The Dilemma of US Foreign Policy
As the Biden-Harris administration focuses on China as the primary threat, the US foreign policy has stalled in critical regions, providing Beijing with a golden opportunity to present itself as a superior alternative. Experts argue that this policy ‘paralysis’ allows China to march steadily towards becoming the top global superpower, with significant gains in the Middle East and Africa.
The Strategic Interests of Superpowers: Energy and Influence
China and Russia are intensifying their focus on the Middle East and Africa, driven by the escalating competition for energy resources that encourages a broader range of investments from global superpowers. The Biden-Harris administration claims to have a clear strategy for these regions, citing policy gains such as a truce in Yemen, a maritime boundary agreement between Israel and Lebanon, and strengthened Gulf regional security discussions. Nonetheless, the vacuum created by the US military’s departure from Afghanistan and the unsuccessful conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran has allowed China to seize the opportunity and achieve significant policy victories.
China’s Ambitious Goals: Control, Supply Chain Routes, and Currency Dominance
Rebekah Koffler, Doctrine & Strategy Consulting’s president and a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer, asserts that China’s foremost objective is to establish itself as the leading global superpower, surpassing the US in both military and economic aspects by 2049. Koffler explains that China seeks control over supply chain routes and establishes alternative financial and energy sources. Their ambition includes replacing the dollar with the yuan and gaining the support of various countries, extending beyond Russia and Iran to include Saudi Arabia and India.
China’s Policy Wins: Afghanistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia
In January, China struck a deal with the Taliban, allowing Beijing to extract oil from Afghanistan and provide significant funds to the struggling nation. Moreover, China also brokered an agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia—longtime regional rivals—leading both countries to commit to resuming diplomatic operations, including reopening embassies in their respective capitals.
The Mixed Bag of US Policy in the Middle East
The Biden administration’s stance towards the Middle East has been uncertain, as they try to reprimand countries for their transgressions and human rights violations while simultaneously pursuing diplomatic engagement. Unfortunately, this mixed policy needs to be clarified and allow China to leverage its growing regional influence.
The Impact of US Policy Shifts on China’s Ascent
While the US has not remained idle, its increased focus on China and attempts to “box in” Beijing with stronger regional alliances may have inadvertently provided China with the perfect opportunity to make strides in areas the US has neglected. Experts argue that the US needs to be able to address multiple global challenges simultaneously, as the Middle East and other regions will continue to demand attention even as the US pivots towards Asia.
The Future of US Foreign Policy and China’s Global Ambitions
As China continues to capitalize on US foreign policy blunders and indecisions, it becomes increasingly clear that the US must find a way to address its traditional spheres of influence and the growing China threat. The symbiotic relationship between China and Russia only complicates matters further, making it crucial for the US to adapt its foreign policy approach to the rapidly changing global landscape. Should the US fail to achieve the appropriate equilibrium, it could inadvertently facilitate China’s rise to become the world’s most formidable nation.