UPDATE: on January 26th, Newsweek headlined “Mitch McConnell Wins Filibuster Battle as Primary Pressure Builds on Chuck Schumer”, which (as is explained in the following) means that unless Senate Democrats now use “the Nuclear Option” — which they resist doing — Biden’s Presidency will be a failure.
The success or failure of Joe Biden’s Presidency will be determined more by the policies that he establishes in order to deal with America’s raging coronavirus-crisis than by anything else. And the fates of both of America’s political Parties will also largely depend upon these decisions, which he is making at the very start of his Presidency. In normal times, an American President’s first 100 days in office are crucially important; but, this time around, the first 30 days will probably be decisive. The signs, thus far, are not looking good, for his success. Here is why:
On January 22nd, Politico headlined “Republicans bludgeon Biden’s big stimulus plans” and reported that the Senate’s Republicans have decided to block President Biden’s Covid-19 relief package unless Biden will cut it in ways that would prevent it from doing what Biden has long been promising to do. Either he will fulfill his promises on Covid-19 policies, or he will compromise with Senate Republicans. However, there is a way in which Biden and the Senate’s Democrats would become enabled to overcome that block (it’s called “the Nuclear Option”), but doing so would delay the legislation and would require changing the rules of the Senate, which would require even further delays. Democratic and Republican Senators would then basically lock horns in battle against one-another and fight to the political death, over Covid-19 (coronavirus) policies. Whichever side would quit the contest sooner would be embarrassed amongst its electorate, and would therefore produce a significantly weakened Party.
The victorious side will probably control Biden’s Presidency. Either the Democrats will outlast the Republicans, who will be profoundly embarrassed (especially because the polling shows that the position of congressional Republicans on coronavirus-policy is rejected overwhelmingly by the American public), or else the Republicans will outlast the Democrats, who will be profoundly embarrassed (by having caved so fast to congressional Republicans on this matter where Biden and congressional Democrats have an overwhelming political advantage over their supposed ‘opponents’).
If Democratic Senators win on it, then not only will Republican Senators lose the support of some Republican voters (who favor passage of Biden’s proposal and who therefore don’t want Republican Senators to force a delay of its passage), but Republican Senators who had voted with Democrats on this will be challenged in 2022 and 2024 primaries by more-extreme Republican candidates who will call the incumbent a “RINO” “Republican In Name Only” for having capitulated to the Democrats. So, some of the less-extreme Republican Senators will probably lose their seats. If, however, to the contrary, Republicans win, then not only will President Biden have been defeated in his first legislative initiative (and his Presidency will have been hobbled at its very start), but Democratic Senators who have sided with Republican Senators on this and who will be running for re-election in 2022 and 2024, will be challenged in primaries by progressive Democratic candidates who will call that Democratic incumbent a “DINO” “Democrat In Name Only.” So: either the Republican Party in the Senate will be moving farther to the right, if Democrats win on the coronavirus legislation, or else the Democratic Party in the Senate will be moving farther to the left if Republicans win on it. And there is no way in which Biden’s campaign promises to function as President in a bipartisan manner will be able to be achieved.
In other words: this is going to be a fight to the political death of either the Democratic or the Republican Party. And the chasm separating the two Parties is virtually certain to become even wider than it has been.
Any compromise on coronavirus-policy by Biden would be widely seen (by Republican and many independent voters) as his conceding to the Republicans the superiority of their position regarding any area on which he had conceded (such as Republicans’ belief that “deficit spending is bad”) — and his doing that would greatly weaken him going forward (especially because Americans support Biden’s announced Covid plan by over 2 to 1, and 59% even of Republican voters support Biden’s requirement regarding the wearing of masks and social distancing at commercial establishments).
Any compromise by the Republicans on it would likewise be damaging to them. However, they don’t control the federal Government now, and, so, they wouldn’t be blamed as much. Nominally, Democrats control all three electoral branches of the federal Government.
Furthermore: Biden will get more of the praise or blame for whatever legislation ends up resulting from this than will the Republican Party. Whereas Republican voters will be able to say “We lost because the damned Democrats control the Government,” Democratic voters won’t be able to say “We lost because the damned Republicans control the Government.” If Democratic voters turn out to be disappointed with the outcome, then they won’t have any excuse for it — other than to increase yet further their hatred of Republicans if Biden and the Democrats turn out to be the capitulationist side.
In any case, Biden is obviously not going to be able to fulfill on his promises that he will be a bipartisan President. That fact (the mythological character of ‘bipartisanship’ in today’s America), alone, is certain to weaken him — though not nearly as much as would be the case if he holds firm, refuses to compromise on Covid-19, and defeats congressional Republicans on this issue that’s vastly more important to Democratic Party voters than it is to Republican Party voters.
