international analysis and commentary

Biden at the Aspen Institute in 2008


On the occasion of Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Rome, we would like to share two excerpts from a speech he gave at an Aspen event in Paris in 2008.

This was Biden’s opening phrase at the event, which took place just months before the election of Barack Obama, and as a result, Biden’s nomination as vice president:

“The next American president is going to have an incredibly difficult job. He or she will have the unique opportunity to change the direction of my country and, depending on what he or she does, to help shape the direction of the world. Everybody talks about change. Yeats writing about his Ireland in 1916 said, “The world has changed. It has changed utterly. A terrible beauty has been born.” Well, there’s a terrible beauty that’s been born: the emergence of China and India as major economic powers, the beauty of a unifying Europe, the resurgence of Russia floating on a sea of high oil prices, the spread of dangerous weapons and disease, the shortage of sources of energy, water even food, the impact of climate change, real wealth and persistent poverty, the technology revolution that sends people, ideas and money around the world at ever faster speeds, the challenges to a nation state from ethnic and sectarian strife, and, to top it all off, just to name a few things, the struggle between modernity and extremism among at least in the order of some 600 to 800 million people in the world. That’s a short list of the forces that are shaping the 21st century.”

Later, he continued by joking about the name of the session in which he participated as a speaker:

“I think we have to reenergize the compact between the United states and Europe and our allies around the world to meet a lot of these new challenges…. It’s difficult for most Americans to come and be part of a session that’s called “A transatlantic deal for a post-Western order”. The American writer Samuel Clemens in the last century said “the reports of my death are premature”.