President Joe Biden's foreign policy has collapsed. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan effectively admitted that to CNN's Dana Bash on February 4.
"You have said now a couple times on this show and you have said this many times before that the administration is trying to prevent this from spreading into a regional conflict," Bash told Sullivan on "State of the Union," referring to the war in Gaza.
The CNN anchor proceeded to list some of the places to which the Gaza conflict has now spread. Then she asked this:
"My colleague Peter Bergen smartly pointed out that this conflict involves 10 countries, at least four major terrorist groups, so isn't this already a regional conflict?"
"Well, Dana, what I would say is that these are distinct but related challenges," the national security adviser replied. Then he struggled to put the best face on the ongoing disaster:
"For example, what's happening in the Red Sea is obviously to a certain extent triggered by what's happening in Gaza, but it's not the same thing. The Houthis aren't just hitting ships related to Israel; they're hitting a lot of different ships from a lot of different countries. And so we are trying to deal with the challenge to freedom of navigation in the Red Sea. That is a distinct challenge. The militia groups in Iraq and Syria are hitting our forces. We're responding. And then of course Israel is dealing both with the challenge of Hamas in Gaza and the threat from Hezbollah in the north."
Sullivan, although not his intention, confirmed the war in Gaza has already extended beyond that troubled strip.
The situation is actually worse than he let on. Hamas leaders have fled Qatar and are now hiding out in Qatari diplomatic missions in Morocco, where they are unwanted by the King, and in Algeria, where they are welcomed by the regime.
Iran, therefore, effectively has operatives at the western end of the Mediterranean. In December, the regime's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) publicly threatened to close off that body of water, just as it has essentially crippled shipping through the Red Sea. With terrorists close to the Strait of Gibraltar, the IRGC might be able to make good on what otherwise appears to be a wild boast.
Hamas operatives have also fled Qatar for Turkey, which controls access to the Black Sea, and Lebanon.
War, therefore, has spread farther than Dana Bash's question suggests. Biden's Afghanistan debacle of August 2021 was quickly followed by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, by China's and Russia's fueling insurgencies in North Africa, and by Iran's attacks on Israel from Gaza and the Golan Heights.
"Blood now soaks the soil of three continents," Jonathan Bass, an energy consultant with InfraGlobal Partners and an expert on Gulf state politics, told Gatestone this month. "More will be spilled. Aggressors are now on killing sprees."
American policy is failing, and it will continue to fail because it is based on a fundamentally flawed premise. Biden seems to believe that the world has not fundamentally changed since the Cold War and, therefore, it is possible to integrate virtually all nations into the rules-based international system.
The world, however, has already cleaved and hardened into factions, and one of the factions, the one centered around China and Russia, does not respect the sovereignty of other states.
In other words, Beijing and Moscow do not accept the assumptions that have defined the world since the Peace of Westphalia of 1648, which established the current international system. Chinese and Russian leaders do not agree as to what should replace Westphalia, but they are nonetheless working together to bring it down.
Biden, however, is trying to work with China as a partner. Unfortunately for him, its regime is promoting the notion that it has the obligation to rule—not just dominate—the entire world. In short, Xi Jinping believes the United States is at most a Chinese colony. Moreover, the Communist Party has declared a "people's war" against America. In these circumstances, long-term cooperation with China's regime is not possible.
Western democracies often think they can work with evil, something evident from persistent British attempts in the late 1930s to "civilize" and "appease" the brutes of the Third Reich. American leaders, as they vainly tried to integrate China's Communist Party into the international system after the Cold War, learned nothing from the earlier failure.
Biden has been trying to manage the Ukraine conflict, and he is searching for a compromise in the Middle East. Instead, he should realize that there can be no accommodation with regimes that either seek the destruction of the United States—China and Iran, for instance—or regimes helping such enemies—most notably Russia. Biden should be supporting America's friends to the hilt and seeking total victory for Ukraine and Israel.
Analysts say that seeking total victory is dangerous. Yes, it is. Yet saying something is dangerous is no longer a meaningful objection. After three decades of truly misguided American policy—the failure is bipartisan—every course of action is exceedingly dangerous.
Continuing with existing policies is perhaps the most dangerous option of all. Those policies may sound reasonable, constructive, and pleasing to the ear, but they have in fact created the disastrous situation that now exists.
Now, bad actors are openly acting in concert. Just before the American counterstrikes of February 2 and 3 over the deaths at the Tower 22 base in Jordan, an Iranian reconnaissance vessel, the Behshad, fled the Red Sea and obtained refuge just outside the Chinese naval base in nearby Djibouti, a sign of Beijing's support for enemies of the United States.
Why does China's comprehensive support for Iran matter? Gregory Copley, president of the International Strategic Studies Association, told Gatestone in December that there are no more "regional wars" because "all of them have some degree of involvement by the great powers."
Let's remember there were, in the 1930s, separate wars that merged into what we now call World War II. The same dynamic is happening now.
Biden has opened the floodgates of Hell. Although nothing is inevitable, we are fast approaching the point where, as a practical matter, he will not be able to stop China and Russia, directly and through proxies, from merging existing conflicts and turning them into the next global war.
Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China, a Gatestone Institute distinguished senior fellow, and a member of its Advisory Board.