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President Joe Biden’s foreign policy is a toxic mix of ideas from both ends of the political spectrum.
On the one hand, Biden and company have embraced the Obama-era policy of maximum restraint. The idea is that the less the United States engages in foreign affairs, the fewer problems it will have to solve.
The problem with maximum restraint is that it can let a manageable extraneous problem fester into a huge problem. It’s like when a homeowner puts off fixing a leaky roof; one day the ceiling will collapse.
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Maximum restraint can also lead to a hasty withdrawal of foreign commitments. This too can be disastrous. For example, Obama hastily withdrew from Iraq and ISIS quickly filled the void. Biden did the same in Afghanistan, and we now know that al-Qaeda has already regained a foothold there.
The reality is this: whenever America slips away, our adversaries are happy to replace us. Just look at what happened on our southern border. As soon as Biden rolled back all of Trump’s border security measures, the cartels began lining up people to meet.
On the other hand, Biden is often too eager to engage on the world stage, entrusting American interests to globalist management. The idea is that we can make the world safer, fairer 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 to the treatment of women.
The problem with that is that he can sacrifice our national interests – and our sovereignty – by honoring international covenants that our enemies ignore and our friends find absurd. For example, the Chinese have no intention of following the United States into the abyss of the “net zero” green energy policy. To keep their economy growing, they are building coal-fired power plants right and left.
Yet Biden persists in believing that he and other leaders of developed countries can set global “standards” by pledging to follow the dictates of Davos. It’s like the little kid sitting in a grocery cart who thinks he’s heading 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 creating a better world. In reality, what he has is a schizophrenic foreign policy that has heightened global risk and left our friends and allies dazed and confused.
The most recent victim of this approach was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. His trip to Taiwan was important. And the stakes were high. China is America’s No. 1 threat, and Taiwan is the most serious issue dividing us. You would think that every step the president takes would be serious, deliberate and proactive, because that’s how serious people deal with serious risks. Not Jo.
His first instinct was to try to make the problem go away. So he asked Pelosi to cancel the visit. It would have been a big slap in the face for Taiwan and a huge loss of face for the United States.
When Pelosi refused, Biden then called Chinese President Xi Jinping and, after gently reassuring him, the United States still clung to the “one China policy.” asked him to drop his regime’s rhetoric that opposes the trip. Again, no effect.
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Indeed, throughout the crisis, Biden has appeared — in China, Taiwan, Pelosi and the rest of the world — as just a chief spectator who does nothing. (Although, to be fair, he tweeted afterwards.)
Once Pelosi left, China stepped up its “wolf warrior” diplomacy by ringing Taiwan with live fire drills. The administration’s response has been mostly finger-wagging at the Chinese, saying they are not following international standards as endorsed by our globalist overlords in Davos. Beijing must still laugh.
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But this is no laughing matter. Just ask Ukraine. When Putin threatened to invade, Biden tried the mix of doing nothing, threatening a handful of sanctions and waving the finger at international standards. Rather than being discouraged, Russia launched a war that damaged our economy and weakened our national security.
When will US foreign policy get better instead of worse? The answer is: when the administration begins to manage the risks, rather than ignoring them.
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