Bad Biden Foreign Policy

Yves here. While Rosser is correct to depict Biden foreign policy as an ongoing train wreck (Rahm to Japan? Hard to imagine anyone temperamentally less well suited to dealing with that culture), he oddly neglected to highlight the latest splat: AUKUS.

This deal was not just a diss of India but also a threat. Indian diplomats have said not in diplospeak but plain noun-verb sentences that this move made clear the US wasn’t much of a friend and maybe getting cozier with China would be a smart move. And that’s before Biden eating a ton of crow for blindsiding France. The White House call report shows Biden initiated the conversation with Macron, offered to meet in Europe in October (double pronto given how crowded presidential calendars are) and effectively endorsed a pet Macron initiative, an EU army.

Oh, and unlike the other Biden mistakes, AUKUS isn’t a continuation of Trump policies.

By Barkley Rosser, Professor of Economics at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Originally published at EconoSpeak

I have posted on this previously, but not for awhile. The main meme is that for reasons I mostly do not get, Biden has been carrying over a lot of bad Trump foreign policies. Some of them I understand for political reasons, even when they damage the US and world economies. But others seem to be just plain stupid. I am not sure who in his admin are behind these failrures: SecState Blinken? NSA Sullivan? Of course in the end this stuff comes down to Biden himself, someone with much greater foreign policy experience than those two or anybody else in the admin. So failures really come down to him.

The worst, although it gets little news attention, is Iran. Biden ran on getting back into the Obama-negotiated nuclear JCPOA deal. He should have done so quickly. Yes, there were timing details to negotiate, but apparently those were negotiated. Somehow somebody decided that they should push for crap that Trump wanted but which was dumped when the deal was originally negotiated with great effort, stuff like missile restrictions and Iran support for groups abroad. Anybody who knew anything about this, like me, knew that this stuff was still non-negotiable. So why on earth Blinken et al insisted on Iran caving on any of this was utterly insane and stupid. They could have gotten this deal early, and it would not have triggered anywhere near the negative response the pullout from Afghanistan got (which I supported, but there was no way that was going to happen without a lot of bad publicity and damage in the polls, which has happened). He could have done this cleanly early with minimal fuss. But, no, and now it looks not to be done anywhere in the foreseeable future, and Iran has now accumulated nearly enough U fuel to make a bomb. And I read the admin is now looking to Israel for advice on this? This is a serious and massive failure on Biden’s part. I do not agree with Hannity that he is outright senile, but this border line there, really seriously awful and stupid.

Another is the trade issue. Yeah, this is complicated, and I get that Biden is being domestically political. So Obama and Biden negotiated the anti-China TTP, but Trump pulled out, and Hillary would have also, under domestic pressure. Now China is asking to join this actually existing trade group, with the US unbelievably stupidly out. So indeed many in the Dem Party are protectionist, especially those associated with AFL-CIO. And Biden is very close to this faction. But steel tariffs hurt autoworkers in Ohio, with the shutdown at Lordstown partly due to Trump’s steel tariffs. But the idiot workers there still supported Trump for standing up for them or whatever. So in OH it is steel producing Youngstown and Cleveland versus auto producing Lordstown, Akron, and Toledo, but no way any of them will not support protectionism and Trump. So why does Biden support this idiocy? I think in the end it is Pennsylvania, his home state, which is the ultimate steel producing state, with no autos. So, in political terms understandable given what a key state his original home is.

There is much more unfortunately.

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    I think its fair to say that even Biden’s worse detractors at least expected basic competence in foreign policy, but for all those reasons and others, its clear even this low bar isn’t being reached. The only really sound decision made so far is to get out of Afghanistan, and yet even that was mishandled.

    For any country the worst thing is not to be incompetent in foreign affairs, but to be seen to be incompetent, and it is increasingly being noticed around the world that the US is no longer following anything that could be described as a coherent policy. Its clear that Trump was a symptom, not a cause – the rot must run very deep. At least Trump was predictable in his unpredictablity.

    I think the causes of this has to go beyond Biden. Reagan, after all, was pretty much an idiot and out of it mentally in his second term, but the US still managed coherence and some level of competence in pursuing its goals (if nothing else). It must go deeper into the governmental system, and that is a far more difficult problem to solve.

    The response of other countries seems pretty clear. ‘Foes’ or competitors of the US will decide that the US is not agreement compatable and ‘friends’ or allies will decide that they need a Plan B very closely to hand. And it particularly doesn’t bode well for action on climate change, as realistically the US has to be a leader on this.

    1. Acacia

      Yep. Foreign policy blob at the helm. Presidents come and go, as Putin memorably described the situation to Le Figaro. Your choice of the phrase “not agreement compatible” (isn’t there a Russian word for this?) suggests that it’s a done deal for the foes (Empires have no peers), and the vassals must already be quietly discussing that “Plan B” in some depth. It’ll be interesting to see what Japan and South Korea do, given the proximity of China.

    2. vlade

      My theory is that the civil service – and not just in the US, has been – potentially terminally – hollowed out. I suspect that even in the UK it used to be “I’ll be a good civil servant for a few decades, and then I’ll get …” – no idea what in the US, in the UK it would be put onto Honors list, into Lords and similar stuff, basically making sure I got very good rest of the career/retirement, while not obviously dirtying my hands with the “commercial” stuff.

      Now it seems like the civil service is a fast-track to lobby/political punditry/other make-money-fast schemes. It just ignores the fact that unless no-one does the work, the work won’t get done..

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        When information and communication were more expensive, I would bemoan the loss of the foreign policy side of the civil service, but not being a complete set of aholes is really all the US needs. It’s strong enough to make and guarantee agreements. The reason for a civil service is at your fingertips.

        It’s like the Iran deal. All the work was done. Dump the previous doofuses demands and yell at Schumer, make him go to the signing, and presto, it’s done. AIPAC can moan until the cows come home, but the have no real electoral power. They don’t unseat people. Blinnken worked on the first deal, one of the only genuinely positive things Obama did. He knows all this. This is all some ahole like Rahm telling people the GOP will call them Freedom Fries as if they wouldn’t already.

        Lavrov was right when he said the US sees the world as vassals and enemies. The elites can’t treat with Iran as anything other than one of those two. Hence, even though we blew up the agreement, we can’t even ask to pretend Trump wasn’t there.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          “They don’t unseat people.”

          Don’t underestimate their electoral clout. Nina Turner won Cleveland and Akron but was creamed in Beachwood.

    3. Ian Perkins

      I question the two ‘will’s in your final paragraph. Surely every country already knows the US is agreement-incompatible, and allies are working on their Plan Bs.

    4. Susan the other

      With technology out of the bag every country can come to their own decisions. For their own prosperity. (Which I think is a very good thing and I’m hopeful the world will now address the environment and poverty effectively.) But that leaves the US in need of a new board game: Squabble. Like 2nd generation Monopoly. Because this is exactly what is going on politically here at the highest levels. Squabble-democracy. It’s OK to squabble at a lower level on a small scale, say, state and county Squabblecracts. But when the economy fails and squabble turns into endless “agreement-incapable” garbage at the national level of “legislation”… then by definition the entire government is unquestionably incapable. Of agreement and everything else that is precluded. That’s how deep it goes. We need to rethink it from the ground up.

  2. The Rev Kev

    Back in the bad old days of the first cold War, there were a bunch of people known as Kremlin watchers who use to watch for any developments to get an idea of who actually had power in the USSR. I think that what we need is a group of people that could be called Washington watchers as I am not sure that the power structure in Washington is fully understood. Certainly there are a bunch of powerful fiefdoms like State, the Pentagon, etc. that exert their own interests in the decisions made. So the idiotic Iran policy may be a result of the Israel lobby here, simply based on the fact that it is a win, kinda, for Israel but at the same time denied Biden an early cheap win in foreign policy by not signing up the US to the deal once again. That could have solved a lot of foreign and domestic problems for Biden if he had done that but he reneged. But was he given a choice?

