No one in the administration has officially conceded that America's support for Ukraine is driving countries to World War III, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken came the closest to acknowledging the fact.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum to a friendly reporter, Andrea Mitchell of NBC, he said: "I believe they (Ukraine) have what they need to be very successful. And as they deploy and as they actually put into this effort all of the forces that have been trained in recent months, the equipment that we and some 50 countries have provided them, I think that will make a profound difference."
There you have it. A conflict that started in February 2022 involving three countries - Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine - has evolved into a trans-regional war that involves the active financial, military, and humanitarian support of America and 50 other countries, all in support of Ukraine.
Whenever Biden or any administration official is asked about America's standing in the world, the practiced response is automatic: Countries refused to deal with former President Trump or were planning to wait out his term in office. Biden is the savior that repaired relations and helped reassert America as the world's superpower.
What is left unsaid is that America's relations are better only with countries of the European Union which are accustomed to having someone else pay for their defense via NATO. When Sweden and Finland joined the security bloc, it was not only because of a fear that Russia might attack them. [There has never been any evidence that Russia has sought to annex Nordic countries]. But given their extraordinarily high spending on running socialist cradle-to-grave states, it would be much cheaper to pay NATO member dues and relax, knowing that other countries would foot their defense bill. Uniting the EU because of driving manufactured fear is not something Biden ought to be proud of.
What is also left unsaid is how Biden has irreversibly divided the world even as he has united Europe. Populations amounting to more than half the globe have repeatedly maintained their position of not condemning Russia. To explain this stance merely as one of convenience because these countries enjoy diplomatic or military trade relations with Russia is too simplistic.
Many countries insist that American hypocrisy was what provoked Russia to attack in self-defense. Four months before the war, the U.S. needlessly enticed Ukraine to sign security guarantees with Washington, which Russia interpreted as a threat to its borders. They also point out America’s heavy-handed interference in Ukraine, leading to the ousting of the then-Moscow-friendly Kyiv administration during the 2014 Maidan revolution.
What Biden has done is unite many countries against America - a terrifying geopolitical shift that can bring long-term harm to Americans. In Johannesburg, South Africa's top diplomat in charge of relations with the BRICS said that more than 40 countries have expressed interest in joining the bloc. It is an extraordinary rebuke of American leadership by UN member-states. The U.S. had worked hard to dissuade these member-states from forming a regional council that can act as a counterbalance in the conduct of world bodies, such as the United Nations or the World Bank.
Some of the recent diplomatic alignments were unthinkable even a few years ago. Erstwhile enemies, Saudi Arabia and Iran, who have been fighting proxy wars throughout the Middle East, shook hands earlier this Spring under the watchful smiles of the Chinese foreign leader. India has continued to buy Russian oil at a discount, ignoring pleas and pressures from Washington. Initially, officials from the State Department, Treasury, and the National Security Council, regularly threatened India that they could be subject to secondary sanctions if New Delhi did not heed the marching orders of Washington. Even as recently as February 2023, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, in a bombastic speech in New York, said of India and other countries: "We will force those that fail to implement our sanctions and export controls to choose between their economic ties with our coalition of countries - representing more than half of the world's GDP - or providing material support to Russia, an economy that is becoming more isolated every day."
That threat did not age well. India's Prime Minister visiting Washington got the red-carpet treatment last month, from meetings with President Biden to a joint address of Congress and an elaborate state dinner at the White House. Not one word was uttered to criticize India's reluctance to condemn Russia or the prospect of imposing secondary sanctions.
In the last few months, administration officials have been frantically visiting Beijing to repair fractured relations with China. Blinken kicked it off, but nothing came out of the trip. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was next, but a viral video showing her bobbing her head several times to greet her Chinese counterpart before being rescued by a staffer made more news than any major policy announcements. And the day before the Vilnius NATO meeting, Turkey extracted a concession from the United States for delivery of F-16 fighters in return for approving Sweden's application to join the security bloc.
In the complex world of statecraft and geopolitics, other nations are realizing that America is now a weaker power, having grossly miscalculated by injecting itself and Europe into the Russia-Ukraine war. Nor does America have much to show for its efforts, after nearly $200 billion in Western weapons assistance, Russia continues to hold vast swathes of vital, energy-rich territory in eastern Ukraine. The country's counter-offensive is failing. Washington’s dealings with the Global South nations show that a weakened America is more ready to deal with them to avoid further world divisions - divisions that Biden brought about all by himself.
We are reminded of former President Obama's reading of Biden. According to Politico, Obama said of the current president in August 2020, during the peak of the election season: "Don't underestimate Joe's ability to f... things up."
Obama was spot on.
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