Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
February 23, 2023
The following excerpt gives a clear critique of Biden’s foreign policy making, which in general term does not earn a passing grade. It is a reflection of Biden’s leadership and/or short comings.
Critically, “there is no sign of what Biden wants from China on the key political and economic issues that confront the United States.” For example, in terms of the US trade war against, Biden has basically followed Trump’s path.
“Second, Biden appears to be going along with the anti-China warmongering” that is dominating the discussion of China among policymakers, politicians, and pundits. It reflects the fact that Biden does not have many original or independent ideas so he could not lead the public debate of any policy.
Maybe it is also a “bandwidth” challenge as Biden and his team are fully consumed by the war in Ukraine to the extent the US-China relation has to be sidelined. But China may be the only nation on the earth that could mediate a peace deal for the US with Russia. Or, as the Ukraine war continues without any exit strategy in sight then Biden should not provoke China.
FEBRUARY 23, 2023
The Chinese Balloon the Biden Team’s Hot Air
The Biden administration is noteworthy because it offers the classic example of group think with virtually every member of the national security team singing from the same song book and providing no examples of more moderate or pragmatic advice to challenge the conventional wisdom, let alone think outside-the-box. The panic over the Chinese balloon event provides a perfect example of the Cold War thinking of the Biden team and the lack of diplomatic skills. After all, the first Chinese reaction to “l’affaire balloon” was to express “regret” and to acknowledge “respect” for the U.S. decision to postpone Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Beijing, which suggested that there was a missed opportunity in the making.
The balloon crisis has exposed two major problems with Biden’s overall handling of foreign policy. First of all, there is no sign of what Biden wants from China on the key political and economic issues that confront the United States, which also characterizes U.S. policy toward Iran and North Korea for that matter. Second, Biden appears to be going along with the anti-China warmongering that is dominating the discussion of China among policymakers, politicians, and pundits. Third, is there a pragmatist in the house?
Blinken finally got to Munich last week, but the discussions with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi were predictably contentious, similar to his first meeting with Wang Yi two years ago. The Secretary of State even warned publicly that Chinese supply of weaponry to Russia would lead to “serious problems” with the United States, which ignores the fact that Washington is not holding a strong hand in the bilateral relationship and that public warnings are not the best way to impress Xi Jinping at this point.
Congress is certainly doing its part in the war of polemics. The House of Representatives in an unusual display of bipartisanship condemned the Chinese balloon in a 419-0 vote; only China could produce such congressional unanimity. At the same time, the House Financial Services Committee prepared 17 bills to isolate China’s economic and financial system, which ignores U.S. dependence on Chinese imports to conduct its infrastructure campaign. If Congress had a sense of humor, it would address the fact that a $500 thousand Sidewinder air-to-air missile was used to down a $12 research balloon that probably had been launched by a group of midwestern teenagers.
The most recent example of anti-China fervor appeared as the lead article in the New York Times on February 18 that highlighted Beijing’s “edge at high altitudes” as the newest “battleground” in Sino-American relations. The Times compared the Chinese lead to the “so-called missile gap” with the Soviets during the Cold War, but never acknowledged that there was no gap. In fact, there was a “gap,” but it reflected the U.S. lead in strategic weaponry. Nevertheless, the Kennedy administration used the phony gap to justify a new wave of spending on strategic weaponry, beginning the rivalry with Moscow regarding multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRVs) on intercontinental missiles. This new step in the weapons race was fueled by the United States.
As Mark Twain said, “History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.”
Melvin A. Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University. A former CIA analyst, Goodman is the author of Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA and National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism. and A Whistleblower at the CIA. His most recent books are “American Carnage: The Wars of Donald Trump” (Opus Publishing, 2019) and “Containing the National Security State” (Opus Publishing, 2021). Goodman is the national security columnist for counterpunch.org.