Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Biden mixes D-Day commemoration with warnings about democracy’s vulnerability

By 37ci3 Jun6,2024

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France — For the most part, Joe Biden’s speech on the 80th anniversary of D-Day sounded like a familiar ode to a historic war victory — but the speech contained a warning for Americans.

Biden, wrapped in a blanket over his lap in the afternoon chill, name-checked World War II veterans in wheelchairs on stage. He appreciated their sacrifice in defeating Nazi oppression. He emphasized the importance of unions.

But he pleaded with those who will decide whether he stays in power in a few months: Democracy is a fragile thing and the fight for its survival is still in doubt after all these years.

“Let’s be such a generation that in 10, 20, 30, 50, 80 years, if history is written about our era, when that moment comes, it will be said that we met that moment,” Biden said. “We stood strong, our alliances became stronger. We saved democracy in our time.”

Biden never named his Republican opponent, but his speech openly criticized Donald Trump’s “America First” approach, which undermines the postwar alliances the United States helped build to ensure his security.

He spoke proudly of how the expanding NATO military alliance — which Finland and Sweden joined after he became president — was a bulwark against Russian aggression. Trump has repeatedly threatened Leave NATO and some worry that he will overcome it if elected to another term.

Biden used his speech to argue that the alliance is essential to defeating modern dictators, despite Trump’s complaint that European allies do not contribute enough to NATO and rely on the United States to fill the gap.

“America has invested in our alliances and created new ones,” he said, standing on a podium above Omaha Beach, where US troops came ashore in the face of withering fire 80 years ago. “America’s unique ability to bring countries together is an undeniable source of our strength and power. “Isolation was not the answer 80 years ago and it is not the answer today.”

Ignoring the alliances the United States helped build would embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is waging a war aimed at absorbing Ukraine, Biden said.

According to him, if Russia wins, it will inevitably try to consolidate its victory by threatening other European countries that are members of NATO. This, in turn, could lead to a wider war: Article 5 of NATO states that an attack on one is an attack on all.

“We cannot allow this to happen — to surrender to tyrants, to submit to dictators is simply unthinkable,” Biden said, standing by the graves of more than 9,000 U.S. soldiers who died on or after D-Day.

As the United States faced a deadly challenge in World War II, the country is now once again “in our hour of judgment,” he said. “We live in a time when democracy is at greater risk around the world than at any time since the end of World War II.”

“Now we must ask ourselves whether we will stand against oppression?” he said. “Against evil? Against the crushing brutality of Iron Fist? When we defend democracy, are we for freedom? My answer can be yes, yes and only yes.”

Biden will return to the region on Friday for another speech at Pointe du Hoc, where US Army Rangers scaled steep cliffs to neutralize German weapons and clear the way for the Allies to retake France. He will hold meetings with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Saturday and head home the next day.

Although Biden has boasted of the spirit of unity permeating NATO’s 32 member states, the rifts have grown more prominent. All of Europe did not rally behind either Biden’s democratic vision or his candidacy.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is friends with Trump and has drawn criticism illiberal steps like such as weakening the judiciary and undermining the country’s independent media. Orban was also there more skeptical About sending more aid to Ukraine, unlike Biden, who spent billions to bolster Ukraine’s warfighting capabilities. Ukraine’s allies “will not walk away,” he said Thursday.

Another European leader, Polish Prime Minister Andrzej Duda, visited Trump in New York in April. Duda’s assistant later said that the prime minister and Trump were there “friends” They used the time together to reminisce about how they worked together when Trump was still president.

Biden will return to Europe next week for the Group of Seven (G7) summit of the world’s richest democracies in southern Italy. A question Biden may get in private meetings is how certain he is of re-election.

In an interview with Time magazine on May 28, Biden insisted that his colleagues were unanimous in wanting Trump to lose.

“There isn’t a major international gathering I’ve attended before it’s over that a world leader doesn’t pull me aside and say, ‘He can’t win.’ You can’t let him win,” Biden told the magazine.

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By 37ci3

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