Push Back To Leaving Afghanistan

I have seen the reasons that some have for Trump’s decision to move our troops out of Afghanistan……most of those that want to stay are getting paid by the corporations that are milking the taxpayers out of their money…..and that includes the former VP Biden…he has NO plan to bring our troops home..

Beyond that I have made an accusation that it is about the cash and not the foreign policy……here is why I say this….

The 19-year-old war in Afghanistan continues to be a huge sinkhole for US taxpayer dollars. The US government’s oversight authority that monitors waste in Washington’s Afghanistan reconstruction effort released a report this month updating its findings.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) found that as of December 31st, 2019, Congress appropriated almost $134 billion to Afghanistan reconstruction since the 2002 fiscal year. Of that amount, SIGAR reviewed about $63 billion and found approximately $19 billion or 30 percent was lost to waste, fraud, and abuse.

Between January 1st, 2018, and December 31st, 2019, SIGAR found an additional $3.4 billion was lost to waste, fraud, and abuse. Of that total, SIGAR identified $1.5 billion in taxpayer funds that were lost to waste, $300 million lost to fraud, and $34 million lost to abuse. The remaining $1.6 billion was allocated to counter-narcotics, which SIGAR believes was also wasted.

In a 2018 report, SIGAR described US counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan as a “failure.” A UN report from 2019 found Afghanistan is the source of 80 percent of the world’s illicit opium production despite the billions of US taxpayer dollars being spent to stop it.

Since SIGAR was formed in 2008, the oversight authority has investigated approximately 44 percent of the $134 billion spent by the US on Afghanistan reconstruction. According to Brown University’s Costs of War project, as of September 2019, the US has spent $2 trillion on the war in Afghanistan. The number includes interest on borrowed money used to fund the war and money spent on care for veterans

(antiwar.com)

Can you see it now?

Close to $2 trillion and who thinks that the M-IC will give up that easy cash without a fight?

Here’s another thought about the $2 trillion…..

Pursuing trade and industrial policies that boost U.S. exports and eliminate the trade deficit while investing $2 trillion over four years in the nation’s infrastructure, clean energy, and energy efficiency improvements could support 6.9 to 12.9 million “good jobs” annually by 2024, according to an analysis published Tuesday.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/10/20/investing-2-trillion-us-clean-energy-and-infrastructure-could-create-millions-good

Something to think about…..

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What Do Americans Want In Foreign Policy?

We have had our last debate for the 2020 presidential candidates…..it was pretty typical fare….lots of bullshit few specifics…..

There was little said about any of our foreign polices or our endless wars…..and I blame the moderator who was just playing the hand dealt to her by the owners of the news, the M-IC.

You would think that since Trump is getting some pretty positive feedback on his announcement of troop withdrawals that he would have found a way to insert that into his presentation….unless of course all his BS is just that BS….

We Americans deserve a debate where foreign policy is the only subject covered……

Foreign policy issues have barely made an appearance during the 2020 presidential campaign. The first presidential debate on Sept. 29 was wholly unsatisfying. While the 90-minute vice presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris was a bit more civilized, the discussion was so general and superficial as to be virtually meaningless. Short of bumper-sticker phrases that are designed to win the news cycle, the American people have been left to wonder how a President Trump or President Biden would manage relations with some of Washington’s most significant adversaries; the circumstances with which each would use U.S. military force; which conflicts they believe are important enough to warrant U.S. involvement; and what specific concepts will help guide their decision-making. The last presidential debate offers both candidates the opportunity to provide the country with the foreign-policy conversation it deserves.

After two consecutive decades of U.S. overreach that has taken U.S. troops into countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, the Philippines, and Niger—all on the backs of a tired, 19 year-old authorization for the use of military force—Americans are increasingly searching for leaders on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue who understand that a course correction is desperately overdue. Recent public opinion surveys portray an American population disillusioned with what can only be described as a whole-of-government fixation on a violent and dysfunctional Middle East—a region whose strategic value to the United States is dwindling. More than $6 trillion and the sacrifice of tens of thousands of U.S. casualties over 19 years have bought the United States little security benefit. The list of opportunity costs, however, have continued to grow. It is not a coincidence that China’s hard power, diplomatic influence, and wealth have improved while Washington was stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan taming multiple insurgencies.

https://www.realclearworld.com/2020/10/22/americans_deserve_a_debate_on_foreign_policy_581565.html

It looks like no matter which old fart wins the wars status quo will remain….

