Monday 17th of May 2021

chamber pot diplomacy...

glasshouse
In attacking the moral character of Russia’s president and China’s human rights record, the Biden administration opened the door for a critical examination of America's own troubled history.
By Scott Ritter

President Joe Biden has defined his administration with the mantra of “America is back,” hinting at a return to what he and his supporters believe to be the halcyon days of President Barack Obama’s two-term tenure as president, as well as a sharp departure from the policies and practices of the man who usurped Hillary Clinton’s bite at the presidential apple, Donald Trump. 

In an effort to “build back better,” as Biden is wont to exclaim, his administration has embraced an ambitious agenda that aggressively seeks to both promote and install America as the world’s indispensable nation. And yet, in the span of less than 24 hours, the president and his primary foreign policy advisor, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, managed to undermine the very policies they sought to promote through a combination of narcissistic posturing and plain diplomatic incompetence.

By labeling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “soulless killer,” Biden put US-Russian relations in their worst posture since the Cold War. And Blinken, during the Biden administration’s initial meeting between the US and China, managed to unleash the ire and rage of Beijing by forgoing any pretense at diplomatic norms and aggressively calling out China on a host of issues which touched upon its sovereignty. 

The collapse of what passed for a coordinated position of diplomatically confronting both Russia and China has left the US scrambling to navigate through the detritus of its own policy shipwreck. A controlled approach to dealing with Russia and China was supposed to serve as the anchor of Biden’s new national security policy formulation. Instead, the American ship of state has been cast adrift, unable to steer as a diplomatic storm of its own making bears down upon it.

The White House recently published a document, entitled ‘Interim National Security Guidance’, which outlined its policy priorities to help shape and direct the work of the various US departments and agencies charged with implementing national security and foreign policy. This document is unprecedented in the 35-year history of implementation of the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act, which mandated that the White House produce a “national security strategy” document every four years to help streamline US defense spending. 

Normally, the National Security Strategy is produced through an interagency process that takes several months to complete. The Biden administration, in deciding to publish interim guidance while the primary document is still being written, is putting a marker down on the importance of separating its administration’s policies from those of its predecessor. The issuance of this interim guidance underscores the sense of urgency that exists within the Biden administration regarding the optics, vice reality, of change.

While promoting the mantra of “America is Back,” the interim guidance goes out of its way to highlight the fact that while the heart of the Biden policy is centered on the notion of “build back better,” the America Biden inherited operates in a world that is very much different from the one that existed when Biden served as President Obama’s vice president. 

“We cannot pretend the world can simply be restored to the way it was 75, 30, or even four years ago,” Biden wrote. “We cannot just return to the way things were before. In foreign policy and national security, just as in domestic policy, we have to chart a new course.”

This “new course,” as Biden described it, must “contend with the reality that the distribution of power across the world is changing, creating new threats.” For Biden, the major threats posed to the US came from two nations. “China,” Biden declared, “has rapidly become more assertive. It is the only competitor potentially capable of combining its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to mount a sustained challenge to a stable and open international system.”

The identity of the second threat should come as no surprise to anyone tracking US foreign policy over the course of the past 20 years. “Russia remains determined to enhance its global influence and play a disruptive role on the world stage,” Biden stated. “Both Beijing and Moscow have invested heavily in efforts meant to check US strengths and prevent us from defending our interests and allies around the world.”

The interim guidance set forth three major policy objectives for the Biden administration in confronting both Russia and China. The first is for the US to “Defend and nurture the underlying sources of American strength, including our people, our economy, our national defense, and our democracy at home.” The second is to “Promote a favorable distribution of power to deter and prevent adversaries from directly threatening the United States and our allies, inhibiting access to the global commons, or dominating key regions.” Last but not least, the US will seek to “Lead and sustain a stable and open international system, underwritten by strong democratic alliances, partnerships, multilateral institutions, and rules.”

In the span of less than 48 hours, the Biden administration managed to undermine all three objectives.

Biden’s interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos is a matter of the historical record. The American president, in answering a series of questions, described Vladimir Putin as a “soulless killer,” violating diplomatic norms which hold that heads of state project a modicum of discretion when talking about one another, if for no other reason than that eventually the two will need to meet and discuss matters in person. As Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan astutely observed, “Mr. Biden’s statements about Mr. Putin are not fitting of a president, and a president coming out and using such remarks against the president of a country like Russia is truly unacceptable, not something that can be stomached.”