    But this is not a new problem, this lack of coherence in policy that PK was talking about. The same was true under Obama as well. As an example, Obama signed an understanding with Putin over Syria that could have set the stage for a resolution to a lot of the problems there. Then a few days later, the Pentagon launched an attack (actually a massacre) of Syrian troops defending Deir ez-Zor against ISIS which could have easily led to that city falling to them. After that, there was no walking that back again and it was then that the Russians started to call the US agreement-incapable. And if this is true, it is because of the different factions fighting for power in DC that lead to a lack in a coherent foreign policy. And this lack of a strong direction to give the US a dependable, coherent set of policies continues to bedevil the US still. And if Biden is spending a lot of his time off in left field, this would make the situation even worse.

    1. Susan the other

      What else can it be but an oil play? We went into Afghanistan to control oil and just because we got out doesn’t mean we no longer want to control Iran’s oil. We are dividing up the world oil market, it looks like. Iran’s/Caspian oil is scheduled for all points east. Mediterranean gas/oil is scheduled for southern Europe. Russia managed to win northern Europe. So any agreement now with Iran has been pre-formatted when it comes to selling oil. And the thing we are protecting is the Israeli hub – they are the new brokers in the eastern Med. Right?

  3. Sound of the Suburbs

    The interests of the capitalists and rentiers are opposed with free trade.
    No one told the Americans.

    “Income inequality is not killing capitalism in the United States, but rent-seekers like the banking and the health-care sectors just might” Angus Deaton, Nobel prize winner.
    Oh dear.

    Who’s been messing about with the economics?
    We got some stuff from Ricardo, like the law of comparative advantage.
    What’s gone missing?

    There were three groups in the capitalist system in Ricardo’s world (and there still are).
    Workers / Employees
    Capitalists / Employers
    Rentiers / Landowners / Landlords / other skimmers, who are just skimming out of the system, not contributing to its success

    The unproductive group exists at the top of society, not the bottom.
    Later on we did bolt on a benefit system to help others that were struggling lower down the scale.

    Identifying the unproductive group at the top of society didn’t go down too well.
    They needed a new economics to hide the discoveries of the classical economists, neoclassical economics.

    Can you see the problem?
    They have taken the rentiers out of the equation and so no one can see what they used to be able to see in the past.

    The interests of the capitalists and rentiers are opposed with free trade.
    This nearly split the Tory Party in the 19th century over the Repeal of the Corn Laws.
    The rentiers gains push up the cost of living.
    The landowners wanted to get a high price for their crops, so they could make more money.
    The capitalists want a low cost of living as they have to pay that in wages.
    The capitalists wanted cheap bread, as that was the staple food of the working class, and they would be paying for it through wages.

    Let’s put the rentiers back into the equation.
    Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
    Employees want more disposable income
    Employers want to maximise profit by keeping wages as low as possible
    The rentiers gains push up the cost of living.
    Governments push up taxes to gain more revenue

    The dynamics of the capitalist system are more complex than today’s policymakers realise.
    You want a low cost of living with free trade, like China has and the US doesn’t
    US firms off-shored to China where they could pay wages people couldn’t live on in the US.

    1. lance ringquist

      comparative advantage is pure rubbish. the only thing it is, is a race to the bottom. free trading with a country that can consume little of what they make, is a recipe for disaster for a first world country. to compete, we have a race to the bottom.

      i see no way to lower our cost of living, and still retain a civil society and a first world standard of living, competing with a country that uses human and environmental degradation.

      and if that is not enough, china would sink even lower to rape america of its wealth.

      the nafta democrats know this, they gave us alfred kahn, paul volker, nafta billy clinton, empty suit hollwman obama, and now nafta joe biden.

      there is a lot america can do to remain competitive to a point, and still remain first world. but as ben franklin said,

      the utter nonsense of free trade, lets let ben franklin educate about the doctrine of high wages vs. the walmart economy: Ben Franklin: the high wage protectionist constitution: The Doctrine of High Wages – How America Was Built

      ” lincoln knew this well, tariffs are the easiest tax to collect. its why corrupt free traders hate them so much. its why europe has a VAT tax that punishes labor, and rewards corporations.”

