Soul(less) Man

Hill.TV

President Joe Biden’s “ecumenical” statement that Russian President Vladimir Putin had no soul should be worrying enough – much more than the 46th president’s impersonation of Gerald Ford in 1975.

What is even more troubling is that if Putin has no soul, it appears that the Biden Administration’s approach towards foreign policy has limited foresight and imagination, little structure, and no current moral authority on which to guide the rest of the world.

Especially where it matters most.

For all of the clamoring for change by many going into November 2020 and the expressions of relief that America is “…back as leader of the free world…” by our traditional allies, it is evident that something is still quite amiss.

And, again, it goes much deeper than the Clinton-esque stumble that launched a million doubts around the world from America to Russia, a continuation of innuendos that date back through the campaign season.

Biden’s harsh tone and rhetoric without policy substance behind them (to date) only reflect the woes of international affairs that occurred under Mr. Biden’s former employer, President Obama. Roughly ten years ago, harsh tones and drawn red lines were the rage of a Nobel Peace Prize-winning executive who, despite strong words, watched as Putin and Russia annexed a portion of a free nation, created destabilization in another region of Ukraine, and defused a humanitarian crisis in Syria.

For a similar act to what the Russians did to Crimea, Bush 41 sent much of the world to war to re-liberate Kuwait two decades earlier – and won that war in 42 days. For a similar act to what the Russians did in eastern Ukraine, America and her allies eventually had to beat back Nazis to secure democracy.

And the result that came after Putin’s intervention in the Syria barrel-bombing build-up over 2011-2012? Eventually, the blotched negotiations from a Biden-led delegation that led to the emergence of ISIS.

Perhaps, here we go again.

This administration must understand: “peace through strength” means much more than tough words. Smart, substantive actions must stand with a steely resolve and a moral authority as a force for good if those actions are to lead to diplomatic wins.

However, as both the Russians and Chinese reminded the Biden Administration this week – despite the president’s pride after the high-profile bickering between his secretary of state and his Chinese counterpart in Alaska —  America under Biden has yet to garner the moral authority to challenge them on issues of fairness, might, or the mantle of the new world order’s global leadership.

As both frenemy nations reminded the world this past week, the slights of racial and social misjustice over the past 15 years in America did not happen mostly on Donald Trump’s watch – they occurred during the Obama-Biden Era. The egregious circumstances befalling Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Marlene Pinnock, and many others happened while the Obama-Biden Administration was in control of the US Justice Department.  The debacles of foreign policy that failed at their objectives and spilled innocent blood (through both needless decisions such as the Invasion of Libya and abdication of responsibility such as pre-caliphate Iraq) were decisions made by men with a combined 4 decades of federal experience coming into power in 2009 – with all but 4 of those years coming from the current American president.

The failures of much of America’s foreign affairs policies and the slippery tones that reflected unsteadiness with non-allies internationally this past week recollect the stumbles of an American leader’s career that includes everything from horrible domestic positions from Anita Hill to the 1994 Crime Bill to misreads in foreign affairs from the 2003 Invasion of Iraq to the 2011-2012 vacuum that led to wide torture and sex slavery in “the Caliphate”.

Worry about a stumble up a flight of stairs if you must. It makes for good social media fodder. The stumbling on the world stage this week makes for fodder that destabilizes a tense geopolitical environment already. Worry about that more.

Should communist China and semi-socialist Russia be the barometers of moral clarity? Hardly. The poisoning of Alexey Navalny and the Hong Kong-China tensions should remind nations that both Russia and China bring criticism of the United State to bear with sordid current affairs to deal with of their own.  However, this week has made it quite clear: the role of this Biden Administration is to perform a hard right from its current course, turning away from the ineptitude that often marred the 46th president throughout this career as US Senator and Vice President. Until this president can act with a consistency of values where his expressed verbiage for freedom and fairness are not contrasted with civil rights crises at the southern border, criticism from allies over race and power-sharing domestically, and continued anti-American economic policies that continue a non-effective trade war, America remains weakened in the shadows of recent years where Russia has flexed its military (and cyber-military) strength and China has flexed his economic resilience even amid the impacts of COVID-19.

Putin may not have a soul, but right now, Biden appears to be without depth – of moral authority and of foreign affairs substance. Without a pivot into something better from the Administration, our nation may not have the spirit, the strength, or the steady stride to walk into a brighter future, stumbling into a new era where America is dictated to more than we are leading.