The US President Joe Biden spoke to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine. The video call which reportedly ran for more than two hours comes at a crucial juncture as many experts claim this event marks the dawn of a new world order.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought the United States and China face to face on yet another issue.
Washington has left no stone unturned to ensure Russia suffers for invading its ally Ukraine, whether economically or diplomatically. It has not just imposed a fresh series of crushing sanctions on Moscow and those who would engage in any military or economic activity with it, but has also built a coalition against it by getting its allies and neutral nations to support the Resolution against Russia in the United Nations Security Council.
China, on the other hand, has presented an ambivalent stance. While abstaining from voting against Russia and blaming the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) for their expansionist activities in Eastern Europe which threatened Russia’s ‘legitimate security interests’ as the main reason behind the invasion, Beijing referred to the Russian act as an “invasion” instead of using the term “special military operation” put forth by the Kremlin. The use of the term “invasion” subtly criticises the Russian act as it goes against the spirit of the United Nations Charter which China claims to faithfully uphold.
Then, it subtly shifted its stance when Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi spoke to the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on call where he described Russian invasion as a “war”.
Following Russia’s oustal from international banking network SWIFT, China has put on halt all activities of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and National Development Bank (NDB) concerning Russia, while avoiding openly criticising Moscow.
A Crucial Juncture
The Biden-Xi interaction comes at a crucial juncture in international politics which many experts have labelled the beginning of a new international order, marked not just by the return of Russia as a leading power on the international security front but also the one where authoritarian governments pose a direct threat to liberal democracies. The Russian invasion has also shuddered Europe which since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 has been spared any major turbulence.
Moreover, the Kremlin’s threat to use nuclear weapons if its ‘national interests and security’ is ‘threatened’ has further pushed the world to the edge of a situation with unimaginable consequences.
As Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, reports have surfaced that it has reached out to China to provide military support, which both Moscow and Beijing have denied.
What was discussed?
In the video call as per the White House Readout of the conversation, Biden outlined Washington’s intentions to take action against Russia and expressed his preference for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. He also expressed the “implications and consequences” that China might invite if it provides material support to Russia in attacking the Ukrainian civilians.
However, certain details escaped the White House version and found mention in the reportage of Xinhua, the official media of the People’s Republic of China. Xinhua reported that Biden clarified American intentions of not letting tensions between Washington and Beijing escalate into a new Cold War, not to pursue any coalition against China and not to vouch for Taiwan’s independence. He highlighted the importance of communication with China in order to deal with the recent developments.
While supporting the need to communicate with each other, Xi stated that both China and the US need to “shoulder responsibility to the international community”. He affirmed humanitarian support for Ukraine but also emphasised on the need for Washington and its allies to engage in diplomatic talks with Russia. Xi quoted the Chinese saying “Let he who tied the bell on the tiger take it off” (“解铃还须系铃人”) to subtly criticise Washington for contributing to the build up that led to the Russian invasion. Even in affirming his support for peace and stability, Xi did not leave Putin aside. He also targeted the sanctions against Moscow by claiming that it would adversely affect the common people.
While both Biden and Xi saw the video meet as a “constructive” development, their diametrically opposite stances could not be concealed.
A “Rock Solid Friendship”
Wang Yi referred to the China-Russia friendship as “rock solid”, stating that the two sides had “very vast” prospects for future cooperation while blaming the West for “adding fuel to the fire” in the “complex” situation in Ukraine. He highlighted Beijing’s readiness to mediate in the process. China has also referred to Russia as its “most important strategic partner”.
Just days before invading Ukraine, Putin visited Beijing for the Winter Olympics amidst a diplomatic boycott from the United States and its allies where he highlighted the importance of the “mutually beneficial energy partnership” that Moscow and Beijing share. He noted that the two were on the course of developing bilateral trade worth $200 billion a year with 65 investments in mining, mineral processing, infrastructure, etc. worth $120 billion already in the pipeline.
