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Trump’s New National Security Advisor Is Dangerous, But He’s the Current Norm

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Robert O’Brien is a respected authority on international relations and now replaces John Bolton as U.S. President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor. He is a neoconservative who feels that Barack Obama wasn’t nearly enough of a neocon. However, the differences between the two are a matter of degee, and not of type. O’Brien is a Republican who served in the Obama Administration as well as in the G.W. Bush Administration, and in the Trump Administration, and he represents only mainstream U.S. scholarly views about international relations. Here are some of his views, as stated in his 2016 anti-Obama book While America Slept:

The overthrow of “Putin puppet Viktor Yanukovych” in 2014 Ukraine was a democratic revolution, not a bloody coup that removed the democratically elected President and which was entirely illegal. Communism was finally crushed in Ukraine, because of this “revolution,” he says. “Notwithstanding the war and punishing economic circumstances, Russia’s invasion and occupation have inflicted on them, Ukrainians are happy today. They showed the world that they remain unbowed in the face of aggression.” “Liberty and the Rule of Law are Universal Values” and the U.S. Government needs to impose them globally. Because of Obama, “China, Russia, and Iran engaged in significant arms buildups even as America drew down,” while “these nations grabbed territory in the South China sea, Eastern Europe, and across the Middle East.” Limits need to be removed from the defense budget he says, so that America can impose democracy and legality everywhere.

It’s all fantasy. For example: As a result of the February 2014 U.S. takeover of Ukraine: Ukrainians became amongst the unhappiest people on the planet, and the Government’s debt doubled, and Ukraine’s GDP plunged 50%, and the incomes of Ukrainians plunged 50%, and two regions which had been in Ukraine (Crimea and Donbass) broke away from the U.S.-imposed nazi Government that wanted the residents in those areas to be killed or else expelled into Russia.  Why were the residents impoverished while the Government’s debt doubled? Where did that money go? All of that debt-increase was borrowing in order to be able to afford the war against Donbass. O’Brien says “Ukrainians are happy today”, but, by all objective measures, they’ve not been less happy except during World War II — they disliked Hitler and Stalin even more than they disliked the 2014-installed U.S.-coup-regime.

Robert O’Brien is an even stronger believer in the statement that President Obama so often stated, that the United States is “the one indispensable nation”, which means that all others are “dispensable.” That’s the core belief of neoconservatism, and O’Brien is so extreme a believer in it as to attack Obama for having not been as extreme as he himself is.

The entire range of neoconservatism is, however, the norm in U.S.-and-allied international relations. Extreme as O’Brien is, he’s merely extremely normal for a top person in international relations, in any country that’s allied with the United States today.

To study international relations isn’t evil, but to rise to the international top in that field is evil, because the international top in this field can’t be reached unless the writer is propagandizing for the world’s leading power and is therefore an imperialist, and that’s a reliable definition of what it means to be evil in international relations.

Imperialism is ‘justifiable’ only on one basis, supremacism; and that’s the belief in might-makes-right, which is also the core belief in fascism — which is intrinsically evil. This is the reason why Mussolini, Hitler, and Franco, were commonly called “fascist,” even though only in Italy was the tyrant’s political party named that with a capital “F”. The ideology is lower-case, “fascism” — this is simply the might-makes-right belief, and this ideology has existed ever since the dawn of civilization itself. Mussolini didn’t invent it, but he updated it, so as to call  it “corporationism,” and, synonymously, “fascism.” He called it that in order to enable the prior aristocratic system, feudalism, which was based upon ownership and control of land, to become ‘updated’ to “fascism,” which is based instead upon ownership and control of corporations. Now in the industrial era, ownership of shares of stock replaces ownership of acres of land, the aristocratic system which had prevailed in the pre-1600 human era, the agrarian era. And this is the modern form of feudalism: fascism. They’re just different eras of supremacism.

Another good example of a leading scholar of international relations is Harvard’s Graham Allison, whom I have previously discussed in regards to his views regarding Russia. This time, however, I shall discuss his views regarding China, and I also shall discuss his views concerning existing U.S. foreign policies relating not only to China and Russia but to the entire non-U.S. world. As you will see: he agrees with Barack Obama that “The United States is and remains the one  indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come.” In other words: Allison believes that every other  nation is “dispensable.” That view is American supremacism — America’s form  of fascism. It’s also called “neoconservatism.” This is how one becomes appointed to — and he leads — Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

On 11 December 2018, the anonymous “Zero Hedge” headlined “This is What The ‘Trade’ War With China Is Really All About”, and provided there a brilliant description of what the conflict with China is actually about, and of why this conflict has now reached the stage where it inevitably will dominate geostrategy in the centuries going forward (if a resulting nuclear war won’t end everything, which would eliminate future centuries). Global warming could be permanently interrupted by nuclear winter from a major-powers nuclear war, but those are the only two reasonably credible doomsday scenarios, at present (other than an asteroid-hit against this planet, which would be far less likely): global burnout, or else WW III. 

Perhaps these two possibilities are why the great poet Robert Frost wrote:

Fire and Ice

BY ROBERT FROST

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

Both options — “fire” and “ice” — would be Man-made; and, in both options, the people who are leading us there are imperialists — fascists. Some of them push for global burnout; some push for WW III; some push for both.

When Frost said, “I hold with those who favor fire,” he was suggesting that he expected a World War III, which, as a nuclear mega-conflict, would actually end up freezing the planet to death, thus: “nuclear winter.” Consequently, his “fire” would produce the opposite of fire; and global burnout (which would take far longer to implement) isn’t  the “fire” that he was referring to. Global burnout would simply kill everything on the planet — there would be nothing left to burn.

Fascists aren’t concerned about either “fire” or “ice,” but only about supremacy: their conquest, and rule over the world. They are heedless of both global burnout and nuclear war — except insofar as they think that either outcome could end up placing “our side” on top — and would thus be ‘good’ in their view, because to them it would be “victory,” and “Might makes right.”

For example: Robert Scheer’s 1982 book, With Enough Shovels: Reagan, Bush, and Nuclear War, was about the U.S. Republican Party mainstream, which is fascism, and specifically was about the Ronald Reagan and G.H.W. Bush (and very much also later described G.W. Bush’s) view, that America must build nuclear weapons in order to use them to conquer Russia — not really in order to prevent war between the U.S. and Russia. One of Scheer’s interviews in that book was with Charles Kupperman, who at that time was a national-security advisor to President Reagan, and became subsequently a vice president both at Lockheed Martin and at Boeing — the two largest sellers to the U.S. Government, meaning the top two U.S. Government contractors (basically, the two largest suppliers to the Pentagon). Here are excerpts from Scheer’s interview with Kupperman about this, when he asked Kupperman about whether victory in a nuclear war is possible:

Scheer: So you think it is possible to win? …

Kupperman: I think it is possible to win. [Scheer asked what that means.] It means that it is clear after the war that one side is stronger than the other side, the weaker side is going to accede to the demands of the stronger side.

No definition was supplied as to what measures should apply in order to determine “that one side is stronger than the other side.” But clearly, Kupperman meant that “the weaker side is going to accede to the demands of the stronger side.” He was thinking in terms of Russia’s surrendering. To a fascist, surrendering means that the surrenderer is inferior to the victor: after all, “Might makes right” is  their ‘ethic’. That’s what it means  to be  a supremacist.

Scheer asked what that victory would be like, and Kupperman said: “It would be a struggle to reconstitute the society that we have. It certainly wouldn’t be the same society [that had existed] prior to an exchange, there is no question about that. But in terms of having an organized nation, and having enough means left after the war to reconstitute itself, I think that is entirely possible.”

