Commentary on Political Economy

Monday 18 March 2024



Biden Weakens America’s Global Clout

Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

With Niger’s gross domestic product at a miserable $545 per person in 2022, the United Nations ranks the landlocked country as one of the five least-developed nations on the planet.

Over the weekend Niger’s government responded to American accusations that it was negotiating to sell uranium to Iran by ending military cooperation with the U.S. The decision is another win for Vladimir Putin’s effort to extend Russian power, a welcome boost to Iran, and a serious blow to America’s plans for combating the return of jihadist violence across a swath of Africa.

It is also one more sign that the Biden administration is losing its ability to shape international events.


In blowing off President Biden, Niger’s military junta is joining a global trend. Mr. Putin renews his threats of nuclear use, rejects talk of diplomacy and hints at even greater ambitions as he grinds out bloody conquests in Ukraine. Iran is helping one of its proxies close the Red Sea while another fires missiles and rockets into Israel. North Korea is beefing up its nuclear and conventional forces. China is massively boosting defense spending while pressing its advantages across the Indo-Pacific and into the Western hemisphere. From Haiti to Sudan, warlords and gang bosses thumb their noses at American diplomatic efforts to restore stability.

The administration’s declining power to deter our adversaries is the biggest problem for American foreign policy, for world peace and, potentially, for Mr. Biden’s re-election. Like a scarecrow that no longer keeps hungry birds from pecking at the corn, Team Biden is losing the ability to prevent hostile powers from picking at the foundations of the American-led world order.

It isn’t all Mr. Biden’s fault. American foreign policy has been on a losing streak since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and some bills for past foolishness are coming due on his watch. Under presidents of both parties, we haven’t kept pace with China’s military buildup even as we allowed the industrial infrastructure that supports our military power to decay. Mr. Putin attacked Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. The U.S. and its European allies failed to respond effectively in either case.

Internal American politics continue to diminish America’s global clout. The possibility that Donald Trump will return to the White House in 2025 and reverse many Biden-era policies undercuts Team Biden’s credibility with friends and foes alike. And polls pointing to rising isolationist sentiment in the U.S. have many foreign leaders believing that America is a diminishing force in global affairs.


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