Forever-war advocates rest on the logic that because it is theoretically possible a negative outcome might result if we end unsuccessful wars, it is safer to continue supporting them; that the lowest cost is to maintain the status quo. When the actual conditions of each deployment are examined, however, it becomes quickly evident the significant costs we are enduring, right now, are inappropriate and unsustainable.

https://www.militarytimes.com/opinion/commentary/2020/10/23/risk-to-america-of-maintaining-forever-war-status-quo-dangerously-high/

My thought is since that we spend so much money on our endless wars then maybe we should hear what the candidates think and what they have planned…….and I am not alone…..

 a YouGov poll commissioned by the Charles Koch Institute and completed in the summer of 2020 found that 74 percent of Americans wanted to withdraw our troops from Iraq and 76 percent wanted to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The numbers from veteransthose who have done the fighting and dying over the past two decadeswas just as stark: 73 percent favored ending the war.

The trends are clear. Americans across the spectrum recognize with increasing clarity that the militaristic foreign policy of the past two decades has failed. More diplomacy, not militancy, is what the people want. Their rationale is as simple as it is reasonable: the people are tired of failure and are eager to try a new path that has a greater chance of success.

We are spending trillions (yes that is trillion with a “T”) I think that the candidates could spare 90 minutes to explain themselves and their foreign policies.

But sadly Biden’s foreign policy track record is not at all something I would wnat to continue…..

With some 44 years of collective government service as a U.S. senator and vice president, Joe Biden has amassed a substantial foreign and national security record. An examination of some of his key votes as senator and performance as vice president does not provide a ringing endorsement for his presidential candidacy. Instead, it raises serious questions about whether his votes and decisions detrimentally affected the U.S. economy, U.S. national security, and international peace and security.

https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/522480-is-america-ready-to-return-to-the-obama-biden-foreign-policy

What I see is more the same endless wars and the conflicts that go unreported…..but at least Trump will be gone right?

Any thoughts?

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Closing Thought–22Oct20

I have had many conversations about our many many endless wars….and I am asked that if I think they are so bad how can they still be fighting wars?

I have a very clear and succinct answer…..Think Tanks.

I am not a fan of most think tanks for they paid to make manure look like sirloin…..and our wars are no different.  I gave my thoughts here on IST…..https://lobotero.com/2017/09/20/closing-thought-20sep17/

The American Conservative (yes I read a conserv publication has looked into this…..as well……

The top 50 think tanks in America, as ranked by the University of Pennsylvania’s Go To Think Tank Index, received over $1 billion from U.S. government and defense contractors. The top recipients of this funding were the RAND Corporation, the Center for a New American Security, and the New America Foundation, according to analysis by the Center for International Policy.

Donations to these think tanks came from 68 different U.S. government and defense contractor sources, under at least 600 separate donations. The top five defense contractor donors to U.S. think tanks were Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martina and Air Bus.

Top think tank funders from within the U.S. government include the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Air Force, the Army, the Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department. The defense contractors that forked over the most to think tanks were Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Airbus.

The RAND Corporation alone received over $1 billion between 2014-2019, accounting for approximately 95 percent of its funding that the report tracked. Nearly all the money came from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ($110 million,) the U.S. Army (over $245 million,) and the U.S. Air Force (over ($281 million.)

Top 50 U.S. Think Tanks Receive Over $1B from Gov, Defense Contractors

Then there is the MSM….they hire “experts” to make these wars acceptable…..both print and broadcast….for most are now owned by the very M-IC corporations that are funding the “whitewash” of our worthless endless wars.

