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by gino's 2024. 6. 5. 11:01


Photograph by Philip Montgomery for TIME

Read the Full Transcript of President Joe Biden’s Interview With TIME


Read our full cover story on President Joe Biden here. You can also read the full fact check here. President Joe Biden sat down for an interview with TIME at the White House on May 28Over the course of the interview, Biden spoke at length about his foreign policy agenda, including his views on China, Taiwan, Ukraine and Israel, as well as concerns about his age as he runs for re-election. Below is a lightly edited transcript of the interview conducted by TIME Washington Bureau Chief Massimo Calabresi and Editor-in-Chief Sam Jacobs. Click here to read our fact check.

=Thank you for doing this, Mr. President. We appreciate your time. Busy moment. I'll dive right in. You're traveling next week to Normandy for the 80th anniversary of D-Day to commemorate a turning point in America's leadership with the free world. But the anniversary comes at a time when the US (under your leadership) has been unable to deter crises. First in Afghanistan, then Ukraine, Israel, and mounting tensions in the Far East. Is America still able to play the role of world power that it played in World War Two, and in the Cold War?

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Biden: Yes, we're planning even more. We are, we are the world power. And what I inherited, (as a consequence of the mistake that we made in Afghanistan) is awas not a loss in Afghanistan, excuse my cold. But I think that look, I believe, I have a fundamentally different view than Mr. Trump has on a range of things. Number one: I really believe that we have a values-based as well as practical-based alliances around the world. And he, Trump, wanted to just abandon them. He says he's practical, one-on-one things he's doing.

Well, he didn't get much done. And so we end up in a situation where, when I came into, when I got sworn in, we were in a position where we didn't havefor example, there's a quote from Macron at the time saying that, in 2019, that Trump wants to eviscerate NATO. He thinks NATO is useless. And we have to rethink our entire relationship with the United States, they no longer lead the world.

I have that exact quote here. And they no longer lead the world and the transatlantic alliance has to be reexamined. And the interesting piece of that is you now have his former adviser John Bolton saying, he’s certain that the first thing Trump would do if he got reelected is get out of NATO completely.

And so I've always believed that there are two elements to American security, and the biggest element and, and our normative example, is our alliances, our alliances. We are—(we have, compared to the rest of the world,) we have put together the strongest alliance in the history of the world, number one. Number two, we're in a situation (where we are able to move in a way that recognizes how much the world has changed )and still lead the world. And it's our security. For example, the idea that if when Putin decided to go into RussiaI mean, he's gonna go from Russia into Ukrainethe reason why I cleared the intelligence (so we can release the information we knew that he was going to attack, )was to let the world know we were still in charge. We still know what's going on.

This, by the way is, if you haven't read it, you should. [Pulls out copy of speech Putin delivered on Feb. 21, 2022] It's the address to the Russian people on the Donbass problem on February 21, when Moscow was going in. And it lays out why I believe Trump(what he never understoodwhich is that Russia), he wasn’t just going into Moscow, I mean from Russia into Ukraine, for purposes of keeping them from having weapons, etc. He believes it is an essential part of Russia, from the beginning.

He has just laid out, straight out. He said, he said, ‘I would like to emphasize again, Ukraine is not a neighboring country of us. It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual spaceSince time immemorial, the people living in the south-west (of what has historically been Russia, Russian land have called themselves Russians and Orthodox Christians.’) And he goes on. He makes this whole speech about why it is part of reestablishing the Soviet Union.

=So understanding Putin's aims, the world, the West, the United States, and you find yourselves facing a difficult situation in Ukraine. The war is stalled every day, an average of 42 Ukrainian civilians are killed or wounded. Is Russia's proposal for, to end the war in Ukraine, the best that Ukraine can hope for at this point?  So what is the endgame though in Ukraine and what does peace look like there?

Biden: Peace looks like making sure Russia never, never, never, never occupies Ukraine. That's what peace looks like. And it doesn't mean NATO, (they are part of NATO). It means we have a relationship with them like we do with other countries, where we supply weapons so they can defend themselves in the future. But it is not, if you notice, I was the one when(and you guys did report it at TIME—)the one that I was saying that I am not prepared to support the NATOization of Ukraine.

It should not, it is notI spent a month in Ukraine when I was a Senator and Vice President(?). There was significant corruption. There was a circumstance that was really difficult. And so, the point is, though, that if we ever let Ukraine go down, mark my words: you'll see Poland go, and you'll see all those nations along the actual border of Russia, from the Balkans and Belarus, all those, they're going to make their own accommodations. (신 도미노?)

=I want to switch to Israel. But on that last point, is there a danger that NATO is on a slippery slope to war with Ukrainewith Russia, as things stand? So what is the endgame though in Ukraine and what does peace look like there?

Biden: No, we're on a slippery slope for war if we don't do something about Ukraine. It’s just not gonnaanyway


=So in Israel, obviously, a difficult time there. What steps are you prepared to take against Israel now that Netanyahu appears to have crossed your red line in Rafah, Mr. President?

Biden: I'm not going to speak to that now because you're going to report this before I make, beforeI'm in the process of talking with the Israelis right now. So I'm not going to

=What does that mean?

Biden: If I tell you, you’ll write it. It’s not time for you to write it.

=What are the nature of your conversations with the Israelis right now? Have you spoken with Bibi?

Biden: I have not spoken with Bibi sinceI have not spoken with Bibi / since the attack on Sunday. Was it Sunday?

Ben LaBolt: Yep. Sunday.

Biden: I have not. My team has.

=But has he crossed your red line?

Biden: I'm not going to respond to that because I'm about to make aanyway. 

=More broadly, from the intelligence in the evidence you've seen, either currently or in the last months, have Israeli forces committed war crimes in Gaza?

