Thursday, May 23, 2024

Biden's foreign policy: let's bet everything on authoritarianism!


And watch it all slip away(Por fin se va acabar)Or leave a garden for your kids to play(Jamás van a alcanzar)

 --- The Black Angels, El JardinThe Black Angels, El Jardin

American foreign policy inhabits the same paradox that American domestic policy lives in: what does it mean to be a democracy?

During the Cold War period, the paradox, at least on the foreign policy side, was simplified by the idea that whatever was anti-communist was democratic. This was, of course, technically not true: from Nazi Germany to the Pinochet’s Chili, from Syngman Rhee’s South Korea to Thieu’s South Vietnam, the United States chose authoritarian states over any possible democratic alternative.

This led to millions of deaths around the world.

At the end of the Cold War, however, there was a sense in the American foreign policy establishment that perhaps the U.S. could be an interventionist liberal power. Weighing in on the side of democracy. The last shreds of this solution were dissolved during the Bush regime. Although we rhetorically wanted “democracy” in the occupied state of Iraq, it turns out that we wanted it on our terms, with no interference from the Iraqi population.

We now seem, under Biden, to be reconstructing a Cold War foreign policy that is even more contradictory than the one forged under anti-communism. Here, democracy is the equivalent of being pro-Israel, no matter what Israel does.

The only way any state in the Middle East, or North Africa, or Central Asia can sustain that as a policy if for that state to be firmly under the thumb of a dictator – be it Sisi in Egypt or the House of Saud or Jordan’s “parliamentary” mock democracy. The U.S. policy is entirely dependent, under Biden, on maintaining and strengthening these authoritarian powers.

This is the kind of paradox that will corrode Biden’s message in the current election: the message that this is an election of “democracy” against Trump’s authoritarianism. It is pretty simple to see that this message relies, in Biden’s politics, on a limit: democracy cannot be entrusted to people like, say, the Jordanians. This tacit principle makes a mockery of Biden’s domestic view, that no persons because of race creed or gender should be denied full civil rights.

Meanwhile authoritarians elsewhere have recognized that whether Biden or Trump is elected, they have a friend in Washington. In Europe, the far right has become absolutely loyal to Israel for two reasons: the historical antisemitic psychopathology, out of which these parties spring, had one great success, from the antisemitic point of view: the murder of six million European Jews. That means practically that in a place like the Netherlands, where the Nazis murdered three quarters of the Jewish community, Jews now form only a tiny percentage of the population – around 50,000 in a total population of 17 million. In comparison, the Muslim population – immigrants mostly from Netherland’s colonies – constitute around a million. The Far Right under Geert Wilders, which is the coalition partner in the Netherlands, has decided to use a new tactic – attacking the Moslem population as antisemitic. That the ideological and real ancestors of Wilders collaborated with the Nazis is now easy to apologize for – with a grin, of course. Dutch Jews do have reasons to fear increasing antisemitism among the Islamic population, as that population absorbs the idea that opposing Israel is antisemitism.

In essence, the far-right part of Europe has been given a gift by the right in Israel and its biapartisan allies in the U.S. Thus, a program that was condemned in the 1990s in the war in Yugoslavia – the mass murder of Bosnian Muslims – has now become less criminal, and more understandable. Those Muslims were antisemitic! Thus, nobody blinks when Netanyahu teams up with Orban to demonize the Hungarian Jew Soros.

Bad times are coming, no matter who is elected president in the U.S.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


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