Does it mean military help to Moscow?
Not really. Even while standing beside Putin, Xi is unlikely to send troops in his aid and the reasons can broadly be understood as domestic, economic, diplomatic, political and geostrategic considerations.
Domestic opinion has not been in favour of sending troops abroad for issues that do not concern China and its security interests directly and loss of human life in such expeditions is bound to pose a major challenge to the Communist Party leadership.
Economically too, China is bound to suffer if it supports Moscow with troops. Unlike Russia, China has economic investments across the globe which would be adversely affected if sanctions are imposed on it, especially as strict lockdowns amidst a new surge in Covid cases is bound to slow economic growth. The last thing favourable to Beijing in this situation would be any further turbulence.
Beijing would suffer diplomatically too. Its image has already been tarnished with allegations of human rights violations and expansionary motives. If it supports Moscow, it would further come under attack not just from the Western countries but also from nations which have traditionally been neutral. It would take years to rebuild a favourable image in that case.
The invasion comes just ahead of the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party, an event which has not fared well in the history of Communist Parties, considering it was the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
(CPSU) when Nikita Khrushchev put forth the agenda for ‘De-Stalinisation’ which sent shockwaves not just within the CPSU but Communist Parties across the world, which continued to weaken its authority till the demise of the USSR in 1991. It is said that many Chinese politicians of the CCP have voiced their opposition to the Russian invasion. With the Party Congress just around the corner, which Chinese politics experts consider an event when Xi Jinping would get himself elected for a third term, China’s military participation is likely to destabilise many plans and fuel factionalism.
There are geostrategic considerations as well. If Beijing joins the war, chances are high that the US and NATO might not be far behind. The Chinese army, though rapidly modernising, still lags behind the US army in terms of both technological prowess and battlefield experience. A defeat at the hands of the Western forces would not just be humiliating but would also prove to be a drain on financial resources.
What lies ahead?
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has presented both opportunities and challenges for Beijing.
Moscow’s actions pose a direct challenge not just to Washington but the whole liberal democratic order which acts in China’s favour. Moreover, the justification of unilateral invasions on the grounds of securing ‘legitimate security concerns’ aids China’s own claim of unification with Taiwan, in rhetoric at least if not action, in which it sees US as a major obstacle.
However, it comes with various challenges as noted above because of which it is not likely that Beijing would help Moscow militarily.
While the video conference between Biden and Xi is a welcome move, the situation demands much more than superficial chats and certainly not sabre rattling. The two must expand diplomatic negotiations with each other and must work actively to install peace.
Should the West Assume Collective Responsibility for the Failure of Biden’s Visit to Saudi Arabia?
In July of this year, Joe Biden visited Israel and Saudi Arabia for the first time as US president. It is well known that the primary goal of the trip was to persuade Saudi Arabia to increase oil production to alleviate the pressure caused by soaring global energy prices. Yet, it is worth remembering that when Biden punished Saudi Arabia for the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2019, he described it as a “pariah” country, adding that he had no short-term plans to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. It is therefore unsurprising that Biden received fierce criticism, not only for failing to encourage Saudi Arabia to increase oil production, but also for fist bumping MBS. Nevertheless, some argue that the criticism is unwarranted. After all, it was the West as a whole that put Biden in such an awkward position.
Biden’s Recalibration of Saudi Policy Criticized by both Realists and Moralists
Simply put, political leaders often face the dilemma of either preserving their nation’s interests or upholding morality when handling international affairs. Realists tend to emphasize that political leaders inevitably need to negotiate with dictators in order to protect the interests of their citizens; human rights activists/moralists stress that political leaders must draw a clear line with dictators who have poor human rights records and should not betray the victims of said dictators for the sake of economic or geopolitical gains.