Biden: The answer is it's uncertain and has been investigated by the Israelis themselves. The ICC is something that we don’t, we don't recognize. But one thing is certain, the people in Gaza, the Palestinians have suffered greatly, for lack of food, water, medicine, etc. And a lot of innocent people have been killed. But it isand a lot of it has to do not just with Israelis, but what Hamas is doing in Israel as we speak. Hamas is intimidating that population. I went over right after that attack on the Israelis. What they did wasexceeded anything I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot. Tying mothers and daughters together with rope and pouring kerosene on it and burning them to death. That kind of thing, attempting to intimidate. And it is dastardly.

=On what Hamas has done, are the eight US hostages there in Gaza is still alive?

Biden: We believe there are those that are still alive. I met with all the families. But we don't have final proof on exactly who's alive and who's not alive. And by the way, I’ve been calling forwe should have a ceasefire, period. And to get those hostages. That’s the main reason why we push. Both the Israelis desperately want a ceasefire in order to get the hostages home. And it's a way to begin to break the momentum. And so that's why we're pushing hard for theand we’reIs our intelligence chief in? Where is he now?

Kirby: He is back, sir. He was just over in Europe, in Brussels, over the weekend.

=And whose fault is it that the that deal, the ceasefire for hostages has not been consummated? Is it Hamas or Israel or both?

Biden: Hamas. Hamas could end this tomorrow. Hamas could say (unintelligible) and done period. And, but, and the last offer (Israel made) was very generous in terms of who they'd be willing to release, what they'd give in return, et cetera. Bibi is under enormous pressure on the hostages, on the hostages, and so he's prepared to do about anything to get the hostages back.

=You mentioned the hunger in Gaza. Some have alleged that Israel is intentionally using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare. Do you think that's the case?

Biden: No, I don't think that. I think they've engaged in activity that is inappropriate. That isWhen I went over immediately after theHamas’ brutal attack, I said then, and it became public, I said, don't make the same mistake we did going after bin Laden. Don't tryThe idea of occupying Afghanistan, the idea that you had nuclear arsenals in Iran, that were being, I mean, in Iraq, that were being generated, simply not true. And it led to endless wars. They were not true. Don't make the mistakes we made. And they're making that mistake, I think. Excuse my voice, I apologize.

=Not at all. Some in Israel have suggested that Netanyahu is prolonging the war for his own political self-preservation. Do you believe that?

Biden: I'm not going to comment on that. There is every reason / for people to draw that conclusion. And I would cite tha as—(before the war began,) the blowback he was getting from the Israeli military for wanting to change the constituchange the court. And so it's an internal domestic debate that seems to have no consequence. And whether he would change his position or not, it's hard to say, but it has not been helpful.

=Trump has said that Netanyahu is rightfully criticized for Oct. 7. Do you believe that he bears some responsibility for the fact that Oct. 7th happened?

Biden: I don't know how any one person has that responsibility. He was the leader of the country, so therefore, it happened. But he wasn't the only one that didn't pick it up. He wasn’t the only one that didn’t pick it up. That's why there's got to bemy major disagreement with Netanyahu is, what happens after, what happens after Gaza’s over? What, what does it go back to? Do Israeli forces go back in? I've been talking to the Egyptians and been talking to the Saudis. I’ve been talking to the Jordanians, I've been talking to the Emiratis. The answer is, if that's the case, it can't work. There needs to be a two-state solution, a transition to a two-state solution. And that's my biggest disagreement with Bibi Netanyahu.

=Do you have agreement from all the other parties to this multi-part package of deals that would deliver that in Israel, in the region, other than Bibi? Is Bibi the only thing standing in the way of that?

Biden: I gotta be careful, because you're gonna print this before the article comes out and I'm in the process of negotiating a lot of that. The answer is that I think there is a clear path for a transition where the Arab states would provide security and reconstruction in Gaza in return for a longer-term commitment to a transition to a two-state solution. And that extends all the way from Saudi Arabia, who I continue to talk tomy teamto the Jordanians that are trying to work bringing in goods and certain goods now, food, medicine, etc. And the Egyptians who I've been talking with frequently about what happens in terms of access for more material to get into Gaza to prevent this catastrophe from continuing.

=Mr. President, you mentioned at the beginning value-based alliances, and you mentioned the Saudis. Do you believe we share the same values? (사우디와도 가치를 공유하나?)

Biden: Remember, I said what the other one was: there are values-based and there are practical-based. And it's overwhelmingly in our interest. For example, you may recall a resolution I introduced at the G20 that no one thought would go anywhere and it passed by providing for a railroad and oil line, uh, oil, excuse me, I misspoke. Railroad lines and transportation, all the way from Riyadhto Saudi Arabia, to Jordan, to Israel, all through Europe and continuing. And the reason for that is that the economy can be used to bring people together as well. The fact of the matter is the world's changing. We are at a significant inflection point.

The Saudis are aware that oil is not going to be their ticket to the future 10 years from now. They know it. They know what's happening. The same way with the rest of these countries. So if you have mutual economic interests in mind, you’re less likely to have conflict. So that's whatand it passed, by the way, that resolution.

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=We have a lot of the world to cover. Elsewhere in the region in Iran, but also in the Far East, there are troubling national security developments, long-standing problems that appear to be getting worse, Iran is expanding its stockpile of enriched, highly enriched uranium. North Korea has reportedly restarted its nuclear program and is testing missiles capable of reaching the mainland US, some even as far as New York potentially. Is it effectively American policy now to live with a nuclear or near-nuclear Iran and North Korea?

Biden: No, it's not. And by the way, that's been going on for some time. You could have sat here five years ago and said the same thing with regard to North Korea. So

=But that situation is getting more threatening, don't you think, Mr. President?

Biden: No, I don't. I think it's equally as threatening as it was before. I don't think it's more threatening and North Korea has something else that it has to deal with. I did something that you would have been too cynical to think I could possibly do. I put together an Indo-Pacific strategy that is incredibly broad.

