U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns and the Biden administration seem to harbor the delusional belief that China cares more about improving relations with the U.S. than China’s long-term plan to replace the American-led world order.
Burns recently told Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang that America seeks to improve its “lines of communications” with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Gang told Burns that China would discuss better relations with the U.S. if we stop supporting Taiwan and end our efforts to “contain” China. In other words, they won’t even talk to us unless the U.S. changes its entire national security policy.
The Chinese can be forgiven for believing the Biden administration might accept that deal. Surrender, appeasement and virtue-signaling in exchange for “dialogue” are the hallmarks of the administration. This is referred to as “smart power,” but truth be told, it’s rather stupid.
There is no better example than the administration’s groveling before Iran in hopes of persuading it to rejoin the JCPOA (the Iran nuclear deal). That deal gives Iran a legal path to a nuclear weapon, a ballistic missile system to deliver it and immediate sanctions relief. Further relief would free up tens of billions of dollars Iran will funnel into its military and terrorist network in order to further its hegemonic goals in the Middle East. We know this because it is precisely how Iran spent the money it received under the original nuclear deal in 2015.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was so disdainful of this White House that he did not permit his representatives to speak directly to American negotiators. Until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Iranian leader insisted that Russia act as an interlocutor. President Joe Biden was so desperate for a deal that he was willing to accept this humiliation.
The ayatollah leveraged that desperation into a never-ending series of concessions. The more the Biden administration bowed and scraped, the more the ayatollah played hard to get. Each time Biden made a concession, Tehran said “no” and asked for more. Rather than walk away, America made concession after concession hoping that one day the terrorists in Tehran would say “yes.” They never did.
Not even Iran-backed attacks on U.S. service members in Syria (more than 70 in two years) could persuade Biden to end the talks. He has done little to protect the lives of our troops for fear Iran might walk away from the talks for good, so the attacks continue unabated.
By pursuing this “dialogue” with Iran, the White House has also undermined Israel and pushed our Arab partners into the arms of China. The Arab countries fear a nuclear Iran and if the U.S. cannot be depended on to help defend them, they will look elsewhere. This explains the recent Chinese-brokered agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Arab states are looking for the security that only the credible threat of raw power can provide.
The Paris Climate Accords are another example of the Biden administration putting its agenda ahead of our national security interests. Even climate czar John Kerry has acknowledged that the PCA will do nothing to change the trajectory of climate change. This is because China, Russia, India and much of the developing world have no interest in the climate agenda. They care about the cheap and reliable energy needed to improve their economies and enhance their military capabilities.
Remarkably, the Biden administration thinks it is more important to virtue signal than to defend the American-led world order. When Russia invaded Ukraine last year, John Kerry’s first reaction was to pray that Putin remembers the war will increase Russia’s carbon emissions.
China has also benefitted from the climate change issue. Rather than take any risk that Chinese President Xi Jinping might walk away from the PCA talks, the Biden administration agreed that China would not be required to reduce its carbon emissions. Thus, China continues to build coal fire power plants, increase its dependence on fossil fuels and compound its carbon emissions at a dizzying pace. It does this to fuel its economy and build its military to the point that it can challenge America’s once-unquestioned military dominance.
But the senselessness did not end there. America buys its solar panels, windmills and the rare earth minerals needed to manufacture batteries for electric cars from China.
It is no wonder that countries around the world are hedging their bets in the contest between America and the new axis of evil—China, Russia and Iran. This is hardly limited to the Middle East. French President Emmanuel Macron told Xi during his recent trip to Beijing that if China invaded Taiwan, France would remain neutral.
This was a disgusting statement, a betrayal of the historical Franco-American relationship. But it was, on a certain level, understandable. Everyone likes a winner and the world is unsure whether the U.S. or China will come out on top. After all, while America is looking for dialogue, China, Russia and Iran are building their war machines.
Maybe we should do a little less talking—softly or otherwise—and start carrying a bigger stick. Maybe then our friends and enemies alike will start listening to us again. When Qin Gang demands that we abandon Taiwan before China will even talk to us, we should respond by sending Taipei more weapons and deploying more American troops. As the war in Ukraine drags on, we should be sending the Ukrainians more weapons systems more quickly. Only by actions like these will a meaningful dialogue with our enemies be possible and American credibility restored.
The American-led world order is worth defending with every tool at our disposal. Talking about it is not enough.
Eric R. Levine is a founding member of the New York City law firm Eiseman, Levine, Lehrhaupt & Kakoyiannis, P.C. He is an essayist, political commentator and fundraiser for Republican candidates with an emphasis on the United States Senate.