President Joe Biden’s foreign policy is a toxic mix of ideas from both extremes of the political spectrum.
On the one hand, Biden and company have embraced Obama’s policy of maximum term limits. The idea is that the less the US engages in foreign affairs, the fewer problems it will have to deal with.
The problem with the maximum constraint is that it can allow a manageable extraneous problem to fester into an outsized problem. It’s like when a homeowner keeps putting off fixing a leaky roof; one day the ceiling will collapse.
Maximum content can also lead to rapid withdrawal from foreign engagements. This too can be disastrous. For example, Obama quickly withdrew from Iraq and ISIS immediately filled the vacuum. Biden did the same in Afghanistan and we now know that Al Qaeda has already reestablished a foothold there.
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The reality is: Every time America leaves, our adversaries fill with glee. Just look at what happened on our southern border. Once Biden rolled back all of Trump’s border security measures, the cartels started lining up to fight back.
On the other hand, Biden is often too eager to engage on the world stage, turning American interests into globalist management. The idea is that we can make the world safer, more equal and fairer if we follow the wisdom of global elites and govern according to international agreements on everything from climate policy and tax policy to labor policy and the treatment of women.
The problem with this is that it can sacrifice our national interests – and our sovereignty – by adhering to international agreements that our enemies ignore and our friends consider ill-advised. For example, the Chinese have zero intention of following the US into the abyss of “net zero” green energy policy. To keep their economy growing, they are building coal plants left and right.
However, Biden continues to think that he and other leaders of developed countries can set global “norms” by pledging to follow the dictates of Davos. That’s like a little kid sitting in a grocery cart who thinks he’s driving down the aisle.
By following these impulses to 1) do nothing and 2) tell everyone what to do, Biden believes he is reducing risk and making a better world. In reality, what he has is a schizophrenic foreign policy that has increased global risk and left our friends and allies dazed and confused.
The latest victim of this approach was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Her trip to Taiwan was important. And the stakes were high. China is America’s #1 threat and Taiwan is the most serious issue that divides us. One would think that every step the president would take would be serious, deliberate and proactive, because that’s how serious people deal with serious risks. No Joe.
His first instinct was to try to make the problem go away. So, he asked Pelosi to cancel the visit. This would be a huge slap in the face for Taiwan and a huge loss of face for the US
When Pelosi refused, Biden then called Chinese President Xi Jinping and, after gently reassuring him that the US still adheres to the “One China Policy.” urged him to back down from his regime’s shocking rhetoric opposing travel. Again, no effect.
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Indeed, throughout the crisis, Biden appeared—to China, to Taiwan, to Pelosi, and to the rest of the world—as little more than a do-nothing Bystander. (Though, in fairness, he did tweet afterwards.)
As soon as Pelosi left, China stepped up its “wolf warrior” diplomacy by calling in Taiwan with live fire drills. The administration’s response was mostly finger-pointing at the Chinese, saying they were not following international norms endorsed by our globalist rulers at Davos. Beijing must still be laughing.
But this is no laughing matter. Just ask Ukraine. When Putin threatened to invade, Biden tried to do nothing, threatening a flurry of sanctions and wagging his fingers at international norms. Instead of being deterred, Russia started a war that has damaged our economy and diminished our national security.
When will US foreign policy get better instead of worse? The answer is: When the administration starts to deal with the risks, instead of ignoring them.