  4. Sound of the Suburbs

    The worst foreign policy decision the Americans have ever made.
    The Washington Consensus.

    Remember the good old days?
    Thirty years ago.
    The West was triumphant, and western liberalism had won the day, it was the end of history.
    The Berlin Wall had fallen and a uni-polar world was born.
    The US reigned supreme.
    China was insignificant and Russia was moving towards the West with Gorbachev.

    Thirty years later we discover China was the main beneficiary from the Washington Consensus; it went from almost nothing to become a global superpower.
    The Americans hadn’t realised all the cards were stacked in China’s favour.

    Maximising profit is all about reducing costs.
    China had coal fired power stations to provide cheap energy.
    China had lax regulations reducing environmental and health and safety costs.
    China had low taxes and a minimal welfare state.
    China had a low cost of living so employers could pay low wages.
    China had all the advantages in an open globalised world.
    Western companies couldn’t wait to off-shore to low cost China, where they could make higher profits.

    Western businesses tried cutting costs here, but could never get down to Chinese levels and they needed to off-shore to maximise profit.
    They gave away decades of Western design and development knowledge in technology transfer agreements.

    China was a new, fast growing economy compared to the mature, slow growing economies of the West.
    Investors would be able to achieve better returns in the new, fast growing Chinese economy and this is where the money headed.
    US investors love China and know it’s the best place to make real money.
    George Soros, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos …..

    1. lance ringquist

      you just made my case. free trade and comparative advantage is pure rubbish, used to fleece the deplorable of their civil society, wealth, pensions and standard of living.

      asking americas to become competitive with a country like china, is like asking ghandi to embrace british rule.

      Franklin argued, the American manufacturers could not survive unless they were protected from low-wage competition

      GDP in america under protectionism was far superior for workers than nafta billy clintons poor GDP performance

      To sum up, the free-trade/market policies are policies that have rarely, if ever, worked

      Few countries have become rich through free-trade, free-market policies and few ever will.

      Dr. Ha Joon Chang plainly through historical records proves that free trade is bad for the poor and democracy

      free trade is the backbone of libertarianism: its pauperism, ignorance, depopulation, barbarism, fascism

      protectionism is in increasing wealth, comfort, intelligence, combination of action, and civilization.

      free trade looks towards universal war; protectionism looks towards universal peace.

    2. Felix_47

      We can bring in workers who are happy to work at low wages that are insufficient to raise their families and all we have to do is approve the 3.5 trillion child care infrastructure bill to take care of the families and have the federal government take over paying rent and child support. Then business could potentially be competitive.with China or Bangladesh or the Congo. And MMT is telling us we can afford it because debt is meaningless since we print the dollar (at least most of them since quite a few are printed overseas as well.)

      1. lance ringquist

        yet as you see today, lots of stimulus money is pouring into china driving inflation skyward all over the globe.

        keynes warned against this. so if you think you can free trade, and pour more money into the economy and face no blowback, then you are ignoring today.

  5. Questa Nota

    Biden’s Obama’s third-term approach to foreign policy suffers from some of the problems glaringly apparent over the last decade or so. A few of those problems stem from a mindset that pushes Rice, Nuland and a host of other incompetent hacks, Blinken to the courtesy phone, that should’ve been fired long ago. To let their misguided policies continue to wreak havoc internationally while harming the interests of the broader American public and elevating those of the MIC is malfeasance.
    They should stop digging the hole instead of procuring gold-plated shovels.

  6. Eustachedesaintpierre

    Maybe it’s just a case of when you arrive at a situation in which a particular institution is full of people whose first priority is self enrichment & becoming expert at doing whatever it takes to climb the greasy pole – which I assume must involve quite a bit of time spent planning in relation to backstabbing, manoeuvering etc, that could I suppose leave little room for attending to what is their actual job.

    I have fortunately not spent much time working for others, but I have seen incompetents rise to relatively giddy heights & they all became pretty clueless & terrible bosses.

