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America’s Billionaires Congealing Around Warren and Buttigieg

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The Democratic Presidential candidates who have been the most backed by billionaires have not been doing well in the polling thus far, and this fact greatly disturbs the billionaires. They know that the Democratic nominee will be chosen in the final round of primaries, and they have always wanted Pete Buttigieg to be in that final round. Therefore, they have backed him more than any of the other candidates. But what worries them now is that his opponent in that round might turn out to be Bernie Sanders, whom they all consider to be their nemesis. They want to avoid this outcome, at all costs. And they might have found a way to do it: Elizabeth Warren. Here is how, and why:

Among the top three in the polling — Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren — only Biden is among the top five in the number of billionaires who have backed him, and each of the other four candidates scores higher than Biden does in the number of billionaire backers. Furthermore, Biden is sinking in the polls. Consequently, Democratic Party billionaires are increasingly worrying that their Party might end up nominating for the Presidency someone whom they won’t support. That person would be Sanders. And the Democratic National Committee — which relies heavily upon its billionaire backers in order to be able to win elections (just as the Republican National Committee relies upon Republican billionaire backers in order to win) — is terrified by this possibility (alienating its Party’s crucial moneybags).

The saving grace for these billionaires (and for the DNC) increasingly seems likely to be Senator Warren’s candidacy, which draws support away from Sanders, and therefore gives Buttigieg a chance ultimately to win the nomination. 

As of August 30th, the most-comprehensive website reporting on the latest polling information and trendlines concerning the Democratic Party presidential primary contests, https://projects.economist.com/democratic-primaries-2020/, reports that more registered Democrats are considering whether to vote for Warren (50%) than for any of the other candidates, including #2 Biden (48%), and #3 Sanders (38%). The percentages shown there as currently intending to vote for each one of those are 27% Biden, 18% Warren, and 16% Sanders. Buttigieg is currently only at 5% who are intending. The “intending” trendlines are downward for all of the candidates except Warren, whose trendline is steadily upward ever since May and is trending to surpass Biden at around the time when the primaries actually start in February 2020. So: right now, Warren clearly seems to be the likeliest winner of the Democratic Party’s nomination. The likeliest possibility to block that would be for Sanders to reduce his loss of progressive voters to Warren, and for Warren to start trending downward while Sanders trends upward; so, that’s what the billionaires would want to prevent from happening.

On August 27th, the top website for Democratic Party activists, Political Wire, headlined “Warren Overtakes Biden as Most Favorable Candidate”, and reported that not only does Warren now edge out both Biden and Sanders in net favorability rating, and top the entire field of candidates in that extremely important measure, but Warren is overwhelmingly the most frequently mentioned second choice of Democratic Party primary voters, which means that not only would the voters who intend to vote for her in the primary be delighted if she were to become the Democratic nominee — this outcome would also likeliest produce the most-unified Party going into the general election. This, in turn, would mean that Democratic Party billionaires, instead of Republican Party billionaires, would almost certainly control the country after 2020 — the country would be controlled by people such as Thomas Steyer and Donald Sussman, instead of by people such as Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer. It would be a different ‘democracy’, but not really much different; it would be like the difference between George W. Bush and Barack Obama — it would be different in rhetoric and bumper-stickers, but very similar in actual policies. (For examples: whereas Bush invaded and destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama invaded and destroyed Libya and Syria; and, all the while, both of them supported the Sauds and Israel; and, moreover, both of them supported Wall Street, though Obama tongue-lashed them, which Bush didn’t.) So: though the rhetoric is sometimes different, the basic policies aren’t. The policies of Republican billionaires and of Democratic billionaires are basically similar.

As of just a few weeks ago, the Democratic Party’s five top U.S. Presidential candidates, in terms of whom had been backed the most strongly by America’s billionaires, were, in order from the top: Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Michael Bennett, and Joe Biden. Warren was 12th down from Buttigieg’s #1 position, in support from the billionaires. Sanders was at the very bottom — zero billionaires backing him (he was the only one of the 17 reporting candidates who had no billionaire backer). 

