BRUSSELS – Joe Biden conveyed his’ America is Back ‘message to Brussels, reaffirming the United States’ commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during its first NATO summit as US President on Monday.
“I just want the whole of Europe to know that the United States is there. The United States is there, “Biden said in a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
Biden said he takes Article Five, which enshrines the military alliance’s collective defense principle, ‘as a sacred obligation’.
“I constantly remind Americans that when America was first attacked in its shores since what happened back – it started in World War II, NATO increased,” Biden said, referring to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.
WATCH LIVE: 12:50 PM EST
Stoltenberg said he would consult with Biden on how to address the growing threat from China and Russia, pointing out that there is a confluence of views among allies. ‘
“I know we can count on America and that America can count on Europe,” Stoltenberg said Monday.
Biden’s visit gives a new tone to relations with the military alliance. His predecessor, former President Donald Trump, once called NATO obsolete and complained that the US was paying an unfair share in the organization.
So far, the meetings have been ‘good optics’, chose Alice Billon-Galland, a research fellow at Chatham House in London, and part of NATO’s Young Leaders to advise the 2030 NATO process.
“What we have seen are allies who commit themselves to the core values, democratic values, and want to work together,” Billon-Galland said. “There are still points of contention on the table and this summit is the starting point of the reflection process that will lead allies to agree to renew their strategic concept.”
The strategic concept gives an outline of NATO’s purpose and fundamental security tasks, identifies current elements in the security environment and provides guidelines for adapting its military forces.
Climate change threats, Russia, China
Although the alliance is not the main platform for discussing climate change, there is a renewed focus on the security implications of climate change and how NATO should respond.
“The NATO forces in Iraq have suffered from tremendous heat,” said Dan Hamilton, director of the Global Europe Program at the Wilson Center in Washington. Military must adapt to climate change while reducing their massive carbon footprint, he added.
China is part of the discussion and is called a security threat. Stoltenberg said China’s growing military presence from the Baltic countries to Africa means that NATO must be prepared.
“China is getting closer to us. We see them in cyberspace, we see China in Africa, but we also see that China is investing heavily in our own critical infrastructure,” the NATO secretary general said.
European allies must work with the US and China, but ultimately want to avoid being dragged into a binary Washington and Beijing confrontation, said Billath-Galland of Chatham House.
“European allies are very cautious about how they approach it, and a little reluctant to get NATO involved too much in issues related to China or Indo-Pacific issues,” she said.
A day earlier, many of the same leaders now meeting in Brussels issued a statement following the G-7 summit in Cornwall, UK, in which they proclaimed China’s human rights violations. Beijing has accused the group of tarnishing its reputation.
As with the previous NATO summit, Russia will be high on the agenda. Moscow denies any wrongdoing, but allies are increasingly concerned given Moscow’s recent aggression on the eastern flank and its secret and cyber attacks to undermine Western states.
In a recent interview with NBC, Russian President Vladimir Putin called NATO a Cold War relic. “I do not know why it still exists,” Putin said.
Biden said Russia and China were not “acting in a way that is consistent with what we had hoped for.” The US president referred to the West’s decades-long efforts to bring the two countries closer to liberal democracies.
On the side of the summit, Biden met with leaders from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – countries that gained independence from the then Soviet Union in 1991. While now full members of NATO and the European Union, these Baltic countries are wary of the Kremlin’s regional ambitions.
Biden also meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a NATO ally with troubled relations, especially after Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, military offensive in Syria and support for Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 2020 with Armenia.
Biden will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday.