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The state of the world

It’s more threatening to America than Biden understands

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris looks on as President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a reception for new members of Congress on Jan. 24, 2023, in the East Room of the White House. Credit: Erin Scott/White House.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris looks on as President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a reception for new members of Congress on Jan. 24, 2023, in the East Room of the White House. Credit: Erin Scott/White House.
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Clifford D. May
Clifford D. May is the founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), as well as a columnist for “The Washington Times.”

The U.S. Constitution mandates that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union.” The information that President Biden conveyed last week failed to convey the hard fact that the Union is now seriously threatened by an axis of anti-American regimes. 

Biden began his State of the Union promisingly enough. He called attention to Russia’s brutal war of conquest against Ukraine.

Had he explained why this matters to average Americans, why it’s a vital national security interest and not “a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing” (as Neville Chamberlain would say) and had he connected the dots linking Russian imperialism with Chinese Communism and Iranian Islamism, I’d have applauded.

But just a few sentences into the speech, Biden was comparing “Putin of Russia” with “my predecessor” and the “insurrectionists” who pose “the gravest threat to our democracy since the Civil War.”

At that point, it became clear that he was making a campaign speech, filled with political sound and partisan fury, disconnected from serious policy.

That impression was reaffirmed when he addressed the war Israel is fighting against Hamas.

He correctly recalled that on Oct. 7 Hamas terrorists invaded Israel, where they massacred men, women and children, and committed a long list of heinous atrocities.

He correctly remarked that “Hamas could end this conflict today by releasing the hostages, laying down arms, and surrendering those responsible for Oct. 7.” 

He acknowledged that “Israel has a right to go after Hamas.”

But going after Hamas is not the same as defeating Hamas.

To leave Hamas with military and governing capabilities would mean capitulating to Hamas, as Biden capitulated to the Taliban.

Americans were able to withdraw from Afghanistan. Israelis have nowhere to go. For them, this is an existential war.

Some of those calling for Israel to cease firing don’t understand that. Others understand it only too well.

Biden went on to repeat Hamas-claimed casualty figures, asserting without evidence that “most” were “not Hamas.” He suggested that Israel is not doing all it can to spare non-combatants when, in fact, Israel is doing more than any nation at war has ever done.

Perhaps Biden is misinformed. More likely, his rhetoric is an attempt to appeal to American Islamists and their far-left allies whom Biden regards as an essential faction of his base.

Soon after, Biden directed his anger toward “snack companies.” He pledged to “crack down” on them because they “think you won’t notice when they charge you just as much for the same size bag but with fewer chips in it.”

Only following that did Biden get around to discussing the most powerful Communist regime in history. “We want competition with China, but not conflict,” Biden declared.

Do you suppose Chinese ruler Xi Jinping said to himself: “Boy, am I relieved to hear that!”?

Biden devoted only one sentence to the jihadis in Tehran who, as noted, are now allied with both Beijing and Moscow: “Creating stability in the Middle East also means containing the threat posed by Iran.”

But he provided no policies or strategy that could lead to either stabilization or containment.

Instead, he boasted that he’d built “a coalition of more than a dozen countries to defend international shipping and freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.”

But the Houthis—a Tehran-armed Yemeni rebel militia whose catchy slogan is “God Is the Greatest, Death to America, Death to Israel, A Curse Upon the Jews, Victory to Islam”—have yet to be deterred, much less defeated.

Last weekend alone, U.S. and coalition forces downed at least 28 attacking aerial vehicles off Yemen’s coast.

Finally, and most consequentially, Biden made no mention of the most significant threat posed by Iran’s rulers: their nuclear weapons program.

The Institute for Science and International Security reports that the Islamist regime can now enrich enough weapons-grade uranium for 13 nuclear weapons within five months.

Iran’s rulers have barred the most experienced inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency from entering Iran. They’ve also excluded the most useful monitoring equipment.

Last week the IAEA Board of Governors had an opportunity to issue a resolution of censure against Tehran. Britain, France and Germany favored that.

But “the United States did not want to risk further diplomatic escalation with Iran,” according to diplomats speaking privately to Reuters.

How are Iran’s rulers financing their nuclear weapons program along with a ballistic missile program while simultaneously supporting the Houthis in Yemen, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Shi’ite militias in Syria and Iraq? By selling boatloads of oil despite U.S. sanctions.

A report released this month by United Against Nuclear Iran found that during Biden’s three years in office “Iran has managed to sell $90 billion worth of U.S.-sanctioned oil, setting new export records in the process.”

Sanctions haven’t worked, the report explains, because, “Ongoing hesitance to enforce oil sanctions on Iran has proven to be a defining characteristic of the Biden Administration’s foreign policy.”

At no point in this speech did Biden give any indication that he is considering what it will mean if Tehran—where “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” has been chanted for 45 years—goes nuclear.

Nothing suggested that he understands that a nuclear-armed Iran in an axis with nuclear-armed Russia and China—and let’s not forget North Korea—is more of a threat to America than all those “snack companies” that are cheating you out of your potato chips, thereby sparking the crisis Biden calls “shrinkflation.”

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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