June 11, 2020 Editor

An Open Letter To Joe Biden

Dear Mr. Biden.

If I might be so bold, I wonder about connecting some dots at this incredible kairos moment of U.S. and world history.

I was moved by your empathetic videoed message to the Floyd family during the funeral service in Houston. You have deeply suffered multiple losses as this article sensitively points out: “Joe Biden’s Secret Weapon Is Grief“.

I also appreciated your drawing on Catholic Social Teaching. With relation to that teaching, I wonder: Do you see any connection at all between the most basic Christian teaching by Jesus in the Gospels to Love your neighbour/Love your enemies, and Black Lives Matter/American international foreign policy past or present?

I wonder in that regard whether Arab Lives Matter? What about organized murder by your country of more than two million Arabs in Iraq, Syria, and Libya—more than a million in Iraq, 600,000 in Syria, and 30,000 in Libya? Many of these were murdered during your watch as Vice President.

I wonder whether at least in retrospect the three million Vietnamese Lives Matter, killed by your government, or whether you have ever spoken out against your country’s involvement in the Vietnam War that “ ‘was an atrocity from the get-go,’ [one veteran] said in a recent telephone interview. ‘It was that kind of war . . . There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted[/murdered].’ ” This from The New York Times article: “Report on Brutal Vietnam Campaign Stirs Memories”.

I wonder whether Non-American Lives Matter—when deemed “The Enemy”? What do you think of this?:

In 1948, George Keennan, State Department Director of policy planning, noted that the United States then possessed “about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population.” The challenge facing U.S. policy makers, he believed, was “to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security.” [1. PPS 23, “Review of Current Trends, U.S. Foreign Policy” (February 24, 1948).] The overarching aim of American statecraft in other words, was to sustain the uniquely favorable situation to which the United States had ascended by the end of World War II. It’s hard to imagine a statement of purpose more succinct, cogent, and to the point. Judged by this standard, the stewards of U.S. foreign policy down to the present day have done more than passably well… (America’s War For the Greater Middle East: A Military History, Andrew J. Bacevich, New York: Random House, 2016, p. 358).

This premier American historian believes “The Enemy” is any people standing in the way of U.S. full spectrum dominance. Like all bullies wanting to pulverize their victims because they had what the bully wanted.

OR . . .

Did Japanese Lives Matter when 100,000 civilians of all ages were slaughtered in Tokyo during one night of conventional carpet bombing in March 1945 (perhaps a million all together in about 80 cities similarly bombed); or in the dropping of two atomic bombs on civilians of all ages in Hiroshima or Nagasaki that instantly slaughtered 120,000, and an additional 80,000 who died slow motion, agonizing deaths—not to mention the horrific environmental devastation?

OR . . .

Did Russian or Chinese Lives Matter during the Cold War when any number of nuclear war planners in Washington contemplated striking 295 Soviet cities, with an estimated death toll total of 115 million, and another 107 million dead in Red China, besides millions more in Soviet satellite countries (The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, John W. Dower, Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017, pp. 28 & 29; See also my post: Life Under the Bomb is a Life of Resistance.). When in some circles, as a kind of sick dark humour, the two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki due to “only” 200,000 dead, came to be called “firecracker nukes (ibid, p. 29).” One strategist, Albert Wohlstetter, referred to this era, and such longstanding policy, as a “delicate balance of terror (ibid, p. 27).”

Or is “terrorism” by definition only what the “Bad Guys” do? As one of my wider family members stupidly, stubbornly argues. (He needs a good dose of the 1975 Academy Award-winning Hearts and Minds. One clip masterfully captures it!:


So do we all, regularly need such!)

And God alone knows–and the Pentagon!–what exponential mass murder is being planned with cyber warfare and nuclear strikes now! (The above-noted book knows too a lot about this possible, meticulously planned, unthinkable (but not by the “Good Guys”!), cold-blooded, worldwide horror show.)

The manner in which we treat other nations contains many of the same elements as the racism and violence which the demonstrations on our streets are denouncing. The US military has its knee on the throat of the world. We must vanquish this shape-shifting, Orwellian spectre with which our overlords ensnare us, with their lies of “they hate our freedoms”. Defund the Pentagon!

tells it like it is in this dead-on article: The US Military Has Its Knee on the Throat of the World. She writes:

We slander these two nations [China and Russia] in our media, and impose sanctions, challenging them to respond. Trump’s assertion that “we live in a hostile world of evolving threats” neglects to mention that we ourselves provoke those threats.

But the National Defense Strategy demands “full-spectrum dominance”. This requires absolute control, e.g. military superiority on land, at sea, in the air and in outer space. Therefore, in anticipation of a “high-end” war with these “near-peers”, an exciting upgrade of our arsenals will be required.

OR . . .

