Foreign Policy Gaffes: Biden Insults US Allies

President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bump fists at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah on July 15, 2022. Photo by Saudi Press Agency, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

President Biden’s latest gaffe is that he insulted Japan and India by calling them xenophobic. But the US president has a history of insulting US allies and often demonstrates that he does not understand world affairs or the significance of the people he meets with.

When he was supposed to visit the UK last year on Good Friday, Biden chose Ireland over England, which upset Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. He also missed the coronation of King Charles III, which was a serious error considering the UK is the United States’ closest ally and has fought alongside us in nearly every conflict except Vietnam.

In February, he called Vladimir Putin a “crazy SOB.” Granted, Russia is not a US ally, but it is not normal behavior to hurl personal insults at world leaders. This is the sort of thing that makes it difficult to broker a peace deal in Ukraine. Similarly, Biden called Trump a clown and told him to “shut up.” The two are not friends, but with Biden at the helm, Democrats have lost the moral high ground. He also called a journalist from Fox News a “stupid son of a b-tch.”

When speaking at the G7, Biden mixed up Macron with Mitterrand, who died in 1996, and confused France with Germany. He told the leaders of the world’s richest countries, “And Mitterrand from Germany — I mean, from France…” When it looked as if the right-of-center candidate Giorgia Meloni would be elected as the new prime minister of Italy, Biden insinuated that right-wing candidates winning elections represent a breakdown in democracy. He warned, “You just saw what happened in Italy in that election. You’re seeing what’s happening around the world. The reason I bother to say that is, you can’t be sanguine about what’s happening here either.”

In March of this year, he insulted Hungary’s conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, stating that he “flatly doesn’t think democracy works and is looking for dictatorship.” Obviously, Orbán has never called for a dictatorship, but he has pushed back against unfettered globalism, prioritizing the needs of his country over the demands of the EU. A head of state prioritizing his own country sounds like a good idea, much like “America First”.

By far, the most egregious violation of diplomatic integrity has been Biden’s mishandling of relations with Saudi Arabia, the most powerful nation in the Middle East and one of the most vital regional allies of the United States. In 2019, during his campaign for the presidency, Biden called the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state. He threatened, “We [are] going to, in fact, make them pay the price, and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.”

Three years later, when gasoline had hit record highs, he crawled to the Kingdom to beg them to increase output and bring oil prices down. Before leaving the US, he downplayed the significance of the meeting, telling reporters that he was not traveling to the Middle East for the specific purpose of meeting with the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but rather, that the two would both be attending a conference and might see each other casually. When the two met, rather than shaking hands, Biden offered the crown prince a fist bump.

If Biden were a social media influencer, then the fist bump would be considered a success because the image went viral. However, as the head of the most powerful nation on Earth, hoping to achieve diplomatic aims, it was a miserable failure that horribly offended the prince and the nation he represents.

One of the facts Biden forgets when he meets dictators or when he meets royalty is that they own everything. By contrast, the American president owns nothing—not even the limo he’s riding in or the house on Pennsylvania Avenue he lives in. Another point is that in eight months, or a maximum of four years and eight months from now, Biden will be retired, while dictators and royalty will continue to rule. They were there long before Biden became a signatory for the US government, and they will be there long after.

It would probably be easy for the man holding the most powerful position on earth to forget that he is a mere blip on the geopolitical timeline, but Biden seems to not even have considered this. He seems to actually believe that he, not the office, has the power.

Trump had been in the public spotlight since at least 1980. He was a self-made billionaire who regularly consorted with kings, queens, and heads of state, not as a public servant, but as an equal. This experience showed through in his handling of Putin, Xi Jinping, and the Saudis, as well as his ability to secure a meeting with Kim Jong Un.

Biden also seems to forget that the world is watching America through the internet. While speaking at a black college, he blamed white people. His habit of pandering to his audience makes him overlook the fact that those he insults are also watching. Like a campaigning politician, he wants to be able to say whatever he thinks the audience wants to hear in the moment and have it forgotten ten minutes later. But the world doesn’t work like that. Long before their meeting, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was well aware of Biden’s harsh remarks, labeling his country a pariah.

The Crown Prince was also aware that on that same trip to the Middle East, Biden shook hands with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while he only fist bumped the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

It comes as no surprise that Saudi Arabia did not help Biden bring down gas prices.

In addition to not doing what the US wants them to do, several world leaders have snubbed Biden. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the U.A.E.’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan both declined to speak with Biden in March 2022. Similarly, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador refused to attend the US-hosted Summit of the Americas that year because the administration had excluded Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. Most recently, Jordan canceled the US summit with Arab leaders when Biden prioritized visiting Israel.

Whether casual or coincidental, Biden insults US allies, and now the US is involved in conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, while trying to maintain the defense of Taiwan and keep a lid on the chaos in Haiti. Additionally, the US is attempting to prevent Africa from collapsing under the re-emergence of ISIS and Boko Haram.

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Dr. Antonio Graceffo, PhD, China MBA, is an economist and national security analyst with a focus on China and Russia. He is a graduate of American Military University.

You can email Antonio Graceffo here, and read more of Antonio Graceffo's articles here.

 

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