The Daily Northwestern

Biden calls for greater U.S. involvement in world affairs at Chicago event

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Joe Biden speaks in Chicago in 2017. Biden is set to speak on campus on Friday.

Joe Biden speaks in Chicago in 2017. Biden is set to speak on campus on Friday.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach.

Joe Biden speaks in Chicago in 2017. Biden is set to speak on campus on Friday.

Ryan Wangman, Development and Recruitment Editor

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CHICAGO — Former Vice President Joe Biden’s granddaughter convinced him to partake in a polar plunge in 38-degree weather with five simple words: “My pop can do anything.”

Even in the face of an adverse political climate, Biden is convinced America can do anything, too.

“Just get up (and) look at who the hell we are,” Biden said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “We have the human capacity to meet challenges with ingenuity, to reinvent, to reconceive. It’s limitless. This is America.”

Biden spoke to hundreds at the event — held at the Palmer House Hilton — about the “dark path” the current presidential administration is following that threatens to isolate the U.S. on the global stage. Biden said current foreign policy is “closed and clammish,” and global affairs are becoming a competition where other countries must fail for the United States to succeed.

President Donald Trump abandoned the Obama-era Trans-Pacific Partnership in January as part of his “America First” approach, and signed an executive order attempting to ban immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. In June, Trump also announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

Biden said current global policy calls into question the value of the United States’ word. He said he is worried about potential international controversy and the erosion of society’s “moral fabric,” which could jeopardize democratic institutions.

“We’re in a different territory here,” Biden said. “President Trump’s ‘America First’ sloganeering isolates us in the world, at a moment where few, if any … of today’s threats can be met without broad international effort and consensus.”

Louis Susman, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, introduced Biden at the event. In many ways, he said, the 2016 presidential election marked a dramatic shift in America’s relationship with the world. Susman said from World War II until Trump’s victory, presidents from both parties have pushed for active U.S. leadership and engagement with the world.

Moving forward, Susman said the country must focus on global alliances, immigration, trade and captivating the next generation of leaders.

“While this change may seem dramatic — and it is — hopefully America will not turn its back on global engagement and leadership,” Susman said.

Emmanuel Atsegbua, a member of the council who attended the event, told The Daily he thought Biden’s talk was timely given the current state of the White House. He said he hoped the event would encourage young people to be more vocal about the election process.

Atsegbua added that he wants people to get involved with the upcoming congressional election, and said citizens have a duty to research candidates and put the right people in office.

“What’s happening today is going to shape our children’s futures,” Atsegbua said. “We owe it to ourselves to have a say in who is making those choices at Congress.”

Email: ryanw@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @ryanwangman

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