  7. JohnA

    Plus, Biden sent Victoria Fuck the EU Nuland architect of the Maiden coup in Kiev, (aka Mrs Kagan), whose personal non grata status in Russia had to be waived, to negotiate in Moscow last week. After the first meeting, the Russians said they are just not listening to us. That figures.

  8. David

    There’s far more inertia in foreign policy than most people realise. Change tends to be slow, because you are constrained by all kinds of formal and informal agreements, undertakings, expectations, promises and even previous mistakes. Other countries don’t necessarily like violent lurches from one position to another, and many initiatives are sufficiently long-term that they outlast the government that introduced them. For this reason, continuity in foreign policy is actually the norm, even when governments with very different opinions come to power.

    The other point, I think, is the lack of any coherent vision in Washington these days. For a long time, there was a Cold War orthodoxy, after which, for more than decade there was a convergence of interests between hard-line neoconservatives and hard-line humanitarian fascists for invading and remaking countries. Now there seems to be nothing. By my observation, the foreign policy apparatus in the US is so huge and so clumsy that getting everything moving in the same direction is almost impossible. In the absence of a clear overall strategy every powerful organisation and individual does what they feel like doing, and the result is chaos.

  9. LadyXoc

    My recollection is that Putin said that the US was not “agreement capable.” Maybe it’s just a different translation-but it stings way worse.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The actual Russian word is ‘недоговороспособны’ which I guess loses something in the translation. There is a 2017 Saker article called “Make no mistake, the latest US thuggery is a sign of weakness, not strength” which talks about it.

      1. Maxwell Johnston

        In my experience, I have only seen that particular Russian word used very specifically in the context of Russia’s foreign policy disputes with the USA. Russians in business would not complain that their partners are не договороспособные (they would use other, perhaps more colorful words). So it seems that in modern Russian linguistics, the USA is once again the exceptional nation.

  10. schmoe

    I cannot disagree with this article, but other than Trump’s unsuccessful attempt to end our Syrian occupation, Biden is a mild improvement. Trump/Pompeo’s sanctions on Houthis would have made the existing US aided and abbetted genocide much worse, and there would be much more drama over Nordstream 2. I also suspect that if Trump remained, the Middle East would be much “hotter”, perhaps between Iran and the US, or between Hezbollah and Israel.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      That’s a gem of an article; never thought I’d agree with anything from Slate or Luttwak, but he really nails it. And it’s true not only of the CIA, but of the USA’s diplomatic corps in general. The ranks are increasingly filled with people from flyover country; bright and patriotic, no doubt, but inclined to a certain provincialism and Puritanism which IMHO makes it difficult to communicate with (let alone understand) foreign cultures.

  11. Oh

    To me, it looks like AUKUS is another vehicle to force Austratia and UK to buy US nuclear weapons. The treaty will then use these two countries to do the US bidding, just like the US is using NATO. More money for the Military-Industrial Complex.

    1. David

      Well, the UK operates US missiles already, though it designs and builds its own warheads. The Australians don’t remotely have the capacity to operate such systems, and anyway they are NPT signatories.

        1. Altandmain

          The US is a declining power relative to the Chinese.

          Conventional warfare is no longer an assured win, so I suspect that this is an attempt to deter China.

          Everyone can see the economic projections of the US being overtaken by China. There seems to be a lot more wishful thinking about the Chinese collapsing these days.

          It could happen, but it is a lot more likely that the US is going to continue to be in relative decline.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            The decline is economic and is caused by Free Trade. China was merely intended to be a weapon used by the Free Trade Conspiracy to turn America into one big Haiti.

            Of course, China ( or rather the CommuNazi ChinaGov Party-State) is eagerly pursuing Plan Haiti for America on its own. But it is America’s presence in the Free Trade system and its exposure to Free Trade Agression which makes Plan Haiti for America possible.

            And only the systematic rejection and abrogation of every single Free Trade Treaty and Agreement, starting with a complete rejection of GATT Round One and followed up by a complete rejection of every trade agreement and organization membership and treaty after that, will permit America to protect itself against our Trading Enemies enough to re-grow a Survival Economic Ecosystem over the next 50 years.

