please, russia, just nuke washington, i’m so tired of this

President Biden’s New Administration, Old Aggression
Editorial, Strategic Culture, Jan 22 2021

Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The day after Biden’s inauguration this week, the White House announced that it was seeking a five-year extension of the New START treaty with Russia. The treaty was set to expire on Feb 4 after a 10-year run. Russia in recent months repeatedly urged the US to renew the accord, which the former Trump administration had ignored. Therefore, the new administration’s willingness to save New START is welcome. But it is not clear-cut, as explained below. If the treaty had expired, there was a grave risk of relapse into a nuclear arms race. Given that the US has already pulled out of several arms controls treaties, it is of paramount importance to maintain the last remaining pact, which specifically limits the bilateral arsenal of intercontinental warheads. In announcing the Biden administration’s decision on extending New START, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby stated:

Just as we engage Russia in ways that advance American interests, we in the DoD will remain clear-eyed about the challenges Russia poses and committed to defending the nation against their reckless and adversarial actions.

White House spokeswoman Jan Psaki articulated a similar testy rationale, saying that despite the extension proposal the Biden administration would hold Russia to “account for reckless and adversarial actions.” Please note the casual assertion of provocative claims as if they are proven facts. And this, ironically, from a new administration that has piously proclaimed to bring “facts” to public announcements in place of the Trumpian habit of peddling falsehoods and “alternate facts.”

It was then announced that President Biden has ordered his top intelligence officers to carry out a review into allegations of Russian malign conduct. In particular, allegations of a massive cyber-attack on American government departments and commerce, the so-called SolarWinds hack; the alleged poisoning of Russian dissident figure Alexei Navalny; allegations of Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election; and lastly the allegations of Russian military intelligence running bounty-hunter plots in Afghanistan to murder US soldiers. We can be sure the conclusions are already foregone, only awaiting new media spin. Curiously though, the allegation of Russian interference in the 2020 election seems to be a new one for the archive of outlandish anti-Russian accusations. It is not clear what it refers to specifically. Earlier this week, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton made ludicrous assertions that Vladimir Putin may have helped Donald Trump in trying to overthrow the electoral process with the violent assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters on Jan 6. In any case, Russia has refuted all these absurd allegations as “baseless” and without evidence.

This charade of accusing Russia has been intensifying since the 2016 election, when Trump was elected. It now looks set to continue under the Biden presidency. Dmitri Peskov says such fables betray a Cold War mentality of Russophobia which seems to be endemic in the American political establishment. So Biden’s proposed extension of New START is not the offer of an olive branch to Russia, as it may first appear. It is being done with a cold hand of raw self-interest and in a wider context of continuing and intensifying antagonism towards Russia. Indeed, in reporting the move on the nuclear pact, the NYT quoted Biden aides saying that the new administration had no interest in establishing a “reset” in American relations with Russia.

This week also revealed other indications of aggressive mindset in the new administration. During confirmation hearings in the Senate for Biden’s Cabinet and national security team, the recurring theme was how the United States would stand up to purported adversaries. Russia, China and Iran were chief among the targets for American power interest, all described in pejorative terms as enemies. Avril Haines was confirmed as DNI. Ridiculously, she declared that she would “speak truth to power” and ensure that “intelligence would not be politicized.” This is the same Avril Haines who helped mastermind drone assassinations while formerly serving as DDCI, and who this week vowed to take a more aggressive stance towards China. Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin are set to become Sec State and Sec Def. Other members of the Biden team, Victoria Nuland, Wendy Sherman and William Burns (who is to head the CIA) are also alumni of the past Obama administrations (2008-2016) in which Biden himself served as vice president.

All of them are indelibly complicit in propagating illegal wars, regime-change operations and the disastrous 2014 coup d’état in the Ukraine. In fact, Blinken during his Senate hearings this week affirmed that he is in favor of increasing lethal US military supplies to Ukraine. Biden has a long and sordid record as a former Senator of supporting dozens of US wars and aggressions, going back to the bloody invasions of Grenada in 1983 and Panama in 1989 and the bombing of former Yugoslavia in 1999, among others. But it was his pivotal support for the US war on Iraq in 2003 which marks his most vile act as a warmonger and surrogate for American imperialism.

Biden has indulged the Russophobic fantasies of “Russiagate,” alleging collusion between the Kremlin and former president Trump, which have poisoned US-Russia relations. Biden has even resorted to cheap ad hominem attacks on Putin, calling the Russian leader a “thug.” How rich is that for someone who caused over one million deaths in his sponsorship of one war alone in Iraq, never mind dozens of others. Alas, unfortunately, what we are seeing in Washington is a new administration with old aggression. The cognitive dissonance afflicting America is something to behold. US media this week were swooning over Biden’s inauguration as a “return to normal” after four years of turmoil under Trump. The “adults have returned,” goes the saying among pundits. More accurately, that should be the adult psychopaths and imperialist warmongers have returned.

In other matters, Biden announced a “war-time effort” to control the coronavirus pandemic which has devastated the US. The American death toll from the disease stands at over 400k as of this week and is set to reach 500k by next month. The US has the biggest death toll in the world, accounting for 20% of all Covid-19 deaths. Concurrent with the US public health crisis is an economic crisis of poverty, unemployment, homelessness and inequality. It makes you wonder how it is that the Biden administration can devote so much interest on “foreign enemies” amid such catastrophe at home. One dubious blessing perhaps is that US will be so preoccupied with salvaging its own domestic woes that its warmongering politicians might not have the stomach nor nerve for overseas adventurism and wars, but don’t bet on it.

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