Former Vice President Joe Biden is skeptical of a trade war with China. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has welcomed a trade war with China.
Xi Jinping is a strongman, but he’s not as strong as Donald Trump is.
The same can be said for Biden.
As a national leader who traveled with Barack Obama in pursuing aggressive diplomacy with Iran and Russia, Biden should know better than anyone the consequences of negotiating with foes while being in a close relationship with them.
Whether dealing with Russia, Iran, North Korea, or China—where Biden reportedly has been friendly with both Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin—the Democrat engaged in the typical approach of playing a high-stakes game with the world’s biggest economic bullies, hoping to find a bargain while keeping the enemy close enough to view the long game.
Instead, the strategy has made Biden’s vision of making America great again nearly unattainable.
It is a policy so irresponsible that the nation has had to pay a high price for it. This includes a steep decline in national security and an extraordinarily ineffective defense program despite the massive defense buildup under President Barack Obama.
But now, things have reached a stage where the American people are paying a heavy price for Biden’s naïve and dangerous vision of what diplomacy should be.
With a trade war looming between China and the United States—a conflict that includes not only tariffs and potentially tens of billions of dollars in damage to Chinese businesses but, eventually, tariffs on Chinese imports into the United States—there are two outcomes that seem most likely.
China will continue with its aggressive foreign policy agenda. And we will inevitably pay a price for President Trump’s wise and necessary strategy to cut off business opportunities and national security threats to the U.S.
Biden’s misbegotten approach to China was evident in a recent interview with Real Clear Politics.
Biden signaled his willingness to lower the red line on China and possibly pave the way for a peaceful resolution.
Biden stated that the United States and China needed to find common ground to have a positive relationship with each other. He added, “I think it’s a mistake if the United States starts an arms race with China with respect to our defensive equipment.”
Biden went on to embrace China’s economic dominance, saying, “I don’t expect the United States to compete with China in a battle in the marketplace.”
Rather than negotiate how to boost the $2 trillion U.S. trade deficit with China and achieve greater prosperity for American workers, Biden had the audacity to proclaim that trade was not about competition but rather about cooperation.
American policy toward China today has not changed much over the past 20 years.
On policy, we should not put together a case study on the failures of Biden’s position with regard to China.
On the foreign policy front, the Obama administration responded to the demise of the Soviet Union with aggressive diplomacy designed to have China replace the Soviet Union as America’s top geopolitical threat.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed the same approach in her failed 2011 bid for the presidency, and former President Barack Obama, who had his sights set on the Cold War, took up the same strategy with Iran as well as North Korea.
Fortunately, President Trump has eschewed that approach, instead being more proactive with the United States’ relationships with our allies and adversaries.
Perhaps we should ask Biden to reveal the details of these failed conversations with Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping over the past few years. It should be especially revealing for Biden to publicly speak in support of Trump’s crucial initiative to secure broad sanctions relief from Iran, and yet advocate for keeping friendly relations with that regime.
In many ways, Biden’s long political career can be summarized by one single phrase: “When in doubt, negotiate with your enemies.” But Trump, who came to power with a vague and unproven message on national security, has decided the opposite—that America needs to be serious, committed to protecting American interests, and determined to restore a positive relationship with the world’s two superpowers, China and Russia.
Trump’s approach made sense. Biden’s approach makes no sense. Both failed America.
Jarrett Blanc is the founder and chairman of the board of directors at Global America Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase the number of Democrats elected to Congress in 2020.