Biden repeats Carter’s mistakes amid China’s Cuba presence

El manisero and Jar-Jar

From our Bureau of Déjà Vu

Roger Zakheim has written a very perceptive analysis of Jar-Jar Biden’s foreign policy, comparing the doddering Jar-Jar to Jimmy Carter. When it comes to dealing with enemies of the U.S., both presidents prefer appeasement to confrontation.

In Jimmy Carter’s case, appeasement led to Soviet aggression in Angola, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and even Cuba, where Soviet troops were deployed.

And in Cuba, Fidel toyed with “el manisero” (peanut vendor) — as he loved to call peanut farmer Jimmy Carter — showing nothing but utter contempt for Carter and American power. Who could ever forget the Mariel boat lift? And who could ever forget that Carter would later say he remembered Fidel “fondly” when the monster died in 2016.

Unfortunately, the world has always had a surplus of aggressive, expansionist tyrannies who interpret every gesture of appeasement, decency, or respect as weakness and an opportunity for increased aggression.

If you find this fact depressing, cheer yourself up a bit by watching this Saturday Night Live skit from 2002, featuring Fidel Castro (Will Ferrell) and Jimmy Carter (Darrell Hammond).

Abridged from National Review

In the fall of 1979, President Jimmy Carter was trying to put the final touches on the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II), his signature diplomatic effort to relax tensions with the Soviet Union ahead of the 1980 presidential election. Then, an unwelcome report hit the news that the Soviets had deployed a Red Army brigade complete with offensive weaponry to Cuba. Not since the Cuban Missile Crisis had the Soviets made such a bold move in the Western Hemisphere.

Carter’s message was that we must engage with the Soviets no matter the cost. Reagan, along with like-minded Republicans and Democrats, held a different view. During the Carter years, they’d observed Soviet aggression in Angola, South Yemen, and Cuba. They had also witnessed a massive Soviet military buildup unconstrained by arms-control treaties. The policy of détente, in their view, was a fiction entirely removed from reality — a reality now within spitting distance of Miami.

Fast-forward to today: Reports of a Chinese military and intelligence presence in Cuba have been a distraction, not a focus of the Biden administration. Wise men haven’t gathered to advise the president on a response, nor has the president addressed the American people on the subject. After initially dismissing reports of a Chinese eavesdropping facility in Cuba as “not accurate,” the Biden team called it an “ongoing issue” dating back to the Trump administration. When another report revealed a Chinese military-training facility on the island, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “this is something we’re going to be monitoring very, very closely, and we’ve been very clear about that. And we will protect our homeland, we will protect our interests.”

Exactly what steps the administration has taken in response are not known. It had hoped Blinken’s recent meeting with Xi Jinping in Beijing would open pathways to cooperation on trade and climate change, and efforts to find common ground on those issues don’t appear to be on hold. Yet, the administration’s attempts to establish lines of communication on security matters between U.S. and Chinese defense officials — perhaps the most critical and basic tool to prevent miscalculation and escalation — have been rejected by China.

It seems President Biden views the U.S.–China relationship as a competition that can accommodate cooperation. “This competition is not going to resolve in a decisive, transformative state,” one senior adviser said before the Blinken trip. “What we seek instead is a positive steady state, one where our interests and those of our allies and partners are protected.”

1 thought on “Biden repeats Carter’s mistakes amid China’s Cuba presence”

  1. Carter was deluded but not senile. Biden, who was always a cheap hack of a politician, was never going to do well as POTUS, but given his glaring cognitive decline, the only surprise is that he hasn’t done worse.

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