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Can we have an honest conversation about President Biden?

President Joseph R Biden III addressing media at the White House's Jacqueline Kennedy Rose Garden (Source: Official White House photo by Adam Schultz)

Politics aside, it is time to have an honest conversation with people about American President Joe Biden and the message he himself conveys to a world full of circling, predatory nations.

Politics aside, it is time to have an honest conversation with people about American President Joe Biden and the message he himself conveys to a world full of circling, predatory nations.

First things first, this is not a political declaration nor is it a statement of allegiance to one side of America’s political debate over the other, it is a statement on observable reality and a statement of concern for an elderly man very clearly in the grips of dementia.

Late last week, for those interested, we got a glimpse of just how significantly US President Joe Biden has deteriorated in recent months despite repeated reassurances from the White House, Democratic lawmakers, and various media pundits that the President was thriving in his role and was an intellectual dynamo putting his competitors to shame.


Yet on the shores of Normandy, alongside his French counterpart, the world outside of political junkies was exposed to the frailty of the 81-year old President as he paused, seemingly squatted and stared off into the distance before being ushered away from the limelight as French President Emmanuel Macron was left to thank the American service personnel and veterans of D-Day.

This is just the latest in a long, long list of incidents involving the President as the physical incarnation and standard bearer of America’s mission, promise, vitality, and strength in the world at a time when there is rising multipolarity across the globe and revisionist nations like Putin’s Russia, Xi’s People’s Republic of China, and Iran, along with the threat posed by the Houthis and Hamas.

Again, I must reiterate, this is not to belittle the President. This is about raising the alarm as a concerned Australian and stalwart promoter and defender of the Australia-US partnership.

So, can we please have an honest conversation about the President and his declining mental faculties?

An ’iffy’ international record

No matter which way one cuts it, President Biden’s term has been characterised by an international affairs dumpster fire, beginning with the disastrous US withdrawal from Afghanistan (now yes, the plan was designed under the Trump administration) but it was implemented in full by the Biden administration, which saw 13 US service personnel killed and in excess of US$7 billion (AU$10.5 billion) worth of US military equipment fall into the Taliban’s hands.

As if to make matters worse, the international fallout revealed the chaotic and transactional approach of the United States towards its allies as footage of desperate Afghans clinging to US military cargo aircraft was beamed around the world, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealing following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early-2022, “When it comes to Russia’s war against Ukraine, if we were still in Afghanistan, it would have, I think, made much more complicated the support that we’ve been able to give and that others have been able to give Ukraine to resist and push back against the Russian aggression.”

Leading us to President Biden’s handling of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing international fallout and what can be characterised as a rather lacklustre response, mostly from the European NATO members who have repeatedly failed to meet their obligations to support the beleaguered Ukrainian war effort and been slow to respond to Russia’s aggression on their eastern borders.

Nevertheless, the Biden administration has struggled to maintain domestic bipartisan support both in the halls of power and more broadly among the American people as they struggle through immense cost-of-living pressures and an administration that seems focused on niche domestic and international issues or prosecuting its political opponents (which no matter what way you cut it, it looks bad).

As if things couldn’t get worse, then October 7 happened and the Middle East once again became a volatile powder keg, with the Israeli counter response now threatening international shipping in the Horn of Africa and Red Sea area, while also revealing the true scale and scope of the rapidly developing parallel global order being spearheaded by Russia and China.

Closer to home, President Biden’s lacklustre international performance has seen Beijing rapidly accelerate its antagonistic actions in the South China Sea and Western Pacific, actively injuring Australian Navy divers among other hostile actions against the ADF and others, while also actively bullying and intimidating the Philippines, Vietnam, and of course, Taiwan, with the rising superpower edging daily toward a dangerous and disastrous miscalculation over the island democracy.

All of this has drawn little in the way of coherent condemnation from the US President. Then, we have the classic moments like Biden falling asleep at the COP26 International Forum or Biden falling up the stairs of Air Force One, all of this is before we look at Biden’s record on the domestic front.

Just on sheer optics it is hard to be enthusiastic about the future of the United States as the “Leader of the Free World” and its capacity to actively compete in a multipolar world order.

If the President is supposed to embody the vigour, competence, and resilience as well as the hope, optimism, and vibrancy of the American system and its people, equally, it is hard to see much beyond President Biden’s ailing health and clear cognitive decline.

In a world where the revisionist powers of Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and others are led by robust “strong men”, authoritarian leaders who are actively pursuing policies of expansionism, hostility, and aggression towards the post-Second World War order and the nations that hold it together.

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope that we can have an open, frank, and honest conversation about Biden and his capacity to serve in the role of president, and also to wish him well at a personal level, I have watched as loved ones declined under the insidious and cruel impact of age-related cognitive decline or dementia.

Regardless of whether we are in a “pre-war” or traditional “Cold War” environment, it is clear that successive generations of Australian leaders have let the country down, too entranced and seduced by the promise of “Peace Dividends” and the “End of History” to recognise the cold reality of the world, particularly developing concurrently with the “Clash of Civilisations” during the Global War on Terror.

Equally, many an academic, strategic thinker, and policymaker were seduced by the march of hyper-globalisation and the ultimate triumph of liberal democratic values that either naively overlooked the importance of historical context, religion, ethnic loyalty and rivalry and ideology that has left Australia dangerously exposed and unprepared for the challenges we now face.

But it isn’t too late if we pivot and accept the realities we now face both globally and closer to home in the Indo-Pacific, we just have to, as the US Marines say, “embrace the suck”.

Responding to the challenges arrayed won’t be easy, but if we can engage the Australian public and industry early and bring them along, I promise it will be worth it in the long run.

Because if we don’t, when it comes to paying the bill, the cost will be too devastating to comprehend.

Get involved with the discussion and let us know your thoughts on Australia’s future role and position in the Indo-Pacific region and what you would like to see from Australia’s political leaders in terms of partisan and bipartisan agenda setting in the comments section below, or get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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