Good Day, Gnuville! Phew! I am having a week! So, I’m going to bring you a twist on the GNR Potluck day. I’ll share some good news in a “then and now” kind of construction and I invite you to share even more good news in the comments!
TFG’s maladministration was excruciating in many ways but perhaps none more painful than the way he tried to destroy America’s reputation for leadership on the world stage. With his bowing and scraping before petty dictators, TFG was a source of constant embarrassment. All that changed after Joe Biden took office, thank the stars! What a difference a real POTUS makes!
Read on for a recap of some of the top ways Joe had already restored the USA as a world leader by January 2022 and further progress he has made since then.
But first, it would not be a nifty GNR without some opening music!
1. Biden got the US is back in the UN Human Rights Council
In January, Goody wrote:
Remember when we were such an embarrassment that we weren’t even allowed to weigh in on other country’s human rights? Who changed that? Democrats.
This week, Biden spoke at the UN and here is how a writer for the National Catholic Reporter (this is not a *woke left* publication!) reviewed his speech:
Biden's speech to United Nations exemplifies his decency as a world leader, Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter, September 26, 2022.
President Joe Biden addressed the United Nations General Assembly last week. His speech was a bit of a throwback, almost a classic Cold War speech. I mean that as a compliment, an enormous compliment. ✂️
Biden's words last week about confronting other threats to international security and human rights were also fine, as were his remarks about dealing with climate change. How refreshing to have a president who is willing to engage on this most pressing of issues even if domestic politics will likely prevent any American president from actually leading on the environmental struggle. ✂️
The United Nations has proven its value over the decades. It has not eliminated the scourge of war, but it has become a vehicle for confronting other scourges such as poverty and malnutrition. The president spoke to the often-unsung work the U.N. accomplishes in these areas.
After four years of a president who rejected American leadership and alliance building, it is comforting to have a president who engages the world again, and does so with America's best national dispositions on full display. Joe Biden may not be the most articulate person to have stood at that rostrum, but he is among the more decent world leaders our nation has produced. You do not have to agree with him on everything to recognize that.
2. Biden negotiated an international deal to end tax havens
In January, Goody wrote:
This is HUGE and the result of MORE behind the scenes work of the Biden Harris team
Global Deal to End Tax Havens Moves Ahead as Nations Back 15% Rate
The world’s most powerful nations agreed on Friday to a sweeping overhaul of international tax rules, with officials backing a 15 percent global minimum tax and other changes aimed at cracking down on tax havens that have drained countries of much-needed revenue.
The agreement is the culmination of years of fraught negotiations that were revived this year after President Biden took office and renewed the United States’ commitment to multilateralism.
Last week, Biden published a plan to regulate the wild crypto market and to crack down on digital financial fraud:
Biden White House just put out a framework on regulating crypto — here’s what’s in it, MacKenzie Sigalos, CNBC, September 16, 2022.
- The Biden White House has just released its first-ever framework on what crypto regulation in the U.S. should look like.
- The framework outlines the ways in which the financial services industry should evolve to make borderless transactions easier, as well as how to crack down on fraud in the digital asset space.
- The new guidelines follow an executive order issued in March, in which President Joe Biden called on federal agencies to examine the risks and benefits of cryptocurrencies and issue official reports on their findings.
3. Biden extended the US Russia nuclear deal
In January, Goody reported:
And here is Biden keeping us safe from nuclear war. No biggie 😉
U.S. extends New START nuclear treaty with Russia for 5 years
The United States and Russia have extended a crucial nuclear arms control treaty until 2026, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday.
The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty or New START is the last nuclear treaty between the two countries and was set to expire Feb. 5. Renewing the agreement was one of the first national security challenges facing President Joe Biden’s administration.
“Especially during times of tension, verifiable limits on Russia’s intercontinental-range nuclear weapons are vitally important,” Blinken said in a statement, noting that Russia has remained in compliance since 2010 when the treaty was signed.