Did you ever think if I told you that Japan would be devoting 3% of its GDP(?) to defense and make a rapprochement at Camp David with South Korea as an overwhelming threat that exists to North Korea as well as to Europe? You know, I've been able to put 50 nations together to help in Ukraine, led by us but also engaged with, with Japan's leadership.

So there islook as long as there are nuclear weapons available, it's always going to be a problem. It's gonnathe question is how do we stop it? That's why I thought Trump was wrong in not wanting to work early on five years ago, and three years ago, when he left officewith trying to control, work out an arrangement to control access to North Korea, to nuclear weapons and/or nuclear weapons that are available to any other area. And that's why I was able to put together four or five major initiatives in Europe. I put together a quad that never existed before(?). I put togetherI mean personally put togetherworked on it, I put together AUKUS with Great Britain and Australia. I put together an agreement between Japan and the Philippines dealing with making sure that we know the international rules of the road pertaining in terms of air and water and territorial integrity.

(And so the point is we've invested billions of dollars. We are much stronger in the Pacific than we ever were before.) China, by the way, China is very concerned about it. They asked meI’ve spent more time with Xi Jinping than any leader in the world, over 90 hours alone with him since I've been Vice President. And we have a very candid relationship.

You know, I don't have any (unintelligible) He wanted to know why I was doing all these things. I said the simple reason I’m doing those things: to make sure that you don’t, that you aren’t able to change the status quo any.

=So getting to exactly that point. Pretty much everybody agrees that managing China's rise is the most important foreign policy and national security issue for America and Americans in the coming century. CIA director Bill Burns says the President Xi Jinping of China has ordered the Chinese military to be ready by 2027 to conduct a successful invasion of Taiwan. You said on multiple occasions that you would use US forces to defend Taiwan. What does that mean? Is it boots on the ground? What, what shape would that take?

Biden: It would depend on the circumstances. You know, by the way, I've made clear to Xi Jinping that we agree with(we signed on to previous presidents going way back—)to the policy of, that, it is we are not seeking independence for Taiwan nor will we in fact, not defend Taiwan if they if, if China unilaterally tries to change the status. And so we're continuing to supply capacity. And, and we've been in consultation with our allies in the region. ("미국이 대만 독립을 추진하지 않겠지만, 중국이 일방적인 현상변경을 시도하면 대만을 지키겠다.")

=So if I might, not ruling out the possibility of deploying US troops to Taiwan in the case of an invasion?

Biden: Not ruling out using US military force. There’s a distinction between deploying on the ground, air power and naval power, etc.

=So you're maybe striking from bases in Philippines or Japan, is that

Biden: I can’t get into that. You would then criticize me with good reason if I were to tell you.

=The competition in the Pacific Rim is broader than hard power and you've expanded Donald Trump's trade war with China. Mr. President, which you once criticized.

Biden: No, I haven’t. Go ahead.

=Most economists say tariffs raise prices.

Biden: They do.

=Cumulative inflation means that prices are up 18%, at least since you took office and wage increases have not kept pace. (Bideninflation)

Biden: Since who took office? Since I took office?

=Yeah, cumulative inflation means prices are up nearly 20% since you took office and wage increases have not kept pace.

Biden: Wage increases have exceeded what the cost of inflation, which you're talking about as the prices that were pre-COVID prices. Pre-COVID prices are not the same as whether or not theyyou have American, corporate America ripping off the public now. You have everything from shrinkflation(제품 가격은 그대로 두고, 크기나 중량을 줄여 가격 인상하는 편법) to what's going on in terms of the way in which they're artificially moving significantly to increase their, their, their, their, their profits. That's not the same as inflation. That's price gouging.

=But Mr. President, won’t your newly announced tariffs raise the prices on American consumers?

Biden: No, because here's the deal. There's a difference. I made it clear to Putin (from the very beginning ) thatI'm not, we're not engaging inFor example, Trump wants a 10% tariff on everything. That will raise the price of everything in America. [Editor’s note: Biden appeared to mean Xi here, not Putin.]

What I'm talking about, I said, we're gonna play by the same rules. You tell me if I want to, if an American corporation wants to invest in China, it has to give 50% ownership, 51% ownership to a Chinese operator. And that goes on from there. And I said, so you're gonna do that to us? (unintelligible) We’re going to do the same thing if you want to invest here. We're not putting a tariff on. We’re just saying, if you want to do that, well, we're gonna do that. And you cannot change the market in a way where you flood the market byignore all Chinese government subsidies to undercut their ability as to deal with electric vehicles. And we're not going to put up with it. That’s the thing we talked about. And that's what we're talking about. We're not talking about tariffs across the board.

=Okay, I'm gonna do a couple of rapid fire here. Another of your first acts (as President under the banner of value-based leadership) was to lift various punitive Trump-era immigration measures, Mr. President, that you and others said were inhumane. In retrospect, do you think those humanitarian moves helped drive record illegal border crossing?

Biden: No.

=Were you wrong to lift any of those measures?

Biden: If I was wrong, it’s because I took too long,

=You've put some back in place. The Green Card issue, it's been reported that you're looking at reinstating Remain in Mexico. Are you looking at reinstating

Biden: No

=The last two years of Presidents, two-term President's tenure are usually focused on foreign affairs. You are 81 years old, and would be 86 by the time you left office. Large majorities of Americans, including in the Democratic Party, tell pollsters they think you are too old to lead. Could you really do this job as an 85-year old man?

Biden: I can do it better than anybody you know. You’re looking at me, I can take you too.

=Did you consider not running again because of your age?

Biden: No, I didn't.

=And what do you say to Americans who are worried about it?

Biden: Watch me. Look, name me a president that’s gotten as much done as I've gotten done in my first three and a half years. When all of you wrote in Time magazine I couldn't get any of it done. (When you told me there's no pay, no way, no way he can get a trillion-plus dollar bill done in terms of, to deal with infrastructure, where there's no way he gets $368 billion for dealing with the environment, where there's no way I could get the, the, the legislation passed on.)

