for the first time. His speech
was a confusing combination of boasts followed by lines that refuted those boasts.
Here is an attempt to decode some of the biggest confusions.
We Are Not Seeking a New Cold War
Biden made the claim that America is neither “seeking a new Cold War”
nor trying to divide the world up “into rigid blocks.” He then made
at least seven statements that refuted that claim.
He referred to the US as a hegemon, or at least a superpower, when he referred
to “the commitment of my new administration to help lead the world.”
His very next statement was that the US is “fixing our eyes” on the
key challenges of the future, including “managing the shifts in global
power dynamics.” “Managing” is a euphemism, and “shifts
in global power dynamics” is an allusion to China. The two combined equal
the very Cold War that Biden denies he is seeking.
Biden continued his coded threats of Cold War with China when he spoke of “renewing
and defending democracy.” His political philosophy claim that “government
by and for the people is still the best way to deliver for all of our people”
sounds expected and harmless from an American president until you decode it
by remembering that Biden recently framed the
new Cold War battle as “a battle between the utility of democracies
in the 21st century and autocracies.” Our “children or grandchildren,”
he said, “are going to be doing their doctoral thesis on the issue of who
succeeded, autocracy or democracy.”
In case anyone missed the coded allusion, Biden provided the key to refuting
his own claim when he said that the US is turning “our focus to the priorities
and the regions of the world, like the Indo-Pacific, that are most consequential
today and tomorrow.” The US will do that, by the way, “with our allies
and partners,” though the Biden administration is “not seeking . .
. a world divided into rigid blocs.” Biden does not want to divide the
world into blocs, but he has “prioritized rebuilding our alliances, revitalizing
our partnerships, and recognizing they’re essential and central to America’s
enduring security and prosperity.” No more blocs, but America has “reaffirmed
our sacred NATO Alliance to Article 5 commitment.” Article
5 is the collective defense article that means that “an attack against
one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies.”
Though Biden says he is not seeking Cold War style blocs, he simultaneously
boasts that he has “elevated the Quad partnership among Australia, India,
Japan, and the United States,” a partnership whose purpose is to counter
China. Biden might also have mentioned the new AUKUS alliance between the US,
UK and Australia, which the White House defined
as “an enhanced trilateral security partnership.” AUKUS will “foster
deeper integration of security and defense-related science, technology, industrial
bases, and supply chains. And in particular, we will significantly deepen cooperation
on a range of security and defense capabilities.” Its first way of promoting
“deeper information and technology sharing” is to provide Australia
with nuclear-powered submarines whose only advantage is that they
are superior for offensive attacks and not defensive needs.
We Are Opening a New Era of Relentless Diplomacy
Biden says that his is the era of diplomacy. But his diplomacy with China has
been the diplomacy of provocation in Taiwan punctuated by military provocation.
diplomacy in Cuba has been absent. There has been no diplomacy in Venezuela.
In Ukraine, diplomacy comes wrapped in a package of $60
million of security assistance. The easy diplomacy in Iran is on hold, and
the Middle East is not even on the horizon.
Artificial Intelligence and Cyberattacks
Biden promised a world of safe technology. “As new technologies continue
to evolve, we’ll work together with our democratic partners to ensure that new
advances in areas from biotechnology, to quantum computing, 5G, artificial
intelligence, and more are used to lift people up, to solve problems, and advance
human freedom – not to suppress dissent or target minority communities.”
He added that his administration is “working to establish clear rules of
the road for all nations as it relates to cyberspace.” Except for them.
The US has participated in cyber attacks on Iran’s civilian nuclear facilities.
And lest you think America has outgrown its flirtation with cyber attacks and
artificial intelligence, new reporting
by the New York Times has established that the Israeli assassination
of Iran’s Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was carried out by the very latest in artificial
intelligence, a “straight-out-of-science-fiction . . . high-tech, computerized
sharpshooter kitted out with artificial intelligence . . . operated via satellite.”
The 2020 remote-controlled robot killing was approved by the Trump administration.
Brazenly, Biden promised a world where every country has the right to access
to global trade: “We will pursue new rules of global trade and economic
growth that strive to level the playing field so that it’s not artificially
tipped in favor of any one country at the expense of others and every nation
has a right and the opportunity to compete fairly.” Every country except
the at least nineteen who are currently under US sanctions.
US sanctions have cost
Cuba over $130 billion. In Venezuela, US sanctions have killed
an estimated 40,000 people. And, despite the promise of diplomacy, Biden has
insistently continued these sanctions. American sanctions are a key means of
denying nations the “right and the opportunity to compete fairly.”
