The Biden Presidency and the Specter of a Third World War

Unlike Trump who was an outsider in American politics and derisively sneered at as “toddler-in-chief” by the US national security establishment, Biden is a typical establishment Democrat unabashedly playing into the hands of the deep state throughout his maiden year as president and escalating the conflict with Russia in Ukraine and with China in the South China Sea that risks plunging the United States into a catastrophic war with either of the two global powers.

After being elected president in a bitterly contested election alleged to be rigged by the political rival, he has given a carte blanche to his patrons in the national security establishment to substantially ramp up US military footprint in the Eastern Europe, deploy strategic armaments aimed at Russia and menacingly exercise so-called “freedom of navigation” right in the Black Sea and the South China Sea, veritable “territorial waters” of Russia and China, respectively.

During his over forty-year political career, first as a longtime senator from Delaware, then as Obama’s vice president and finally as the president of the world’s most powerful nation, Joe Biden has consistently proved that he is an unapologetic stooge of the deep state and an incorrigible Russophobic hawk.

Before being elected as Obama’s vice president in 2008, as a senator and subsequently as the member and then the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden, alongside another inveterate neo-McCarthyite hawk Senator Joe Lieberman, was one of the principal architects of the Bosnia War in the Clinton administration in the nineties. Thus, he is no stranger to the Machiavellian policy of the US national security establishment to destabilize Eastern Europe in the aftermath of the dissolution of the former Soviet Union.

Reflecting on first black American president Barack Obama’s memorable 2008 presidential campaign, with little-known senator from Delaware, Joe Biden, as his running-mate, Glenn Kessler wrote for the Washington Post in October 2008:

The moment when Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. looked Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in the eye and called him a ‘damned war criminal’ has become the stuff of campaign legend.

The Democratic vice presidential nominee brings up the 1993 confrontation on the campaign trial to whoops of delight from supporters. Senator Barack Obama mentioned it when he announced he had chosen Biden as his running mate.

During vice presidential debate with his counterpart on the Republican ticket, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Biden twice gave himself credit for shifting US policy on Bosnia. The senator from Delaware declared that he ‘was the catalyst to change the circumstance in Bosnia led by President Clinton.’ At another point he noted: ‘My recommendations on Bosnia — I admit I was the first one to recommend it. They saved tens of thousands of lives.’

Instead of “saving tens of thousands of lives,” the devastating Yugoslav Wars in the nineties in the aftermath of the break-up of the former Soviet Union and then the former Yugoslavia claimed countless fatalities, created a humanitarian crisis and unleashed a flood of refugees for which nobody is to blame but the Clinton administration’s militarist policy of subjugating and forcibly integrating East European states into the Western capitalist bloc.

Regarding Washington’s modus operandi of waging proxy wars in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, since the times of the Soviet-Afghan jihad during the eighties, it has been the fail-safe game plan of master strategists at NATO to raise money from the oil-rich Gulf States; then buy billions of dollars’ worth of weapons from the arms markets in the Eastern Europe; and then provide those weapons and guerilla warfare training to the disaffected population of the victim country by using the intelligence agencies of the latter’s regional adversaries. Whether it’s Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Libya or Syria, the same playbook was executed to the letter.

Raising funds for proxy wars from the Gulf’s petro-monarchies allows the deep state the freedom to evade congressional scrutiny; the benefit of buying weapons from unregulated arms markets of the Eastern Europe is that such weapons cannot be traced back to the Western capitals; and using jihadist proxies to achieve strategic objectives has the advantage of taking the plea of “plausible deniability” if the strategy backfires, which it often does. Remember that al-Qaeda and Taliban were the by-products of the Soviet-Afghan jihad, and the Islamic State and its global network of terrorists were the blowback of the proxy war in Syria.

Naively giving credit to former Senator and Vice President Joe Biden for his purported “humanitarian interventionism” and for creating a catastrophe in the Balkans in the nineties, Paul Richter and Noam N. Levey, writing for the LA Times in August 2008, observed:

Biden has frequently favored humanitarian interventions abroad and was an early and influential advocate for the US military action in the Balkans in the 1990s.

Biden considers his most important foreign policy accomplishment to be his leadership on the Balkans in the mid-1990s. He pushed a reluctant Clinton administration, first to arm Serbian Muslims and then to use US air power to suppress conflict in Serbia and Kosovo.

In his book, ‘Promises to Keep,’ Biden calls this one of his two ‘proudest moments in public life,’ along with the Violence Against Women Act that he championed.

In 1998, he worked with Senator John McCain on a bipartisan resolution to push the Clinton administration to use all available force to confront Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, a move designed to force the president to use ground troops if necessary against Serb forces in the former Yugoslavia, which was beset by fighting and ethnic cleansing.

Biden’s belligerent militarism, however, didn’t stop in the Balkans, as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden said in 2002 that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the US national security and there was no option but to eliminate that threat. In October 2002, he voted in favor of the “Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq,” approving the US invasion of Iraq.