On one hand, the Biden administration disclosed a confidential CIA report which concluded that the Saudi crown prince was behind the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. On the other hand, the US did not sanction MBS himself, only others involved in the killing. This response triggered criticism from both realists and moralists. Realists argued that infuriating MBS would be detrimental to the US in the foreseeable future, while moralists condemned the failure to impose direct punitive measures on MBS as hypocritical.
In terms of Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia, some realists feel that Biden was shooting himself in the foot, while other realists believe that Biden’s move may help US–Saudi relations in the long run, despite it being humiliating in the short term. From the perspective of prioritizing human rights, Biden’s meeting with MBS is seen as him going back on his word and surrendering to a dictator.
It is worth mentioning that Turkey played a significant part in putting Khashoggi’s murder under the spotlight; however, it is difficult to say if their motive for doing so was entirely altruistic. At the time, Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was being heavily criticized by the US for his country’s human rights abuses, with Turkey itself being the subject of US sanctions. The disclosure of Khashoggi’s murder could have been a calculated attempt to embarrass the US: if the US decided to punish Saudi Arabia, it would suffer geopolitical losses, but if it tolerated Saudi Arabia’s actions, it would show the world that the US had a double standard in terms of its response to human rights.
Turkey had also hoped to use the case to undermine Saudi leadership in the Muslim Sunni bloc. However, given Turkey’s rapid economic deterioration in recent months, it urgently needs to ease relations with neighboring countries. This is partly why Turkey suspended Khashoggi’s murder trial, handed over the case to Saudi Arabia in April, and welcomed MBS to Ankara in June. These are just a few examples of Turkey’s abandonment of justice for its own politico-economic gain. As such, Biden’s visit was a little less dishonorable than Erdogan’s behavior because the US has not lifted its sanctions. That said, since the US proclaims itself to be the leader in defending global human rights, Biden’s compromising has led to severe criticism.
The Energy and Climate Crisis is Not Only Biden’s Fault
Of course, it is unfair to solely blame the Biden administration for creating the major crises which are currently faced by the West. For example, Russia was suppressing dissident journalists and human rights activists long before its invasion of Ukraine; however, neither Europe or the US imposed comprehensive sanctions on them or accelerated its efforts towards energy independence to reduce reliance on Russia. Furthermore, after Khashoggi was murdered, no European state vowed to boycott Saudi Arabian energy as did the US. Hence, it can be said that Western leaders did not show much determination to reduce their dependence on the energy of authoritarian regimes in recent years.
By this standard, Biden is not necessarily more hypocritical than any other political leader in the Western bloc. The recent energy crisis caused by the West’s imposition of sanctions on Russia is, in fact, a result of their lengthy practice of “dealing with devils.” The moral responsibility, therefore, should be shared by their leaders collectively.
It should be added that the West’s foreign policy is often not purely driven by either human rights or interests. Indeed, the US and the EU are signatories of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the so-called “Iran Nuclear Deal”), despite Iran’s notorious record of executing dissidents over the past 35 years. The original intention of the agreement was to use trade normalization as bait to lure Iran into gradually abandoning its development of nuclear weapons and improving its domestic human rights. However, the West did not make the deal on the premise that Iran’s human rights would improve significantly or overnight, it made compromises.
Shortly after Donald Trump became President, he unilaterally withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal because he claimed that it was full of loopholes that allowed Iran to continue developing nuclear weapons in secret. Subsequently, Iran has been actively refining the enriched uranium needed for nuclear weapons, while its domestic hardline conservatives have fully regained political power in recent years.
The question of whether the threat from Iran was caused by Obama’s relaxation of sanctions or Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal has been a hotly debated topic. It is also worth mentioning that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his plan of “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People,” which allows Israel to occupy most of the West Bank, are based on contempt for Palestine.
The Legacy of Trump’s Middle East Policy Constrains Biden’s Options
Biden showed his intention to revise Trump’s Middle East policy on both the US presidential campaign trail and at the start of his presidency. However, evidence suggests that Trump’s policy has gradually taken root. In addition, the geopolitical situation has changed drastically. Therefore, it is difficult for Biden to simply act as he wants, and even if he did, the results would not seem effective either.