          2. Procopius

            I’ve read reports (unable to remember where) that every war game the US has run about China for the last three decades, at least, has concluded that it is absolutely necessary to go nuclear. Therefore, they conclude, in case of a Chinese attack on Taiwan, we must go nuclear immediately to preserve our air force and navy. That’s why I’m so stressed by our idiot State Department’s wilful provocations.

            1. lance ringquist

              free trade requires wars and police states. nafta billy clinton even said so.

              ” Bill Clinton elaborated:
              “If we’re going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world Europe has got to be the key; that’s what this Kosovo thing is all about… It’s globalism versus tribalism.”
              “Tribalism” was the word used by 19th century free trade liberals to describe nationalism. And this war was all about threatening any nation which might have ideas of independence.”

    2. HH

      The cost overruns on this project will make the mismanagement of the French submarine deal look like brilliant efficiency. I predict that the Aussies will write off this whole politically motivated deal after one or two horrendously expensive subs are built, with General Dynamics having a good laugh after booking the profits.

  12. Randy

    I view it as a confluence of problems:

    -I saw an article today where an anonymous official said they had no idea how China developed a supersonic missile. I’m gonna guess they did it the same way anyone else would: through R&D. The US still hasn’t woken up to idea that it isn’t the day after the USSR fell anymore and still acts like history has ended. That’s the only way to get blindsided by the idea that *gasp* China is also capable of developing things that go fast and violently explode when they reach their target.

    -Anyone who’s semi-competent in government has to resist the siren call of the private market where you can make more money faster doing less. End result: the people running the deep state are the placid clowns or complete psychos who stick around after everyone else turns in their experience for checks.

    -Policy is captured by various lobbies with their own contradictory interests. Simple example is how we’re supposed to be turning things to focus on China while at the same time pursuing policies on behalf of Israel, the military-industrial complex, and war hawks in both parties that drive countries to want to make closer relations with… China.

  13. Carolinian

    Trump’s foreign policy was heavily influenced by Adelson and doubtless Dem foreign policy is heavily influenced by funders like Saban and Soros. Since voters typically aren’t paying much attention to foreign affairs special interests can have an outsized effect.

    Add in the war profiteer lobby to create one Blob.

    1. Carolinian

      Just to add that Michael Hudson has been saying our foreign policy is all in support of financial interests and I’ve just read a book about Joe Kennedy and the pre WW2 isolationists. Roosevelt picked businessman Kennedy as ambassador to the UK so he could negotiate a trade agreement and to keep the heavily Democratic Catholic vote onside. But once there Kennedy became tight with Chamberlain and the appeaser wing and thought the only goal of the US in the coming conflict should be what’s best for business. He even thought the US might have to go with its own version of fascism to cope with the Axis which he was sure would win.

      And needless to say the roots of the CIA lay in this prewar group of bankers and businessmen. Or, to quote a fresh Taibbi headline, we do have a “deep state” and it has very deep roots.

  14. HH

    Nothing short of a major military defeat will destroy the US foreign policy blob. They have already put the Afghanistan disaster into the American amnesia machine (just another little mistake). Now they are playing Chinese roulette in the Pacific, with a good chance of starting a shooting war over Taiwan. The US would lose such a war, and that may be enough to finally kill the blob. Until then, we will suffer one foreign policy embarrassment after another, as the incompetent ideologues of the blob sleepwalk through a changing world they are unwilling to comprehend.

    The blob remains committed to a hallucinatory vision of an American commercial empire sustained by financial and military coercion. The response by our “adversaries,” Russia and China, has been to strengthen their military and economic positions and slowly de-couple from dollar-denominated trade. Meanwhile, Europe is realizing that it can no longer rely on an increasingly irrational declining US, whose “protection” is more dangerous than exercising an independent foreign policy.

    The story of imperial decline hasn’t changed since the Peloponnesian War. Hubris leads to bad leadership, which causes the hegemon to fall. It happened to Athens in 404 BC when its adversaries banded together to bring it down. It is our turn now.

