Already, with more than a months still to go before his scheduled inauguration, Presumptive President-Elect Joe Biden has made clear that he is determined continue the catastrophically incompetent, ignorant and suicidal foreign and national security policies of the Obama administration, in which he happily served as the figurehead Number Two position for eight years.
Biden’s selection of Anthony Blinken as his first secretary of state and Jake Sullivan as National Security Adviser may even achieve the impossible: He may make the world long nostalgically for the Lost Golden Age of those intellectual giants Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper.
Yet while Blinken and Sullivan will certainly sleepwalk the world off the cliff of destruction from Eastern Europe to the Middle East and East Asia, there is one corner of the world where their complacent, intellectually dead brains may do some good – across the Western Hemisphere.
That is because Biden is determined to restore all the foreign policies of the Obama administration, the handful of sensible ones as well as all the awful and catastrophically bad.
Obama and Biden were both inordinately proud of their pathetic, miniscule openings towards Cuba after more than half a century of relentless hatred, economic embargoes and other ruinous policies imposed by every U.S. administration since and including that of John F. Kennedy.
The 2014-16 much touted opening to Havana – like everything Obama did – was timid to a pathological degree and did virtually no material good for real live breathing human beings. But at least it was a wave of the little finger in the direction of sanity.
Biden is determined to repeat that toothless initiative And because it is not new, has been done before and failed before, his top officials Blinken and Sullivan will be all for it.
However, even pretending to be friendly to Cuba carries much wider ramifications.
Havana will not dignify any such pathetic move unless it actually raises sanctions and brings some economic benefit to the people of Cuba who have already survived petty U.S. enmity for so long.
There is no way Biden will be able to get any move to liberalize relations with Cuba through Congress if Republicans still hold the Senate so much depends on the outcome of the Senate elections in Georgia.
Unless and until the Democrats win those races and reach 50-50 seat parity with Republicans in the Senate, the Eternal Mitch McConnell will continue to preside over his perpetual, though wafer-thin Republican majority there, ready to block any legislative openings to Havana.
Therefore the only way Biden can actually make good on any vague promises to Havana may be through Executive Orders. And judging on his – and Barack Obama’s – track record during their eight years as at least figureheads of U.S. power, they will not even dare to try much.
Far more important, however, Cuba has made consistently clear that it will not deign to even pretend to talk to Washington until the Trump administration’s unending – though also buffoonish and inept – efforts to topple the democratically elected, lawful government of Venezuela are scrapped.
In other words, Biden’s already repeatedly stated clear ambition to renew at least the beginnings of a thaw with Cuba automatically demand the scrapping of President Donald Trump’s witless and totally unsuccessful policies in the Western Hemisphere.
Cuban demands will likely force Biden to scrap at last Trump’s manifestly failed efforts to topple President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela and replace him with ludicrous U.S. figurehead boy toy Juan Guaido – a fictional president obsessively created by that Master of Incompetence John Bolton during his own hilarious – and mercifully brief – slapstick term as National Security Adviser of the United States.
Even among the fearful, long-beaten and abused mediocrities who man the supposedly prestigious desks of the State Department in the aptly named location of Foggy Bottom, the stomach to keep up the charade of pretending that Guaido is a real president and a credible leader is nonexistent. Everyone wants to be free of that embarrassment. Even the military-industrial complex will not be sorry to leave Venezuela alone.
Talking to Cuba therefore leads directly to disengagement from Venezuela for Biden. And that in turn increases the likelihood that he will actually leave the miracle of the return to democratic constitutional government in Bolivia alone.
But as I have noted in these columns before, despite its small size and remote, landlocked location, Bolivia in the 21st century has repeatedly proved to be an example and inspiration – and political trend setter – for even the largest nations in Latin America.
Where Bolivia goes today, Brazil may well go tomorrow.
This vast nation has more than 200 million people, most populous in Latin America and a major player under two twice-democratically-elected presidents in the BRICS bloc with Russia, China, India and South Africa. To the eternal shame of the U.S. media, public and certainly of the Democratic Party, the Trump administration was allowed to outrageously topple the democratically elected Social Democratic government that had been legitimately elected four times under two popular and respected presidents.
However, today, discredited President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil president now for only two years (though it certainly seems like far, far longer) no longer enjoys credibility even from his own army. He boasted of his closeness to Trump so loudly and so often that Biden, who has personal pride and steel behind that misleadingly affable exterior will certainly not forget. Bolsonaro is about to pay the price – fast – for clinging to Trump so closely – a destiny that may also politically doom Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Britain.
A cautious and uncharacteristic expression of hope, then, for Joe Biden’s policies in the Western Hemisphere. At best he may offer a benign neglect which will certainly be welcome.
The only problem is that to the rest of the world, he will present a relentless concern that will be unremittingly malign.