President Biden’s address the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday promised a policy of “relentless diplomacy” to wary US allies while tamping down on anxieties over the growing tensions between the US and China. Biden’s speech came on the heels of a new US-Australia agreement aimed at corralling the growing aggression from Beijing.
Former National Security Advisor, John Bolton, who served as UN Ambassador from 2005-2006, was skeptical of Biden’s reassurances. He told The Cats Roundtable on Sunday that Biden’s speech, especially when compared to Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s speech, failed to deliver the strength US allies and adversaries need.
“I think most analysts said it was as clear a statement of China’s effort to displace the United States from world leadership that we’ve heard,” Bolton said frankly. “It was delivered calmly, but it was very clearly intended to bring other nations to china’s side and against the US.”
Biden’s lackluster performance at the UN General Assembly stood in contrast to a new announcement of a military alliance between the US, Australia, and the UK to counter China. The partnership, known as AUKUS (pronounced ORCUS), has as its first major initiative the creation of a nuclear submarine fleet for Australia. Bolton called it a “huge step forward for the US in the pacific,” but noted its success seemed to have come almost by accident.
But the growing fear of a collision course between the US and China is no accident. According to Bolton, that’s because China intends to take control. While many experts believe they intend to do it militarily, Bolton explained that China was already displacing US leadership around the world.
“Many people have heard of the belt and road initiative,” Bolton said, “It’s a way for the Chinese to use economic power over countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. They’re trying to extend their influence worldwide, and they have real ambitions to displace the United States.”
Bolton disagreed with Biden’s characterization that the US-China relationship was a new Cold War. The legacy of the struggle now went back much further.
“I don’t consider it a Cold War, but I do consider it a power struggle,” Bolton explained. “The Chinese have a very different system, and they want to prevail over us.”
The rising threat from Beijing was the lead topic for the meeting at the White House between leaders of the Quad, the informal Indo-Pacific partnership between India, Japan, and Australia. Bolton hoped the meeting would yield a “more coherent way to try and constrain these Chinese ambitions.”
Bolton told The Cats Roundtable it was time for Biden and his administration to wake up to the reality China was trying to create.
“I think the United States has got to look at China and the threat it poses across the board,” he explained. “I think the United States needs to come to grips with this threat, needs to talk to its friends, needs to build up alliances, and needs to be prepared for a long struggle here across the full spectrum of potential power—economic, political, and military.”
But as time becomes the essence, is Biden the one to mobilize the US and her allies? As of now, Bolton is skeptical.
“I don’t think the administration is focused,” he admitted, adding “what the world wants from us is steady American leadership, they’re going to disagree with us a lot but they want to see a strong America, because if we withdraw from the world if our policies are unclear, really international peace and security is threatened.”