Blue pill or red pill: Which will Joe Biden choose?

In the movie “The Matrix” from 1999, Morpheus Neo gives the choice between a blue pill or a red pill.

The blue pill offered the chance to remain in his comfortable fantasy world and believe what he will believe. The red pill would cause Neo to confront a brutal reality. Neo takes the red pill, and everything that comes with it stems from that decision.

President Biden will soon face a similar election. The law requires him to draw up a national security and a national defense strategy within the first year of his presidency. And the clock is ticking.

These documents must describe the vital national security goals of the United States, what is needed to deter aggression, and our current ability to perform the necessary tasks. Both allies and opponents will scrutinize these reports to find out what they can expect from this president and to assess his determination to defend US interests.

If Mr Biden chooses the blue pill, these documents will confirm his earlier claims that the biggest security threat facing America is climate change, and that international diplomacy, Allied actions and economic sanctions can reliably deter China, Russia, North Korea and Iran from doing so. their worst.

But if he takes the “red pill”, these reports will recognize that America needs a stronger military to strengthen our diplomacy and keep track of people like Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Unfortunately, the signals so far indicate that Mr Biden will “go blue”.

His temporary national security guide in March was long on slogans such as “America is back” and “Diplomacy is back”, but lacked details. While the 24-page document mentioned climate change 14 times, it was strangely silent on “strange” national security issues such as the navy or army.

Sir. Biden’s first budget request increased the budget for each federal department by an average of 16% – except Defense and Homeland Security; their proposed budgets did not even keep pace with 2% inflation, much less today’s runaway prices.

The first plan published by Mr. Biden’s Pentagon arrived in October. Forget about China. This was a “climate adaptation plan” that described how the Pentagon would “take bold steps to accelerate adaptation to reduce the negative effects of climate change.”

Throughout 2021, the Biden Defense Team prioritized initiatives such as tracking extremism in the ranks, electrifying military vehicle fleets, or providing transgender operations to military members.

Meanwhile, China, Russia and Iran were otherwise occupied.

China began a wide-ranging nuclear eruption to possibly quadruple the number and types of its nuclear weapons. Mr. Putin gathered 100,000 troops against Ukraine and presented Mr. Bid for a list of requirements that had to be met in order for him to deescalate. Tehran discarded any form of compliance with international uranium enrichment restrictions and plowed on with plans to build a nuclear weapon.

The reality is that future US presidents are often confronted with unexpected situations that force them to change their agendas.

Jimmy Carter was forced to respond to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. George W. Bush was transformed overnight into a war president by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Joe Biden had hoped to focus on COVID, jobs and climate.

But the world has intervened. In the last 12 months, the world has undoubtedly become less hospitable. Autocrats are on the rise.

Ultimately, what defines a presidency is not the platform on which the successful candidate campaigned, but how quickly and effectively a president responds to critical, unexpected circumstances.

Mr. Biden has a choice to make in the coming weeks. He may well take the blue pill and continue to believe what he chooses to believe about the world we live in. Or he may respond to the new global realities and lead powerful and innovative security strategies that include building and maintaining a stronger U.S. military.

The Matrix is ​​fiction, but in the red pill / blue pill choice that Mr. The bite faced, the consequences for America could not be more real.

Neo chose red. Let’s hope Mr Biden does too.

Thomas Spoehr, a retired Army lieutenant general, is the director of The Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense.

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