US President Joe Biden is no Woodrow Wilson or Franklin D Roosevelt to claim that he has been a vanguard of democracy. On his watch, as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he authored legislation that was unjust and morally repugnant, and later, as the vice-president of the US, he subscribed to policies for or remained complacent about gross violations of human rights, and even crimes against humanity, in the Middle East and other places. Regarding Iraq, the ObamaBiden administration (2009-2017) kept the incompetent, corrupt, and extremely sectarian Nouri al-Maliki – previously endorsed by neo-conservatives but shown as the “handpicked” man of President Bush – as the prime minister of Iraq until 2014.
He further pushed the country towards the sectarian civil war. During this time, al-Maliki’s irresponsible agenda against the Sunni population clashed with US General David Petraeus’ reconciliation efforts, which were making ground-breaking progress at that time. Petraeus was outraged. Instead of removing alMaliki, the Obama-Biden administration brought Petraeus back to Washington. Bloodshed and killings soared, and al-Maliki became a ruthless tyrant.
Creating Shia rule, marginalizing the Sunni population, and prolonging conflicts were all planned by the pro-Israeli neo-conservatives in Washington. By prolonging wars, the elites of the military industrial complex would make enormous money, and their ally, Israel, would establish hegemony in the region by bringing about a regime change in Iran, using America’s military might and money. Therefore, a solution, peace, and a faster exit strategy were not the objectives of the masterminds behind the deradicalisation projects of the War on Terror and establishing democracy and a better economy in a
Muslim-majority country was farthest from their minds. It is difficult to believe that Joe Biden, being an extremely influential politician in America, did not know about all these schemes of robbing the US Treasury and ruining the possibilities of successes in Afghanistan and Iraq that could help regain the trust and confidence in America’s leadership in the region – if not in the world.
The fact is that establishing democracy and a thriving economy both in Iraq and Afghanistan were within America’s reach – particularly under its military occupation – as it took place during the Marshall Plan half a century ago. America had the experience, expertise, military, and financial capability to employ the Marshall Plan in these places. That would bring about sustainable peace and successful deradicalisation.
This consensus-building before holding a credible election is vital in charting a crafted transition to democracy. Similar processes led to successes in places like Nepal after 2006, Kosovo in 2008, and Tunisia after 2011, among others. A powersharing system also helps integrate a deeply polarised country. These were all within the reach of Washington, as many diplomats, state department officials and experts were hoping for, but they were not in control – they were deliberately marginalised.
Instead, the elite-dictated agendas led to disasters. Biden has been an important player during the War on Terror project since 9/11. He has fuelled militarism when many scholars, experts, and military leaders warned that radicalism had no military solution.
Many experts make Biden and his partner, former President Barack Obama, responsible for the horrible massacre in Gaza in 2014 on the pretext of “Israel’s right to defend itself,” when 2,000 unarmed Palestinians were killed – 600 of them children. Both remained silent during the 51- day constant aerial bombardments when Israel dropped 20,000 tonnes of explosives on Gaza.
In 2005, Condoleezza Rice, the then secretary of state, conceded that the American policy of sacrificing democracies in the name of stability had been counterproductive for the previous six decades. Has this realisation changed anything for Washington? I am afraid not. Then why is alSisi, a military tyrant, in power in Egypt, repressing his own people, with the US paying $1.5 billion to the
Egyptian military every year? Which global power is mainly responsible for creating, sustaining, grooming, and using the monarchs and authoritarian regimes in the Middle East? Having said all these, I am one who always believes that Washington is the best place from where an effective leadership for democracy and freedom can emerge in the world – if the American public is alert and involved in global affairs.
When they do, the predatory elites fail to exploit Washington. The visionary China policy in the early 1970s and the diplomacy of détente with the Soviet Union in the 1980s ended the Cold War, and globalisation ensued. As a result, two billion people overcame poverty. All these phenomenal global outcomes occurred because the American public demanded dialogue and constructive engagements with the enemies.
The world owes a lot to leaders like Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, for bringing about the global consensus on human rights and self-determination. The international community and the global rule of law were based on Wilson’s famous “Fourteen Points” and his proclamation that self-determination is a paramount human right. His goal was to replace the “might is right” policy ofthe colonial powers with the democratic rule of law – a new global order.
Using the leverage of his victory in World War I, he became determined to use the geopolitical capital in freeing and protecting as many places and as many peoples possible.
Twenty years later, seeing the devastating consequences of deviating from Wilson’s visionary path, Roosevelt also became determined to bring about a paradigm shift in the world. He compelled Britain to sign the Atlantic Charter in 1941 and masterminded the Marshall Plan, widely considered to be a phenomenal achievement of the 20th century.
Inspired by Wilson and Roosevelt, countless people fought against colonial rule. As a result, 36 countries became independent after World War II. This progression would have continued if there were no Cold War. Taking full advantage of the vulnerable nation and the world, the elites rose and took the reign to take the world backward towards militarism, authoritarianism, and neocolonial agenda in the 1950s and 60s.
The legacy that both Wilson and Roosevelt left behind for America is that the nation should stand in solidarity with the peoples who are struggling for freedom and better life around the world, to sustain peace.
These great leaders believed that only by helping create a win-win world, would America gain the most. History is a testament to this truth. Had America retained the trust and confidence in the world gained under the leaderships of Wilson and Roosevelt, the nation could achieve many of its global objectives at a fraction of the price it paid by deviating from the path of moral integrity.
The bottom line is: trust and confidence are invaluable geopolitical capital. These intangible treasures are the decisive force in human affairs in the long run. On the other hand, greed, arrogance, and domination are aberrations, causing conflicts, bloodshed, destruction, and wars leading to lose-lose outcomes.
With the ever-greater awareness of human rights and demand for selfrule, there is no substitute for genuine democratic reforms and America’s foreign policy recalibration. A value-dictated policy always produces a win-win outcome. The Marshall Plan, the China Policy, the détente, and the Balkan interventions are glaring examples of success stories of American leadership. However, the American public needs to be more vigilant, and people abroad need to be working closely with them in transnational people-to-people movements. The government-to-government virtual assembly that has taken place in Washington recently may turn out to be a sham, a political move at home, and a geopolitical ploy for the Biden administration.
The Daily Star| ANN