While the United States is a global leader economically and militarily, its president has no such cachet. Joe Biden and his administration have bumbled and fumbled and are perceived worldwide as feckless and indecisive. No longer the undisputed champion of democratic principles and individual freedoms, the current occupant of the Oval Office has shown himself to be weak in crafting credible foreign policy.
Unfortunately for the White House and its national security team, credibility – the foundation of effective leadership – is in short supply. In the Pacific region, where confronting China is crucial, many in the Far East arena are skeptical that Biden can pull it off. Writing for Spectator Australia, Dominic Green, in his article “Biden Is Losing NATO,” made the point: “Biden’s administration, like Trump’s, is committed to building its Pacific alliances while sustaining NATO. Yet on Australia as in Afghanistan, the Biden team are doing exactly what they accused Trump of: unpicking the frayed bonds of NATO without a clear idea of what might replace it.”
When friends and allies begin to doubt the United States can perform as promised, the slippery slope leads directly to irrelevance. The crux of the fading respect for Biden’s administration was the geopolitical and military disaster in Afghanistan. The incredible failure of leadership, strategy, and planning in retreating from Kabul has left a stench on the U.S. national security team that no amount of diplomatic eau de cologne can mask – and it lingers.
A National Review article after Biden’s address to the U.N. General Assembly in September 2021 detailed the failure of the president to uphold the national security needs of the United States. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley explained, “President Biden’s speech ignored the reality and seriousness of America’s threats and enemies. China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and terrorism, to name a few … With Joe Biden asleep at the switch, our friends don’t trust us, and enemies are rejoicing.”
In this dangerous world where ineptitude equals weakness, adversaries across the globe blithely diminish the United States on the world stage. Why is North Korea emboldened enough to fire a flurry of short- and long-range missiles without fear of consequences? Kim Jong Un flaunts his buildup of weapons capable of striking the United States in Guam because he knows the current national security squad will do nothing. Overtures by Blinken’s diplomats to curtail Kim’s provocative activities were “mocked as a ‘so-called diplomatic solution’ and ‘dialogue’” by the North Korean Foreign Ministry, as reported by Stars & Stripes correspondent David Choi.
Marc Short, former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, in an interview with Fox News put it: “I think that unfortunately, weakness does arouse evil and what we’ve seen from this administration and their surrender in Afghanistan is that now other leaders are going to want to test the mettle of America’s leadership.” Short raised the specter of the Ukraine border crisis and pointed out it is unlikely that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin “is really that concerned about what Joe Biden is going to do or what his resolve is if he were to go into Ukraine.” To make this point crystal clear, after Biden and Putin held one summit, one secure video conference, and two telephone calls, bolstered by U.S. State Department envoys holding numerous meetings about Russia’s threatening presence on Ukraine’s border, nothing has been accomplished.
On the other hand, France’s President Emmanuel Macron sat down the other day with the Kremlin leader for one six-hour chat and came away with a promise from Putin “not to carry out new military initiatives near Ukraine for the time being as a precursor to possible de-escalation,” reported Reuters. Having the French accomplish what U.S. negotiators failed to do should be embarrassing for Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his foreign policy professionals.
Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT), a member of the influential House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, summed up U.S. national security in an opinion piece for Deseret News. Stewart wrote, “The reality is undeniable: Under President Biden’s watch, America has retreated to the international sidelines. We’re already suffering from the immediate consequences of this mistake, and we’ll be coping with the long-term effects for years to come.”
This administration’s major foreign policy gaffes remain geopolitically tectonic. Put simply, Biden and his team have created a credibility gap in U.S. leadership and prestige that will neither soon nor easily be closed.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
~ Read more from Dave Patterson.