America’s place as a world leader is fading fast. In the UK, Nigel Farage, former Brexit party leader, slammed the Biden administration’s Afghanistan blunder, arguing the crisis has led his country of Britain to feel betrayed. Under Biden, Farage told Fox & Friends First, “there is no way a British Parliament right now would vote for military cooperation with America.”
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said the developments in Afghanistan were “bitter, dramatic and terrifying.” The leader of Germany’s conservative CDU party, Armin Laschet, went a step further, saying that the withdrawal of international troops is the “biggest debacle that NATO has suffered since its founding.”
So who is benefiting from the vacuum of leadership in the US? Here’s a clue. While most countries are closing down their embassies in Afghanistan, Russia and China are keeping theirs open. I expect Russia is looking forward to gaining access to the $89 billion of US weapons abandoned there, and China is probably looking at the mineral deposits.
An Aug. 24, a Bloomberg story by Iain Marlow and Enda Curran reports, “With the U.S. withdrawal, Beijing can offer what Kabul needs most: political impartiality and economic investment.” Zhou Bo, who was a senior colonel in the People’s Liberation Army from 2003 to 2020, wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times over the weekend. “Afghanistan in turn has what China most prizes: opportunities in infrastructure and industry building — areas in which China’s capabilities are arguably unmatched — and access to $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits.”
Since the Biden administration is made up of many officials from the Obama administration, we can expect that our “America First” strategy will be replaced with “Strategic Patience” and “Leading From Behind.” And we can expect that any crossings of Biden red lines will be met with calls for the UN to intervene.