Key Words: Biden tells Davos: Russia is threatening the ‘liberal international order’

Russia is threatening the ‘liberal international order.’

Vice President Joe Biden

Expect Russia to use cyberaggression in the many European elections slated for this year as part of a deepening effort to undercut Western democracies, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden charged Wednesday in his final speech in that role.

It was a packed message from the outgoing U.S. second-in-command as he addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, attended by world leaders, top executives, investors of note and the press. When he wasn’t going after Russia—Vladimir Putin by name, in fact—Biden also defended a “bipartisan” North Atlantic Treaty Organization against criticism it’s outdated, and, broadly, he cheered on transatlantic cooperation.

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But when it came to Russia, he left little room for interpretation. Biden said the Russian president is using “every tool” in his power to roll back decades of progress in fostering open societies.“Simply put, Putin has a different vision of the future,” the vice president warned.

There’s also more at work, a values fight that leaves the world vulnerable to the rise of autocrats.

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Globalization is benefiting people at the top, and some people at the bottom. Biden warned, however, that the middle class is being hollowed out. The middle class historically has been the engine for growth and the source of social stability. And with it, comes the greater risk that populism can tip into political small-mindedness.

And like any good conference speaker, a call to action, so to speak: “The top 1% is not carrying their weight,” charged Biden. Steps must be taken to close the rift between those “racing ahead at the top” and those “struggling to hang on in the middle.”

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