Key picks for Biden cabinet have long record advancing Washington’s wars

By Terry Evans
December 14, 2020
Joe Biden, left, with Barack Obama and other officials, including Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken, back right, in White House war room during 2011 U.S.-organized assassination of Osama bin Laden.
Official White House Photo by Pete SouzaJoe Biden, left, with Barack Obama and other officials, including Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken, back right, in White House war room during 2011 U.S.-organized assassination of Osama bin Laden.

Drawing on nominees with long records advancing U.S. military interventions, Joe Biden appointed officials to his cabinet to defend the interests of the ruling capitalist families abroad. 

Biden — who chaired the Foreign Relations Committee when he was in the Senate — championed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2002. He helped win passage of the resolution that allowed President George Bush to organize the bloody invasion and overturn the government. This has led to years of war, disorder and crisis in the region. 

Like President Donald Trump, Biden confronts the challenge of shoring up the authority of the world’s dominant capitalist ruling class against its rivals, as competition for markets and turf sharpen amid an economic crisis for working people. 

Biden named long-time aide Antony Blinken, a former Obama administration official, as secretary of state. Blinken had backed Biden’s support for the U.S. rulers’ occupation of Iraq, denounced Obama for not intervening more aggressively in Syria’s civil war, and championed Washington’s airstrikes on Libya. 

Biden named former Obama officials Avril Haines, Jake Sullivan and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as director of national intelligence, national security adviser, and ambassador to the United Nations respectively. Haines was the architect of Washington’s use of drone strikes under Obama, strikes that killed thousands in Afghanistan and elsewhere. 

“Biden brings back the establishment,” cheered a headline in the Washington Post. Biden says his administration represents “the return of American exceptionalism,” as the Financial Times  puts it. That is, they will fight to keep the U.S. rulers’ place as top dog in the imperialist world. 

During the campaign Biden castigated Trump as a threat to the liberal world order for damaging alliances he says are key to upholding the U.S. rulers’ dominant position. “Multilateralism is back,” Thomas-Greenfield gloated on her appointment. 

But under the impact of declining profit rates and mounting capitalist competition, “multilateral” institutions meant to regulate the imperialist world order — like the European Union, NATO and the World Trade Organization — are increasingly coming apart. 

Trump’s administration relied instead on unilateral sanctions to inflict damage on governments that got in Washington’s way. Those who bore the brunt of the punishing measures were working people in Cuba, Iran, Venezuela and elsewhere. 

Liberals always claim Republicans are the party of war and tools of the “military-industrial complex.” But it was Democrat Harry Truman who prosecuted the U.S. rulers’ war against the working people of North Korea; and John F. Kennedy who organized the defeated Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and, along with his successor Lyndon Johnson, massively escalated Washington’s murderous war in Vietnam.

It was Barack Obama who said the Afghanistan war was the “right war” and sent tens of thousands more troops there as cannon fodder in a conflict that still rages today. 

Also in front of the Biden team is the same intractable challenge faced by successive previous administrations — how to counter the rising power of Beijing. Blinken claims the new Biden team will be more effective in pushing back the Chinese rulers’ growing economic and military clout. 

One example of the bellicose rhetoric employed by Democrats was a statement by Michele Flourney, one of the front runners to be Biden’s secretary of defense. To be able to deter Beijing, she wrote in June, Washington has to be able to “threaten to sink all of China’s military vessels, submarines and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours.” 

Recognition of Israel, a Palestinian state

Despite their hatred and contempt for Trump and his policies, some liberal commentators are urging Biden not to reverse the initiatives Trump has taken that led to the mutual recognition of Israel by the governments of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, nor upend the prospects of Saudi Arabia and other Arab governments doing the same. 

The rulers in Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, as well as in the U.S. and Israel, share a common interest in pushing back the Iranian rulers’ growing use of their military forces to intervene in the region and its continuing wars. 

These pacts create better conditions for talks between the government of Israel and Palestinian organizations that could lead to the mutual recognition of Israel and of a Palestinian state. Steps in this direction would be good for working people, breaking the cycle of bloody conflicts and opening space for common struggle by workers and farmers in Israel, Palestine and beyond. 

Tehran reacted to the assassination of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Absard, Iran, Nov. 27, with anger, but no military retaliation. Hoping the incoming Biden team might be pressured to reduce sanctions in exchange for a renewed nuclear pact, the Iranian rulers said they would wait before giving any response. The regime accused the Israeli government of organizing a hit squad to carry out the attack. 

Former Obama foreign policy aide Ben Rhodes called the attack “an outrageous action aimed at undermining diplomacy between an incoming U.S. administration and Iran.” He wasn’t outraged that an Iranian scientist was murdered on the soil of his native country, but that it might mess with Biden’s ability to scuttle Trump’s policies. 

“Iranian leaders would be wise to wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage,” former CIA director and Biden supporter John Brennan said. 

Consistent with the CIA’s record over decades, Brennan’s “responsible leadership” included targeting people, including U.S. citizens, for assassination in drone strikes and managing the agency’s “enhanced interrogation” programs, a code-word for torture.