Russia’s response was immediate and decisive. In an unprecedented move, the Russian Foreign Ministry recalled its ambassador to the US for “consultations,” a clear sign that Russia was reconsidering its relationship – or lack thereof – with the US. Putin, in an appearance on Russian television, took a more diplomatic approach in responding to Biden’s insults, noting that he wished the American president “good health.” But the Russian president also used a child’s saying, roughly translated as “whatever you say about others is what you are yourself,” to underscore his view that Biden’s utterances were but a reflection on the US’ own inherent problems. Putin raised the US’ use of nuclear weapons against Japan and its history of slavery of blacks and genocide of Native Americans as examples of America’s own tortured history on injustice.

Responding to Putin’s comments, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki countered by noting that the American president “believes that one of the greatest attributes of the United States is our honest self-reflection and our constant striving for progress, and there’s always more work to do.” She stated that Biden had nothing to apologize for, adding “the president gave a direct answer to a direct question.” She added that Biden and Putin have known each other for a long time and have worked through “many iterations of the [US-Russian] relationship.”

If Biden and Psaki believed that US-Russian relations would return to square one following Biden’s undiplomatic insult, Putin quickly put that notion to bed. 

“The US authorities in general seek certain relations with us but only in areas the US is interested in, and on their own terms,” Putin said. “They think that we are just like them but we aren’t. Our genetic, cultural and moral codes are different. However, we know how to protect our interests. We will work with them [the US], but only in areas we are interested in and on terms we find favorable. They will have to take it into account, despite attempts to stop our development, sanctions and insults. We will be guided by our national interests when boosting relations with all countries, including the United States,” he concluded. 

If the US’ goal was to minimize Russia’s ability and desire to be less disruptive toward US policy objectives, then Biden cemented its failure.

On China, the interim guidance indicated that it was the US’ goal to “prevail in strategic competition” by enabling America “to out-compete a more assertive and authoritarian China over the long-term.” A key element of this strategy hinged on the US investing “in our people, our economy, and our democracy.” By restoring US credibility, the Biden administration sought to “ensure that America, not China, sets the international agenda.”

The idea of American democracy serving as the foundation of foreign and national security policy was not just a throw-away sentence, but a core part of the interim guidance. “Building back better,” the guidance document emphasized, “requires us to commit ourselves to revitalizing our own democracy. America’s ideals of democracy, equality, and diversity are a fundamental and enduring source of advantage – but they are not a given. Embracing that advantage means living up to the founding promises of our nation, strengthening and renewing our democratic processes and ideals, and demonstrating by our actions that democracy is essential to meeting the challenges of our time.”

Biden’s “soulless killer” faux pas had already opened the door to a very public and credible refutation of the narrative of infallible US democracy by Russia’s President Putin. Less than a day later, Anthony Blinken paved the way for a similar take down by China. Blinken took on a confrontational posture during his opening remarks at high-level talks between the US and China  in Anchorage, Alaska, chiding China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi and state councilor Wang Yi on their country’s record regarding human rights. 

When his turn came to speak, Yang stated that the US was no longer able to “speak to China from a position of strength,” demanding that the US stop promoting as superior its own version of democracy at a time when the US was embroiled in racial and political discontent at home. Yang went on to lecture Blinken, noting that “there are many problems within the United States regarding human rights, which is admitted by the US itself.” These issues, Yang said, were “deep-seated…they did not just emerge over the past four years, such as Black Lives Matter.”

If promoting the superiority of US democracy was seen as the salient sales pitch for Biden’s “America is back” policy, the diplomatic gaffes on the part of Biden and Blinken ensured that their first opportunity to promote this policy was instead spent on their back foot, counter-punching against barbs delivered by senior Russian and Chinese officials that, because of the actions of the US in prompting these attacks, gave their words greater emphasis. The main teaching from this 48-hour lesson in bad diplomacy on the part of the US goes beyond reining in the foot-in-mouth tendencies of both Biden and Blinken. The fact is that if the Biden administration wants to sell the narrative of the primacy of US democracy, then it had better get its own house in order before criticizing that of other nations. In short, if you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones.