The Democratic Party’s billionaires are just crazy about Buttigieg, but the question right now is whom will they choose to be running against him during the decisive final round of the primaries? Would they rather it be Sanders? Or instead Warren? 

They definitely prefer Warren. Her recent soaring poll-numbers are raising her support, from them, so strongly that the neoconservative-neoliberal (i.e., pro-billionaire) David Bradley’s The Atlantic magazine headlined on August 26th, “Elizabeth Warren Manages to Woo the Democratic Establishment”. This magazine reported (to use my language, not theirs) that the rats from the sinking ship Joe Biden have begun to jump onboard the U.S.S. Elizabeth Warren’s rising ship, which might already be tied even-steven with the other two leading ships, of Biden and of Sanders. Since Sanders is the only American Presidential candidate whom no billionaire supports, there are strong indications that Warren is drawing some of them away from Biden. This could turn the nominating contest into, ultimately, Buttigieg versus Warren (both of whom are acceptable to billionaires), instead of into Buttigieg versus Sanders (which would pose the threat to them of producing a Sanders Presidency). There is little reason to think that Buttigieg will decline to the #2 position in billionaires’ support; but, if this contest turns into Sanders v. Buttigieg, instead of into Warren v. Buttigieg, then Democratic Party billionaires not only would pour even more money into Buttigieg’s campaign against Sanders, but they would likely end up donating to the Republican Presidential nominee in 2020 if Sanders ends up beating Buttigieg (as polls indicate he almost certainly would). By contrast, if this nominating contest ends up being between Warren v. Buttigieg, then the Party’s billionaires wouldn’t likely switch to supporting the Republican Presidential nominee — they’d continue donating to the Democratic Party, regardless of which of those two candidates wins the nomination, in order to defeat Trump (or whomever the Republican nominee turns out to be), and take the control of the country away from Republican billionaires (as it now is).

Therefore, David Bradley’s propaganda organs are turned on, really hot, by Lizzie. For some typical examples, at Bradley’s biggest-circulation one, The Atlantic, its recent stories gushing about her have been headlined: “Elizabeth Warren Had Charisma, and Then She Ran for President”, and “Elizabeth Warren’s Big Night”, and “The Activist Left Already Knows Who It Wants for President”. For example: the last-mentioned of those articles was about “Netroots Nation, a conference that’s been around since the early 2000s,” which “is run by the liberal political blog Daily Kos.” Here’s what it hides: Daily Kos was founded and owned by the CIA asset and El Salvadorian aristocrat Markos Moulitsas, a ‘former’ Republican far-right person, who set up his website in 2002 and suddenly specialized in fooling progressive Democrats to endorse whomever the billionaire-run Democratic National Committee wants them to support. Unlike David Bradley’s ‘moderate’-Democrat rags, Moulitsas’s ‘progressive’-Democrat rag, Daily Kos, targets to make suckers of Democrats who might vote in the primaries for people that the billionaires actually fear — and that’s now especially Sanders — in order to turn them instead toward favoring the ‘mainstream’, ‘more electable’, Democratic Party candidates (such as Biden, Buttigieg, and Harris — not David Bradley’s darling as Buttigieg’s stalking horse, Warren). In 2016, that ‘mainstream’ was Hillary Clinton (whom the DNC had rigged the primaries to ‘win’ against Sanders), but more recently it was Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg; and, now, this ‘mainstream’ is starting to include (from the billionaires’ standpoint) Elizabeth Warren. That’s because Warren is vastly more preferred by billionaires than is Sanders, and so they want the Party’s progressives to choose her, instead of Sanders, so that the final Democratic Presidential contest will be between Warren versus the billionaires’ actual favorite, which is Buttigieg. If they can’t get him, at least they can get her, the Party’s billionaires clearly now are hoping.

On April 19th, Jonathan Martin headlined in the New York Times, “‘Stop Sanders’ Democrats Are Agonizing Over His Momentum”, and he opened:

“When Leah Daughtry, a former Democratic Party official, addressed a closed-door gathering of about 100 wealthy liberal donors in San Francisco last month, all it took was a review of the 2020 primary rules to throw a scare in them. … “I think I freaked them out,” Ms. Daughtry recalled with a chuckle, an assessment that was confirmed by three other attendees. They are hardly alone. … But stopping Mr. Sanders … could prove difficult for Democrats.

