What would you call a man who single-handedly pushed the world to the brink of another cold or hot war, destroyed the already precarious global respect for the rule of law, made the difference between democracy and autocracy immaterial, ignited high inflation everywhere that could lead to a deep recession where some countries could even go bankrupt (Sri Lanka, for example), and whose own people think he has messed up in a big way and no longer approve of his presidency? A leader who, many suspect, has “cognitive difficulties”, and who won his presidency based on “dark money” from unknown contributors?
We would call him a disaster for his people and the world. For the only real winners are autocracies all over the world.
Hands up those who think we are talking about Vladimir Putin, who certainly bears responsibility for actually resorting to war in Ukraine? Or Donald Trump, who certainly was not an exemplar of good global leadership?
The correct answer is Joe Biden, the President of the United States of America.
The complex truth is that the US, and the US alone, could have prevented Putin from invading Ukraine, not by sending more arms to Ukraine before the war began, but by reassuring Putin that NATO would not expand closer to Russia as long as the latter did not forcibly try to take over parts of Ukraine. But America did not do that. (read here, here).
The question is why did it not do so? There could be two answers to this question. One, Russia was the easier and smaller enemy to take on, and destroy. But, more important, the US military-industrial complex needs active wars to be viable or profitable.
With Europe, especially eastern Europe on edge, everyone will rearm, and the US military-industrial complex will benefit. The complex is now driving US policy (read here). In fact, there is yet another reason to suspect that America may have wanted this war after Biden’s ignominious exit from Afghanistan. If Afghanistan dented America’s and Biden’s credibility, Ukraine was where an attempt has been made to restore it.
Trump, for all his faults, never doubted that China was the bigger threat to the US, but his political opponents made him seem like a Russian puppet. What Biden has done is take this nonsense to its logical conclusion, and pushed Russia to take refuge under China, even while he himself mollycoddles China.
A dafter foreign policy, which will ultimately result in more damage to America’s prestige and credibility, cannot be imagined. (read here, here). Even if Biden’s war somehow manages to damage Russia, it will be a pyrrhic victory. But many experts now believe that the Ukraine war may last years (read here).
The net result has been disaster all around.
The sanctions are already boomeranging. After trying to isolate Russia in mind-boggling ways (from freezing its assets, to organising boycotts of its businesses and oligarchs, and even asking American businesses to leave Russia and accept losses), Biden’s all-out economic war has plunged the world into a situation of stagflation, where high inflation has already happened, and recession looms in the major economies.
Biden’s sanctions, now willy-nilly followed by a European boycott of Russian energy, has resulted in creating an energy price bounty for autocrats and Islamists all over the world.
Ironically, even Russia benefited from the sanctions as oil prices boomed. It has pushed back any chance that we will act unitedly against climate change. Remember, Russian gas, which is less damaging to global warming than substitutes coal or oil, was helping us tackle climate change. Now, the process has been reversed. The Wall Street Journal calculates that businesses have already lost $59 billion from the Russian sanctions and retaliatory actions. (Read about the economic consequences here, here, here, here).
The damage wrought by Biden has begun to come back to haunt him. There are now more Americans who disapprove of him than ever, and, what is more worrisome, questions are being raised by many about whether he is fit to rule. Given some of his public gaffes and bloomers, and his own notable speech slurring, there are reports that he may be facing “cognitive” difficulties (a polite word for some form or early-stage dementia). (Read/view here, here, here, here).
If the world’s most powerful leader is not all there in the head, one wonders who is making policies that are damaging us all? One hint comes from the fact that the money that got him elected was substantially “dark money”, that is backers who remained anonymous, as Bloomberg reported in 2021. This is worrisome. Biden, it seems, is beholden to some dark interests that the world knows nothing about. Are these interests pushing America and the world towards war?
It is worth noting that Europe has had a tendency to fall into endless war, brought on by both religious and political conflicts. It was the conflict between Catholic and Protestant powers, myriad princes and potentates, which pushed Spain and the Dutch to engage in a war that was fought intermittently over 80 years, with the Germanic phase itself lasting 30 years. And it took four years of peace negotiations for the treaty of Westphalia to be signed after this disastrous, multi-decade, multi-actor war.
Has a man losing some of his marbles pushed us into another such endless conflict, with consequences not only for Europe, but the whole world?
The sooner Biden is bid goodbye, the better it will be for the world. And we worried about Trump, thinking he was the man to plunge us into an abyss.
Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.
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