From: Steve Clemons
Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 11:35
To: Goodman, Meghan Hays K. EOP/OVP
Subject: VPOTUS — pool report 8 — Davos — 18 January 2017
Two days left in the official vice presidential tenure of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. This morning at 10:30 pm, the VP entered the sizable Congress Hall at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.
The hall has exactly 1,448 seats — verified with the WEF staff. This will be VP Biden’s last major foreign policy address in his current capacity.
Your pool has grabbed highlights of his speech, but these should be checked against the text that the Vice President’s office will distribute later today. Because of the very short time between the conclusion of the VP’s speech and his boarding Marine Two in Davos, the rest of the delegation and your pool catching accompanying helicopters to Zurich, brevity is necessary.
The Vice President’s team received the “clear weather” signal an hour ago and thus permission to fly by helicopters to Zurich as opposed to the long drive up into the mountains that VP Biden enjoyed upon arrival here two days ago.
Today’s speech caps off two days in Davos that started Monday late afternoon with the Vice President speaking about progress on the White House Cancer Moonshot Taskforce and sharing news that after his term ended this week, that effort would be rebranded as the Biden Cancer Initiative.
During his time here, VP Biden also had bilateral meetings with China President Xi Jinping, Kurdistan Region in Iraq President Masoud Barzani, Serbia Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. Readouts were issued by the Vice President’s office on the China and Kurdistan meetings, and your pool reported on the Serbia bilateral meeting.
World Economic Forum Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab introduced Vice President Biden. Schwab mentioned VP Biden’s dedication to those who are struggling with economic challenges and afflicted with disease and health ailments —and highlighted his leadership in the Cancer Moonshot.
"My name is Joe Biden, and I’ll be Vice President of the United States for another 48 hours. Then I’ll be able to start saying what I think —like I haven’t for the last 44 years!"
“In two days, there will be a new President of the United States,
From the audience: Boo –
But the challenges we face and the choices we must make as an international community don’t hinge exclusively on Washington’s leadership. It matters. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter…Whether we reinforce the ties that bind us, or whether we unravel under current pressures those choices must be made by every single nation, and they will determine – and it sounds like hyberbole what kind of nation, and what kind of world we leave to our children.”
"After World War II, we literally drew a line under centuries of conflict and took steps to bend the arc of history – sounds like hyperbole but we actually bent the arc of history -- in a more just direction. Instead of resigning ourselves to ceaseless wars we built institutions and alliances to advance our shared security. Instead of punishing former enemies, we invested billions and billions of dollars to help them rebuild. Instead of sorting the world into winners and losers, we outlined universal values that defined a better future for all our children. Our careful attention to building and sustaining a liberal international world order—with the United States and Europe at its core—was the bedrock of the success the world enjoyed in the second half of the 20th Century. An era of expanding liberty. Unprecedented economic growth that lifted millions out of poverty. A community of democracies that—to this day— serves as the fulcrum for our common security, and for our capacity to address the world’s most pressing problems.
"In recent years, it has become evident that the consensus upholding this system is beginning to face incredible and increasing pressures—from both within and without. Today, I’d like to speak to the sources of those pressures, as I see it, and about why it is imperative that we act urgently to defend the liberal international order, to sustain it.
Here in this exclusive Alpine tower, where CEOs of multinational corporations rub elbows with world leaders, it is easy to embrace the intellectual benefits of a more open and integrated world. Many many benefits flow from it.
But it is at our own peril that we ignore or dismiss the legitimate fears and anxieties that exist in communities all across the developed world. The concern mothers and fathers feel about losing the factory job that has always allowed them to provide for their families and the expectation that their children would have an even better life. My dad used to tell me, 'A job is a lot more than about a paycheck…..’”
"Globalization has not been an unalloyed good. I am a free trader. I am strong supporter of globalization.”
"One year ago, I spoke here in Davos about the challenges we face in mastering this fourth industrial revolution—which will be a topic of this forum for the next ten years --about how we can ensure that the benefits and the burdens of globalization and artificial intelligence are shared more equitably. In my country, there used to be a basic bargain, embraced by both major political parties. Just in matter of degree. It was something everyone agreed on. If you contributed to the success of the enterprise with which you were engaged, you shared in the profits. Today that bargain is fractured in out country and many of yours. It has deepened the rift between those racing ahead at the top and those struggling to hang on in the middle, or falling to the bottom.”
"International trade and greater economic integration has lifted millions of people in the developing world out of abject poverty—improving education, extending their lives and raising expectations, opening new opportunities. Standards of living are still well below middle class expectations in the United States and Europe, but the change is real and good. Meanwhile, for many communities in the developed world that have long depended on manufacturing, the opposite is true. Their relative standard of living has declined. They feel shut out of opportunities. Their economic security feels jeopardized. Taken together, these forces are effectively hollowing out the middle class—the traditional engine of economic growth and I might add, of social stability in Western nations. We cannot undo the changes technology has wrought in our world—nor should we try. But we can and we must take action to mitigate the economic trends that are stoking unrest in so many advanced economies and undermining people’s basic sense of dignity. Our goal should be a world where everyone, everyone’s standard of living is rising.”
"The top 1% is not carrying its weight. You are not bad guys. But…”
"Compounding these economic worries are people’s fears about the very real security risks we face. If you look at the long sweep of history,or even just the trend lines in wars and other incidents of large-scale violence over the last 50, 60, 70 years—as a practical matter, we are probably safer than we have ever been. But it doesn’t feel that way. Daily images of violence and unrest from all over the world are shared directly on our televisions and smart phones — images we rarely would have seen in a pre-digital age. It’s fostered a feeling of perpetual chaos—of being overrun by outside forces."
