While domestic issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and associated mandates, urban crime, immigration, inflation and supply bottlenecks continue to command the attention of most ordinary Americans, global threats are compounding. With the holiday season upon us, most of our people seem far more concerned with holiday preparations and shopping than with what’s going on overseas. Meanwhile, our principal adversaries grow more menacing and provocative, confident that they are seeing the decline of America as the world’s most dominant power.
Our chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and the prolonged chaos at the southern border during President Joe Biden’s first year in office along with our continuing political polarization, rising crime rates and increasing pessimism over the future as revealed in recent polls adds to the impression that America is indeed a declining power. This makes the world more dangerous still because it emboldens our adversaries.
The Biden Administration is in the embarrassing position of having to plead with Iran’s negotiators to permit America to rejoin the talks to limit Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons which former president Donald Trump withdrew from. Iran is demanding an end to sanctions and other concessions as the price America must pay to rejoin the agreement or even talking with our negotiators. Meanwhile, it is stepping up the enrichment of uranium, presumably until it reaches weapons grade level. Trump withdrew from the agreement because it did not prevent Iran from eventually developing nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them which would set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and present an existential threat to Israel’s survival. If we allowed that to happen, Israel would act preemptively for its own survival.
In Europe, Russia masses its forces along its border with Ukraine which, as of this writing, amount to about 175,00 troops and their equipment. They are clearly not there to prevent Ukraine from invading Russia. Mr. Biden reportedly talked tough with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, warning that a Russian invasion would trigger tough economic sanctions. Sanctions, however, didn’t stop Russia from invading and annexing Crimea.
China, having made a mockery out of the “One China, Two Systems” policy by clamping down on Hong Kong’s freedoms and threatening to invade Taiwan, a democratic American ally, important trading partner and source of microprocessors. It continues to claim sovereignty over a huge swath of the South China Sea, impinging on the economic zones and territorial seas of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and other southeast Asia nations. They have militarized parts of this international body of water which connects the Pacific and Indian Oceans through which over half of the world’s seaborne trade passes daily. Its aim is clearly to assert control over these sea lanes and presents a threat to freedom of navigation.
North Korea continues to drive toward acquiring the ability to target not only American bases in the Western Pacific but American cities as well. Donald Trump’s much-celebrated talks with dictator Kim Jong-un accomplished nothing of substance beside enhancing Mr. Kim’s reputation among his long-suffering subjects as a powerful and respected leader.
These threats are all real but the most serious by far is that posed by the People’s Republic of China which aims to surpass us as the world’s leading economy and military power. Not to dismiss the threat posed by Iran, Russia and North Korea, Iran’s mullahs will not be allowed to acquired nuclear weapons under any circumstances and if we, with or without our European allies, fail to stop this from happening, then Israel will have no choice but to act unilaterally. As for North Korea, Kim must be continually reminded that any attack on America, its bases or cities, or against South Korea or Japan will result in the destruction of North Korea and the end of the Kim dictatorship.
Russia, while possessing a huge nuclear arsenal, is largely a regional power intent on ensuring that Belarus, Moldova, and at least parts of Ukraine, Georgia and other nearby nations once part of the Soviet Union with large numbers of ethnic Russians and Russian speaking sympathizers, remain within its sphere of influence and that NATO does not encroach further on its western borders. Ukraine is not a part of NATO and neither we nor NATO are under any obligation to defend it with troops, although Mr. Biden should not have reassured Putin by announcing that this was not an option. In addition to talking tough to Putin, Biden might try a little tougher talk with Europe’s leaders about getting tough with Russia and letting Putin know that their use of military force is not off their table. This mess is in Europe’s back yard, not ours.
The remaining three years of Mr. Biden’s presidency will be fraught with danger and will necessitate strong, resolute leadership to a degree not always in evidence during his first year. But he is the only president we have and hopefully will have for the next three years because those in the line of succession don’t inspire an abundance of confidence, either. In matters of foreign policy at least, it’s time to rally around the Commander-in-Chief and cease the snarky comments from the far right about his age, durability, competence and memory. When it comes to foreign policy, partisan politics must stop at our shorelines. Raising doubts about our president’s competence for political purposes helps only our adversaries.