Will Biden know when to stop?
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Samarkand caused a geo-economic earthquake – as did President Putin’s subsequent announcement of partial mobilization and referendums in four oblasts (provinces) of Ukraine, which will almost certainly lead to their lightning integration. in Russia.
The aftershocks are felt everywhere, but particularly in Washington and Brussels. All are waiting to see what happens next.
The West chose to jump on Russia’s very limited operation in Ukraine – the Special Militarily Operation (SMO) – to call it an “invasion of Ukraine”, which it was not ( nor did Russian support in Syria constitute an invasion).
For, like its Syrian prototype, the SMO was designed as the minimum Russian military support that could bring about and catalyze a negotiated settlement along the lines of Minsk II. The perfect fit of the SMO to Russia’s Syrian “footprint” makes this clear: it aimed to bring about a political settlement; the one that almost happened in Istanbul in March – until it was canceled by Britain and the United States.
One can however imagine that by opting for such a restrictive posture, the Russian High Command may not have counted on the will of kyiv to throw so many lives of its soldiers in defend indefensible positionsor the abandonment by which the West would throw money and arms at the forces of kyiv.
It wasn’t just money and guns: the West escalated its psyop deceptions to unheard of fantasy heights. He flooded the media with stories of the slow “invasions”, saying it portrays Russia’s weakness and failure.
All of this taken together represents a crucial and deliberate choice of optics rather than actual strategy, which has thrust Washington into today’s dangerous corner.
That is to say, since the slowness of the Russian offensive was primarily intended to minimize the impact on civilian lives and infrastructure – and also to give the parties sufficient time to come to the conclusion that negotiations were necessary before the events become existential, on one side or the other.
Unfortunately, the propaganda that has flooded the media has been so successful – touching on the deeply stratified neuralgic undercurrents of Russophobia – that Western leaders have become hostages to this contrived “staging” of a “panicked, tottering Russia”. and weak”.
So, in such an unfavorable context, the Kremlin finally chose to incorporate culturally Russian parts of Ukraine into Russia.
It’s a bet. The force of logic here is clear: the conflict should then either end, as Russia pledges to defend these annexed territories as “Mother Russia” – a game-changing change that involves an irresistible force mounted against kyiv. , if it was a question of continuing the assault on these territories. Or alternatively, the West must still escalate.
Putin’s bet therefore postulates the end of the conflict, and therefore the threat of a nuclear conflict, or else the continuation of the (problematic) NATO war against Russia which more directly risks a nuclear war: the choice of the Team Biden.
However, Biden – despite saying he doesn’t fancy a war with Russia and won’t allow it – likes to tout that “our democracy” is under threat. “We have the obligation, the duty, the responsibility to defend, preserve and protect ‘our democracy’,” he said.
Biden is not referring to generic democracy as a whole, but specifically to the hegemony of America’s liberal elite (aka “our democracy”), and his predilection for eternal wars abroad under threat – not just in Ukraine, but in Samarkand where the Eurasian giants such as China, India, Russia, Pakistan and Iran are integrating their economies to new levels and promising to create a rival trade and communication system (far from the dollar).
In a speech in Philadelphia recently, Biden — speaking in an eerie setup at Independence Hall — extended threats to “our democracy” from those abroad for warn against the threat of a different terror, closer to home — from “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans” who “represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
Arta Moeini and Professor Carmen Argue that American policy has come full circle: from Bush’s initial warning to the outside world that in the war on terror you are either “with us or against us” – to Biden “arming the myth of our democracy for partisan gains”.
Seen together, Biden’s rhetoric portrays his administration’s war against the amorphous specter of “MAGA Fascismat home and its stated goal of defeating autocracies abroad militarily as two sides of the same coin.
This doctrine ensnares all sides of the spectrum – entangling them in false equivalences: denying the liberal interventionist foreign policy of the establishment (e.g. Ukraine) and being branded an “extremist” or even a “traitor — as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been tagged in the European Parliament, for siding with Russia in EU deliberations. Or, stand up for American civil liberties and the rule of law for participants in the Jan. 6 protests, and (again) you’re accused of being in cahoots with Putin.
Here, then, is the rub: the Biden administration still displays decidedly hawkish attitudes toward overthrowing Putin; to defend Taiwan; and contain Iran, in order to save “our democracy”. And he is now using this existential framing to attack his American political opponents at home, and to coerce American support for his agenda: “A battle for the soul” of the United States and the “challenge of our time” (autocracies) .
But by linking them, if he went back on one, he would undermine the other. Can Biden afford to see the war in Ukraine end on terms favorable to President Putin, without it also being seen as undermining his war against Trumpist “authoritarianism”? Is Biden trapped by his own “smart” language game, based on expecting a defeat for Putin in Ukraine? Yet does he dare risk nuclear escalation to maintain ideological equivalence?
Moeini and Carmen noted: “This logic has now become the operating principle of what could be called the Biden Doctrine, which is expected to be unveiled in the administration’s next national security strategy. She argues that the struggle for democracy is relentless, all-encompassing and global. This neutralization of the supposed threat of fascism at home, personified by MAGA and former President Trump, is part of a larger apocalyptic struggle to defend the liberal international order abroad.”
The West and its illusions are deeply rooted. It may end in a debacle for the Biden “doctrine”.