Nothing was asked about how that’s possible after the nuclear war, when there would be nuclear winter. Wikipedia has a good article about “Nuclear Winter”, and it not only describes that, but states:

A “nuclear summer” is a hypothesized scenario in which, after a nuclear winter caused by aerosols inserted into the atmosphere that would prevent sunlight from reaching lower levels or the surface,[58] has abated, a greenhouse effect then occurs due to carbon dioxide released by combustion and methane released from the decay of the organic matter and methane from dead organic matter and corpses that froze during the nuclear winter.[58][59]

Another more sequential hypothetical scenario, following the settling out of most of the aerosols in 1–3 years, the cooling effect would be overcome by a heating effect from greenhouse warming, which would raise surface temperatures rapidly by many degrees, enough to cause the death of much if not most of the life that had survived the cooling, much of which is more vulnerable to higher-than-normal temperatures than to lower-than-normal temperatures. 

So: a reasonable assumption would be that people such as Kupperman understate, to the point of basically lying about, the consequences if they succeed. First, there would be the immediate deaths and then the deaths from injuries and diseases afterwards; then, there would be the starvations, the global famine; then, there would be the nuclear winter; and, then, there might be global warming “rapidly by many degrees, enough to cause the death of much if not most of the life that had survived the cooling.” And, of course, any surviving Republicans, and the many Democrats who likewise are neoconservatives-imperialists-fascists, would try to kill as many of their surviving opponents as possible, so that “the weaker side is going to accede to the demands of the stronger side,” which would be victory, for the ‘winners’, of that nuclear war. 

Before Robert O’Brien got the nod on September 18th, Kupperman was the temporary National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, when Kupperman’s immediate superior, John Bolton, was fired by Donald Trump, for having failed to conquer either Venezuela or Iran or Syria or Russia or China or North Korea. Perhaps Bolton and Pompeo, and the other people whom Trump had surrounded himself with, expected that Trump would go to war against all or at least one  of them (perhaps Venezuela?), in order to reassert America’s supremacy over the entire globe, but Trump refused to do that so short a time before the next U.S. Presidential election, and so they all were disappointed in him, and he was disappointed in them. On 10 September 2019, the New York Times  reported that, “the president appreciated Mr. Kupperman’s just-the-facts style compared with Mr. Bolton’s often ideologically charged delivery: If Mr. Trump had to have a national security brief concerning long-term planning, he preferred it from Mr. Kupperman as opposed to Mr. Bolton, according to a person with knowledge of that process.” And now, Trump will get his neocon advice from O’Brien.

Graham Allison’s best-selling 2017 Destined for War says that China is destined for war with the United States because China will be stupid or recalcitrant enough to resist becoming part of the American empire. In the standard self-righteous way of aristocrats and their sycophants, he starts with the unquestionable assumption that “we” are right and “they” (whomever challenges “our” supremacy) will be so stupid or otherwise flawed as to force “us” to ‘defend ourselves’ by demonstrating ‘our’ ‘superiority’. This is similar to the barbaric views that are expressed by virtually all members of the U.S. Congress, and by all U.S. Presidents, since at least the time of Reagan — all of them similarly self-righteous and imperialistic. In fact, America’s leading national-security scientists have asserted that the U.S. Government is now so strongly neoconservative that America’s weaponry is now designed definitely with the purpose being to win a nuclear war  against Russia, instead of to prevent, or even to avoid, such a war. They have documented that, at the very top of the U.S. Government, there is more extreme supremacism than has ever existed anywhere. Never before in history has a regime — not even Hitler’s — implemented a plan to conquer the world even if its only realistic result, if the plan succeeds, would be to terminate all life on Earth. America’s supremacism — such as is advocated by Graham Allison and all U.S. Administrations since at least the time of G.W. Bush — is the one and only supreme supremacism.

Back in the 1930s and 40s, these were the views that were similarly expressed by the aristocracies and sycophants in places such as Germany, Italy, and Japan. I am not saying that those people, or ours, who hold to supremacist views, are “filth,” or “trash,” or other such supposed pejoratives. After all, there can be good filth or trash. However, there cannot be any good fascist (or “imperialist”). (Is there “good evil”? Does anyone actually think so?) I agree with FDR on that.

Succeeding in the field of foreign affairs, in Washington, DC, by repudiating American imperialism, or “neoconservatism,” is, and long has been, impossible. That town has emerged, since WW II, to become the fascist capital of the world. In this sense, the sides have become reversed, since FDR’s death.