Extending the treaty made “the world safer,” he said, adding that “unconstrained nuclear competition would endanger us
This week: Of course, Putin and his lackeys lie like rugs, so although we cannot control what other leaders do (unfortunately), our leadership has lots that they can do, and Biden is not afraid to make that clear to our enemies. We have great leadership and they have a plan:
Jake Sullivan: US will act ‘decisively’ if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Edward Helmore, the Guardian, September 25, 2022.
America and its allies will act “decisively” if Russia uses a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, the US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said on Sunday, reaffirming the Joe Biden White House’s previous response to mounting concerns that Vladimir Putin’s threats are in increased danger of being realized.
“We have communicated directly, privately and at very high levels to the Kremlin that any use of nuclear weapons will be met with catastrophic consequences for Russia, that the US and our allies will respond decisively, and we have been clear and specific about what that will entail,” Sullivan told CBS’s Face the Nation.
Sullivan said that the Russian leader had been “waving around the nuclear card at various points through this conflict”, and it was a matter that Biden’s administration has “to take deadly seriously because it is a matter of paramount seriousness – the possible use of nuclear weapons for the first time since the second world war”.
4. Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Accords!
In January, Goody rejoiced:
What have Democrats done for us? Just put us back on path to protect the freakin’ planet.
Rejoin the Paris climate accords
Biden signed an order to rejoin the Paris climate accords that President Trump exited last year, sending the United Nations a document that will make the U.S. party to the agreement in 30 days. The international pact aims to push all countries to slash their greenhouse gas emissions
This week, Biden updated the global community on his progress:
Biden touts climate package at Global Citizen Festival, Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, September 25, 2022.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden addressed the Global Citizen Festival early Sunday, underscoring the administration’s commitment to climate action, according to remarks obtained by CNN.
Biden cited the Democrats’ $369 billion climate package, the largest such investment in US history – one that could have significant implications for global greenhouse gas emissions and the US’ standing in the world.
“Last month, I signed the biggest climate bill in history, biggest ever, $369 billion to slash emissions,” Biden said in pre-taped remarks that aired at the festival early Sunday.
“This is a whole new chapter for America and for the planet. We have to do a lot more. I pledged $11 billion here to help poor countries fight climate change. Working with Congress, with your help we can get this done,” he said.
5. Biden Recommitted us to NATO
In January, Goody wrote:
Biden stresses U.S. commitment to NATO after four years of Trump railing against the alliance
President Biden on Friday pledged that the United States is “fully committed” to NATO after four years of President Donald Trump railing against the alliance. During a major address to the Munich Security Conference, Biden also warned that “democratic progress is under assault” in many parts of the world, including the United States and Europe.
Biden And The EU Call A Truce In A 17-Year Trade Fight To Focus On Threats From China
President Biden on Tuesday announced a truce in a long-running trade war with the European Union, saying it was time to put aside the fight and focus together on the growing trade threats posed by China.
"I've been making the case that the U.S. and Europe — and democracies everywhere — are stronger when we work together to advance our shared values like fair competition and transparency. Today's announcement demonstrates exactly how that can work in practice," Biden said in a statement
By summer, it was apparent that Joe Biden had rejuvenated NATO and changed the trajectory of world events for the better:
Opinion: Biden’s answer to Russia is a new, improved NATO, Washington Post Editorial Board, June 30, 2022.
Whatever else happens in President Biden’s tenure, and no matter how long that tenure lasts, the events this week in Europe will ensure that his presidency is a consequential one. Russian aggression in Ukraine posed a historic challenge, both moral and geopolitical. Mr. Biden responded by pursuing the revitalization and growth of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the very institution whose purported expansionism had been the pretext for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The just-concluded NATO summit in Madrid produced both approval for the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO and stepped-up U.S. troop deployments to Europe, including a first-ever presence in Poland. Instead of backing down or cracking up, as the Russian leader no doubt hoped and quite possibly expected, the alliance has stood up, with unprecedented military assistance to Ukraine. And now it has been further extended geographically and solidified politically.
