Three reasons progressives should celebrate.
President Joe Biden inherited a not-insignificant number of foreign policy challenges from previous administrations. That isn’t at all unusual, but Biden was also unlucky enough to draw Covid19; ongoing, aftermath, clean-up duty, and long-term management.
Biden also drew the short straw on long-simmering global conflicts beyond the control of any American president— like the slow-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, which actually began over a decade ago before escalating last February.
Still, some of Biden’s challenges have been of his administration’s own making. Or rather, mishandling.
The Afghanistan withdrawal could certainly have been handled better, not least of which was the botched drone strike of a humanitarian aid worker and his entire family by U.S. forces acting on faulty intelligence that the man was carrying explosives.
He was carrying water.
The U.S. border is a humanitarian nightmare of epic proportions, where Fentanyl smuggling and human trafficking are flourishing.
Opposition to Biden’s lax border policies isn’t confined to the Republican side of the aisle anymore, either.
“‘We have been ignored’: Democrat-led cities beg Biden for help with migrants,” reported POLITICO on January 4, 2023.
“Democrats Need An Immigration Strategy Before They Turn On Each Other,” begged The Washingtonian this month along similar lines: “The party needs to get past its mantra of comprehensive immigration reform and address the border mess with seriousness and compassion, unlike the GOP.”
The Washingtonian is only half right. To sort out the border crisis, in addition to other foreign policy and national security challenges, Biden is going to need help.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) made history this week when he became the first Texan ever elected to chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee. It’s a big job and McCaul is exactly the right person for it for three reasons.
Foreign policy is a bipartisan endeavor; always has been. Everything in Washington is accomplished by working together. Without that teamwork, nothing is possible.
And with both chambers so close to being even, teamwork and bipartisanship are going to be more important than ever.
“Congratulations to fellow Texan @RepMcCaul on being selected to chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” tweeted Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX) on January 11, from across the aisle. “I look forward to continuing our bipartisan work together to lead with our American values and ensure safety at home and stability abroad.”
McCaul recently co-sponsored key legislation aimed at combatting human trafficking with Democrat Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee.
“While human trafficking is a global enterprise, it is also a horrific reality in communities across America — and school-aged children are particularly vulnerable. An estimated 80,000 minors are currently being trafficked in Texas alone, with many cases originating at school,” said Rep. McCaul in a statement.
“It is the responsibility of lawmakers in Washington to work diligently to address the epidemic that is human trafficking,” said Rep. Jackson Lee. “I proposed this bill in the name of the thousands of victims, especially those who are underage, who have been exploited by traffickers, and whose futures are now stained with trauma.”
It’s a brave new world of warfare out there. From cyber and infrastructure attacks to hacking and ransomware, America’s enemies are finding new ways to weaken their geopolitical foes all the time.
Congressman McCaul is one elected official who has been sounding the alarm on this area of growing concern for some time. It’s a problem that impacts all of us — Republicans, Democrats, and everyone in between.
“As bad actors like Russia & China conduct cyberattacks to weaken democracy, it’s more crucial than ever that Congress monitor cyberspace,” McCaul pointed out on December 22, 2022. “I’m thankful for Rep. Langevin’s many years of leadership & look forward to working with Rep. Slotkin to continue bolstering US cybersecurity.”
China, Russia, and Iran
As U.S. companies like Apple desperately hurry to divest themselves of manufacturing portfolios fully dependent on China, the Chinese Communist Party is inching closer to Taiwan by the day.
Under the guise of “combat exercises”, 57 Chinese warplanes were detected near Taiwan just last week. Foreign policy experts like McCaul certainly remember that “combat exercises” were the excuse Vladimir Putin used to dismiss his critics right up until the moment Russian military forces rolled into Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin had been softening up Ukraine for over a decade before deciding to proceed with the next stage of his plan in February 2022 — just as the CCP has been doing to Taiwan — using information warfare, economic sabotage, election interference, hacking, and other nefarious methods meant to weaken geopolitical opponents before invasion.
In the Middle East, deft and deliberate foreign policy is going to be just as crucial over the next two years.
While the Biden Administration has wisely abandoned plans to return to the old nuclear agreement with Iran, its reasons for doing so weren’t the right ones.
Iran is still trying to build a nuclear bomb. But that isn’t even what worries its largest sovereign neighbor, Saudi Arabia, the most. The Saudis fear — rightly — the amount of money Iran’s rulers have spent sponsoring terrorism in the region.
Iran’s ruling party is brutally cracking down on the protests which have been sweeping the country over the past few months, but the Iranian regime has long been known for its brutal treatment of protestors.
The Biden administration abandoned the JCPOA for none of those reasons. Iran’s support of Russia was the straw that broke the Iran nuclear deal.
Should Russia and the U.S. make peace, the JCPOA could be on the table again in an instant.
Rep. McCaul understands the necessity of defunding terrorism in Iran.
With Chairman McCaul at the helm of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, bipartisanship, level-headedness, and good Texas common sense are far more likely to prevail.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)