It’s time for President Biden to fire his “climate guy.”
That’s how John Kerry described himself last week at what even C.B.S. News called a “failed” international climate summit in Glasgow. The undistinguished former Senator and presidential wannabe said the Communist Chinese’s slave labor to manufacture everything from tennis shoes to solar panels that ship to the United States is “not in his lane.” Although the President has said Beijing is guilty of genocide and current Secretary of State Tony Blinken agrees, Mr. Kerry can’t be bothered by mass arrests, slave labor and concentration camps where hundreds of thousands of Chinese are tortured by their government.
Mr. Kerry, the president’s “Special Envoy for Climate,” like many of today’s progressives, considers climate change an existential threat to the planet and, presumably, to those of us who live on it. In their minds, the danger seems to justify totalitarian measures at home and to turn a blind eye to atrocities reminiscent of Nazi atrocities in an earlier era so long as perpetrators will sit down with Mr. Kerry and his various assistants to the problem.
Whether we have a dozen years or a decade before “the end” of the world as we know, it is open to debate within their ranks, but they all agree we should be willing to sacrifice everything to survive. That includes not just jobs, living standards, heat during the winter or any possibility of economic growth in third world countries, but that ephemeral freedom for which men and women have fought and died for over the centuries. Reactions to the desire of bad international actors like the rulers of China to wipe out minority groups within their own countries must take a back seat if we want them to even join the climate change discussion.
Once Beijing realized how important all this is to the U.S. leadership, they had our number. Besides, China doesn’t seem to share Mr. Kerry’s concerns. They are building new coal power plants at an ever-increasing rate and ignore pleas for help from the climate change crowd, including Mr. Kerry and even Sweden’s teenage climate guru Greta Thunberg. Beijing has made it clear from the beginning that it will proceed in ways that maximize its strategic interests rather than the desires of many international do-gooders who hop on their greenhouse gas generating private jets to attend gatherings like the Glasgow conference.
Biden administration officials had said earlier that they would not trade away other issues to work with China on climate issues. The Chinese made it clear that this wasn’t going to happen, and since then, Mr. Kerry has quietly lobbied House Democrats to squelch the ‘Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act” the Senate passed with bipartisan support. The bill would bar imports from Xinjiang Province, the home of China’s concentration and forced labor camps and where, incidentally, many of the solar panels’ climate warriors love so much are produced.
President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has thus far refused to endorse the legislation or press Beijing on the issue in a quiet endorsement of Mr. Kerry’s kowtowing. The result has been some thirty meetings with Beijing by staffers and an agreement in Glasgow that despite a lack of any meaningful agreement, the parties will continue to meet… and talk. In Washington and other world capitals, meetings rather than agreements or actions are seen as a sign of success, so the President, his climate guy and their entourage came away from what had been billed by the media and those invited as a crucial international conference with little more than the promise of more meetings.
Meanwhile, Beijing prepares for war against Taiwan and threatens Australia that if Canberra dares support Taiwan, China may attack Australia. Beijing continues rattling and building a navy it brags will eventually allow it total control of the South China Sea and the ability to drive the U.S. out of the region and threaten the economic prosperity of the nations of the region.
The White House says the president raised some of these issues during his two-hour “candid” telephone call with China’s President Xi Jinping last week. Both men apparently like to talk, but Mr. Biden needs to do more. It’s time for the President of the United States to fire his “climate guy” and let Congressional Democrats know that he both supports the legislation Mr. Kerry has been working to kill and sees it as a necessary signal to Beijing that we aren’t all talk and no action.
• David Keene is editor-at-large at the Washington Times.