Biden’s ‘back to the Obama years’ foreign policy will weaken US national security

Originally posted at Fox News

It is now obvious that President-elect Joe Biden has no original ideas for national security and simply plans to implement liberal foreign policy orthodoxy and restore the disastrous policies he backed when he was President Barack Obama’s vice president.

This is a huge mistake that will endanger America’s security. Obama’s foreign policy was an enormous failure that destabilized the world and weakened America’s power and influence.

And because the world has changed and faces new, more dangerous threats today than when Biden was vice president, reverting to the Obama-Biden administration foreign policy now would be even harmful than it was when it was in force from 2009 until President Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.

Unfortunately, Biden appears blindly ignorant of the many significant national security achievements of the Trump administration. The president-elect seems eager to show he is different from President Trump, even if reversing course harms our nation.

Biden said little about national security during the presidential campaign other than embracing Democratic platitudes about working closer with U.S. allies and undoing supposed “damage” to America’s standing in the world by the Trump administration,

The strongest indication of Biden’s “back to the Obama years” foreign policy is his unremarkable national security team, composed mostly of Obama administration retreads.

Unlike previous presidents who chose well-known and distinguished men and women to be secretary of state or national security adviser, there will be no luminaries like John Foster Dulles, Colin Powell, Mike Pompeo, or Henry Kissinger in these posts.

Instead, Biden’s nominee to become secretary of state is Antony Blinken, a little-known Washington insider who spent most of his career as a Biden aide.

Biden’s choice for national security adviser is Jake Sullivan, a 44-year-old former aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Needless to say, Sullivan is no Brent Scowcroft — the Air Force lieutenant general who went on to serve as national security adviser to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush.

Biden’s choices for United Nations ambassador, Homeland Security secretary, and director of national intelligence are also all second-tier choices at best and relatively unknown,

Biden wanted the first Black secretary of defense, but he alienated a lot of his supporters by choosing the undistinguished retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin instead of the more qualified Michele Flournoy.

Despite her faults, Flournoy would have been better a pick to head the Pentagon. In fact, Obama cultivated her for the job.

Now Biden finds himself in a losing situation because several key Democratic senators have said they don’t want to approve a waiver to allow Austin to become defense secretary just four years after his retirement from the Army. Federal law requires military officers to be out of uniform for at least seven years before heading the Pentagon.

Some of the Democratic senators who approved the same type of waiver to allow retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis to become President Trump’s defense secretary in 2017, just shy of four years after his retirement from the Marines, have said they don’t want to approve another such waiver so soon. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is among them.

This unimpressive national security team is not just about Biden preferring mediocrity and virtue-signaling. It also reflects his narrow national security vision to go back to what he thinks were the good old days of the Obama administration.

Biden has made clear that he will immediately jettison President Trump’s successful America First national security approach, which restored American leadership on the world stage, put the interests of the American people ahead of the dictates of globalist foreign policy elites, and kept our nation out of new unnecessary wars.

Instead, Biden will surrender U.S. sovereignty to the United Nations and Europe.

Expect Russia and China to quickly resume walking all over the U.S. — just like they did during the Obama years — when Biden returns to non-confrontational “traditional” diplomacy and working through the U.N.

There’s little question Biden and his aides see climate change as their foreign policy priority and reject the recent warning by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe that “China poses the greatest threat to America today and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II.”

If Biden ignores or downplays the threat from China, he could do irreversible damage to global and U.S. security.

Just like they did with President Obama, Iran’s virulently anti-American and anti-Israel leaders are preparing to pull the wool over Biden’s eyes regarding their nuclear weapons program. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently said Iran will come back into full compliance with the deeply flawed 2015 nuclear deal after Biden agrees to rejoin the pact.

The problem is, Iran was never in compliance with the nuclear deal — which was designed to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons — in the first place. In fact, documents on Iran’s covert nuclear weapons program stolen by Israel in 2018 revealed massive Iranian cheating on the deal.

Iran also has become much more dangerous and belligerent since Biden was vice president. This is illustrated by Iranian missile attacks against U.S. bases in Iraq and a Saudi oil facility over the past year.

But with Jake Sullivan — who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal — as national security adviser, expect Biden to quickly rejoin the nuclear agreement based on Iranian promises to comply in the future if Biden drops Trump’s strong economic sanctions on Iran.

When the U.S. dropped its sanctions on Iran in early 2016 under the nuclear deal, Iranian spending on its military and terrorism surged. This is certain to happen again if Biden makes such an unsound decision.

President Rouhani knows his regime will get a lot more from the Biden administration than he could ever get from the Trump administration.

“We are not overjoyed about Mr. Biden’s arrival, but we are happy about Trump leaving,” Rouhani said in a televised speech to his Cabinet Wednesday. He called Trump “the most lawless U.S. president” and a “terrorist.”

Criticism like this from the terrorist Islamist regime that rules Iran with an iron fist and oppresses its own people ought to be considered a badge of honor by Trump.

Trump has received little credit for his highly successful Middle East peace efforts that convinced four Arab states to normalize relations with Israel. Trump’s negotiators achieved this by building trust between the Arab states and Israel and uniting them against a common enemy: Iran.

But Trump’s progress toward peace in the Middle East could vanish due to the Biden team’s plans to appease Iran, placate the Palestinian leadership, and reassess U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia and Egypt due to their human rights records,

An Obama policy redux also is likely on North Korea. Biden, his aides and most Democrats have been highly critical of President Trump’s North Korea policy, slamming it as legitimizing a “thug” and failing to stop the country’s missile and nuclear programs from advancing.

Biden has been vague about what he would do differently to handle North Korea as president, only saying that he would take a traditional approach to work with U.S. allies, start talks with North Korea at a lower level, and not hold another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without preconditions.

This approach ignores that President Trump’s North Korea policy scored some important but incomplete achievements by significantly reducing tensions with the Kim regime and convincing it to halt nuclear and long-range missile tests.

Trump achieved this by negotiating from a position of strength, including his September 2017 statement to the U.N. General Assembly that he would “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatened the interests of the U.S. or our regional allies. Trump’s decision to follow up this approach with personal diplomacy with Kim played a crucial role in limiting the North’s nuclear and missile programs,

If Biden reduces U.S. pressure on North Korea by abandoning Trump’s approach and returning to traditional diplomacy through the U.N. or negotiations with regional states, Kim likely will respond with dangerous provocations such as resuming long-range missile tests — and possibly nuclear tests — to extract concessions from the U.S. The North Korean government knows this response has worked many times before with weak Republican and Democratic administrations.

Biden has assembled a “B team” group of national security advisers to help him with what he thinks will be the easy task of returning to the policies of the Obama days and reversing all of Trump’s policies. Biden’s second-tier national security team and his naive assumptions about international security could do enormous damage to global security and America’s standing in the world.

Hopefully, Biden and his advisers will realize this and choose a more responsible approach to U.S. national security. Republican senators must insist on this when Biden’s Cabinet nominees come before them in confirmation hearings.

About Fred Fleitz

Fred Fleitz, president of the Center for Security Policy, served in 2018 as deputy assistant to the president and to the chief of staff of the National Security Council. He previously held national-security jobs with the CIA, the DIA, the Department of State, and the House Intelligence Committee staff. Twitter @fredfleitz.