Martin went on to say:

His strength on the left gives him a real prospect of winning the Democratic nomination and could make him competitive for the presidency if his economic justice message resonates in the Midwest as much as Mr. Trump’s appeals to hard-edge nationalism did in 2016. And for many Sanders supporters, the anxieties of establishment Democrats are not a concern.

That prospect is spooking establishment-aligned Democrats. …

David Brock, the liberal organizer [founder of the Media Matters anti-progressive Democratic Party website against Republicans], … said he has had discussions with other operatives about an anti-Sanders campaign and believes it should commence “sooner rather than later.” …

Howard Wolfson [here’s the wiki on him], who spent months immersed in Democratic polling and focus groups on behalf of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, had a blunt message for Sanders skeptics: “People underestimate the possibility of him becoming the nominee at their own peril.” …

The matter of What To Do About Bernie and the larger imperative of party unity has, for example, hovered over a series of previously undisclosed Democratic dinners in New York and Washington organized by the longtime party financier Bernard Schwartz [the billionaire former Vice Chairman of Lockheed Martin]. …

[Rufus] Gifford [former President Barack Obama’s 2012 finance director, who] … has gone public in recent days with his dismay over major Democratic fund-raisers remaining on the sidelines, said of Mr. Sanders, “I feel like everything we are doing is playing into his hands.”

But the peril of rallying the party’s elite donor class against a candidate whose entire public life has been organized around confronting concentrated wealth is self-evident: Mr. Sanders would gleefully seize on any Stop Bernie effort.

“You can see him reading the headlines now,” Mr. Brock mused: “‘Rich people don’t like me.’”

So: the rise of Elizabeth Warren gives the billionaires a ‘progressive’ candidate who might either win the nomination or else at least split progressive voters during the primaries (between Sanders and Warren) and thus give the nomination to Buttigieg, who is their first choice (especially since both Biden and Harris have been faltering so badly of late).

This explains the gushings for Warren, at such neocon rags as The Atlantic, The New Republic, New Yorker, and Mother Jones. It’s being done in order to set up the final round, so as for its outcome to be acceptable to the billionaires who fund the Democratic Party. Her record in the U.S. Senate is consistently in support of U.S. invasions, coups, and sanctions against countries that have never invaded nor even threatened to invade the U.S., such as Venezuela, Palestine, Syria, and Iran; she’s 100% a neocon (just like G.W. Bush, Obama and Trump were/are); and, to billionaires, that is even more important than her policy-record regarding Wall Street is, because the Military Industrial Complex, which she represents, is even more important to enforcing and spreading the U.S. megacorporate empire than the investment-firms are. So, whereas they would be able to deal with Warren, they wouldn’t be able to deal with Sanders, whose policy-record is remarkably progressive in all respects, and not only on domestic U.S. matters. Whereas the public pay attention virtually only to domestic matters, billionaires care even more about foreign than about domestic affairs — and this fact — more than anything else — makes Sanders utterly unacceptable to them. Under a President Warren, America’s string of invasions, coups, and economic blockades (sanctions) would continue; but, under a President Sanders, all of that wasted money would be spent instead on improving the lives of the American people, rather than on destroying the lives of the residents in those foreign lands so as to conquer those lands in the name of advancing ‘human rights’ and ‘democracy’ there and of ‘defending America’ against ‘enemies’ who never even have threatened us. This con is the reality that both the Democratic and the Republican sides of The Establishment (the collective operation of all billionaires and their ‘news’-media and think tanks, etc.) constantly hide from the public. And that is why, for example, America went from invading Iraq on the basis of lies in 2003, to invading Libya on the basis of lies in 2011, and Syria on the basis of lies in 2013-, and maybe Venezuela and Iran on the basis of lies after the upcoming Presidential ‘election’.