Of course, some left-wing critics argue that the climate crisis is precisely the result of over-consumption of non-renewable energy. Hence, instead of begging dictators to increase energy production amidst the current energy crisis, the Biden administration should use this opportunity to promote clean energy and reduce global greenhouse gases emissions, despite the pain it will cause people in the short term. That said, the US mid-term elections are approaching, and forcing voters to reduce their energy usage at such a time will only make things more difficult for the Biden-affiliated Democratic Party. Therefore, whether such an approach is prudent is up for debate.
Last but not least, the claim that “The US would not face such a passive geopolitical situation if Trump was re-elected as the US President” is an assertion that cannot be proved. Trump is well-known for his unpredictability and capriciousness in handling US foreign affairs, despite his consistent tough stance against Iran and his partiality to Israel and Saudi Arabia. Based on his previous actions, Trump might backtrack on Ukraine’s accession to NATO, claiming to support Ukraine’s right to join NATO, but then echoing others’ position against NATO expansion. He might also recklessly respond to Russia’s military threats, which would make the global situation even more precarious. Ultimately, both Trump’s loyal supporters and his adversaries can find examples that support their respective arguments, while simultaneously turning a blind eye to inconvenient truths.
An earlier Chinese version of this article appeared in print on July 25, 2022 in Section B, Page 11 of Ming Pao Daily News.
How Bolivia’s 2019 coup exemplified millennia of global history
Throughout thousands of years of human history, dictatorships have been the norm, not the exception, and all of them have been by the aristocracy, against the public. (Sometimes, the aristocrats are led by one person, a “monarch” or “Fuehrer” or etc.; but he or she then REPRESENTS the aristocracy, NOT the public.)
Aristocrats are the nation’s few super-rich; the public are everyone else.
Usually, the aristocracy ‘justifies’ its ‘superiority’ as being god-ordained, and they hire (donate to) some clergy to allege this in order to keep the public fighting for them and maybe dying for them, in their wars of conquest, against the aristocracies who control foreign lands. Another way to fool their publics is to declare that these conquests will ‘free’ those foreign publics by replacing their local aristocracy with the invading country’s aristocracy (a ‘better’ one; those others are instead being called “oligarchs”), and so creating an empire, which represents ‘us’ against the foreigners’ ‘them’, while also making those foreigners ‘free’ from their “oligarchs.” This is called ‘spreading democracy’.
Throughout thousands of years, aristocracies have operated this way, deceiving masses of people so as to create empires, which expand the local aristocracy’s thefts, from being merely thefts against their local public, to becoming thefts against an entire empire’s public (using those local “oligarchs” as their vassals).
Here is how this worked out recently in Bolivia:
On 11 November 2011, The U.S. White House issued this “Statement from President Donald J. Trump Regarding the Resignation of Bolivian President Evo Morales”:
The resignation yesterday of Bolivian President Evo Morales is a significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere. After nearly 14 years and his recent attempt to override the Bolivian constitution and the will of the people, Morales’s departure preserves democracy and paves the way for the Bolivian people to have their voices heard. The United States applauds the Bolivian people for demanding freedom and the Bolivian military for abiding by its oath to protect not just a single person, but Bolivia’s constitution. These events send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail. We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.
On 13 November 2019, the billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s Fox ‘News’ headlined “Bolivia interim president declares ‘Bible has returned to the palace’ amid growing uncertainty”, and reported
A day after brandishing a giant leather-bound Bible and declaring herself Bolivia’s interim president, Jeanine Añez set to the task of trying to steady a nation divided by bloody political disputes and create the stability necessary to organize national elections.
The 52-year-old second-vice president of the Senate claimed the presidency on Tuesday following the ousting of socialist leader Evo Morales due to alleged election fraud and resignations from several high-ranking successors that left a power void in the country.
