When we look out on the world scene and how the Biden Administration is positioning itself, everyone should keep in mind the summary statement of former Defense Secretary and CIA director Robert Gates (no one’s idea of a partisan firebrand, as he’s been serving presidents of both parties since the Carter Administration): Joe Biden, Gates said, “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
Why would Biden change now?
Two circumstances need close attention. The first is China, where the Chinese military is stepping up military exercises in close proximity to Taiwan. Is this a prelude to an invasion? Could be. It is reported that President Trump remarked a couple years back that if China invaded Taiwan, “there’s not a damn thing we could do about it.” Perhaps true, though if there happened to be some American warships in the Taiwan Strait that were fired upon, it would change the calculus for the Chinese.
I’m very doubtful that China will invade Taiwan at least in the next year or so, if for no other reason than that it would cause a mass international boycott of the Winter Olympics that China is hosting next year. They might not care about this, but it would be just as easy to wait until after. In addition, and more significantly, China can afford to be patient as the Biden Administration blunders along and the United States as a whole is convulsed with its present moral panic over racism (which the Chinese skillfully exploited in that recent mini-summit in Alaska).
It is significant that Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had been hedging about whether the U.S. will attend the Winter Olympics. This may be as tough as the Biden Administration can get in terms of trying to deter China from invading Taiwan. If so, pretty weak.
It is widely assumed that if China invaded Taiwan, it would so alarm other nations in the region (Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc) that real sanctions would be imposed. Perhaps. But another development bears watching. It is reported that China is trying to close a deal with Saudi Arabia and other oil states in the Persian Gulf to purchase their oil in the Chinese Yuan rather than the U.S. Dollar. Since the Yuan is typically pegged to the Dollar (unlike other currencies whose oil costs more when the Dollar strengthens), why is there any need or China to do this? In fact, if you think the Dollar might weaken amidst the spending and money-printing binge of the Biden regency, why would you bother? One reason is that China intends its currency to become a rival reserve currency to the Dollar, as well as an escape hatch should sanctions try to limit China’s assess to SWIFT and other international money exchange systems. That’s what a nation with a long-term strategic plan for economic supremacy would do.
Meanwhile, with the Biden Administration reviving the Obama Administration’s hostility to Israel, it is curious that the Israelis are so open about some of its current actions in its medium-intensity war with Iran. Everyone in the Middle East knows that the crash of Iran’s electrical grid at its nuclear processing facility a few days ago was an Israeli cyber operation, so there’s no real need to confirm it—unless the nation you’re trying to send a signal to is the United States. (Israel has also been more public about its attacks on Iranian ghost ships that are evading sanctions and/or transporting arms to Syria and Hezbollah.)
In other words, both our allies and our enemies have taken the measure of the Biden regency, and adjusted their actions accordingly.