Joe Biden offered a stirring defense of liberalism, as well as a harsh rebuke of Russia in his final speech as vice president.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Biden warned of “dangerous demagogues and autocrats that have emerged seeking to capitalize on people’s insecurities. In this case, using Islamophobic, antisemitic, xenophobic rhetoric to stir fear to envision and advance their own agenda.”
“This is at political odds with our values,” Biden said, championing globalization and urging Western allies to “reject isolationism and protectionism.”
While Biden didn’t directly reference Donald Trump, the President-elect has been criticized about his proposed ban of Muslim people, his offensive remarks about Mexican immigrants and his decision to hire Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart executive with white nationalist ties.
Biden sharply criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin over his attacks on sovereign institutions ― including the Ukraine ― as well as his “use of propaganda and false information campaigns, injecting doubt and political agitation in democratic systems.”
Earlier this month, U.S. intelligence agencies released a report detailing Putin’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election in an attempt to help Trump win.
“Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity and scope of effort compared to previous operations,” the report said.
Biden defended the findings and predicted that this wouldn’t be the last time Putin attempted to undermine another country’s elections.
“With many countries in Europe slated to hold elections this year, we should expect further attempts by Russia to meddle in the democratic process.” Biden said. “It will occur again, I promise you. And again the purpose is clear: to collapse the liberal international order.”
But everything’s not lost, Biden said, calling on the U.S. and Europe to “lead the fight to defend the values that have brought us to where we are today.”
“Impulses to hunker down, to build walls, are precisely the wrong answer,” he said.