Tough Biden Talk, Little Action

A disturbing pattern is emerging in President Biden’s foreign policy: Officials talk hard – then follow diplomacy in very small numbers. Two examples this week — of the Chinese hack and the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline — underscore this point.

opposes the $11 billion Nord Stream pipeline, which could double natural gas exports directly to Germany from Russia. But the Biden administration has now blessed the completion of the project, handing over

a major strategic victory at the expense of Ukraine and Europe’s energy independence.

The White House says the pipeline is inevitable and that improving America’s relationship with the Germans should be a top priority. But the deal with Germany is floundering at a weak point. In a joint statement between the United States and Germany on Wednesday, Berlin pledged to impose future sanctions “if Russia tries to use energy as a weapon or takes further aggressive actions against Ukraine.” .” We could hear them laughing in the Kremlin that day.

The deal will not go well in Kyiv, which is already grappling with Russian attacks on its territory. The country is likely to lose billions of dollars in shipping fees as Russian natural gas is diverted from routes through Ukraine. But at least “Germany is committed to establishing and administering a Green Fund for Ukraine to support Ukraine’s energy transition, energy efficiency and energy security,” according to the report. Joint statement. The US and Germany say they will ask Russia to continue paying Ukraine. Are they kidding?

Giving a revisionist power more influence over the European economy does not help the interests of the United States. The big victory for Russian gas also comes when the Administration move to limit fossil fuel production in the United States, Angela Merkel, who negotiated the deal with President Biden, will not even be Prime Minister anymore.


Meanwhile, on Monday, the Administration called on China for a cyberattack and involved the European Union, NATO, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken

to speak “The United States and countries around the world are holding the People’s Republic of China (PRC) accountable for its irresponsible, disruptive, and destabilizing behavior in cyberspace, posing a threat to the world. great for our economy and national security.”

Explain how? The Allied Powers declared no sanctions or other action. An alliance against Chinese cyberattacks is fine, but not if the result is a response with the lowest common denominator – i.e. nothing. Beijing may conclude that harsh words are all the United States can do to unite its allies behind.

Blinken also confirmed this week that “cyber organizations affiliated with” China’s Ministry of State Security conducted a “large-scale cyber espionage operation” earlier this year aimed at “indiscriminately infiltrating goods and services.” thousands of computers and networks”.

He is referring to an attack on entities running their on-premises email servers through Microsoft Exchange. According to Steven Adair, president of cybersecurity firm Volexity, cybersecurity firm Volexity, and cybersecurity firm Volexity, one of the first to discover the breach, Chinese hackers gained access to the site. emails, attachments, and contacts, and then launch attacks that can compromise an organization’s computer systems and networks.

The hackers focused on traditional espionage targets, then expanded the effort to include others in the private and public sectors, nonprofits, and academia. The US State Department confirmed this activity “has allowed Chinese intelligence agencies to access and spy on or potentially disrupt tens of thousands of computer systems worldwide.”

The US response last week was to cancel a indictment against four Chinese nationals involved in another hacking campaign. The federals say that between 2011 and “at least” 2018, a provincial branch of the Department of State Security set up a front company to steal intellectual property, trade secrets and information other secrets “from companies and universities related to Ebola virus and vaccine research,” among other topics.

Alas, all four are “citizens and residents” of China, and are unlikely to be extradited, so the indictment serves as a symbolic deterrent. Oh, and State announced rewards up to $10 million for information that identifies cybercriminals targeting the US to a foreign government. Surely that will impress the tough men in Zhongnanhai.

Biden officials, including the President, believe in the power of diplomacy almost for its own sake. But profitable diplomacy achieves nothing against determined enemies with bad intentions.

Weeks after he told Vladimir Putin he would have to retaliate if the Russians didn’t stop cyberattacks on American assets, media reports said Russia’s foreign intelligence agency was back. continue to attack. Image: AFP via Getty Images Synthesis: Mark Kelly

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