Joe Biden in the White House – no illusions

Sculpture José Resende/ “Calota" Manipulation 2: office/ Rio de Janeiro


We must remember the torrent of illusory expectations that sparked the triumph of Barack Obama in 2008

It may seem like vain advice, but we must remember the torrent of illusory expectations that sparked the triumph of Barack Obama in 2008. on the eve of the inauguration of his term, were quickly silenced as soon as the African American got to work (backed by Joe Biden) and undertook enormous efforts to save the banks from the “subprime mortgage crisis”, forgetting the millions who were deceived by those. Given that some litanies similar to those of 2008 are already being heard, although with a more softened tone, it seems opportune to remember these precedents so as not to fall into new – and predictable – frustrations.

Biden arrives at the White House with a more ethnically heterogeneous team than Donald Trump, almost entirely composed of white men. But in all cases they are people who, in addition to their ethnic and cultural diversity, are closely linked to the great American capital. The State Department will be headed by Anthony Blinken, a moderate hawk, but a hawk nonetheless, who believes his country should have strengthened its presence in Syria to avoid Russia's arrival. Blinken supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the armed intervention in Libya that culminated in the destruction of that country and the lynching of Muammar al-Gaddafi. He said that "force must be a necessary complement to diplomacy", in line with traditional US thinking. establishment. So make no mistake.

The head of the Pentagon proposed by Biden is an African descendant, Lloyd Austin, a four-star general with 41 years of activity in the Army, whose ratification in the Senate could be compromised for two reasons. First, because the law states that this position can only be held by a military member who has been out of service for at least seven years, and Austin only left in 2016. Second, because until recently he was a member of the Board of Directors of Raytheon, a of the giants of the military-industrial complex, a major supplier to the US armed forces. In addition, Austin, a man with a good nose for business, is also a partner in an investment fund dedicated to the purchase and sale of military equipment. Small incompatibilities, say the hegemonic media, always so complacent with what happens in Washington.

The second echelon of the State Department has as its star figure, in the position of Undersecretary for Political Affairs, none other than Victoria Nuland. This character is a super-falcon that, in Kiev's Euromaidan Square, encouraged and distributed bottles of water and sweets to the hordes (similar to those that devastated the Capitol on January 6 in Washington) that besieged the administrative headquarters of Ukraine and, in February 2014 overthrew the legitimate government of that country. A telephone conversation between the US ambassador to Ukraine and Nuland, unexpectedly leaked to the press, will forever remain in the annals of diplomatic history because when the former let him know that the European Union was not in agreement with the overthrow of the government of Viktor Yanukovych, Nuland replied with a dry “Fuck the European Union!” It is not superfluous to add that this beautiful person is married to Robert Kagan, the ultra-right author of several books in which he extols the Manifest Destiny of the United States, unabashedly defends the Israeli occupation of Palestine and censures European governments for their cowardice in accompanying the United States in its universal civilizing crusade. All in family.

As if the above were not enough to dispel any hopes regarding presidential replacement in the United States, I will end with two quotations from an article published by Joe Biden in the magazine Foreign Affairs [1]. The title is “Why America Must Lead Again: Rescuing Foreign Policy After Trump,” and there he launches an angry attack on Russia and China. Of the first, he says Russian civil society courageously resists oppression by “Vladimir Putin's authoritarian system and kleptocracy”. As for China, he reaffirms the need to “harden our policy” in relation to the Asian giant. Otherwise, he assures, China will continue “stealing technology and intellectual property” from our companies. [2].

It is difficult that, with people like the ones he recruited for key positions in his administration and with rhetoric like the one that emerges from his fist and handwriting, the world can breathe calmly and trust that, now without Trump, the tensions in the international system will decrease significantly.

*Atilio A. Borón is professor of political science at the University of Buenos Aires. Author, among other books, of Minerva's Owl (Voices).

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.

Translator's notes

[1] In Foreign Affairs, v. 99, no. 2, pp. 64-76, March-April 2020.

[2] Journalist Rick Gladstone, in an article published in New York Times of November 7, 2020, following his article in Foreign Affairs, claims that Biden referred to Xi Jinping as “a bully”.

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