I remember when I was heading to (Taiwan, excuse me,) to South Korea, to reclaim the chips industry that we had gotten $865 billion in private-sector investment, private-sector investments since I’ve been in. Name me a president who’s done that.

=You pledged at the beginning to restore unity. Both Trump and top Democrats,( including some of your aides,) say the greatest threat to America's national security is (itsand its ability to lead the free world comes not from abroad, but) from within, from US politics. Do you agree with that?

Biden: I think it has a significantly diminishing impact on our ability (to get things done internationally). Look, I tell you, I’ll justlet me give you one example. After I was elected, the first G7 (I attended as President ) was in, in Londonin England, along the beach down there. And I sat down with the seven leaders that were there. And I was sitting where you were, at this longer table.

I said, “Well, America's back.” Macron looked at me and he said, “For how long? For how long?” And then Schultz said to me, “What would you say (Mr. President,) if tomorrow you pick up The London Times and found out that thousands of people stormed the British Parliament, broke down the doors, killed two Bobbies to prevent the implementthe swearing in of a, of a prime minister, a choice of prime minister?

And it made me realize (just how fundamentally what he allowed to happen) sitting in this room, looking at that television for three hours and didn't do a damn thing, said about America, and how much confidence people lost in America. There's not a, there’s not aI’m gonna, say, be careful what I sayThere's not a major international meeting I attend that before it’s overand I've attended many, more than most presidents have in three and a half yearsthat a world leader doesn’t pull me aside as I’m leaving and say, “He can’t win. You can’t let him win.”

My democracy and their democracy is at stake. My democracy is at stake. And so name me a world leader (other than Orban and Putin) who think that Trump should be the world leader in the United States of America.

LaBolt: We’ll have to leave it there.

=Let me ask you one on theif you do win in November, Mr. President, with a mandate to continue your approach to foreign policy, what would your goals be in the second term?

Biden: To finish what I started in the first term. To continue to make sure that the European continentI'll tell you, I got a call from Kissinger about 10 days before he died. And he used the following comment. He said that "not since Napoleon has Europe not looked over their shoulder at dread with what Europewhat Russia may do, until now." Until now, you can't let that change.

The point is that we have an opportunity to have the decisions( we make in the last couple of years, in the next four years, )are going to determine the future of Europe for a long time to come. And so that's why we can not let NATO fail, we have to build that both politically and economically. And militarily, which we're investing significantly. In addition to that, I am desperately focused on making sure that we deal with thewhat they are calling the south now. There are going to be a billion people in Africa in the next several years. We have to, we have to be a catalyst for change for the benefit, for the, for the better, we have to help them build back better, we have to help them.

We, on the climate side, have come along and we've done everything that is reasonablyand three other countries are the reason we’re in the problem we’re in. But what happens if all of a sudden, on the Amazon, they're starting to clear, vast swaths of land, cut down forests, etc. Back when Dick Lugar(리처드 루거. 바이든은 루거 전후에 상원 외교위원장 역임) was alive, he and I started something back in the 90s, where we saidlate 80’s, excuse mewhere we said to, in the Amazon, they said, look, if you, we’ll make a deal with you Brazil. You don't cut your forest, we'll pay you not to do it. We’ll pay you not to do it, We have to preventAnd that's why we're working so hard to make sure Angola can be in a position that they have more solar capacity than almost any place in the world, to help that whole continent.

That's why we want to build a railroad all the waywith others in Europeall the way across the continent. So that you have, you have countries that have overproduction of agriculture and some that don’t have it, but no way to get a transfer. There's so much opportunity in Africa. And we have to work it.

In addition to that, we have to deal with the Indo-Pacific. I've had 15 island presidents and leaders here twice now. They know if theyif we don't do something about global warming, a couple of them are going to be underwater. I mean, literally underwater, not toSo we're putting together coalitions of people that have a similar interest. And it makes it difficult. You know, you're talking, everybody talks about how, how strong China is and how powerful they are. (Name meWould you trade places with Xi Jinping and any other country? ) Not a joke? I'm being deadly earnest, a rhetorical question. But would you? You’ve got a population that’s considerably older than the vast majority of the youth in Europe, that is too old to work. And they are xenophobic. Where is it coming from? Where is it going to grow? You’ve got an economy that's on the brink there. The idea that their economy is booming? Give me a break.

=I do have one last on China, which is are they meddling in the election? Have you seen evidence that they're meddling with AI or in other ways in the US election?

Biden: There, there, there, there is evidence that meddling is going on. I'm not going to get into, I don't think I should from an intelligence standpoint, there

=It sounds as if they are.

Biden: I think China would have an interestlet me put it like thiswould have an interest in meddling. Everybody, all the bad guys are rooting for Trump, man. Not a joke. Think about it. Think about it. I mean, that line that Macron used, and it says thatI was making notes for this. It said, Macron, they know the experience of brain death unlike anytime. Because lack of US leadership, we should reassess the reality of NATO in light of the lack of US leadership.

You know, we talked about what they're looking at in terms of Asia. One thing that I was able to convince the Japanese of, is we're not walking away from Japan. Because Japan, (collected with us,) is a source of great economic strength and stability, physical stability for both of us. You're not going to have, I mean, the idea that China wants to screw with everybody is a different place. By the way, the cost of China to build their military is multi-billions of dollars.

And guess what they're, you know, they're, they’rewhat they call it? Going around the world? The Belt and Road initiative? It's become a nuisance graveyard initiative. I'm serious. Think about it.( I've been saying this for three years, and you guys write, “No, China’s on the rightChina’s gonna break through.” ) Where are they, where are they breaking through? And look what's happening in Africa.

=Well, I could I could go on with that question for a long time, Mr. President, thank you very much I've taken

Biden: After this is all over, I'm happy to talk with you. For real.


Fact-Checking What President Joe Biden Said in His Interview With TIME

President Joe Biden sat down for an interview with TIME about America’s role in the world and his foreign policy agenda. Below is a review of Biden’s statements from the interview. TIME has also published the transcript of the conversation.

