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America Needs to Be Honest

In seeking to restore America's role as a responsible global leader, US President Joe Biden has offered a broad set of national goals, committing to action on climate change, public health, equality, and many other issues. But to succeed, he will need to be more open about America's own failings.

WASHINGTON, DC – September marked a new year in the Jewish calendar, for schools around the world, and in the realm of diplomacy, with the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York. New years are duly met with new resolutions, which tend to involve renewing one’s commitment to specific goals. But while it is usually individuals who engage in this practice, organizations or even nation-states can do the same.

In fact, the idea of a New Year’s resolution is one way to understand US President Joe Biden’s UNGA speech on September 21. The United States, he said, is “opening a new era of relentless diplomacy; of using the power of our development aid to invest in new ways of lifting people up around the world; of renewing and defending democracy.” He anchored these goals in values that were “stamped into the DNA” of the US and the UN: “freedom, equality, opportunity, and a belief in the universal rights of all people.” And he invoked respect for human dignity, individual potential, and “the inherent humanity that unites us.”

Biden’s speech offered a broad set of resolutions to renew American leadership in the world on issues including health, climate change, nuclear non-proliferation, counterterrorism, conflict prevention, developing-country infrastructure, food security, equality, and anti-corruption. He made clear that these goals will be pursued within a framework of both universalism and multilateralism.

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