What a difference it made to have a confirmed believer in transatlantic solidarity in the White House — and bipartisan support for it in Congress as well — at the moment of Mr. Putin’s attack. It’s far from clear that Mr. Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, a frequent apologist for Mr. Putin and critic of the NATO allies’ alleged freeloading, would have responded this way. In the short term, NATO’s fortification on Mr. Biden’s watch is a strategic defeat for Mr. Putin and a strategic win for the West. The long-term impact is harder to gauge, in part because that will depend heavily on the NATO member states’ follow-through over the coming years. Early indications are encouraging, however: NATO member nations are increasing defense spending, with 10 now above the guideline level, 2 percent of gross domestic product, and with the crucial nation of Germany committed to reaching that target after years of neglected defense. Public opinion appears likely to support greater military outlays. A recent Pew Research Center survey of public opinion in 11 NATO member nations found a median support level for the alliance at 65 percent, with approval trending up in seven of the 11.
6. Gotten tough on Russia
In January, Goody reported these 4 things:
Biden Orders Sweeping Assessment of Russian Hacking
President Biden ordered a sweeping review on Thursday of American intelligence about Russia’s role in a highly sophisticated hacking of government and corporate computer networks, along with what his spokeswoman called Moscow’s “reckless and adversarial actions” globally and against dissidents inside the country.
Mr. Biden also instructed Ms. Haines on Thursday to provide him with an assessment of the Kremlin’s effort to use a chemical weapon against Russia’s leading opposition politician, Aleksei A. Navalny. Mr. Navalny, who survived the attack, was arrested this week when he returned to Russia.
Ms. Haines was also asked to review intelligence that produced evidence that Russia put a “bounty” on the lives of American troops in Afghanistan.
Biden makes good on his promise to punish Russia for the massive SolarWinds hack
The Biden administration has officially blamed and sanctioned Russia for its role in the massive SolarWinds hack that compromised computer systems in multiple government agencies as well as private companies.
In an executive order issued April 15, President Biden levied a variety of economic sanctions against several Russian financial institutions, technology companies, and individuals designated as having participated in “harmful foreign activities,” including but not limited to the hack.
The biggest winner in the Biden-Putin summit: Democracy
Putin offered a few compliments to President Biden — some that were intentional (e.g., that Biden is experienced in diplomacy), and others that were not (e.g., that Biden’s views on human rights are different than Biden’s predecessor). He also provided a glimpse into his gloomy worldview: “There is no happiness in life. There’s only a mirage on the horizon.”
The contrast between Putin and Biden was on clear display during their individual news conferences. Even the settings of those events were remarkably distinct: Putin held his inside; Biden’s was outside, with bright sunshine and a picturesque background.
Biden emphasized his defense of human rights and democracy. “I pointed out to [Putin], that’s why we are going to raise our concerns about cases, like Alexei Navalny. I made it clear to President Putin, and will continue to raise issues of fundamental human rights, because that’s what we are. That’s who we are,” he recounted. “No president of the United States could keep faith with the American people if they did not speak out to defend our democratic values. . . . Human rights is going to always be on the table, I told him.” The president also warned that if Navalny died, the consequences for Russia would be devastating. When asked about Putin’s false equivalency between his jailing of a dissident and Jan. 6, Biden declared it a “ridiculous comparison.”
What a difference a presidential election makes. Here was a sober, serious U.S. president defending democracy and standing firm against a thuggish dictator.
Biden wiped the smirk off Putin’s face
At Helsinki in July 2018, then-President Trump simpered and cowered. In a low point of a presidency with more low points than Death Valley, Trump accepted at face value Putin’s “extremely strong and powerful” denials of complicity in the 2016 election attack. Putin emerged from that meeting smirking like the cat that swallowed the canary.
