Biden’s credibility is in tatters
22 September 2021 •
Joe Biden’s speech to the United Nations this week was a sad moment for the United States on the world stage. The president’s address fell flat, generating little applause, and was met largely with muted silence. The leader of the free world looked tired and uninspired, mouthing platitudes that came across as empty, hypocritical and at times delusional.
In the wake of the monumental Afghanistan disaster and its huge global fallout, Biden has a huge credibility problem that will be impossible to fix during his presidency.
After just eight months in office, Biden already looks like a lame duck, his administration beset by a massive southern border crisis of its own making, out-of-control government spending with a national debt approaching a staggering $30 trillion, a worsening Covid pandemic, and a foreign policy disaster of epic proportions in south Asia. The only thing Biden has going for him is his vice president, Kamala Harris, comes across as even more incompetent and unpopular than he is.
In nearly 20 years in Washington, I have watched countless UN addresses broadcast live on American television screens, from four different presidents. Biden’s was quite possibly the worst in terms of sheer hypocrisy and a complete lack of substance. I suspect America’s enemies were delighted by Biden’s remarks, and US allies were mightily unimpressed.
This was a cowardly speech designed not to offend the adversaries of the free world. Biden made no direct mention of China or Russia, the United States’ two biggest opponents, and no specific reference to Islamist terrorism. He made no attempt to hold Beijing’s Communist rulers to account over the Uighur genocide or its lack of transparency and cooperation over the origins of Covid-19.
At the United Nations, the president of the most powerful nation on earth was reduced to selling a slick PR slogan, “the Build Back Better World,” the sort of marketing concept that might once have sounded chic in a Coca-Cola commercial from the 1970s.
In the wake of the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, and the handover of 38 million Afghans to the murderous and barbaric Taliban, Biden’s words came across as empty and frankly ridiculous. His lofty sentiments will be no comfort to the millions of Afghan women now sentenced to a life of servitude under an Islamist dictatorship that cares nothing for the “democratic values” or “freedom, equality, opportunity and a belief in the universal rights of all people” that Biden boasted about advancing in his speech.
Nor will his hollow claims about “rebuilding our alliances, revitalizing our partnerships, and recognizing they’re essential and central to America’s enduring security and prosperity” carry much weight outside of the Oval Office. At the UN, Biden paid lip service to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and “reaffirmed our sacred NATO Alliance 5 commitment.” But the damage Biden’s foreign policy will do to the NATO alliance is massive. America’s transatlantic partners have been horrified by Biden’s actions over Afghanistan, and many feel betrayed by the White House. There is a growing perception on the world stage that the Biden administration will abandon America’s allies at the drop of a hat.
Senior officials I have spoken to in both the UK and continental Europe fear the damage the Biden presidency is inflicting on the transatlantic alliance will be long-lasting and possibly irreparable unless the next US administration takes a dramatically different approach. They believe that the next three and a half years of the Biden era could be the most dangerous moment for the West since World War Two, with the enemies of the free world, from Beijing to Moscow, Pyongyang and Tehran, in addition to an array of Islamist terror movements, ready to test the resolve of a weakened United States.
For all the global liberal condemnation of Donald Trump, his administration never abandoned America’s leadership role, and firmly rejected the siren call of isolationism. As the Commander in Chief, his view was very clear: The US will stand with its allies, including the United Kingdom, and America’s enemies should fear its power. This is the exact opposite of the Biden doctrine, which is leaving the US weaker and more vulnerable internationally.
Joe Biden has adopted a relentlessly dangerous path of American retreat and decline. Soaring rhetoric at the UN will not change the harsh reality. Biden’s credibility is plummeting, and with it America’s standing in the world.
Nile Gardiner is the Director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at The Heritage Foundation.