With friends like President Biden…

“America will have the backs of our friends in the region.”

It was the last sentence of a February 10 statement at the White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in response to a terrorist attack that killed at least a dozen civilians in Saudi Arabia.

Surely Mr. Sullivan had sincerely wanted it. To anyone who has watched what happened in the Biden administration, however, the language sounds more like bitter comedy or, at best, wishful thinking.

Note the future. Not “America at the backs of our friends”, but “America will have the backs.

Maybe when another president takes over.

Mr. Biden has been in office for just over a year, but he has already betrayed enough allies that “America will have the backs of our friends in the region” sounds like a cynical lie. It’s a lie on par with this favorite of the administration in which Mr. Biden was vice president, “If you like your healthcare planyou can keep your health care plan.

How did Mr. Biden treat America’s friends?

He withheld $130 million in military aid from Egypt, citing human rights concerns.

It sanctioned two Israeli tech companies, ostensibly for selling services to Saudi Arabia.

Despite Israeli opposition, he worked to get America back into the Iran nuclear deal that would provide Israel’s enemy $700 billion in sanctions relief.

He withdrew from Afghanistan, leaving our former allies there at the mercy of the Taliban. According to a UN reportsince America left, more than 100 people have been victimized by the Taliban in “revenge killings”.

He failed to complete a $23 billion arms deal with the United Arab Emirates that had been struck by the Trump administration. The Associated Press described it as “a rare dispute between Washington and a key US ally in the Persian Gulf.”

It turns out that such disputes are actually not that uncommon, at least under Mr. Biden.

Mr. Biden’s betrayal is not limited to the Middle East either.

He mishandled relations with France via clumsy communication over a submarine deal with Australia. France went so far as to recall its ambassador from Washington in protest.

He annoyed poland by meeting President Putin during a trip to Europe but without giving the Poles time, and also by lifting the sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.

He snubbed Britain by lifting Trump-era tariffs on steel and aluminum from the European Union, but not the post-Brexit UK. “Marketplace” program of the public radio cited a businessman and former member of the European Parliament for the Brexit Party, John Longworth, said: “It is almost as if the United States had taken the decision to punish one of its greatest allies.”

Almost.

Canada is another friend Mr. Biden has insulted. “A weakened Biden throws Canada under the bus, again”, he headlined on a column in Konrad Yakabuski’s Globe & Mail about an oil pipeline. He wrote: “Forced to choose sides in a dispute that pits the progressive wing of the Democratic Party against his country’s closest ally, Mr. Biden is once again throwing Canada under the bus.”

Journalists are encouraged to exaggerate minor spats in international crises. Politicians are often encouraged to cover up differences so they don’t appear to be mismanaging relationships with their allies. If America gave all our friends everything they want all the time, we would be in deep trouble, because sometimes the interests of allies conflict with each other or with America’s national interest.

But when Mr. Sullivan says, “America will have the backs of our friends in the region,” no one believes him. The reality is that America will only have our friends’ backs if it is not too costly or too politically inconvenient, or until the support exceeds the limited capacity and attention span of the America.

When the “have your friends’ back” rule conflicts with another principle, value, desire, or priority, friends can find themselves out of luck, thrown under the bus, punished, snubbed. Or they may find themselves redefined by friendship in another category.

As the presidential candidate, Mr. Biden at fault President Trump for “raising doubts among our allies around the world about America’s security commitments”. Mr. Trump wasn’t perfect either, but anyone who takes Mr. Sullivan’s word that “America will have our friends’ backs” should brace themselves for a knife between the shoulder blades.

________

Mr. Stoll is the editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and author of JFK, conservative.

Image: President Biden at the White House, February 6, 2022. AP/Patrick Semansky

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