So: the differences between Robert O’Brien, and Graham Allison, and Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, and G.W. Bush, are, actually small, when it comes to international relations. They’re all fascists. They’re all normal U.S. experts on topics of international relations.

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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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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Biden’s worrisome construct of security and self-defense in the first year of his term

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Official White House Photo by Carlos Fyfe

US President Joe Biden’s foreign policy is failing so far. He can’t get the Iran nuclear diplomacy on track. The Afghanistan withdrawal was a disaster seen by all, placing an unusually high number of weapons and armaments in the hands of the Taliban and leaving everyone behind, to the point that one wonders if it was intentional. The US military has been able to accomplish far more impressive and bigger logistics tasks in the past, so when they want to they can do it.

More worrisome, however – and because it is also oriented towards future impacts – is Biden’s construct of vital concepts such as security, international peace and self-defense which has already displayed a consistent pattern during the first year of his term. The signs are already there, so let me bring them out to the surface for you.

Treating a counter-attack in self-defense as an original, first-move strike

This is a pattern that can be noticed already in Biden’s reading of what constitutes defense. It first struck me in a place where you might not think of looking. It originated from the criticism of the previous Trump administration’s support for the destructive Saudi Arabia campaign on Yemen, leaving Yemen as the biggest famine and disaster on the planet. To avoid the same criticism, the Biden administration decided to do what it always does – play technocratic and legalistic, and hope that people won’t notice. On the face of it, it looked like Biden ended US participation by ending the “offensive” support for Saudi Arabia. Then in the months after the February decision, reports started surfacing that the US actually continues doing the same, and now most recently, some troops from Afghanistan were redirected towards Yemen. Biden didn’t end Yemen; he set up a task force to examine and limit US military action only to defensive capabilities, which sounds good to a general observer. It reminds me of that famous Einstein saying that all the big decisions were to be taken by him and all the small decisions were to be taken by his wife, but there hasn’t been one big decision so far. So see, it just turns out that everything falls under defense, ask the lawyers. Usually no one would object to the well-established right to defend yourself. The problem with that is that the US is actually in Yemen. Treating any counter-strike and any response to your presence as an original, first-move attack is not only problematic but it also simply doesn’t work in legal terms. It goes along the lines of “well, I am already here anyways, so your counter-response in self-defense is actually an attack and I get to defend myself”. If the issue was only with terrorist or rebel organizations (because let’s face it, who cares about the Houthies in Yemen?) I don’t think we would be discussing this. But as you guessed it, this approach can already be traced as a pattern in Biden’s thinking and the way he forges alliances, draws red lines and allows things to happen, and it stretches to areas that most people definitely care about such as a possible military conflict between the US and China.

Let’s take the newest development from today. The US just announced that it has entered into a trilateral partnership with the UK and Australia in the Indo-Pacific, which is encirclement of China par excellence. Where it gets interesting is that the trilateral partnership is purported to be only for “advanced defense capabilities”. The equivalent of this is someone from another city squatting at the door step in your apartment, inviting two others to join, and then when in the morning you push them and step on them to go to work, the squatters claiming that you attacked them and calling the police on you in your own apartment. This is Biden’s concept of self-defense: since I am already here in your space, you are attacking me.

The US is trying to start something with China but it doesn’t know how to, and China seems completely unconcerned with the US.  Chinese leader Jinping doesn’t even want to meet Biden, as became clear this week. China doesn’t care about the US and just wants to be left alone. They already said that in clear terms by reading it out loud to Wendy Sherman last month. Biden didn’t have to ask for a meeting in that phone call this week because he already knew the answer. Wendy Sherman got a clear signal on her China visit that the US president won’t be getting that coveted red carpet roll-out any time soon.

