Biden’s description of Russia as “the biggest threat to America” and China as its “biggest competitor” is an intriguing attempt to unite the anti-Russian and anti-Chinese factions of America’s permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) even if it’s ultimately insincere (to say nothing of being unsuccessful in the event that he tries) and intended more as a tactical short-term distraction from his son Hunter’s alleged corruption scandals.
Biden’s Foreign Policy Bluster
Biden tried to rally foreign policy hawks on both sides of the aisle during an interview on Sunday with CBS News. He declared that “I think the biggest threat to America right now in terms of breaking up our security and our alliances is Russia” while “I think that the biggest competitor is China.” His provocative assessment was made amidst reports that his son Hunter was allegedly involved in several corruption scandals involving both of those countries. The author will not be linking to those claims out of fear that Big Tech’s algorithms will censor this article or possibly even deplatform his account, but it’s enough to remind the reader that they can conduct a basic Google search or visit the New York Post or Breitbart News to read details about those accusations if they’re interested. Instead, the purpose of this piece is discuss what Biden’s motivations were in saying what he did and whether there’s any credence to it. It’ll be argued that while there’s no truth to his claims about Russia, he does have a point of sorts about China, but that his intentions in both cases are insincere.
He’s Totally Wrong About Russia…
Regarding Russia, it’s false to portray the country as “the biggest threat…in terms of breaking up our security and our alliances”. Biden is presumably referring to claims that so-called “Russian meddling” is responsible for the NATO’s multisided internal differences, but that’s not true at all. Although its problems are many, the two most pressing ones facing the bloc are Trump’s demands that its members pay their fair share and Turkey’s increasingly independent foreign policy which is frequently at odds with other members’ such as the US and Greece. Neither of those trends have anything to do with Russia even though it’s indirectly tied to them. Trump misportrayed Russia as a rising threat to NATO in order to deflect from unfounded Democrat criticism that he’s “Putin’s puppet” while Moscow sold Ankara S-400s upon President Erdogan’s request. The cause of both wasn’t “Russian meddling”, but independently existing domestic and foreign policy pressures on the US and Turkey respectively.
…But Somewhat Right About China
As for China, it’s true that it’s the only real systemic competitor to the US anywhere in the world, but Biden’s recent focus on it isn’t sincere. He’s regarded by many in the US as being “soft” on the People’s Republic, whether due to alleged ideological affinity with it or as a result of the corruption that his son Hunter is accused of engaging in with the country. Democrats loudly condemned Trump for his “trade war” and other antagonistic policies against China so it’s unbelievable that they’ll all of a sudden reverse their positions if Biden wins the presidency. Rather, this recent change of rhetoric on their part seems to be part of a gambit to appeal to on-the-fence voters who might be leaning towards Trump for reasons of national and economic security. Biden’s handlers seem to have told him that it’s time to make an effort, however insincere, to reassure them that they don’t have much to worry about if he wins. It also serves to distract from Hunter’s scandal a bit too by confusing the average voter.
“Deep State” Dynamics
There’s another dimension at play as well, and it’s that Biden’s handlers are signaling their intent to unite America’s competing anti-Russian and anti-Chinese “deep state” factions if he wins. It doesn’t mean that they’ll actually do so in practice, but it might be enough to send the message that he’s apparently considering as much in order to temper initial resistance from some of the pro-Trump anti-Chinese members of the permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies who might try to sabotage his presidency just as actively as the pro-Hillary anti-Russian ones did against Trump these past four years. This angle of analysis can only be speculated upon considering the obvious opacity of the institutions being discussed, but it still shouldn’t be discounted given their powerful influence and the interest that Biden’s team has in possibly discussing a “deep state” “ceasefire” if Trump is forced to leave office in January.
Is Biden Pro-China Or Just Anti-Trump?
Taking into account the ideological (and, as supporters might argue, “patriotic”) zeal of each “deep state” faction, it’s extremely unlikely that such a “ceasefire” would ever succeed, with it instead just being a tactical attempt to lower the guard of the Democrats’ pro-Trump anti-Chinese opponents in order to facilitate their political obliteration. He and his team’s motives aren’t so much “pro-Chinese” as they’re simply pro-power in the sense that the Democrats don’t tolerate any resistance to their agenda no matter who it comes from. Seemingly untrustworthy elements such as pro-Trump anti-Chinese members of the “deep state” would probably be purged on principle alone, not necessarily because of the substance of their strategies, though that would clearly have profound foreign policy repercussions under a potential Biden presidency. It’s after thinking this through like the author just did that one can conclude that Biden’s attempt to unite Democrat and Republican foreign policy hawks is insincere despite being intriguing on the surface.
Biden’s false portrayal of himself as equally hard on Russia and China is really just intended to deceive on-the-fence voters who lean towards Trump on issues of national and economic security while hoping to rope in any of his party’s “deep state” opponents who might be duped by this tactic. Whether Biden truly regards China as a competitor or not isn’t as important as the prediction that he’ll purge the anti-Chinese members of the “deep state” simply because of their presumed pro-Trump positions as part of the Democrats’ supreme power grab if he wins the election. The effect that this would have on American foreign policy is obvious enough, and it’s that Russia will return to being seen as “the biggest threat” even though it arguably isn’t. By contrast, this strategic redirection would relieve enormous pressure from China even if that’s not its original intention, thereby unleashing its full competitiveness that Trump actively sought to suppress during its first term, which could in turn eventually flip the dynamics of the New Cold War in China’s favor.