On February 19, U.S. President Joe Biden reiterated his promise that the United States will work closely with its European partners to meet the range of shared challenges they all face, reports CNBC news.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ full commitment to the NATO military alliance, by referencing article five of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which says that “an attack on one is an attack on all. That is our unshakeable vow.”
“Our partnerships have endured and grown through the years because they are rooted in the richness of our shared democratic values,” Biden said during his speech. “They are not transactional, they are not extractive, they are built on a vision of a future where every voice matters, where the rights of all are reflected.”
Biden also highlighted the new strategic competition with China and Russia, adding the need for long term partnerships across the pacific to defend democratic norms and institutions. He further stressed the need have to repel the Chinese government’s “economic abuses and coercion” that undermines the “foundations of the international economic system.” He also added that “Putin’s Russia seeks to weaken the European project and undermine transatlantic unity and resolve.”
In 2018, former President Trump threatened to cut U.S. funding to the NATO unless EU counterparts paid in entirety their dues to the organization. Although Biden promised not to take a similar aggressive approach as the previous administrations did, he noted that the increased investments by several NATO members will help improve the capabilities of the alliance. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoletenberg also supported this statement during a call with the Biden after the January inauguration. Stoletenberg “stressed the need to maintain the momentum for increased defense spending, to keep our nations safe in an unpredictable world,” the Hill reports.
. According to the White House, Biden thanked Stoltenberg “for his steadfast leadership of the alliance, and conveyed his intention to consult and work with allies on the full range of shared security concerns, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Russia,” The Hill furthers.
Lloyd Austin, recently confirmed as Secretary of Defense of the United States, made his first appearance on the world stage at the Munich Security Conference. Meeting with NATO allies, he emphasized President Biden’s message that the U.S. intends to revitalize its relationship with its alliances on the world stage, CNN reports. According to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby, Austin further noted that “NATO’s most important task is protecting our populations and territories by presenting credible deterrence and a strong military.”
Although he did not offer definite responses to the question of the future of U.S. defense commitments to Germany and withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, Austin focused on the magnitude of threats emanating from Russia and welcomed “the increased defense spending commitments by member nations,” continues CNN.
As reports from Reuters indicate, President Biden has halted plans to withdraw 12,000 American troops from Germany. In yet another reversal of the previous administrations’ foreign policies, Biden stated that U.S. military footprint in Germany was appropriately aligned with its “foreign policy and national security priorities,” reports the Associated Press.