“America is back” was President Joe Biden’s foreign policy mantra as he took office, but his disastrous handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan has shaken U.S. allies and given a green light to China on the global stage.
When Biden introduced his foreign policy team, including Secretary of State Tony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, he stated that world leaders had called him and said they “look forward” to America resuming its traditional leadership role in global politics. They said their strategy centered around strengthening global alliances and building new ones to counter threats like China and Russia. (RELATED: Biden Expected To Be Tougher On China Than Previous Administrations)
President-elect Joe Biden: “In calls from world leaders…I’ve been struck by how much they’re looking forward to the United States reasserting its historic role as a global leader.” https://t.co/RtneOGqkOG pic.twitter.com/KSGn8K9RBK
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) November 24, 2020
“The United States, we’ll do our part. We’ll stand with you. We’ll fight for our shared values. We’ll meet the challenges of this new moment in history,” Biden told European leaders in February.
While global leaders were initially complimentary of Biden’s administration, many of those same allies have criticized America’s hasty retreat from Afghanistan. Former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair went so far as to call Biden’s handling of the withdrawal “imbecilic.”
“The abandonment of Afghanistan and its people is tragic, dangerous, unnecessary, not in their interests and not in ours,” Blair, who led the U.K. from 1997-2007, said in August. “We didn’t need to withdraw. We chose to do it. We did it in obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars.'”
“The world is now uncertain of where the West stands because it is so obvious that the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan in this way was driven not by grand strategy but by politics,” he added.
Blair was not alone in offering harsh words for Biden.
“I say this with a heavy heart and with horror over what is happening, but the early withdrawal was a serious and far-reaching miscalculation by the current administration,” Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the German parliament’s foreign relations committee, said in August. “This does fundamental damage to the political and moral credibility of the West.”
“Naturally this has damaged American credibility, along with that of the intelligence services and of the military,” Rüdiger Lentz, the former head of the Aspen Institute in Berlin, told Politico. “One can only hope that the damage to America’s foreign policy leadership can be quickly contained.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel shied away from outright criticizing Biden, but described the withdrawal as a “bitter event” for women and girls now stranded in Afghanistan under Taliban rule.
Even as the confidence of U.S. allies has been shaken, the confidence of our adversaries has only grown. Chinese propaganda outlets gleefully mocked the U.S. withdrawal, ironically accusing the U.S. of abandoning human rights.
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders used the withdrawal as an opportunity to demoralize Taiwan, arguing that the independent nation would face the same abandonment by the U.S. if China chose to invade.
However, the Biden administration has rebuked China’s comparison of Afghanistan to Taiwan, arguing our commitment to the country “remains as strong as it’s ever been.”
“When it comes to Taiwan, it is a fundamentally different question, in a different context,” Sullivan told reporters in August.