What Biden Said: “The Russian military has been decimated. You don’t write about that. It’s been freaking decimated.”

The Facts: This is a fair assessment, according to a Reuters report on a declassified U.S. intelligence assessment provided to Congress. The intelligence determined that Russia had 360,000 active military personnel when it invaded Ukraine in February of 2022. By December of last year, 315,000 Russian troops had been either killed or injured in the wara reduction in troop strength by 87%.

What Biden Said: "We spent a lot of money in Ukraine, but Europe has spent more money than the United States has, collectively."

The Facts: The European Union has provided over $107 billion dollars in financial, military, humanitarian, and refugee assistance (since the war in Ukraine began, as of April 24). Comparatively, the United States has provided $175 billion in aid to Ukraine$107 billion has gone directly to the Ukrainian government, while the remainder has supported other U.S. government activities associated with the war. Some European governments have made larger financial contributions to Ukraine relative to the size of their economies than the United States, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

What Biden Said: I spent a month in Ukraine when I was a Senator and Vice President.

The Facts: Biden’s trips to Ukraine include six he made as Vice Presidentmore than any previous President or Vice President. He was also involved in Ukraine during his 36 years as a US Senator. He sponsored or co-sponsored 39 pieces of legislation in support of Ukraine, and worked on issues involving Ukraine as a longtime member of the Foreign Relations Committee, including 12 years as chairman or ranking member.

What Biden Said: "Japan [is] devoting 3% of its GDP to defense..."

The Facts: Japan aims to spend 2% of its GDP on defense by 2027, according to a statement by Prime Minister Kishida Fumio. From 1960 to 2022, Japan’s defense spending was 1% of GDP or lower.

What Biden Said: "I put together a Quad that never existed before."

The Facts: The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue(, known as the Quad, is a partnership between the US, Japan, Australia and India that) began in 2004, following the Indian ocean tsunami. (The group was formalized by then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007, but was inactive until reforming in 2017. ) The Quad’s first in-person summit was held at the White House in Sept. 2021, during Biden’s first year as President.

What Biden Said: “Wage increases have exceeded what the cost of inflation

The Facts: New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows hourly wage growth topping inflation for the past 12 months. In April, nominal hourly earnings were up 3.9% from a year ago; inflation held at 3.4%. But cumulative inflation has outpaced wage growth for most of the Biden presidency.

What Biden Said: “I remember when I was heading to Taiwan, excuse me, to South Korea, to reclaim the chips industry that we had gotten $865 billion in private-sector investment, private-sector investments since I’ve been in. Name me a president who’s done that.”

The Facts: The White House announced an $866 billion private-sector investment in May, not when Biden went to South Korea in 2022. The funding was also meant for initiatives across clean energy and manufacturing industries, and is not limited to just the chips industry.

What Biden Said: “There are going to be a billion people in Africa in the next several years.”

The Facts: Africa’s total population already exceeds one billion peoplean estimated 1.4 billion people live on the continent. That number is expected to reach nearly 2.5 billion by 2050, according to the United Nations.

What Biden Said: “I mean, that line that Macron used, and it says thatI was making notes for this. It said, Macron, they know the experience of brain death unlike anytime. Because lack of US leadership, we should reassess the reality of NATO in light of the lack of US leadership.”

The Facts: Biden appears to be referencing what French President Emmanuel Macron said in a October 2019 interview with The Economist, in which he warned that European countries could no longer rely on the United States to come to the defense of NATO allies. “What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” he said, adding that the alliance “only works if the guarantor of last resort functions as such. I’d argue that we should reassess the reality of what NATO is in the light of the commitment of the United States.”

Correction, June 4

The original version of this story incorrectly described one definition of “decimate” as being “reduce to one-tenth.” It means to reduce by one-tenth. The relevant sentence has been removed.


 We Are the World Power.’ How Joe Biden Leads

By Massimo Calabresi / Washington
JUNE 4, 2024 7:00 AM EDT


Joe Biden makes his way through the West Wing telling stories. In the Cabinet Room, with sun pouring through French doors from the Rose Garden outside, he remembers the first time he sat around the long mahogany table, its high-backed leather chairs ordered by seniority. It was more than 50 years ago, Biden says, and Richard Nixon told National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger to brief the 30-year-old first-term Delaware Senator on the still secret timing of the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam. Walking slowly through the halls, the President unspools anecdotes about heads of state: Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Emmanuel Macron. In the Oval Office, he talks about his childhood home in Scranton, Pa., and the 2008 phone call from Barack Obama asking Biden to be his running mate.

Biden recounts these memories (over the course of more than 90 minutes on a warm spring day), speaking in a quiet, sometimes scattershot(무차별 난사) way. The impression he gives is one of advancing age and broad experience, of a man who has lived history. Biden leads the U.S. as the American century is fading into an uncertain future, a changing world of threats, opportunities, and power shifts. At 81, he holds fast to a vision that has reigned since World War II, in which a rich and powerful America leads an alliance of democracies to safeguard the globe from tyranny.

On June 6, Biden will travel to Normandy, France, to memorialize an event that has served for eight decades as a focal point of this vision. He will arrive as the 12th—and certainly the last—American President who was alive on that day in 1944, when 73,000 American troops led the largest amphibious invasion in human history, accelerating Nazi Germany’s defeat and Europe’s liberation. For generations, D-Day has been a hallowed anniversary. The President says commemorating it is as much about the future as the past. “We’re playing [that role] even more,” Biden says. “We are the world power.”

