The Race to Bankruptcy - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Race to Bankruptcy
President Joe Biden on March 13, 2023 (The White House)

President Joe Biden’s budget plan for fiscal year 2024 was unveiled last week. Despite what you hear from the usual suspects in the media, his plan won’t reduce the nation’s debt or the deficit despite the enormous increases in taxes Biden proposes. In fact, our national debt — now exceeding $31 trillion — will grow to at least $50 trillion by the end of the decade if Biden’s plan is adopted.

America is going broke. For example, as I have written before, the interest payments we had to make last year will exceed the entire defense budget, which for 2023 amounted to $847 billion. Those payments will do the same this year.

Biden’s plan will not pass the House or, probably, the Senate, but congressional Republicans will make enough compromises with it that our slide into national bankruptcy will continue to accelerate.

The only good news in this mess is that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine may cause his nation to go broke before we do.

According to a report by the Barents Observer, Russia’s Finance Ministry said that Russia’s revenues from taxes and the sale of oil and gas and other exports were down by 25 percent in January and February compared to that same period in 2022. And its revenues from petroleum and gas exports, according to the country’s Finance Ministry, fell about 46 percent from last year’s levels.

Putin’s Russia won’t be able to borrow as easily and quickly as we can to finance its enormous debt of about $328 billion. Only China will lend Russia the money to continue Putin’s Ukraine war, and it may not be willing to lend enough to continue the war at the level Putin wants. As always, Chinese loans have strings attached. Any Chinese resupply of ammunition and other military supplies will at least require — in addition — Russian support for Xi Jinping’s ambitions toward Taiwan.

In this context, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued its “Annual Threat Assessment” on Feb. 6. If it sounds familiar to students of history, it should.

The ODNI’s Threat Assessment begins this way:

During the coming year, the United States and its allies will confront a complex and pivotal international security environment dominated by two critical strategic challenges that intersect with each other and existing trends to intensify their national security implications.

The “critical strategic challenges” it cites are: (1) that great powers — China and Russia — and regional powers — Iran, North Korea, and others, including “non-state actors,” meaning terrorist networks — will vie for global dominance; and (2) that “shared global challenges” such as climate change and health and human security are “converging” as the world emerges from the COVID pandemic. The climate change nonsense is, under Biden, national policy and our intelligence community means to devote some of its resources to it. However much that is, it’s too much.

As the DNI writes, Russia’s effort to make war a normal geopolitical function is “most immediately in the context of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, which threaten to escalate into a broader conflict between Russia and the West.”

In 1573 — 450 years ago — Sir Francis Walsingham was appointed to Queen Elizabeth I’s privy council. Walsingham — perhaps the greatest spy master in history — faced an analogous situation.

As the queen’s spy master, Walsingham faced the ever-growing threat of Spain, France’s religious wars, the Netherlands, and other nations, including Scotland, which harbored Elizabeth’s rival, Mary, who was plotting to seize the English throne.

Then, as now, the world had a lot of moving parts and the spy master had to deal with all of them together. To deal with them, Walsingham didn’t have all of the tools of spycraft that nations use today, but he used propaganda, disinformation, and spies, including agents provocateurs, to deal with those threats.

Elizabeth I was no Joe Biden. She saw the threats clearly — Walsingham ensured that she did — and was willing to deal with all of them at the same time as best her power and influence could.

If only Biden would do the same. He lacks a strong intelligence and defense team, and it’s questionable whether he listens even to them and whether they are willing to give him more than the good news he wants.

Biden’s foreign policy is a mishmash of strong statements and little action. He has, four times, said we would defend Taiwan only to have his cabinet members back away from his statements, insisting that our “one China” policy remains in place. In 2021, he gave Putin a five-year extension of the “New START” agreement without Putin having to pay any price and was rewarded by Putin’s renouncing the treaty last month. Biden still wants a new nuclear weapons deal with Iran despite Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 84 percent, just six points shy of weapons-grade, which makes it perfectly clear that Iran will not limit its nuclear weapons program or its accompanying missile program. Biden has missed the bus and been taken by surprise by the new Saudi Arabia–Iran agreement negotiated by China.

And Biden is apparently content with the stalemated Russian war on Ukraine.

Russia’s faltering economy should be helped to crash. There may still be major Russian banks that are allowed to operate through the “SWIFT” consortium, which enables clearance — settlement — of bank transactions almost instantly. There should be no Russian banks with “SWIFT” privileges, no U.S. or NATO-nation companies doing business in Russia. Gazprombank, which has a subsidiary in Luxembourg and is the main method of payment for Russian gas, has not had the EU sanctions imposed on it. Economic sanctions can hurt Russia but only if they are applied ruthlessly and relentlessly. So far, they haven’t been.

In another example, Russia is avoiding sanctions by trading through countries that aren’t sanctioned. If sanctions mean anything, they have to be enforced.

Biden is also content to not push our NATO allies, especially those such as Germany and France, to invest more in their own defense and in the defense of Ukraine. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz came into office promising that his nation would move to invest the NATO-minimum 2 percent of its GDP in defense, but he has failed to do so, without any reaction from Biden.

We are investing more in the Ukraine war than any other country. As I wrote last week, Biden is draining our weapons stockpile and doing nothing to replenish it. His budget plan for 2024 has an increase in defense spending that doesn’t keep pace with the inflation he has generated with his reckless overspending.

Why won’t Biden use his influence to push our NATO allies to do more for Ukraine and enforce sanctions against Russia? Why isn’t he conducting a program of propaganda against Putin and using agents provocateurs to promote Russian dissension? The short answer is that Biden is too frightened of Putin to do what is necessary.


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