This situation is similar to what had pertained when Barack Obama became President in 2009 and dumped his proposed “public option” the moment he won the Presidency in November 2008. However (as was made manifestly clear during the 2008 Democratic primaries, when Obama handily beat Biden, Clinton, and Edwards), Biden’s hold on the Democratic Party won’t be nearly as solid as Obama’s was, if Biden capitulates on this issue, which is so important to Democrats. Whereas a comprehensive public option, or else universalized Medicare, is a do-or-die issue only for some Democratic Party voters, conquering Covid-19 is a do-or-die issue for virtually all Democratic Party voters.
Back in 2009, the Republican crisis that the incoming Democratic President was dealing with — the economic collapse and the lie-based invasion/occupation of Iraq — wasn’t killing four thousand Americans per day like the coronavirus-crisis now is. Just as Trump will be blamed for America’s disastrously poor performance in the coronavirus-crisis (a higher infection-rate than any other medium-sized or large nation), Biden will get either the praise or the blame for his effectiveness or ineffectiveness at reversing that Republican failure. Congressional Republicans will politically benefit if Biden fails. Any compromises that Biden allows on the Covid-19 relief package are not going to buy for him a “We are all in this together” response from Republicans in Congress, but will only buy for him a less effective policy, which will (quite reasonably) be seen by the American public as being, essentially, a Democratic policy (which had failed).
This is the way that America’s Party system now functions: the incentive for our political leaders is not to benefit the American people, but to benefit the given political leader’s own Party, in competition against the other Party, in an extremely polarized electorate. But is it actually instead merely a competition between Democratic Party billionaires (who fund Democratic candidates) versus Republican Party billionaires (who fund Republican candidates)? Has the electorate become virtually irrelevant, so that the Government now reflects only those billionaires, who fund whatever politicians serve billionaires’ personal interests? (And those personal interests are always wanting more tax-dollars to buy the weaponry that their armaments-firms make, and less to buy “social welfare programs,” such as Covid relief payments.)
Regardless of which side ends up winning on the Covid-19 relief law, that side will likely control the U.S. Government for a long time to come, because the other Party will be so politically damaged — discredited — by having lost this fight, which is a do-or-die battle between America’s Republicans and America’s Democrats.
Actually, however, Democrats have far more “skin in this game” (or at stake) in this battle, than Republicans do, because Democrats care vastly more about the coronavirus-issue than Republicans do. For example, on 21 October 2020 (which was already well into the “second wave”), Pew bannered “Only 24% of Trump supporters view the coronavirus outbreak as a ‘very important’ voting issue” and reported that, “the widest differences are on the importance of the coronavirus outbreak. About eight-in-ten Biden supporters (82%) say the coronavirus will be very important to their vote, compared with just 24% of Trump supporters.” Consequently, if Biden and congressional Democrats cave on this, then they are actually not serious about winning on it. By contrast, this issue is, indeed, a do-or-die matter for Democratic Party voters. Whereas congressional Republicans can afford to lose on it, both Biden and congressional Democrats simply cannot (without greatly weakening their Party).
Normally, America’s two Parties play a ‘good cop’ versus ‘bad cop’ routine with each other, in which both Parties represent positions that are acceptable to all of America’s billionaires, who provide most of the money that’s donated in political campaigns (and it’s the decisive money, so that the politicians usually “compromise” upon a policy, which represents the billionaires’ views — such a “compromise” represents only billionaires, regardless of which ‘Party’ wins). But that deceit won’t be able to work for Democratic Party politicians, this time around, though it still could work for Republican ones, since those voters don’t care nearly as much about Covid-19. Therefore, a Republican capitulation on it wouldn’t be fatal for the Party. To them, it would be only a minor loss. But a Democratic capitulation on it could sink Biden’s Presidency and any Democrat who participated in such a capitulation. Democratic Party voters would find such a capitulation very hard to accept, and progressives who might challenge capitulationists on it, in Democratic Party primaries in 2022 and 2024, would therefore stand outstanding likelihoods of winning.
In the past, Democratic Party voters (just like Republican Party voters) continued voting for the Party no matter how bad it became; but, this time, that might turn out not to be the case. This time, “bipartisanship” could actually sink the Democratic Party — or else cause it to replace lots of its incumbent ‘moderate’ or ‘centrist’ office-holders. (After all: Biden was supposed to be the ‘moderate’ or ‘centrist’ candidate in the Democratic Party Presidential primaries; so, this is not as if there would be a compromise being sought between congressional Republicans and a President Bernie Sanders. Democrats had already made their compromises, when they voted for Biden in the 2020 Democratic Party primaries. He was ‘Mr. centrist’; and, so, compromising with the Republicans now would only move the Democratic Party itself even farther toward the right, and thus away from what the Party’s voters want.)
