Point/Counterpoint: On foreign policy, President Biden earns a D at midpoint of first term
From the column: "The country (is) ill-prepared to face ... myriad threats. ... The job of any president includes many roles, but guarding the safety and security of the republic is paramount."
The administration of President Joe Biden has reached its halfway point, and a review of its foreign-policy decisions suggests an administration touting the return of diplomacy while failing to meaningfully deliver on this tenet in many ways. The opposite of big-stick diplomacy, Biden and his administration are happy to speak harshly against our adversaries while failing to follow through with the necessary hard actions — big “schtick” diplomacy.
Ironically, the administration’s mostly risk-averse approach serves only to heighten risks for Americans and other freedom-loving people worldwide. Because of this less-than-satisfactory strategy and performance, Biden gets a D on his foreign-policy approach and execution.
His administration prioritizes avoiding potential negative consequences over aggressively pursuing positive outcomes for America and her interests. As a result, the country enters the next two years ill-prepared to face the myriad threats of a militarized, ambitious, and malicious China; the likelihood of a protracted proxy war in Ukraine; and Iran and North Korea’s increasing nuclear threat — to name a few.
Such unstable footing is unsurprising as the administration took 629 days to release its national security strategy and now has little time to waste attempting to execute its well-written but diffuse focus. It is a strategy that accurately paints a world betwixt autocracy and democracy but fails to realistically assess the current stagnation of U.S. power abroad and attempts a prioritization of everything, which means a focus on nothing.
Moreover, whatever blueprint exists for follow-through is likely to be disrupted as the administration, keen to memory-hole the catastrophic and cataclysmic Afghanistan withdrawal that resulted in the deaths of 13 service members and many Afghan civilians, will face the new Republican-controlled Congress and their commitment to investigate.
Already, Rep. Mike McCaul, the top Republican and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, submitted a 10-page letter broadcasting the intent to probe every aspect of the withdrawal, including before, during, and the aftermath. Now, the administration will be forced to litigate the past rather than address the present and future demands.
Other blunders, like the failed Iran nuclear deal pronounced “ dead ” by President Biden himself, do not project confidence to our allies (or to American citizens) that Biden is capable of achieving his goals (or that his goals are in line with America’s interests). As Iran poses a significant threat to our interests in the region, it will be incumbent upon the administration to reassess its approach and chart a new course.
We face problems closer to home as well. With record-high illegal border crossings, topping more than 2.7 million in 2022 , the complex issue of immigration can no longer be ignored by an administration that initially attempted to paint those focused on border security as extreme and now must contend with the implication of its policy of benign neglect.
And it’s not just the influx of people causing destabilization. According to Rep. David Trone , D-Maryland, “99% of the fentanyl is coming from precursor drugs from China, and then it’s manufactured by two cartels … and they’re the ones that are bringing it across the border.”
However, there is a reason for not completely failing Biden’s performance — yet. Japan and other Indo-Pacific relationships are solidifying and strengthening. They are partnerships that will be critical during the necessary pivot to China as the greatest threat to America.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance is more united than ever, and parts of western Europe seem finally to take stock of their responsibility for security — particularly notable is Sweden and Finland applying for NATO membership. These security shifts are just as likely due to our allies’ recognition of the declining projection of American power and the subsequent vacuum rather than the current leadership.
Perhaps symbolic of this is Germany’s recent abnegation of its promise to raise military spending to at least 2% of its economic output, a promise made early last year in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
So when all is said and done, President Biden’s foreign policy report card from the last two years represents a dangerous trajectory. If his administration changed its focus to effectively position America to meet the rising threats to her power and stability in the next two years, he might hope for a higher grade by 2024. The job of any president includes many roles, but guarding the safety and security of the republic is paramount.
If Biden fails this course, America and her interests are at risk. This is a failure that cannot be tolerated.
Meaghan Mobbs is a senior fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum (iwf.org), a conservative, women-focused economic-policy nonprofit.