America is a glass house.

 

 

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of 'SCORPION KING: America's Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.' He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/518651-biden-blinken-china-russia/

 

 

julian


 

 

 

trying to be nastier than donald !...

 

Biden’s dual assault on China and Russia may backfire as it is pushing Beijing and Moscow closer together

 

by Tom Fowdy

 


With Joe Biden keen to reaffirm old American alliances, there is added incentive for China and Russia to work more collaboratively together than ever before. And there is every indication they will be prepared to do so.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to China on Monday was hugely significant, as he called for common collaboration between Moscow and Beijing to push back against the West’s “ideological agenda.”

Lavrov suggested Russia and China do this by “bolstering our technological independence, by switching to payments in our national currencies and global currencies that serve as an alternative to the dollar.”

His comments follow a tense summit in Alaska between the top diplomats of China and the United States, where a war of words overshadowed the first dialogue between the two powers under the Biden administration, which has also sought to pursue a tougher policy against Moscow since the departure of Donald Trump.

One thing is for sure: Russia and China’s diplomatic relationship is becoming more comprehensive, and the areas of strategic collaboration are growing. This trend did not coincide exclusively with Biden coming to power, but his decisions have accelerated things, particularly through his own reaffirmation of ‘alliance politics’.

Although there are some noticeable differences between Moscow and Beijing on certain geographical regions, they are nevertheless being bound informally together as an alternative to the West, as framed by the US, under the mantra of the ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’.

International relations work on a principle of equilibrium. You might compare it vaguely to the fundamentals of physics. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and likewise the exertion of a given force generates resistance against it. The theory of realist politics certainly sees the world in this way, mapping out relationships between countries on the measure of ‘the balance of power’.

This means that in an insecure international environment, states are sensitive to their capabilities relative to other countries and, in response to certain threats or developments, naturally seek to create balance against them.

Whilst this is most prominently understood on military terms, ‘power’ extends to something much broader in practice, especially in today’s world. We don’t just think in terms of bombs or tanks, but everything which pertains to the strength of a state including technology, the economy, industrial assets, infrastructure, currency and so on.

The new competition between the US, its allies and China is different to the original Cold War, in that it is premised on all of those things. This isn’t about who simply has the most nuclear weapons, it’s a ‘Cold War of globalization’ of sorts, where everything contributes to the outcome of who dominates.

And this very much explains Biden’s policy when it comes to China. The US wants to maintain not just military supremacy over Beijing, but economic, commercial and technological superiority too. Everything has become strategic. Therefore, according to this principle of ‘equilibrium’, how does Beijing inevitably react to this changed environment? The answer is that it works together with a state such as Russia, which is also in competition with the US. They hedge towards each other as they identify a common space in countering the ideological and strategic challenge posed by the US.

Lavrov’s comments identify a number of these common areas. Firstly, there’s technology. China and Russia have a common interest in developing new strategic technologies as the US strives to maintain hegemony over them and contain China’s development.

Both countries need to be less reliant on the West. Russia has its own scientific tradition; China is leaning on that more, while providing resources, as the scope for Western collaboration narrows. As a marked example of this, the two sides are now collaborating to build the first moon base in history. It’s a project of huge strategic significance that the US and its allies would be unwilling to work with either on.

Currency is also important. Both sides have a pressing interest in diversifying away from the US dollar to weaken the power of American sanctions over them, as well as new payment systems. China is already far ahead on this matter, with the development of its own digital currency a revolutionary creation which will be the first in the world of its kind. Russia, meanwhile, has already reduced the proportion of US dollars in its own treasuries while increasing the proportion of Chinese Yuan to 15%. A path to de-dollarization has been carved out, and Moscow is eager to speed that up.

And then there’s diplomacy and the military to consider. Biden’s reaffirmation of US alliances has strengthened the scope for Russia-China collaboration, although it’s in this area that the most differences remain. Chinese strategists see the diplomatic and military role of Russia as important in restraining the influence of the Quad (the US, Australia, India and Japan), especially when it comes to dealings with the latter two. With the US now trying to undermine the India-Russia relationship by trying to strongarm New Delhi against buying Russian arms, there’s a clear common interest for Beijing and Moscow to work together.