"Radical jihadists not only recruit and find haven in the ungoverned desserts of Iraq and Syria—they do the same in the ungoverned spaces of the Internet. Borders seem less real to people. Terrorist attacks feel inescapable. Fears about unrelenting migration mount as people continue to flee violence and deprivation in their homelands. And in the wake of these understandable fears, we have seen a series of alarming responses. Popular movements both on the left and the right have demonstrated a dangerous willingness to revert to political small-mindedness—to the same nationalist, protectionist, isolationist agendas that led the world to consume itself in war during the past century. As we have seen time and again throughout history, the dangers of demagogues and autocrats have emerged—seeking to capitalize on people’s insecurities.
In this case, using Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, or xenophobic rhetoric to stoke fear, sow division, and advance their own narrow agendas. This is a politics at odds with our values and with the vision that we built—and sustains—the liberal international order. The impulse to hunker down, shut the gates, build walls, exit at this moment. It’s precisely the wrong answer. It offers a false sense of security in an interconnected world. It will not resolve the root causes of these fears—and it risks eroding from the inside out the foundations of the very system that spawned the West’s historically unprecedented success.
We need to tap into the—big-heartedness that conceived a Marshall Plan, the foresight that planned Bretton Woods, the audacity that proposed the United Nations. We cannot rout fear with retrenchment. This is the moment to lead boldly and recommit ourselves to our common principles—which remain essential to my nation, and to liberal democracies all over the world. Of course, there are those who do not share this vision for the world. Those who wish to dissolve the community of democracies and supporting institutions in favor of a more parochial international order—where power rules and spheres of influence lock in and divide nations. We hear these voices in the West—but the greatest threats on this front spring from the distinct illiberalism of external actors who equate their success with a fracturing of the liberal international order.
We see this in Asia and the Middle East—where China and Iran would clearly prefer a world in which they have overwhelming sway in their regions. But I will not mince words. This movement is principally led by Russia. Under President Putin, Russia is working with every tool available to them to One, whittle away at the edges of the European project — test for fault lines among western nations, and — return to a politics defined by spheres of influence. We see it in their aggression against their neighbors. — Sending so-called “little green men” across the border to stir violence and strains of separatism in Ukraine. — Using energy as a weapon—cutting off gas supplies mid-winter, raising prices to manipulate nations to act in Russia’s interests. — Using corruption to empower oligarchs to coerce politicians. We see it in their worldwide use of propaganda and false information campaigns: Injecting doubt and political agitation in democratic systems. — Strengthening illiberal factions, on both left and right, that seek to roll back decades of progress from within our systems.
We even saw it in the cyber intrusions against political parties and individuals in the United States of America— which our intelligence community, all 17, have determined with “high confidence” were specifically motivated to influence our elections. But it’s not only the United States, I need not tell you, that has been targeted. Europe has seen the same kind of attacks in the past. With many countries in Europe slated to hold elections this year, we should expect further attempts by Russia to meddle in the democratic process. It will occur again. I promise you.
Again, their purpose is clear—to collapse the liberal international order. Simply put, Mr. Putin has a different vision for the future, which Russia is pursuing across the board. They seek a return to a world where the strong impose their will through military might, corruption, or criminality—while weaker neighbors fall in line. And from the first moments of our Administration—even as we sought to push the so-called reset button with then-President Medvedev—President Obama and I have made it clear that this is no way for nations to behave in the 21st Century.
I was asked to address this at the Munich Security Conference in 2009: “We will not recognize any nation having a sphere of influence. It will remain our view that sovereign states have the right to make their own decisions and choose their own alliances.”
That’s been our position throughout the past eight years, and it is a position we must all continue championing in the years ahead. The United States has not always been the perfect guardian of our order. We have not always lived up to our own values — and some of our past missteps provided fodder for the forces of illiberalism.
But President Obama and I have worked consistently over the past eight years to lead not only by the example of our power—but by the power of our example. And this is the challenge that will—by necessity—define the foreign policy agendas of all of our nations as we move forward.
So although I am only going to be Vice President of the United States for 48 more hours—I am here today to issue a call to action. We cannot wait for others to write the future they hope to see. The United States and Europe must lead the fight to defend those values that have brought us to where we are today. Fight to create more equitable and more inclusive growth for people at every level.
Fight for democracy wherever it is under threat, be it at home or abroad.mFight to lift up the forces of inclusivity while opposing intolerance in all its guises.”
"And it is my hope and expectation that the next President and Vice President, and our leaders in Congress,will ensure that the United States continues to fulfill our historic responsibility as the indispensable nation. But we have never been able to lead alone—not after World War II, not during the depths of the Cold War, and not today. The United States, our NATO allies, all the nations of Europe—we are in this together. As the oldest and the strongest democracies in the world, we have a responsibility to beat back the challenges at our door. We must never forget how we got here. Or take for granted that our success will continue."
"And as I re-enter private life, I want to assure you today that I will stand with you as you carry this fight forward. I will continue to use my voice and my power as a citizen—doing whatever I can to keep our transatlantic alliance strong and vibrant—because our common future depends upon it."
Your pool requests that you check against final transcript.
Vice President Biden received a standing ovation and departed Congress Hall at approzimately 11:10 am and is now taking photos with local staff and other individuals.
Your pool is in a holding area.
Washington Editor at Large, The Atlantic
Follow me on Twitter @SCClemons