US foreign policy

Democracy ‘under assault,’ Biden says in first message to international community

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US President Joe Biden spoke to the international community Monday for the first since taking office, saying that democracy must be defended as it was “under assault.”

“We are in the midst of a fundamental debate about the future direction of our world,” Biden said in virtual remarks during the Munich Security Conference.

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“We must demonstrate that democracies can still deliver for our people. That is our galvanizing mission,” he said.

The US president appeared to send the message that his presidency would engage with allies through shared values. These partnerships are “not transactional,” he said. Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, was often criticized for seeking transactional ties with countries throughout the world, including Washington’s closest allies.

Despite the countries gathered at the Munich conference having democratic values in common, Biden said, “None of us has fully succeeded in achieving” the vision of ensuring the rights of all are protected.

“And in too many places, including in Europe and the United States, democratic progress is under assault…,” Biden said.

Biden hit out at autocratic regimes without naming any countries and said democracy was no accident.

“We have to defend it. Strengthen it. Renew it. We have to prove that our model isn’t a relic of our history,” he said.

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