Hayward: Biden’s Foreign Policy Abandons ‘America First’ for ‘America Is an Idea’

President Joe Biden speaks about COVID-19, on the North Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, April 27, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Joe Biden’s address to Congress on Wednesday night included some remarks on foreign policy that expressed a disturbing mindset toward American interests and national security.

The two key lines were “America is an idea” and Biden’s assertion that “white supremacy” is “the most lethal terrorist threat to our homeland today.”

“America is an idea, the most unique idea in history. We are created, all of us, equal. It is who we are. And we cannot walk away from that principle and in fact say we are dealing with the American idea,” Biden said, before launching into a bit of bloodless Democrat boilerplate about the menace of Russian election meddling. 

“America is an idea” is the battle cry of America Last globalism, a red-alert warning that the speaker feels no great urge to prioritize America’s national interests because he doesn’t even truly see America as a nation that has legitimate interests. No one prone to saying things like “America is an idea” thinks that idea includes firmly-defended national borders, aggressive foreign policy that champions the needs of the American people, or protecting American workers from predatory foreign practices. 

Biden had nothing to say about the massive legal and humanitarian crisis he has created at the southern border — a crisis that absolutely is a menace to American national security, and not because the horde of unaccompanied alien minors Biden has been herding into cages are budding white supremacists. None of the people rushing across the border seems to think America is just an “idea.”

Biden’s pullback from America First principles included his pledge to prioritize the great globalist project of the “climate crisis.” Crippling the American economy in the name of climate change will impact the American people, and all of mankind, far more profoundly than the little lectures Biden claims he gave Chinese dictator Xi Jinping during their “17,000-mile” journey together about the importance of playing fair in the great global competition to come.

Biden apparently doesn’t think the “American idea” includes capitalism, because his agenda for competing with Communist China involves becoming more like them: more government control, more government spending, more central planning:

To win that competition for the future, in my view, we also need to make a once-in-a-generation investment in our families and our children. That’s why I introduced the American Families Plan tonight, which addresses four of the biggest challenges facing American families and, in turn, America. First is access to good education. This nation made 12 years of public education universal in the last century. It made us the best-educated, best-prepared nation in the world. It’s, I believe, the overwhelming reason that propelled us to where we got in the 20th century.

But the world’s caught up, or catching up. They’re not waiting. I would say parenthetically, if we were sitting down and put a bipartisan committee together and said, OK, we’re going to decide what we do in terms of government providing for free education, I wonder whether we’d think, as we did in the 20th century, that 12 years is enough in the 21st century. I doubt it. Twelve years is no longer enough today, to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st century. That’s why my American Families Plan guarantees four additional years of public education for every person in America, starting as early as we can.

The Democrat-run teachers’ unions just spent a year throwing America’s kids to the wolves because they weren’t paid off handsomely enough to get them back into schools. Spending oceans more public money on the degenerate American public education system is not going to make us competitive with China. We’re already dealing with a generation of students damaged intellectually, emotionally, and socially by the pandemic panic.

The same woeful dynamic was at play in Biden’s other ideas for making Washington as big as Beijing.

Biden complained about drastically insufficient domestic policy spending as an obstacle to competing with China in several passages of his speech:

We’re in competition with China and other countries to win the 21st century. We’re at a great inflection point in history. We have to do more than just build back better — than just build back, we have to build back better. We have to compete more strenuously than we have. Throughout our history, if you think about it, public investment in infrastructure has literally transformed America, our attitudes as well as our opportunities. The transcontinental railroad, interstate highways, united two oceans and brought a totally new age of progress to the United States of America.

[…]

Decades ago, we used to invest 2 percent of our gross domestic product in America, 2 percent of our gross domestic product in research and development. Today, Mr. Secretary, that’s less than 1 percent. China and other countries are closing in fast. We have to develop and dominate the products and technologies of the future. Advanced batteries, biotechnology, computer chips, clean energy.

The bloated government created by Biden and his Democrat Party is great at spending money and barking orders, but utterly incapable of building anything that matters. It would take Biden’s government twenty years just to get through the environmental impact studies and lobbyist lawsuits to build a railroad.

