The Unz Review • An Alternative Media Selection$
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewPatrick Cockburn Archive
Trump and Biden Have Much in Common When It Comes to Deserting Allies
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • B
Show CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeThanksLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

Trumpism was never quite what it seemed to the rest of the world when it came to America’s actions as opposed to his words. The tone was always belligerent, but Trump went out of his way not to start any wars. As for the slogan “America First”, this was not so much about an isolationist US and more about the US acting unilaterally in what Trump saw as its own best interests.

Bidenism is turning out to be not so very different from Trumpism. Joe Biden carried out to the letter Donald Trump’s ruthless deal with the Taliban, agreed in February 2020, to abandon the Afghan government, which had been excluded from negotiations about its fate. European allies of the US learned little about the American pull-out plan from Kabul airport, even as it was under way.

Now Biden has followed up his unilateralism in Afghanistan with his surprise announcing of an agreement for the US, along with Britain, to help Australia build nuclear-powered submarines to deploy against China in the years ahead. By arbitrarily cutting out the French from their \$66bn contract to supply diesel-powered submarines, Biden behaved in the true Trump tradition of causing greater outrage to an ally than dismay to a potential enemy.

The response of China to an alliance clearly directed against it was angry, but this was still mild compared to the apoplexy among senior French leaders at their public humiliation. “This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr Trump used to do,” said French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. “I am angry and bitter. This isn’t done between allies. It’s really a stab in the back.”

A betrayal it may have been, but the French showed a certain naivete, as well as poor intelligence, in not seeing that something like this might be on the cards. When it comes to back-stabbing an ally, there was the recent precedent in Afghanistan and, a couple of years back, another ominous pointer when Trump shocked the Saudis, with whom he was so close, when he failed to retaliate against a devastating missile attack on Saudi oil facilities in September 2019 that was clearly orchestrated by Iran.

Gulf monarchies discovered to their extreme alarm that the American protective umbrella, in which they had previously trusted, was not quite what it seemed to be. It turned out not to include going to war on their behalf, a realisation that will have been reinforced by the Afghan shock and is radically reshaping regional politics.

Complaints by those let down by the US – be they in Paris or Riyadh or in wherever the dispersed Afghan government has sought refuge – are common enough in the history of diplomacy. After all, it was President Charles de Gaulle who said that, “treaties are like young girls and roses – they last as long as they last.”

True this piece of realpolitik about the impermanency of relations between nation states may be, but the Australia-UK-US (Aukus) submarine deal – coming after the Kabul rout and the non-defence of Saudi Arabia – gives a sense that tectonic changes are shaking the way the world works. Biden, who was full of “America-is-back” rhetoric at the start of his presidency, is now treating some of his allies as cavalierly as Trump ever did.

The Aukus alliance is just the sort of Anglo-Saxon line-up most likely to infuriate the French and worry the EU. It will energise European states to try to pursue a distinct and less confrontational policy towards China than before. If they fail to do so, and the omens are not good given their impotence in successive crises in the Middle East and the Balkans, then they become even more marginalised.

But rejoicing among Brexiteers that Britain was right to leave a foundering EU vessel are premature, because British reliance on the US is greater than ever. This carries unpredictable risks as well as dubious advantages, as Britain discovered during the Iraq war, which Britain joined as America’s principal foreign military ally in 2003 and spent the following six years trying to escape without offending the Americans. The calamitous method chosen was to send British military forces to Helmand province in Afghanistan, which turned out to be an even deadlier place than Iraq.

Joining the US and Australia in upping the confrontation with China carries similar risks. It is not “a profound strategic shift”, as Boris Johnson claims, since nothing much is going to happen for over a decade. Cold war threat inflation about China having the world’s largest navy is absurd, since ships that are little more than minnows have been counted as part of the Chinese fleet.

But what Britain would do if the new cold warriors are correct in their warnings and China does indeed invade Taiwan? This is an important question for “global” Britain because it means standing tall against even taller opponents like China and Russia in the hope that they show restraint or the US gives unstinting support.

The dependency is risky because American foreign policy is determined by its domestic political agenda, and never more than at present. A motive for Biden trumpeting his new alliance against China is that it projects strength and diverts attention away from the weakness displayed during the chaotic US exit from Kabul. Dominating American TV screens over the last month, the rout sent Biden’s approval rating in the opinion polls spiralling down to 42 per cent and his disapproval rating up to 50 per cent – the first time his ratings have been negative since he took office.