  15. Mr Grumpy

    Don’t forget all the analysts working in the bowels of the Pentagon and, especially, the CIA. A graduate school friend of mine, a PhD in Amer Foreign Policy, originally a Reaganite Republican, has been a CIA analyst for about 27 years. She has steadily drifted towards right wing zealotry and has been a full on conspiracy believing, Ayn Randian, racist nut job for a decade. For her to keep getting promoted and happy in her job means there are a lot of similar people around her, many with greater rank. And then think of the people those people hire. We’re all doomed.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Do not worry. We’ll meet again — don’t know where — don’t know when … I might watch it again tonight.

      Vasili Arkihipov day is approaching: 27 October. Thank you Vasili! I hope your bravery was not in vain.

      I am still watching for when Paul Jay will complete his documentary with Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg’s book “Doomsday Machine” and the series of Ellsberg interviews on Reality Asserts Itself are very frightening. Biden carries on the madness with an added touch of incompetence/stupidity/cost.

  16. TheMog

    I think this is another facet of “nothing fundamentally changes”, like we were promised. I don’t see that many efforts in mending some of the fences with supposed allies like European countries, who still seem to be wary of the damage done during the previous years. If anything, the impression is that the bull in the china shop may have his feet wrapped to make less noise, but it’s still the same bull. Only that it doesn’t quite say the quiet parts as loud as the previous administration, but they’re still audible. That whole AUKUS submarine thing was a prime example, especially if the French really found out from the press like they stated they did.

    Rahm as ambassador to Japan is just the cherry on top of the “competence” cupcake.

    1. Oh

      Rahm as an ambaasador is like inviting a bull into a china shop. The Japanese will certainly be thrilled.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Maybe they can invite him to a fugu restaurant and make sure that a little bit of puffer fish liver gets on the fugu. Not ” so much as to be obvious”. Just enough to “do the job.”

  17. coboarts

    The US has been sold out by its elites. Others, whose interests are directly opposed to America’s have bought it. The methodical deconstruction of the United States of America has long been underway. That work is almost complete. All that remains is the military defeat that ends this once great state (in geopolitical terms – quit sniveling). But, for the best laid plans of mice and men, interesting times don’t always go as planned. If you need references, there are plenty well documented ones out there, start with a particular James Corbett.

  18. Gregorio

    It’s unconscionable that the US would pull out of a deal that the Iranians were in compliance with, and it’s even more unconscionable that they now are trying to renegotiate the original deal adding more restrictions on Iran. Why would any country be inclined to sign any diplomatic agreement with the US, considering their record of unilaterally pulling out or, trying to change the terms of treaties that they had originally agreed to?

  19. Randy G

    I remember reading Martin van Creveld’s comment shortly after the invasion of Iraq that it was the most foolish war in the last 2000 years. It was a mind-blowing comment, surely hyperbolic — worse than Operation Barbarossa? — but it wasn’t coming from a hippie anti-war activist in Berkeley, it was coming from a preeminent Israeli military historian much beloved by the Pentagon.

    Israeli elites were giddy that the U.S. military was destroying one of their perceived enemies for them, and apparently on the march to destroy Iran as well. And, of course, U.S. ‘elites’ in both parties, including Joe Biden, were also giddy that the American Empire was going to remold the Middle East to its liking. The Pentagon was confident, it had been a pushover war, a piece of cake, just like Afghanistan.

    What in the world was this Israeli thinking to make such a bizarre and disharmonious pronouncement? I opposed the invasions based on moral considerations not strategic reasoning. Evil is often quite successful — just look at history. I certainly had no idea if van Creveld was out of his mind or grasping a truth that all the cheerleaders in the corporate media and Congress were missing. But I jotted down his comment.

    Eighteen years later, as the swagger of the unipolar American Empire begins to stumble around like a drunken sailer, time to pay Martin van Creveld his dues. In those 18-years, Russia, in response to U.S. encirclement, has completely modernized and revamped its military, to make itself a very dangerous foe again if the U.S. blob continues to poke at it.