Author’s note: first posted at strategic-culture.org

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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Americas

Interpreting the Biden Doctrine: The View From Moscow

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Official White House Photo by Carlos Fyfe

It is the success or failure of remaking America, not Afghanistan, that will determine not just the legacy of the Biden administration, but the future of the United States itself.

The newly unveiled Biden doctrine, which renounces the United States’ post-9/11 policies of remaking other societies and building nations abroad, is a foreign policy landmark. Coming on the heels of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, it exudes credibility. Indeed, President Biden’s moves essentially formalize and finalize processes that have been under way for over a decade. It was Barack Obama who first pledged to end America’s twin wars—in Iraq and Afghanistan—started under George W. Bush. It was Donald Trump who reached an agreement with the Taliban on a full U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. Both Obama and Trump also sought, albeit in strikingly different ways, to redirect Washington’s attention to shoring up the home base.

It is important for the rest of the world to treat the change in U.S. foreign policy correctly. Leaving Afghanistan was the correct strategic decision, if grossly overdue and bungled in the final phases of its implementation. Afghanistan certainly does not mean the end of the United States as a global superpower; it simply continues to be in relative and slow decline. Nor does it spell the demise of American alliances and partnerships. Events in Afghanistan are unlikely to produce a political earthquake within the United States that would topple President Biden. No soul searching of the kind that Americans experienced during the Vietnam War is likely to emerge. Rather, Washington is busy recalibrating its global involvement. It is focusing even more on strengthening the home base. Overseas, the United States is moving from a global crusade in the name of democracy to an active defense of liberal values at home and Western positions abroad.

Afghanistan has been the most vivid in a long series of arguments that persuaded Biden’s White House that a global triumph of liberal democracy is not achievable in the foreseeable future. Thus, remaking problematic countries—“draining the swamp” that breeds terrorism, in the language of the Bush administration—is futile. U.S. military force is a potent weapon, but no longer the means of first resort. The war on terror as an effort to keep the United States safe has been won: in the last twenty years, no major terrorist attacks occurred on U.S. soil. Meantime, the geopolitical, geoeconomic, ideological, and strategic focus of U.S. foreign policy has shifted. China is the main—some say, existential—challenger, and Russia the principal disrupter. Iran, North Korea, and an assortment of radical or extremist groups complete the list of adversaries. Climate change and the pandemic have risen to the top of U.S. security concerns. Hence, the most important foreign policy task is to strengthen the collective West under strong U.S. leadership.

The global economic recession that originated in the United States in 2007 dealt a blow to the U.S.-created economic and financial model; the severe domestic political crisis of 2016–2021 undermined confidence in the U.S. political system and its underlying values; and the COVID-19 disaster that hit the United States particularly hard have all exposed serious political, economic, and cultural issues and fissures within American society and polity. Neglecting the home base while engaging in costly nation-building exercises abroad came at a price. Now the Biden administration has set out to correct that with huge infrastructure development projects and support for the American middle class.

America’s domestic crises, some of the similar problems in European countries, and the growing gap between the United States and its allies during the Trump presidency have produced widespread fears that China and Russia could exploit those issues to finally end U.S. dominance and even undermine the United States and other Western societies from within. This perception is behind the strategy reversal from spreading democracy as far and wide as Russia and China to defending the U.S.-led global system and the political regimes around the West, including in the United States, from Beijing and Moscow.

That said, what are the implications of the Biden doctrine? The United States remains a superpower with enormous resources which is now trying to use those resources to make itself stronger. America has reinvented itself before and may well be able to do so again. In foreign policy, Washington has stepped back from styling itself as the world’s benign hegemon to assume the combat posture of the leader of the West under attack.

Within the collective West, U.S. dominance is not in danger. None of the Western countries are capable of going it alone or forming a bloc with others to present an alternative to U.S. leadership. Western and associated elites remain fully beholden to the United States. What they desire is firm U.S. leadership; what they fear is the United States withdrawing into itself. As for Washington’s partners in the regions that are not deemed vital to U.S. interests, they should know that American support is conditional on those interests and various circumstances. Nothing new there, really: just ask some leaders in the Middle East. For now, however, Washington vows to support and assist exposed partners like Ukraine and Taiwan.

