[News] Beware of the Hawk: What to Expect from the Biden Administration on Foreign Policy

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Sun Nov 8 11:16:50 EST 2020

of the Hawk: What to Expect from the Biden Administration on Foreign Policy
Jeremy Kuzmarov - November 8, 2020
[Source: NBC News

Millions of people around the world breathed a sigh of relief with the
defeat of Donald Trump in the 2020 U.S. election and victory of the
Biden-Harris ticket.

Joe Biden’s victory speech exuded a feeling of optimism in its call for a
new era of bipartisanship and decency in politics.

However, it is unlikely that decency will prevail in the realm of foreign

According to a profile in The Atlantic Magazine
Biden prides himself on his close interpersonal relations with world
leaders, which enables the advancement of mutual foreign policy goals.

However, if the leader is unsavory, then these interpersonal relations
become problematic.
Empirical Recalibration

As Vice-President under Barack Obama, Biden cultivated a close relationship
with Iraqi leader Nouri al-Maliki who was known as the “Shia Saddam” for
his sectarian policies that led to the growth of the Islamic State of Iraq
and the Levant (ISIS).

Biden was also very close with Ukrainian President Petro Porosehnko, who
was installed in a U.S. backed coup in 2014 and initiated a civil war in
Eastern Ukraine that left over 13,000 people dead.[1]

In some circles, Biden is lauded for being a cautionary voice in the Obama
administration on issues of war and peace.

In fact, he championed drone strikes and Special Forces operations as an
alternative to the heavy deployment of ground troops, which is the CIAs
preferred strategy.

Following the U.S. NATO bombing of Libya, Biden bragged that “we didn’t
lose a single life” and that the war “served as a prescription for how to
deal with the world as we go forward.”[2]
Image of destruction in Libya. Should this be the prescription for how we
deal with the world going forward? [Source: Boston.com]

This statement is deeply disturbing in light of the fact that hundreds of
Libyans were killed in U.S. air strikes and the country was left in ruins
after its leader, Muammar Qaddafi was overthrown and lynched.

If this is the prescription for dealing with the world as we go forward, we
are all in trouble.

*From Dove to Hawk*

When he first campaigned for Senate in 1972, young Biden positioned himself
as a dove who opposed the Vietnam War
and, in 1974, supported a bill that called for banning all covert

Sensing which way the political winds were blowing, however, Biden told a
Senate Committee in 1976 that he had “no illusions about Soviet intentions
and capabilities in the world” and expressed agreement with neoconservative
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) that “isolationism was a dangerous
and naïve foundation upon which to rest our foreign policy
or the intelligence community which must serve that policy.”

After Jimmy Carter tried to cut the CIA’s staff by one-third, Biden
supported increases in intelligence and counterintelligence funding, and in
1980, he voted to approve as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) William
a staunch anticommunist who ramped up covert arms supplies to the Afghan
mujahidin, Nicaraguan Contras, and Jonas Savimbi’s brutal UNITA forces in

As the 1980s progressed, Biden became a staunch proponent of the War on
Drugs—even though he reviewed DEA reports on the illicit drug trade which
would have pointed to the corruption of CIA allies.
 [Source: C-Span

In 1999, Biden played a key role lobbying in the Senate for Plan Colombia,
a $1.3 billion dollar program, which contributed to the Colombian army’s
war on the leftist Fuerzas Armada Revolucionario de Colombia (FARC), who
were branded as narco-guerrillas.

Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN), had promoted an alternative to Plan Colombia
that would have switched $225 million from military aid to drug treatment
programs at home. He argued that “we’ve been down this road forever,
forever,” and that “more soldiers and more guns have not and will not
defeat the source of illegal narcotics.”

Biden rose immediately to Plan Colombia’s defense in the Senate, stating
that Congress would “wreak a whirlwind” if it “failed to strike back at the
drug traffickers.”[3] A decade later, Colombia remained the “world leader
in coca production,” and was wracked by violence that had resulted as much
from the War on Drugs and war against FARC as from the traffickers

During the 1990s, besides the anti-drug crusade, Biden took up the cause of
NATO expansion in Eastern Europe, which needlessly antagonized Russia and
helped to ensure the Cold War’s revival.

