Three paramount perils loom over Western-style democracies. Foremost, the imperialist designs of Vladimir Putin. His war to topple “Kiev in a day” is on the cusp of entering its third year. Russia did far better against Ukraine in its second year of fighting than its first. Should Russia succeed, Putin will be on NATO’s doorstep. Slovakia, Poland, Moldova, and Romania would be next. (Hungary, under Victor Orban, is already closely aligned with Putin.) These are all former Soviet-bloc countries. All but Moldova are part of NATO. Ukraine has the largest and most experienced military force on the continent. A Ukrainian military collapse sets the world up for a direct military confrontation between NATO forces, which includes U.S. forces, and the Russian Federation. That would not be good.
The second peril is the specter of Islamist terrorism, predominantly conducted through Iranian proxies: Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah militias in Lebanon and Syria, and finally the Houthi rebels in Yemen. These groups look at Israel as a stepping stone on a divinely-mandated journey to conquer the West.
The final peril is the ever-growing bellicosity of China under Xi Jinping. This leader has tightened government controls over media and communications, curbed foreign English education, the independence of foreign businesses on the mainland, while investing billions in a military buildup. Notably, Xi has reversed the one-child policy and is endeavoring, albeit insufficiently, to bolster food production self-reliance, all hinting at military aspirations towards Taiwan.
President Biden may have his flaws, but the 81 year old is no fool on foreign policy. So far, he has done all the right things. The United States has been actively involved in ensuring the security of Taiwan, especially through naval operations in the South Pacific. The US Navy frequently conducts “freedom of navigation exercises” in the Taiwan Strait, which is a 180 km-wide waterway.
Commencing October 7, a steadfast and vigorous support for Israel has been palpably evident, encompassing strategic, tactical, and operational dimensions. This unwavering support, under President Biden’s directive, has been manifested through a relentless stream of military assets to Israel. Significantly, the Gerald Ford Carrier Group has been positioned east of Lebanon since October, serving as a deterrent against potential escalations by Hezbollah. Concurrently, U.S. naval forces in the Red Sea have skillfully intercepted Houthi drones and long-range missiles directed towards Israel, showcasing a heightened state of vigilance.
In respect to the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, the United States has exhibited a profound and unwavering commitment to Ukraine since hostilities erupted in February 2022. This dedication was particularly galvanized once Ukraine unequivocally displayed both the capability and determination necessary to confront and counter Putin’s aggressive maneuvers.
But what about going forward? Concerning future foreign policy, there appears a paradox. The very crusade against global illiberalism championed by President Biden faces potential unraveling, ironically, due to thriving illiberal tendencies within U.S. domestic politics.
In October, Biden sought a $105.6 billion aid package, encompassing Ukraine, Israel, humanitarian assistance, the Submarine Industrial Base, and border issues. Significantly, $58.3 billion was earmarked for defense-related expenditures that would support Israel, Ukraine, and counter China’s Taiwan ambitions through submarine base expansion. However, after two months, the bill stagnates in Congress, hampered by partisan self-interest and short-sightedness. MAGA factions obstruct progress, focusing on internal power struggles rather than legislative efficacy, while Progressives critique Biden’s centrist approach across various domains, most vocally on Israel.
The aid’s intent, particularly the substantial sum for Ukraine, aims to signal unwavering support against Russian aggression. Failing to back Ukraine could embolden Russia towards Central European expansion. Likewise, the Israel aid conundrum reflects a blend of ignorance and conflicting ideologies, with Progressives perceiving Israel as criminally aggressive, notwithstanding that half the funds are oriented toward defensive needs directed toward the Iron Dome needs and Iron Beam R&D. The Republicans’ stand-alone bill for Israel, entangled with IRS budget cuts, betrays general immaturity, a suicidal lack of fiscal common sense, and an absolutely shocking level of ignorance regarding the Russian threat to the West. Similarly, neglecting submarine power investment signals a lack of commitment to Taiwan’s defense, and encourages China to expand its maritime sphere of influence.
As Chaucer put it, “If gold rust, what then will iron do?” If the U.S. cannot defend Western values, who will? Failing to counteract the ambitions of leaders like Iran’s ayatollahs, China’s Xi Jinping, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, invites geopolitical disaster. The three powers already collaborate to weaken American allies and interests. In the meantime, Congress’s message to this triumvirate of tyrants is that we are too stupid to defend ourselves.
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