So the story says that the US is going all the way to the other side of the world and staging military presence there but only to defend itself. The US has no choice but to move in to defend all the US citizens at risk in the Indian Ocean — that’s the stand-up comedy line of the week. It is staging military presence right at China’s doorstep — if not in Chinese waters, and the idea is “yes, that’s your turf but now that I’m here, if you push me to leave, you are attacking me”. This is the strategy of narcissists and those that are looking to point the finger to their opponent when they just don’t have anything, so they stage something. China is in the long-term game, playing against itself. The US is that number 2 that’s trying to create provocation. In the Indo-Pacific, the US is biting more than it can chew. China is not a big mouth or one to throw around military threats. That’s the US style: “be very careful, we might bomb you if you don’t do what we say”. A dog that barks doesn’t bite. On the other hand, China is more like a Ferrari — it will go from 0 to 200 in seconds and then it will go back to its business. The US and Biden will be left whimpering but no one will jump to save the US from its own folly because self-defense in the US packaging is not even bought by the US government itself. Even they don’t buy their own packaging. So why should anyone else?

Treating embarrassing discoveries and things that don’t go my way as a threat to international peace

This one is a big one. With this one, Biden is playing with the queen, namely action under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter in the name of international peace and security. A threat to international peace and security is grounds for action under Chapter 7 which includes military action, and it’s never to be spoken lightly. Words have consequences. The UN Security Council rarely specifies grounds for action under chapter 7 for threats to international peace and security but it’s enough to take a look at the practice: resolutions were passed when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, in response to 9/11, against Kaddafi who was marching toward Benghazi to wipe out the people in 2011, in relation to genocide, etc. Grounds for a threat to international peace can’t be “because I don’t like the way things are turning out for me”.

Peace and security are not like beauty – in the eye of the beholder. There has to be an actual or imminent attack and actual military action or violence. Loose interpretations of threats to peace and security are a sign of weak leadership.

Leaders who construct dissent and criticism as terrorism in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement, as I have argued about the FBI previously in the left media, are weak leaders. In smearing Martin Luther King, the FBI argued national security. As director Oliver Stone said in Cannes this summer, when he was investigating the JFK assassination, every time he was getting close, he heard “national security”. 

You can see a lot about the character of a nation by the way it constructs security, and notice traits such as narcissism, weakness, cheating. The Biden Administration has to know that a threat to international peace and security can’t be “things that make my government look bad”. In 2001, the world followed the US in Afghanistan because there was an actual military attack. The world won’t follow the Biden administration on a bogus threat to international peace that can best be summed up as a major embarrassment for the US government. Suggesting a link is a threat to the fabric of international society. Not only is it a sign of national narcissism but also a sign of arbitrariness and authoritarianism. Treating criticism and the exposure of US government crimes as if it were a military attack is what horror movies are made of. What’s next? Droning journalists?

Treating issues which are a subject to treaties, rules and negotiations as a threat to international peace  

The Biden security construct stretches to various regions, including my own. This first struck me with Biden’s executive order regarding the Western Balkans when he tied blocking these countries from EU accession to a threat to international peace, which carries significant consequences. If a country, let’s say Bulgaria, is exercising its lawful right to veto EU processes, hypothetically, based on Biden’s understanding, the US could table a resolution for Chapter 7 action to punish an EU member-state for blocking the accession of an EU candidate because that’s a threat to international peace. That could hypothetically lead to military action against an EU country making use of its veto. Biden doesn’t have a veto in the EU. Do you know who does? Bulgaria. So until Biden becomes an EU country he doesn’t have a say.

Biden was visibly irritated that the process of EU accession has been stalling for quite some time, especially with N. Macedonia and Albania at the EU’s doorstep, so he decided to give it a go. Let’s not forget that the Balkans are a favorite Biden region and this goes back to the 1990s. I have written about it before: Biden is stuck in the 2000s when if you mentioned the Western Balkans the words international peace were a guaranteed association. Not anymore. Negotiations, rules and voting are the peaceful and reasonable way to resolve issues, agree or even not agree in some situations, and are the opposite of war and aggression. Treating these ways as a threat to peace is just the rhetoric of those who can’t get their way. But it’s also indicative of a worrisome trend with Biden that anything that the US government doesn’t like can be dressed as a threat to international peace, which carries the most significant of all consequences in the international arena.

