President Biden claims that he spent his recent trip to Europe “reestablishing” American leadership among the European countries. But on the issues where American leadership is needed most in Europe – Russia, China, and Iran– there was little to applaud.
There were strongly worded communiques which resulted from the talks. But French President Macron revealed what President Biden was really up to, welcoming him back to the “club” of European socialism that puts America last in attempting to win a popularity contest rather than having America respected and our interests first. World diplomacy isn’t a popularity contest; it’s about doing what’s in the best interest of America. That’s what we did during the Trump Administration.
President Biden next attempted to take on Russia’s Putin. Team Biden’s approach to Russia has been lackluster, hypocritical, and weak. On his first days in office, Biden killed the Keystone XL pipeline project in America, blocked drilling licenses on public lands and suspended drilling in ANWR – destroying hundreds of thousands of American jobs in order to satisfy his base. But on Nordstream II, a pipeline which would bring enormous strategic and economic benefit to Russia, he removed our sanctions to prevent it from being built, further weakening the United States’ energy dominance. Germany, the largest economy in Europe and a vital NATO ally, is now dependent on Russia for its energy needs. This quickly moves the U.S. from energy independence, to instead pushing our allies into energy dependence on our adversaries. This is backwards to say the least.
Russia is amassing additional troops on its border with NATO allies; it recently conducted its largest naval exercises in the Pacific since the Cold War off the coast of Hawaii; it continues to fund and support an ongoing war in Ukraine and may very well attempt to annex parts or all of Ukraine in the near future; it continues to sell its S-400 missile system to Turkey, a NATO ally (which the Trump Administration sanctioned in response to the sale); Russia allows cybercriminals to operate with impunity; and it continues to aid the malign Iranian regime and push for sanctions relief.
This was the first chance for President Biden to take aim at these issues seriously; but by the end of the summit, Vladimir Putin walked away with little more than a list of stern warnings. All team Biden could do was brag about empty press statements and alliance “unity.” Unity at the cost of NATO’s security and America’s safety is not the sort of compromise American leaders should entertain.
With regard to China, the trip must also be seen as a disappointment. The G-7 communique mentions China only a handful of times, and its watered-down proclamations make no effort to present China with a unified, strong front. It mentions China’s Xinjiang province; but instead of recognizing the genocidal acts being committed there, it only encourages support for human rights.
It calls for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19, but only if the investigation is led by the World Health Organization (WHO), a corrupt entity in China’s pocket. The WHO has refused from Day One of the pandemic to uphold its duties for fear of going against the wishes of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel each played down the threat China poses for fear of harming their economic relations with the CCP – where was American leadership? The NATO communique addressed China in numerous places, which was encouraging, but failed to list it as an adversary. President Biden clearly wanted to gather a unified, tough European front on China, but instead walked away agreeing to increased environmental action in the name of standing up to China.
Finally, we should have hoped that the G-7 would take on Iran. We all knew that team Biden was desperate to revive the failed Iran deal. President Biden and his interlocutors vowed to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but paradoxically still seem intent on renegotiating the failed JCPOA (the Iran nuclear deal).
The Trump Administration understood the flaws in the JCPOA and left it because it did not guarantee Iran could not develop a nuclear weapon. We knew also that the Iranian regime was not to be trusted – something that is even more clear following their recent sham “elections” in which Ebrahim Raisi, a man guilty of committing crimes against humanity when he ordered the mass executions of over 5,000 Iranian dissidents in 1988, was elected as the next president of Iran.
Ayatollah Khamenei is consolidating his absolute power over Iran through oppressive and autocratic means, but President Biden thinks we should trust him to honor the terms of a renegotiated JCPOA and resume sending Khamenei’s government pallets of American cash. It would be a terrible and grave mistake to do so.
The only thing that was “reestablished” in Europe during these meetings was the weak, ineffectual policy of the Obama years of “leading from behind,” which allowed the power of our alliances to deteriorate and allowed China, Russia, and Iran to flourish. The job of our leaders – especially on the world stage – is to put America First and to pursue policies and agreements which make the American people safer and our alliances stronger. This trip demonstrated that President Biden is more interested in winning popularity and avoiding conflict with our allies than strengthening our alliances in the face of serious, and shared, threats.
At the ACLJ, we continue to aggressively advocate the principles of America First, ensuring that adherence to our Constitution and founding principles is put ahead of the global elites. Together, we will continue to engage through our Government Accountability Project, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and lawsuits, and media advocacy.
Mike Pompeo is the former Secretary of State and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
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