All signs point to getting back on the same path that led us to Trump.
While nobody should have believed that Trump would be anything but corrupt himself, there was a reason that his “drain the swamp” message, and his talk of ending the wars, landed with so many in 2016. Now, Biden appears to be going right back to the old status-quo swamp that set up the situation for a fake-populist figure like Trump to thrive in.
On the foreign policy front, Tony Blinken has been confirmed as Biden’s pick for Secretary of State, and it looks as though Michèle Flournoy is “a lock” for Defense Secretary. These two make quite a pair for such influential posts, signaling an almost certain continuation to U.S. imperialism. As Dan Cohen wrote in The Grayzone, these two “have played central roles in every U.S. war dating back to the Bill Clinton administration.” Lest anyone think that they’ve changed at all, both Flournoy and Blinken have recently expressed support for continued U.S. militarism abroad, and currently hold positions in which they benefit from it. Saagar Enjeti described Flournoy’s recent past in a report on Rising:
“She’s represented defense contractors, Google, pretty much every other part of the defense ‘swamp’ that you can think of, who largely benefit from policies that she’s spent a career making quote-unquote ‘mainstream’ in D.C.”
As a co-founder of WestExec Advisors, Blinken is also a part of this swamp. In May 2020, Blinken said that he could “guarantee” that “in a Biden administration, we’d show up” in Syria, and said that “the U.S. needs to retain enough capacity in Afghanistan to prevent a resurgence of terrorism in order to protect American interests and national security.”
Another troubling appointment is Avril Haines, reportedly Biden’s choice for Director of National Intelligence. Haines held advisory roles in Obama’s State Department, later becoming Deputy CIA Director, and was at least partially responsible in providing legal cover for Obama’s massive expansion of the drone program. Haines also has connections to the data-mining firm Palantir, a company which has come under fire recently for ties to the Trump administration’s surveillance and immigrant detention programs. Perhaps recognizing the troublesome nature of this connection, Haines apparently removed it recently from her bio at the Brookings Institute website. Murtaza Hussain reports in The Intercept that “the nature of the consulting work that Haines did for Palantir is not clear,” but as the report points out, “the affiliation — and its apparent disappearance — raises questions for a campaign that has posed itself as the antithesis to President Donald Trump’s far-right governance.”
Biden’s apparent pick for Treasury Secretary also presents issues. Janet Yellen, former chairwoman of the Federal reserve, blamed stagnant wages on low productivity as recently as 2015. I hope I don’t have to point out how wrong that is, but just in case, I will:
Yellen is also the director of the The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, noted deficit hawks, which is disconcerting at a time when austerity is certainly not the answer to the challenges ahead.
Sadly, the best of the list of confirmed names so far is John Kerry as “special envoy on climate.” He may not have the kind of open contempt for the environment as members of Trump’s administration, but he did defend drilling for oil in the Arctic, which isn’t encouraging.
This all seems to confirm, once again, that Biden really meant it when he said “nothing would fundamentally change.” Don’t be surprised if, after another four or eight years of the same thing that got us where we are, we see a repeat of 2016, this time maybe with a more competent wannabe dictator.
Originally published on Medium.