Like the noisy neighbor throwing a raucous, late-night, blow-out, America just can’t be ignored. Here are the five biggest lessons the rest of the world learned about U.S. foreign policy in the Biden era.
The Adults are Not Back
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. President Biden’s foreign policy has been marked by a series of missteps, misdeeds and misfires. That’s not just my view. I’ve talked with scores of foreign officials from friendly nations who are absolutely gob-smacked by Biden blunders ranging from green lighting Nord Stream II (the Russian energy pipeline) to the disgraceful withdrawal from Afghanistan and to the fumbling over Ukraine.
Worse, their expectations that American policy will get much better under this president are lower than the president’s poll numbers. At best, they hope Team Biden can muddle through the next three years. They are already looking past this president.
The world has also noticed that America’s chief adversaries are acting like every day is a Black Friday Sale. China, Russia and Iran seem particularly willing to press the U.S. During their virtual summit this month, the leaders of Moscow and Beijing poked at Biden, showing little regard for this administration. Meanwhile, Tehran continues to take advantage of the administration’s pathetic desire to revive the deservedly moribund Iran deal, publicly rebuffing and humiliating Washington at every turn.
Freedom-loving world leaders are losing sleep over what might happen in places like Ukraine, Taiwan and the Middle East.
Make no mistake, freedom-loving world leaders are losing sleep over what might happen in places like Ukraine, Taiwan and the Middle East. Most expect these global miscreants will continue to bully their way to incremental gains. That puts the rest of the world in a tough place. Should they buckle up for a rough roller coaster ride as America’s ally? Go it alone? Or give in and accommodate the bad guys?
Congress is Not Brain Dead on Defense
All is not lost. Passing this year’s National Defense Authorization Act proved remarkably difficult, but in the end, Congress got it done. In the process, Congress stood firm against some of the worst efforts to muddle the legislation, including attempts to derail U.S.-Israeli defense cooperation. Moreover, Congress authorized an additional $25 billion above what the president asked for. (His anemic defense budget proposal would not have even offset the rise in inflation.)
The world noticed that, in Congress at least, there is still bipartisan political will for a strong America. That came across, not only from the overwhelming approval of the NDAA, but also from expressions of strong bipartisan concern over the aggressive actions of China and Russia.
America’s friends and enemies are taking stock of this. While Biden looks weak, there remains plenty of congressional support for the "peace through strength" foreign and security policy that preceded the president. Like the Terminator, it "could be back."
Biden led a massive delegation to Glasgow, Scotland, for COP26, the annual international gabfest on climate change. It produced little more than hot air.
Then he tried to jam his signature climate initiatives into the Build Back Better bill. It crashed and burned in the Senate. Something is going on here. We may have reached peak climate hysteria.
There is no question that climate ranks as a top item on the administration’s agenda. But politicians at home and leaders around the world are taking a harder look at that agenda and asking: "Is this really the best way to save the planet?"
Increasingly, Americans are saying "No." No to skyrocketing energy prices. No to ever-more-massive government subsidies for "climate friendly" products and industries that are unaffordable, unreliable or both. No to ignoring the environmental degradation caused by the world’s worst polluter: China.
Other countries are seeing similar responses. More and more people don’t want policies written by Biden, Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They want sensible policies that will work.
Is America First Back?
The most interesting lesson from the last year may be that Biden’s fecklessness has made a case—not just to Americans, but to the free world—that maybe America First wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
The U.S. is a global power with global interests and responsibilities. When we look after our own stuff, the whole world really is better off. People can debate whether they want Donald Trump back, but many folks at home and around the world would like to have his policies back.