The Biden administration has named Richard Nephew as its deputy Iran envoy. As the former principal deputy coordinator of sanctions policy for Barack Obama’s State Department, Nephew took personal credit for depriving Iranians of food, sabotaging their automobile industry, and driving up unemployment rates. Nephew has described the destruction of Iran’s economy as “a tremendous success,” and lamented during a visit to Russia that food was still plentiful in the country’s capital despite mounting U.S. sanctions. Nephew’s appointment to a senior diplomatic post suggests that rather than immediately returning to the JCPOA nuclear deal, the Biden administration will finesse sanctions illegally imposed by Trump to pressure Iran into an onerous, reworked agreement that Tehran is unlikely to join.
William Burns, Biden’s pick for CIA chief, had tough words for China during his Senate confirmation hearing and identified countering Beijing as a top priority. “Adversarial, predatory Chinese leadership poses our biggest geopolitical test,” Burns told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. He described China as “a formidable, authoritarian adversary.” “Out-competing China will be key to our national security in the days ahead,” Burns said. For the CIA, he said this means “intensified focus and urgency, continually strengthening its already impressive cadre of China specialists, expanding its language skills, aligning personnel and resource allocation for the long haul and employing a whole of agency approach.”
President Joe Biden’s nomination of Victoria Nuland for Under Secretary for Political Affairs, the third-highest position at the State Department, is a dangerous sign. Nuland exemplifies the neoconservatives who have led American foreign policy from one disaster to another for the past 30 years, all while evading any shred of accountability. As a top-level appointee, Nuland must still be confirmed by the Senate. And while pro-peace groups have waged a campaign to stop her confirmation, reflecting on her career in public service makes clear why she is incompetent, highly dangerous, and should not be confirmed.
On Wednesday, President Biden announced a new Pentagon task force that will be reviewing the US military’s policy towards China, another sign that the new administration is prioritizing confronting Beijing. Pentagon officials said the task force is a “sprint effort” that will examine things like US troop presence in the region, intelligence, and the role of US allies and partners in countering China. Leading the task force is Ely Ratner, a China hawk who Biden appointed as a special advisor to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Before his new position at the Pentagon, Rather worked at the interventionist Center for a New American Security (CNAS) think tank.
The white hooligans who invaded Capitol Hill on January 6th set the stage for the U.S. ruling class to reinvigorate its most prized political narrative: American exceptionalism. Trump committed the most egregious crime of all in the eyes of the empire by encouraging his most loyal supporters to desecrate what one police officer on the scene called “the most sacredest place.” His closing act paved an even smoother road for the incoming Biden administration to quickly militarize Washington D.C. and normalize a period of sustained crisis vis-à-vis cosmetic changes to the leadership of the empire. But as neoliberal elements of the ruling class breathe a sigh of relief, the struggle against the Biden administration’s imperial criminality will face immense challenges in the coming period.
The corporate media has focused on Biden’s promise to overturn many of former-President Trump’s policies. But Biden pledged throughout his campaign to make “no substantial change” — and his foreign policy appointments show he meant that. Despite the media talk of justice, new policy and diversity, behind the scenes the same old U.S. militarist policies are being reinforced through Biden’s cabinet choices and their direct ties to industry-funded think tanks and military contractors. Biden’s cabinet nominations follow the failed imperialist policies of the Trump, Obama, Bush Jr., Clinton and Bush Sr. administrations of the past three decades.
It took a variety of approaches to market the 2003 war on Iraq. For some it was to be a defense against an imagined threat. For others it was false revenge. But for Samantha Power it was philanthropy. She said at the time, “An American intervention likely will improve the lives of the Iraqis. Their lives could not get worse, I think it’s quite safe to say.” Needless to say, it wasn’t safe to say that. Did Power learn a lesson? No, she went on to promote a war on Libya, which proved disastrous. Then did she learn? No, she took an explicit position against learning, publicly arguing for the duty not to dwell on the results in Libya as that might impede willingness to wage war on Syria.
Who is Victoria Nuland? Most Americans have never heard of her because the U.S. corporate media’s foreign policy coverage is a wasteland. Most Americans have no idea that President-elect Biden’s pick for Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs is stuck in the quicksand of 1950s U.S.-Russia Cold War politics and dreams of continued NATO expansion, an arms race on steroids and further encirclement of Russia. Nor do they know that from 2003-2005, during the hostile U.S. military occupation of Iraq, Nuland was a foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney, the Darth Vader of the Bush administration. You can bet, however, that the people of Ukraine have heard of neocon Nuland.
President-elect Joe Biden has selected longtime Democratic insider Samantha Power to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). “There is simply no one better to ensure our development agenda is a core pillar of our foreign policy,” the 78-year-old Delawarean said in a video statement, claiming that, under previous Democratic administrations Power, “fought tirelessly to prioritize human rights.” USAID styles itself as a human rights organization, a Washington-sponsored group promoting democracy and development around the world. But if one delves deeper than merely the surface level, the organization has been crucial in financing a number of regime change operations across the globe.
Describing it as “one of the darkest days in American history,” President-elect Joe Biden denounced Wednesday’s spectacular assault on the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. as a coup attempt fomented by Donald Trump. “I wish we could say we couldn’t see it coming, but that isn’t true. We could see it coming,” the 78-year-old Delawarean said. The last four years we’ve had a president who’s made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law, clear in everything he has done. He unleashed an all-out assault on the institutions of our democracy from the outset, and yesterday was but a culmination … of that attack.” “This is not dissent, it’s disorder. It’s chaos,” he added, calling the events an “unprecedented assault” on the very fabric of U.S. democracy.
For the past four years we’ve been covering Trump’s dramatic and belligerent escalations in the Empire’s wars. But there’s a new dawn on the horizon. President elect Joe Biden is being celebrated as a return to sanity on the world stage; who will restore peaceful cooperation between allies of democracy. But those words, like most everything else from Team Biden, are just a bunch of meaningless rhetoric. Now, we can clearly deduce what a Biden foreign policy will look like, since he’s chosen all the major positions for his war cabinet these past weeks. Although not everything has been filled, he’s appointed enough people to let us know exactly how he plans to manage the empire.
It doesn’t matter when you read this, the assholes will still be in power. I know that because here in America we can’t vote out the assholes. We can trouble them, scare them, annoy them, and sometimes even pressure them into doing some small thing that’s mildly progressive. But we can’t vote out the assholes. Of course, right now, if you’re a Joe Biden supporter, you’re yelling out loud to your laptop or phone, “That’s not true! We just DID! We just did vote out the assholes!” And I’m not arguing that Donald Trump and his motley squad of parasitic shit stains aren’t awful.