Biden also championed the bombing of Kosovo, whose aim was to undermine the
socialist government of Serbia’s Slobodan Milosovic and establish a U.S.
military base, Camp Bondsteel.

In 2011, Biden characterized Hashim Thaci as the “George Washington” of
though Thaci had to cancel a trip to Washington in 2020 because he had been
indicted for war crimes that included criminal responsibility for over one
hundred murders.
Biden embraces Kosovo’s first Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, who was later
indicted for war crimes. [Source: abc.net

Biden’s evolution from a dove to a hawk reached its tragic denouement with
his sponsorship of hearings in the Senate that brought together anti-Saddam
dissidents <https://www.worththeprice.org/> who wanted regime change. Biden
through these hearings helped secure support for the invasion of Iraq which
resulted in over a million deaths. The young idealist who had rode the wave
of the 1960s protest movements into office had evolved by this time into a
seasoned and unscrupulous political operator who had sold his soul for
President George W. Bush signing a resolution authorizing the use of force
against Iraq at the White House on Oct. 16, 2002. Joseph R. Biden Jr., then
a senator, is seen at right. [Source: The New York Times

Biden’s lack of principle becomes apparent when we scrutinize his conduct
in Ukraine. He served there as the Obama administration’s top point man in
its effort to shore up the regime of Petro Poroshenko, a corrupt oligarch
who was installed in the February 2014 coup d’état (known as the “Maidan
coup”) that ousted the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych.

After the coup, Biden made multiple visits to Kiev and helped to forge
a coalition
between Poroshenko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a neoliberal favored by the State
Biden embraces Petro Poroshenko.  [Source: The Intercept

Biden’s wayward son, Hunter, was all-the-while put on the board of an
energy company, Burisma, whose executives were being investigated for tax
evasion. Biden aided his son by having the Prosecutor General who was
investigating Burisma, Viktor Shokin, removed by threatening to withhold a
$1 billion IMF loan.

The Obama administration at the time was supplying non-lethal military
equipment to the Ukraine for use in its war on the Eastern provinces. The
human cost did not concern the future president-elect nor the fact that the
Ukrainian government was supported by neo-Nazi elements who worshiped
Stephen Bandera, a Nazi collaborator in World War II.[5]

White house logs
<https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/breaking-maliki-biden> showed
that Biden made the most phone calls during his Vice-Presidency to Iraq. On
the receiving end was Nouri al-Maliki, who fit the State Department’s need
for a “shia strongman” who could advance American interests. When
Arab-Spring style protests erupted against al-Maliki, Biden and Secretary
of State John Kerry quietly worked to help install Haidar al-Abadi who was
committed to privatizing Iraq’s economy in line with the original goals of
the 2003 military invasion.[6]

During the Democratic Party primaries, Biden touted his role in developing
the Alliance for Prosperity
in Central America, which promoted large scale infrastructure projects and
privatization programs that entailed a selling of off national resources to
U.S. based multi-national corporations.

The showpiece for the Alliance, or “Biden Plan,” was Honduras, where the
Obama administration had supported another coup d’état which helped fuel
the migration crisis to the U.S.[7]
Biden meets with Honduras’ post-coup President Porfirio Lobo who presided
over a regime of gross human rights abuses and corruption. [Source: CNN]

These cases all illuminate the shameful foreign policy record that Biden
compiled as Vice-President—a record that provides a good barometer for what
we can expect during his presidency.

*Right-Wing Attacks on Trump and Russophobia*

During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden characteristically attacked
Donald Trump on foreign policy from the right.

During the second debate, Biden criticized Trump for meeting with North
Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. When Trump said: “We have a different kind of
relationship. We have a very good relationship [with Kim], and there’s no
war,” Biden shot back: “We had a good relationship with Hitler before he,
in fact, invaded the rest of Europe.”

During the same debate, Biden asked Trump why he hadn’t confronted Russia
when Trump had sold Ukraine Javelin anti-tank weapons, and supported a
military buildup on its doorstep while pulling out of arms control treaties.