Treating lawful counter-measures as a threat to national security

Perhaps the best and most fascinating example of lawful counter-measures I ever heard was brought by Andrew Clapham at the Graduate Institute in Geneva. Here is the story. The UK issued unlawful sanctions on a country. In response, lawful counter-measures by that country targeted jam exports because a jam factory in Scotland was the key to turning the elections. The targeted counter-measures worked, hit jam exports, discontent people in the region voted the other way and the government that put in place the sanctions to begin with was ousted. This was a brilliant example that you hit where it hurts and you do it lawfully. Counter-measures don’t have to be identical. The US likes to put tariffs on Louis Vuitton bags in retaliation when it deals with France, for example. In the Trump trade wars, Europe would hit bourbon and jeans exports as a counter-measure. You hit their signature product. Not all counter-measures are illegal and count as an attack. International law is full of examples.

Similarly, lawsuits against a government are a lawful counter-measure. This area reveals another part of Biden’s worrisome construct of national security. A threat to sue the US government cannot in and of itself be a threat to national security. Tortured reading of what is national security is a sign of weak leaders, narcissists, those on the losing end, or straight up losers – or all of the above. 

Treating lawful counter-measures as a cause for self-defense is not only a sign of a wrong understanding of self-defense, but is the ultimate sign of narcissism. Usually those who attack know better and brace for impact in anticipation of the counter-measures. Narcissists, on the other hand, cry that they are being attacked when they receive a counter-strike in response. Strategists know better.

Mistreatment of whistleblowers, critics and opponents as spies and as a threat to national security

This one is an easy one. Only losers treat whistleblowers and critics as spies and as an automatic threat to national security. Take the treatment that Gary Stahl has received at the hands of the Biden Administration and the FBI, for example. Again, the US government doesn’t get to construe a huge embarrassment (in what will soon be revealed to shows the true criminal nature of the US government) as a threat to international peace. This is a problem for America. Not only doesn’t China plan to attack militarily the US any time soon over what’s to come, but China is largely unconcerned with the US and would like to be left alone. Any talk about a risk of military conflict could only mean that it is the US that plans to attack because they are embarrassed they got caught red-handed and the world will see the US government’s true nature. Talk of threat to international peace has a very high threshold. No one cares about how America would feel – that’s your problem, not an issue of international peace. 

The Biden concept of security is that of an ugly, pretentious, old woman who is told she can’t enter because her ticket is not valid. She then throws a feat screaming she was attacked, beaten and insulted, expecting everyone to be on her side. But the world simply doesn’t care about the problems of this pain-in-the-ass anymore. The US government will have to try much harder if they want to present the issue as anything close to security and self-defense, let alone a threat to international peace. That tune is old and there are no buyers. 

The US surely thinks very highly of itself if they think that a scandal like that is worthy of a military conflict but literally no one else sees the US as this important anymore. This scandal will matter only to America in what it reveals about all the layers of the US government across rank, institutions and administrations. That’s it. It ends there. Any talk of Chapter 7 threshold is war mongering and no one will care. 

People talk about the Biden doctrine on Afghanistan but the Biden doctrine that will be sealed in history will be something along the lines of “Anytime I get caught, it’s a threat to international peace and security.” This is how Biden will be remembered in history: for creative writing endeavors in the security field and no substantial foreign policy achievements. 

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Biden’s credibility restoration plan

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Joe Biden
Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

Although damages of the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan cannot be easily undone, by taking a series of wise steps, Biden can send a strong signal that America is coming back.

Joe Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan has shattered his reputation as a safe haven for allies. This is while, he pledged to restore U.S. leadership after Trump by confronting China’s and Russia’s growing totalitarian ambitions, restoring historic alliances with European allies, and ending the never-ending conflicts in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

But he is not the only President whose decision has eventually damaged the United States’ global reputation. Donald Trump’s capitulation deal with the Taliban, Barack Obama’s indolence in Syria, and George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq have all tarnished the United States’ credibility around the world. The question now; however, is no longer whether Biden and his predecessors should have acted differently. It’s how the United States can minimize the damage.

Biden should begin by speaking the truth. So far, the President has failed to admit the failure of his withdrawal plan. Biden ought to be straightforward with himself, the American people, and the whole world.

