Biden's Year 1 Domestic Achievements Meager, Foreign Policy 'Clueless', Says Historian
14:07 GMT 20.01.2022 (Updated: 14:08 GMT 20.01.2022)
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President Joe Biden's achievements in his first year in office have been meager because he failed to show strong leadership while wishfully thinking the Republicans and conservative Democrats would cooperate, American University Professor and eminent historian, Peter Kuznick, said.
January 20 marks a year since Biden took the oath of office after being elected with more votes than any previous president in US history. Ahead of his one-year mark, Biden's approval ratings have sunk to as low as 40%, his numbers still higher than his predecessor's were at this point in his presidency - but not by much.
"Biden's heart has been in the right place on the home front, but his achievements are meager and his approval ratings have reflected it," Kuznick, who cooperated with filmmaker Oliver Stone in a major history project, said.
Economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has been sluggish and while government spending soared to record levels, the president's Build Back Better ambitious infrastructure spending plan has stalled in Congress and inflation has hit alarming highs unseen for well over 40 years.
"Biden is not a strong leader. He clung too long to hope that Republicans and conservative Democrats would see the light and compromise with him. In that regard, he is still living in the 1970s," Kuznick said.
On the domestic front, Biden was dealt an extremely weak hand and has played it poorly, Kuznick judged. However, this outcome was not entirely the president's fault, he said.
The president had no margin for error given how evenly divided the House and Senate are, he added.
"That gave veto power to [Senators] Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, two corrupt centrists, who Biden hasn't been able to move, especially when it comes to the veto or social spending," Kuznick said.
Manchin in West Virginia and Sinema in Arizona both remain unmoved by the hatred facing them from dominant liberal Democrats on the East and West Coasts, Kuznick said.
"Their rationale for maintaining the veto may be totally nonsensical and irrational, but they can't be cajoled, enticed, pressured, or shamed into acting," he said.
Also, Biden's attempts to reach across the aisle for bipartisan support for measures that would benefit the American people have been almost completely thwarted by power-hungry Republicans, Kuznick observed.
"He scored important victories with his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, his trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, his success in getting almost three-quarters of American adults fully vaccinated despite Republican obstructionism, his appointment and confirmation of federal judges and his economic recovery program, compromised as it has been by inflation," he said.
However, the president has gotten nowhere on voting rights, police reform, or his Build Back Better (BBB) social infrastructure package, Kuznick continued.
"As a result, his efforts to combat climate change have largely been frustrated as well. Hopefully, he will figure out a way to scale back some of his ambitious programs or break them up into smaller, more digestible parcels and get some of them adopted," he said.
Biden's approval ratings also reflect the fact that, despite his efforts, COVID remains as big a problem as it was when he took office, Kuznick commented.
On the foreign policy and national security front, on Biden's watch US relations with both Russia and China have plunged to dangerous lows and levels of insults and invective from US leaders and politicians unparalleled even during the Cold War, he said.
Also, the final US military withdrawal from Afghanistan turned into a chaotic fiasco that devastated the US standing around the world, Kuznick recalled.
"Biden’s foreign policy has been deplorable. His confrontational stance toward Russia and China has backfired. He has taken the bad situation he inherited from Trump and, in many ways, made it worse. The United States now is closer to war with Russia and China than it has been in 60 years," he said.
China, Kuznick added, stood up to the US during talks in Anchorage while Russian President Vladimir Putin has been doing the same over Ukraine, NATO and Russian security.
"The chances of war over Taiwan and Ukraine have been greatly increased," he said.
Biden does not appear to want global war personally but he does not recognize how his policies and top officials Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Under Secretary of State for Policy Victoria Nuland are driving these potentially catastrophic developments, Kuznick emphasized.
"Biden has shown signs of understanding this, but he seems clueless in figuring out a way to ease the tensions. And the more he listens to Blinken, Sullivan, and Nuland, the worse off we’ll be. This trio has no credibility on the world stage," he said.
Blinken had a catastrophic record of foreign policy judgment calls in both the Obama and Biden administration and he was obsessed with sanctions that always failed to deliver any effective results, Kuznick recalled.
"To hear Blinken, the proponent of US invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and the bombing of Syria pontificate about spheres of influence and bluster about threatened economy-killing sanctions is absurd," he said.
Blinken, Sullivan Nuland and their colleagues were all still living in an obsolete dream world that had no bearing on 21st-century realities, Kuznick explained.
"These people believe in American exceptionalism and unipolarity, but the world has passed them by," he said.
Ironically, Biden himself, now approaching 80 years old, appeared more ready to recognize the changing world than the senior officials he had himself chosen, Kuznick remarked.
"Biden too is an old Cold Warrior, but he may be more open to reason than his chief advisers. He wanted to downplay the role of nuclear weapons in his forthcoming Nuclear Posture Review, but the indications are not promising and the hopes for the United States adopting a no-first-use policy which Biden had advocated, seem to be abandoned," he said.
Meanwhile, the United States has adopted a $770 billion "defense" budget that only accounts for part of American actual military, intelligence and homeland security expenditures, Kuznick observed.