Biden assured the world that the US would continue “support for arms control
measures.” But, in violation of their Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) promise to “pursue negotiations in good
faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at
an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete
disarmament under strict and effective international control,” the US is
on acquiring more than 600 ground-based strategic deterrent intercontinental
ballistic missiles. A “new weapon of mass destruction,” this massive
nuclear missile will be able to travel 6,000 miles and carry “a warhead
more than 20 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
It will be able to kill hundreds of thousands of people in a single shot.”
The US is also facilitating other countries in violation of its NPT obligation
not to “assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear-weapon State to manufacture
or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons.” Biden just reaffirmed
the strategic understanding with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel
not to “press Israel to join the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty or give
up its alleged nuclear arsenal.” The recent promise to provide Australia
with nuclear-powered submarines also “undermine[s] the nonproliferation
to Frank von Hippel, senior research physicist at Princeton University and
a specialist in nuclear power, nuclear energy and nuclear arms control and proliferation.
Working With Iran
Biden renewed his vow to negotiate with Iran and return to compliance with
the JCPOA nuclear agreement. “We are working with the P5+1 to engage Iran
diplomatically and seek a return to the JCPOA. We’re prepared to return
to full compliance if Iran does the same.” But that vow has been broken.
Iran waited for months for Biden to return to negotiations. Instead, the US
has refused to end all of the illegal sanctions. Iran
has promised from the first day of the Biden presidency that if the US returned
to compliance by ending sanctions, Iran
would return to compliance – they are actually not out of compliance – by
reversing all of the “remedial measures it has taken in the wake of Trump’s
withdrawal from the nuclear deal.” The US has also refused Iran’s not unreasonable
request that they guarantee
they will not simply abandon the agreement again.
Biden noted the unfairness of the rich growing richer while the poor grow poorer.
“Around the world,” he said, “we’re increasingly seeing citizens
demonstrate their discontent seeing the wealthy and well-connected grow richer
and richer.” Around the world? What about at home? The US is the fifty-fourth
worst country in the world for wealth inequality, or the gap between the rich
and the poor, just behind Haiti. Canada is 73 places ahead of the US. The UK
is 56 places ahead, France is 87 places ahead and Norway is 110 ahead.
As for the rich growing richer, a
recent analysis found that, while the average American household paid 14%
in federal taxes each year, the 25 richest Americans paid only 3.4%. While Jeff
Bezos earned $99 billion between 2014 and 2018, he paid only 0.98% in taxes
(he paid none in 2007).
Middle East Peace
Biden put a Middle-East peace on the list, and then took it away in his next
sentence. “I continue to believe that a two-state solution is the best
way to ensure Israel – Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state living
in peace alongside a viable, sovereign, and democratic Palestinian state.”
That may be his belief. But his actions are different: “We’re a long way
from that goal at this moment, but we must never allow ourselves to give up
on the possibility of progress.”
Biden’s revocation of the hope is consistent with his earlier policy statements.
Middle-East peace is on hold and not being prioritized because, for the Biden
is not a priority. Secretary of State Antony
Blinken has formulated it this way: “I don’t think we’re at the – in
a place where the getting to some kind of negotiation for what ultimately I
think has to be the result, which is a two-state solution, is the first order
So, to decode Biden’s paradoxical statement, there is a belief in a two-state
solution and a Middle-East peace plan but no hope for one and no plan to pursue
“The democratic world is everywhere,” Biden celebrated. “It
lives in the anti-corruption activists, the human rights defenders, the journalists,
the peace protesters on the frontlines of this struggle” in several countries.
One of the countries he singled out is Venezuela.
But the people of Venezuela have repeatedly elected Hugo Chavez and Nicolás
Maduro in democratic elections certified as fair. Venezuela has democracy; Biden
just doesn’t like the results of that democracy. It is the majority in Washington
and not the majority in Venezuela that supports Juan Guaidó’s coup government
in Venezuela and has long desires a new government.
Secretary of State Blinken has called
for “an effective policy that can restore Venezuela to democracy.” But
the people of Venezuela think they have democracy. State Department spokesman
Ned Price confirmed that the US continues to recognize
Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president. But the people of Venezuela
overwhelming spurn him and think Maduro is their president. Secretary
of State Blinken supports “Interim President Juan Guaidó,”
stressing the need for “free and fair elections.” But the people of
Venezuela think Maduro is their president, and the international observers think
they do have “free and fair elections.”
Time after time, Biden refuted his statements with his very next statement.
Time after time his rhetoric was detached from reality. Time after time his
meaning becomes clear only after it is decoded.
Ted Snider has a graduate
degree in philosophy and writes on analyzing patterns in US foreign policy and