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Progressivism Versus Liberalism

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An excellent example of the popular confusion between progressivism and liberalism is an article that was published at Strategic Culture on October 28th by Philip Giraldi, titled “The Disappearing America: Progressives Want a Revolution, Not Just Change”. He criticized — and very correctly so — the U.S. Democratic Party’s mischaracterization of America’s main problem as its (supposedly) being a conflict between ethnic groups (religious, cultural, racial, or otherwise), and Giraldi unfortunately merely assumed (falsely) that the Democratic Party’s doing this (alleging that inter-ethnic conflicts are America’s top problem) reflects the Party’s being “progressive,” instead of its being “liberal”; but, actually, there are big differences between those two ideologies, and that Party — just like America’s other major Party, the Republican Party — is controlled by its billionaires, and there simply aren’t any progressive billionaires; there are only liberal and conservative billionaires. America has a liberal Party, the Democratic Party, and a conservative Party, the Republican Party, and both of those Parties are controlled by their respective billionaire donors; and there are no progressive billionaires (as will be shown here). (Also, the differences between those two ideologies will be described.) So, Giraldi was actually attacking progressivism by confusing it  with liberalism.

For example: 

As-of 5 August 2019, when Forbes headlined “Here Are The Democratic Presidential Candidates With The Most Donations From Billionaires”, the rankings were this:

Rank in Billionaire Donors to:

#1 Pete Buttigieg: 23 billionaire donors

#2 Cory Booker: 18 billionaire donors

#3 Kamala Harris: 17 billionaire donors

#4 Michael Bennet: 15 billionaire donors

#5 Joe Biden: 13 billionaire donors

#6 John Hickenlooper: 11 billionaire donors

#7 Beto O’Rourke: 9 billionaire donors

#8 Amy Klobuchar: 8 billionaire donors

#9 Jay Inslee: 5 billionaire donors

#10 Kirsten Gillibrand: 4 billionaire donors

#11 John Delaney: 3 billionaire donors

#12 Elizabeth Warren and Steve Bullock: 2 billionaire donors each

#13 Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, and Marianne Williamson: 1 billionaire donor each

#14 Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro, Bill De Blasio, and Tim Ryan: 0 billionaire donors

——

And, then, these were the standings among the Democratic Party’s still-active Presidential contenders as-of immediately prior to Super Tuesday, published by Forbes:

——

2 March 2020:

Rank in Billionaire Donors to:

#1 Biden 66

#2 Buttigieg 61

#3 Klobucar 33

#4 Steyer 13

#5 Warren 6

#6 Gabbard 3

#7 Bloomberg 1

#8 Sanders 0

(The others had already dropped out, and were therefore not listed.)

——

The only candidate whom billionaires blacklisted was Sanders. Despite that, Sanders had the most-passionate supporters, and vastly more donors, than did any other candidate in the contest; and, the polls throughout the Democratic primaries showed that he was virtually always either #2 or (occasionally) #1 in the preferences of all of the polled likely Democratic primary voters. But, Sanders got no billionaire’s money. He got as far as he did, only on his mass-base. He was running as the lone progressive in the field. And, unlike any of the others, he focused on the class-conflict issue, instead of on the ethnic-conflict issue — he focused against the money-power, instead of against “racism” (which was his #2 issue). All of the other candidates placed the ethnic-conflict issue (in the form of anti-Black racism) as being America’s most important problem.

Sanders was the only candidate who blamed America’s billionaires (the people who control both of its Parties) for being the cause of America’s problems and the  beneficiaries from those problems. He was the only progressive candidate in the entire contest. Sanders’s competitors were blaming the public (as if the majority of it were anti-Black bigots) — not  the aristocracy (not  the super-rich — the few people who actually control America). So: all of Sanders’s competitors had billionaires already funding them; and, still more billionaires were waiting in the wings to do so for whomever the Party’s nominee might turn out to be — except  if it would be Sanders (who would get nothing from any of them). (And, even if Sanders had won the Democratic nomination, what chance would he have had to win against Trump if even the Democratic Party’s billionaires were donating instead to the Trump campaign?)

Back in 2016, the two most-heavily-funded-by-billionaires candidates were Hillary Clinton (#1) and Donald Trump (#2). And they became the nominees. In today’s America, the billionaires always get their man (or their woman). It’s always a contest between a Republican-billionaires-backed nominee, versus a Democratic-billionaires-backed nominee

What Giraldi blames on “progressivism” is instead actually “liberalism” (which accepts being ruled by its billionaires) but there are more ways than only this that Giraldi misunderstands the difference between these two ideologies.

Besides the distinction that liberals see the big problem as being various sorts of interethnic (or “racial”) conflict (“Black Lives Matter,” etc.), whereas progressives see it as being the billionaires against the public; there is also the distinction that liberals think that their country has a right to intervene in the internal affairs of any foreign country in order to ‘protect’ that foreign nation’s public from its Government (for example, as America has recently done to Venezuela, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, Iraq, Iran, etc.), whereas progressives reject that viewpoint, and they hold, as being the only justification for invading another country, that other country’s having already invaded their own country — only defending against an invasion constitutes a justification for invading another country. Progressives believe that only the United Nations has the right to authorize an international invasion against a country in the absence of that country’s having invaded another country. Progressives make a huge distinction between any nation’s laws, on the one hand, and international laws, on the other; and they say that no country (including their own) has the right to override international laws. Liberals reject that progressive view, and support international invasions by their own country that are in violation of international law (such as America’s invasions against Yemen, and against Syria, and against Iraq, etc. — all of America’s invasions after World War II), in order to ‘protect’ the people there. Progressives are insistent that the U.N. not get involved in individual nations’ internal affairs. The profoundly anti-FDR, anti-progressive, “Responsibility to Protect” idea (which now has even acquired the status of being represented by an acronym “R2P” catch-phrase), has increasingly arisen recently to become a guiding principle of international relations, and progressives believe that it must be soundly and uncompromisingly rejected by the U.N. But liberals support “R2P,” as, basically, being a ‘justification’ for their own nation’s imperialism.