Biden’s policy should, of course, vary depending on the area and global conditions. To promote its interests in the Indo-Pacific area, the United States should station a few ambassadors, including a Navy or Coast Guard attaché, in the Pacific Island countries of Tonga, Tuvalu, and Kiribati. In addition, a considerable number of troops currently stationed in Afghanistan should be redeployed to the Pacific. Finally, Biden’s administration should engage with U.S. defense contractors to speed up the transfer of military equipment to Taiwan. Getting Taiwan its armaments swiftly would be a powerful show of support as a steadfast ally, as well as provide modern platforms to prevent a Chinese amphibious invasion.

The Biden administration should also do all in its power to rebuild relations with European partners. For the very first time, NATO invoked Article 5, which identifies an assault on one member as an assault on all. Since then, soldiers from a variety of countries have fought and died alongside US troops. Nonetheless, Biden decided to leave Afghanistan without consulting the governments of these countries, leaving them to plan emergency rescue efforts for their populations. Close allies of the United States are understandably enraged. America’s behavior is being chastised in Paris, Berlin, and the British House of Commons on both sides of the aisle.

Last month, at a meeting of regional leaders in Baghdad, Macron made it clear that, unlike the Americans, he was dedicated to remaining in the Middle East. “Whatever the American choice is,” he stated in public remarks in Baghdad, “we will maintain our presence in Iraq to fight terrorism as long as terrorist groups function and the Iraqi government requests our assistance.” It was a clear example of Macron’s idea of “strategic autonomy,” which implies European independence from U.S. security policy, and an attempt to use the United States’ humiliation to underline that Europe and Washington were not always on the same page. At an emergency G7 summit, Mr. Biden is said to have turned down allied requests to extend the August 31 deadline for exit.

The Biden administration’s recent decision not to penalize Nord Stream 2 pipeline participants has enraged Europeans as well. Poland and Ukraine underlined their worries in a joint statement about the ramifications of choices taken on the pipeline without the participation of nations directly impacted, claiming that Nord Stream 2 poses both geological and ecological risks to Europe.

As a result, whether it’s diplomatic recognition of the Taliban regime, humanitarian aid for the Afghan people, or any other major issue, the US should not take any more action without engaging partners. Mr. Biden should also dispatch senior members of his national security team to Europe and other regions of the world to reinforce America’s commitment to their security.

As to the Middle East, Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security advisor, in a Foreign Affairs article described “America’s opportunity in the Middle East,” suggesting that diplomacy may work where previous military interventions have failed. The United States’ involvement in the area is frequently portrayed in military or counter-terrorism terms, and as a binary option between going all-in or going all-out. Instead, Sullivan advocated for a strategy that relied more on “aggressive diplomacy to generate more long-term benefits.”

Accordingly, the President and his team in Vienna should get the new Iranian administration back to the negotiating tables and rejoin the JCPOA and ease the tensions in the Middle East. Also, the United States should do all possible in Afghanistan to secure the safe transit of Afghans who qualify for U.S. visas to the Kabul airport – and to keep flights flying until they are able to leave. This should apply to both Afghans who dealt closely with the United States’ military, and to those who engage with U.S. media and humanitarian organizations and must get visas from a third country. In addition to ensuring that the United Nations and humanitarian groups have the resources they need, the United States should cooperate with its Security Council allies to guarantee that the Taliban does not hinder the free flow of help.

Moreover, to follow any influx of jihadists to Afghanistan, intelligence agencies will have to rededicate resources and increase surveillance. They must be pushed to coordinate their efforts on the Taliban in order to keep the most threatening groups under control. The United States could set an example by agreeing to accept a fair share of any displaced Afghans. Neighboring countries like Iran and Pakistan, which already have millions of Afghan refugees, are closing their borders.

Biden may not be able to prevent all of the disastrous repercussions of the Afghan catastrophe, but he must act now before the harm to U.S. interests and moral stature becomes irreversible. By taking these steps, he can send a strong statement to the world that he has learned his lessons and that America is coming back.

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