President Joe Biden will tell the world Tuesday that the United States wants to avoid a Cold War with China, while pivoting from continuous post-9/11 conflicts to an era of US-led diplomacy.
Biden’s first speech as US president to the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York faces a tough reception.
He has spent his presidency branding countries like China and Russia as the opposing side in a generational, global struggle between autocrats and democracies.
Close ally France is also furious at what it calls backstabbing by Washington in a defense pact that will see Australia acquire US nuclear submarine technology, while ditching previous plans for French conventional submarines.
Throw in the hangover from the traumatic Afghanistan exit — where victorious Taliban guerrillas forced the US-led alliance into a hasty, at times chaotic, withdrawal — and Biden can expect some skepticism.
However, Biden will argue from the UN rostrum that the United States is stepping in to save the world from the Covid pandemic, leading on climate crisis measures and rebuilding democratic ties frayed under Donald Trump.
And he will insist that his drive to deepen the US footprint in Asia — the new nuclear submarines pact with Australia is only the latest building block — doesn’t have to mean confrontation with China.
Biden will say “he does not believe in the notion of a new Cold War with the world divided into blocks. He believes in vigorous, intensive, principled competition,” a senior US official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Reinforcing that theme of a United States wanting to turn the page on two decades of conflicts, Biden will vow a shift to diplomatic leadership, the official said.