BY JAY YAROW
In an epic final speech, Joe Biden warns that the progressive democratic world order is at risk of collapse
Vice President Joe Biden delivered an epic final speech Wednesday to the elites at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The gist of his speech was simple: At a time of “uncertainty” we must double down on the values that made Western democracies great, and not allow the “liberal world order” to be torn apart by destructive forces.
Biden went after Russian President Vladimir Putin by name, saying he is using “every tool” in his power to whittle away the European project, and undermine Western democracies. Biden accused Putin of wanting to “roll back decades of progress.”
Biden said Russia used “cyber aggression” to meddle in the U.S. election, an assertion supported by 17 U.S. intelligence agencies. He also warned that we will see further interference from Russia in the future and said the “purpose is clear” — that Putin wants to see a “collapse of the international order.”
“Simply put, Putin has a different vision of the future,” the vice president warned.
At the outset of his speech, Biden implored the media to not hear his speech as a shot at President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office on Friday. And, while what Biden said applies broadly to leaders in Europe, as well as the United States, there is no mistaking that his comments were a rebuttal to Trump’s friendly statements about the Russian president.
At a time when Trump and his advisors are talking about shaking up NATO, Biden said, we must “support our NATO allies. An attack on one is an attack on all. That can never be placed in question.”
Biden also warned that unlike Trump’s call for building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, it’s not the time to build walls and live in fear.
Biden implored world leaders to work together to protect democracy from encroachments by Russia, Iran and others. Yet, Trump’s world view is “America First,” which runs counter to Biden’s view.
Biden didn’t merely urge the world leaders at Davos to maintain the status quo. He warned that the reason for the pressure on the democratic order is the rise in income inequality and the hollowing out of the middle class, as the rich get richer and people in developing nations see their lives gradually improve.
He said the top 1 percent is not paying their fair share, and as a result we are seeing social instability increase.
“We need to tap into the big heartedness,” Biden said. “This is a moment to lead boldly.”