Biden’s summer potpourri 2021
President of the US, Joe Biden, made an interesting and revealing “multi-business” trip in Europe, including a series of summits: UK, G7, EU, NATO and finally Putin. This series of summits was framed in such a way as to be the prelude to a showdown-like meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on June 16.
Biden and UK
“Uncle Joe” and “BoJo” met, as a starter, in easy feelings without any significant results. Ireland-issue as a whole was a key subject on the agenda as well as bilateral relations between the US and UK. For UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, this was the chance to play a “world statesman” who is supposedly rebranding his nation as “Global Britain” following the ragged and bitter departure from the European Union. It may feel good to stay in dreams of the last century.
Biden and G7
G7 meeting (the US, Canada, Japan, UK, France, Germany, Italy) was not devoted to tackle on the problems and inequalities of the present world economy and trade but, rebooted by the US, on a Sinophobic crusade. Biden announced the US-backed Build Back Better World (B3W) plan to be a higher-quality global infrastructure development scheme as an alternative to a similar Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
In a statement at their summit in Cornwall, the G7 leaders said they would offer a “values-driven, high-standard and transparent” partnership. However, details of how the G7 plan will be financed and implemented, remain unclear. The US has been particularly critical to China’s so-called “debt diplomacy” in the context of BRI. The G7 also announced its commitment to provide up to a billion free Covid-19 vaccines to the developing world and Biden’s new tax proposal, which was hastily buried by the corporate media. Closer look at the US B3W initiative proves it stands solidly on thin air.
The driving purpose of this G7 summit was to show that Western democracies can deliver a united front against China, underscoring the ideological element of the grouping as a club of like-minded countries. “Yellow peril” is again working… but wait a moment… among today’s “woke” people, what are they talking about “racism”.
The G7 leaders slightly diverged on Biden’s call for publicly confronting China, including on issues of human rights and democracy. The UK, France and Canada backed Biden’s call for a tougher joint statement, while Germany, a major exporter to China and Italy, the only Western European nation to support the BRI, have preferred a more tempered approach. Nonetheless, German Chancellor Angela Merkel endorsed a mega-infrastructure alternative to China’s.
As the summit’s host, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson emphasized the increasingly ideological character of G7 by adopting a “new Atlantic Charter” referring back to transatlantic cooperation during the Second World War. He also insisted that the UK has an “indestructible” relationship with the US, which encouraged its Western allies to downplay lingering differences over London’s post-Brexit relations with the European Union.
Biden and EU
Just in late May, reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA), aided by Denmark, spied on top European politicians including Angela Merkel and Frank-Walter Steinmeier from 2012 to 2014. Biden has been well-informed about this operation. According to Danish public broadcaster Denmark’s Radio, NSA tapped into Danish telecommunications cables to spy on officials in Germany, Sweden, Norway, and France. The Danish military intelligence services are said to have helped the US.
“This is not acceptable between allies and even less between allies and European partners,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, after speaking with Mrs Merkel who said she agreed with Mr Macron’s comments but that she was also reassured by the Danish defense minister’s condemnation. Unfortunately for Biden, the scandal over US spying on European governments looks like casting a shadow on the “happy family reunion”. However, this issue was effectively swept under the rug in the official EU meeting.
In his speech to EU leaders, Biden said things like “the United States, the European Union, NATO and G7 allies will stand united together to confront Russia and China”. He tried to sound as if he does not want an all-out war but the logic of Biden and his allies was ultimately that of war. He even made out that there is an equivalence between the historic fight against Nazi Germany and the present fight against “dictators” of Russia and China. Biden’s tour of Europe was to “re-establish US leadership” among European allies against “autocracies” (Russia and China).
Biden and Erdogan/Turkey
In the sideline of NATO summit, Biden had a meeting with Turkey’s Erdogan, where two presidents tried to clarify various severe problems in Turkish-American bilateral relations. However, if looking not at the external manifestation of the US-Turkish relations, but at the actual activities of Ankara in recent times in fulfillment of various instructions from Washington, a somewhat different picture emerges. In recent years, the US has actively used Turkey as its battering ram or “grubby-work” player to solve many geopolitical problems of interest to Washington and Turkey is also a very important instrument for NATO in a number of “difficult or murky” operations.
Just few days ago, there became a scandal in Turkey, when a local crime lord Sedat Peker disclosed videos regarding large and close connections between organized crime and Turkish political elite in YouTube. This news confirms the general image of Turkey as a deeply corrupted, kleptocratic and autocratic society. Given this background, it seems apocryphal – even tragic-comical – to believe Biden’s foreign political key message: democracy, liberal world order, Western values. How can it be justified that Turkey, strongly supported by the US and NATO, is in the frontline of defending those Western values, which are so heavily trampled down by the Turkish leadership in the Turkish society?
Turkey has continued to demand that the United States extradite Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who, according to officials in Ankara, organized the 2016 coup attempt (with the help of CIA) against Erdogan. Turkish authorities began after the coup a massive crackdown which is still going on: more than 90.000 people imprisoned and more than 150.000 Turks fired or suspended because of alleged links to the alleged Gulenist coup attempt. This is, however, not interesting issue to hypocritical main stream media or the human rights activists, which have turned a blind eye on this topic.
Biden and NATO
NATO was established as a military alliance between Western European countries and the United States and Canada to contain Soviet aggression. Since the end of the Cold War, it has added 16 new member-nations and expanded to Russia’s border, despite a promise by US Secretary of State James Baker to Mikhail Gorbachev that it would not do so (“not one inch eastward”).
