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LEON: Biden’s Proposed Cabinet — A Kinder and Gentler Imperialism

“Tonight, the whole world is watching America. And I believe at our best, America is a beacon for the globe. We will lead not only by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.” — Joe Biden, Nov. 7, 2020

In his first address to the nation as president-elect, Joe Biden told America and the world that power comes first; power is the key. He went on to say, “Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses…It’s time for our better angels to prevail.…”

It is time for America’s “better angels to prevail” but I think Biden has it backwards. He should have said, we will lead by the power of our example and if necessary, by the example of our power. Like his predecessors, he is defaulting to the Military Industrial Complex (MIC).

When you look at Biden’s cabinet announcements it takes me to former Giants coach Bill Parcells who said, “You are what your record says you are.” In this case, you are what your cabinet says you are. It is the people who make the policy; policy does not make itself. The history of many of these nominees reflects America’s darkest impulses, not its better angels.

What was good about America “green-lighting” the NATO bombing of Libya and the resulting execution of Muammar Gaddafi? This led to the destabilization of the country and the region. According to The Atlantic, “The Libya intervention marked the third time in a decade that Washington embraced regime change and then failed to plan for the consequences.” America’s better angels? I think not.

What good has come from America “green-lighting” Saudi Arabia’s invasion in Yemen and the continuing logistical support for what the UN has called the worst man-made humanitarian crisis in the world? Per the UN, after nearly six years of conflict, “14.3 million people are classified as being in acute need, with around 3.2 million requiring treatment for acute malnutrition; that includes two million children under-five, and more than one million pregnant and lactating women.” If America were winning the battle of our better angles, we would stop our support of the Saudi’s and provide these starving people food, water and medicine. Instead, America is losing the battle to the MIC, big oil and its darkest impulses. These impulses convince you that it is more important to sell weapons and take resources than provide humanitarian aid.

America’s imperialist, hegemonic and evil regime change policies did not make themselves. Again, it is the people who make the policy. Look at the record of some of Biden’s cabinet nominees and their involvement in these atrocities.

Biden’s choice for Secretary of Defense is projected to be Michèle Flournoy. She was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy during the Clinton administration. During her tenure, she authored the May 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The founding principle of this document is that the unilateral use of force is acceptable to defend any U.S. interest the U.S. deems important and the U.S. is the sole arbiter of these issues. She is the proponent of permanent war or as she calls it, “full-spectrum dominance.” As the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy during the Obama administration, she was instrumental in designing the horrific regime change policies that led to the invasions of Libya and Syria.

Biden’s choice for Secretary of State is Tony Blinken. He was a top advisor to then-Sen. Joe Biden, who was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They played a major role in shoring up support among the Democrat-controlled Senate for Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq.

We can also thank Avril Haines, Biden’s pick to be Director of National Intelligence for his role in the Yemen, Libya and Syria policies. Haines also supported arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

On the domestic policy front, Biden has named Neera Tanden as his nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget. It should be troubling that a nominee for this position has advocated for cuts to Social Security and other vital social safety net programs. During a pandemic, with an economy in recession and 30-40 million Americans facing eviction, austerity is not the appropriate response.

Tanden also has a hawkish foreign policy side. Leading up to the Libya bombing she was advocating taking Libya’s oil as repayment for the U.S.-backed bombing of the country. “If we want to continue to engage in the world, gestures like having oil-rich countries partially pay us back doesn’t seem crazy to me….” This is the same mindset that Trump articulated in Syria.

In his speech, “Time to Break Silence” Dr. King warned us about austerity, “A few years ago…it seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor…through the poverty program…Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated, as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.” Just replace Vietnam with Afghanistan, Syria or Yemen, etc. We are still “a society gone mad on war.”

As the “Manhattan Mussolini” aka President Trump talks about withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, what does Jeh Johnson (possible nominee for a defense position) have to say? “…in trying to strike a deal, you don’t unilaterally surrender your greatest point of leverage by unilaterally withdrawing troops before the Afghan government and the Taliban have stuck a deal…” Greatest point of leverage? We’ve been there almost 20 years and gained nothing! What leverage is he talking about?

These are just a few examples of the individuals President-elect Biden has said he will nominate for key positions in his administration. I have been very consistent in warning that Nov. 3 was especially important, but it is what Americans are willing to fight for that will matter on Nov.4 and after. For as ugly and racist as Trump’s politics are America will have to be vigilant and diligent if there is to be substantive positive change in the future. These nominees indicate to me that Biden, et al are planning to take us back to a romanticized Clinton and Obama eras whose policies sometimes did not lead to a better America.

Biden has been touting a “diverse” cabinet and administration. He is introducing prominent “firsts” of their gender or ethnicity in cabinet positions. Diversity in gender or ethnicity is not as relevant as diversity in ideology and agenda. Don’t get fooled by this identity/gender politics “diversity” veneer. Look at the records of these people. Look at the think-tanks they are tied to and how many of them have been and/or are currently being paid by Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman and the other defense contractors. Look at how many of them were involved in the Libya fiasco, the Yemen catastrophe, Rwanda, and the blunder in Syria.

Progress this is not. If the people don’t force change in policy, it will just be a nicer fascism. A warmer and fuzzier hegemony. A happier time for neoliberalism. A kinder and gentler imperialism.

Leon is the producer/host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Leon” on SiriusXM Satellite radio channel 126. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: wjl3us@yahoo.com. www.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com © 2020 InfoWave Communications, LLC.

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