    In those 18-years, China, like a judo master, has used American corporate greed and political arrogance, to turn itself into economic and military power that will soon outstrip the United States. So not only were those horrific forever wars in the Middle East, the so-called ‘War on Terror’, monstrous destructions of human life, they were also strategic idiocies of the first magnitude.

    Is there any acknowledgment of this among ‘elites’ in the U.S. or UK? War criminals Tony Blair, and even more grotesquely, George Bush Jr., are rehabilitated as elder statesman. Bush is much beloved by the Democratic Party establishment. After 20 years, Biden pulled the plug on Afghanistan, but the idea that the Washington ‘elites’ can learn anything or adjust to the decline of the Empire is highly dubious.

    The risk is immense as one miscalculation with Russia or more likely China could lead to a nuclear war that will end civilization. Empires, especially those drunk on hubris, rarely go quietly into “the dying of the light”.

  20. Jeremy Grimm

    This post considers two largely separate domains of foreign policy issues which might be assigned the rubrics of nuclear weapons negotiations, and foreign trade policy.

    The nuclear weapons non-negotiations with Iran are only one of a series of gaffs, errors, and incomprehensible u.s. foreign and domestic policy positions related to nuclear weapons — but how can screwing with Iran be separated from whatever rationale or mania drives u.s. foreign policy toward the Middle East, which assumes there could be a mysterious and coherent u.s. foreign policy toward the Middle East [or toward anywhere else for that matter].

    I cannot think of u.s. nuclear weapons policy without wondering at the initiatives for re-tweaking the u.s. nuclear weapons arsenal. I suppose it might indeed offer great profit to the Military Industrial Complex. Biden did not invent this idea, but he and the wise men and women he appointed and keeps about him spend their efforts selling and planning how to implement this insane waste of money at high cost to u.s. security along with the security of all life on Earth. I can recall little questioning of the need for or wisdom driving this initiative. The world faces Climate Chaos and the impending depletion of fossil fuels and many other crucial resources. I would have hoped that sane, reasonable, and reasonably intelligent high officials in our government might question the wisdom of spending to augment yet another possibly more horrible path to world destruction and doom. [Then again, perhaps our high government officials have qualities different than those I suggested.]

    But Iran, and nuclear weapons are already discussed in many of the comments above. What about the second topic — foreign trade policy?
    “So Obama and Biden negotiated the anti-China TTP …”
    I have great difficulty regarding the TTP as an anti-China foreign trade policy. I regard the TTP as an anti-national governments policy that aspired to further subordinate the sovereign powers of nation states to Corporate Cartels.
    “Now China is asking to join this actually existing trade group, with the US unbelievably stupidly out.”
    Is the u.s. supposed to join in the new improved TTP because China is climbing onboard? Besides, it strikes me as odd to characterize the TTP as anti-China and then suggest it would be stupid not to join a TTP where China might be a member. How anti-Chinese is that!? Is the new and improved TTP anti-u.s.? The rest of the third paragraph of this post is ‘amazing’. Dem Party == protectionist … especially those fellow-traveling with the AFL-CIO radicals ,,, then worry, worry about Rust Belt Industry, which Government sold down the river forty and more years ago … steel, autos? we should be worried about steel first among industries? Bidden was born in Scranton but I thought his heart belonged to Delaware Corporations and Credit Card Companies.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I share your understanding of the ” real and whole point” of TPP right from the start. It was designed to destroy democratic self governance and turn the national territory of all its prospective members into one big Corporate Globalonial Plantation, with Korporate Kangaroo Kourts to persecute any regional or local jurisdiction which tried to uphold any of its own safety, environmental, or any other laws against Corporate Globalonial Colonization and aggression.

      “China” was brought in as a scare-tool to try terrorising the American public into accepting a TTP because ” protection against China” when ” the China threat” was never the reason and was never even mentioned until TPP looked otherwise un-salvageable.

  21. drumlin woodchuckles

    I wish Biden had somehow involved France right from the start in that alliance between Australia, the UK, and the US. It could have been the Australia, France, UK, US alliance.

    It would have had the lovely acronym of . . . AuFUKUS.

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