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Iran, China, Russia Provocations Exploit the Biden Administration
America’s adversaries have wasted no time seizing upon territorial expansionist opportunities afforded by a Biden White House obsessed with the war on climate change that is scouring social media accounts of our own military service personnel for white supremacist leanings as excuses to slash defense budgets of a Defense Department headed by spectacularly incompetent top generals who masterminded the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal.
Added to this, we can also safely bet that our key military and economic rivals were paying close attention to a Democrat proposal to reduce the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) budget by roughly $25 billion from the amount originally approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
An amendment co-sponsored by Sens. Edward Markey, D-Mass., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., would redirect roughly half of that NDAA cut from DOD to the State Department to address the “climate crisis.”
Although other forced and fortunate Democrat concessions include additional military assistance for Ukraine and mandatory sanctions against the Kremlin-owned company in charge of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany, Senate passage remains stalled over Democrat blockage of an amendment by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to restrict U.S. importation of Chinese products made by forced labor of Uyghur Muslims.
Meanwhile, America’s military and economic protagonists are testing transparent Biden administration impotence to retaliate in response to increasingly aggressive provocations as Iran, China, and Russia each seek to establish regional hegemony and often work together to achieve it.
The Biden administration has made it pathetically urgent that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more broadly known as the “Iran nuclear deal” which President Donald Trump prudently terminated for lack of compliance, be reinstated as a featured foreign policy goal.
In late November, fully recognizing that Biden wants bragging rights to a deal — any deal — subject to all terms dictated by them, Tehran representatives left the Vienna negotiating table unimpressed and ungrateful when the U.S. floated the idea of a bargaining offer to allow Iran to sell electricity to Iraq in exchange for JCPOA reinstatement.
With humiliating unconcealed contempt for U.S. weakness, the mullahs have even refused to authorize direct discussions with White House representatives — mostly Obama administration holdovers and pushovers.
This snub has forced European diplomats (Britain, Germany, and France), to shuttle back and forth in surrogate “go-between” hotel meetings in Vienna where Biden team negotiators are ensconced separately.
There is no way to return to the 2015 JCPOA status quo because Iran has already reportedly enriched its uranium to 60% — close to a 90% threshold required for weapons-grade material.
Nor is there any indication that the mullahs care much whether the Obama bunch behind Biden approve of their rapid emergence as a regional nuclear threat or not. These are the same foreign policy pushovers who previously failed to hold Iran accountable for refusing to allow U.N. nuclear inspectors to monitor that progress.
Meanwhile, Beijing has been openly buying Iranian oil in defiance of U.S. sanctions, as the U.S. is also doing little about that either.
China and Russia leaders have wasted no time exploiting Biden administration weakness, so dramatically evidenced by its desperate pursuit of JCPOA and the recent Afghanistan debacle that abandoned hundreds of Americans and more than $80 billion of advanced military equipment to Taliban control.
Although China and Russia don’t like or trust each other very much, they have nevertheless signed a military cooperation pact that should greatly concern the entire free world. Both realize that a marginalized America is very much to their mutual advantage.
China’s rapid expansion of military weapons and taunting provocations against Taiwan clearly underscore Beijing’s determination to become the world’s leading global economic and military power by midcentury.
This aspiration was articulated by President Xi Jinping in 2011, and it was adopted in 2017 by the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China as formal policy.
In August, China tested a hypersonic nuclear-capable missile. This is particularly ominous because after being launched briefly into orbit, such missiles can glide back to targets anywhere on Earth just like the space shuttle and go boom before being detected.
As previously discussed in this column, the hypersonic test followed the discovery earlier this year of satellite images revealing that China is building more than 300 new intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles (ICBM) silos in its western desert — plus an unexpected revelation that it recently began work on a similar site near Ordos City not previously associated with ICBMs.
Russia is seizing upon current White House weakness to stage preparations for a military move against Ukraine, with energy dependence leveraging disincentives against NATO pushbacks thanks to Biden’s release of sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany.
According to The Washington Post, administration officials believe Vladimir Putin is moving forces in preparation for an invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, with plans that involve “extensive movement of 100 battalion tactical groups with an estimated 175,000 personnel, along with armor, artillery and equipment.”
Fears of imminent invasion grow, with a prediction by CIA Director William Burns that Russia “Could act in a very sweeping way,” possibly seeing an opportunity to do so as early as this winter.
No one should doubt that Putin views Ukrainian independence as a serious threat against Russia’s goal to dominate the Black Sea and also reestablish itself as the principal power in Europe against growing Western influence over other anti-Russian countries like Poland and the Baltic republics.
This, needless to say, is a very complicated and dangerous tinderbox demanding deft diplomacy through convincing strength of resolve. The last thing America should want is to precipitously provoke a mutually devastating nuclear war with Russia.
Recall consequences that occurred in 2014 when Putin annexed Crimea as the West contented itself with economic sanctions and vacuous lectures.
It remains to be determined if Biden’s envoy can convince Putin that Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement during a recent meeting with NATO ministers in Latvia that “We are prepared to impose severe costs for further Russian aggression in Ukraine,” and that “NATO is prepared to reinforce its defenses on the eastern flank.”
We can be very confident, however, that as the world now enters a particularly perilous period, America’s determined and prepared adversaries in Tehran, Beijing and Moscow will continue to expand their combined powers and spheres of influence to severely test Biden responses.
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