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Pollak: In Foreign Policy Chess, Biden Chooses the Black Pieces

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President Joe Biden’s failing can be likened to a chess player who always chooses the black pieces: he is never seeking to win, but rather tries to play for a draw, at best, every time.

Conventional chess wisdom holds that since the player with the white pieces moves first, the best that the player with the black pieces can do is mount a solid defense and hope for a draw. The only chance to win is if the white player makes a blunder — and blunders can be hard to recognize, under pressure.

Conversely, the player with the white pieces dictates the pace of the game and takes the initiative toward the goal of victory.

President Donald Trump always played with the white pieces. He was unpredictable; he was blunt; he took decisive actions.

His foreign policy had clear objectives: to boost American military strength while bringing U.S. troops home; to build U.S. energy independence; and to leave global agreements that hurt American interests, while seeking more advantageous deals.

When Trump left office, albeit before he had hoped to do so, he left his successor: a plan to withdraw from Afghanistan, before the summer “fighting season”; sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and negotiations to include China in renewals of the New START nonproliferation treaty; sanctions that were destabilizing the Iranian regime, and limiting its global reach; an expanding set of Middle East peace deals in the Abraham Accords; and quiet on the Korean Peninsula.

Biden — to use a word he often threw at Trump — squandered that bequest. He delayed the withdrawal from Afghanistan, initially postponing it to Sep. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks; he removed sanctions on Russia and gave it a renewed New START treaty; he sought talks with Iran toward a new nuclear deal, which the regime dragged out for months; he damaged relations with the Saudis, slowing the advance of peace in the region; and he dropped the ball on North Korea.

In effect, Biden decided to play with the black pieces. Thus, instead of

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