Giraldi is clearly arguing in favor of the Republican Party, and against the Democratic Party, but both of them (both the conservative Republican, and the liberal Democratic, Parties) are pro U.S. imperialism. He also argues there against the Government’s taking measures to reduce America’s racial and other inter-ethnic conflicts, such as policies to penalize racist actions and to eliminate systemic and Governmentally-mandated racial preferences. For example, he says that any such Governmental measures against racism “increasingly turn government into an intrusive mechanism for social engineering, abandoning America’s traditional meritocracy while also creating categories that some might describe as fostering reverse racism and sexism.” Though liberals do favor “fostering reverse racism and sexism,” progressives (which he claims to be attacking) do not. Furthermore, Giraldi’s implying that all policies against racism are “an intrusive mechanism for social engineering, abandoning America’s traditional meritocracy” is doubly false: Many anti-racist policies are nothing of the sort, but are instead essential in order to reduce inter-ethnic conflict and to achieve a more just and effective system of laws and of law-enforcement — and  a more efficient economy. Moreover, his alleging that to do that (to enact legislation against bigotry) is “abandoning America’s traditional meritocracy,” is, itself, ludicrous, regarding a country such as the United States, which had hundreds of years of enforced racist slavery, which were followed until recently by Jim Crow laws that informally continued bigotry by the Government. The scars from all that have still not yet been healed, and to suggest that they have is callous, at best. And, for Giraldi to refer to America’s long prior history of enforced White supremacy as if it had been instead “America’s traditional meritocracy” is beneath even commenting upon.

Giraldi writes as a conservative who uses the falsehoods that are intrinsic to liberalism as cudgels with which to attack progressivism. He doesn’t understand ideology — especially progressivism. Clearly, it’s not within his purview; and, therefore, his intended attack against progressivism misses its mark, and doesn’t even squarely hit its intended target, which is actually liberalism.

Throughout history, the aristocracies have been of two types: outright conservatives, versus the “noblesse oblige” type of aristocrats, which are called “liberals.” The main actual difference between the two is that, whereas the self-proclaimed conservatives boldly endorse their own supremacism, liberals instead slur it over with nice and kindly-sounding verbiage. Whereas conservatives are unashamed of their having all rights and feeling no obligations to the public (even trying to minimize their taxes), liberals are ashamed of it, but continue their haughty attitudes nonetheless, and refuse to recognize that such extreme inequality of wealth is a curse upon the entire society. Progressives condemn both types of aristocrat: the outright conservatives, and the hypocritical conservatives (liberals). Progressives recognize that the more extreme the inequality of wealth is in a society, the less likely that society is to be an authentic democracy, and they are 100% proponents of democracy. Liberals talk about ‘equality’, but don’t much care about it, actually. That’s why aristocrats can support liberalism, but can’t support progressivism. Progressives recognize that the super-wealthy are the biggest enemies of democracy —  that they are intrinsically enemies of the public. Progressives aren’t bought-off even by ‘philanthropists’.

Scientific studies (such as this) have documented that the more wealth a person has, the more conservative that person generally becomes. Furthermore, the richer a person is, the more callous and lacking in compassion that person tends to be. Moreover, the richer and more educated a person is, the likelier that person is to believe that economic success results from a person’s having a higher amount of virtue (and thus failure marks a person’s lacking virtue). And, studies have also shown that the wealthiest 1% tend to be extreme conservatives, and tend to be intensely involved in politics. Consequently, to the exact contrary of Giraldi’s article, the higher levels of politics tend to be filled with excessive concerns about how to serve the desires of the rich, and grossly deficient concerns about even the advisability of serving the needs of the poor. Such attitudes naturally favor the aristocracy, at the expense of the public. Confusing liberalism with progressivism advances the conservative, pro-aristocracy, agenda, at the expense of truth, and at the expense of the public, and even at the expense of democracy itself.

Furthermore: throughout the millennia, aristocracies have been applying the divide-and-conquer principle to set segments of the public against each other so that blame by the public for society’s problems won’t be targeted against themselves (the aristocrats), who actually control and benefit from the corruption that extracts so much from the public and causes those problems. Thus: Black against White, gay against straight, female against male, Muslim against Christian, and immigrant against native, etc. This divide-and-conquer strategy is peddled by both conservative and liberal aristocrats, and has been for thousands of years. Giraldi’s focusing on that as being instead generated by progressives, is not only false — it is profoundly false. It is a fundamental miscomprehension.

So, the popular confusion between progressivism and liberalism is beneficial to the aristocracy, but harmful to the public.

Author’s note: first posted at Strategic Culture

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

Americas

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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