…unless you’re a weapons dealer.
Recently, Jake Sherman of Politico tweeted out a list of likely Biden cabinet members. Other sources have reported on this previously as well, and for anyone who’s been paying attention to U.S. politics for any length of time, this is some truly chilling stuff, or at least, it should be.
There’s a lot of frighteningly familiar names in that list, but this article will concentrate on the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense positions, because there’s some especially troubling details there.
The first name that may jump out to many is Susan Rice, due to her long experience in politics. That might sound good, but much of that experience is involvement with U.S. militarism abroad. She supported the invasion of Iraq, backed warlords in Africa during the Rwanda genocide, and was a driving force in the U.S. role in Libya and Syria.
Also on that list is Tony Blinken. He also has a fair bit of history, but we actually don’t have to dig far to figure out where he stands, because he was kind enough to come right out and tell us in a Zoom event with Meridian Online in May. From their summary of his words about Syria:
“…there are still areas where the U.S. can affect positive change. He cited American Special Forces near an oil-rich area in northeastern Syria, and America’s capacity to mobilize other countries to assist rebuilding efforts as reasons for hope. While there is no guarantee of success, Blinken declared that ‘I can guarantee that in a Biden administration, we’d show up.’”
Aren’t “rebuilding efforts” the same excuse we’ve been using to stay in Afghanistan? Hold on, apparently he has some thoughts on that too:
“Blinken applauded the diplomatic progress made in Afghanistan led by the Trump Administration. He added that the situation was still complicated, and that reaching an agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government will be an even greater challenge. Moving forward, 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.”
Just to be clear, when I said “May,” in the paragraph above, that was May 2020. Perhaps he’s aiming to have a third generation of U.S. troops deploy there. After all, it would be good for his bottom line.
You see, along with Michèle Flournoy, apparently the likely Secretary of Defense for a Biden administration, Mr. Blinken is a founder of WestExec Advisors, “a strategic advisory firm that offers unique geopolitical and policy expertise to help business leaders make the best decisions in a complex and volatile international landscape.” What does that actually mean? According to a report in The American Prospect:
“WestExec says they do not lobby. ‘We’ll tell you who to go talk to, but we’re not going to go in there for you, and we’re not going to facilitate the introduction,’ said one staffer. One of their offerings that attracted corporations, the same staffer told [them], is an ‘on-call National Security Council.’”
The report also details a January 2019 meeting of the organization Foreign Policy for America. During this meeting, there was apparently a discussion about our involvement with Saudi Arabia and their genocide in Yemen, and the fact that “defense contractor Raytheon had sold Saudi Arabia more than $3 billion worth of bombs.” Michèle Flournoy reportedly had something to say:
“Four hours into the marathon policy discussion, many former officials joined progressive advocates in urging an end to weapons sales. The starting point, per FP4A’s agenda, was to ‘ask Congress to halt U.S. military involvement in the conflict.’ Most participants supported cutting all weapons sales, but one person stood apart: Flournoy tried to persuade the group that an outright ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia wouldn’t be a good idea. Putting conditions on their use was a better compromise, she said, one that defense contractors wouldn’t lobby against, according to two attendees. Flournoy told me she had made a distinction between offensive and defensive weapons, saying that Saudi Arabia needed advanced Patriot missiles to protect itself.”
The report goes on to say that there were “two people present” who thought that “it sounded like Flournoy was working for Raytheon, which produces Patriot missiles.” The reporter, Johnathan Guyer, attempted to follow up on this:
“Another WestExec staffer wouldn’t comment on whether the consultancy has Raytheon as a client but would only say the defense contractor is ‘in the ballpark,’ noting they work for a ‘defense prime,’ meaning one of the top five defense firms among which Raytheon ranks.”
Flournoy is also CEO of the Center for a New American Security, and a look around their website will tell you that it is indeed about what it sounds like, a neoliberal think-tank.
Whether or not any of these specific people make it to these specific offices, the fact that these are the people Biden is surrounding himself with is further evidence that U.S. foreign policy is not likely to change in a significant way, and the military-industrial complex will continue to rake in profits.
Originally published on Medium.