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Putin and Xi are being handed a terrifying victory

In Europe
May 15, 2024

Joe Biden is the worst US president since Jimmy Carter. He specialises in betraying America’s friends and rewarding its enemies, in humiliating the West and empowering the Global South’s autocracies.

His underlying arrogance has been exacerbated by his deteriorating physical and mental condition. He acts like a blundering, interfering imperial overlord plagued by the shortest of attention spans. He sends out mixed signals, sucks up to random rogues, relentlessly bullies allies, micromanages complex conflicts from a distance and a position of ignorance, and inevitably angers both sides of every argument. Under his leadership, the world’s supreme economic, technological and military power exudes weakness, self-doubt and moral uncertainty.

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin should have little to celebrate, yet they are holding a sickeningly triumphalist summit this week, emboldened by Biden’s pusillanimity towards anti-Western forces at home and abroad, and his strategic and tactical blunders. The China-Russia-Iran-North Korea axis is on the march again. America’s reputation in the emerging world is at its lowest ebb since the 1970s: outside of the West, strength, resilience and determination matter, and nobody respects cowardice and vacillation.

Biden double-crossed Britain over Brexit, taking the EU and Ireland’s side, displaying contempt for the supposed “special relationship”. He helped re-establish the Stone Age Taliban regime in Afghanistan. His botched withdrawal surely encouraged Putin to invade Ukraine, as did Biden’s ludicrous claim that “a minor incursion” may not trigger a strong response.

He has subsequently given the heroic Ukrainians just enough to defend themselves, but not to win. Many Republicans acted abominably, but the problem is now cross-party: there is no way that even a re-elected Biden would fund Ukraine to the tune of $60 billion a year in a forever war. Kyiv has already been sold down the river. The latest package was probably Biden’s last major intervention: after giving Volodymyr Zelensky false hope, he will eventually embrace a negotiated settlement that will effectively hand victory to the axis of evil.

Biden’s betrayal of Israel has been even more egregious: he has simultaneously helped it in unprecedented ways through gifts of weaponry and direct protection, while hobbling it, seeking to control it and ultimately sabotaging its war effort. In a staggeringly short-termist move to appease his woke base, Biden has bought into the toxic Left-wing dogma that effectively criminalises all wars (though only when waged by democracies), even those of self-defence. He constantly questions whether Israel has breached human rights, even though its civilian-death-to-combatant-killed ratio is superior to anything America ever achieved.

The US president has handed billions to Iran, the world’s terror financier and a provider of weapons to Putin, and failed to adequately enforce sanctions. He has rewarded Qatar for continuing to harbour Hamas. He has mishandled Saudi Arabia, fracturing the anti-Iran coalition. He tolerates Recep Erdoğan’s treachery, even when the Turkish demagogue announces he is treating Hamas members in his hospitals, making a mockery of Nato unity.

America’s 1,000 soldiers in Niger are being expelled, bolstering Russia’s influence in West Africa and trashing US counter-terrorism initiatives in the Sahel. Non-aligned rising players, such as the UAE, are gaining ground in Africa as Washington’s power drains. Biden’s only genuine interest appears to be containing China over Taiwan, but why would anybody trust that America will be steadfast, given his track record? How can Xi take Biden seriously?

What is most frustrating is that Russia and China should be in the midst of an existential crisis, and an imaginary Reagan-esque US president should be moving in for the metaphorical kill.

Despite its advances in AI and electric cars, China’s economy has been weakened by its centrally-directed credit allocation, never-ending real estate bubbles, the savagery of Covid lockdowns, its suppression of independent entrepreneurship and its demographic implosion. It is no longer certain its economy will ever overtake America’s.

Javier Milei, Argentina’s superb president, has quit China’s orbit, dealing a blow to Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative. Russia is in terminal decline, and has suffered a stupendous economic and human hit from its despicable invasion of Ukraine. Yet both autocracies have made the most of Biden’s baleful administration.

Putin has turned himself into a Chinese vassal, selling energy and commodities at knockdown prices in return for consumer goods, electronics and specialised components for its war effort. Sino-Russian trade surged 26 per cent last year, Chinese firms have captured the majority of Russia’s car market and parts of the Russian economy are becoming renminbi-fied.

The Chinese have delayed Siberia 2, a proposed massive gas pipeline, to force Russia to cut its prices further. But while it has come at a steep price, Putin has been saved by his unequal relationship with Xi, and the Chinese have strengthened their geopolitical empire and their alternative financial system. This week’s summit will unveil even greater cooperation, partly to fend off US sanctions on Chinese banks (making trade with Russia harder) and electric vehicle exports.

Both autocracies must be laughing at how Soviet-era anti-Israel propaganda – anti-Semitic slogans and blood libels – has gone mainstream 50 years on, how a brainwashed neo-communist Western youth hates a system that has made them the most privileged in human history, and how immigration has been so terribly managed in Europe.

They will also be toasting our inability to take war seriously. Putin’s appointment of Andrei Belousov, an economist, as defence minister confirms that his priority lies in out-producing armaments to defeat a useless West. American and European munition stockpiles are running low, yet there is no sense of urgency, no genuine rearmament.

The axis of evil is also stepping up its spying and terrorism. Iran’s agents are all over the West. The Wagner Group stands accused of having committed arson in London. There have been multiple arrests for spying for China. Britain must up its game, but Putin and Xi are clearly being encouraged by Biden’s weakness. His presidency has been a catastrophe for the free world.

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