Whether this view of America’s role in the world will outlast Biden’s presidency is an open question. Voters face a clear choice this November. Biden calls America’s democratic values the “grounding wire of our global power” and its alliances “our greatest asset.” His presumptive opponent, former President Donald Trump, called for withdrawing American forces in Europe and Asia and has promised, most recently in his April 12 interview with TIME, to cut loose even our closest allies if they don’t do as he tells them. By his own account, Trump sees all countries as unreliable, the relations between them transactional. That sentiment has spread throughout a Republican Party that once championed America’s values abroad. J.D. Vance, the Ohio Senator in contention to become Trump’s Vice President, tells TIME that the D-Day story has become a sepia-toned distraction. “The foreign policy establishment is obsessed with World War II historical analogies,” says Vance, “and everything is some fairy tale they tell themselves from the 1930s and 1940s.”

During his 40 months in office, events have tested Biden’s vision of American world leadership. Alliances haven’t been enough to win a new European war in Ukraine. U.S. power and leverage haven’t prevented a humanitarian catastrophe in the Middle East, marked by alleged war crimes. Putin is trying to assemble an axis of autocrats from Tehran to Beijing. In China, the U.S. faces an adversary potentially its equal in economic and military power that is intent on tearing down the American global order. President Xi has told his military to be ready to invade Taiwan by 2027, U.S. officials say, raising the possibility of a dark analogue to Normandy in Asia. Biden doesn’t rule out sending troops to defend Taiwan if China attacked, saying, “It would depend on the circumstances.”

Biden’s record in facing these tests is more than just nostalgic talk. He has added two powerful European militaries to NATO, and will soon announce the doubling of the number of countries in the Atlantic alliance that are paying more than the target 2% of their GDP toward defense, the White House says. His Administration has worked to prevent the war in Gaza from igniting a broader regional conflict. He brokered the first trilateral summit with long-distrustful regional partners South Korea and Japan, and coaxed the Philippines to move away from Beijing’s orbit and accept four new U.S. military bases. He has rallied European and Asian countries to curtail China’s economic sway. “We have put together the strongest alliance in the history of the world,” Biden says, so that “we are able to move in a way that recognizes how much the world has changed and still lead.” 

But American Presidents must earn a mandate from their fellow citizens, and it’s far from clear that Biden can. In surveys, large majorities say that he is too old to lead. As he walked TIME through the West Wing and sat for a 35-minute interview on May 28, the President, with his stiff gait, muffled voice, and fitful syntax, cut a striking contrast with the intense, loquacious figure who served as Senator and Vice President. Biden bristles at the suggestion that he is aging out of his job. Asked whether he could handle its rigors though the end of a second term, when he will be 86, he shot back, “I can do it better than anybody you know.” Age aside, Biden’s handling of foreign affairs gets poor marks from voters, and not just for the bungled withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan or the ongoing war in Gaza. While 65% of Americans still believe that the U.S. should take a leading or major role in the world, that number is down 14 points from 2003 and is at its lowest level since Gallup began polling the issue two years earlier.

Biden, who is the most experienced foreign policy President in a generation, believes that role is in America’s interest. “When we strengthen our alliances, we amplify our power as well as our ability to disrupt threats before they can reach our shores,” he said soon after taking office. To judge the merit of Biden’s plan to sustain American world leadership, voters can look to his record: what he has accomplished, where he has fallen short, and how he intends to build on his work in a second term.



Around 3 p.m. on Dec. 13, 2021, the White House Situation Room put through a call from Biden to his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinisto. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was still more than two months away, and Finland, with its 830-mile border with Russia and tense history with Moscow, had long declined to join NATO. Less than a quarter of Finns supported entering the alliance at the time. But Biden had decided, aides say, that if Russia invaded, the West’s response should be not just to defend NATO, but to strengthen it.

On March 4, days after the invasion, Biden met with the newly enthusiastic Niinisto in the Oval Office. Together they called Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, who had resisted joining the alliance, to try to persuade her. After both countries applied for membership in May 2022, Biden turned to getting the rest of NATO to accept them. In June, he called Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan from Air Force One on the way to a summit in Madrid, in hopes of getting Erdogan’s support for expanding the alliance. Dangling a one-on-one meeting, Biden said of Turkey’s long-sought access to America’s F-16 fighter jets, “Let’s find a way to get that done,” according to the White House. By March 2024, Sweden and Finland were in. “Everybody thought, including you guys, thought I was crazy,” Biden says. “Guess what? I did it.”

The accession of Finland and Sweden was part of Biden’s broader efforts to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by rallying the free world. Starting in October 2021, Biden held a series of meetings with European and NATO leaders, discussing postinvasion support for Ukraine, including military assistance, sanctions, diplomacy, and economic support. Biden also brought Asian allies into the effort. South Korea and Japan have imposed sanctions on Russia and its arms suppliers. The result, Biden advisers say, is a strengthened alliance of shared democratic values worldwide. “He has connected Europe and Asia in a way no previous President has,” says National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Others view all the investment in Ukraine as a distraction from the bigger challenge America faces in East Asia. “Who doesn’t think that $200 billion spent in Europe would’ve been incredibly useful in the Pacific?” says Elbridge Colby, a former Trump Administration Pentagon official and lead architect of the 2018 National Defense Strategy. “Great nations fail,” says Lieut. General Keith Kellogg, Trump’s former National Security Adviser, when “you fix somebody else’s potholes(도로 패인곳, 큰 구멍) instead of fixing your potholes.” 

Biden says he remains committed to Ukrainian victory. Asked about the war’s endgame, Biden says, “Peace looks like making sure Russia never, never, never, never occupies Ukraine.” But last year’s Ukrainian counteroffensive was a failure. Russia recently has made its largest advances since the opening months of the invasion. Alliance building may have reached its limit, along with Americans’ appetite for funding a war of attrition. Biden’s allies in Kyiv complain he has been too cautious, giving Ukraine enough weapons to survive the war but not to win it. “It’s not a decisive stance,” says a senior official in President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government. “It’s not the way to victory.”

