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Joe Biden warns of collapse of democracy at Davos

In his final speech while in office, Biden said that wealth inequality was a factor in social instability.

By Ed Adamczyk
Vice President Joe Biden told the World Economic Forum, convening Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland, that the democratic world order is in danger of collapse. Photo by Gian Ehrenzeller/European Pressphoto Agency
Vice President Joe Biden told the World Economic Forum, convening Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland, that the democratic world order is in danger of collapse. Photo by Gian Ehrenzeller/European Pressphoto Agency

Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Vice President Joe Biden told a Davos, Switzerland, audience Friday the democratic world order is risking collapse, citing Russia as a destructive force.

In his final address before he is replaced by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, he told the World Economic Forum it is time to reinforce the values of Western democracy. Biden cited President Vladimir Putin by name, saying the Russian leader is undermining those values.

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"In recent years, it has become evident that the consensus upholding this system is facing increasing pressures. It's imperative that we act urgently to defend the liberal international order. Under President Putin, Russia is working with every tool available to them to whittle away at the edges of the European project, test the fault lines of western nations and return to a politics defined by spheres of influence.

"With many countries in Europe slated to hold elections this year, we should expect further attempts by Russia to meddle in the democratic process. It will occur again, I promise you. And again the purpose is clear: to collapse the liberal international order."

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Speaking to leaders of government and global finance who paid thousands of dollars to attend the conference, Biden also said the world's wealthiest people pay an inadequate amount in taxes. He said the "top 1 percent is not carrying their weight," noting it is a cause of social instability and adding, "We need to tap into the bigheartedness. This is a moment to lead boldly."

While he prefaced his remarks by urging listeners not to hear his address as an attack on President-elect Donald Trump, Biden reaffirmed support for NATO, saying the United States "must support our NATO allies. An attack on one is an attack on all. That can never be placed in question."

Trump has been critical of NATO in the past.

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Biden also joked that, once he leaves office, he will "start to say what I think."

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