“The Bible has returned to the government palace,” Añez declared as part of an effort to separate herself from Morales, who had banned the Bible from the site after he reformed the constitution and recognized an Andean earth deity instead of the Roman Catholic Church.
Then, two days later, on November 15th, Anti-War dot com bannered “Finally Got Him: The Bolivian Coup”, and reported:
The U.S. says it wasn’t a coup.
Trump’s official statement “applauds” the Bolivian regime change for preserving democracy. Trump identifies the event as “a significant moment in democracy” because it stymied Bolivian President Evo Morales’ attempt “to override the Bolivian constitution and the will of the people. …”
But all three White House claims are false: Morales didn’t go against the constitution, he didn’t override the will of the people and it was a coup.
If it wasn’t a coup, why was Morales forced from office by the military? Why was he driven out of office in Bolivia and into asylum in Mexico for the sake of his safety, while a coup leader announced that the police and military were hunting Morales down and putting Bolivia into lockdown? Why as he fled and sought asylum was his house ransacked, his sister’s house set on fire, and the families of his cabinet ministers kidnapped and held hostage until the ministers resigned? Though reported in the mainstream media as abandoning Morales, Victor Borda resigned as president of the Bolivian congress and resigned his position as MP because his brother was kidnapped to force him to do so.
If it wasn’t a coup, why did the opposition assume power before the legislature voted on approving Morales’ resignation as the constitution demands? Why did Jeanine Añez declare herself interim president in the absence of the quorum that is legally required to make that decision after meeting with the military high command for over an hour? And why did the opposition force Morales out and assume power before Morales’ term in office would end in January?
If it wasn’t a coup, why did Morales’ opponent, Carlos Mesa, begin his claims of fraud before the voting began, before he could know there had been any fraud? Why did Mesa insist, according to Mark Weisbrot, that he would not accept the election results if Morales wins long before the votes were even counted?
And why, perhaps most damningly, did a cabal of coup plotters discuss between October 8th and 10th – days ahead of the October 20th election – a plan for social disturbance that would prevent Morales from staying in power, as revealed by leaked audio of their conversations?
Then, on 24 July 2020, the Twitter site of an American centi-billionaire, Elon Musk, received a tweet from an “Armani” saying, “You know what wasnt in the best interest of people? the U.S. government organizing a coup against Evo Morales in Bolivia so you could obtain the lithium there.” Later that day, Musk replied:
Why, then, was the Bible being presented, on 13 November 2019, as the coup’s justification?
Not enough suckers would have been fooled to support this fascist coup as having been a fascist coup — a coup by an aristocracy. It was actually even a racist-fascist coup, a “nazi” coup (a coup by a racist aristocracy), which aimed to steal from the native-Indian masses in Bolivia, for the benefit of the supremacist-White aristocracy there, who were subordinates, or vassals, of America’s own overwhelmingly White aristocracy, its billionaires, such as the racist-fascist Elon Musk. Fox ‘News’ had broadcast that biblical display to its own overwhelmingly White Christian audience so as to portray that theft against Bolivians as having been in service to their god and consequently ‘justifiable’. It’s simply the way that aristocracies have functioned, for thousands of years.
Then, on 14 July 2022, the “Declassified UK” investigative-news site headlined “EVO MORALES: ‘WE LAMENT THE ENGLISH WERE CELEBRATING THE SIGHT OF DEAD PEOPLE’”, and delivered from Matt Kennard a terrific, linked-to-sources, extensive interview with the U.S.-UK-Bolivian aristocracy-overthrown former Bolivian President, who explained, as Kennard’s summary at its front stated:
• THE COUP: ‘The UK participated in it – all for lithium’
• THE BRITISH: ‘Superiority is so important to them, the ability to dominate’
• THE US: ‘Any relationship with them is always subject to conditions’
• NEW MODEL: ‘We no longer submit to transnational corporations’
• JULIAN ASSANGE: ‘The detention of our friend is an intimidation’
• NATO: ‘We need a global campaign to eliminate it’
• BOLIVIA: ‘We are putting anti-imperialism into practice’
Of course, the U.S./UK regime will be trying to reconquer Bolivia.
