Joe Biden, global tension and the nightmare of not being able to turn back the clock

Joe Biden ends his first year in the White House with internal weaknesses and trapped in a complex external chess game with several simultaneous boards that, as the crisis with Russia shows, at the moment only They threaten to get worse. It is not something that can be considered surprising.

In this heap of calamities and challenges flutters the legacy of the messy government of Donald Trump that emboldened America’s historical adversaries such as Beijing and Moscow or ended up amplifying the power of players that it sought to neutralize, such as Iran.

Inside, the crack did nothing but grow to the point that few doubt that in the November mid-term elections the ruling party you will lose control of the cameras reinforcing the Republican opposition. That shift will translate into a diminished Legislative Power and commissions investigating and hindering the government.

Biden, pressed by this balance, tries to turn back the clock of history to recover the leadership of his country and defend his own.

he’s not making it. But this complex scenario was already drawing on the horizon in January of last year when the veteran legislator and former running mate of Barack Obama assumed the presidency.

By proclaiming that his victory was not that of a candidate but “the triumph of a cause, the cause of democracy, Biden was going far beyond the politically correct that phrase can summon.

In this way, he was trying to slam the door on the institutional crisis that was twisting his country with the capture of the Capitol, on January 6, by an ultra-nationalist mob encouraged by Trump who sought to prevent the Democrat’s presidential proclamation.

challenges. President Joe Biden, this Thursday at the White House. Photo: EFE

Also the madness of a huge mass of voters who insist that his victory was fraudulent. All extremes of the disastrous populist chapter that was only suspended at that time but has not disappeared.

Outwards Biden has characterized a world divided between democracies and autocracies, a practical argument to try to recover from the formal US leadership, that is to say, to set the agenda. An urgency marked by the growing technological competition imposed by China and that Trump’s inability had only aggravated.

For that Biden damage control mission, -a center-rightist with deep pro-market convictions like his vice president Kamala Harris, it is worth remembering in the face of the insistent conceptual error about a supposed left in the US government- had been voted for by the big American corporations that financed his campaign with an endless river of money.

But the Democrat did not take long to discover that things were much more complex and that Trump had only been a consequence, just the most recent, of a crisis that was sinking deep into the spirit of the country.

hard first anniversary

Biden reached his first anniversary in power this week with numerous open fronts. The most unpredictable is the one that, as we say, Russia poses which demands the rewriting of all the pacts since the fall of the communist world. This conflict shows different scales.

Places Europe’s place at stake that is suspicious of US internal contradictions and depends on the energy provided by Moscow. This week, German President Olaf Scholz and NATO leader Jens Stoltenberg clarified that there would be no military reaction to a Russian invasion of Ukraine, but serious sanctions, without precedent, Biden warns.

US Chancellor Antony Blinken in Berlin.  Reuters

US Chancellor Antony Blinken in Berlin. Reuters

However, the tension has grown to such levels that the Russian and American foreign ministers, Antony Blinken and Sergey Lavrov, had to go out to reinforce the shelf with a crucial appointment in Geneva that preserved the diplomatic dialogue. The first data possibly of positions to give in from both sides. There is no diplomacy without realism.

Behind these diplomatic movements are the military. Along with the pressure of its army on the Ukrainian border, the Kremlin has announced maneuvers with Belarus that will also intimidate Kiev and a surprising and gigantic naval exercise in four oceans of the planet, embodied as if it were what it is no longer, the second power of the world.

The other front is China, a carnal ally of Russia, which has recovered the old vision of Mao Tse Tung, and which shares the Kremlin, on a USA in decline that would be confirmed in the internal misfortunes suffered by the western power.

The issue with Iran, which receives less attention, is equally complex. Biden has sensibly pushed to rebuild the 2015 nuclear deal demolished by Trump. does it in negotiations that take place against the clock in Vienna but without the prior pressure capacity that Obama had.

