American foreign policy is adrift – unfocused, even misfocused. The Biden Administration must quickly find focus, concentrate on what matters, understand the world as it is, not as they wish it to be. A few twists of the dial would put things right.
Even the most whimsical stargazers know, to see stars, planets, or moon clearly, you must learn focus, and then keep it – or lose the object. Funny enough, the telescope analogy works for foreign policy, too.
First, you need to want to see things as they are, then scan the sky at low magnification – which is, by definition, widest range. Catching the big object, you put it in cross hairs, improve resolution, resolve not to lose it. Centered on the big thing, other objects become more visible, aligned, clear.
So, what is the big object? China. What are they doing? Since Biden has taken office, they have twice deployed bombers and fighters around Taiwan, authorized Chinese Coast Guard vessels to fire on foreign vessels, declared an independent Taiwan would “mean war,” doubled down on take-over of Hong Kong, refused international calls to end mass genocide, usurped Catholic Church authority, and initiated a major cyberattack. See, e.g., https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidaxe/2021/01/26/those-bombers-china-sent-toward-taiwan-they-were-a-dress-rehearsal-for-war/; https://www.theepochtimes.com/a-modern-day-holocaust-chinas-genocide-of-uyghurs-and-falun-gong-adherents_3693281.html; https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-coastguard-law-idUSKBN29R1ER; https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2021/03/04/editorials/china-senkakus-disputed-islands-china-japan-relations-japan-coast-guard-pla-china-coast-guard-2/; https://dailycaller.com/2021/02/16/china-communist-government-catholic-clergy-pope-francis/; https://krdo.com/politics/2021/03/06/white-house-warns-of-active-threat-from-microsoft-email-hackers/.
Within the past month, they have refused World Health Organization (WHO) access to Wuhan’s Virology Institute – locus of bat coronavirus research. COVID-19, comes from SARS-C0V-2, “genetically similar to coronaviruses collected from a type of bat.” See, e.g., https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-19-virus-studies-yield-new-clues-on-pandemics-origin-11614594600; https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/who-release-mid-march-report-china-covid-19-inspection.
China has redoubled focus on winning a “space war” – which would have instant earth-bound impact, while also pressing “information warfare” to the limit with big money, attempts to cultivate US assets (including government figures), intimidation of American universities, and relentless public and private espionage. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/24/us/politics/space-war-takeaways-us-china.html; https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicholasreimann/2020/12/19/heres-what-we-know-about-rep-swalwells-connection-to-a-suspected-chinese-spy/.
More existential, China is developing weapons to rival – or beat – US technology. Beyond militarizing space, international waters, and cyberspace, they push new “carrier killing” DF-21 ballistic missiles, hypersonic weapons, and tactical innovations. See, e.g., https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/541184-a-biden-stumble;
Not to see China as “the big object” in our viewfinder – is not to be looking. Yet this is what is happening. Biden has failed to call China out, no major consequences for provocative actions. Worse, he has empowered China, dangerously reinforcing the “blur.”
In a stunning act of appeasement, Biden excused ethnic genocide as a “different norm,” despite mass imprisonment, physical and psychological torture, systematic abuse and sterilization of minority women. See, e.g., https://nypost.com/2021/02/17/biden-says-uighur-genocide-is-part-of-chinas-different-norms/; https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/china-conducting-mass-sterilization-muslim-minorities-amount-genocide/story?id=71519132.
Equally stunning, Biden lifted Trump transparency requirements on Chinese-funded penetration of US educational institutions, K-12, college campuses, and graduate research. Communist-funded Confucius Institutes openly press pro-Communist propaganda in 500 US K-12 schools, 65 colleges and universities. Where Trump sought to unearth and flush this Chinese infiltration, Biden has done the reverse. https://nlpc.org/2021/02/17/biden-moves-to-protect-pro-china-confucius-institutes-on-campus/; https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/gop-slams-biden-reversal-of-trump-era-rule-targeting-chinese-propaganda-on-campuses/ar-BB1dz4dP.
On the military defense, deterrence, space, cyber, and economic warfare venues, Biden has been no less weak. His message seems to be “Assume the best and prepare for … the best.” The absurdity of that position, with no renewed emphasis on China’s aims, is not lost on China.
Biden’s Secretary of State, incorrigibly idealistic, offered eight foreign policy priorities last week. Of the eight, China ranks dead last, after “COVID-19, revising the economy … renewing democracy, reforming immigration, rebuilding alliances, tackling climate change” and “leadership in technology.”
Such ambling, open-ended, unaccountable “happy words” are like pointing our telescope at the ground. They fill the viewfinder, missing the real object. The seminal object of US foreign policy should not be COVID, domestic politics, climate, or Myanmar. It must be China.
By contrast, China’s Communist Party – led by President Xi Jinping – has focused tightly on the US in the Communist Party’s Annual Summit this week. His focus is not friendly. It is bellicose, provocative, and unapologetically aims – read the transcripts – for world domination.
Focusing China’s economic, military, cultural, espionage, space, maritime, cyber, and multilateral-penetration tools on the US, they aim to bear down. After allowing COVID-19 to ravage the world, President Xi pushes that “the East is rising and the West is declining,” arguing – rather disingenuously –an “ascendant China is riding out global challenges that have sowed chaos elsewhere.” See, e.g., https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-plays-up-ascendancy-over-west-as-it-sets-economic-path-11614854159.
Main point? China is the “big thing.” Our foreign policy must center here. Once it does, which may be forced on us, other objects get clear. China is complicit with Russia and Iran – planning against the US. See, e.g., https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2021/02/iran-russia-china-naval-drill.html.
China has helped Iran and North Korea skirt US sanctions, pushed Iran’s position. In return, Iran refuses to condemn China’s repression of Muslims, which one might think would inflame the Iranian people, except it mirrors Iran’s repression. Inside Iran, human rights abuses are accelerating. See, e.g., https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/china-iran-nuclear-issue-critical-point-76082215; https://asiatimes.com/2021/02/why-iran-wont-cross-china-on-the-uighurs/; https://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/human-rights/ongoing-human-rights-violations-in-iran-implores-international-community-to-act/.
Once threats posed by China, Iran and Russia are clear, other objects become clear. How the US should gather European, Far Eastern, South American, and African allies to confront China, blunt Russian geographic and Iranian nuclear ambitions, becomes obvious. Confronting Chinese hubris in multilateral groups, the UN, WHO, World Trade Organization, international judicial tribunals, becomes plain. A unified rollback, not permissive roll-forward, of Communist China’s influence takes hold.
Bottom line: Foreign policy matters. It affects US security, credibility, economy, and ability to preserve a stable, less intimidated, community of self-determining nations. If half-truths and lies prevail; if belligerent, immoral governments are unchecked, Western values erode. That is what China wants.
Biden must see the world as it is, tighten his focus on China. If we do not twist the dial and get this right, others will fall into China’s orbit. Worse, Americans will pay a price for decades. Focus matters – in foreign policy, as in mapping the heavens. For heaven’s sake, focus.
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