History teaches lots of lessons, to whomever in the public is open-minded to it and who is lucky enough to become exposed to its truths (despite the aristocracy’s overwhelming censorship against those truths — which are historical truths).
How Covert Talks Resurrected Joe Biden’s Programme and Stunned Washington
When news of President Joe Biden’s long-stalled domestic agenda broke out of Washington, it was the middle of the night in Saudi Arabia. Again.
The offender was well known. The enormous plan for the environment, taxes, and social safety net raised concerns from Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia. The news was received with annoyance and outrage in Jeddah, where Biden was holding tense meetings with Saudi leaders, but not astonishment.
Fortunes have changed after 13 days, two Covid infections, and a few acrimonious arguments. Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stunned the majority of Washington on Wednesday when they revealed that they had reached an agreement on a version of Biden’s protracted climate, energy, and tax agenda after restarting their negotiations in secret four days after they had broken down.
Manchin was sure to underline that the bill’s previous name, Build Back Better, had been dropped. It is less than half the size of Biden’s original bill. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is anything but a done deal because Republicans are uniformly opposed and several Democrats in the Senate and House have not yet signed on.
But the accord gave ambitions that many Democrats had mostly set aside fresh life after appearing dormant for months. The President’s legislative prospects are improving after a bill to increase US computer chip manufacture was passed on Thursday.
On Wednesday, after mostly giving up on formal meetings with Manchin after witnessing the senator repeatedly thwart his agenda, Biden spoke to the senator, who is spending time alone in the West Virginia highlands with Covid. Since December, they had not made a formal call on the Democratic agenda.
A day later, when news of the unexpected events was being announced in the State Dining Room of the White House, Biden observed, “The job of the government may be slow, frustrating, and sometimes even aggravating.” “For those who don’t give up, the hours, days, and months of arduous work eventually pay off. It is accomplished. Life is altered.”
The agreement on taxes and climate change was nearly entirely negotiated in secrecy, so when it was revealed on Wednesday in the late afternoon, many people were caught off guard. Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota tweeted, “Holy shit.” “Stunned—in a good way, nonetheless.”
That mindset was a far cry from the Democratic Party’s attitude on July 14, when Manchin publicly undermined the energy and climate policies that had been the cornerstone of the Biden administration’s commitment to drastically cut carbon emissions.
The President’s domestic agenda suffered a setback two weeks ago, but the White House was hardly surprised given how frequently it had been dying during the previous year. By that time, senior administration officials had developed a highly dubious perspective on the discussions between Manchin and Schumer about restarting the President’s plans.
Biden had been largely exempted from the conversations, as he was quick to note himself.
When a reporter questioned whether Joe Manchin was negotiating in good faith on July 15 inside the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Jeddah, he responded, “I didn’t bargain with Joe Manchin.”
“I don’t know.” Concerns were raised regarding the most recent inflation statistics by the Senate’s most conservative Democrat. According to a report on July 14, inflation reached a 40-year high in June, rising 9.1 percent over the previous year.
Manchin recalled the meeting he had with Schumer after the two had been in secret discussions about renewing Biden’s climate agenda for three months: “When that 9.1 came in, I said, ‘I can’t, I just can’t do it.'” At that point, Chuck became irate.
It wasn’t always a cool, collected conversation.
Manchin admitted that occasionally his temper gets the better of him and that certain people had “let the dogs out” on him because he allegedly walked away from the agreement.
But by the next week, the two senators had cooled things down. On July 18, Manchin asked Schumer if he was still furious as they passed one another in a hallway of the Capitol.
“This is ludicrous,” I responded,” Manchin spoken. “Check our calibration and see if there is anything we can do. To his credit, he responds, “OK.”
