President Joe Biden promised to return “normalcy” to the world, as a long-time member of the Washington establishment with decades of experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His administration’s tagline was “America is back.”
However, his presidency has seen no shortage of foreign policy crises, including some of his own direct making.
Here are the top five foreign policy blunders his administration has made that have contributed to chaos, war, and unrest and have seen Americans troops put into harm’s way, with some of them losing their lives.
1. Disastrous Withdrawal from Afghanistan
The administration has tried to blame former President Donald Trump for negotiating a deal with the Taliban to withdraw, but it is Biden who decided to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan in September 2021 without the Taliban meeting the prerequisite conditions.
Biden also decided to conduct the withdrawal from the Kabul International Airport, instead of the far bigger and more secure Bagram air base. The withdrawal quickly turned into a rout, as Taliban forces entered Kabul and toppled the U.S.-backed government, forcing a rush to the airport by tens of thousands of Afghan civilians that resulted in chaos and death — including those of 13 American troops manning the airport’s main gate from an ISIS suicide bomber. The U.S. military then ended up accidentally killing an Afghan aid worker and nine children in a retaliatory strike that then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley called “righteous.” In addition, many Afghans who had helped U.S. forces with promises of a green card were left behind.
2. Failure to prevent the war in Ukraine
Not only was Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan seen by many foreign policy experts as the event that encouraged Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine less than a year later, but his administration did nothing for months as Russian troops prepared to invade.
Russian troops began massing at its border with Ukraine 10 months before Putin actually invaded in February 2022. As Reuters reported in April 2021, Russia had more troops on the border of Ukraine “than at any time since 2014, when it annexed Crimea.”
At that time, the Biden White House said it was “increasingly concerned,” but appeared to do little else. The Biden administration did release intelligence on Russian military movements in a feckless attempt to deter an invasion.
Administration officials had at the time told CNN that the intelligence releases were to “disrupt Russian planning, blunt the effectiveness of any “false flag” operations and, ultimately, deter military action.”
“And there are signs the strategy is working, U.S. officials say,” CNN reported. One senior U.S. official allegedly told CNN that the Biden administration believed that Putin had been “caught off guard” by the releases. Not only did the strategy fail to deter Putin, but he invaded Ukraine just a little over a week after that report.
3. Taking Iran-backed Houthis off the terrorist watchlist
Shortly after taking office, Biden reversed Trump’s designation of the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization, which sought to weaken the group by cutting it off from the international banking system as well as allow it to be targeted by the U.S. military.
Now, the Iran-backed Houthi — who seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 — is firing ballistic missiles and sending barrages of one-way armed drones at commercial tankers and American war ships in the Red Sea, threatening American sailors and crews’ lives, and disrupting international shipping.
While the Biden administration has intercepted some of the ballistic missiles and drones, it has not taken any retaliatory strikes against the Houthis.
Former top Trump national security official Kash Patel, who worked to designate the Houthis as an FTO, said in a recent interview with Breitbart News about the Biden administration’s reversal: “Just shows you what they think is priority. We just thought differently… . Foreign Terrorist Organizations were Trump’s top priority. We went after them.”
4. Unfreezing $6 billion for Iran in Exchange for Five American Hostages
In August 2023, the Biden administration reached a deal with Iran to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian assets in exchange for the release of five Americans held in Iran. The Biden administration claimed the money would be “available only for humanitarian trade.”
However, critics of the deal argued that money was “fungible” and would allow Iran to free up other money to support terrorist proxies across the Middle East.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who in October co-authored a bill to re-freeze the assets, said in a statement:
It was foolish for the Biden administration to ever move this money, and now we need to make sure these funds never get to the evil Iranian regime and make clear that the United States of America will never play nice with terrorists. Anyone who says the Iranians and their terrorist proxies couldn’t use this $6 billion to support terrorism is lying to you. It’s time to take these funds off the table for good, slam Iran with the most severe sanctions imaginable and hold this evil regime accountable for the terror it has unleashed on the world.
5. Failing to Deter Hamas from Attacking Israel, a Top U.S. Ally
While U.S. and Israeli intelligence both appeared to have missed signs leading up to Hamas’s October 7, 2023, terrorist attack in Israel that claimed over 1,200 lives, critics say if Biden had not emboldened Hamas’s main backer, Iran, the attack would not have happened. There are still seven American hostages being held by Hamas, in addition.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who co-authored the bill with Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), said in a statement:
The Biden administration’s decision to release $6 billion to Iran – the world’s leading state sponsor of terror – was a grave mistake that created a market for American hostages, emboldened our adversaries, and put a credit on the balance sheets of one of Hamas’s biggest backers.
The Biden administration has argued that the money it unfroze did not go towards supporting Hamas’s attack on Israel. However, it reportedly quietly has since struck a deal with Qatar to block Iran from accessing any of the $6 billion.