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Putting ‘America First’ Is Over, in Case You Hadn't Noticed

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The New York Post reports that President Biden told the G-7 that the “America First” foreign policy agenda is over. The administration previewed the speech, which was closed to the press:

“Now he will get the opportunity as president of the United States early in his term to declare that America is back and the trans-Atlantic alliance is back,” one official said Thursday evening.

The New York Times reported further quotes from the speech, despite the lack of press during the event, saying the president went on a 15-minute riff about the importance of alliances:

And then he went on to offer a 15-minute ode to the power of alliances. He talked about an America that was itself overcoming challenges to the democratic experiment.

“We have to prove that our model isn’t a relic of history,” he said, a clear reference to the critique that China and Russia have been helping to push. “We must demonstrate that democracies can still deliver for our people in this changed world. That is our galvanizing mission. Democracy doesn’t happen by accident. We have to defend it. Strengthen it. Renew it.”

The trans-Atlantic alliance, or NATO, had a primary mission of countering Russian aggression. As a point of clarification, the Trump administration demanded one thing from our European partners: that they pay their agreed-upon percentage of GDP contribution for a singular purpose, to strengthen the defense compact. Unlike the Obama-Biden administration, he also provided Ukraine with defensive weapons to combat Russian aggression.

The administration also held Russia accountable on several fronts. Even the Brookings Institute, hardly a right-wing think tank, lists 50 actions from sanctions to policies that President Trump and his team implemented to curtail and punish Putin’s regime. That seems to align very well with our trans-Atlantic commitments, even though the corporate media and Democrats desperately wanted you to believe President Trump was a Putin asset.

The Trump administration also withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and put punishing sanctions on the Iranian regime. These actions so weakened the regime that other Middle Eastern countries coalesced around the idea that Iran, not Israel, was the threat in the region. Arab countries began to normalize relations with Israel in order to increase economic growth and encourage technology transfer. These agreements signaled a seismic shift in regional politics. One that Obama Secretary of State John Kerry said was impossible. It appears we will now return to the strategy of appeasement by reentering the Iran deal, risking the hegemony we have in the region for brokering further peace.

Biden’s comments about democracy mirror those of his climate envoy, John Kerry, at a World Economic Forum meeting in November of 2020. He said governments around the world needed to be concerned about movements like Brexit and rising national populism. He said the governments needed to listen and understand the concerns of these movements:

“It [populism] is a reflection of the inability of democratic governments in many parts of the world to deliver. And I just have to put it bluntly. We’re certainly the primary exhibit, we’re exhibit number one. The world is moving faster, it’s a digital world moving at a digital pace. And everything is moving faster, ideas, people, goods, but not government. Government has to find a way to move faster to address more of the real concerns of its citizens or there will be an increasing backlash.”

Neither Biden nor Kerry understands what caused the backlash in 2016. It is analogous to the emotions that elected President Ronald Reagan. Stagflation, a political class trying to convince us that America was in a permanent decline, and the inability to get our hostages back from Iran, making us look like fools on the world stage, were driving factors in 1980. Eight years of Obama-Biden tried to teach many of the same lessons. Our sailors knelt for the Mullahs after we made them flush with cash; coal miners needed to “learn to code”; Trump would need a magic wand to bring manufacturing back; and we endured a sluggish recovery after the 2008 financial crisis. America once again said ‘no thank you’ to those ideas. That is actually how you got Trump.

America First was never about isolationism or abandoning our allies. It was about clearly defining our allies and creating a bright line to delineate who our ideological and existential enemies were. A simple way to describe its guiding principles is that all Americans’ safety, security, and prosperity should be at the forefront of policymaking and that our blood and treasure should not be spent overseas in vain. It would seem this should be the job of any administration. Yet the Biden administration has already taken a bat to that structure with one set of policies.

President Trump articulated the secret sauce in his foreign policy in about ten seconds at a presidential debate. We were energy independent:

The left has said for years that our modern wars were about energy. Not only will Biden’s policies make us energy-dependent, but our dependence will also be on the one nation that poses an existential threat to Western culture. The manufacture of solar and wind equipment requires the use of cheap energy. Solar panels and the batteries to store renewable energy also need rare-earth metals. China produces and refines most of these metals, and it is no coincidence that they are considering reducing exports to the U.S.

Meanwhile, China has record oil imports and is building new coal-fired plants. They have announced they will get to net-zero emissions by 2060 and they’re praised for this effort. Meanwhile, they will use the farce that they are some kind of developing nation to surpass the West’s economies through the indiscriminate use of fossil fuels over the next 40 years. All while our leaders erect the solar and wind equipment China makes and tell you to eat fake meat.

In his 2015 memoir, former Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates was critical of Biden’s record on foreign policy and stood by that opinion in 2019:

“I think I stand by that statement,” he said of remarks in the 2015 book in which he wrote of Biden: “I think he’s been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”

Kerry’s record is not much better. Over the next four years, the emphasis on climate change and China as a global competitor rather than a threat to the West will make America less safe, less secure, and less prosperous. And Kerry and Biden do not understand that that is what will drive electoral backlash.