It is remarkable how quickly the Biden administration is acquiring its stamp — the watermark it will leave on our parchment when it is done. This will be made of isolation and delusion, in my read. I conclude this partly because of what President Biden and his people have done in the four months since assuming the executive branch, and partly because of Biden’s moment in the long story of America’s rise and decline in the post–1945 era.
Let us consider this moment in a historical context. Hard as it is to see one’s present as a passage in history, let us try, even as the living are too close to the present to accomplish this without conscious effort.
A string of events, chief among them lately the Navalny nonsense, the US–cultivated tensions on Ukraine’s border with Russia this past spring, and the HMS Defender’s purposely provocative intrusion into Russian waters off Crimea last week: It is now plain that the US (by way of the ever-supine UK in the Defender case) simply does not want a settled relationship with the Russian Federation for the foreseeable future.
The rest of America’s traditional allies do, as Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel made plain last week, when the French and German leaders proposed a European Union summit with President Vladimir Putin — an implicit reply to the Biden summit with one of Europe’s own. It was the Poles and the Baltics, ever suffering from post–Soviet stress disorder, who shot down the idea.
It is the same across the Pacific: With the single exception of the Australians, who have not thought for themselves since MI6 and the CIA conspired to depose Gough Whitlam in 1975, nobody in East Asia wants to join the US in some kind of confrontation with China inspired by game theory and other such Strangelovian procedures. This holds, once again, for core Europe and also for America’s traditional allies in East Asia — including, I must add, the almost-always supine Japanese.
This is what I mean by isolation.
One need not range far to find evidence of America’s mounting delusions.
Antony Blinken, “Husband, dad, (very) amateur guitarist, 71st secretary of state,” as he puts it angelically, Saturday on Twitter:
“We will not waver in our commitment to condemn and eliminate torture, promote accountability for perpetrators, and support victims in their healing.”
Blinken is a font of such preposterous stuff, week in, week out — proclaiming freedom of the press while Julian Assange is a few miles away in a prison cell, tears for Syrian children whose suffering the US inflicts — there is no limit, truly.
One is pleased to read Mr Deeply Concerned (a nickname a Twitter friend offers) is a husband and dad, for we can rest assured he is as honest as Abe, an all-around good joe, thoroughly in the American grain, and, of course, superior to the unmarried. His skills as secretary of state seem to match his way with the guitar, but in both cases, it is all good American fun.
Ned Price, the robot who flacks for the amateur strummer, one day earlier:
“Venezuelans have a right to democracy. The United States is committed to working with our partners like the EU and Canada toward a comprehensive negotiated solution…”
I draw from two days’ output from Foggy Bottom. Not one word in either of these two tweets is true. The Biden administration has accumulated a small mountain of this rubbish since assuming office in January 2020.
This is what I mean by delusion.
I am not here to tell you that policies the rest of the world does not like, and our illusions as to our spotless virtue as we make our hypocritical way in the world, are anything new. Hardly is this so. But they come now at a critical moment in world history. This is what makes Biden’s arrival at the White House so significant.
Biden and his national security people had a choice on Inauguration Day. Other recent presidents have had it, too, but for none has it been so sharply defined. I have wondered ever since whether Biden & Co. understood this and consciously made the wrong one, or whether they were not even capable of understanding a choice had to be made.