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LARRY KUDLOW: Why hasn’t Joe Biden publicly chastised China for financing two wars against the US?

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European foreign ministers are visiting Tel Aviv in order to persuade Prime Minister Netanyahu not to retaliate against the unprecedented Iranian bombings last Saturday. Of course, the Biden administration continues to pressure Israel to do nothing, and then along comes White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan with a statement yesterday announcing that new sanctions will be placed against Iran in the wake of the Israeli attack, and then, the Sullivan announcement was pathetic, a complete non-event, a total nothing-burger.

He said that President Biden is “coordinating with allies and partners,” including the G7, and with bipartisan leaders in Congress, focused on something called a “comprehensive response,” and then added that in coming days, the U.S. will impose new sanctions targeting Iran, blah, blah, blah. Oh, and Sullivan reminded us that in the last three years, the U.S. has sanctioned over 600 individuals and entities connected to terrorism. 

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Really? So what? What sanctions were these except little tiny pieces of paper? Because the Bidens eased sanctions on Iran. Iran’s oil production has gone from less than a million barrels per day in Donald Trump’s last year, to currently 3.2 million BPD, according to a Reuters survey. The Bidens have done nothing to stop this, and although estimates vary, Iran’s stepped-up oil trade could be worth as much as $100 billion to them.  

Of course, that’s $100 billion funneled to their terrorist client states, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis, et al., all attacking Israel. The Bidens haven’t done a thing about this. No ships have been stopped, no impoundments. Who’s Iran’s biggest customer, by the way? China. According to ship-tracking data from Vortexa, China bought an average 1.05 million barrels per day of Iranian oil in the first 10 months of last year, 2023. This is 60% above pre-sanction peaks recorded by Chinese customs in 2017 — 60% above! 

China’s October imports from Iran are estimated to have reached about 1.45 million barrels per day, the highest monthly level ever, according to Vortexa. Well, ain’t that something! What about all those sanctions? Our top adversary, China! Wait a minute, our top enemy, China! China is also buying plenty of oil from Russia, violating those sanctions also and, of course, Iran is selling drone missiles to Russia despite sanctions, raising even more money and fueling the Ukraine war as well as the Israeli war. Biden is, of course, doing nothing. 

Why hasn’t Joe Biden publicly chastised China for financing two wars against the United States through the illegal import of Russian and Iranian oil? Where is the public warning? I’m reading through a Reuters story dated yesterday, April 16, that Iran’s unprecedented missile and drone strike on Israel is unlikely to prompt dramatic sanctions action on Iran’s oil exports from the Biden administration due to worries about boosting oil prices and angering top buyer, China. 

I’m sure the Reuters story is right. All along, the Bidens have been worried more about gasoline prices than Israel’s security, or for that matter, American security. 

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If they’d reopen the fossil fuel spigots and “drill, baby, drill” like Donald Trump argues, oil would be closer to $40 a barrel than today’s $90. That could put Iran back into bankruptcy, but no, the Green New Deal is more important than protecting Israel.

Oh, did I mention Mr. Trump? Well, one thing he taught me years ago was how to use tariffs for trade and non-trade purposes. Mr. Trump used the threat of massive tariffs on Mexico to get them to agree to a “Remain-in-Mexico” border policy with 25,000 Mexican troops. 

I wonder, in order to cripple Iran and stop all this oil production and sales among rogue nations and American enemies, might Mr. Trump — make that a President Trump — tell China he’s going to double the tariffs on every single one of your imports unless you stop buying Iranian oil? Might he put it out there in full public view? Embarrass the Chinese and then hammer home the tariffs? I think he might. You know what, folks? I’m going to go ask him. That’s my riff. 

This article is adapted from Larry Kudlow’s opening commentary on the April 17, 2024, edition of “Kudlow.”   

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