Manchin approached Schumer that day with an offer: “Can we work together and attempt to put together a bill?” Schumer said at a news conference on Thursday. But even then, the timetable was hazy.
Manchin had previously stated that he would wait until he saw the inflation data for August before taking any action on the climate until September. Manchin was told unequivocally by Schumer that a climate agreement needed to be completed before then. I told them, “We’re not waiting for September as long as we finish it in August,” Schumer said.
Despite Manchin’s initial opposition, Schumer persisted with proposals that the West Virginian could back. The aide claimed that the senator eventually returned and expressed his willingness to proceed with an August deadline.
He made a few promises and gave some concessions that helped win his support. Tax increases on Americans with high incomes, which were supported by Biden and other Democrats, were excluded from the final bill. And Manchin has made it clear that he would not have joined the effort unless Democratic leaders made a commitment to pass legislation dealing with energy infrastructure permitting, which might make it easier for a shale gas pipeline in West Virginia.
Meanwhile, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers privately contacted Manchin to explain that the agreement would not increase inflation but would instead be deflationary. Summers had already offered early inflation warnings last year, frequently to the chagrin of the Biden administration.
In a CNN interview, Summers refrained from commenting on his private chats but provided reassurance in response to concerns that the law might increase inflation. He added on “New Day” that the bill “fights inflation and has a whole series of collateral advantages as well.”
Summers wasn’t the only one working behind the scenes for Manchin.
Sen. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat from Colorado, informed reporters that the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania was providing analysis of the tax and climate pact to him and his staff.
Hickenlooper told reporters, “We knew that (Manchin) trusted Wharton and that he’d utilized that for modeling before. “So we asked them to act out this. After doing that, we received modeling indicating that this is not at all inflationary, and we submitted that to Joe.”
Hickenlooper claimed he was seeking to add to the chorus of voices persuading Manchin that the agreement will lower inflation. Similar arguments were being made by other senators, such as Chris Coons of Delaware, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, and Smith, according to Hickenlooper.
Hickenlooper said, “I was listening to whatever Joe indicated he had a problem with, and I was trying to fix it. I believed him when he said that inflation was the issue and that the rest could be resolved.
Senior officials at the White House were purposefully kept out of direct discussions despite being aware that important ones were taking place, according to administration aides. People close to Biden have been reluctant to involve him in yet another round of political battle for fear that talks would again break down.
In a radio appearance on Thursday, Manchin stated that “President Biden was not involved.” “I wasn’t going to let the President in because I didn’t think it was fair, and this situation very possibly could have been avoided. It had every chance of going wrong. I had to check to see if this was doable.”
It wasn’t until the very end of the deal that White House officials received a thorough reading of its contents. One insider told CNN that it was “extremely well-kept secret.”
Biden and Manchin both contracted Covid over the past few days as the deal was coming together. Manchin was alone in his home state’s mountains while Biden worked from the White House.
By Wednesday, Manchin and Schumer had reached an understanding; they made the announcement just after the Senate passed the legislation pertaining to computer chips. Since Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had pledged to reject the microchip measure if Democrats introduced a package containing Biden’s agenda, several people considered the timing to be less than fortuitous.
According to Senate Republican Whip John Thune, “I think everyone got startled, definitely by claims that had been made by Democrats about this arrangement, and I believe there was some level of folks getting ambushed — not only on our side but on the Democrats’ side.”
You’ll have to speak with McConnell about that, he responded when asked if he handled the transaction well.
Democrats face what is likely still an uphill battle in gaining enough support for the package, even among members of their own party, despite their celebrations on Thursday. Schumer assured Democrats Thursday in a speech delivered behind closed doors that they were ready to enact measures they had been discussing for years.
The next 10 days will require us to stick together and put in long days and nights, he stated. “We must maintain focus and discipline in our messaging. It’ll be difficult.”
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