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Ex-US envoy to Europe blasts Biden for 'rudderless' foreign policy, urges pivot on energy

"I think we're wandering a little bit aimlessly and changing course too often," says Ambassador Gordon Sondland.

Published: November 3, 2022 4:26pm

Updated: November 4, 2022 11:01am

The former U.S. ambassador to the European Union is blasting President Joe Biden for confusing and inflaming the world with a "rudderless" foreign policy while urging the administration to pivot on its energy policy to boost global supplies.

"If the Biden administration would simply realize that their initial decisions relating to energy when they took office just don't work today, then they need to pivot," Ambassador Gordon Sondland told the "Just the News, No Noise" television show. "There should not be ego involved here, just sending a signal that explorers can look at a safe harbor of 10 to 15 years in order to justify an investment" in renewed oil and gas production.

Sondland urged the administration to considering reversing its ban on the Keystone pipeline and loosening permitting regulations for energy development to begin a process of expanding global energy supplies from America's abundant reserves.

"Even though that won't cause gas to flow tomorrow, those signals send incredibly powerful messages to the futures markets," he explained. "And you'll see things start to loosen up very, very quickly."

Currently on a book tour to promote "The Envoy," a memoir recounting his time in the Trump administration, Sondland said the recent aggressive actions of Russia's Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, Chinese leader Xi Jinping in the Pacific, the mullahs in Iran, and North Korean despot Kim Jong-Un were prompted by the lack of clarity in U.S. foreign policy since Biden took office.

"The primary reason we're in this moment of great conflict is that our ship of nation appears to be a bit rudderless on the international front," he told Just the News. "You know, the world always looks at the United States as a supertanker, and we're headed in a certain direction. We have strong values. We have a strong military. We know where we're going. And we invite anyone that wants to get on board to get on board.

"And right now, I think we're wandering a little bit aimlessly and changing course too often. And that's one of the reasons that people like Putin, people like Kim Jong-un, people like Xi and those in Iran are taking advantage of that situation."

The ex-diplomat urged Biden, who hesitated early in the conflict, to unequivocally double down on supporting Ukraine and not allow Russia to claim victory in the Eastern European theater.

"We have to put our foot on the gas, we have to push the pedal down," he said. "We cannot allow the momentum to subside. President Zelensky has done more than we could ever ask a foreign leader to do in terms of using his own people. He didn’t ask for our boots on the ground. He hasn't asked for, you know, American soldiers to shed their blood. As he said at the beginning, and I don't want to misquote him, 'I don't need a ride. I need bullets.'

"And we need to send more bullets — and I say that figuratively — we need to control the airspace, and we need to push the Russians that don't belong in Ukraine out. And I know that sounds very provocative, but we really have no choice. This is the bellwether for Europe, and Ukraine is the first step on the front door of Europe. If Russia is even allowed to have a quasi-win here, it spells disaster for the long-term future of Western democracy."

Sondland was a pivotal figure in the Trump administration conversations with Ukraine that led to Democrats' first attempt to impeach the 45th president, but he remains a major booster of the prior administration's policies on the global stage, including the major peace deals between Israel and its Sunni Arab neighborhoods.

"There's no question that its greatest single accomplishment was the Abraham accords," Sondland said. "Trump was able to understand better than many other presidents that the Palestinians are not necessarily in the peace business. They're in the grievance business. And so he decided through a great team to call their bluff and basically put — to paraphrase 'The Godfather' — an offer on the table that they couldn't refuse. And they couldn't.

"And they refused. They didn't take 'Yes' for an answer. They would have had their own state, they would have had an enormous amount of money to rebuild infrastructure and everything else. So finally, when the modern Arab countries saw that, they said, 'Okay, we're done.' We want to do business with Israel. We want to have normal relations. And that's exactly what's happened. And it's an incredible change."

While honored to serve in the State Department, Sondland suggested the agency is better served by political appointees responsive to the will of the American people as expressed through elections than permanent bureaucrats.

"I'm a huge advocate for political appointees for presidents of both parties," he said. "I think that if a president truly wants to advance his or her agenda, whether they're a Democrat or Republican, they need to understand that the State Department as an entity has its own specific foreign policy agenda. It always has. And that may not comport with whoever the current commander in chief is.

"So if a president really wants to do the most with their given four-year term, they need to be sure that they have allies, competent allies from the private sector deployed in most of the key positions around the world. Because people like us, we're checking our watches, not our calendars. We want to get things done. We want to get them done quickly, and then go back to whatever we were doing in the private sector."

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