As the historian Michael Beschloss noted, there was no such grin on Putin’s lips when he did his solo press conference after meeting with Biden on Wednesday. While Putin engaged in his usual dishonesty and whataboutism — he compared his jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny with the prosecution of the Capitol rioters — his manner was subdued and far from triumphant. He attacked the United States but was careful not to insult Biden personally. He even compared the current president favorably to his predecessor: “President Biden is an experienced statesman. He is very different from President Trump.” (Ouch. That’s got to sting for Putin’s biggest fanboy in the United States.)
Last week, Biden led our allies for world security and against Putin’s aggression :
Biden to rally world leaders against Russian attempts to annex Ukraine regions, Julian Borger and Andrew Roth, the Guardian, September 20, 2022.
Biden will seek the broadest possible support for Ukrainian resistance at the UN general assembly (UNGA) by depicting it as a direct violation of the UN’s founding charter, and will make new announcements about the US funding of measures to address global food insecurity, caused in part by the Russian invasion, which has threatened developing countries with famine.
Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said: “He [Biden] will underscore the importance of strengthening the United Nations and reaffirm core tenets of its charter at a time when a permanent member of the security council has struck at the very heart of the charter by challenging the principle of territorial integrity and sovereignty.” Speaking in New York, on the margins of the UNGA summit, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken said: “None of this – the sham referenda, the potential mobilisation of additional forces – is a sign of strength. On the contrary, it’s a sign of weakness. It’s the sign of Russian failure.”
🎶 Music Break 🎶
7: Shared vaccines with the world
In January, Goody reported this promise:
Biden pledges to double U.S. donations of Pfizer vaccine for poor nations
President Biden announced Wednesday that the United States will double the number of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine doses it is donating to other countries, a step toward the goal of immunizing 70 percent of the world’s 8 billion people within the next year.
Last week, Joe Biden fulfilled that promise:
Biden doubles US global donation of COVID-19 vaccine shots, Zeke Miller, AP, September 22, 2022.
President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that the United States is doubling its purchase of Pfizer’s COVID-19 shots to share with the world to 1 billion doses as he embraces the goal of vaccinating 70% of the global population within the next year.
The stepped-up U.S. commitment marks the cornerstone of the global vaccination summit Biden convened virtually on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, where he encouraged well-off nations to do more to get the coronavirus under control. It comes as world leaders, aid groups and global health organizations have growing increasingly vocal about the slow pace of global vaccinations and the inequity of access to shots between residents of wealthier and poorer nations.✂️
The U.S. purchase of another 500 million shots brings the total U.S. vaccination commitment to more than 1.1 billion doses through 2022.
8. Quietly and carefully addressed unchecked Chinese military power
Biden and Harris are pulling off a shift in our foreign policy orientation that has been talked about for more than a decade
Biden and Harris are pulling off a shift in our foreign policy orientation that has been talked about for more than a decade — a “pivot” or “tilt” away from our traditional focus on Europe and the Middle East toward the region now called the Indo-Pacific, with an eye toward the rise of China as a competing superpower.
Biden secretly negotiated a new defense pact with Australia and Britain that will give the Australians nuclear-powered submarine technology as a check on China’s growing naval power. He hosted the first in-person summit of the Quad strategic alliance — the United States, Japan, Australia and India — in another initiative aimed at containing China’s regional ambitions. He sent Harris to Southeast Asia to shore up U.S. ties with Singapore and Vietnam.
