(August 25, 2021 / JNS) All eyes are on Afghanistan, but it is just the bow of President Biden’s Titanic foreign policy. Like Jimmy Carter, whose catastrophic miscalculations should have provided a cautionary tale, Biden pledged to put advocacy for democracy and human rights at the center of his foreign policy. It’s a noble idea, but a hypocritical and self-defeating basis for pursuing America’s national interests, as he immediately demonstrated.
The Washington Post noted that Biden got off to a poor start because he didn’t fulfill the ridiculous promise to make Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman a “pariah.” The paper at the time was lobbying Biden to withhold aid to Egypt if its leader didn’t ease its repression.
The Post has enough staff posing as Middle East experts to know about the longstanding Middle East “democracy exception,” whereby the United States promotes freedom and democracy everywhere except Arab/Muslim states because our values are incompatible with theirs, and our interest in keeping the pro-Western autocrats in power is far more important than their abuses.
In the case of Afghanistan, Biden was willing to surrender the country to a group of the most heinous abusers of human rights. Biden’s statement that “the likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely” will go down in the history of epically naive beliefs with his mentor Barack Obama’s idea that Iran would moderate its behavior if he gave them billions of dollars, promised not to attack them and looked the other way while they pursued a nuclear weapon, developed ballistic missiles and sponsored terror attacks against America and its allies.
Tony Blair succinctly said Biden’s decision to withdraw was made “in obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars.’ ” It was equally imbecilic to believe the Taliban would not immediately overrun the country. If it is true, as he claimed, that he relied on U.S. intelligence agencies for reassurance (they are now furiously leaking to the press claims they knew the outcome all along), then they have proven yet again to be incompetent in understanding Middle East affairs.
The immediate impact on human rights in Afghanistan aside, the most serious impact of Biden’s retreat was to reinforce the radical Islamic message that time is on their side, that the West is weak and that America will abandon its allies. With a stroke of a pen, Biden invigorated every jihadist from Hamas to Hezbollah to ISIS to Al-Qaeda.
The farcical nature of his human-rights foreign policy can be seen across the region. Biden was reportedly prepared to give up our sanctions leverage to convince Iran to agree to return Obama’s catastrophic nuclear deal (even as it continues to flout it with impunity). This was already a capitulation to the monstrous Khamenei regime. Now, Biden must try to justify negotiating with the new president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi (known as the “Butcher of Tehran”), a man already sanctioned by the United States for human-rights abuses. He is a mere executioner for Iran’s supreme leader, who has repeatedly indicated Iran will not change its malevolent behavior, abandon its pursuit of a bomb, cease sponsorship of terror or stop the development of ballistic missiles.
Reinforcing the bankruptcy of his human-rights foreign policy, Biden wants to resume aid to the Palestinian Authority and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas. This is a regime that has prevented holding elections, tortures and murders its critics, opposes any peace with Israel, and is so corrupt that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians want him to resign. Biden, listening to the U.S. State Department geniuses who brought him the Afghan debacle, wants U.S. taxpayers to subsidize Palestinian terrorists, Islamists, crooks and their U.N. enablers. Clearly, Biden’s concern for human rights does not extend to the Palestinian people persecuted by their leaders.
Renegade Democrats such as the anti-Semitic Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and other “pro-Palestinian” crusaders who are silent when it comes to Palestinian human-rights abuses hypocritically want Biden to cut aid and pressure Israel—the only democracy in the Middle East, and the only country that shares our values and interests.
The media will never get over a journalist being ordered killed by bin Salman, but heinous as that crime may have been, it’s not going to determine U.S. policy towards Saudi Arabia, which has been based for more than 70 years on turning a blind eye to its human-rights abuses. Just when the United States seemed to have achieved the energy independence so it need not kowtow to the Saudis (we never should have but you could never convince the Arabists otherwise), Biden moved to weaken the U.S. oil industry in the interest of climate change while simultaneously begging the Saudis to produce more pollution-producing petroleum to keep fuel prices down to prevent a re-election-killing economic decline.
The Washington Post can afford to pontificate about human rights; it doesn’t need the help of Egypt to fight ISIS in the Sinai, reign in Hamas in Gaza and support U.S. interests in the region. However, Biden does need the unsavory Egyptian leader; so it should be no surprise if he ignores the advice to condition aid Egypt desperately needs to satisfy the idealists on newspaper editorial boards. As vice president, Biden saw how Obama was willing to accept the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists as Egypt’s leaders because he considered them better than the terrible Hosni Mubarak, ignoring they were far greater threats to human rights in Egypt and more important U.S. interests.
The United States certainly has a duty to speak out against human-rights violations and to act to prevent genocide. The pursuit of foreign policy is more complex and nuanced, however, to be straight-jacketed by a commitment to human rights that is, as the examples above illustrate, untenable no matter how loudly Biden and his minions declare their fealty to the ideal.
As Allister Heath wrote in The Telegraph, Biden represents those who are, “Blinded by a simplistic universalism, they no longer understand religion, tribalism, history, national differences or why countries want to govern themselves.”
One result is Kabul 2021. The worst may be yet to come.
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including “The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews” and “After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.”
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