The Persian power took advantage of the magnate’s strategic blindness to advance your atomic program like never before and in parallel to build an extraordinarily efficient missile system.

That development has convinced Tehran’s former Arab enemies and friends of the US, the need to cross paths and recover the relationship with the Persian theocracy. A relevant piece of information is the agreed resumption of diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran’s greatest enemy. Another is Israel’s barely hidden green light for negotiations in Vienna that it previously repudiated. All victory for the Islamic Revolution.

Because of what it implies for his leadership and ability to convince, these undercurrents of tensions and mutations increase the seriousness of the fall that Biden’s image has suffered throughout the year, from 56% in January to 40% today. There are no precedents for similar crashes except for Trump who went from 45% to 35% in his first year.

Russian trucks on their way to Belarus for the "exercises" joint military in that country that the West sees as an open threat to Ukraine.  EFE

Russian trucks on their way to Belarus for joint military “exercises” in that country which the West warns is an open threat to Ukraine. EFE

In that result there are own faults and involuntary factors. The list of reproaches begins with the turbulent and disorderly US departure from Afghanistan, an unnecessary disaster that has since spoiled the profile of high professionalism with which the government was inaugurated. That failure put on guard the European allies who have not abandoned their suspicions. Hence the renewed demand for autonomy that is growing in the EU.

The rising inflation As an effect of the economic crisis brought by the pandemic and the failure of the promise that the disease would be defeated in July, they also undermined the president’s credibility. As well as the perception of lack of control over immigration that attacks with crowds from the southern border or the growing urban violence, which fill the Republicans with arguments.

In that sense the puritanical liberal The Economist has reflected that “Biden’s ability to regain his footing appears limited, despite a modest improvement in his efforts of late.”

“He has delivered some fine speeches, including a swipe at his predecessor on the anniversary of the Capitol riots and some comments on economic recovery that sensibly focused on price increases. The administration’s hopes of winning back its disenchanted voters seem naive.” he concluded mercilessly.



One extreme of that scenario has just happened with the failure to impose an electoral reform that guarantees the universal right to vote, a mockery of the democratic flag. Since Trump’s defeat, 19 Republican-majority states have passed 34 laws that restrict the suffrage of black and Latino minorities, typical Democratic voters.

This offensive implies the establishment of a qualified vote, a bad omen for the model to be rebuilt.

The White House had proposed a restorative initiative based on the 1965 Electoral Rights Act that was born from the mobilizations of Martin Luther King among other heroes in the fight against discrimination and for the modernization of the country. But the proposal was dissolved in the Senate.

Biden and his people, since the campaign, emphasized the urgency of democracy, justice and the institutes of the Republic in an effort so that these emblems give back the prestige lost to the United States. In simpler words, the power and the right to exercise it. A difficult goal.

Let us say in passing, this phenomenon has confused part of the Latin American leadership. The region does not seem to understand that the purpose of the Democratic leadership with these arguments is not exclusively a moral issue but one of survival.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.  EFE

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. EFE

In the past, the US supported the dictatorships of Anastasio Somoza, Augusto Pinochet or Argentina, it is true. But the formulation today is of an enormous practical sense.

The defense of democracy, judicial independence and human rights They are requirements of Biden’s program to maintain the profile that led him to the presidency as a positive alternative to Trump. And, more importantly, to try to confirm it going forward and ideally avoid the return of that populist political imperfection.

“The US must lead not only by example of power, but also by the power of our example”, Biden has said, showing that there is not much room for tolerance except in his main space of influence.

That is why, if Latin America is on a secondary step in the White House’s agenda, it is seen to grow in importance when events such as the recent consolidation of the Nicaraguan dictatorship, the presence in the region of a high-ranking Iranian official who is being singled out for his involvement in the attacks in Argentina or the repression in Cuba. They are red lines.

There is no diplomacy without realism, let us insist. The region has yet to understand it. But in that notion, possibly the key that can close the current global crisis may be found for now. It will be seen.
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