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Biden’s vision for solving global problems

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President Joe BidenIt is speech Participation in the 78th meeting of the United Nations General Assembly was an endorsement of multilateralism, as we have not heard from American presidents in this forum for some time.

Biden used the word “shared” seven times, mentioning shared grief, shared future (mentioned twice), shared challenges (also twice), shared effects of globalization, and issuing a joint statement on Afghanistan.

On the other hand, in his speech to the 2019 General Assembly, the president Donald Trump used the word “share” once and the word “sovereign” or “sovereignty” five times.

The two speeches offer students of political rhetoric clearly contrasting views on national security: Biden’s liberal internationalism versus Trump’s realist emphasis on sovereign states and cynicism toward international institutions.


Biden highlighted the importance of multilateralism in the fight against COVID, climate change and international organizations like NATO, EU, etc., including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights mentioned in previous speeches of the General Assembly.

Promise of ‘relentless diplomacy’ as US navigates geopolitical environment after incessant wars in Iraq and AfghanistanThe president said that “the fundamental truth of the 21st century in each of our countries and as a global community is that our own success is linked to that of others.”

Reflecting liberal internationalist thought, these passages assert that an anarchic world of sovereign states is the reality in which we live, while also acknowledging the global network of international institutions, many of which have been with us since the globalization of states- United after World War II. pact-making crusade.

World Bank Group

One of these is widely known as the World Bank Group, founded in 1944 and subject to extensive institutional development since the Bretton Woods origins of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Monetary Fund and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (replaced by the World Trade Organization).

The current president of the World Bank is Ajay Bangaappointed by President Biden when David Malpass resigned with one year remaining in his five-year term. Malpass’s relationship with the World Bank was complicated, to say the least.

As Deputy Secretary in President Trump’s Treasury Department, Malpass was highly skeptical of multilateralism and international financial institutions and yet successfully worked to increase the lending power of banks by $13 billion.

He accepted Trump’s nomination to the World Bank in 2019 and introduced significant reforms. Declaring that four years is a long time, and under pressure from the Biden administration over its alleged lukewarm support for increasing climate change concerns in the Bank’s lending policies, Malpass served his last day on June 1, 2023, allowing Biden to appoint a new director who would prioritize the challenges of climate change.

A twist in this story came shortly before Malpass’s resignation, as he argued for a significant increase in funding for World Bank projects aimed at supporting climate change resilience in developing countries. “We estimate that developing countries will need $2.4 billion per year over the next seven years to address the global challenges of climate mitigation and adaptation, conflict and pandemics,” he said. Malpass said. said in a recent speech.


Regardless, Banga and the Biden administration have been more predictable in their priorities for international engagement. In relation to the World Bank, there are issues such as climate change, conflict, COVID and the emerging technological revolutions in digitalization and artificial intelligence, or, together, the “polycrisis” as mentioned Banga to CNBC at the recent G20 meeting.

In his speech to the UN, Biden called for increased financing from the World Bank to help governments and people address these challenges. As the Financial Times However, a group of developing countries representing the G11 is calling for caution in the face of a rapid increase in financial commitments.

They are concerned about the Bank’s continued triple-A rating from rating agencies such as S&P, which would increase the cost of doing business. This is just one of many tests of Biden’s relentless diplomacy in multilateral contexts.

Multilateral institutions

What is the expected result of Biden’s relentless diplomacy? Will multilateral institutions fulfill the functions required by its political objectives? From the Atlantic Charter of 1941 to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 and beyond, American foreign policy in the post-World War II and early Cold War years was based on the reversal of timid efforts that sealed the fate of the League of Nations through a long-lasting global campaign. formerly called pact-o-mania.

Fall 2023 is a fascinating time to hear the multilateralist emphasis, as evidenced in Biden’s speech. The early post-Cold War years, despite the multilateral success of Operation Desert Storm, saw weak multilateralism in the form of “coalitions of the willing” that were not up to the task of stabilizing countries. conflict zones, from the Balkans to Somalia.

Two decades of global war on terrorism After the September 11 attacks, operational and analytical priorities were refocused on disruptive non-state actors. Although Biden has mentioned terrorism as an ongoing challenge to national security, great powers and great power aspirants have shifted global politics toward a renewed situation of great power competition.

As was the case throughout the Cold War, this situation leaves the world’s small and middle powers becoming the allies and/or clients of the great powers. The UN Security Council is barely part of the picture as the United States, China and Russia vie for geopolitical advantage from the Indo-Pacific to Central Asia, Africa and Latin America.

However, as in the case of the Cold War, the principle of multilateralism can be used selectively and strategically as a political instrument. This is why we did not hear President Biden call for a renewed Security Council in which China and Russia held veto power, but we did hear a plea for the World Bank.

With its weighted voting system, Washington maintains its long-standing advantage, possessing 18% of decision-making power on its own and a majority via its allies. In addition, the European Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund expressed his support and willingness to similarly engage internationally on an expanded scale.

While the Biden administration has downplayed the idea of ​​containing China as a driver of its foreign policy, the Financial Times reported on China’s importance in administration’s consideration of increased funding from the World Bank and G20, citing national security adviser Jake Sullivan to identify the need to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which has nearly 150 partner countries.

Conference diplomacy

The multilateralist impulse, always tempered by a stronger unilateralist dynamic when circumstances require, is best channeled through institutions like the World Bank and the G20.

The reform of the UN Security Council is a dead letter, NATO’s enlargement policy will have to at one time or another, but not this year, confront the Ukrainian question, and the visible threats of war for resources, rising sea levels and severe weather events associated with climate change are worrying. conditions that make international financial institutions relevant. The remaining decision-making advantages retained by the United States and its allies in these institutions make the time ripe for multilateral renewal.

Of course, there are no guarantees and it is even difficult to know if this strategy is successful. G11 members are reluctant to jeopardize the reputations of their institutions, and the so-called BRICS partnership has been in the news recently with plans for expanded associations and activities that could be seen as in opposition to states. -United.

In the meantime, as the war in Ukraine and massive military exercises in the Western Pacific rightly dominate headlines, observers would do well to keep an eye on conference diplomacy within regional and global financial institutions.


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