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Christian Whiton


NextImg:Joe Biden’s Oval Office Address Was A Mess
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Israel faces a mortal threat from Hamas—one of Iran’s several proxy armies—so we must send $61 billion more to Ukraine, some 1300 miles away, to fight our undeclared proxy war with Russia, and, by the way, trains are awesome so let’s build one from India to Europe.

These things were on President Joe Biden’s mind and actually verbalized as our leader addressed the nation Thursday night from the Oval Office—the same august venue from which Eisenhower spoke of the necessity of enforcing desegregation, Kennedy walked us past the brink of nuclear war, and George W. Bush channeled a nation’s resolve after the 9/11 attacks.

After perfunctory language about the savagery of Hamas’s attack on Israel, which addressed neither the political-cultural impetus behind the barbarism (Islamism) or its chief paymaster (Iran’s government), Mr. Biden thought it fit to compliment the Palestinian people. Yes, even as officials still try to tally the Americans and Israelis killed at the hands of the government that acts in their name, Mr. Biden called for Palestinian self-determination. Unexplained was how that outcome—embodied in the all-but-dead “two-state solution”—would lead to anything other than an Islamist government just as intent on bringing war and political chaos to Americans and our allies—including Muslim-majority allies.

Mr. Biden also said he discussed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “the critical need for Israel to operate by the laws of war.” How obnoxious to lecture a government that at times warns civilians to evacuate before it acts militarily, thus losing any element of surprise. Presumably, Mr. Biden left out his own government’s unpunished war crimes, like the killing of an aid worker and seven innocent children in the panicked White House effort to change the story from the thirteen service members Mr. Biden got killed amid his catastrophic 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Most bizarre was Mr. Biden’s rapid pirouette from Israel to the Ukraine War—effectively using the new misery in the Levant to sell an unrelated Europe-first policy a continent away.

In Ukraine, America has committed the lion’s share of money for Ukraine’s military and government bureaucrats, while wealthy European moochers, who have a population and economy about as big as ours, play a vastly junior role. The spring and summer Ukrainian counteroffensive that Biden officials and voices across the political spectrum assured the American public would succeed has failed. Unprecedented U.S. sanctions haven’t noticeably degraded Russia’s military abilities but have raised the cost of energy for Americans who now pay an average of four bucks a gallon for gasoline as countries like China and India get big discounts. Instead of pushing negotiations to end this war, Biden just asked for even more money as if the current strategy is working.

Overall, Mr. Biden wants $105 billion that the United States would have to borrow for “Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and border security.” Israel would get $14 billion for urgent war needs. There is a minuscule $2 billion for “Taiwan and Indo-Pacific security.” Only a minority of that vague $2 billion would probably reach Taiwan. That residual amount of money would be just enough to ruin Taiwan’s reputation as a nation that funds its own defense and buy weapons with cash when we deign to permit them to do so.

The small remainder of the appropriation would supposedly be for U.S. border security, but given the Biden administration’s record, that could easily go to housing illegal immigrants in hotels in New York and Los Angeles. It is intended to win over conservative skeptics in Congress.

Will the plan work politically? Probably. Most Americans oppose more aid to Ukraine, but neither congressional party seems to care. In fact, keeping Ukraine on the payroll is such a bad idea it is almost inconceivable that Washington won’t take that step. (The only worse idea—adding Ukraine to NATO—is also so bad as to be inevitable in the failure factory on the Potomac.)

The clincher from Mr. Biden’s address was also the oddest part:

“The United States and our partners across the region are working to build a better future for the Middle East. One where the Middle East is more stable, better connected to its neighbors, and through innovative projects like the India, Middle East and Europe rail corridor that I announced this year at the summit of the world’s biggest economies, more predictable markets, more employment, less rage, less grievances, less war when connected. It benefits the people. It would benefit the people of the Middle East, and it would benefit us.”

What is it with progressives and trains? To claim these steps will work is to revert to the mistaken view that economic privation drives terrorism and political dysfunction in the Middle East. The reality is that Islamism—also known as political Islam and radical Islamic terrorism—is what drives violence in the Middle East. It is an ideology that unites groups as diverse as al Qaeda, Hamas (itself an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood), jihadists in Africa and Southeast Asia, and the Iranian regime, which is to Islamism what the Soviet Union was to Marxism-Leninism (i.e., the motherland and paymaster).

Mr. Biden rejects this realization, which had caused a surge of peace and cooperation in the administration that preceded his.

In effect, Joe Biden’s Oval Office speech was an infomercial for the worst, clearly failed views of the Beltway foreign policy establishment and its lasting impregnability to the reality Americans see with their own eyes.

Original URL: https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/joe-bidens-oval-office-address-was-disorganized-mess-207002

Christian Whiton was a senior adviser in the Donald Trump and George W. Bush administrations. He is a senior fellow at the Center for the National Interest.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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