President Biden, visibly aged, often unclear, and occasionally disoriented, just expressed a willingness to meet with China’s junior partner, Kim Jong Un of North Korea. While Biden in North Korea is not FDR at Yalta, he could be. At Yalta, FDR lost his shirt to Stalin. Biden could lose his to Kim. Here is why.
Five reasons argue against a Biden-Kim summit. Similar circumstances surrounded FDR at Yalta – which cost the Allies much of Eastern Europe for half a century. In short, while some want Biden face-to-face with Kim, the timing is off, the purpose unclear, allies unified, risk high of missteps, and – in the end – Biden is not up to this, as FDR was not at Yalta.
First, timing – why now? The President is in Asia –and while talk of trade dominates the media, this is a trip about security, about telling China “no olive branches for nothing,” no appeasement if Xi pulls a Putin, no indulgence of wider threats against Taiwan, no militarizing the Solomon Islands, no insinuated threats against Australia, Japan, or India.
Sometimes, in diplomacy, less is more – and this is one of those occasions. All Biden has to do is be there, issue statements, wander about with seeming conviction, and get back on the plane. The fact the US president is in Asia is a flare for Communist China.
Yes, the Biden family appears compromised – on the facts – when it comes to China, but this is a simple statement, a basic statement, and one our allies have long wanted. In effect, let China know we have vital strategic interests in the region by being there.
Now ask yourself, why would you muddy that message by offering an unsolicited meeting with China’s underling at a time when they are threatening major ballistic missile tests and restart of the nuclear testing that Trump’s diplomacy stopped cold?
Unless appeasement is your strategy – and if so, drop that – this is the worst possible timing for an overture, let alone a trip to go shake hands with China’s pal, Kim. Bad idea.
Second, what would the purpose of a sudden Biden-Kim summit be, except to perhaps out-Trump Trump, which the trip would not? This is like an extensive replay of little Democratic 1988 Presidential Candidate Michael Dukakis deciding to look tough, being helped into a tank, putting on an ill-fitted helmet, and showing he was something. He was not. Biden with Kim would look odd, almost silly.
The big question is – to what end this trip, and for what purpose? If Biden thought Trump’s summits with Kim gave the North Korean dictator-communist undue credibility – which, if they did, also got a moratorium on ballistic missile and nuclear tests – what will this trip do?
Surely, unless he walked away with some major victory – highly unlikely, Biden’s only purpose served would be to look weak in front of Kim and Xi, hat in hand for something.
Think about where that beg, puff, and bumble approach got Biden with Saudi Arabia and other Middle East oil-producing countries – when Biden cut off US production, insulted Saudi and other regional allies, then realized he was creating an artificial gas and fuel oil shortage and flipped to ask Saudi for help. They did not even answer his phone call, for real.
Without real and high purpose, serious leverage, restored credibility (gone after Afghanistan and Ukraine), and a plan with merit, a meeting would be a Kim-Xi win and an embarrassment to the US and our allies.
Third, with Biden oscillating between a strategy of “do nothing, see nothing” – or “strategic patience” – and blunt, often angry, not-quite-cogent talk, allies in the region and globally have no idea what his strategy toward North Korea is and have deep questions about his relationship with China.
Allied unity is largely undefined, or certainly not recently re-articulated, except that every free nation wants more of what Trump delivered, a moratorium on North Korea’s aggressive missile launches and nuclear testing, both about to re-begin with Biden. So, absent real unity, this is also premature.
Fourth, the potential for missteps is high. All Biden has to do is say the wrong thing, convolute words or ideas, stumble in talking with this young communist leader, imply something not real, or absent-mindedly stumble into an area he forgot is classified – and the whole thing flips. He drags his own and US credibility lower. Not worth the gamble.
Fifth, in direct parallel to FDR and Stalin, the real concern is that Biden gets taken to the cleaners in any China-scripted Biden-Kim summit (remember how Kim went by train to Beijing twice before meeting Trump) at a time when tensions globally are high, our credibility must be unquestioned, and China is edging toward a Ukraine-like move on Taiwan and other islands in the South China Sea.
Historians know that Stalin knew FDR was weak, aged, and not his earlier self at Yalta, so with congeniality and cunning, he pounced and took the better part of Eastern Europe.
Who knows what objectives Biden could stumblingly permit China and North Korea to advance – maybe another “minor incursion” comment like the one that seems to have invited Russia into Ukraine? Such a risk is inadvisable. Remember, FDR had allies in the room, and Biden will have none.
So, net-net – this is simple. Biden has said his “Hello.” Let’s leave it at that. With all deference due and a prayer for no more big strategic mistakes, let’s say no to a Biden-Kim summit right now. Then, just maybe, we could do a summit on, say, inflation at home?
We hope you've enjoyed this article. While you're here, we have a small favor to ask...
Support AMAC Action. Our 501 (C)(4) advances initiatives on Capitol Hill, in the state legislatures, and at the local level to protect American values, free speech, the exercise of religion, equality of opportunity, sanctity of life, and the rule of law.Donate Now