Biden’s Russophobia was apparent in a January-February 2018 essay
in Foreign Affairs
*where he claimed that Russia had refused cooperation with the West at the
end of the Cold War and was now “brazenly assaulting the foundations of
Western democracy around the world” including by invading neighboring
countries such as Georgia and Ukraine.

However, it was the United States which failed to abide by a promise made
by the George H. W. Bush administration that it would not expand NATO into
Eastern Europe, and an EU investigation blamed then-Georgian leader Mikheil
Saakashvili for instigating the 2008 Russia-Georgia war after trying to
seize South Ossetia. The United States furthermore had supported the coup
in Ukraine that triggered the civil war which drew in Russia.
*What Can We Expect*

While likely to restore support for the Paris climate accord, Iran nuclear
deal and Obama’s opening towards Cuba, defense contractors are confident
that there will be no major cuts in military spending under Biden

The new president-elect has said that he cannot promise a complete troop
withdrawal from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and has talked about the need
for bolstering cyberwarfare and the U.S. arsenal of drones.

Biden will also most surely escalate (1) the new Cold War with Russia, (2)
sustain the African military command, AFRICOM, which Trump was threatening
to cut back on, and (3) adopt a so-called “light footprint” approach to
war, which he favored as Vice-President.

In an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Biden called
for greater sanctions and emphasized that he was among the first to
recognize the right-wing renegade leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate
leader of Venezuela
<https://www.cfr.org/article/presidential-candidates-venezuela>, while
pushing for the removal of socialist president Nicholas Maduro whom he
called a tyrant.

The CFR has also highlighted Biden’s hostility towards China and
desire to “reinvigorate
the United States as a Pacific power
<https://www.cfr.org/election2020/candidate-tracker> by increasing the U.S.
naval presence in the Asia-Pacific and deepening ties with countries
including Australia, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea to make it clear to
Beijing that Washington ‘won’t back down.’”

The main beneficiaries of this policy will be the weapons makers who
according to *The Nation Magazine* gave $2.4 million to Biden during the
2020 election campaign compared to $1.6 million to Trump.

One of Biden’s top campaign donors, Palmora Partners
<https://www.thenation.com/article/world/defense-contractors-election/>, a
multi-billion dollar hedge fund, has more than 260,000 shares in Raytheon,
a preeminent weapons manufacturer and supplier of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Another of Biden’s top donors, Jim Simons, who gave over $7 million,
founded Renaissance Capital, which owns 1.2 million shares in Raytheon
worth over $75 million
and 130,000 shares in Lockheed Martin worth $50 million

Hedge fund billionaire and war profiteer James Simons was one of Biden’s
top campaign donors. [Source: Mother Jones

Joe Biden conveys an image of decency compared to Donald Trump and brings
at least some rationality to the White House. However, on foreign policy
issues, Biden’s priorities are very clear and should make us uneasy.

Jeremy Kuzmarov <https://covertactionmagazine.com/author/jeremykuzmarov/>
is Managing editor of *CovertAction Magazine* and author of four books on
U.S. foreign policy including: *Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign
Policy of the Permanent Warfare State*
(Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2019).

[1] Jeremy Kuzmarov, *Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of
the Permanent Warfare State* (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2019),

[2] Quoted in Kuzmarov, *Obama’s Unending Wars*, 128.

[3] David Rogers, “Antidrug Plan Passes a Test in the Senate,” *The Wall
Street Journal*, June 22, 2000, A6.

[4] Winifred Tate, “No Peace for Colombia,” *North American Congress on
Latin America*, February 24, 2016,

[5] See Richard Sakwa, *Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands*
(London: I.B. Tauris, 2015); Oliver Boyd-Barrett, *Western Mainstream Media
and the Ukraine crisis: A Study in Conflict Propaganda* (New York:
Routeledge, 2017).

[6] Kuzmarov, *Obama’s Unending Wars*, 179.

[7] Kuzmarov, *Obama’s Unending Wars*, ch. 10.

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