If instance the NYTimes has had a section called “At War”….well it has decided to drop the section altogether

Following the announcement Tuesday that the New York Times “At War” section—which has explored the “experiences and costs of war” for the past two and a half years—is ending this week, peace advocates were quick to note that the United States’ actual “forever war” outlasting a forum dedicated to covering it should be a sobering reminder of the nation’s destructive and bloody foreign policy nearly two decades after the invasions of Afghanistan and then Iraq. 

The news came just one week after Stars and Stripes provided an account of U.S. military veterans who fought in Afghanistan watching their children deploy to the same ongoing war.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/10/14/imperial-irony-new-york-times-announces-halt-war-section-even-endless-us-war

The whitewash and the justification for war and the deaths of Americans proceeds…….with very little notice.

Final Thought:  Tonight is the final debate and I will offer analysis in tomorrow’s posts.

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Aliens Beware!

Closing Thought–16Oct20

This is not about our presidents hatred of immigrants but rather his silly threat to aliens of the ET type.

Recently Donald the Orange was asked about the alien sightings.

Donald Trump did not deny media reporting that the US Department of Defense has set up a task force to examine “unidentified alien phenomena” after the Air Force released a video earlier this year showing pilots flying by what many people have speculated was a UFO.

“Can you explain why the Department of Defense has set up a UFO task force?” Fox News host Maria Bartiromo asked Mr Trump in an interview on Sunday.

“Are there UFOs?” she asked.

“Well, I’m going to have to check on that. I mean, I’ve heard that. I heard that two days ago. So I’ll check on that. I’ll take a good, strong look at that,” Mr Trump said.

He then quickly segued into a boast about US military might, which some people on Twitter took to be the president threatening aliens with human weaponry.

“I will tell you this, we now have created a military the likes of which we’ve never had before, in terms of equipment. The equipment that we have, the weapons that we have, and hopefully — hope to god we never have to use them,” Mr Trump said.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-appears-threaten-aliens-military-185734178.html

Seriously?

Aliens that traveled millions of light years to arrive on this tiny blue ball and they will be intimidated by some Orange blowhard and a few of our pop guns.

Apparently once again this idiot in the Whiten House fired his moth off before his brain was in gear (that is giving him the benefit of the doubt that he has half a brain)….

Our initial contact in the movies never ends well….and yet we spend millions trying to contact them…..and show them the way here….

Trump’s chest thumping reminds me of the old saying….”bringing a knife to a gun fight”….typical blowhard response to something he does not understand.

Maybe the planet should invest a little time in coming up with a response if and when we are contacted….instead of trying to dominate their neighbors.

Just a thought!

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More Good News From Trump?

Yes I know I have been a critic of Trump since he took office….but I have also stated that I approve of his attempts to end our endless wars……and now he has made another statement that I can support….( I shall qualify that shortly)…..

He is attempting to bring home the troops from Afghanistan and Iraq….and moving some out of Germany…..

Pres. Trump wants to bring our troops home from Somalia…..Somalia?  Think Blackhawk Down…..

Bloomberg published a story on Wednesday that cited anonymous sources who said President Trump is looking to withdraw hundreds of US troops from Somalia, a war the administration has significantly escalated since 2017.

The sources said the Pentagon has begun drafting plans for the president, and discussions have involved Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the US currently has 700 troops in Somalia. Mostly special forces who train Somalia’s army. Most of these troops were sent to the African country by President Trump, according to the Bloomberg story.

The US is engaged in Somalia as part of its war against the militant group al-Shabab. In 2017, President Trump loosened the rules of engagement for the drone war and his administration has dropped a record number of bombs on Somalia.

In 2019, the US conducted 63 airstrikes in Somalia, the most in a single year. The first seven months of 2020 saw more US airstrikes in Somalia than were conducted during both the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, combined.

The war in Somalia is extremely underreported, and it is tough to know how damaging it has been to the civilians on the ground. US Africa Command usually claims its airstrikes only kill militants and only occasionally have to admit to civilian deaths if there is enough outcry.

(antiwar.com)

Now is this just election posturing or is he serious?

He has made promises before an election that he has not carried forward once he was placed in the seat of power for the United States.

So I ask again….can we trust him to do what he says?

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Should US Troops Remain In The Middle East?