Britain wants to posture as a great power, but has less and less means of doing so, except as a humble spear carrier for the US. Not all this can be blamed on Johnson and his jingoistic flag wavers in government, because they are only taking advantage of a public assumption that Britain possesses levers of power that no longer function.

ORDER IT NOW

Dominic Raab may have lost his job as foreign secretary because he lolled too long beside the swimming pool at his luxury hotel in Crete as the Taliban was capturing Kabul. But had Raab hastily returned to London – or drowned in the hotel pool – it would not have made the slightest difference to events in Afghanistan.

Public and media misperception of the real power of the British government gives an air of unreality to much of British political life at home and abroad. Six years ago, debate raged on whether or not Britain should launch bombing raids against Isis in Syria, with all sides ignoring the fact that Britain did not have the planes or the intelligence to do anything significant – something subsequently admitted by the RAF officer in charge.

The pretence that Britain is once again a power in the South China Sea and Pacific can only be achieved by complete reliance on the US, ignoring the lessons of the Iraq and Afghan wars.

Patrick Cockburn’s new book ‘Behind Enemy Lies: War News and Chaos in the Middle East’ will be published by Verso in October

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
Hide 19 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
    []
  1. Wokechoke says:

    Watch for events in the Black Sea.

  2. When it comes to back-stabbing an ally, there was the recent precedent in Afghanistan and, a couple of years back, another ominous pointer when Trump shocked the Saudis, with whom he was so close, when he failed to retaliate against a devastating missile attack on Saudi oil facilities in September 2019 that was clearly orchestrated by Iran.

    Wait, so the way not to desert an ally is to start more wars with non-allies?

    Maybe we should desert more “allies”, then.

  3. Trump only looks after Trump. Only reason he began mentioning the 1/6 Patriots was an opportunity to grift. Did absolutely nothing to help them from 1/7 to 1/20.

    #DeSantis24

  4. JLK says:

    The US created that “ally” in the first place, and the collapse when the US started to withdraw shows it was never viable in the first place.

  5. No matter. It’s ridiculous to compare Biden with Trump. What has Biden ever done that was positive for Americans? He’s a two bit long time Washington hack politician. Anyone should be able to see this by now.

  6. Trump is far from perfect. But it’s ridiculous to compare Biden with Trump. What has Biden ever done that was positive for Americans? He’s a two bit long time Washington political hack. Anyone should be able to see this by now. Trump tried as best he could to stop some of the crap the democrats have stuck this nation with. And he was hindered all along the way but still did much, despite being backstabbed by the GOP. almost his whole four years.

    • Disagree: schnellandine
    • Replies: @anon
  7. What does the IRA supporting plastic paddy Cockburn know or care about Britain’s interests.

  8. anon[168] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dr. Charles Fhandrich

    What has Trump done anything positive for America ? Dont include the dual citizen living in Israel or here.

    • Replies: @Dr. Charles Fhandrich
  9. Tsigantes says:

    The US has no allies, only hostages. The same for the UK whose hostages include the US.

  10. China is at best amused. The outrage is for show.

  11. Andreas says:

    FUKUS is dead and AUKUS is likely stillborn.

    Public and media misperception of the real power of the British government gives an air of unreality to much of British political life at home and abroad. Six years ago, debate raged on whether or not Britain should launch bombing raids against Isis in Syria, with all sides ignoring the fact that Britain did not have the planes or the intelligence to do anything significant – something subsequently admitted by the RAF officer in charge.

    LOL – Echos of Hitler moving non-existent divisions to the Eastern front. At least no Brits are dying, yet, as a result of their own delusions.

    This AUKUS alliance is going nowhere. Nothing I have read suggests it will gain any traction. It is too geographically dispersed and relies too much on information technology and digital intelligence instead of the up close human interaction that produces tangible results. Every recent US group-think strategic policy decision has led to humiliation and disaster for everyone involved. And by precedent no one trusts their reliability anymore But the poor Brits seem to have no choice but to go along. The shadows are already long in the US. What will the Brits do when the sun has completely set on the US empire?

    The Chinese must indeed be amused.

    • Replies: @Ann Nonny Mouse
  12. Two of the orks with their snouts in the poop of the other one. Sickening.

