It is hard to fathom that the Biden administration is only a bit more than a year old. Over the last year, the Biden agenda has seemed laser-focused on keeping COVID-pandemic stimulus funding, and restrictions, alive – while simultaneously undoing nearly all of the Trump administration’s executive orders. Meanwhile, the media and American public have been focused on the domestic side effects of these policies, like rapidly rising inflation, a supply-chain crisis, and skyrocketing crime in our inner cities.
This lack of coverage on international news has lulled the American public to sleep while a foreign affairs power vacuum not seen since before America entered World War II has emerged. As the White house continues to pivot to social issues or climate change, it is increasingly apparent that China, Russia, and Iran are forming an Axis that are taking actions that may lead to global military conflicts.
In 2021, as the Biden administration restarted the Obama-era “nuclear talks” with Iran, terror attacks by Iran-backed groups in Gaza and Houthi rebels in Yemen ramped up. This included a recent Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the UAE, an ally of both the US and Israel. This may be due to the fact that Iran entered the 2021 round of nuclear talks with an emboldening backing from China and Russia.
In November, 2021, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke over the phone about signing a strategic partnership agreement similar to the one Iran signed with China on March 27, 2021. The rise of the China-Iran-Russia axis presents a global challenge to the west, as well as post-Cold War alliances in Asia, the Middle-East, and Africa; presenting the single most important geopolitical challenge to national security in the past generation.
The formalization and increasingly open cooperation between the three countries signal their acceptance that joining forces will help them more effectively achieve their shared and individual goals, whether it is a devaluation of the U.S. dollar and U.K. Pound Sterling as the global reserve currency, controlling Europe’s energy through the Nord Stream II pipeline, Iran’s development of nuclear capabilities, and ongoing threats to Taiwan, the South China Sea, Ukraine, Israel, and the Arab Peninsula.
The Biden Administration, European Union, and the United Kingdom have failed to offer any strategic vision for how to counter this axis. Worse, the Biden administration has served to embolden this axis though the fiasco of its hasty retreat from Afghanistan, failure to support investigations into the Chinese origins of COVID-19, encouragement of Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, cancellation of US energy export projects, and approval of Russia’s Nordstream II pipeline only seem to be strengthening this powerful anti-American alliance.
This absence of American strength on the world stage could force our allies into backing this axis over their traditional alliances with the west, which creates a loss in both defense and intelligence capabilities that protect America. The 25-year strategic cooperation agreement between China and Iran affirmed China’s tactical presence in the Middle East. As Russia cooperates with China, Iran and Turkey, an American ally, the balance of power in the Middle East and North Africa may be shifting away from the west.
The existence of Iran-China-Russia agreements may force Ankara into signing similar strategic agreements, offering a Chinese lifeline to a faltering Turkish economy, and while nullifying any U.S. pressure on Ankara regarding support for the Kurds and opposition to Islamist groups in the region.
“If Turkey decides to stay on the Western side, then it can use the threat of siding with Tehran and Beijing to gain favorable exchanges from the U.S. and other allies (i.e., a more extended power role in Eastern Mediterranean, carte blanche for its aggressiveness in the Aegean, a watchdog role in Libya, a free hand in Syria, a vanguard position to sting Russia’s vulnerable border with Azerbaijan, to mention only few).” writes Zafiris Rossidis, Head of Public Diplomacy Office at the UN Permanent Mission of Greece for the Hoover Institution “If Turkey decides break its alignment with the West, it will solidify its pacts with China and Iran to make up for the losses it will suffer by leaving the west. “
When the US withdrawal from Afghanistan was mishandled in a manner that resulted in the deaths of 13 American service members and 170 Afghans, the threat of a Biden administration committing US troops to any potential wars with allied countries in places like Taiwan, Israel, the UAE, and Ukraine was viewed as highly unlikely. The impact of this was felt in Vienna during the Iranian nuclear talks.
“Iran’s strategy after 1979 has led to the creation of a ‘Shiite crescent’ that starts in Iran and ends in the Mediterranean Sea via Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, plus the Shiites of Bahrain and the Houthis in Yemen.” writes Rossidis “Israel and the Gulf monarchies have not been able to stop this expansion. Iran has achieved a lot, despite its isolation: it has sent dozens of Shiite paramilitary organizations, as well as members of the Revolutionary Guard to Syria. Its allies in Yemen (the Houthis) continue to control most of northern Yemen. In Lebanon, Hezbollah remains the most powerful militant group, while in Iraq the Shiite militia continues to operate unhindered.”
In the foreign policy arena, the United States is at a crucial crossroads. It can either correct course and team up allies like Europe, Australia, India, Korea, South Africa, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel to economically cripple this axis, or find itself in a new arms race.
General John Hyten, the outgoing vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a 2021 interview that the hypersonic missile fired by China last summer “went around the world,” suggesting that China could soon possess the ability to launch a surprise nuclear attack on the U.S.. “Why are they building all of this capability?” Hyten said. “They look like a first-use weapon. That’s what those weapons look like to me.” In November, 2021, Putin announced Russia’s own Zircon hypersonic cruise missile will be ready by 2022. Unlike ballistic missiles, hypersonic missiles can change trajectory and maneuver enroute to a target, making them difficult to intercept.
America’s further disengagement from the Middle East under the Biden Administration is also speeding up this arms race in a volatile region, as Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been forced to counter Iran’s influence in the region. Saudi Arabia spent $58 billion on arms in 2020, making it the 6th largest military spender and the largest military importer in the world. This would have been beneficial to US defense contractors, but the Biden administration’s revision of a $23 billion sale of fifty F-35 fighter jets to the UAE has recently resulted in the cancellation of that order, which has since gone to the French.
On the other hand, if the west would impose sanctions and make changes to the supply chain as traditionally done with Iran and the Soviet Union, the aggression of this axis may be possibly stopped without firing a shot. According to the CIA, the per capita GDP for China was $16,400 (2020), $26,500 for Russia, and $12,400 for Iran. This means, as the U.S. has a GDP of $60,200 – and is still one of China’s biggest trade partners, their ability to fund their belt and road initiative and aggressive actions on the world stage can be drastically impacted if the U.S. and their allies sourced their goods elsewhere.
Similarly, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro (who is currently running to succeed Wolf as Governor), who are both ardent Biden supporters, have placed regular obstacles to the completion of the Mariner East pipeline connecting the Marcellus natural gas shale in Northwestern Pennsylvania to Philadelphia-area ports; citing environmental concerns. In doing so, they are cutting off the rapid delivery of Natural Gas to an Atlantic port, which could be used to compete with Russia’s Gasprom in the Western European marketplace. Add this to the Biden administration’s halting of the Keystone XL pipeline and approval of Russia’s Nordstream II — making a case that America is economically enabling Russian aggression against the Ukraine.
With the congressional midterm elections and 36 states electing a Governor in 2022, it’s vital for America to reverse its current foreign policy strategy (or lack thereof). If not, it may take generations to rebuild alliances in regions where a lack of intelligence can lead to increased threats of terrorism, invasion, and/or destabilizing economic policies.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
Benjamin Mannes, MA, CPP served in both municipal and federal law enforcement, leading to his designation as a nationally recognized subject matter expert in security, public integrity, and criminal justice reform. He has served as a consultant and expert witness and as the Director, Office of Investigations for the American Board of Internal Medicine from 2008-2017. Mannes is a regular contributor to Philadelphia Weekly, Broad + Liberty, Security Magazine, and other publications.