“He [President Trump] has launched ill-advised trade wars,” former Vice President and Democratic candidate Joe Biden writes, “against the United States’ friends and foes alike.” The essay, which outlined Biden’s foreign policy positions, came out in Foreign Affairs in December 2019, when Biden was behind both Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. Now that Sanders and the former mayor are out, and coronavirus is ravaging the planet, it is time to scrutinize Biden’s foreign policy positions and rethink some conventional wisdom.
The biggest questions about Biden’s argument will be about how to deal with China post-Wuhun virus. Biden writes, “There is no reason we should be falling behind China or anyone else when it comes to clean energy, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, 5G, high-speed rail, or the race to end cancer as we know it. We have the greatest research universities in the world.”
What Would Biden Do to Stop China?
He fails to mention what he will to do to stop China’s massive theft of intellectual property. It was under the Obama-Biden administration that China’s Office of Personnel Management hack happened, with no retaliation from the United States.
Biden acknowledges that China steals intellectual property, but argues the only way to stop China is to call out Chinese human rights violations and form a group of democracies. So, theoretically speaking, if the major part of the world does not follow the tenets of liberal democracy, Biden would rule out aligning with them against China. One can imagine how well that would work out.
Biden argues that American tech companies must not kowtow to China and must have free speech policies. That’s a good point. But one gets the feeling that Google’s support for China, NBC’s financial ties in China, and censorship against conservatives in American tech companies have not caught Biden’s attention.
How does Biden plan to compel American tech companies not to kowtow to China? The only way is to declare China a rival power and raise the cost of doing business in China through tariffs — something Biden is critiquing the Trump administration for doing. At a time 77 percent blame China for COVID-19, including more than two-thirds (67 percent) of Democrats, 71 percent say American companies should relocate manufacturing, 69 percent support Trump’s tougher trade war with China, and 54 percent say China should pay reparations, it appears Trump, not Biden, is more attuned with Americans on China.
Biden argues the United States should focus on climate change even more than we are, saying, “We will lock in enforceable commitments that will reduce emissions in global shipping and aviation, and we will pursue strong measures to make sure other nations can’t undercut the United States economically as we meet our own commitments. That includes insisting that China — the world’s largest emitter of carbon — stop subsidizing coal exports and outsourcing pollution to other countries by financing billions of dollars’ worth of dirty fossil fuel energy projects through its Belt and Road Initiative.”
There’s no way to either coerce China to be a green energy titan or ensure China is following proper green guidelines. In fact, Biden would kneecap American power, as giving up on fossil fuel and fracking would be like unilaterally disarming in a war. American power is predicated on American energy independence, and Biden wants to tie U.S. security to policies like the Paris climate accord. Given the recent example of China controlling the World Health Organization, that should ring alarm bells.
Biden Would Keep Wasting Resources in the Middle East
Getting the memo that Americans desire an end to interventions in the Middle East, Biden uses the catchphrases. “It is past time to end the forever wars, which have cost the United States untold blood and treasure.” But then he goes on to say that while he might want to bring back some troops, he would continue to focus on Afghanistan and the Middle East.
“As I have long argued, we should bring the vast majority of our troops home from the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East and narrowly define our mission as defeating al Qaeda and the Islamic State.” Of course, that is not ending forever wars, as that would mean the policing missions would continue evermore.
Given that $6 trillion was wasted on building schools, hospitals, and roads in Afghanistan and Iraq, post-coronavirus Biden’s judgement about focusing on the Middle East and Afghanistan remains questionable. Six trillion dollars would have been useful during times of crisis like these, as 22 million Americans file for unemployment. There’s a reason true conservatives value conserving resources: times of crisis. Spending blood and treasure on radically reshaping feudal societies and imperial policing missions is the exact opposite of genuine conservatism.
Biden claims to be a restoration candidate, trying to take back the United States and the West to the glory days. Unfortunately, those days are over. A virus from China, which raged through the free-movement zone in Europe due to the corrupt incompetence of a global institution like the WHO, was the last and almost perfect nail in the post-Cold War liberal order’s coffin.
This is a changed world, where Biden’s ideas sound hollow and superficial. Foreign policy is his worst platform, and it would be criminal negligence not to question him on the challenges of the future, for which, according to his own words, he seems woefully ill-prepared.