alliances, allies, America First, AstraZeneca, Belgium, Biden, CCP Virus, China, coronavirus, COVID 19, EU, European Union, Financial Times, globalism, health security, Northern Ireland, Our So-Called Foreign Policy, supply chains, The New York Times, Trump, United Kingdom, vaccines, Wuhan virus
It’s beginning to look like a pattern: President Biden keeps making clear that he’s determined to repair the vital U.S. alliance relationships he believes Donald Trump disastrously weakened, and the Europeans, anyway, keep flipping him the bird either explicitly or implicitly. And as the old saying goes, shame on anyone who’s been fooled more than once.
The explicit example came before Inauguration Day. The European Union (EU) – whose members were touted by candidate Biden as eager potential partners in a multilateral coalition against a common Chinese economic and national security threat – were on the verge of finalizing an investment treaty with Beijing. A top Biden aide publicly asked the EU to think twice and consult with the United States before proceeding. In response, the Europeans…proceeded. (See here for the details.)
The implicit example came last week. During the campaign Mr. Biden, as noted here, made clear (except to every American journalist who covered the matter) that his plan to strengthen U.S. supply chains and make sure that the nation would never again be reliant on adversaries like China for crucial medical equipment and other vital products was by no means an “America Only” or even an “America First” proposal. Instead, one of its planks pledged to
“engage with our closest partners so that together we can build stronger, more resilient supply chains and economies in the face of 21st century risks. Just like the United States itself, no U.S. ally should be dependent on critical supplies from countries like China and Russia. That means developing new approaches on supply chain security — both individually and collectively — and updating trade rules to ensure we have strong understandings with our allies on how to best ensure supply chain security for all of us.” (Here’s the full document.)
In principle, this characteristically multilateral Biden approach made sense. Yet the blueprint came out scant months after (as reported here) many of these allies reacted to the outbreak of the CCP Virus by blocking exports of key medical equipment to ensure they could supply themselves.
You’d think that Mr. Biden, therefore, would have learned this lesson and recognized that the United States simply can’t afford to define “Made in America” as “Made in Lots of Other Countries, Too.” But you’d be wrong.
The day after his inauguration, the new President issued an executive order to create “a Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain.” And one of it directives charged various Cabinet and other agencies and senior advisers to study “America’s role in the international public health supply chain, and options for strengthening and better coordinating global supply chain systems in future pandemics….”
Again, therefore, Mr. Biden specified that this “sustainable public health supply chain” would stretch far beyond America’s shores, and that he believed various kinds of these “global supply chain systems” could ensure the nation’s health security in “future pandemics.”
How did the Europeans react? Little more than a week later, the European Union moved to restrict exports of the CCP Virus vaccine made by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca because its own supplies were so short. As a top EU official explained, “The protection and safety of our citizens is a priority and the challenges we now face have left us with no choice other than to act.”
The EU almost immediately reversed its decision – but only in part. It agreed to maintain shipments to the United Kingdom (which has recently left the union under a complicated agreement negotiated after the “Brexit” referendu vote of 2015) and to Northern Ireland (which is a part of the UK, but which remains part of the Union’s single market for goods). But the Europeans, according to The New York Times, still intend “to introduce export controls that could prevent any vaccines made in the European Union from being sent to non-E.U. countries, but without involving Northern Ireland….”
For good measure, great potential remains for a big vaccine-related dispute between the United Kingdom and the EU due to differences over which party is contractually entitled to the highest priority when it comes to vaccine shipments.
And the Financial Times reported that “Belgium, a key location for vaccine production in the EU, has notified the Commission of a draft health law that would give it new powers to curb medicines exports. The proposed legislation would allow Belgian authorities to restrict or ban the shipment of critical medicinal products and active ingredients, in case of shortages or potential shortages.”
Vaccines apparently are not included, but how could any responsible leader inside the EU or outside count on Belgium keeping its word during emergencies? The same goes, incidentally, for the word of a United States led by an adult thinker, as opposed to a globalist determined to return to the pre-Trump days of Uncle Sucker.
President Biden clearly needs to learn that lesson, too – and also needs to start asking himself whether the Europeans are holding his administration and his allies uber alles globalism up for ransom, and if the price for securing their cooperation on any number of issues is turning out to be dangerously unaffordable.