There were a number of political commentators who urged us to give newly elected United States president Joe Biden a chance to show that he would offer a new approach to the multiple problems facing the United States alliance. Well, he had an opportunity to do so. But the speech that Biden gave on 19th of February of this year that “an attack on one is an attack on all” tells a different story. This “attack” was going to be made by either Russia or China, whom he declared to be the greatest enemy of both the United States and Europe.
What Biden hoped to achieve, beyond gratifying the exorbitant United States military budget, in attacking Russia and China as the United States’ main threats is unclear. Certainly, any kind of military attack on those two nations, or either of them, is a fantasy invoked by more than a few of the United States strategic planners. This fantasy has not stopped the United States from using its military to continue to threaten both Russia and China.
Three days after his speech, the United States deployed four B1 heavy bombers to Norway. According to the CNN commentary on the move, the objective of this particular exercise was to send “a clear message” to Russia that the United States intended to operate in the strategically important Arctic region. The move was also apparently to send a message that the United States will defend allies in the Arctic area against “any Russian aggression.”
That the United States is unable to point to a single instance of this alleged “Russian aggression” is apparently immaterial. That the placing of United States military assets within reach of Russia’s borders could reasonably be perceived as an American threat to Russia is a concept that appears beyond American minds to grasp.
That the United States military deployment to threaten Russia and China is contrary to international law is apparently an idea that fails to trouble United States planners. Their double standard in this regard was exemplified in the United States’ response to a speech by China’s foreign minister Wang on 22nd of February indicating a continued Chinese willingness to communicate on problems that may exist.
The conciliatory approach by the Chinese was rudely rebuffed by United States State Department spokesman Ned Price, who instead of welcoming the offer of constructive dialogue preferred to characterise it as reflecting the alleged continuing pattern of China’s tendency to “avert blame for its predatory economic practices, it’s lack of transparency, its failure to honour international agreements, and its repression of universal human rights.” This is a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black, because each and every one of Mr Price’s allegations could be applied to United States behaviour over the past 70+ years.
Further convincing evidence that NATO (and Biden) are still singing from a long-discredited song sheet is found in the recently published document NATO 2030, prepared by a group of so-called “wise persons.” It contains 138 specific proposals that does nothing to modify French president Macron’s description of NATO as “brain dead.”
In comments made just prior to the documents publication, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared that “China posed important challenges to our security.” At a press conference given to broadcast his views, Stoltenberg claimed that China did not share “our values” and tries to “intimidate other countries.”
Unfortunately, Stoltenberg is locked in the same outdated time frame as Biden. China is now the largest trading partner for the European Union, replacing the United States in that role last year. A total of 18 of the European Union nations have now signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding China’s Belt and Road Initiative. According to independent economic data the European Union member States that have signed up to the BRI are now experiencing faster economic growth rates than those who have not signed on.
This development is a classic illustration of what Chinese president Xi refers to as a “win win situation”. Critics of the Chinese moves have claimed that it is all part of some undefined “Chinese plot” to take over the economies of Western Europe. The economic logic behind such a claim is manifestly lacking.
NATO and the Biden administration are happy to promote this anti-China rhetoric, regardless of its detachment from reality, but also manifestly at odds with the experience of countries that have embraced the Chinese initiative.
Similarly, on 20th February Biden repeated tired US claims that Russia had violated international law with its purported annexation of Crimea. This is a claim endlessly repeated in the western media. Such claims show a casual disregard for Crimea’s history. Alarmed at the manifestly illegal coup that replaced the legitimate Ukrainian government in early 2014, the Crimean parliament voted to re-join the Russian Federation. I say “re-join” because Crimea had been part of Russia for centuries before being gifted to Ukraine in 1953 by then Russian President Khrushchev.
The issue was then put to a referendum on whether or not the people wanted to re-join Russia. It is the “re-join” component that is notably lacking from western commentary. The people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly (>90%) in favour of reunification and the Russian parliament in turn voted to allow them to re-join. All of this relevant history is missing from western discussion of what happened. Instead, there is a constant misrepresentation of events that also ignores the right, guaranteed by the United Nations Charter, for such self-determination votes to occur.
That Kosovo was similarly separated from Serbia in 2008 is a fact that the critics of Crimean separation from Ukraine carefully avoid, not least because the Kosovo government has become a major United States asset with an enormous military presence. It also serves as a major conduit to Europe of heroin from Afghanistan. That the United States had similar visions for its navy in Crimea, replacing the Russians, is another part of the equation carefully avoided in western analysis.
For the United States, what happened in Crimea is yet another stick with which to beat the Russians. That Biden, who had his own particular role in the Ukrainian revolution, is unlikely to have a change of heart on this topic is yet further proof that there will be no substantive changes in United States foreign policy under the new administration.
Fortunately, the world has changed since he last held power. The sooner the United States recognises that fact and adjusts its foreign policy accordingly, the safer we are all likely to be.Print