Biden, Afghanistan and China

Troubling links.

No matter what else he might do, Joe Biden will be remembered forever for inciting the United States' chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, abandoning American civilians who remain trapped there and displaying utter contempt for American soldiers who have died there. Those soldiers include the ones killed in the barbaric suicide bombing in Kabul yesterday.

Those events raise a puzzling question: Why would a veteran of nearly five decades in Washington, a former Senator and vice president, risk destroying his own legacy?

Perhaps Americans need to consider that Biden's decisions reflect his and his family's previous dealings with China, which views the United States as its main competition for world dominance.

FrontPage Magazine explored China's possible interference in November's Presidential election in "Beijing Is Called For Biden," China's clandestine support for Black Lives Matter in "Beijing's Lies Matter" and COVID-19's role as a potential bioweapon in "China Virus, Indeed."

China benefits tremendously as American influence evaporates in Afghanistan. Those benefits came not by accident but from deliberate foresight and preparation.

Afghanistan contains a range of minerals worth between $1 trillion and $3 trillion. The United States Geological Survey estimated that the country has 2.2 trillion tons of iron ore, 60 million metric tons of copper, and 1.4 million tons of rare earths, as well as gold, silver, platinum, uranium, aluminum and lithium.

Rare earths are indispensable for producing consumer and military electronics, especially guidance and communications systems. Rare earths also can provide the key for Afghanistan's economic recovery.

"Afghanistan’s rich mineral resources, if exploited effectively, could prove to be the best substitutes for foreign aid and decrease the country’s dependence on donor countries and foreign support," wrote Ahmad Shah Katawazai, a former diplomat who belonged to the Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan. "Robust policies, strong institutional arrangements together with clear policy direction will pave the way for attracting both domestic and foreign investors."

Enter China, which already owns a monopoly in processing rare earths.

In 2016, China signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of the now-deposed president, Ashraf Ghani. As part of that agreement, China sent $100 million in aid. That funding provided the seed money for China to become the largest investor in Afghan business, and to spend $62 billion on Afghan infrastructure through the Belt and Road Initiative.

Projects include natural gas pipelines, electrical transmission, fiber optics networks, and massive highway and railway reconstruction. Two pivotal lines are the Five Nations Railway, which links China to Iran through Afghanistan, and a north-south route to Pakistan, a key Chinese ally.

By asserting itself economically in Afghanistan, China does more than enhance its presence as a major player in a volatile region. Access to increased mineral wealth strengthens China's dominance in rare earths, making such developed countries as the United States more dependent on that nation.

The Chinese also can mine Afghan uranium, which they can use for their own nuclear weapons or send to Iran or Pakistan.

Nearly three weeks before the Taliban seized Kabul, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the movement's co-founder, met with China's foreign minister, Wang Yi. Baradar is now Afghanistan's president.

"We welcome them," Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told the South China Morning Post on July 7. "If they have investments, of course we ensure their safety. Their safety is very important for us."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken even called China's involvement in Afghanistan "a positive thing" if the Chinese sought a "peaceful resolution of the conflict" and a "truly representative and inclusive" government.

Biden ensured China's permanent involvement by disregarding advice from various government quarters. In doing so, he sabotaged an agreement that President Donald Trump brokered between the United States and the Taliban. That agreement included parameters for withdrawing American troops.

In February, Congress' Afghanistan Study Group released a report stating that withdrawal depended "not on an inflexible timeline but on all parties fulfilling their commitments, including the Taliban making good on its promises to contain terrorist groups and reduce violence against the Afghan people."

The study group advocated extending the original May 1 deadline for troops to leave. That extension would provide needed time to transfer power peacefully, reinforce civil institutions and secure international support.

"This new approach would protect U.S. national interests in Afghanistan and the region by reducing terrorist threats, promoting regional stability, and protecting important gains in human rights and democratic institutions," the report stated. "A rash and rushed approach could increase the chances of a breakdown of order in Afghanistan that threatens the security and interests of the United States and its allies."

Then in April, Biden rejected the advice of three leading generals to keep a force of 2,500 troops in Afghanistan until peace was secured. Those generals were Gen. Austin Scott Miller, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of American forces in the Middle East, and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In June, reported the Washington Free Beacon, Biden disbanded a State Department bureau Trump established to oversee the emergency evacuation of Americans overseas. Deputy Secretary Brian McKeon signed a memo that approved the "discontinuation of the establishment, and termination of, the Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau." 

In July, diplomats at the American embassy in Kabul sent Blinken a confidential cable. They said the Taliban would quickly assume power after Western troops left, the Afghan army would collapse and the State Department would need to expedite plans for an evacuation.

"The classified cable represents the clearest evidence yet that the administration had been warned by its own officials on the ground that the Taliban’s advance was imminent and Afghanistan’s military may be unable to stop it," reported the Wall Street Journal.

Whether Biden saw the cable, let alone whether Blinken acted on it, remains an open question.

Regardless, Biden's inaction not only exposed thousands of Americans to danger. It allowed the United States' enemies to gain access to sophisticated military equipment, as veteran journalist Lara Logan told Fox's Tucker Carlson.

"They're not talking about why the Taliban is dismantling advanced U.S. military equipment and sending it back over the border to Pakistan," Logan said about Biden's administration. "Worse, they're not stopping it.

“The (National Security Agency) and the National Geospatial Agency, which control the satellites, and all these other arms of the United States government are watching this happen in real time. They are seeing advanced military equipment going over the border into Iran, and going into Pakistan, and they're doing nothing to stop it. Why not?”

If that equipment is going to Pakistan, the Pakistanis could then send it to their ally: China, which could analyze it and develop countermeasures.

"The United States government could change this even today, and they don't do it," Logan said. "The United States has the power to affect anything, and the Afghans know that. They know that the United States could bomb the Taliban's supply lines, right now. They're all coming from Pakistan. Everybody knows it."

So why would Biden disregard sound advice and the facts on the ground? Could the answer lie beyond incompetence or dementia?

It might be important to keep these facts in mind.

1. The troubling transactions involving Biden and his son, Hunter, with businesses owned by the Chinese government, and the amount of money both men likely received. In one transaction, Hunter received $1.5 billion for his private equity fund.

2. Hunter's public lust for sex and drugs, and his liaison with a young Chinese woman who suggested numerous times that his father should run for president.

3. The successful intimidation of Ukraine. As vice president, Biden demanded a state prosecutor to stop investigating his son's relationship with Burisma, an energy company, or he would withhold $1 billion in foreign aid. He even bragged about his success to the Council on Foreign Affairs.

4. The millions of dollars that the Clinton Foundation received once Secretary of State Hillary Clinton allowed Rosatom, Russia's nuclear-power agency, to buy Uranium One, a Canadian mining company that owns 20 percent of the United States' uranium reserves. Biden served as vice president when that transaction took place.

5. The accusations about Trump being a Russian agent by his opponents. Did those accusations represent a campaign of projection, disinformation and deflection from Biden's China affairs?

Given current events, Americans must ask themselves many questions about the catastrophe in Afghanistan. Some of those questions should, arguably, include the peculiar ingredients of the Bidens' dealings with the Chinese.

Joseph Hippolito is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to FrontPage Magazine. His commentaries have appeared in The FederalistThe StreamWall Street JournalJerusalem Post and National Post.

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