On Monday 14th June, President Joe Biden met with NATO leaders at the 2021 Brussels summit, where he described the US commitment to the military alliance as “a sacred obligation”. A final statement of the meeting emphasized the “threat” posed by Russia as well as the “challenges” caused by China. Biden also lauded a NATO blueprint promoting greater military spending to contain the alleged threats from China and Russia. Despite the pandemic, 2020 witnessed a 13.6% increase in worldwide military spending. NATO states spent $1.1 trillion on the military, approximately 55% of the global total.
NATO meeting’s final communique states that China presents systemic challenge to the rules-based international order (whatever it may be!) and to areas relevant to Alliance security and that the alliance is “concerned” over China’s “coercive policies”, its rapidly expanding nuclear capability, its growing military co-operation with Russia and its “irresponsible” behavior in the international arena.
What is striking, is how little the communique has to offer in describing any military threat that China might be posing to the alliance, especially to Europe. Unlike the former Soviet Union, which was next door to Europe, China does not pose a direct or indirect military threat to any European state, nor has it ever projected any military ambitions in Europe. How can any European NATO leader take such an absurd and unfounded allegation seriously?
While China may have extensive economic ambitions (in the context of BRI), the fact is that the alliance’s new ideological ground versus China lacks an immediate and credible direct military threat from China. In the absence of a credible military threat from China, NATO’s attempt to reinvent itself in the 21st century and justify its existence because of China’s military threat, becomes a purely American political exercise, which may not yield desired results for the US.
One priority of the Brussels NATO summit was to promote the new report, NATO 2030: United for a New Era, which aims to repurpose NATO as a bulwark against supposed Chinese and Russian aggression in the new Cold War. Report uses hostile language demonizing China and Russia, with recommendations that will lead to growing confrontation, for example, advocates sustaining the nuclear arms race.
Ukraine case and NATO have been under active discussion, especially before the NATO summit and especially urged by Ukraine leadership. Ukraine’s purpose is to get fast entry into NATO and stop Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline construction totally. Both aims seem to fail. Participants of the June 14 NATO summit said in their final statement that Ukraine and Georgia would be able to become members of the alliance in the future. However, the statement does not say anything about the possible deadlines of these countries’ accession to NATO. This uncertainty has raised much critique in Ukraine.
From the historical and current experience, NATO has been and still is America’s own multilateral military toy for fulfilling their own interests. If the EU keeps following the US, which portrays Russia and China as worst enemies and military threats, it may turn to be a fatal economic and political engagement to Europe. Last month the EU temporarily suspended the ratification of EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) which was aimed at easing trade barriers between the EU and China over “human rights” concerns. Prior to this, US China hawks had repeatedly lambasted European countries for striking a lucrative deal behind Washington’s back. The agreement was frozen as China outpaced the US as the EU’s top trade partner in goods in 2020. Europe’s economically suicidal behavior against its own benefits is time and again surprising, just disclosing and confirming the real character of trans-Atlantic relation, that of Master- vassal relation.
Biden and Putin
The initial positions:
Though the US and European media have portrayed President Biden as very tough on Putin, he nevertheless granted his Russian counterpart one major foreign policy concession since taking office: he waived sanctions on the landmark Nord Stream 2 pipeline, allowing the project linking Russia’s natural gas fields to European consumers to finally near completion.
Putin in the meantime described Biden as “an experienced, balanced, and careful” man who had spent his whole life in politics and expressed the hope that those qualities would have a positive effect on the upcoming negotiations – but said he was “not expecting anything that could become a breakthrough in Russia-US relations.”
On Wednesday, June 16th, President Joe Biden traveled to Geneva and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a much-awaited summit.
Return of Realpolitik
The tone of the meeting was businesslike and Putin and Biden agreed to
a) restore their countries’ two respective ambassadors
b) begin negotiations on nuclear talks to potentially replace the new START treaty limiting nuclear weapons after it expires in 2026 and
c) cooperate in the realm of cyber security, Arctic exploration and preventing terrorism in Afghanistan and Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
The first remarks of acknowledging key political facts and realities – like “great power status, mutual red lines, nuclear war cannot be won” – can be seen crucial first steps in easing bilateral tensions.
Expectations of the meeting were low or very low among political analysts and experts. So, it seems that the practical results of the meeting at least meet or perhaps exceed these low expectations. This may turn out to be the beginning of new dialogue and understanding between the two great powers, each having about 40% of world’s total nuclear arsenal.
Biden’s dramatic repertoire was quite surprising in this European tour, ranging from “jovial Uncle Joe, Sinophobic crusader, Russophobic antagonist or a monk with sacred obligation” to “businesslike realpolitician” and something more in-between. An impressive role performance…but where is the beef? I can’t avoid recalling an old English saying “Jack of all trades but master of none”.
The United States, on the world stage, is pushing democracy/Western liberalism as the only bulwark to rising forces of “authoritarianism”. This has become a mantra in Washington under Biden, that the biggest historic challenge right now in the world is between “democracy and autocracy” and if we accept this narrative framework, then the intended conclusion is that we must accept totally American global leadership.
This is what the US political establishment is trying to push with its spokesman Joe Biden and the European political elite is falling into line. The outcome is that the world is being led into a dead-end of confrontation between the West versus Russia and China. The US global power is predicated on hegemony which in turn requires control through setting up hostile blocs. Peaceful coexistence is absolutely out of today’s mentality, only the US diktat from the power position matters.
There are strengthening rumors in the US that re-counting of 2020 ballots in Arizona and in some other places may turn out as “smoking guns” regarding alleged large-scale electoral frauds having taken place. IF confirmed, that may open Pandora’s box in the whole issue of democracy, liberal world order and Western values, not only in the US but worldwide. Ramifications may be staggering and shocking. Let’s see, what will happen in next few weeks. We are living in exceptionally odd times.