We are faced with a vindictive-muscle flexing strategy by U.S. President Joe Biden, grappling with a tangled quagmire of issues he can’t seem to resolve—more than just the pandemic vaccination, which is going full speed. But the effect of a return of the Cold War is intentional and explicit.
Joe Biden this week gave a long interview on key aspects of the U.S. crisis: the tragedy of migrants along the wall lengthened by Trump but initially built by Clinton, with 4,000 children detained by border guards, the Cuomo scandal that is destabilizing the Democrats and the problem of withdrawing from Afghanistan or not. And, on the day of yet another racially motivated massacre, this time in Atlanta, he felt the need to rally his Atlantic allies, pointing out the “enemy” yet again, without whom the Atlantic Alliance cannot stand.
ABC journalist George Stephanopoulos first asked Biden if he knew Vladimir Putin and then asked explicitly: “Do you think he is a killer?” Biden replied “I do,” adding that he warned him that “he will pay a price” for having tried to influence the presidential elections of 2020. Contrary to what everyone thought, he didn’t talk about the Navalny case—still alive despite the attempt to poison him, generally attributed to the Kremlin’s top leadership, which has always denied any involvement, and now detained in a “re-education camp.”
He was referring to the latest report presented to him by U.S. intelligence, which accuses Russia, and subordinately Iran, of having interfered in the U.S. election campaign to support Trump to the detriment of Biden, thus “endangering democracy”—of course, the American one, not that anyone ever denounces the pro-American Eastern European countries such as Poland which are endangering European democracy.
But what is the reason for such a serious accusation, internationally destabilizing, which appears as an occasion for political “revenge,” and little convincing from this point of view as well? The instrumental and reductive risk that Biden is engaging in is that of seeing the decline of American democracy, with the iconic image of the assault on Congress by Trump-assisted supremacists, as an exogenous and not endogenous product.
But wasn’t it he who denounced “domestic terrorism” as he took office in the White House? Let us look at the charge of electoral interference. Of course, the hackers’ dirty work may have been there—but that’s what everyone does, in the matter of revealing truth in particular (Snowden holed up in Russia and Julian Assange languishing in jail must mean something, right?). And then, how is it possible to imagine that 73 million Americans, belonging to the abandoned society called the “underbelly of America,” voted for the subversive tycoon from Manhattan on Putin’s instructions?
And who could believe that his ongoing blackmail-like grip on the Republican Party depends on the Kremlin? Certainly, Putin, an ex-KGB spy, is not a saint—far from it. But real murder, if not massacres—if we only think of the many bloody American wars of the last decades—has many other protagonists who instead pass for heroes in the imagination and in the forgetful history of the United States and the West. Wasn’t Iran, another country being pulled into the range of Biden’s threat, the one which saw its number 2, General Soleimani, assassinated by Trump? Without forgetting the true story of interference in the Russian elections initiated by the defenestration of Gorbachev. In 1996, without the massive direct U.S. support for Boris Yeltsin, the elections would have been won by the Russian CP, but democratic America was siding with the leader who had the Russian parliament “democratically” bombed. And, as the turn of events goes, Yeltsin’s heir was Putin himself.
And on the subject of electoral interference, why forget the skeleton in Biden’s closet? Namely, his role as U.S. vice president during the Ukraine crisis of 2014, when he ran with other American leaders and CIA chief Jan Brennan to Maidan Square, manned by militias of the far right, to organize rallies and support the openly anti-Russian side.
Or his personal involvement with his son Hunter, appointed—without knowing anything about gas—as a board member of the Ukrainian gas extraction company Burisma Holding Ltd, with a salary of $50,000 a month for a position that he held until April 2019, after his father began his campaign for the White House. Certainly, Trump lobbed bad faith speculation about this during the election campaign. But if a possible conflict of interest has emerged, who is going to make it right now?
Still, Biden had called Putin by phone only a month and a half ago to agree on the restoration of the anti-nuclear Start Treaty, unilaterally torn up by Trump. But by February 19, the climate had already changed: in his speech to the G7, the U.S. president delivered a surprise anathema: “Russia and China are a threat.” A clear message: the two countries should be branded as public enemies and then separated from each other. It was also aimed at those European countries like Germany that still defend the vital energy hub of the North Stream 2.
Between the lines of Biden’s anathema, one cannot help but read the U.S. resentment for its increasingly marginal role in major crises, such as Afghanistan, where a decisive summit began on Wednesday, not coincidentally in Moscow, after 20 years of NATO war; Syria, where the Russian presence was decided by the summit between Obama and Putin in November 2015 after the disaster of the American intervention; and Libya, where the “shit show”—Obama’s words—made by the United States cost Hillary Clinton the presidency.
Oddly enough, this gust of Cold War emerged within the global crisis of the pandemic as vaccine geopolitics plays out. On the one hand, the exclusive Atlanticism of the United States and Great Britain are focused on helping themselves, almost as an echo of “America first.” And on the other hand, Europe is tied into knots by multinational drug companies, with the EU’s means and willpower in chaos. Amid the propaganda around Sputnik, the vaccine has been approved by 50 countries.
Meanwhile the WTO, and the whole neoliberal world, has slammed the door in the face of the only possible solution: the suspension of patents to have vaccines as a common good and for all. We did not need this revival of “hot ice” and bullying that is reigniting conflicts smoldering under the ashes.
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