Most of the attention on what President Biden has been doing to undo the terrible damage caused by his predecessor has been on many domestic fronts. They include an enormous ramping up of the war on Covid-19, and buoying the grass roots of what will be an explosive economic recovery with a masterful achievement of the $1.9 trillion American Recovery Plan. That will be followed soon by an equally massive infrastructure development and jobs initiative.
So, what Biden’s doing in his first 100 days (he’s got a few weeks left) eclipses what President Obama did in his first 100 days and it puts him in the heady ranks of Lincoln and FDR as truly transformative national leaders. Obama was transformative by simply being who he was, and was a model of moral and principled leadership with Biden as his sidekick.
Lyndon Johnson did some magnificent things, too, with his Great Society initiatives advancing the legacy of FDR in the 1960s.
In the meantime, it’s become so bad for the GOP that they’ve gone full postal over the last decade and now are the party identified by the January 6 sacking of the capitol. They chose a willful failure to respond to the challenge of the times with a principled and moral fight to win the growing legions of racial and ethnic minorities into their ranks. Instead, they decided to repudiate and disenfranchise those elements with a horribly racist and reprehensible attack strategy on voting rights. Yes, in the spirit of Robert Frost, when their two roads diverged in the woods, the terrible one they chose made all the difference.
That horrible degeneration — that choice of Potterville over Bedford Falls — has almost destroyed American democracy, and is still a threat. But the Biden administration is pressing aggressively on its recovery agenda. So the nation now has hopes of emerging stronger than ever as a global bastion for democracy, freedom and human rights.
The challenges extend to the nation’s foreign and trade policies. In particular, the damage done by Trump to America’s relations abroad has set us back greatly, both with respect to allies and adversaries. It may emerge that the single greatest damage done to our democracy by Putin’s influence on Trump will be in this area of engagement.
Still, the world needs to learn that “America is back,” and will quickly find that her reengagement with her strategic allies will be achieved without a great loss in influence, after time, and that reengagement will serve her in the effort to stand strong against some adversaries, such as the Chinese, who may be trying to exploit a perceived new American weakness since Trump.
Already America is joining with her allies to slap new sanctions on China for its reprehensible treatment of Muslim Uyghurs in that country’s northwestern provinces. The U.S. has joined her allies the European Union, Britain and Canada in imposing new sanctions against something that has been going on for years.
It is asserted that there are as many as a million Uyghurs in concentration camps in that part of the world.
Not enough attention is being paid to why this is, other than that China is a brutal, racist dictatorship in its own right.
It has to do with clearing the area for China’s aggressive Belt and Road initiative to build overland multimodal transportation routes to Europe, its ‘New Silk Road” plan to gain a strategic, global upper hand in the economic and military domination of Eurasia.
An independent task force paper released this week, “China’s Belt and Road: Implications for the United States,” states in its opening sentence, “The Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy undertaking and the world’s largest infrastructure program, poses a significant challenge to U.S. economic, political, climate change, security and global health interests.”
Reorienting global commerce away from the United States and Western Europe toward China, it may undermine global stability by, among other things “enabling China to lock countries into Chinese ecosystems by pressing its technology and preferred technical standards onto the initiative’s recipients.”
If treatment of the Uyghurs in this is evidence, this initiative does not bode well.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected]