Can we have an honest conversation about President Biden?

By: Stephen Kuper – Defence Connect

Politics aside, it is time to have an honest conversation with people about American President Joe Biden and the message he himself conveys to a world full of circling, predatory nations.

First things first, this is not a political declaration nor is it a statement of allegiance to one side of America’s political debate over the other, it is a statement on observable reality and a statement of concern for an elderly man very clearly in the grips of dementia.

Late last week, for those interested, we got a glimpse of just how significantly US President Joe Biden has deteriorated in recent months despite repeated reassurances from the White House, Democratic lawmakers, and various media pundits that the President was thriving in his role and was an intellectual dynamo putting his competitors to shame.

Yet on the shores of Normandy, alongside his French counterpart, the world outside of political junkies was exposed to the frailty of the 81-year old President as he paused, seemingly squatted and stared off into the distance before being ushered away from the limelight as French President Emmanuel Macron was left to thank the American service personnel and veterans of D-Day.

This is just the latest in a long, long list of incidents involving the President as the physical incarnation and standard bearer of America’s mission, promise, vitality, and strength in the world at a time when there is rising multipolarity across the globe and revisionist nations like Putin’s Russia, Xi’s People’s Republic of China, and Iran, along with the threat posed by the Houthis and Hamas.

Again, I must reiterate, this is not to belittle the President. This is about raising the alarm as a concerned Australian and stalwart promoter and defender of the Australia-US partnership.

So, can we please have an honest conversation about the President and his declining mental faculties?

No matter which way one cuts it, President Biden’s term has been characterised by an international affairs dumpster fire, beginning with the disastrous US withdrawal from Afghanistan (now yes, the plan was designed under the Trump administration) but it was implemented in full by the Biden administration, which saw 13 US service personnel killed and in excess of US$7 billion (AU$10.5 billion) worth of US military equipment fall into the Taliban’s hands.

As if to make matters worse, the international fallout revealed the chaotic and transactional approach of the United States towards its allies as footage of desperate Afghans clinging to US military cargo aircraft was beamed around the world, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealing following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early-2022, “When it comes to Russia’s war against Ukraine, if we were still in Afghanistan, it would have, I think, made much more complicated the support that we’ve been able to give and that others have been able to give Ukraine to resist and push back against the Russian aggression.”

Leading us to President Biden’s handling of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing international fallout and what can be characterised as a rather lacklustre response, mostly from the European NATO members who have repeatedly failed to meet their obligations to support the beleaguered Ukrainian war effort and been slow to respond to Russia’s aggression on their eastern borders.

Nevertheless, the Biden administration has struggled to maintain domestic bipartisan support both in the halls of power and more broadly among the American people as they struggle through immense cost-of-living pressures and an administration that seems focused on niche domestic and international issues or prosecuting its political opponents (which no matter what way you cut it, it looks bad).

As if things couldn’t get worse, then October 7 happened and the Middle East once again became a volatile powder keg, with the Israeli counter response now threatening international shipping in the Horn of Africa and Red Sea area, while also revealing the true scale and scope of the rapidly developing parallel global order being spearheaded by Russia and China.

Closer to home, President Biden’s lacklustre international performance has seen Beijing rapidly accelerate its antagonistic actions in the South China Sea and Western Pacific, actively injuring Australian Navy divers among other hostile actions against the ADF and others, while also actively bullying and intimidating the Philippines, Vietnam, and of course, Taiwan, with the rising superpower edging daily toward a dangerous and disastrous miscalculation over the island democracy.

All of this has drawn little in the way of coherent condemnation from the US President. Then, we have the classic moments like Biden falling asleep at the COP26 International Forum or Biden falling up the stairs of Air Force One, all of this is before we look at Biden’s record on the domestic front.

Just on sheer optics it is hard to be enthusiastic about the future of the United States as the “Leader of the Free World” and its capacity to actively compete in a multipolar world order.

If the President is supposed to embody the vigour, competence, and resilience as well as the hope, optimism, and vibrancy of the American system and its people, equally, it is hard to see much beyond President Biden’s ailing health and clear cognitive decline.

In a world where the revisionist powers of Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and others are led by robust “strong men”, authoritarian leaders who are actively pursuing policies of expansionism, hostility, and aggression towards the post-Second World War order and the nations that hold it together.

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope that we can have an open, frank, and honest conversation about Biden and his capacity to serve in the role of president, and also to wish him well at a personal level, I have watched as loved ones declined under the insidious and cruel impact of age-related cognitive decline or dementia.

Regardless of whether we are in a “pre-war” or traditional “Cold War” environment, it is clear that successive generations of Australian leaders have let the country down, too entranced and seduced by the promise of “Peace Dividends” and the “End of History” to recognise the cold reality of the world, particularly developing concurrently with the “Clash of Civilisations” during the Global War on Terror.

