President Joe Biden has “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades,” Robert Gates, who served as defense secretary for the Obama administration, wrote in his memoir.
When asked in 2019 by CBS’s “Face the Nation” if Mr. Gates still believed that, he replied, “I think I stand by that statement.”
Reviewing the first seven months of the Biden administration, it’s clear Mr. Gates was correct.
Americans are now paying the most at the gas pump as they have in nearly seven years, with crude prices surging 45% in 2021 alone. Mr. Biden has been aggressive in pursuing his clean energy agenda, which means shutting down U.S. production of oil and gas. He’s canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, stopped oil and gas leasing on federal land, suspended leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife refuge, and used conservation and wildlife protections to ban drilling and/or fracking on private lands. Although these measures are domestic in nature, they have real geopolitical ramifications.
By limiting U.S. oil and gas supply, Americans are now more dependent on the Middle East for our energy needs. Currently, OPEC countries are fighting among themselves about whether to raise production supplies – higher crude prices mean more profits being brought home to their respective countries, after all. The Biden administration has pleaded with OPEC to bring more supply online, knowing American consumers, especially the middle class, are bearing the brunt of higher prices at the pump.
Yet, Mr. Biden has no geopolitical leverage. Reducing U.S. supply of oil and gas reduces the worldwide supply of oil and gas, giving OPEC – and foes like Russia and perhaps Iran, if U.S. sanctions are eased – the upper hand when determining production rates.
Speaking of Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, the Biden administration is breaking with the Trump administration in its punitive use of sanctions against foreign adversaries, with Biden administration officials planning the “easing of economy-wide sanctions against Iran.”
The same day the Journal report was released, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Tehran had begun producing enriched uranium metal, a move that could help it develop a nuclear weapon. The Biden administration, which has been working for months with Iranian officials in Vienna to revive the failed 2015 nuclear deal, called the report “an unfortunate step backward.”
I would guess so. Here you have two reports in one day – the Biden administration moving ahead with the easing of sanctions against Iran, our only leverage against the totalitarian regime, and Tehran boldly calling out Mr. Biden’s weakness and pursuing its nuclear program regardless – knowing Mr. Biden’s desperate to ink some international deal with them, despite what they do.
It’s a game all our foreign adversaries are playing. It’s been less than a month since Mr. Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and delivered his “tough talk” to the Russian autocrat (and a notecard of 16 critical infrastructure entities “off-limits” to cyberattacks), yet Russian ransomware continues.
On Friday, Miami-based software provider Kaseya was the victim of a ransomware attack, where Russian-backed hackers demanded a $70 million ransom. The attack hit hundreds of mostly small and medium-sized businesses that used Kaseya’s software, with the true impact still unknown. Ravil, a Russian-linked cybercrime syndicate, took credit for the breach and said it infected as many as 1 million computers worldwide.
Meanwhile, last week, the Republican National Committee was the target of a Russian state-sanctioned cyberattack. The RNC said although none of its data was exposed, one of its contractors was breached. The hacker, the so-called Cozy Bear, has ties to the Russian foreign intelligence service and was accused of the 2016 Democratic National Committee hack and SolarWinds breach, which led to nine U.S. government agencies’ information being exposed.
Mr. Biden agreed to talk to Mr. Putin without any preconditions. Weeks before their meeting, he lifted sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany, again, without getting anything in return. The Biden administration renewed the START 5 (ph) nuclear arms treaty with Russia, with, you guessed it, nothing for the U.S. Mr. Biden also decided to freeze a military weapons package to Ukraine, as Russia builds up its biggest troop force on the border since its annexation of Crimea in 2014. The Biden administration is giving handouts to dictators, with the hopes if he demonstrates goodwill, these ruthless “killers” will too.
But it’s actions, not words that force geopolitical change. Former President Trump knew this well and conducted his foreign policy pragmatically, always carrying a carrot and a stick and protecting U.S. interests above all else. Mr. Biden, a career bureaucrat, is ruled by the ideals and promise of international treaties and alliances – which Mr. Putin and Iran have scoffed at and skirted for more than 40 years, what Mr. Biden views as diplomacy, our adversaries spot as weakness.
After all, Mr. Biden has been wrong on every major foreign policy decision in the last four decades.
• Kelly Sadler is the commentary editor at The Washington Times.