The Crisis of American Diplomacy
There were once two truisms of an American president travelling overseas on a diplomatic mission. The first was that politics stops at the border to show a united front to the outside world. The second was that the President would get a boost at the polls as he showed himself to be presidential.
Neither are true today. American presidents are regularly criticized by political opponents while overseas.
The second truism, which is true for Biden, is that physical problems and diminished mental capability are highlighted, which gives the president a reduced impact both at home and overseas.
Even members of his own party admit that Biden is suffering from senility. Obama and Trump’s White House doctor, Ronny Jackson, said on Twitter, “Everyone knows he’s [Biden] unfit for the job. His mind is too far gone.”
When Jackson first questioned Biden’s cognitive ability, Obama sent an email that chastised him for bringing Biden’s mental Ability to the public.
Biden’s condition has progressed so far that the White House staff is unable to hide the gaffs anymore. When the staff decided that using fist bumps instead of handshakes (supposedly because of the risk of spreading Covid) would prevent Biden from being photographed shaking hands with Prince Mohammed Salman, Biden forgot and proceeded to do handshakes with other people in Israel and Saudi Arabia.
There were other instances of Biden looking confused and physically uncoordinated during the trip.
These gaffes only confirmed for foreign leaders that Biden is suffering serious cognitive problems and is only a front man for others who are making decisions, and is unlikely to finish his term.
A president who can’t make decisions and is unlikely to finish his term has little chance of convincing other national leaders to accept American foreign policy. The fact that former White House Doctor Jackson has called for Biden’s resignation only emphasizes the problem.
The second problem with Biden foreign policy is that he is following a political agenda rather than a pro-American agenda.
There is no better example than the Khashoggi assassination. Although frowned on in diplomatic circles, assassination is used. In fact, Israel practices assassination when it comes to Iranian scientists – very likely with American help and approval. There is no fuss when Israel helps assassinate an Iranian.
However, years after Khashoggi was killed by the Saudis, it is still an issue for Biden. He called Saudi Arabia a “ pariah” state during the presidential election and he refused to shake the Prince’s hand.
Why? Although he wasn’t a member of the Washington Post staff, Khashoggi occasionally wrote articles for them. And, as the Washington Post has considerable power in the White House, they apparently can dictate foreign policy. In fact, after the fist bump, the Washington Post attacked Biden by calling the action “Shameful.” The Washington Post said in a statement that it, “projected a level of intimacy and comfort that delivers to MBS the unwarranted redemption he has been desperately seeking.”
Biden later said that the Crown Prince said he wasn’t responsible for the murder.
While Americans are unconcerned about an assassination by the Saudis, and more concerned about skyrocketing oil prices and getting Saudi Arabia to pump more oil, the Washington Post is dictating American foreign policy that is contrary to the wishes of American voters.
The whole of American-Saudi relations seems to rotate around US domestic policy rather than US interests. The Biden Administration has focused on regulating the American oil industry to force Americans to buy electric cars. It has also been hostile to foreign oil producers.
However, now that domesticated oil prices have skyrocketed – pushing inflation through the roof, Biden is now forced to come to a country that he called a “pariah” and ask for more oil production from a prince that he was unwilling to shake hands with.
It didn’t help that the US House of Representatives passed two amendments to the Defense bill that limits arms sales to Saudi Arabia even as Biden was flying to Riyadh.
Even a student in international relations would see the problems with that policy.
A bipartisan foreign policy also has advantages. When the US and Soviet Union signed the SALT treaties, the presidents sought bipartisan help to get these controversial treaties approved.
That is no longer the case.
Obama signed the Paris environmental agreement, knowing full well that it had no chance for ratification in the US Senate. He did the same with the UN Small Arms Treaty.
Since neither treaty was ratified, Obama merely tried to change US law through administrative regulation. These regulations were eliminated when Trump was elected.
Biden has continued the same practice and is now observing the Paris Accords even though they have never been submitted to the US Senate for ratification.
Foreign leaders who meet Biden and receive a promise, must realize that without bipartisan agreement in the US Senate any promise made to a foreign leader will last only if Biden is president. Even a Kamala Harris presidency would be unable to keep a promise as her ascendency to the presidency would automatically mean she is no longer President of the Senate and empowered to cast the deciding vote in a tie. This would give the Republicans de facto control of the Senate until the Democrats regain the majority.
Given the current polls, it appears that the Democrats will then have to wait until 2024 – or longer.
Biden’s political and foreign policy agenda is seriously crippled. And it’s not just with allies like Saudi Arabia. Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi are aware of Biden’s weaknesses. Although Biden has come out in support of Ukraine and Taiwan, his declining cognitive ability means he is more likely to hesitate in a crisis or even be overruled by one of his advisors.
A sign of this concern is that consulting firms are being regularly asked about the war risks between China and Taiwan. The FBI director said of the Ukraine war, “There were a lot of Western companies that had their fingers still in the door when it slammed shut.” “If China does invade Taiwan, we could see the same thing happen, at a much larger scale.”
Biden’s mental condition is also a factor for Israel’s new leadership. Biden has promised to go to war with Iran to prevent the country from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Can they really rely on such a promise? What would the American voters and US Congress think?
Although the American media will try to highlight the positives of the trip, the foreign leaders Biden will meet will get a different impression.
As a result, an American president with cognitive problems and falling popularity back home is trying to regain his power as president and world leader.
The situation was best described by the former Saudi intelligence chief. Speaking on CNBC, Prince Turki Al-Faisal called Biden a “much diminished president.”
The prince continued, “As an example, on energy issues, he came with a policy to stop completely fossil fuel usage not only in the United States, but worldwide, and now he is finding himself having to rely on fossil fuels as a means of meeting the energy shortage that has come about not only because of the Ukraine war, but also because of US policy that itself shut down pipelines and stopped issuing…discovery of oil on US soil.”
This isn’t the quality of foreign policy usually expected of the US.