More significantly, as chair of the committee, he assembled a series of witnesses to testify in favor of the authorization. They gave testimony grossly misrepresenting the intent, history of and status of Saddam and his Baathist government, which was an openly avowed enemy of al-Qaeda, and touting Iraq’s fictional possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Writing for The Guardian in February 2020, Mark Weisbrot observed that Joe Biden was at the forefront of mustering bipartisan support for the illegal Iraq War and it would come back to haunt him in the presidential elections like the criminal complicity of Hillary Clinton in lending legitimacy to the Bush administration’s unilateral invasion of Iraq thwarted her presidential ambitions, too, in the 2016 presidential elections.

Weisbrot added:

When the war was debated and then authorized by the US Congress in 2002, Democrats controlled the Senate and Biden was chair of the Senate committee on foreign relations. Biden himself had enormous influence as chair and argued strongly in favor of the 2002 resolution granting President Bush the authority to invade Iraq.

‘I do not believe this is a rush to war,’ Biden said a few days before the vote. ‘I believe it is a march to peace and security. I believe that failure to overwhelmingly support this resolution is likely to enhance the prospects that war will occur …’

But he had a power much greater than his own words. He was able to choose all 18 witnesses in the main Senate hearings on Iraq. And he mainly chose people who supported a pro-war position. They argued in favor of ‘regime change as the stated US policy’ and warned of ‘a nuclear-armed Saddam sometime in this decade.’ That Iraqis would ‘welcome the United States as liberators’ and that Iraq ‘permits known al-Qaida members to live and move freely about in Iraq’ and that ‘they are being supported.’

When the ill-conceived invasion and occupation of Iraq didn’t go as planned and the country slipped into myriad ethnic and sectarian conflicts, in November 2006, Biden and Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, released a “comprehensive strategy” to end sectarian violence in Iraq. Rather than continuing the previous approach or withdrawing the US forces, the plan called for “a third way”: federalizing Iraq and giving Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis “breathing room” in their own regions.

In September 2007, a non-binding resolution endorsing such a scheme passed the Senate, but the idea was unfamiliar, had no political legitimacy, and failed to gain traction. Iraq’s political leadership denounced the resolution as a de facto “Balkanization of Iraq,” and the US Embassy in Baghdad issued a statement distancing itself from it. Foreign policy “maven” Biden laughed it off as nothing more than one of his facetious gaffes.

Regarding the decade-long proxy war in Syria orchestrated by Washington to ensure Israel’s regional security, addressing a seminar at Harvard in 2014, “not-so-Sleepy Joe” cunningly sought refuge in plausible deniability and contended: “Saudi Arabia and the UAE had transferred hundreds of millions of dollars and large amounts of weaponry to a variety of Islamist militias inside Syria, including at least one with ties to al Qaeda.”

“The Turks were great friends, and I’ve a great relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, … the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war. What did they do?” Biden asked, according to a recording of the speech posted on the White House’s website.

“They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra, and al Qaeda, and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

To his credit, despite being a warmonger masquerading as “a peacenik,” former President Obama was at least smart. Having graduated as one of the poorest students from law school, then-Vice President Biden didn’t realize the irony of his remarks.

The Gulf States, Turkey and Jordan didn’t funnel money and weapons into Syria’s proxy war without a nod from Washington. The CIA’s Operation Timber Sycamore to train and arm Syrian militants battling the Bashar al-Assad government from 2012 to 2017 in the border regions of Jordan and Turkey was approved and supervised by the Obama administration of which Biden was the vice president and second-in-command.

In fact, Washington exercised such an absolute control over Syria’s theater of proxy war that although the US openly provided the American-made antitank (TOW) weapons to Syrian militant groups, it strictly forbade its clients from providing anti-aircraft weapons (MANPADS) to the militants, because Israel frequently flies surveillance aircrafts and drones and occasionally conducts airstrikes in Lebanon and Syria, and had such weapons fallen into the hands of jihadists, they could have become a long-term security threat to the Israeli air force.

Although ostensibly fighting a “war on terror” for the last couple of decades, the US deep state has clandestinely nurtured Islamic jihadists and used them as proxies in myriad conflict zones of the Middle East, North Caucasus and the Balkans to achieve “strategic objectives” of destabilizing regional and global adversaries.

If we take a cursory look at the history of the recent US administrations, the Carter and Reagan administrations trained and armed Afghan jihadists against the former Soviet Union during the Cold War in the eighties, those same “freedom fighters” later mutated into al-Qaeda and Taliban; the Clinton administration used Islamic jihadists to break up former Yugoslavia in the nineties; the Bush administration invaded Iraq in 2003 that gave birth to al-Qaeda in Iraq; and the Obama-Biden administration initiated proxy wars in Libya and Syria in 2011 to topple Arab nationalist governments of Libyan leader Gaddafi and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that gave birth to extremist groups such as Ansar al-Sharia in Libya and Islamic State and al-Nusra Front in Syria.

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitics’ analyst who has a particular interest in the politics of Af-Pak and MENA regions, energy politics, and Petro-imperialism. Read other articles by Nauman.