Furthermore, on Sunday, January 24th, “according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday, … the more than two-thirds of Americans who approve of his [Biden’s] leadership on the coronavirus includes 40% of Republicans — a notably high level of support from across the aisle a year into the pandemic. An overwhelming 97% of Democrats and 70% of independents also back Biden’s management of the crisis in his early days in office.” Question #1 in that poll was “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Joe Biden is handling the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19)?” 69% answered “Approve.” 29% answered “Disapprove.” Only 2% did neither. The pollsters said: “Four in five (81%) support federal mask requirements, including nearly all Democrats (99%) and a majority of Republicans and Independents (59% and 83%, respectively).” Another poll, issued the following day (on January 25th) found that 59% of Republican voters “support” Biden’s proposed Covid-relief spending amount, of $1.9 trillion. In other words: there is overwhelming public support for the announced Covid-relief proposals by Biden. If he refuses to instruct his Party-leadership in Congress to do whatever they must do in order to defeat the Republicans on this, then he is accepting defeat not only of himself, but of the overwhelming majority of Americans who support his announced plan. Why would he do something like that? Perhaps in order to satisfy his political mega-donors (who made him the President)? It would enormously weaken the Democratic Party.
Also on the 24th, The Hill bannered “Biden officials hold call with bipartisan group of senators on coronavirus relief plan”. Then, on January 25th they headlined “Moderates vow to ‘be a force’ under Biden”, and reported that,
“The numbers are so tight. All of us want this place to work. We’ve got a golden opportunity to make it work, we really do. And our bipartisan, bicameral group [the most strongly billionaire-controlled members of Congress] is going to be a force, and when I say a force, we’re going to try to find that middle,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), the most outspoken Senate Democratic centrist.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), another member of the group, said their objective was to “try to get results and avoid a lot of the stalemates that we’ve had in the past.”
In the House, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus added 16 new members, bringing its total to 56 members.
Either Biden wants not to beat the Republicans on this, or else he is willing to compromise in ways that Republicans have never done in this century — or both. But regardless of what the reason is, the indications, as of the fifth day of his Presidency, were that his Presidency would become a colossal failure — not only for the American people, but also for his own Party. After all: he would then be ‘compromising’ even to the right of most Republican voters, on this matter. And whom would he then actually be serving, in order to do that?
As was said earlier here: “The victorious side will probably control Biden’s Presidency. Either the Democrats will outlast the Republicans, who will be profoundly embarrassed, or else the Republicans will outlast the Democrats, who will be profoundly embarrassed.” Furthermore: “Democrats have far more ‘skin in this game’ (or at stake) in this battle, than Republicans do, because Democrats care vastly more about the coronavirus-issue than Republicans do.” However, despite all of that, there seems to be no public indication that the leading congressional Democrats actually want to win this battle. They — and not congressional Republicans — appear set to become politically very embarrassed, and defeated, in whatever Covid-19 legislation becomes passed. As the progressive Democrat and investigative journalist David Sirota headlined, about this, on January 26th, “Reminder: This Never Ends Well. Signals of retreat on the $2,000 checks echo Democrats’ disastrous surrender on the public option in 2009.”
Furthermore, the Brookings Institution, in its detailed article about eliminating Senate filibusters, noted that, “For his part, Biden told reporters in July that ‘depend[ing] on how obstreperous [Republicans] become … I think you’re going to just have to take a look’ at abolishing the procedure.” So, Biden certainly has to be aware, by now, that he must demand that the Senate’s leader, Democrat Charles Schumer, not only take the Nuclear Option, but go all the way to abolishing filibusters altogether, for anything — ending the practice, altogether. If Biden won’t go for a democratic (and that means majority-rule, on all matters except where the Constitution itself specifies instead a two-thirds majority) Senate, then Biden’s Presidency will inevitably fail. Apparently, he’s aware of this, himself. The choice is his to make, but he would need to make clear to the public that Senate filibusters are anti-democratic and need to be eliminated altogether. Only then could he put the pressure on Schumer to get it done. This is the time to do it.
If any of America’s billionaires who invested millions of dollars in getting Biden into the White House wants really to beat the Republican Party, then why are none of them now flooding their ‘news’ media with articles and commentaries making clear that this issue is do-or-die for Biden’s Presidency? Why isn’t Biden himself saying he’s going to beat congressional Republicans on Covid-19 policy — not compromise with them on it? What does all of this ‘bipartisanship’ indicate about the political reality in today’s America? Is this political reality (the fakery of ‘bipartisanship’) what’s being reported on by America’s mainstream ‘news’ media? Or, are Americans being informed of it (that it is fake), instead, only in independent news-media, such as publish the present article?
For any Party, there actually are some things on which they will not compromise. If Covid-19 policy isn’t one of those policy-issues for a Democratic President and for all Democrats in Congress, at a time like this, then what does that Party actually stand for? If they will capitulate on this, then what won’t they capitulate on? That is why this issue will constitute a historical turning-point in American politics. It is a very stark test of American ‘democracy’. It is that, if anything is. Will the U.S. Government pass this test, of whether or not this nation is a democracy? Will the American people get the coronavirus-policy that all the polls show that they overwhelmingly want? Perhaps the answer will be clear on this, within the next week or two.
Author’s note: first posted at Strategic Culture
Was Trump better for the world than Biden, after all?
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.
Biden’s worrisome construct of security and self-defense in the first year of his term
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.
Biden’s credibility restoration plan
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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