By Victor Davis Hanson
Our enemies do not fear us, our allies judge us unreliable, and neutrals assume America is in descent and too dangerous to join.
Why is French President Emmanuel Macron cozying up to China while trashing his oldest ally, the United States?
Why is there suddenly talk of discarding the dollar as the global currency?
Why are Japan and India shrugging that they cannot follow the United States’ lead in boycotting Russian oil?
Why is the president of Brazil traveling to China to pursue what he calls a “beautiful relationship”?
Why is Israel suddenly facing attacks from its enemies in all directions?
What happened to Turkey? Why is it threatening fellow NATO member Greece? Is it still a NATO ally, a mere neutral, or a de facto enemy?
Why are there suddenly nonstop Chinese threats toward Taiwan?
Why did Saudi Arabia conclude a new pact with Iran, its former archenemy?
Why is Egypt sending rockets to Russia to be used in Ukraine?
Since when did the Russians talk nonstop about the potential use of a tactical nuclear weapon?
Why is Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador bragging that millions of Mexicans have entered the United States, most of them illegally? And why is he interfering in U.S. elections by urging his expatriates to vote for Democrats?
Why and how, in just two years, have a confused and often incoherent Joe Biden and his team created such global chaos?
Let us answer by listing 10 ways by which America lost all deterrence.
1) Joe Biden abruptly pulled all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He left behind to the Taliban hundreds of Americans and thousands of pro-American Afghans. Biden abandoned billions of dollars in U.S. equipment, the largest air base in central Asia—recently retrofitted at a cost of $300 million—and a $1 billion embassy. Our government called such a debacle a success. The world disagreed and saw only humiliation.
2) The Biden Administration allowed a Chinese high-altitude spy balloon to traverse the continental United States, spying on key American military installations. The Chinese were defiant when caught and offered no apologies. In response, the Pentagon and the administration simply lied about the extent that China had surveilled top-secret sites.
3) In March 2021, at an Anchorage, Alaska mini-summit, Chinese diplomats unleashed a relentless barrage at their stunned and mostly silent American counterparts. They lectured the timid Biden Administration diplomats about American toxicity and hypocrisy. And they have defiantly refused to explain why and how their virology lab birthed the COVID virus that has killed tens of millions worldwide.
4) In June 2021, in response to Russian cyber-attacks against the United States, Biden meekly asked Putin to at least make off-limits certain critical American infrastructure.
5) When asked what he would do if Russia invaded Ukraine, Biden replied that the reaction would depend on whether the Russians conducted a “minor incursion.”
6) Between 2021 and 2022, Joe Biden serially insulted and bragged that he would not meet Muhammad bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, and one of our oldest and most valuable allies in the Middle East.
7) For much of 2021, the Biden Administration made it known that it was eager and ready to offer concessions to re-enter the dangerous Iran nuclear deal—at a time when Iran has joined China and Russia in a new geostrategic partnership.
8) Almost immediately upon inauguration, the administration moved the United States away from Israel, restored financial aid to radical Palestinians, and both publicly and privately alienated the current Netanyahu government.
9) In serial fashion, Biden stopped all construction on the border wall and opened the border. He made it known that illegal aliens were welcome to enter the United States unlawfully. Some 6-7 million did. He reinstated “catch and release.” And he did nothing about the Mexican cartel importation of fentanyl that has recently killed over 100,000 Americans per year.
10) In the last two years, the Pentagon has embarked on a woke agenda. The army is short by 15,000 in its annual recruitment quota. The defense budget has not kept up with inflation. One of the greatest intelligence leaks in U.S. history just occurred from the Pentagon.
The Pentagon refused to admit culpability and misled the country about Afghanistan and the Chinese spy balloon flight. The current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called his Chinese communist counterpart and head of the People’s Liberation Army to advise him that the U.S. military would warn the Chinese if it determined an order from its commander-in-chief Trump was inappropriate.
This list of these self-inflicted disasters could be easily expanded.
But the examples explain well enough why our emboldened enemies do not fear us, our triangulating allies judge us unreliable, and calculating neutrals assume America is in descent and too dangerous to join.
Yet without America, the result is a new Chinese order in which, to quote the historian Thucydides, “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”
About Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump and the recently released The Dying Citizen.