Biden says NATO must protect against ‘phony populism’ – Asia Despatch

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“We have to root out corruption that siphons off our strength, guard against those who would stoke hatred and division for political gain as phony populism, invest in strengthening institutions that underpin and safeguard our cherished democratic values,” he said, adding later: “That’s how we’ll prove that democracy and that our alliance can still prevail against the challenges of our time and deliver for the needs and the needs of our people.”

Biden struck the tough tone as he spoke with reporters in Brussels, Belgium, following his first NATO summit, seeking to return the defense alliance’s faith in American leadership. The comments also come ahead of his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, for which he is intensely preparing, according to officials.
Biden specifically referred to his predecessor’s politics as part of a trend of “phony populism,” telling reporters that he’s attempted to assuage the fears of leaders following President Donald Trump’s tenure who have doubted America’s role on the world stage.

“What I’m saying to them is: Watch me. I mean, I’m not saying anything, quite frankly, I’m just going out. People, as I’ve said before, don’t doubt that I mean what I say,” Biden said. “And they believe that I keep my commitments when I say it. I’m not making any promises to anyone that I don’t believe are overwhelmingly likely to be kept.”

Responding to a question about how American allies were rattled by the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, Biden said, “I think it is a shock and surprise that what’s happened in terms of consequence of President Trump’s phony populism has happened.”

Biden said it was “disappointing” to see some Republicans reluctant to take on an investigation into the the insurrection “because they’re worried about getting primaried.”

“But at the end of the day we’ve been through periods like this in American history before, where there has been this reluctance to take a chance on your reelection because of the nature of your party’s politics at the moment. I think this is passing; I don’t mean easily passing. That’s why it’s so important that I succeed in my agenda,” Biden continued.

During his tenure in office, Trump publicly insulted NATO allies. He also repeatedly pressured allies on their financial commitments to shared defense and reduced the US’ contribution to NATO’s direct budget, sowing doubt about the country’s long-term role in the trans-Atlantic partnership.

Biden said on Monday that he expects to see a coalescing with Republicans on many issues on his agenda, adding that “it’s important that we demonstrate we can make progress … and I think we’re going to be able to do that. So, as I said, the proof will be in where it is, you know, six months from now, we’re where we are.”

The President made the comments after meeting with the 30-member defense alliance, as well as a number of leaders one-on-one.

He also offered a firm defense of the Article 5 collective defense clause, which indicates that an attack on any of the allies in the alliance would be an attack against them all. The President also said that “everyone in that room understood the shared appreciation that America is back.”

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