Buyer's Remorse? US Officials Allegedly 'Bewildered and Appalled' by Biden Admin Diplomatic Failures
Receiving a warm welcome after the tenure of Donald Trump, the Biden administration is now facing harsh bipartisan criticism over its diplomatic misfortunes, as the 46th president himself suffers a nosedive in approval ratings.
The diplomatic challenges and crises faced by the new administration appear to have caught even the president himself off guard, which is something that has sparked concerns among various US officials, according to a CNN report
Among other things, the reaction of France amid the recent controversy over the US-led AUKUS initiative came as a surprise for Joe Biden, as Washington was apparently unprepared for such a dramatic backlash from Paris when the French submarine deal fell victim to the new trilateral security pact pledging nuclear-powered submarines for Australia.
When Biden had to personally call his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron with a mea culpa, the move was assessed by one US official as "not ideal". Other officials lamented that the Biden administration was unprepared
for the fury that came from Paris, despite clearly knowing that the AUKUS deal would deprive France of its submarine agreements with Australia.
France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian even told the French media that he would have expected something like this from the Trump administration.
The squabble with France, America's oldest ally, has only fuelled the fire of the outrage aimed at the Biden administration that was sparked by the hasty Afghanistan withdrawal and the fatal American drone strike in Kabul that mistakenly killed 10 civilians, including an Afghan NGO worker.
When asked about the possible reasons for why things are going in such an unfortunate direction when it comes to the foreign policy of the Biden administration, sources told CNN that it could be connected with the lack of people in charge.
"The slow pace and many obstacles to moving nominees is unacceptable", he said. "It's dangerous. We're less safe when our national security agencies are so short-staffed. We have to fix this problem", the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, said earlier this week.
Other officials asserted that the slow pace of decision-making is due to an imbalance between the National Security Council and the State Department. The majority of the moves, they say, may be more concentrated within the NSC, with one source from the White House adding that the NSC tends to "micromanage" important national security decisions due to the fact that there are "not enough people in their chairs".
"We have an extremely powerful NSC because there are so few confirmed ambassadors and experienced diplomats who can offer an alternate view", the source told CNN. "It's not enough to just have done a few years at a think tank".
Moreover, some voices in the NSC are said to be more powerful than others, with the agency being "hugely imbalanced in terms of personalities", as one official put it. According to CNN's sources, European diplomats are debating whether the US foreign policy missteps should be blamed on the attitude and entitlement of the global superpower versus a lack of personnel.
With the recent diplomatic failures seemingly undermining American allies' trust in the United States, some European officials told the network that foreign diplomats, even those who initially gave the Biden administration a warm welcome and had great expectations, are currently second-guessing their hopes in someone who had been touted would bring "America back".
Now, in the wake of the AUKUS squabble with France, European officials reportedly have concerns that the United States might steal even more military deals.
"It's not the decision-making style we expected", one diplomat told CNN.
'Ahead of Science'
As Biden's approval ratings continue to plummet, with even his predecessor Donald Trump surpassing him by several percent in a recent Harvard/Harris poll, he is not enjoying major breakthroughs in domestic policy either.
Particularly, according to a recent report by The New York Times
, the president appeared to "go ahead" of the science instead of "following" it as he had pledged during his presidential campaign. The expression comes as Biden said on Friday that coronavirus vaccine booster shots would be available to some Americans and set the goal of providing them to anyone who wants them, even though public health experts have argued that there was not enough evidence to claim that those shots are actually necessary for the entire population.
“Everybody uses this statement ‘follow the science’ very glibly, and I think that the science here did not warrant picking out a group of people and saying that you may be at more risk for acquiring an infection”, said Dr Sarah S. Long, a member of the CDC's advisory committee, as cited by the NYT.
24 September 2021, 14:31 GMT
Health experts also voiced concerns that Biden may be pushing for boosters due to their political popularity, as a Reuters/Ipsos survey conducted in late August showed that the majority of vaccinated Americans expressed a desire to receive a booster shot.