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Challenges abound: Can Biden’s foreign policy team rise to meet them?

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President Biden has assembled the weakest foreign policy team in modern American history. And stubborn as he is, we are appalled that he, as a former Chair of Senate Intelligence, does not recognize his team’s failures and refuses to act.

Lloyd Austen, Antony Blinken, Jake Sullivan, Janet Yellen, and Victoria Nuland would have been fired for lack of performance in any other corporate position. We add Janet Yellen to the list because of the Treasury’s sanctions regime, which has caused misery to millions while not denting Russia much. A year’s penalties against Russia have not yet brought down the Rouble, which is slightly stronger against the dollar from before the invasion.

America spends over $920 billion annually on Defense and State Department budgets and maintains a comprehensive presence worldwide. It runs 750 military bases abroad in 80 foreign countries and colonies (territories). The U.S. has embassies in 166 countries it recognizes, second only in number to China. For being the world’s policeman, the Biden administration has presided over the most violent world since Presidents Roosevelt and Truman during World War II.

Everywhere one looks, there is war and strife, and the cost to life, limb, and treasure has been extraordinary.

Nearly 13 months into the Ukraine war, Forbes reported that the Ukrainians have “lost approximately 13,440 soldiers while the Russians have lost 45,170 soldiers.” The humanitarian crisis has never been this acute since 1945. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees has reported grave numbers: More than 8 million refugees from Ukraine across Europe (as of February 2023), 17.6 million people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance inside Ukraine, and more than 5 million people estimated to be displaced inside Ukraine.

Estimates are that it will take $1 trillion to rebuild Ukraine, about five times Ukraine’s pre-war GDP. The war cost the global economy “well over $1.6 trillion” last year alone, according to a German Institute of Economics study.

We disapprove of Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine, which has no place in the 21st Century. For over 12 months, we have insisted that America, as the leading Superpower, should do all it takes to end this atrocity. Instead, the American national security team is digging in for more.

Under the principle of protecting Ukraine’s sovereignty and the liberal international order, the Pentagon has been deeply involved in every aspect of war planning, confirming President Putin’s allegations that his war is truly against the West. America has committed over $115 billion in weapons to Ukraine, not including NATO donations. Recent Pentagon documents leaked on social media show that contrary to traditional White House statements that America is just sending weapons to Ukraine, the CIA is actively spying on traditional allies – a charge that was first embarrassingly revealed during the Wikileaks dump, courtesy of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

Meanwhile, the Middle East is becoming violent again. The Palestinian terrorist organization, Hamas, is at its usual tricks, launching rockets into Israel, this time from Lebanon, where it has a history going back to the days of Yasser Arafat. Israel returned fire, destroying Hamas rockets using its advanced weapons systems. The exchange followed a dangerous gambit when Israel fired missiles to kill Iranian members of its feared Revolutionary Guard in Syria. According to Western intelligence, an ever-assertive Iran, emboldened by arms deliveries to Russia, is now planning to attack Israeli merchant vessels in retaliation. The United States Navy responded by sending a guided missile submarine, with 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles in its belly, to patrol commercial shipping lanes.

Even more severe are events in the Taiwan Strait. We warned Speaker Kevin McCarthy not to meet the Taiwanese leader at the Ronald Reagan Library last week. As we expected, China has reacted furiously. AFP reported that nine Chinese warships and 58 aircraft were detected around the island, including a mix of fighter jets and bombers, as China stages war exercises for a second day. This extraordinary escalation places an entire region at risk – all for a photo opportunity.

We will not discuss North Korea here, assuming that that isolated country is no more than a nuisance. But with its advanced missile launching capability, the crazy leader could be compelled to act to gain attention after having cried wolf scores of times. With Russia declaring that it will no longer participate in the New Start treaty and moving nuclear weapons to Belarus, the world is closer now than ever to nuclear war.

It is astonishing that all the developments we list above have happened under President Biden’s watch. He must immediately help lower global tension by taking all means necessary. That is what Americans expect of their president.

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TIPP Takes

Geopolitics And Geoeconomics

#1. Zelenskyy Condemns Russian Strikes On Orthodox Palm Sunday – Al Jazeera

President Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address that he condemned Russian air strikes on Orthodox Palm Sunday, including an attack that killed a 50-year-old man and his 11-year-old daughter.

Challenges Abound: Can Biden's Foreign Policy Team Rise To Meet Them?

Zelenskyy praised military units defending positions in the east and expressed hope that the next Palm Sunday would occur at a time of “peace and freedom for all our people.”

Most of Ukraine’s 43 million people are Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian Calendar designed by Roman emperor Julius Caesar, meaning they celebrate Easter a week later than most Christians in the West.


#2. Russian Jet Almost Shot Down British Spy Plane, Leaked Pentagon Document Says – NDTV

A Russian fighter jet almost took down an unarmed British surveillance plane over the Black Sea last year, according to a leaked Pentagon document circulating on social media.

Challenges Abound: Can Biden's Foreign Policy Team Rise To Meet Them?

