During a speech at the state department, the president reiterated the need for America to strengthen its global alliances.
He announced that “diplomacy is back at the center” of US foreign policy and will end all support for Saudi Arabia’s offensive operations in Yemen, before revealing plans to appoint an envoy to focus on the long-standing conflict.
Biden’s announcement at the State Department was just one of the significant changes he said he will make to US foreign policy, including freezing troop redeployments from Germany, raising the cap for refugees allowed into the US, and reaffirming US support for LGBTQ rights worldwide.
The president stressed that the global challenges of the moment, including the need to counter “advancing authoritarianism,” will “only be solved by nations working together.”
“We can’t do it alone. … We must start with diplomacy rooted in America’s most cherished democratic values,” Biden said. “Defending freedom. Championing opportunity. Upholding universal rights. Respecting the rule of law. And treating every person with dignity.”
He acknowledged the threat to those values and to US global standing from the attempted insurrection encouraged by former President Donald Trump.
“Though many of these values have come under intense pressure in recent years, even pushed to the brink in the last few weeks, the American people are going to emerge from this moment more determined and better equipped to unite the world to defend democracy because we have fought for it ourselves,” the President said.
He delivered his speech after making remarks to State Department employees, telling them that “we’re going to rebuild our alliances. We’re going to reengage the world and take on the enormous challenges we face dealing with the pandemic, dealing with global warming, and again, standing up for democracy and human rights around the world.”
The President, who visited the State Department on Thursday with Vice President Kamala Harris, used the speech not only to unveil policy changes but also to reassert US global leadership and realign foreign policy.
“Everything” the Biden administration does when it comes to foreign policy will be examined as to whether it makes life “better, safer and easier for working families,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters in a briefing to preview the President’s remarks.
Biden announced that “we are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arm sales,” and said he will appoint an envoy to focus on the long-standing conflict. He said the conflict is “a war that has created humanitarian and strategic catastrophe,” but he also made clear the US will “continue to help and support Saudi Arabia.”
The Democrat said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will lead a “global force posture review” and, while that review is ongoing, will “freeze any troop redeployments from Germany … so our military footprint is appropriately aligned with our foreign policy and national security priorities.”
The President also announced his intention to increase the number of refugees admitted into the United States after years of historical lows under the Trump administration.
The Trump administration set a refugee cap of 15,000 for this fiscal year, the lowest since 1980. On Thursday, Biden said he will raise the admissions cap back up to 125,000 persons for the first full fiscal year of his administration and will direct the State Department to work with Congress on the issue.
“The United States’ moral leadership on refugee issues was a point of bipartisan consensus for so many decades when I first got here. We shined the light of the lamp of liberty on oppressed people,” Biden said. “It’s going to take time to rebuild what has been so badly damaged. But that’s precisely what we’re going to do.”
The President also announced he would issue a presidential memorandum to agencies “to reinvigorate our leadership on the LGBTQI issues, and do it internationally” as part of an effort “to further repair our moral leadership.”
“We’ll ensure diplomacy and foreign assistance are working to promote the rights of those individuals included by combating criminalization and protecting LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers,” Biden said.
He also stressed the need to rebuild America’s moral standing after Donald Trump ‘rebuffed traditional alliances and increasingly scorned democratic norms; a tenure that saw peaceful protesters violently dispersed before a photo op; an embrace of conspiracy theorists and White nationalist groups; and ultimately a deadly insurrection aimed at overturning the results of a free and fair election.’
“We will compete from a position of strength by building back better at home, working with our allies and partners, renewing our international institutions and reclaiming our credibility and moral authority, much of which has been lost,” Biden said.