Given all this, it’s no surprise there is growing collaboration between Russia and China, who see increasing strategic gains by leaning on the other against a common adversary. It may be premature to describe the situation as an emerging ‘alliance’, but as the geopolitical context consolidates. that idea is becoming less absurd over time.

Nonetheless, the point is that actions have consequences. As the US strives to build a coalition of countries, the basic principle of international relations dictates that those targeted will do that too. And this inevitably precedes the transformation of the international system from one once exclusively dominated by America into a multipolar world with several strategic blocs.

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/518837-biden-assault-china-russia/

 

 

Free Assange Now !!!!!!!!!!!!

crossing the red line...

 

In a recent interview that the sitting US president gave to the ABC channel, Joe Biden confirmed that he considers Russia’s president Vladimir Putin a “soulless killer”, adding a series of threats against Russia to those remarks. 

Such a statement, that was based purely on Russophobic misinformation, would do no honor to any politician. However, when such remarks are made by a person that occupies the position of the head of the United States, they start looking particularly queer, since Russian leaders, unlike their American counterparts, are not generally known for unleashing bloody senseless conflicts like the Vietnam war or the wars in the Middle East, that resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties. 

Such improper and aggressive behavior can hardly be attributed to the mental challenges that Biden might or might not be suffering from. However, there are a lot of speculations going around in the mainstream media about his mental capabilities, that were first started by the Australian TV show host Cory Bernardi that discussed those issues in his show on Sky News as early as last February.

For sure, one cannot rule out that the entire White House and the Biden family got infected with a “biting frenzy” that first affected Joe’s German Shepherd that had a “biting incident” with a member of White House security. However, if the sitting US president did in fact got affected by this “disease”, it still doesn’t excuse his remarks.

What is clear is that this aggressive posturing was met with widespread outrage in different parts of the world.

Biden’s statement is a triumph of political insanity and senile dementia of the US ruling class said the leader of the ruling United Russia party Andrei Turchak. In turn, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs recalled its ambassador to the US for “consultations”, which occurred for the first time in the entirety of the modern Russian-American relations.

Most of the countries reacted critically to Biden’s statement, as it’s been pointed out by major newspapers and online publications. Readers in their comments to the stories published on those platforms point out that the demonization of Russia and the attempts to publicly insult Russia’s president are plain crazy. What is curious, even Japanese readers do not hide their surprise and indignation these days. In particular, one can come across comments on Yahoo News Japan, where they argue about Biden’s frail mental state and make remarks that his entourage shouldn’t be allowing POTUS anywhere near the nuclear button.

Indeed, Joe Biden looks weak and his health condition would repeatedly draw the attention of various media outlets. Due to his age, and Biden has recently turned 78, there’s a lot of doubts voiced publicly about his ability to fully perform his duties in the highest position of power. During the presidential race, he would frequently get into awkward situations. The media discussed his senile gait, his numerous gaffes. When Biden was giving a speech at the beginning of March dedicated to women serving in the US military, he would show symptoms of dementia yet again by forgetting the name of the secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin. During the presidential campaign, he said that he was trying to get elected to the Senate, and last December he named US vice president Kamala Harris the president of the United States. In November, Biden confused his granddaughter Natalie with his deceased son Beau, he also called his political rival George, confusing Trump him with his predecessor – George W. Bush.

The National Pulse and a number of other American outlets have already pointed out that the better part of important telephone conversations with other world leaders are conducted by Kamala Harris. In this regard, questions about Biden’s physical and mental ability to perform his duties are openly voiced even in the United States.

It’s noteworthy that ever since the days of Franklin Roosevelt both American parties prefer to put forward weak political figures to occupy the Oval Office and Joe Biden that replaced Donald Trump in the capacity of the US president is the pinnacle of this political trend. One cannot describe such actions as illogical, as it is easier to manipulate such politicians, and when things don’t go the way they were planned those politicians would typically get all the blame for the decisions that were made by someone else.

However, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that the duties of a weak president are still performed by a group of hidden functionaries. Therefore, the “collective Biden” makes the decisions that were approved by leading Democratic party figures, sponsors and lobbyists. Those are the people that are calling the shoots and they know perfectly well what they are up to. 

Therefore, behind Biden’s antics in the now scandalous interview one can distinguish a clear desire of the ruling political elite to drive the public discussion away from the failed domestic policies by promoting hysteria about Russia or China, or to build a narrative about such “existential enemies” to the US as Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, etc. The escalation of this hysteria, as the “collective Biden” certainly hopes, will justify a new war of words, a new arms race, and even a new military conflict. 

It’s clear that the United States will not dare to take any direct military action against Russia, knowing full well that there’s no use planning a war when Moscow has the advantage of superior weapons and the well-trained army. However, Washington is thoroughly invested in provoking some of its new “satellites” to pursue an armed escalation with Russia. That is why the “collective Biden” is not just shaking the air with loud statements, but also tacitly aggravates tensions on Russia’s borders by allowing NATO to stage provocations with its reconnaissance and bomber aircraft in the Baltic, Black and Barents Seas, by deploying additional military units and American offensive weapons to Romania, Poland, Norway, and the Baltic States. What is curious is that the population of all these countries hasn’t been informed yet that, in response to such provocations, Russia would prepare to defend itself with the full might of its entire arsenal. 

It is a well-known fact that war has always been one of the solutions to internal crises that different aggressive countries faced throughout history. That is why Western countries would start their wars. However, neither the Soviet Union nor the Russian Federation have resorted to this tactics, on the contrary, they would face the necessity to defend themselves from external aggression. 

That is why it is highly probable that under Biden, the United States will be dragged into a new military conflict, or into aggravating the situation in the traditional hot spots of the Middle East or Asia. Under certain conditions, the US may fulfill Israel’s demands to launch air-strikes against Iran, without sending any ground troops in. Getting a large number of boots on the ground in the Middle East will result in an ever increasing number of casualties, which the US cannot afford, thus it will not succeed in a direct assault against Tehran. 

Therefore, it is quite possible that in one of his future public speeches Biden will proclaim that Washington needs a small “victorious campaign” in an area that is geographically closer to the United States – for example, in Latin America, or in Southeast Asia. And that’s why Biden, as he has fallen victim to an age-related loss of direction, will be lashing out not just against Russia, but against China, and a number of other countries supporting the two, an his remarks are to become ever more and more furious. 


Valery Kulikov, political expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

 

 

Read more: 

https://journal-neo.org/2021/03/21/biden-has-crossed-the-red-line/

 

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blinken bozo bickers...

A Chinese diplomat fired back at the US secretary of state, after he accused Beijing of not doing “what it needed to do” in the early stage of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was the US that failed in its response, she said. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken took a page from his predecessor, Mike Pompeo, in accusing China of not being transparent enough in dealing with the initial Covid-19 outbreak on its soil.

“I think China knows that in the early stages of Covid, it didn’t do what it needed to do, which was to in real time give access to international experts, in real time to share information, in real time to provide real transparency,” Blinken told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Sunday. He added that because of China, the virus “got out of hand faster and with I think much more egregious results than it might otherwise.”

The line of attack is not unlike that used by the Trump administration, which repeatedly accused Beijing and the World Health Organization (WHO) of covering up the outbreak in the city of Wuhan and supposedly exposing an unsuspecting world to the full force of Covid-19.

 

Unlike Pompeo, Blinken didn’t entertain the ‘accidental lab leak’ theory of Covid-19’s origin, which claims that the outbreak started with a hushed-up incident at a Wuhan virology center. The Biden administration, however, did question the WHO investigation into the origin of the virus. The organization acknowledged it had trouble accessing some raw data during its fact-finding mission in China, but called the ‘lab leak’ scenario “extremely unlikely.”

Blinken’s criticism did not go unnoticed in Beijing, with a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign minister firing back on Monday. The state of Wuhan today, which is no longer ravaged by the virus, shows that China “has done whatever she needed to do and whatever could be done,” Hua Chunying tweeted. “Did the US gov do what it needed to do?”

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/news/520880-blinken-china-covid-outbreak/

 

 

 

Until Assange is free, Blinken has no legs to stand on...