Embracing isolationism is not on the cards in the United States. For all the focus on domestic issues, global dominance or at least primacy has firmly become an integral part of U.S. national identity. Nor will liberal and democratic ideology be retired as a major driver of U.S. foreign policy. The United States will not become a “normal” country that only follows the rules of realpolitik. Rather, Washington will use values as a glue to further consolidate its allies and as a weapon to attack its adversaries. It helps the White House that China and Russia are viewed as malign both across the U.S. political spectrum and among U.S. allies and partners, most of whom have fears or grudges against either Moscow or Beijing.

In sum, the Biden doctrine does away with engagements that are no longer considered promising or even sustainable by Washington; funnels more resources to address pressing domestic issues; seeks to consolidate the collective West around the United States; and sharpens the focus on China and Russia as America’s main adversaries. Of all these, the most important element is domestic. It is the success or failure of remaking America, not Afghanistan, that will determine not just the legacy of the Biden administration, but the future of the United States itself.

From our partner RIAC

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AUKUS aims to perpetuate the Anglo-Saxon supremacy

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Image credit: ussc.edu.au

On September 15, U.S. President Joe Biden worked with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison together to unveil a trilateral alliance among Australia-U.K.-U.S. (AUKUS), which are the major three among the Anglo-Saxon nations (also including Canada and New Zealand). Literally, each sovereign state has full right to pursue individual or collective security and common interests. Yet, the deal has prompted intense criticism across the world including the furious words and firm acts from the Atlantic allies in Europe, such as France that is supposed to lose out on an $40-billion submarine deal with Australia to its Anglo-Saxon siblings—the U.K. and the U.S.

               Some observers opine that AUKUS is another clear attempt by the U.S. and its allies aggressively to provoke China in the Asia-Pacific, where Washington had forged an alliance along with Japan, India and Australia in the name of the Quad. AUKUS is the latest showcase that three Anglo-Saxon powers have pretended to perpetuate their supremacy in all the key areas such as geopolitics, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. In short, the triple deal is a move designed to discourage or thwart any future Chinese bid for regional hegemony. But diplomatically its impacts go beyond that. As French media argued that the United States, though an ally of France, just backstabs it by negotiating AUKUS in secret without revealing the plan. Given this, the deal among AUKUS actually reflects the mentality of the Anglo-Saxon nations’ superiority over others even if they are not outrageously practicing an imperialist policy in the traditional way.

               Historically, there are only two qualified global powers which the Europeans still sometimes refer to as “Anglo-Saxon” powers: Great Britain and the United States. As Walter Mead once put it that the British Empire was, and the United States is, concerned not just with the balance of power in one particular corner of the world, but with the evolution of what it is today called “world order”. Now with the rise of China which has aimed to become a global power with its different culture and political views from the current ruling powers, the Anglo-Saxon powers have made all efforts to align with the values-shared allies or partners to create the strong bulwarks against any rising power, like China and Russia as well. Physically, either the British Empire or the United States did or does establish a worldwide system of trade and finance which have enabled the two Anglo-Saxon powers to get rich and advanced in high-technologies. As a result, those riches and high-tech means eventually made them execute the power to project their military force that ensure the stability of their-dominated international systems. Indeed the Anglo-Saxon powers have had the legacies to think of their global goals which must be bolstered by money and foreign trade that in turn produces more wealth. Institutionally, the Anglo-Saxon nations in the world—the U.S., the U.K, Canada, Australia and New Zealand—have formed the notorious “Five eyes alliance” to collect all sorts of information and data serving their common core interests and security concerns.

This is not just rhetoric but an objective reflection of the mentality as Australian Foreign Minister Payne candidly revealed at the press conference where she said that the contemporary state of their alliance “is well suited to cooperate on countering economic coercion.” The remarks imply that AUKUS is a military response to the rising economic competition from China because politics and economics are intertwined with each other in power politics, in which military means acts in order to advance self-interested economic ends. In both geopolitical and geoeconomic terms, the rise of China, no matter how peaceful it is, has been perceived as the “systematic” challenges to the West’s domination of international relations and global economy, in which the Anglo-Saxon superiority must remain. Another case is the U.S. efforts to have continuously harassed the Nord Stream 2 project between Russia and Germany.