The problem is summed up in Biden’s “America is an idea” rhetoric: Xi Jinping most certainly does not think China is just an idea. He mouths globalist rhetoric for international political advantage, but his agenda is viciously nationalist and self-interested to the core.

Beijing will break any rule, discard any international court judgment, violate any human rights principle, and steal whatever it takes to advance the Chinese Communist Party’s interests. Biden refuses to defend America’s borders, while Xi keeps redrawing China’s further and further into India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Africa, Latin America, and beyond.

China is also promoting its ideology and ideas far more aggressively than the Western world, as evidenced by the Western mania for speech controls, politicized law enforcement, central planning, and other features of Chinese authoritarianism. 

Tyranny has become far more viral than freedom, in part because tyrannical states tend to aggressively pursue their national interests, building a solid foundation of economic power and influence from which they can wage ideological warfare. 

As China endlessly reminds its current and prospective client states, Beijing’s hard-nosed and ruthlessly amoral pursuit of its clearly defined national interests is more predictable and stable than Western views of foreign policy as performance art. The Chinese have become highly adept at using the rhetoric of Biden’s own party to argue that America lacks the moral standing to lecture Beijing about human rights.

Biden’s foreign policy is all about seminars, summits, meetings, and paper agreements that begin with the premise rich and powerful America needs to pay more, sacrifice more, and compromise more to demonstrate “leadership.” 

Biden’s approach to international issues involves endlessly talking about them, not actually doing anything, as in his claim to have confronted Xi Jinping and a few other world leaders about their misbehavior:

In my discussions with President Xi, I told him we welcome the competition. We’re not looking for conflict. But I made absolutely clear that we’ll defend America’s interests across the board. America will stand up to unfair trade practices that undercut workers and American industries like subsidies from state to state-owned operations and enterprises and the theft of American technology and intellectual property. 

I also told President Xi that we’ll maintain a strong relationship in the Indo-Pacific, just as we do for NATO and Europe. Not to start a conflict, but to prevent one.

I told him what I said to many world leaders, that America will not back away from our commitments, our commitments to human rights and our fundamental freedom and our alliances. I pointed out to him, no responsible American president could remain silent when basic human rights are being so blatantly violated. An American president has to represent the essence of what our country stands for.

While Biden is talking, China is doing — using its vast economic clout to silence criticism of its human rights abuses, force its political agenda upon foreign private corporations, and exert growing influence over foreign media.

Aside from grumbling about Russia and his polite requests to China to start playing fair, Biden’s speech minimized foreign adversaries and challenges in favor of targeting domestic enemies. He talked about withdrawing from Afghanistan — a policy instituted by Donald Trump, with arguments largely parroted in Biden’s speech — and then segued into arguing that America’s real terrorist threat is now “white supremacy” from within, not Islamic supremacy from without:

Make no mistake, in 20 years, terrorism has been metastasized. The threat evolved way beyond Afghanistan. Those in the intelligence committees, the foreign relations committee, defense committees, you know well we have to remain vigilant against the threats to the United States wherever they come from. Al Qaeda and ISIS are in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, other places in Africa and the Middle East and beyond.

And we won’t ignore what our intelligence agents have determined to be the most lethal terrorist threat to our homeland today: White supremacy is terrorism. We are not going to ignore that either. My fellow Americans, look, we have to come together to heal the soul of this nation. It was nearly a year ago before her father’s funeral when I spoke to Gianna Floyd, George Floyd’s young daughter.

It’s a pity the media fact-checkers decided to take the next four years off, because otherwise they might ask Biden to source his claims that white supremacists are a more “lethal” menace than ISIS, al-Qaeda, Iran — or, for that matter, foreign-directed street gangs and drug rings operating on American streets, with fresh reinforcements on the way thanks to Biden’s border debacle. 

Juxtaposing withdrawal from Afghanistan with complaints about white supremacy and George Floyd makes it sound an awful lot like Joe Biden wants to bring those troops home so he can deploy them against Americans. His party has a very nasty habit of defining all resistance to its agenda as “white supremacy.”

That’s how they do things in China, with “national security laws” that define all political opposition as treason. Biden on Wednesday laid out a vision of an America that can only compete with China by folding more of its centralized authoritarian principles into the “American idea.” Contrary to Biden’s assertions, the leading world power in ten years will not be the one that spent the most money on climate change.

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