A failed, last-minute visit to Mexico by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas this week perfectly reflected the Biden Administration’s dismal foreign policy record in 2023 and what may lie ahead in 2024.
Blinken and Mayorkas traveled to Mexico City to meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to discuss how to stem the surge in illegal migrants crossing into the United States from Mexico. But instead of offering constructive proposals to address this crisis, López Obrador mocked Blinken and Mayorkas by dismissing the border crisis as a U.S. problem, called for opening border crossings, and urged the U.S. to strengthen its ties with Cuba and Venezuela.
This latest Biden Administration foreign policy debacle reflected how world leaders increasingly view Joe Biden as a weak and indecisive leader with an incompetent foreign policy. This debacle also reflected the incompetence of Biden’s foreign policy team because López Obrador was allowed to ambush Blinken and Mayorkas. A competent state department would have ensured this visit was a scripted affair, with differences between each country resolved privately and in advance during lower-level meetings.
Blinken and Mayorkas traveling to Mexico without knowing what López Obrador would offer was a rookie mistake one would expect during the first few months of a new U.S. administration, not from one that has been in office for almost three years.
The outcome of the Blinken/Mayorkas Mexico trip and Biden’s refusal to implement serious measures to stem the flow of illegal migrants crossing the U.S. southern border will have major security implications for the United States in 2024. Given a growing perception that Biden may be a one-term president who will be succeeded in January 2025 by a new president who will take aggressive action to close the border, the United States will likely see the largest surge of illegal immigration in history in 2024 as migrants from around the world rush to Mexico to take advantage of Biden’s weak border security policies.
This means the number of criminals, drug dealers, Islamist terrorists, Chinese spies, Russian spies, drug dealers, and people transporting fentanyl in the United States is certain to skyrocket in 2024.
U.S. security interests in the Middle East have also been gravely undermined by President Biden’s weak leadership and foreign policy and are likely to further deteriorate in 2024. Many experts believe the horrific October 7, 2023, Hamas terrorist attack on Israel would not have occurred if the Biden Administration had a coherent national security policy that was not appeasing Iran and coddling the Palestinians.
As I wrote in a recent Newsmax article, the Palestinians have received more than $1 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars since Biden took office, even though Biden officials knew these funds would boost Hamas. By contrast, the Trump Administration cut off all U.S. aid to the Palestinians.
In addition, the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal assessed that Iran received approximately $71.02 billion more in revenue (mostly from oil sales) under the Biden administration than it did under the Trump presidency.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden, worried about how growing protests against the Israel-Hamas war by his progressive supporters will affect the 2024 elections, has begun to turn on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to pressure him to end the war quickly and put the corrupt Palestinian Authority in charge of running Gaza. Biden continues to claim he is solidly behind Israel’s right to defeat Hamas but also lectures Israel on the way it is conducting the war and human rights violations. Although the Netanyahu government has been careful to avoid criticizing Biden officials for such contradictory statements, it will not prematurely end the war because of the U.S. political calendar.
Iran’s nuclear weapons program made major advances during the Biden Administration, including enriching uranium to the near-weapons grade level of 60% uranium-235 for the first time. Iran’s nuclear weapons program was greatly assisted by a secret, unwritten deal that the Biden Administration agreed to in the spring of 2023 that allows Iran to continue to enrich at the 60% level, keep its advanced enrichment equipment, and promised Iran at least $20 billion in sanctions relief.
Under pressure from Congress, the Biden Administration on October 12 froze a $6 billion payment to Iran after the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack, a transfer that was actually a ransom payment to release five innocent Americans imprisoned in Iran. But incredibly, the Biden Administration agreed the following month to a sanctions waiver that gave Iran access to more than $10 billion.
The consequences of Biden’s feckless Middle East policy have been demonstrated by the surge in attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria over the past two months by Iranian-backed militias and attacks on Israel and Red Sea shipping by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. The U.S. response to these attacks has been weak, causing such attacks to grow in number. Neither Iran nor its terrorist proxies are worried the U.S. will make them pay a price for these provocations that are endangering U.S. troops and global shipping.
The Middle East will remain volatile in 2024. Israel will continue the war to defeat Hamas and promote its security, despite growing demands by the Biden Administration to end the war. Attacks by Iranian-backed terrorist proxies in Iraq and Syria, the Houthi rebels, and Hezbollah in Lebanon will probably increase unless there is significant pushback from the United States. Israel will continue to respond militarily to some of these attacks, while Biden probably will not during an election year.
The 2024 U.S. elections and President Biden’s weak leadership and foreign policy will also affect other global hot spots.
Ukraine. Despite claims by the Ukrainian and U.S. governments that the Ukrainian army would turn the tide of the war in 2023 with its counteroffensive, this didn’t happen. Russian forces dug in, and the conflict has become a long-term war of attrition. With Republican House members and Biden allies like MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough saying the war is no longer winnable, Congressional support for arming Ukraine is likely to be sharply reduced in 2024. Although Congressional Republicans are currently blocking additional U.S. military aid for Ukraine unless President Biden agrees to take significant action to stem the flow of illegal migrants at the U.S. southern border, even if an agreement can be reached to break this deadlock, growing bipartisan concerns in Congress over the trajectory of the war may finally force the Biden Administration and Ukrainian President Zelinsky in 2024 to pursue a cease-fire and an agreement to end the war and secure Ukraine from a future Russian invasion.
Russia/China “Axis.” The U.S.-led global order will take a hit in 2024 as Russia and China continue to build their security and economic relationships at America’s expense. This will include further improving their trade and defense relationships with North Korea, Iran, and the Persian Gulf states. Iran and North Korea will probably step up their arms sales to Russia for the war in Ukraine. There will be some progress in “de-dollarization,” mostly with more agreements to not use dollars for bilateral trade.
China/Taiwan. Chinese President Xi told President Biden at the November 2023 APEC Summit that Beijing intends to reunify Taiwan with China, but the timing has not yet been decided. However, a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is unlikely in 2024 for two reasons. First, the Chinese military is probably not prepared to invade the island nation. But second, and more importantly, Xi is worried that President Donald Trump could be reelected in November 2024. Xi believes Trump will have a much tougher China policy and prefers to continue to deal with Biden, whom he views as a considerably weaker president than Trump. Therefore, although Chinese provocations against Taiwan and in the South China Sea will continue in 2024, Xi will try to improve relations with the U.S. to help reelect Biden. If this happens, China could possibly plan to invade Taiwan during a second Biden term.
North Korea. A surge in missile tests and nuclear weapons development caused by the Biden Administration’s neglect of North Korea will continue to rise in 2024. North Korea might conduct a seventh nuclear test next year to embarrass Biden, help reelect Trump, and resume Trump’s partially successful personal diplomacy with Kim Jong Un.
With the prospect of a major political change in the United States next November, 2024 could be a very unstable and dangerous year for American and international security. Sensing that Biden could be a one-term president, illegal immigration will surge, and America’s adversaries will employ all possible means to exploit what could be a final year of exceptional American weakness. This could result in a major terrorist attack, possibly by terrorist organizations like ISIS that have been relatively quiet recently. Iran could begin to enrich uranium to weapons-grade. China and Russia will try to expand their influence at America’s expense with new trade deals, especially with the Persian Gulf states.
Now more than ever, it is clear that a strong and decisive U.S. president with a competent foreign policy is essential to American and global security, and that a weak American president with a weak and frivolous foreign policy can have a disastrous effect on global security. Therefore, it will be far more apparent in 2024 than in previous years that U.S. presidential elections matter for global security.
Fred Fleitz previously served as National Security Council chief of staff, CIA analyst, and House Intelligence Committee staff member.