Not one day into his presidency, Joe Biden showed his colors vis-a-vis our strongest and most faithful ally, the United Kingdom — our mother country, military partner, the source of our government, laws and dedication to freedom.
He follows in the footsteps of Barack Obama who, in 2009 removed from the Oval Office, a Churchill bust loaned as a symbol of British solidarity with the U.S. following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. This is a worrying hint of the tone of the new president’s foreign policy.
The legacy of Churchill and the spirit of the statue’s gift counted as nothing to Mr. Obama, and apparently to Mr. Biden too. By contrast, President Trump immediately restored Churchill to the Oval Office, giving the great Anglo-American hero, who stood so defiantly against tyranny, not to mention the nation he led, the respect he deserves.
Few bilateral relationships are as important for world stability as the British-American partnership and few nations know us as well as our greatest ally. It therefore is significant to heed their assessment of our new leadership turnover. Many of Britain’s influential voices remain unconvinced of Mr. Biden’s ability to unite America and make our country — and the world — safer and more prosperous. Moreover, there is a collective narrative swirling in the U.K. that Mr. Biden — in stark contrast to Mr. Trump — will be antagonistic toward the time-tested “special relationship.”
Janet Daley, writing in The Telegraph, aptly wonders: “Is Joe Biden really capable of uniting America?” She wonders if Mr. Biden’s focus on identity politics, amply demonstrated by his Cabinet appointee nominations, isn’t somehow at odds with the common man and “the old blue collar class whose jobs and industries had gone abroad and whose lives and hopes were devastated … who believed themselves to have been abandoned by mainstream politics and by the Democratic party which was once their champion.”
In the same publication, former U.K. Ambassador to the United States, Kim Daroch reflects on the challenges inherent in Mr. Biden’s pledge to unite. “Democrats have alienated small-town America, whether through Obama in 2008 describing their inhabitants as ‘clinging to guns and religion and antipathy to people who aren’t like them’, or Hillary Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables.’”
Moreover, many Brits rightfully wonder if Mr. Biden’s deeply held Irish-rooted political persona portend an anti-British bias. This view is supported in his microagressions as when he brushed off an interview request by a BBC reporter with a dismissive, “I am Irish.”
So too, apparently ignorant or unfazed by the enormous significance of our closest ally’s regaining its sovereign decision-making authority through Brexit, Mr. Biden expressed on the campaign trail only a warning that any future U.S.-U.K. trade deal on his watch must respect the Irish border issues and the Good Friday Agreement.
British journalist and leading Middle East analyst Melanie Phillips is expressing deep concern over Mr. Biden’s Middle East policy, especially his hellbent determination to rejoin the 2015 Iran Nuclear Accord from which President Trump sensibly withdrew.
Ms. Phillips notes that even before his inauguration, Mr. Biden launched talks with Iran about lifting the sanctions that enabled Tehran to “increase its dominance of the region, repress its own people still further, and continue its sponsorship of international terrorism and promote attacks upon Israel in pursuit of its genocidal aim of wiping it off the map.”
Furthermore, Ms. Phillips laments the exchange of Mr. Trump for Mr. Biden. After all, she advocates, “It was only because Trump turned the United States instead into the regional strong horse, putting American muscle behind the attempt to crush the regime, that the Arabs pivoted towards America and Israel, whose own strength in daringly picking off Iranian assets was repeatedly on display.”
Between alienating our strongest global alliance, that with the U.K., imperiling the Middle East’s lone democracy and critical U.S. defense partner, Israel, and rewarding haters of the West such as Iran, Mr. Biden risks taking us back to the Obama days of American emasculation when redlines were meaningless, ISIS murdered unchecked, and the U.K.’s status to America was “back of the queue.”
Moving the Churchill bust is the latest example of Mr. Biden and his supporters attempting to cancel one of the West’s greatest heroes. It is tangible evidence that our new dark winter of Biden leadership, like its Obama predecessor, portends great challenges for the safety, prosperity and stability of our great nation, our allies, and the world.
Ironic then, that Mr. Biden has removed the bust of he who said, “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”
• Lee Cohen, a fellow of the U.K.’s Bow Group and the Danube Institute, was adviser on Great Britain to the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee and founded the Congressional United Kingdom Caucus.
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