The major news media keep distracting Americans with these big questions of the day: Is Britney Spears capable of managing her own affairs? Which billionaire’s space ship is the best value for passengers who have so much money, they don’t know how to spend it? Which Olympic athletes will be banned because of COVID?

Meanwhile, the world goes on, moving into the vacuum created by a retreating United States seemingly bent on giving up its global leadership role. Storm clouds are gathering off shore. The biggest foreign policy decision made to date by President Joe Biden is to pull the last 2,500 troops out of Afghanistan.

The thought here is that 2,500 ground troops won’t be the critical difference in Afghanistan. What will determine if the Taliban takes over that nation again, giving safe haven to terrorists bent on destroying western civilization in general, and the United States in particular, will be the amount of air defense we provide to the Afghan government. With drones, we don’t even have to risk the lives of U.S. pilots. However, if the Taliban rolls into Kabul by Christmas, no question that Biden will be blamed, and Americans will be less safe.

One wonders, if 2,500 troops was too much for Biden’s taste in that hell hole, what does he think about the 34,500 troops we have maintained in Germany since 1945, or the 80,000 we still have in South Korea and Japan?

China is continuing its arms build-up, and its saber-rattling is raising the hair on the back of the necks of the Taiwanese living across the Formosa Strait. Like South Korea, Taiwan is a great country which has used individual freedom and capitalism to create wealth on that relatively small island. Taiwan is where the Republic of China government retreated in the face of the Communist takeover of the mainland in 1948.

In 1955, the Communists moved to absorb Taiwan, too, but President Dwight Eisenhower stood up to them. The question now is whether Biden will do the same.

Sometimes, it seems like people can’t stand prosperity. Peru, which had one of the fastest growing economies in South America over the past 20 years, just elected a Marxist as president. This comes 22 years after Hugo Chavez convinced the people of Venezuela that he could convert the nation’s oil profits into wealth for the masses. Instead, he created grinding poverty that has caused an estimated 5 million people to flee the bankrupt nation.

So now, his successor as dictator, Nicolas Maduro, is setting his sights on expanding into neighboring Guyana. The border dispute was first settled in 1899 and then again in 1962, but a few weeks ago, Venezuela captured two fishing vessels in waters claimed by Guyana under the longstanding agreement, and detained their crews. So far, all the Biden Administration has done is call for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

Since 1999, the Venezuelan government has tied itself closely to its Communist friends in Cuba. Now, the impoverished Cuban people, dying without COVID vaccinations, staged protest rallies across the island. Some people think the protests may have been a false-flag operation — a way for the tyrannical regime to identify the leaders of the unrest, so they can be locked up in the gulag that is off limits to American tourists.

In the U.S., the Progressive/Socialist/Communist Blame-America-First crowd says Cuba’s problems all come from the economic sanctions imposed by the United States. It’s as if they believe no nation can survive without trading with the U.S., a nation whose flag the Progressives, unlike the Cuban protesters, seem more interested in burning than flying.

The fact is the Cuban government is as repressive as any on earth, right down there with North Korea. Every neighborhood is under surveillance. Don’t forget that, after we tried to thaw our relations a few years ago, setting up a diplomatic mission there, U.S. State Department employees began becoming ill after being assaulted in their homes with mysterious ultrasonic sound waves that caused permanent brain damage. The illness is now known as “the Havana Syndrome.” One wonders if Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who was all in on dropping sanctions and opening up relations with Cuba a few years ago, has had a change of heart yet? Apparently not; just two months ago she co-authored new legislation to lift the Cuban trade embargo.

So far, the Biden administration has only suggested that it may try to help the protesters by restoring Internet service to Cuba after the Cuban government took down its own service. To succeed, the protesters will need more than that.

And if all that isn’t enough, four Iranians were indicted for planning to kidnap an Iranian dissident living in New York City even as the Biden administration is trying to restore U.S. involvement in the Iran nuclear deal engineered by President Obama and scuttled by President Trump.

Forget about Britney, Bezos and Olympic bans. The enemies of this nation are treating the United States as if it is a paper tiger. President Biden is being tested on many fronts, and, if he doesn’t hold firm soon, it will be because the United States will have turned its back on the global leadership position it has held for the past 75 years.

Tom West, now retired, is the former general manager of this paper. Reach him at westwords.mcr@gmail.com.

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