    Sorry, one of the orks has its snout in the troughs of the other two. Revolting.

  13. @Sick of Orcs

    There is a lot of discussion in some Trumpian circles about “Devolution” as opposed to Revolution. Part of the rationale seems to be that things have to get so bad –under Biden — that the people will finally the mess we’re in. A fellow named Patel has a lot to say about this subject. In the case of people being arrested at the 1/6 and unjustly held by the current Fauxministration, I think Trump could have come out more in support of these folks at the very end of his term. I don’t that an immediate pardon would have been doable because the dust needed to settle a bit factually.

  14. @anon

    Most of it has been illegally erased by the democrats and Biden. One example, the border. Biden and the democrats open borders policy ruins—jobs, puts Americans in danger from unvetted people no one knows a thing about and where’s the concern about Covid? That is what Biden and the dems have done.i

  15. @Andreas

    Agree, Andreas. The Orks alliance is going nowhere. Traction? China is not going away! This is total madness on the part of ScumMuck. He wants Australian submarines that can creep up to China from a great distance, undetected? Then what? Why this anti-China aggression, when China is going to remain, and will soon have an economy double the size of America’s and by spending a little of its surplus on low-cost but high quality armaments will soon outstrip the USA in that department. And obviously has time on its side, so the US must provoke conflict in a hurry. And China will do its best not to respond to the provocation.

    A big problem is Australian TV, where the great majority of programs is American, pop songs likewise, so every Australia watching TV hears almost everyone speaking with American accents, so the Australian sheeple think, That’s us!

    Or if not, there’s a coup. If Australia attempts to act independently of the USA there’s a coup.

    Malcolm Fraser, retired Australian Prime Minister, wrote the book Dangerous Allies, and they were/are just those two, US and UK! It’s just those two, not China, pose the greatest danger, the greatest threat to Australia. That’s why ScumMuck has a brown nose.

    Following the coup that got rid of Australian PM Gough Whitlam for demanding Australian independence from the US and daring to act independently, he was succeeded by his political opponent, the same Malcolm Fraser. But in later years the two became good friends.

    What threat does China pose to Australia? None. So why is Australia threatening China? More US mischief-making.

    Taiwan? Sole issue, US mischief-making.

    Remember or look up the Long March. The army of the current Chinese government fleeing the army of the current Taiwan government which then ruled mainland China. Fleeing right across mainland China for a whole year from those who eventually finished up on Taiwan. The China-Taiwan issue is absolutely a Chinese internal matter. China is not going to carpet-bomb Taiwan because the people down there are its own people. There will be no war unless the US provokes it, which is what this is all about.

    And when ScumMuck was cuddling up to Creepy and BoJo, what did he have to say about Julian Assange? Nothing. Will Assange be released tomorrow? Nope.

  16. Trump is a lifelong shit lib democrat. Shit lib democrats are the apotheosis of a distinctly American evil.

    His MAGA act is a WWE-style fraud.

    He delights in getting away with fucking people over permanently.

    He likes it so much he destroyed 3000 years worth of humankind’s organic economic system and sent it spinning back in time.

    The only silver lining is that he so totally made a shambles of the military, they won’t be able to protect the shit lib billionaires he fucking worships so much.

    God can’t erase Trump and all that New York City filth he comes out of soon enough.

  17. @Sick of Orcs

    Trump was in cahoots with Pelosi and the rest more than Biden for the past several years.

    Trump did not call for Andrew Cuomo to resign. Biden did. That’s all you need to know about Trump.

  18. The kebab PM, Raab plus the person who edits the blog ‘ConservativeHome’ don’t look Anglo-Saxon.

    Inept golem Biden is just implementing Obama’s ‘phantom menace’ policy.

    Aussies are getting nuclear-powered submarines rather than Israel’s Samson Option which a while back some TUR commenters recommended.

  19. neutral says:

    These are not real allies, they are puppet regimes for ZOG. This being the case, France will complain a bit, but in the end will comply with its masters and carry on being the puppet it is.

Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
$
Submitted comments have been licensed to The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Commenting Disabled While in Translation Mode
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Patrick Cockburn Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Full Story of the Taliban's Amazing Jailbreak
"They Can't Even Protect Themselves, So What Can They Do For Me?"
"All Hell is Breaking Loose with Muqtada" Warlord: the Rise of Muqtada al-Sadr