Biden Speaks on Importance of American Leadership in Inaugural Hagel Forum
March 1st, 2019
OMAHA, Neb. â€” â€œYou can do anything, and Iâ€™m counting on it. Thank you.â€
Former Vice President Joe Biden had some encouraging words for students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha Thursday afternoon.
Biden was the guest speaker at the inaugural Chuck Hagel Forum in Global Leadership, a new annual event hosted by the university.
Hagel welcomed his longtime colleague to Omaha and participated with Biden in a moderated discussion of student questions on leadership and foreign policy.
â€œJoe is a Democrat, Iâ€™m a Republican,” he said. “But that never mattered to Joe. He always understood that what matters most in public life, as in all things in life, is character. That public service is a privilege to be earned and itâ€™s its own best reward.â€
Speculation on a potential Biden campaign in 2020 continues to grow. Reports earlier in the week said he is â€œvery closeâ€ to a final decision on that matter.
In his opening remarks before the discussion with Hagel, he spoke much on the importance of United States leadership.
â€œImagine for a moment the alternative,” said Biden. “What would come from all this change without U.S. leadership? What does the absence of American leadership cost us in the world today? The United States fails to lead, who will take our placeâ€”and where does that leave us?
â€œWe need leadership that sees whatâ€™s coming over the horizon and takes steps to expand and strengthen our capacity to meet those dangers.â€
He contrasted this with the policies and behavior of the Trump administration.
â€œAll that capacityâ€™s been thrown into jeopardy by this administrationâ€™s â€œAmerica Firstâ€ policy. Where we coddle dictators,” he explained, then continued. “The love affair, love letters, with Kim Jong-Un. Standing before the world and taking the word of Vladimir Putin over the entire intelligence community. Dealing with a thug in the Philippines. I could go on. Our national reputation is being tarnished.â€
Within the moderated discussion, Biden and Hagel addressed questions on Americaâ€™s global role in general and within some specific conflicts over the past several decades.
Hagel said he launched this series with UNO to bring attention to the conversation around global leadership, for everyoneâ€™s benefitâ€”but especially for young people.
â€œIâ€™ve been concerned over the past few years that the United States is not fully understanding how that post World War II world order was built,” said the former Senator and Secretary of Defense. “What it tookâ€”not just to build it, but to maintain it and lead in that kind of a world.
â€œThis is the whole point of this lecture seriesâ€”global leadership. United States global leadership. No other country in the world could sit on a stage and talk about what they did. This country can. But thereâ€™s a questionâ€”are we going to continue to play that role in the world?â€
Biden stressed America cannot afford to walk away from its allies and its responsibilities on the world stage.
â€œWe hold these truths self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by their creatorâ€”Weâ€™ve never lived up to it, but weâ€™ve never walked away from it,” he said. “We have never just walked away from it. And the world is watching us walk away from it. And theyâ€™re confused as hell.â€
Despite the serious conversation, the atmosphere at Strauss Auditorium was not without levity and laughter, nor did it lack optimism. As Biden said near the end of his opening remarks:
â€œAs bleak a picture as Iâ€™ve drawn. . .when I got to the Senate as a 29-year-old kid, I was labeled a young idealist, an optimist. I can say without fear of hesitation or contradiction that Iâ€™m more optimistic about the United Statesâ€™ possibilities today than Iâ€™ve ever been in my whole life.â€
Comments are closed.