MANHATTAN (CN) – Warning about the danger of the country going it alone in world affairs, Democratic contender Joe Biden told supporters Thursday that foreign policy under President Donald Trump has made the U.S. less safe.
Speaking at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, Biden said Trump poses an “extreme threat” to national security and that a second Trump administration “would be catastrophic to our national security and our future.”
The speech seemed to be counter Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan with a call to “Make America America Again,” calling for greater cooperation with allies, particular members of NATO, in combating a host of rising problems, from the rise of extreme nationalism and illiberalism to climate change.
In the speech, Biden noted myriad problems that the country faces and said Trump has made the solutions to those problems more difficult by fracturing America’s relationship with various allies throughout the world.
“Donald Trump’s particular brand of ‘America First’ has too often led to ‘America Alone,’” Biden said.
Most of Biden’s speech focused on rebuilding relationships with allies, noting that America’s standing with the world has fallen precipitously under the Trump administration. “He’s alienated us from the very allies we need most,” Biden said. “I really don’t think he gets it.”
Part of Biden’s plan to rebuild America’s image would be to reinvest in what he called a “hollowed-out” diplomatic core that has been taken out of the hands of professionals.
Biden also said he would renew the U.S. commitment to the Iran nuclear deal, saying that, if leaders in Tehran return to compliance under the deal, the U.S. would honor its commitments.
Trump announced in May 2018 the U.S. would pull out of the deal, which was reached during the Obama administration.
Biden also linked climate change to other aspects of foreign policy, saying he would put forth a plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and have the United States rejoin the Paris climate accord.
“If we don’t get this right, nothing much else will matter,” he said, noting that, while America represents only 15% of worldwide emissions, it could use its influence to get other democracies to leverage their combined power to reduce worldwide emissions.
Biden emphasized that the United States represents only about a quarter of the world’s GDP, but that number doubles when joined by other Western democracies.
Trump announced the country would withdraw from the agreement after calling it “ineffective” and “expensive,” and has dismissed reports — including from his own administration — that carbon emissions are leading to climate change.
“We’ve always been a nation that chooses science over fiction,” Biden said, adding that he will “return facts to our policy making” on climate change if elected as president.
In a speech that was largely calm, Biden spent most of it harshly criticizing the president. He lambasted the president’s comments after the United the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a white supremacist drove his car through a crowd, killing a protester.
Biden also criticized Trump for repeatedly deferring to Russian President Vladimir Putin over American interests and intelligence. “I think it was one of the most shameful performances by an American president in modern history,” Biden said of Trump laughing with Putin during the G20 summit earlier this year.
At that summit, Trump jokingly told Putin “don’t meddle with the election” while Putin laughed.
“The world sees Trump for what he is: insincere, uninformed, and impulsive, and sometimes corrupt,” Biden said.
Biden also took a swipe at the U.S. involvement in various wars over the past two decades, saying that military force should be used only “when the objective is clear and achievable,” and only a last resort, not a pre-emptive strike.
“It’s long past time we’ve ended the forever wars that have cost us untold blood and treasure,” he said.
After speaking ominously about “enemies without and within” hoping to exploit fissures in the country and “return us to an international system where might determines right,” Biden ended the speech with a call for unanimity.
“We have to remember who in God’s name we are,” Biden said. “This is the United States of America. There’s not a damn thing we’ve unable to do when we’ve done it together.”