On balance, however, even longtime critics are impressed with Biden’s efforts in Ukraine. Former Defense Secretary and CIA director Robert Gates wrote in 2014 that Biden had “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national-security issue over the past four decades.” But on May 19, Gates said that Biden’s response to Russia’s invasion has gone a long way toward repairing the damage of the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal. “He gained a lot of credibility with the speed with which he assembled the coalition of partner countries, allies, and friends before, during, and after the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Gates told CBS’s Face the Nation.

Biden says his response has been part of a broader deterrence strategy. “If we ever let Ukraine go down, mark my words, you’ll see Poland go, and you’ll see all those nations along the actual border of Russia [fall],” he tells TIME. But in other theaters, the high-minded Normandy vision has given way to a different kind of diplomacy.

Halfway through our interview, Biden responds to a question about America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia by saying that the U.S. has two kinds of alliances: “There are values-based, and there are practical-based.” During the campaign, Biden had sworn to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah.” One of his first moves in office was to cut off certain arms supplies over the kingdom’s war in Yemen, which has displaced 4.5 million people and killed 377,000, including 11,000 children, according to the U.N. Soon after, the de facto Saudi ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, met with China’s Foreign Minister and proposed greater cooperation on nuclear energy and security with Beijing, already the kingdom’s largest economic partner.

The Biden Administration quietly pivoted. A new “great game” was afoot, with the world dividing between competing Chinese and American spheres of influence. For all Biden’s efforts to stimulate a green transition, Saudi Arabia was still providing much of the world’s energy. Moreover, the Saudis had expressed willingness during the Trump presidency to normalize relations with Israel, which would tilt the regional balance of power against Iran and in the U.S.’s favor. On Sept. 27, 2021, Sullivan traveled to Saudi Arabia with instructions from Biden to explore the possibility of a peace deal between the kingdom and Israel.

Biden himself traveled to Saudi Arabia in July 2022, bucking a flurry of criticism for meeting with MBS, who has led a widespread crackdown on clerics, academics, and human-rights advocates critical of his regime, according to Human Rights Watch, and who the U.S. says ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But the visit helped stabilize relations. Over the course of the next year, it began to look as if Biden’s moral climb down with MBS had brought the Saudis back on the U.S. side, and restarted a possible bargain with Israel. The outlines of that deal, Biden now says, were “overwhelmingly in our interest.”

Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza, was determined not to allow it. Days after its Oct. 7 attack against Israel, which killed some 1,200 people, Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad told TIME, “We planned for this because Israel thinks it can make peace with anyone, it can make normalization with any country, it can oppress the Palestinians, so we decided to shock the Israelis in order to wake up others.” Eight Americans were among the estimated 240 taken hostage in the massacre. The Biden Administration has sought to secure their release, but it is not clear how many of the American hostages have survived; three reportedly have been killed. “We believe there are those that are still alive,” Biden tells TIME. “I met with all the families. But we don’t have final proof on exactly who’s alive.”

Biden’s reaction to Oct. 7 was to provide rock-solid support to Israel. Within a week he had deployed two aircraft carriers to the region. Quietly, he tried to rally Egypt and Saudi Arabia to resist expansion of the conflict into a war between Israel and Iran. Biden’s “practical-based” alliance building appeared to pay off on April 13, when Iran responded to an Israeli attack on a satellite diplomatic office by launching more than 300 missiles and drones in its first-ever direct attack on Israel. The Saudis and Jordanians reportedly provided intelligence assistance and opened their airspace to U.S. and other jets. With Israel leading the way, the ad hoc alliance managed to shoot down all but four of the projectiles, with no fatalities. More important, the episode helped avert a region-wide war.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has upped the cost of Biden’s commitment to Israel at every turn. Nearly eight months after the conflict started, the death toll in Gaza, according to the local Hamas-led Ministry of Health, has climbed to more than 36,000 people, including an unknown number of Hamas fighters. More than 1.7 million have been displaced by Israeli attacks that have destroyed much of the enclave. On May 20, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court requested a war-crimes indictment for Netanyahu, his Defense Minister, and three leaders of Hamas. Four days later, in a largely symbolic move, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt operations in Gaza. Human Rights Watch says Israel has “imposed collective punishments on the civilian population, deprived the civilian population of objects indispensable to its survival, and used starvation of civilians as a weapon of war.”

Asked if Israeli forces have committed war crimes in Gaza, Biden says, “It’s uncertain.” From the start, the Administration knew Israel was pushing the limits of legal warfare, the Washington Post and others have reported. The conflict is driving a wedge between the U.S. and its allies. On May 31, Biden laid out a phased cease-fire plan that would end the war and secure the release of hostages. He has continued to pursue the complicated regional deal with Saudi Arabia. Some close to Biden say the only holdout to the broader pact is Netanyahu. The President declines to say as much, but when asked by TIME if Netanyahu is prolonging the war for his own political reasons, Biden admits, “There is every reason for people to draw that conclusion.”


As aides try to bring the interview to a close, Biden turns to China. Hawks say Beijing is in a sprint to match American economic and military production. By some measures, it is catching up on GDP and defense manufacturing, and already has a larger navy. But Biden takes a bullish view of the competition with the rising Asian power. “Everybody talks about how, how strong China is and how powerful they are,” Biden says. “You’ve got an economy that’s on the brink there. The idea that their economy is booming, give me a break.” That doesn’t mean they can’t pose a threat. Asked if China is using AI or other means to meddle in the upcoming U.S. election, Biden says someone is, but declines to say who. Pressed, he adds, “I think China would have an interest in meddling.”

What Biden describes as China’s economic weakness could make confrontation more, not less, likely—another argument, as he sees it, for expanding America’s alliances in East Asia. And in that arena, the President has pursued a mix of “values-based” and “practical” approaches.

