AT WHAT COST?: President Biden: UN address marks ‘the first time in 20 years’ US is not at war

In his first address to the United Nations General Assembly since taking office, President Biden on Tuesday noted that his speech also marked “the first time in 20 years that the United States is not at war.”

“We’ve ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan,” he said. “As we close this period of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy.” The president offered a plea for cooperation, to friends and adversaries, arguing that overcoming a daunting list of crises “will hinge on our ability to recognize our common humanity.”

Biden said the U.S., under his watch, had reached a turning point with the end of military operations in Afghanistan last month, closing out America’s longest war. That set the table, he said, for his administration to shift its attention to intensive diplomacy at a moment with no shortage of crises facing the globe.

“Today, many of our greatest concerns cannot be solved or even addressed by the force of arms,” he said. “Bombs and bullets cannot defend against COVID-19 or its future variants.” Biden said his administration will focus on promoting peace through diplomacy and development assistance, announcing that “the U.S. is making a $10 billion commitment to end hunger and invest in food systems at home and abroad.”

“One way we can enhance security and reduce violence is by seeking to improve the lives of people around the world,” he said. While he insisted the United States will continue to defend itself and its allies against potential terrorist attacks, Biden said that going forward, “U.S. military power must be a tool of last resort.”

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