Joe Biden's crash-and-burn foreign policy exposed

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, the Hudson Institute's Walter Russell Mead pronounces the Biden administration's great power diplomacy an unmitigated failure.  Mead's criticism cannot be dismissed as a partisan attack — he is a member in good standing of the U.S. foreign policy establishment.  Mead is also steeped in history and geopolitics — two subjects that appear to have eluded the stalwarts of President Biden's foreign policy team.

"Most ... of the ideas Team Biden brought to the White House," Mead writes, "failed to work," and most of the changes that U.S. foreign policy will require today and in the immediate future "will be toxic to much of the Democratic base."  And while Mead suggests that Team Biden was right about NATO and "democratic values" as necessary elements of U.S. foreign policy, he understands that providing peace and stability in the world requires paying more attention to hard-headed and emotionally unsatisfying geopolitics.

And it is here — on the playing field of geopolitics — where Mead rightly claims that Biden's approach to great power politics has "comprehensively failed." Mead criticizes Team Biden for focusing on a globalist foreign policy agenda: human rights, disarmament, and climate change.  And that focus, Mead notes, has not produced any significant results in those areas.  "Mr. Biden's climate agenda," Mead writes, "has collapsed into utter incoherence." His disarmament agenda stands exposed as a failure as both Russia and China engage in military build-ups, and Iran seems destined to become a nuclear weapons power.

It was on Biden's watch that the Sino-Russian entente emerged in full bloom and now threatens to alter the global balance of power against us.  The U.S. and its allies are now confronted with the potential of a hostile strategic alliance in command of much of the Eurasian landmass.  And when you add Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan into the mix and China's growing presence in Africa, the specter of a hostile (to the West) "World-Island" (to use Halford Mackinder's term for Eurasia-Africa) may present an unprecedented challenge to the free world.

America's potential allies in the world are taking note of this development — India abstained from the U.N. vote condemning Russia's Ukraine invasion, and Saudi Arabia is apparently ready to accept Chinese currency as a replacement for the American dollar.  We may be on the cusp of what Winston Churchill called a "new dark age," where autocratic powers establish a world order to their liking.  The war in Ukraine may just be the beginning of this nightmare.

Mead caps off the article with the following message that serves as a stinging rebuke to the Biden administration and those committed to the globalist agenda:

The world is a tough place. Geopolitics rule, and if you get power politics wrong, the rest doesn't matter. Our ability to influence the behavior of others on issues like human rights and climate change depends on our geopolitical power much more than on the purity of our hearts and the nobility of our goals. America and its democratic allies, even at their best, are not strong and united enough to handle the world's geopolitical challenges without enlisting the help of nondemocratic and even antidemocratic partners. We can't do that while simultaneously virtue-signaling about how much we loathe them, and their help comes at a price that must be paid on time and in full.

Geopolitics teaches that America's security depends on the political pluralism of Eurasia.  We have in the past sided with the world's greatest tyrants — Stalin in World War II and Mao during the latter years of the Cold War — to restore or maintain the global balance of power.  We must let strategic interest, not emotion or sympathy, be our foreign policy lodestar.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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