My first reaction to that question is…Hell NO!  Their families have suffered many years and it is time for them to be reunited with their soldiers.

Bring our troops home…..and the reasons are clear.

  1. The Middle East is a small, poor, weak region beset by an array of problems that mostly do not affect Americans—and that U.S. forces cannot fix. The best thing the United States can do is leave.
  2. The immense cost and evident fruitlessness of U.S. wars in the Middle East are widely lamented in American politics, but not enough to extricate U.S. troops. And even beyond the wars, U.S. policy in the region is an expensive and unnecessary disaster.
  3. The cost of maintaining forces to protect the Middle East from itself is extraordinary, even in peacetime. Conservatively, attempting to control the Middle East costs Americans on the order of $65–70 billion dollars each year, apart from the trillions spent on wars there. The number should be closer to zero.
  4. Nothing about the Middle East warrants the U.S. investment there over the past 30 years. The few important interests there—preventing major terrorist attacks, stopping the emergence of a market-making oil hegemon, curbing nuclear proliferation, and ensuring no regional actor destroys Israel—do not require American troops.
  5. The roughly 60,000 U.S. troops in the region should leave. American efforts to manage the Middle East make nothing about oil, Israel, or terrorism better. The United States would be better off withdrawing all forward-deployed troops from the region, while maintaining access agreements for naval ports with the consent of host countries.
  6. Withdrawing ground forces from the Middle East will make it harder for the United States to start or join any wars there. Shrinking the U.S. armed forces to reflect the lack of threat from the Middle East will free up resources for any number of higher priorities at home or abroad.

Six excellent reasons for pulling US troops out of the Middle East…..[

Why are we still there?

Is it to protect Israel?  If so I say fuck them let them do their own security.

Is it to protect oil?  Again I say screw it…we do not need their oil any longer.

Is it to keep the M-IC in defense contracts and their profits rolling in?  I think I have hit on the the true reason we are still there.  The industry spends billions on Congress they want their money to be well spent….if not they move on to the next corrupt politician that will do their bidding.

Why are we still in the Middle East?

(Insert your thoughts here)

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Trump/Biden On Security And Defense

AS the election of 2020 draws closer and some people still are not sure who they will vote for (doubt that assumption but I can hope) so I try to help all those uncommitted voters learn the issues and where the two stand…..

My main concern is foreign policy and that will include defense and national security issues as well….this post will look at where Trump/Biden stand on these issues.

U.S. President Donald Trump: The Trump administration has withdrawn the U.S. from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and (almost) the 1992 Open Skies Treaty. It has loosened the Missile Technology Control Regime’s restrictions on selling armed drones to foreign governments amid concerns about China’s defense relationships in the Middle East. As of press time, administration officials have been unwilling to extend the 2010 New START nuclear pact with Russia, which expires in February, insisting that a new version include Russia’s growing arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons and China, whose smaller arsenal is rapidly expanding and which appears unwilling to sign such an agreement.

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden: Favored by arms control advocates, Biden has promised to renew New START and would likely accept Russia’s offer to extend it five years without preconditions. He also said he would rejoin the Iran nuclear deal if it returned to full compliance described in the agreement. While Trump has loosened restrictions on the use of landmines by the U.S. military in conflict areas, Biden has said the move unnecessarily puts civilians at risk and that he would reverse it.

Defense News has taken a look at both candidates and positions…..the subjects covered by Defense News…

Nuclear Weapons…..Defense Budget…..Afghanistan, Iraq And Iran…..Arm Sales…..NATO And Europe…..Great Power Competition…..

These are subjects that need to be addressed by the candidates….but since both are too busy trying to make the other look bad…..

I like Biden on nuclear weapons

I dislike both Trump and Biden’s stand on the defense budget

I like Trump’s stand on bringing troops home…just not convinced he will do it after election.  Biden will end wars but leave troops in place….what part of that is the end?  Don’t like Biden’s explanation.

Dislike Trump’s selling arms to anybody with a checkbook….and Biden has not said a whole lot so none of his thoughts are up for analysis.

I like Biden’s idea of repairing alliances but not any expansion of NATO.