Equally, many an academic, strategic thinker, and policymaker were seduced by the march of hyper-globalisation and the ultimate triumph of liberal democratic values that either naively overlooked the importance of historical context, religion, ethnic loyalty and rivalry and ideology that has left Australia dangerously exposed and unprepared for the challenges we now face.

But it isn’t too late if we pivot and accept the realities we now face both globally and closer to home in the Indo-Pacific, we just have to, as the US Marines say, “embrace the suck”.

Responding to the challenges arrayed won’t be easy, but if we can engage the Australian public and industry early and bring them along, I promise it will be worth it in the long run.

Because if we don’t, when it comes to paying the bill, the cost will be too devastating to comprehend.


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  • Manny June 15, 2024   Reply →

    Totally agree with your thoughts brother. Australia needs good strong leadership. The only hope we have at the moment is Riccardo Bosi in my own view.
    We have had nerdy four eyed pencil pushing , shoe dragging morons as PM the past decade.
    We cannot let our people down. Australia ???????? is the lucky country and the only way to save it is a complete shake up of our fat sticky finger ed pollys.
    In regards to Biden that could be a bar conversation for bar flys four years.
    Hes not what anyone needs and wants. Those that voted for him only did so to not let Trump have a second term.
    I sincerely hope things change and the me me me generation wake up from thier phone sucking sleep before things are too late.
    We have served our nation as soldiers, sailors and airmen and women. It’s time for a competent leader from our ranks Bosi gets my vote brother.

  • Elliot Bishop June 16, 2024   Reply →

    The author asks us to put politics aside and participate in an “honest” conversation about US President Joe Biden and his fitness to serve. He then proceeds to gaslight the reader with right-wing propaganda and half-truths, while at the same time deflecting attention from his bigotry by claiming “not to belittle the President”.

    Let’s take a couple of examples.

    “… the Biden administration has struggled to maintain domestic bipartisan support both in the halls of power and more broadly among the American people…” Indeed, he has. However, the author fails to mention that his political opponents’ stated focus is to undermine any and all items on Biden’s agenda. Take immigration, an issue which his political opponents perceive as a Biden weakness and a political gain for themselves. A bipartisan Congressional committee drafted an immigration bill designed to mitigate illegal immigration at the US southern border. To secure bipartisanship, Biden reluctantly made concessions to his political opponents to gain their support of the bill. When the Republican party’s presumptive presidential candidate perceived it as a win for Biden’s presidential campaign, he instructed his minions to oppose the bill. The Republican architects of the bill honored their master’s call and voted against their very own creation. Biden’s immigration bill lies dead in the water.

    The author also accuses the Biden administration of “prosecuting its political opponents”. Biden’s opponents accuse him of weaponizing the Department of Justice and using it as an instrument to thwart Republicans’ political ambitions. Perhaps the author would care to explain why the agency chose to prosecute Biden’s very own flawed, but much-loved son for gun registration violations attracting a prison term of up to 25 years? Worth noting also is that federal prosecutors passed on charging Trump for the hush money payments scheme that Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg only later pursued. The author may wish to consider that the Justice Department has brought separate bribery charges against Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, while instituting a federal probe into Democratic Representative Cori Bush of Missouri for campaign spending violations. Truth is that Biden’s political opponents are being charged and prosecuted for many crimes they commit, independent of their political affiliations.

    I don’t disagree with the author that the ravages of aging challenge Biden in his uniquely difficult role as leader of the free world, but to cast him as a failure is dishonest and deceitful. We, the readership, deserve better.

    • Ray Payne June 17, 2024   Reply →

      Stephen Kuper’s article, “Can we have an honest conversation about President Biden?” presents a critical view of President Biden’s capabilities and performance, particularly in the realm of international affairs. Kuper emphasizes Biden’s apparent cognitive decline, citing specific instances like his behaviour at the Normandy event, and argues that this decline is visible and concerning, especially in the context of a multipolar world with aggressive, authoritarian leaders.
      The article criticizes Biden’s handling of key international issues, starting with the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, which Kuper describes as poorly executed despite being planned under the previous administration. He highlights the resultant loss of American lives and equipment and the damaging optics of the withdrawal. This incident is used to illustrate what Kuper sees as a pattern of inadequacy in Biden’s foreign policy, extending to the administration’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and escalating tensions in the Middle East and Indo-Pacific regions.
      Kuper portrays Biden’s leadership as lacking in coherence and strength, contrasting it unfavourably with the assertive stances of leaders from countries like Russia and China. He suggests that Biden’s perceived frailty and cognitive decline undermine confidence in the United States as a global leader. The article calls for a frank discussion about Biden’s ability to fulfill the demanding role of the presidency, both for the sake of American leadership and to safeguard international stability.
      The author concludes by reflecting on broader strategic missteps by Australian leaders, implying that Australia must adapt to the current global realities, recognizing the threats posed by rising authoritarian powers. This broader context underscores the urgency of addressing concerns about Biden’s leadership capabilities, suggesting that the stakes are high not just for the United States but for its allies as well.

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