Yet, in the global community of today, any superpower aspiring for pursuing “inner clique” like AUKUS will be doomed to fail. First, we all are living in the world “where the affairs of each country are decided by its own people, and international affairs are run by all nations through consultation,” as President Xi put it. Due to this, many countries in Asia warn that AUKUS risks provoking a nuclear arms race in the Asian-Pacific region. The nuclear factor means that the U.S. efforts to economically contain China through AUKUS on nationalist pretexts are much more dangerous than the run-up to World War I. Yet, neither the United States nor China likes to be perceived as “disturbing the peace” that Asian countries are eager to preserve. In reality, Asian countries have also made it clear not to take either side between the power politics.

Second, AUKUS’s deal jeopardizes the norms of international trade and treaties. The reactions of third parties is one key issue, such as the French government is furious about the deal since it torpedoes a prior Australian agreement to purchase one dozen of conventional subs from France. Be aware that France is a strong advocate for a more robust European Union in the world politics. Now the EU is rallying behind Paris as in Brussels EU ambassadors agreed to postpone preparations for an inaugural trade and technology council on September 29 with the U.S. in Pittsburgh. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen declared in a strong manner that “since one of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable, so we need to know what happened and why.” Michael Roth, Germany’s minister for European affairs, went even further as he put it, “It is once again a wake-up call for all of us in the European Union to ask ourselves how we can strengthen our sovereignty, how we can present a united front even on issues relevant to foreign and security policy.” It is the time for the EU to talk with one voice and for the need to work together to rebuild mutual trust among the allies.

Third, the deal by AUKUS involves the nuclear dimension. It is true that the three leaders have reiterated that the deal would be limited to the transfer of nuclear propulsion technology (such as reactors to power the new subs) but not nuclear weapons technology. Accordingly, Australia remains a non-nuclear country not armed with such weapons. But from a proliferation standpoint, that is a step in the direction of more extensive nuclear infrastructure. It indicates the United States and the U.K. are willing to transfer highly sensitive technologies to close allies. But the issue of deterrence in Asia-and especially extended deterrence-is extremely complicated since it will become ore so as China’s nuclear arsenal expands. If the security environment deteriorates in the years ahead, U.S. might consider allowing its core allies to gain nuclear capabilities and Australia is able to gain access to this technology as its fleet expands. Yet, it also means that Australia is not a non-nuclear country any more.

In brief, the deal itself and the triple alliance among AUKUS will take some years to become a real threat to China or the ruling authorities of the country. But the deal announced on Sept. 15 will complicate Chinese efforts to maintain a peaceful rise and act a responsible power. Furthermore, the deal and the rationales behind it is sure to impede China’s good-will to the members of AUKUS and the Quad, not mention of their irresponsible effects on peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Was Trump better for the world than Biden, after all?

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Joe Biden
Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

Joe Biden and the State Department just approved a major deal with the Saudis for 500mln in choppers maintanance. Effectively, the US sold its soul to the Saudis again after the US intelligence services confirmed months ago that the Saudi Prince is responsible for the brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Biden administration is already much more inhumane and much worse than Trump. Biden doesn’t care about the thousands of American citizens that he left behind at the mercy of the Taliban, the Biden administration kills innocent civilians in drone strikes, they are in bed with the worst of the worsts human right violators calling them friendly nations. 

Biden dropped and humiliated France managing to do what no US President has ever accomplished —  make France pull out its Ambassador to the US, and all this only to go bother China actively seeking the next big war. Trump’s blunders were never this big. And this is just the beginning. There is nothing good in store for America and the world with Biden. All the hope is quickly evaporating, as the world sees the actions behind the fake smile and what’s behind the seemingly right and restrained rhetoric on the surface. It’s the actions that matter. Trump talked tough talk for which he got a lot of criticism and rarely resorted to military action. Biden is the opposite: he says all the right things but the actions behind are inhumane and destructive. It makes you wonder if Trump wasn’t actually better for the world.

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