who attend must come prepared to cooperate and make concrete commitments to take on corruption and advance human rights in their own nations,” Biden said.
The summit would include members of the private sector, he said, aligning with an initiative aimed at countering the abuse of technology across the world.
Biden would also rejoin the Paris climate accord as a component of his global plan to confront climate change, and he pledged to reverse Trump’s “detrimental asylum policies.”
The former vice president’s initiatives would constitute a renewed embrace of multilateralism and a rebuke of Trump’s policy of spurning international agreements and denigrating institutions like NATO.
His speech Thursday also represented an effort to bring the campaign back to where he is most comfortable: above the crowded Democratic field, seeking to cast the contest as a head-to-head matchup against Trump.
In the seven-page fact sheet that accompanied Biden’s speech, he provided a three-pronged blueprint for accomplishing his foreign policy agenda, including specific early actions he would undertake as president, both domestically and abroad. He pledged, for instance, to reform the criminal justice system and to dedicate resources to protect the election system — an apparent nod to the foreign meddling that bedeviled the 2016 presidential election. He also vowed to end family separation at the southern border and discontinue Trump’s travel ban.
“Democracy is the root of our society, the wellspring of our power, and the source of our renewal,” he wrote. “It strengthens and amplifies our leadership to keep us safe in the world. It is the engine of our ingenuity that drives our economic prosperity. It is the heart of who we are and how we see the world — and how the world sees us.”
He criticized Trump’s approach to China, saying it was shortsighted, while China was taking the “long view.”
“The most effective way that we need to change is to build a united front of friends and partners to challenge China’s abusive behavior,” he said.