February 25, 2021

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President Biden addressed world leaders as part of the Munich Security Conference on Friday, assuring them that “the transatlantic alliance is back” while stressing the need to defend democracy around the world.

From the start of his speech, Biden made clear he hoped to send “a clear message to the world” that “America is back” and “the transatlantic alliance is back,” affirming the United States is “fully committed to our NATO alliance.” He sought to contrast his administration’s foreign policy agenda with that of former President Donald Trump.

“I know the past few years have strained and tested our transatlantic relationship,” Biden said. “But the United States is determined to re-engage with Europe, to consult with you, to earn back our position of trusted leadership.”

Biden went on to warn that “democratic progress is under assault” around the world, including in Europe and the United States.

“We are in the midst of a fundamental debate about the future and direction of our world,” Biden said. “We’re at an inflection point, between those who argue that given all the challenges we face … that autocracy is the best way forward, and those who understand that democracy is essential to meeting these challenges.”

He added that “democracy doesn’t happen by accident,” and “we have to defend it, fight for it, strengthen it, renew it,” specifically calling out Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s “recklessness,” while also saying that challenges posed by China are “just as real.”

CNN’s Jeff Zeleny described this as the “most robust foreign policy speech” of the Biden administration so far, one that made “clear he represents a hard break from the Trump administration’s worldview.” Brendan Morrow

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