Biden was on Air Force One on his way to a fundraiser in Illinois on May 11, 2022, when the results of the Philippine presidential elections were announced, showing that Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. had won. Biden “had the instinct to just pick up the phone and said, ‘Hey, let’s get together soon and start building a relationship,’” Sullivan says. It was a long shot. Marcos has a pending $2 billion judgment against him in a U.S. court relating to his parents’ human-rights record during their more than 20-year dictatorship, which ended in 1986. The Philippines are now rated “partly free” by Freedom House, and the outgoing President, Rodrigo Duterte, had courted China even as Beijing claimed nearby islands and territorial waters. Marcos had sent cold signals to the U.S. during his campaign.

Biden’s call was the first Marcos had received from a foreign leader. As U.S. officials followed up, they briefed the new President on the parallels between Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and Xi’s declared goals in the South China Sea. Biden dispatched Vice President Kamala Harris and his Secretaries of State and Defense to woo Marcos. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman made clear Marcos had diplomatic immunity and would be welcome in the U.S. Less than a year after Biden’s congratulatory call, Marcos made a visit to the White House. More significantly, he approved the opening of four additional U.S. military bases in the Philippines. In April and May, the two countries engaged in their largest military exercises together, simulating an effort to repulse an amphibious landing. “The President got engaged early in a very personal way,” says Sullivan, “and then kind of showed both respect for him and a vision for where the relationship would go.” 

Biden has pursued this brand of personal realpolitik across Asia. He elevated the communist autocracy in Vietnam to the highest diplomatic status, comprehensive strategic partner, and has moved to embrace the increasingly repressive regime of Narendra Modi in India. He has tried to boost the “Quad” alliance with India, Japan, and Australia, upgrading it from a meeting of Foreign Ministers to one of heads of state. In April 2023, Biden convened a Camp David summit with the South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Overcoming long-fraught relations between Seoul and Tokyo, the three countries criticized China’s behavior in the South China Sea and declared “a hinge point of history, when geopolitical competition, the climate crisis, Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, and nuclear provocations test us.”

Critics say the problem is too much friend making and not enough deterrence. The U.K. recently said China may be preparing to provide lethal aid to Russia, a move that Biden said in March 2022 would put Xi “in significant jeopardy” of harsh U.S. sanctions. “The single biggest problem with the Biden team is their failure to grasp what it takes to achieve effective deterrence against aggressors,” says Matt Pottinger, who was Deputy National Security Adviser under Trump. “They failed against the Taliban, then Putin, and then Iran and its proxies. And now Beijing is making moves that could prove fateful for the world.” Former Trump official Colby says Biden’s diplomatic work is a weak substitute for the one thing that can deter China’s rise. “These high-profile photo ops,” says Colby, “are not a substitute for raw military power.” He points to recent statements by senior U.S. military officials that China is outpacing the U.S. on missile- and shipbuilding, and war games showing the U.S. losing badly in a contest over Taiwan, and says the U.S. should put all its efforts into defending the “first island chain” of Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

Biden believes that withdrawing from Europe and the Middle East to focus on East Asia would backfire, aides say. If America abandons its allies elsewhere, they argue, its Asian allies will abandon it, in turn. The U.S. needs European and Middle Eastern countries to increase its economic and military advantages over China. And ultimately, failing to confront instability now—in Ukraine, Gaza or elsewhere—will only make doing so later a more costly distraction from the competition with Beijing.

Back in the Cabinet Room after the interview, the sun is lower, and Biden has more stories. He turns to a sideboard with a commendation from the Kosovo government to his son Beau Biden, who died of cancer nine years ago. The President relates with evident pride his son’s work supporting its judicial system. A mention of diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who brokered the Dayton accords for the Balkans, elicits a story about Afghanistan and an argument Biden had with Holbrooke over the search for peace there. 

On a matching sideboard on the other side of the door, the President opens an album with travel pictures, launching a series of anecdotes about the Popes he has known, including John Paul II and Benedict, whom Biden calls “the Rottweiler.” Recounting an exchange with one over abortion, he casts an eye toward the cracked door to the Oval Office and asks an aide, “Are they in there?” Turning back to his visitors, he says, “Let me show you one more picture.”

This avuncular politicking remains a Biden trademark, one that has helped with allies overseas but failed to unite Americans at home, as Biden pledged when running for President. Not that he has stopped trying. Biden ultimately persuaded Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson to move a roughly $95 billion supplemental aid package for Ukraine, the Middle East, and Taiwan. To build support for his Middle East peace package, he has worked both sides of the aisle. On Nov. 8, 2023, Biden sat for two hours in the windowless Roosevelt Room with a bipartisan group of nine Senators who had just returned from the region, asking for impressions from the trip and moderating a conversation between them, Sullivan, and Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk. At the end, he pulled Democratic Senator Chris Coons and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham into the Oval Office for separate 10-minute conversations about next steps in the effort, says Coons.

Biden may be right that despite the partisanship, a consensus exists for a values-based, pragmatic role for America in the world. His challenge is to get Americans to focus on that rather than on other issues driven by foreign affairs, like inflation or immigration. Biden denies that his expansion of Trump’s trade war with China will increase prices, and says his only regret about lifting Trump’s anti-immigration measures is that he didn’t do it sooner. His goal in a second term, he says, is “to finish what he started.”

At stake is the direction of the world for the coming century. At Normandy, Biden will make the case for what historian Hal Brands says is “the 80-year tradition of internationalism that has been quite good for America and the world.” The alternative, says Brands, would be a “more vicious and chaotic” world where Americans ultimately would be less safe, prosperous, and free, but only after everyone else suffered first.

Wrapping up his conversation with TIME, Biden offers cookies from a tray in the outer Oval. “They’re homemade,” he says. Turning to leave, he offers a final salutation: “Keep the faith.” But then he pauses and turns back, as the phrase triggers one last story. It’s about a relative who had his own response to that admonition. And here Biden taps one of his visitors on the chest and says, “Spread the faith.”

—With reporting by Simon Shuster/Kyiv; Leslie Dickstein, Simmone Shah, and Julia Zorthian/New York; and Melissa August, Brian Bennett, Vera Bergengruen, Eric Cortellessa, and Sam Jacobs/Washington


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