Both are on record as a extreme dislike for China but all they have is sanctions and stuff……not going to change a damn thing.

As you can see why I have a dilemma since foreign policy is a major driving force in my vote…..for neither candidate impresses me with a hard good agenda in world affairs.

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Sanctions, What Are They Good For?

I see that Donald the Orange has once again used his favorite tool for international situations….sanctions.

This time it is sanctions used against Iran….again.

The US slapped new sanctions on Iran’s financial sector on Thursday in an attempt to further isolate the Islamic Republic’s economy. The new measures target 18 Iranian banks and subjects foreign, non-Iranian institutions to penalties for doing business with them.

“Today’s action to identify the financial sector and sanction 18 major Iranian banks reflects our commitment to stop illicit access to US dollars,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

The move comes after Washington’s European allies have been warning of the humanitarian consequences sanctions can have on Iran. The country is already facing an economic crisis due to previous US sanctions, which has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

European countries have been at odds with the Trump administration over its Iran policy. The US has been trying to enforce measures agreed to under the 2015 nuclear deal, an agreement the US withdrew from when it reimposed sanctions on Iran in 2018.

The US says the new sanctions do not apply to transactions that involve food or medical supplies. But the sanctions will discourage foreign banks from doing any business with Iran, including humanitarian deals. Sanctions imposed on Iran since 2018 also technically have exemptions for humanitarian goods, but have caused things like medicine shortages.

The new sanctions came just a day after Iran reported its highest number of daily deaths due to coronavirus. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded to the new sanctions on Twitter. “Amid Covid19 pandemic, US regime wants to blow up our remaining channels to pay for food & medicine,” Zarif wrote.

(antiwar.com)

I am not a big fan of sanctions…I believe they should be used only as a deterrent…..I dislike them for they usually hurt innocent people more than the intended recipients.

I have written my feelings about sanctions…..https://lobotero.com/2019/02/05/sanctions/

Sanctions are a cheap way to try and get the targeted nations to play ball with what the US wants…..but just how effective are they?

The imposition of sanctions is a relatively inexpensive political instrument compared to armed conflict, and is more popular with the public. However, when a sanctions regime is promulgated, it is impossible to determine the exact level of measures that must be taken in order for sanctions to have an impact on the policy of the sanctioned state.

In order to determine the effectiveness of a sanctions regime, we will examine nine factors that we believe to be decisive: the economic cost to the sanctioned state; the nature of its political regime; its political and economic stability; the relationship between the sanctioning state and the sanctioned state; the type of objective; international cohesion; the phenomenon of rallying around the flag; the reputation and image of the sanctioned state; and time.

https://theconversation.com/under-what-conditions-are-international-sanctions-effective-147309

I still do not think that sanctions accomplished their intended conclusion……and do more harm than good.

So are these sanctions really all that good?

The genesis of the maximum pressure campaign as articulated by former national security adviser John Bolton and hawkish think tanks like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, was founded upon a simplistic but appealing narrative: the Iranian Islamic regime has grand designs on the Middle East, including a kind of 21st century colonization that would swallow the region whole. Because this narrative was already fully entrenched in Washington’s security and intelligence establishment, it was a relatively easy one to sell to an administration staffed to the gills with Iran hawks. 

The main theoretical assumption underlying the maximum pressure campaign was as shallow as it was tempting: pummel the Iranian economy with so many restrictions that the ayatollahs would have no choice but to crawl back to the table on their hands and knees and negotiate a new agreement on Washington’s terms. 

However, knowing that caving to U.S. demands would leave it highly vulnerable to similar tactics in the future, the Iranian government has held firm to its original position: if the U.S. wants to talk about a bigger and better deal, it must first re-enter the original Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action (JCPOA) and compensate Tehran for its losses. The Trump administration, as can be expected, finds Iran’s demands absurd, if not insulting. Indeed, as of this writing, the White House, State Department, and Treasury are actively debating blacklisting what is left of the entire Iranian financial sector and thereby severing it from the international community. 