The British surveillance plane was flying off the Crimean coast on September 29 when the near miss occurred.

UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace told the incident to Parliament’s House of Commons in October last year, saying that two Russian Su-27 fighter jets had intercepted the RC-135 in international airspace over the Black Sea, flying “recklessly,” with one plane coming within 15 feet of the British aircraft, according to Washington Post.


#3. China Says It Simulated “Sealing Off” Of Taiwan, Jets Had “Live Ammunition” – AFP

On Monday, China carried out a simulated “sealing off” of Taiwan in maritime drills. A report from state broadcaster CCTV said dozens of planes had practiced an “aerial blockade” of the self-ruled island.

Challenges Abound: Can Biden's Foreign Policy Team Rise To Meet Them?

Earlier, China said its fighter jets carrying “live ammunition” had conducted “simulated strikes” near Taiwan and that its Shandong aircraft carrier was involved in the ongoing exercises.


#4. Macron Warns EU Must Not Take U.S., China Side On Taiwan Issue After Beijing Visit – WION

Back from a three-day state visit to China, French President Emmanuel Macron said Europe must strive for ‘neutrality’ on Taiwan and that the bloc must not follow either the U.S. or China.

Challenges Abound: Can Biden's Foreign Policy Team Rise To Meet Them?

According to reports, Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed the Taiwan issue ‘intensely,’ keeping EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen at arm’s length, which could describe the conciliatory approach the French leader took.

Macron continued his assessment and cited the example of the Russia-Ukraine war, where the EU, despite its relative cohesion, could not resolve the situation.


The wife of lawyer Ding Jiaxi tweeted that a court in Shandong province handed him a 12-year jail term. She added the other activist, legal scholar Xu Zhiyong, was jailed for 14 years.

Challenges Abound: Can Biden's Foreign Policy Team Rise To Meet Them?
Xu Zhiyong – pictured third from left – was handed a 14-year jail term

They were separately detained in 2019 and 2020 as part of a sprawling crackdown on legal activists.

In 2010, Mr. Ding and Mr. Xu co-founded the New Citizens’ Movement, which campaigns for civil rights and government transparency. The pair were first arrested in 2013 for their roles in protests calling for equal social and educational benefits for migrant workers in Beijing.


#6. Blinken Reiterates ‘two-State Solution’ To Israel, Palestine Conflict – UPI

Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine during a call with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for the UAE.

Challenges Abound: Can Biden's Foreign Policy Team Rise To Meet Them?

The call comes as Christians celebrate Easter, Jews celebrate Passover, and Muslims celebrate the month of Ramadan. The intersection of holy holidays has drawn the eyes of the international community to more potential conflict in Israel.


#7. U.S. Leaked Documents Allege Mossad Backed Judiciary Overhaul Protests – Middle East Eye

Leaked US intelligence documents allege that the Israeli spy body Mossad secretly encouraged people to join protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed judicial overhaul.

Challenges Abound: Can Biden's Foreign Policy Team Rise To Meet Them?

The documents, dating back to “early to mid-February,” state that Mossad’s leadership had “advocated for Mossad officials and Israeli citizens to protest the new Israeli government’s proposed judicial reforms, including several explicit calls to action that decried the Israeli government.”

The intelligence memo does not state who made the order to encourage Mossad employees and civilians to join the protests but notes that the intelligence came from signals intelligence – meaning the US spied on its closest ally in the region.


#8. Israel’s Military Says Its Artillery Striking Syria After Rocket Attack – Reuters

Israeli jets hit Syrian military targets on Sunday in response to rockets launched towards Israeli-controlled territory overnight, as violence flared after cross-border exchanges of fire during the week.

Challenges Abound: Can Biden's Foreign Policy Team Rise To Meet Them?

State media in Syria reported explosions near the capital Damascus as Israel said its forces continued to hit Syrian territory after six rockets were fired overnight toward the Golan Heights.


#9. Saudi Delegation Arrives In Yemen To Discuss Truce — Reports – D.W.

Saudi representatives have arrived in Sanaa to discuss halting the eight-year civil war in Yemen. The move comes amid a diplomatic thaw between Riyadh and Tehran.

Challenges Abound: Can Biden's Foreign Policy Team Rise To Meet Them?

An intervention led by Saudi Arabia has supported Yemen’s internationally recognized government against the Iran-backed Houthi rebel group, which controls the Yemeni capital.

Yemen’s government has been at war with the Houthis for eight years.


#10. North Korea Remains Unresponsive To Military Hotline Call From South Korea For 3rd Day – Yonhap

Officials said that North Korea did not answer a routine morning call from South Korea via a military hotline for the third day in a row Sunday for unclear reasons.

Challenges Abound: Can Biden's Foreign Policy Team Rise To Meet Them?

The two Koreas are supposed to hold calls twice a day — once in the morning and the other in the afternoon — via military and liaison hotlines set up across the border. However, the North stopped answering calls from the South on Friday afternoon.

It is unclear why the North is refusing to answer the calls.


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Republished with permission from TIPP Insights

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