Codevilla: Biden has no foreign policy. Here’s why Americans should be worried
Angelo Codevilla, DCNF
No one has ever accused Joseph Biden of having views on foreign policy (or, really, on many other things). Hence, whatever international matters a Biden administration would propose, oppose or do would follow from the proclivities of the U.S government’s several bureaucracies, as well as interested parts of the Democratic Party.
Note well also that the deep state’s components and the Democratic coalition’s interests in foreign affairs are tangential to the only thing they really care about: crushing the Deplorables, Uglies, etc., resistance to solidifying their oligarchy. Hence they will deal with the agencies that handle national security primarily for that purpose — especially the FBI and CIA.
Since adopting the title of president-elect, Biden has said of foreign affairs only that “we are back in the game.” That foreshadows less bold actions than it does manifold expressions of attitudes. Because the American people broadly approved of President Donald Trump’s actions and basic positions in foreign affairs, those who despise them can safely oppose them only while pretending to continue them.
For example: Trump was elected in opposition to military adventures abroad. Whatever anyone on Biden’s side might prefer, nobody is going to send U.S troops to fight overseas, especially not in the Middle East. Trump was elected to be “tough on China.” For Biden et al., returning to business as usual with China may well be the top international priority. But public opinion — and substantial sentiment in corporate boardrooms as well — has so shifted against China that candidate Biden promised to be even tougher on China. His administration wouldn’t be. But it would have to pretend.
Similarly, Trump’s movement of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and his bypassing the Palestinians in Middle East negotiations outraged the entire U.S. ruling class. The Democratic Party is increasingly anti-Israeli, and its growing anti-Semitism is deeper than the 19th century version thereof. But Americans broadly approved of Trump’s actions, and anti-Semitism is still unacceptable among un-woke Americans. All this does not preclude the deep state and its leftist allies from pursuing their proclivities regarding the big issues. But they will have to do it at the margins, hypocritically, under media cover.
Most actions will result from the several bureaucracies’ autopilots. The State Department will pursue accommodation with whomever wants to accommodate, on whatever terms, and call it success. For historical reasons, and because the U.S ruling class is socially and intellectually identical with that of Western Europe, mutually supporting relations with European states and institutions will be a visible part of “the game,” and be touted as proof that, rid of Trump, America is back in the world’s good graces.
Indeed, the word “alliances” is at the top of the foreign policy establishment’s wish list for the administration. That is not merely for show and for the joys of attending meetings as senior members at NATO headquarters and with like-minded people at other international organizations. Nor is it merely for the post-retirement points that officials pile up for shepherding the flow of American cash. Solidarity (or the pretense thereof) with allies is an increasingly useful tool for U.S. officials to press their own priorities onto reluctant Americans.
For example, support for environmental regulations rejected by Americans is why leftist Americans want to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. Next in importance is to maintain or to negotiate all manner of agreements that require management, such as the “Iran deal” from which Trump withdrew. Even on matters of no importance, look for joint declarations coupled with support for like-minded foreigners.
State, Defense, CIA and the host of corporations involved with foreign nations rejoice at the prospect that no more troops will be withdrawn from anywhere. That has far less to do with any judgment about what is good for America than about all manner of corporate interests in these relations. For the professional military, overseas operations are avenues of promotion. For contractors, they are a bonanza. For officials, they are the global chessboard’s pieces the manipulation of which gives meaning to their lives. But no one will be looking for trouble abroad. This amounts to maximum engagement, maximum expenditure, and avoidance of outright conflict.
Hostility to Israel is the likeliest exception to the rule that America’s “intersectional” coalition hardly cares about the rest of the world. During the last half century, as American leftists have become enemies of Western civilization, they have recognized Judaism as one of its main roots and have judged Israel, alongside America, to be an oppressor of progressive peoples of color. American Christians’ support of Israel has confirmed them in this. Hence, look for further growth of the American establishment’s support of Israel’s enemies. But that cannot go far.
More important is that, in a Biden administration, the CIA and the FBI would play a greater role than ever. Just as the American left is less interested in the outside world than ever, that world interests these agencies far less than the public imagines. As shown most recently, their focus is on political operations here at home.
Between 2016 and 2020, their use of national security powers in matters of domestic political consequence made it possible for the ruling class to cast aspersions on its opponents while preventing them from challenging the bases on which the aspersions were made. Thus, federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies were key to the evolution of America’s political system from a republic of equal citizens to an oligarchy by, of and for its bureaucratic and corporate constituents.
For the oligarchy to endure, to foreclose opposition from the Deplorables, it will need to continue to shut down access to authoritative information about what its components are doing and to further enable un-answerable aspersions against its opponents. More than ever, it will be necessary to leak damaging opinions about opponents who are being “investigated” while using investigations to bury facts that might discredit its own. To do this, a Biden administration will further the Obama-initiated merger of these agencies’ leadership with the Democratic Party’s constituent groups and push politicization ever deeper into the agencies’ ranks.
Categorizing domestic opposition as something to be managed by the opaque, unaccountable rules of intelligence requires only further evolution in what, by now, are well-established tendencies in both agencies: for the FBI (and elements of the Department of Homeland Security) officially to regard persons “excessively concerned with their liberties” as the principal source of terrorism, and for the CIA to “assess” (read, opine) that “the Russians” are interfering in our elections on the Deplorables’ behalf.
Equality of citizens before the law is the defining characteristic of republics. Restricting citizenship to constituent groups is oligarchy’s principle. Expelling political opponents from the equal citizenship, effectively treating them as foreign to the ruling groups, is what the modern woke left is all about. Applying the strictures of classified information to the processes by which the government deals with its political opponents, reserving judgments about them for itself, does this most directly.
The essence of a Biden foreign policy would concern not the rest of the world, but the rest of Americans.