Punishing Iran wasn’t all it was cracked up to be

Really?  We have been punishing Iran for over 40 years and what has that lead to?

Thoughts?

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“Home By Christmas”

That is the latest promise issued by the president about our weary troops in Afghanistan.

President Trump made a new comment on the pullout of Afghanistan, saying that it is now his intention to have all remaining US troops out of Afghanistan by Christmas. That’s substantially sooner than previous statements on the matter.

This seems to be a very recent policy change. Just hours before Trump’s comments, the national security adviser said that there would still be 2,500 US troops left in Afghanistan by early 2021. This is roughly in line with previous comments on the matter.

Troop cuts in October and November are intended to get troop levels to around 4,500 in November, a goal that the Trump Administration has pushed for some time. With troop cuts ahead of schedule, even more cuts were possible.

Having the last troops out of Afghanistan by Christmas puts even more pressure on the Afghan government and Taliban to make good on efforts to make a deal, at least on a framework, or risk a new round of violence.

(antiwar.com)

After almost 20 years it is time for us to rid ourselves of this conflict….15 years too late……

Even the most enthusiastic interventionists must now recognize that the war is militarily unwinnable. The hopes of a peace agreement between the Taliban and Afghan government should not delay the end of American involvement in the war and our full withdrawal. Anything less confirms Washington’s unwillingness to recognize two decades of failure and condemns yet more American troops to pointlessly sacrifice their lives and limbs.

https://outline.com/3MSMVw

People like me have been calling for this very thing for a decade maybe longer.

I worry that this is a promise in words only for after all it is the election season and our president has made many many promises that have not been kept.

Or could there be what some call a “surprise” that would require the US to extend their presence…we will be told it is for awhile….and we know we have heard all this before.

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Will Biden’s Foreign Policy Make A Difference?

Easy answer is…of course not.

Our foreign policy of endless worthless wars will continue under Biden and his policies.

I have said many times that foreign policy is one of those issues that will draw me to a candidate….so far Biden has no draw for me.

Americans have opinions on foreign policy it is just not reported by the MSM…..

As the 2020 presidential campaigns hit the home stretch, the Eurasia Group Foundation (EGF) has sought to understand voters’ preferences for America’s role in the world.

This is the third consecutive year EGF has conducted a national survey to investigate the foreign policy preferences of the American public. More than seventeen hundred Americans were asked detailed questions about hot button national security and foreign policy topics. The following observations are included among the study’s findings:

Americans favor a less militarized foreign policy

Americans want to increase diplomatic engagement with the world

They also want less military intervention

https://egfound.org/stories/independent-america/diplomacy-and-restraint

Afghanistan will continue…Iraq will continue……the adventurism into Syria will continue…..in other words the foreign policy under Biden will show little change than that under Trump.

But the larger question remains…..

The “left” rationalization for collaborating with the neoliberal wing of the democrat party is premised on the argument that a win for the national Democrat candidate translates into better possible policy outcomes for the “people” and nation. More importantly though, they assert, Trump’s defeat will alter the rightist trajectory of U.S. politics away from what they refer to as Trump’s neofascist inclinations.

I will not attempt to address this argument here. I have dealt with this cartoonish and idealistic conception of fascism in other places. I have also raised questions with my friends in the left regarding the basis of their confidence that Biden and the neoliberal class forces he represents are in possession of any ideas or policies that will address the irreconcilable contradictions of the late stage of monopoly capitalism known as neoliberalism.

Of course, on this last question, the response from my materialist friends is sentimental gibberish about holding someone’s feet to the fire.

Here I just want to briefly focus on the very simple question that many in the global South are raising in connection with the upcoming U.S. elections. And that is, if Biden wins, what might the people of the global South expect from a Biden Administration? To examine that question, I believe that the Afghanistan situation and the process for arriving at the current peace talks between the Taliban, the Afghanistan government and the United States offers some useful indicators for how that question might be answered.

Will a Biden Foreign Policy Make a Difference for the World?

So the answer for me is that the main issues will remain the same with Joe Biden.

Further Reading:

Download Full White Paper (as PDF)View the 2018 report (archived)View the 2019 report (archived)

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