Biden Shelves Diplomacy To Confront Russia and China

On September 8, 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared that the US was getting tired of waiting for Iran: "I’m not going to put a date on it but we are getting closer to the point at which a strict return to compliance with the JCPOA does not reproduce the benefits that that agreement achieved."

The US is getting tired of waiting for Iran? Iran asked only for a pause while the new government of President Ebrahim Raisi got its team in place. That didn’t have to happen: the US could have re-entered the deal while Rouhani was still president and not waited for the election of a new government.


Iran waited for months for the US to restart negotiations after Biden won the election. On the first day of Biden’s presidency, Rouhani assured the US that “If they issue an order, they will see an order issued in Iran. . . . If they effectively implement their commitments, they must know there will be effective implementation of commitments on this side.” "We are a long way from there," Blinken delayed. Iran waited.

Iran waited for the US to return to compliance by ending all the sanctions that they were required by international law to end. Foreign minister Javad Zarif reiterated that "Biden can choose a better path by ending Trump’s failed policy of ‘maximum pressure’ and returning to the deal his predecessor abandoned. If he does, Iran will likewise return to full implementation of our commitments under the nuclear deal." He simply stated that the Biden administration must "unconditionally" remove "all sanctions," and promised that Iran would then "reverse all the remedial measures it has taken in the wake of Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal." The US delayed. Iran waited.

Iran waited for the US to enter seriously into negotiations. Raisi told French President Emmanuel Macron that Iran had no patience for "negotiations for the sake of negotiations." Negotiations must not only lead to the promised removal of sanctions, they also must be serious negotiations. They must be real. The US had to guarantee that they would not simply abandon the agreement again. But the US has not given that guarantee. So, Iran waits.

Most importantly, Iran waited for decades for the US to permit it its legal right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes or even to purchase uranium for peaceful purposes. It is a cruel insult to Iran to maintain sanctions and say that the US is getting tired of waiting for them. History clearly shows that it is Iran who has been waiting.

North Korea

And it is not only Iran who has been waiting. Tired of waiting for the US to notice them, North Korea seems to have gone operational at its 5-megawatt nuclear reactor. Struggling to be seen, they then claim to have successfully tested a newly developed long-range missile. North Korea has long said that it would negotiate away its nuclear weapons in exchange for a US guarantee that it would cease its "hostile policy" of political, economic and security threats. But North Korea still waits for that promise while the US and South Korea undertake military exercises. US envoy for North Korea, Sung Kim, says "The United States does not have hostile intention." He says the US-South Korean military exercises are "long-standing, routine and purely defensive in nature." What he forgets to say is that the 2018 iteration of the exercises was canceled to give diplomacy with North Korea "every opportunity to continue." So, what does it mean that they are they being held now?


While campaigning to be president, Biden said that he would “promptly reverse the failed Trump policies that have inflicted harm on the Cuban people and done nothing to advance democracy and human rights.” Once he was president, his White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, explained that “A shift in Cuba policy is not among President Joe Biden’s top foreign policy priorities.” National Security Council senior director for the Western Hemisphere Juan Gonzalez says that the Biden administration has “no major urgency to invest a lot of time” on Cuba unless they see “concrete steps” from Cuba. So, despite Biden’s campaign promise, Cuba is not a priority, and Cuba waits.


The Palestinians, too, wait. An Israeli-Palestinian peace plan also seems not to be a priority for the Biden administration. Secretary of State Antony Blinken formulated it this way: “I don’t think we’re at the – in a place where the getting to some kind of negotiation for what ultimately I think has to be the result, which is a two-state solution, is the first order of business.”

Blinken seems to be speaking on behalf of Israel, not the Palestinians. While the Palestinians wait for it to be the first order of business, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has clearly stated that he would not allow the creation of a Palestinian state while he is prime minister. While he said he would expand Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, he added that "This government will neither annex nor form a Palestinian state." So, the Palestinians wait.


One country that is not having to wait is Ukraine. On September 1, 2021, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky went to the front of the line and became only the second European leader to be invited to meet Biden in the White House. There Biden pledged his "support for Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations” and gave his assurance that “the United States remains firmly committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Having finished the introductions and small talk, Biden then quickly announced “a new $60 million security assistance package" that would include Javelin anti-armor missiles and other lethal weapons.

That provokes Russia. So, Ukraine doesn’t have to wait.


Taiwan doesn’t have to wait either. In apparent violation of the 1979 agreement to withdraw US forces from Taiwan, end its defense treaty with Taiwan and maintain only low-profile, unofficial diplomatic relations, Biden began his presidency by inviting Taiwan’s representative to the US to his inauguration. He then sent an unofficial delegation of former US officials to Taiwan. On April 9, State Department spokesman Ned Price “issued new guidelines for US government interaction with Taiwan counterparts to encourage US government engagement with Taiwan that reflects our deepening unofficial relationship.” It called Taiwan “an important security and economic partner” and determined to “liberalize guidance on contacts with Taiwan.” The US then sailed warships in the South China Sea and through the Taiwan Strait and conducted drills with the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Nimitz and their strike groups in the South China Sea. The Chinese Defense Ministry says that Biden has increased the military activity of warships near China by 20% and of aircraft by 40%.

Recent reports that the Biden administration is considering dropping the words "Economic and Cultural" from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, Taiwan’s mission in the US, and changing the name to the Taiwan Representative Office reflects a foreign policy shift away from the 1979 promise to have only "cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations" with Taiwan. When Lithuania rebranded its Taiwan mission to Taiwan Representative Office, in July, the State Department said that "The U.S. supports our European partners as they develop ties with Taiwan." National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan phoned the Lithuanian prime minister to reaffirm that US support. The shift is a provocation of China. So, Taiwan doesn’t have to wait.

Apparently, in the most recent confrontational move against China, Australia also doesn’t have to wait to get "nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy."

Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Palestine have to wait because US foreign policy is hostile to them; Ukraine, Taiwan and Australia don’t because that provokes Russia and China, the two main focuses of the Biden administration’s hostility.

Ted Snider has a graduate degree in philosophy and writes on analyzing patterns in US foreign policy and history.