Biden’s foreign policies are endangering his re-election chances
A large banner that says 'Biden Ceasefire Now' is displayed as activist Isra Chaker places rose petals over symbolic white body bags, representing those killed by Israeli bombs, in front of the White House, Nov. 15, 2023, in Washington. | Andrew Harnik / AP

The Republican nominee for the presidency will be the 90-times-indicted rapist Donald Trump unless court rulings, guilty verdicts, or acts of God prevent that from happening. Depending upon who you believe, either the anti-MAGA majority will come through again and Biden will win or Trump himself could actually end up re-entering the White House. One thing’s for sure: Neither candidate will get there without a determined electorate marching to the polls on their behalf.

If we listen to the White House, Trump has been beaten often before and it will happen again. They have a point, of course, but they ignore much of what has been behind many of the anti-Trump victories—the struggles of labor and all its allies for a progressive people’s agenda.

It is those mass struggles that are reflected in all the initial victories for the people that took place in the Biden administration. Those victories by the movements and Biden’s willingness to carry them out, together with Democratic majorities in the Senate and the House, resulted in many real, tangible improvements in the daily lives of Americans.

As many of those things were accomplished, however, the Biden administration began to shoot itself in the foot with a series of horrific foreign policy initiatives.

From Ukraine to Gaza to Yemen, President Joe Biden’s disastrous foreign policy choices are eclipsing his domestic policy achievements and endangering his re-election chances. | Evan Vucci / AP

A combination of Cold Warrior instincts and his own extreme Russophobia resulted in Biden listening to those who told him he should not respond positively to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who wanted assurances that the United States would not push for Ukraine’s entrance into NATO. There is no way to tell for sure but that, and a few other reasonable moves by the U.S., might have prevented Putin from launching his invasion of Ukraine.

Although the invasion cannot be justified regardless, one cannot deny that the Biden administration, rather than cooling tensions before it happened, actually made things worse.

At the end of last year, we learned that an end to the war was possible in March 2022, one month after the invasion of Ukraine began. High-ranking members of the German military and Russian and Ukrainian diplomats who participated in the talks disseminated the terms of the deal to the press in Europe. It was mostly ignored in the U.S.

Big foreign policy mistake number one for the Biden administration was its decision to enlist the U.K. and NATO in sabotaging the deal.

Biden has never really supported peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, even though, as this is written, peace talks between them are happening. The leading generals on both sides are negotiating prisoner release deals, as they have in the past, but without the support of Biden or even Ukraine’s President Zelensky, who has become increasingly willing to march in lockstep with the Biden administration.

As he continued his disastrous Ukraine policy, Biden moved on to back a war by Israel on the people of Gaza. His support for the Israeli bombing of Gaza, with its genocidal results, is shocking to so many opposed to how they see Trump but who have seen Biden as a decent human being.

Biden, despite protestations about backing humanitarian aid to Gaza, has continued the flow into Gaza, not of medicine, food, and water, but of deadly weapons and bombs used by Israel. The U.S. weapons have already been used to kill tens of thousands of Palestinians.

He has opened the door to Republicans who are temporarily opportunistically blocking more weapons for Israel until they get draconian immigration policies on the Southern border. The aid is supposed to be approved by Congress and not used, under international law, for anything like the massive killing of civilians. Bernie Sanders in the Senate and Barbara Lee in the House are leading fights to make that point.

Biden has made no specific demands for a ceasefire to Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu. He continues to stubbornly hold on to his refusal to bend his policy of essentially supporting anything Israel does.

Biden’s view of his foreign policy responsibilities is that it is ok for him to include bullying, threats, sanctions, and even bombings to protect so-called “American interests” abroad.

“I know we have our divisions at home,” Biden said. “We have to get past them. We can’t let petty, partisan, angry politics get in the way of our responsibilities as a great nation. We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win. I refuse to let that happen.”

To carry out his quest for what he sees as “supporting democracy” abroad, he asked Congress for a $100 billion foreign aid appropriation that included some funding for Israel but the bulk, more than $60 billion, for Ukraine.

Ordered in the Navy

And now, he has dispatched the U.S. Navy to attack the Houthis of Yemen, who have been firing missiles for weeks at ships entering the Red Sea. The Houthis, in a now-expanded war resulting in major part from Biden’s awful foreign policy, say they will not stop until the bombing of Gaza is stopped by the U.S. and Israel and until food, water, and medicine, rather than bombs, start flowing into Gaza.

Didn’t anyone in the Biden administration bother to check with their autocratic pals in Saudi Arabia before bombing Yemen? The Saudis have long understood that the Houthis are not simply a proxy for Iran. They are close allies of Iran, but they have a much more extreme fundamentalist ideology. Among their leaders are some whom they consider to be more important than any of the top clerics in Iran.

The Saudis failed to defeat the Houthis even after seven years of war against them, a war they fought also with U.S. weapons. They started that battle, with the full backing of the U.S., in 2015.

The Saudis constantly carpet-bombed and fired missiles at Yemen, killing tens of thousands for those seven years but essentially got nowhere in their attempt to defeat the Houthis. The U.S. was fully on board in that war, supplying weapons, intelligence, air defense systems, and modern fighter jets.

Despite the constant barrage of Saudi and U.S. attacks, the Houthis held on. The U.S. and the Saudis finally backed down, not because they had won, but because the Houthis were beginning to threaten Saudi and international oil cartel capacity in the south of Saudi Arabia.

So, here we are in yet another war with a Biden administration unsure of what it can really accomplish. What does Biden think he can do in Yemen that the U.S. could not do in seven years of warfare there already?

Big shipping companies have already opted to take the extra week or two and expend the extra fuel to go around the continent of Africa and bypass the Houthi blockade of the Red Sea. If oil prices rise as a result and prices come up again at the pump in the U.S., we will have yet another major impediment to Biden’s re-election.

Biden’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, inspects weapons as he tours a Ukrainian military base near Kiev, Sept. 7, 2023. Ukraine is losing the war against Russia, according to most credible reports. Biden is still trying to funnel a further $60 billion or more in new weapons to the Zelensky government. | Brendan Smialowski / Pool photo via AP

Getting back to Ukraine, it should be clear to Biden that he has big problems even if he “succeeds” in Yemen—a virtual impossibility because his administration has no plan there other than bombing to try to open the Red Sea passage. And that seems already that it could be failing.

Perhaps the administration hopes a war in Yemen might deflect attention from the losing battle in Ukraine. Whatever Biden does in Yemen, however, is unlikely to undo the political damage he has done to himself by backing what is now a losing war in Ukraine and a genocide in Gaza.

On another front, the president has a youth problem that has nothing to do with his own age. Millions of youth are angry about the war on Gaza, and he needs them if he is to win the election in November. Large Arab-American voting blocks in the key swing state, Michigan, are no small problem, either.

There are reports of a fight within the Biden administration, with many, including the president himself, thinking that he has to stay the course on his foreign policy in order to win a second term. Others say this is not the case, and there are reports that some fundraisers are saying some “givers” are thinking about holding back on their money. At this point, however, Biden has a lot more money stockpiled than anyone else.

It would be best for him, the nation, and the world if he reversed his disastrous foreign policies. Reversal would boost the fight against fascists, including Trump, in the elections in November.

Regardless of what the Biden administration does, however, millions in America who constitute the anti-MAGA and anti-fascist majority have our work cut out for us between now and November.

It’s tough when the alternative to an open fascist is a president who pursues a foreign policy unbecoming of a democracy.

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John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.