Fellow Patriots:

I asked our team to pause for family time this week before kids return to school. The homepage is updated daily. The Digest returns on Monday, August 2. —Mark Alexander

Rich Lowry / Jun. 19, 2021

Biden’s Tribute to Trump

The old consensus on China had become unsustainable, but it took Trump to demolish it.

A key storyline of President Joe Biden’s overseas trip was how different Biden was from President Donald Trump, and indeed he was — except in one crucial area.

Biden’s hawkishness on China, which figured prominently, was a reflection of how fundamentally Trump changed our posture toward Beijing.

It is the ultimate victory for a politician if he doesn’t just reorient his own party, but the other party — Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher both did this, producing more moderate Democratic and Labor leaders in Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, respectively.

On China, Trump’s wrenching shift in the U.S. approach is now getting the tribute of broad acceptance by a successor who has nothing good to say about him and wants, in fact, to differentiate himself from the former president as much as possible.

It is impossible to imagine President Barack Obama during his time in office, just five years ago, pressuring reluctant European allies to take a tougher line on China, as Biden did over the past week.

For 20 years, the U.S. had operated on the bipartisan assumption that welcoming Beijing into the international system and establishing closer commercial ties would pay off in a liberalizing China.

By the end of the Obama years, it was increasingly clear that this strategy had come a cropper. The Obama team talked of a “pivot to Asia,” or shifting attention and resources from the Middle East to Asia, but this was more sloganeering than substance.

Even as China invested massively in its military, encroached further on the South China Sea, continued to engage in cyber espionage and hacking, launched the Belt and Road Initiative, started to build its own international financial architecture via the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and began its campaign of cultural genocide against the Uyghurs, Obama remained accommodating.

The situation resembled the end of the Jimmy Carter years, when any hope of the Soviets moderating their behavior was blown away by the invasion of Afghanistan.

The old consensus on China had become unsustainable, but it took Trump, contemptuous of elite opinion and willing to blow things up (or at least talk about it), to demolish it.

For years, the security and trade relationships with China had been considered separate realms, or worse, we’d been afraid of pushing too hard on security matters for fear of upsetting commercial relationships.

Trump linked trade and security, and sent the message to the world that the co-mingling of U.S. and Chinese economies wasn’t inevitable and, indeed, could be reversed.

Trump over-personalized his relationship with President Xi and oversold what might come of the trade war with China, but the reorientation was unmistakable.

Beneath the drumbeat of controversy from the top, though, Trump officials undertook a thoughtful, deliberate effort to set out and implement a new strategy.

The administration produced several important documents across the government — from the Department of Defense to the National Security Council, to the State Department — that crystallized the new thinking.

The administration worked to buttress alliances in Asia and successfully lobbied European countries to exclude Huawei from its networks, part of a broad pushback on all fronts, including defense, diplomacy, cyber, telecom, trade and human rights.

By any fair measure, this was a serious campaign and China’s behavior in recent years has only underlined its necessity.

It would be foolish to trash all of this only because it had the name “Trump” attached to it. To his credit, Biden hasn’t. It remains to be seen how tough-minded he really will be on China, but directionally, his push to get allies on the record condemning Chinese malfeasance is welcome.

Biden’s bonhomie with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel was fine as far as it went, and a marked difference from Trump.

But, more importantly, his emphasis on what might be the defining confrontation of the first half of the 21st century made an implicit nod to the enduring strategic transformation brought about by his predecessor.

© 2021 by King Features Syndicate

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.