This week: Reviving U.S. Pacific Island Country relationships that had been left to languish during TFG years
9. Biden rejoined the WHO
January GNR, rejoined WHO:
Biden canceled Trump’s move to withdraw the country from the World Health Organization and, in an early show of commitment to the global health body, sent infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci to speak at the WHO’s virtual board meeting Thursday morning
Yesterday, USA leads in partnership with WHO:
Joint statement of the United States of America and the World Health Organization on the U.S.-WHO strategic dialogue
In addition to strengthening health emergency preparedness and response, the United States and WHO recommitted to strengthening our partnership in key areas for the world to reach the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, progress towards is a quarter of the pace needed. Accelerated progress will require resilient health systems capable of handling future health emergencies, reorienting towards integrated primary health care as a means to achieve universal health coverage, investing in comprehensive health and care workforce development and community engagement, and promoting policies that recognize the links between the environment and health to improve quality of life. Accelerating progress towards the SDGs also requires leveraging progress made in addressing HIV, TB, polio, and malaria, advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, and empowering marginalized and vulnerable communities in global health. Furthermore, U.S. and WHO leadership also discussed progress made on budgetary and governance reform as well as WHO’s work to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment.
Recognizing there is much more to do together to improve and promote global public health, the United States and the WHO decided to task technical experts with further development of their collaboration in 2023, including a joint work plan with a focus on activities in support of these shared leadership objectives. Secretary Becerra and Director-General Tedros will continue their positive engagement and guide the work of the technical teams with an expected update and reassessment by the next U.S.-WHO Strategic Dialogue to be held in late 2023.
10. Biden brought back a focus on diplomacy
In January, Goody reported that (all things being equal) Joe Biden would pursue diplomatic solutions to world problems:
This month, in light of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, Joe is wisely using diplomacy as the velvet glove on the firm hand:
Biden Team Ups Russia Pressure With Diplomacy, Ukraine Arms, Bloomberg, September 7, 2022.
President Joe Biden sought to ramp up pressure on Russia, announcing more than $2.8 billion in additional aid for Ukraine and its neighbors and dispatching top national security officials to Europe ahead of a call with allies. ✂️
“I believe, and my colleagues at CIA believe, that Putin is as wrong about that bet as he was profoundly wrong in his assumptions going back to last February about Ukrainian will to resist and the will of the West, of the United States and all of our partners, to support the Ukrainians,” Burns said.
Blinken met Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba for a 30-minute conversation. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced NATO will host Blinken for meetings in Brussels on Friday.
The Pentagon has also sent Ukraine its most accurate artillery shell, the GPS-guided Excalibur, according to budget documents. Excalibur’s accuracy reduces the number of rounds required while reducing collateral damage. Each round costs about $100,000.
11. Biden Halted federal aid to new fossil projects overseas
In January, Biden showed he was serious about climate change:
Biden Halts Federal Aid to New Fossil Fuel Projects Overseas
The Biden administration has ordered an immediate halt to new federal support for coal plants and other carbon-intensive projects overseas, a major policy shift designed to fight climate change and accelerate renewable energy worldwide.
The wide-ranging directive for the first time bars U.S. government backing for future ventures, potentially affecting billions of dollars in annual funding as well as diplomatic and technical assistance.
Scoop: Biden administration may try to oust World Bank head, Hans Nichols, Axios, September 23, 2022.
Biden officials have considered trying to oust World Bank President David Malpass, who took office during the Trump administration, because they believe he's weak on climate, according to people familiar with the matter.
Why it matters: Administration officials are deeply concerned by Malpass' failure to answer this week when asked if climate change was caused by humans. His response provides ammunition to officials who want Biden to spend some political capital to attempt to remove him. ✂️
State of play: Malpass, a Trump holdover, was viewed suspiciously by the Biden administration from the beginning. That suspicion has now been confirmed. And he's been on thin ice for months.
The January items came from Goody’s outstanding GNR from January, One Hundred Amazing Things Biden and the Democrats Did in One Year! GNR. These are trying times and thankfully we have Joe Biden’s experienced leadership to guide not only the USA but the world through them.
That’s it from me and CG for this week!
Look after yourselves, my friends. Get some rest. Eat nutritious food and try to get outdoors each day if you can.
To all our gnusies in Florida and elsewhere in the path of Hurricane Ian, stay safe! I’m thinking of you! 💙
Happy Wednesday, Gnuville!
🎶 Music for the Leader of the Free World 🎶