Unlike the Trump administration that waited until it knew something about the current state of U.S. national security, President Biden’s national security team pumped out its version of an Interim National Security Strategy Guidance (INSSG) after just a month and a half in office.
Consequently, the document released on March 3 is a hodge-podge of far-left talking points that kludge together painfully numerous references to “climate crisis,” “climate change,” and a throwback to Michelle Obama’s drive to control what we eat by identifying “climate-conscious food and water security” as national security objectives.
Who knew food was conscious of anything? Someone should recommend Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss to the creator of the climate-conscious phrase.
Climate Change a Bigger Threat Than Nukes?
Most troubling about the INSSG is that there is nothing strategic, there is little guidance, and the document frantically tries to convince the reader that there is an equivalence between “escalating climate change” (as an article of faith) and “nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.” In the words of the INSSG, “all pose profound and, in some cases, existential dangers.” All do not “pose profound” dangers, and as “existential dangers” go, certainly not at the same level of concern.
Reading through the INSSG, you cannot help but be struck by the disproportionate importance placed on climate references. In the 23-page document, 17 pages – if one doesn’t count the table of contents, title page, and President Biden’s two-page introduction, giving a gratuitous nod to “women, girls, indigenous communities, people with disabilities, and people of every ethnic background and religion,” – the word “climate” is mentioned 27 times. As the graphic shows, China, a reasonably contemporary national security concern, is mentioned only 15 times, references to “nuclear” only seven times. What about Iran? The chief architect of global terrorism is only mentioned four times, one less than Russia. The emphasis on North Korea is all but missing. The country in the Pacific with nuclear weapons and nuclear-capable missiles led by a less than stable “dear leader” Kim Jong-Ill, is mentioned twice.
As is often the case, when ideologues and special pleaders start writing what are supposed to be serious national security documents, the stories aren’t always coordinated among the storytellers.
The INSSG narrative is confusing. When talking about the Middle East, the guidance explains clearly:
“We will work with our regional partners to deter Iranian [one of the four times mentioned] aggression and threats to sovereignty and territorial integrity, disrupt al-Qaeda and related terrorist networks and prevent an ISIS resurgence, address humanitarian crises, and redouble our efforts to resolve the complex armed conflicts that threaten regional stability.”
In the following sentence, the guidance is contradictory, saying: “But we do not believe that military force is the answer to the region’s challenges, and we will not give our partners in the Middle East a blank check to pursue policies at odds with American interests and values.” Consequently, Biden explains the U.S. has withdrawn support for military operations in Yemen. The inference is that Yemen is an identity with the Middle East as a whole. It is not.
Let’s Not Hurt Any Terrorists
And when it comes to al-Qaeda, ISIS, and related terror networks, military action is the right answer. In fact, Biden recently authorized an airstrike in Syria to take out Iranian-backed militia facilities. Apparently, he does “believe that military force is the answer.”
To be useful as strategic guidance, a strategy must be actionable, a document from which U.S. Government agencies can be, well, guided to do something. This document does not do that. There is simply no substance. Nothing could be more emblematic of the problem with the Biden guidance than the conclusion. The closing starts: “This moment is an inflection point.” What moment? What is the antecedent to “This?” The statement is meaningless.
Follow that with: “We are in the midst of a fundamental debate about the future direction of our world.” Wow, who’s the “we” in the debate taking responsibility for the whole world?” And which side of this ‘inflection point” are “we” on in this debate?
Then there is this: “To prevail, we must demonstrate that democracies can deliver for our people.” Deliver what? Fox News told us that, under Biden’s border enforcement policy, Border Patrol agents released 108 illegal immigrants into the U.S. that tested positive for coronavirus. Is that what the Biden national security team is delivering, masquerading as democracy.
Lastly – and this sentence says it all: “It will not happen by accident – we have to defend our democracy – strengthen it and renew it.” Amazing, “It will not happen by accident…;” and does the character from the Hotel.com commercial, Captain Obvious, come to mind?
This is not a serious, thoughtful explanation of the national security strategy imperatives and priorities. As Americans, we should expect an official national security document that explains what will provide for our citizens’ common defense and safety. Instead, what the Biden Administration provided is a platform of platitudes for pandering to the political left’s agenda – and not much more.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
Read more from Dave Patterson.
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