Joe Biden’s Hidden Handler
In his March 25 White House press conference, Joe Biden said China’s goal of becoming the leading country in the world was “not going to happen on my watch.” Reporters seemed unaware that China had already made great strides in that direction on Biden’s watch, which began back in 2012.
That year, as Steve Clemons of The Atlantic reported, “Biden gets China,” and with Xi Jinping “China’s president-in-waiting,” the White House “will move Vice President Joe Biden to the helm of the Obama administration’s US-China policy.” The move had been orchestrated by Thomas Donilon, once described by James Mann in Foreign Policy as “Obama’s Gray Man,” seldom mentioned in the press but wielding “enormous power” behind the scenes.
Donilon served as a campaign staffer for Walter Mondale in 1984 and in 1988 advised Sen. Joe Biden in his first run for the presidency. From 1999 to 2005, Donilon was chief lobbyist for the Federal National Mortgage Association, commonly known as Fannie Mae, where he presided over massive misconduct that drew a fine of $400 million.
That prompted Robert Scheer of Truthdig to brand Donilon a “top hustler” and wonder why President Barack Obama would tap Donilon for the sensitive post of national security adviser. As it happened, Donilon was also a crony of Vice President Biden. Donilon’s brother Michael also advised Biden and Donilon’s wife, Cathy, served as chief of staff to Jill Biden.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates allegedly predicted that Donilon would be a “disaster” as national security adviser. In “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of State at War,” Gates wrote that Donilon characterized the United States military as “in revolt” and “insubordinate.” Donilon “bridled” when Gen. McChrystal announced a “counterinsurgency” strategy in Afghanistan. While hard on the U.S. military, Donilon was soft on China.
In a June 2013 speech to the Asia Society, Donilon said, “I disagree with the premise put forward by some historians and theorists that a rising power and an established power are somehow destined for conflict.” Donilon did not clarify that the “rising power” was a genocidal communist dictatorship and the “established power” a constitutional democracy. As Donilon saw it, “a deeper U.S.-China military-to-military dialogue is central to addressing many of the sources of insecurity and potential competition between us.” (emphasis added) Biden held similar views.
Sen. Biden voted against strong sanctions on communist China as a response to the Tiananmen Square massacre. In 1998, the United States again proposed sanctions on the PRC, including visa restrictions, and Biden was part of a group of 10 senators opposed to the measures. In 2001, Sen. Biden, then head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, supported China’s entry to the World Trade Organization. As he explained, “The United States welcomes the emergence of a prosperous, integrated China on the global stage, because we expect this is going to be a China that plays by the rules.”
In May 2011, Biden said he believed “that protecting fundamental rights and freedoms such as those enshrined in China’s international commitments as well as in China’s own constitution is the best way to promote long term stability and prosperity—of any society.” The U.S. vice president did not specify the “fundamental rights and freedoms” in China’s constitution, and his statement offered no criticism of the communist regime. That marks a contrast with President Bill Clinton, who in 1992 referred to the “butchers of Beijing.”
On Biden’s watch as vice president, China ramped up internal repressions and became more aggressive, modernizing their military and creating island bases that put key American allies and interests at risk. In 2020, on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Biden called for “recommitting to the universal struggle for human dignity” but offered no direct criticism of China’s communist regime.
During the 2020 campaign, Biden described the Chinese regime as “not bad folks,” and not competition for the United States. That has been his position all along, the same as Biden crony Tom Donilon, who orchestrated the move for Biden to “get China” in 2012.
Last November, CNN reported that Donilon was one of Biden’s “leading contenders” for director of the CIA. Donilon reportedly turned it down, but the family influence remains strong. Donilon’s wife Cathy served on Biden’s transition advisory board and was appointed director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. Mike Donilon, Biden’s chief strategist during the 2020 campaign, is now a senior adviser and, as the New York Times reports, “the defender of the Biden brand.”
In that brand, the communist Chinese are “not bad folks,” and “not competition for us.” Biden has also addressed the symmetry between the rising power and the established power. In a Feb. 17 interview with Anderson Cooper, Biden said, “Culturally, there are different norms that each country and they—their leaders—are expected to follow.”
Biden is okay with China’s “norms,” so on his current watch Xi Jinping can do as pleases with the Uyghurs, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. That “deeper U.S.-China military-to-military dialogue” may not be long delayed.