Did Other World Citizens Lives Matter—of every colour—when Americans murdered millions in 37 victim nations since World War II, with related massive environmental devastation; or the millions you murdered through US proxy wars, CIA covert operations the world over, surrogate terror exported to countries throughout Central and South America for more than a century, and other parts of the world, etc., etc., etc…1

Simon Kuper notes in the Financial Times that [Boris] Johnson’s net favorability rating collapsed from +29 percent in April 2020 to -52 percent in January 2022. “Here, in microcosm,” Kuper writes, “is the uniqueness of American polarisation”: Those who favor Trump are bound to him as with hoops of steel, come what may. This total indifference to evidence is today’s “American exceptionalism.”George F. Will

What was true for Latin America was true for around the world: massive human rights abuses, assassinations, regime changes of democratically elected governments, etc., etc., etc. orchestrated by US Empire. Yet Americans invariably have wanted it both ways: to be seen as the exemplary “City on A Hill” that upholds universal human rights and democracy, while operating a brutal Empire directly contrary to all such elevated values, and a concomitant rapacious Empire market economy that takes no prisoners. This began of course even before the founding of the United States of America and continued apace; in its mass slaughter and dispossession of indigenous peoples, in its brutal system of slavery on which its obscene wealth in the textile industry in the first place was built. “The Land of the Free” conceit was a sustained con job on the part of America’s leaders. It was also apotheosis of hypocrisy. American exceptionalism was/is true in one respect only: it was brutal like no other Empire in its eventual global reach.

OR . . .

“Turns out I’m really good at killing people,”[Obama] quipped, “Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.”The War on Terror Is Still Alive and Well, by Robert L. Borosage, September 8, 2021 (How does America breed such monstrous leadership? Or is it indeed culturally, ubiquitously, endemic to humanity?2

Did Drone Victims Lives Matter when the President under whom you served became known as “Assassin-in-Chief” in many parts of the world due to his use of ubiquitous reach killer drones that rained down terror (begun by Bush, “perfected” under Obama, expanded by far under Trump) and death on multiplied numbers of innocents each year, including (though so far not American–or not?) women and children?

OR . . . Did Victims Lives Matter in selling weapons of mass destruction to virtually every nation on earth, no matter how oppressive? Your former boss—and of course you—facilitated more arms sales annually throughout the world than all other countries’ arms sales combined—to make billions for voraciously greedy arms dealers in America? (Surprise: it’s only become worse!)

OR . . .

Do Prisoners Lives Matter that you and Obama perpetuated America’s lead as the most carceral nation on earth (a vast majority of whom are non-whites), with rampant brutality towards prisoners throughout your federal, state, and private prison systems—including CIA black sites and Guantanamo—treatment of whom, indicated Dostoyevsky, is also measure of civil society? Your nation in this is a beacon of justice and freedom? And of course, it was crime bill legislation championed by you that led to the expansion of mass incarceration, particularly of African Americans; that in 2015, Bill Clinton said he “signed a bill that made the problem worse, and I want to admit it.” Not just “worse”. Far far worse! And this not to mention the ubiquitous police violence against Blacks and Hispanics, etc.; against whom as well the Obama Administration increasingly outfitted police with military hardware used elsewhere to slaughter unyielding victims–over there! . . .

OR . . .

Do Black, Native, and Non-White Lives Really Matter, considering America’s twin foundations are genocide as described in two studies entitled: American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World (David E. Stannard), and An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873 (Benjamin Madley); and its original sin of slavery as in The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (Edward E. Baptist)? Have you ever addressed this American History of Horrors all the way back to the Pilgrims? (You may even care to read Roaming Charges: Nothing But Rednecks for 400 Years, If You Check to get further great insights.)

OR . . .

Perhaps by now you get the drift?

So Have Any Lives Really Mattered to any past American federal government administration ever when, if any nation/people group has had or has what American leadership wants (i.e. to “maintain this position of disparity”), or is in the way, there is an American exceptionalism activated for sure: one however of spewing out death and destruction against those opposing America’s full spectrum dominance? I wonder then, Mr. Biden, how you might respond to this well-researched/argued article?: King Joe and the Round Table: Biden’s America in a Multipolar World. In it we read:

In an article in Foreign Affairs in March titled, “Why America Must Lead Again,” Joe Biden claimed that “the world doesn’t organize itself,” and promised to “put the U.S. back at the head of the table” among the nations of the world. But the premise that the world can only organize itself under the direction of the United States and Biden’s ambition to restore the U.S. to such a dominant position at this moment in history are out of touch with global reality.

The next time Congress voted on a bill to authorize the use of military force, over Kosovo in 1999, Biden wrote the bill himself. His war bill failed in the House in a rare 213-213 tie, but the U.S. and NATO attacked Yugoslavia anyway, in a war that was therefore illegal under both U.S. and international law.

As the bombing campaign escalated, killing thousands of civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure from Kosovo to Belgrade, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warned that the U.S. and NATO’s decision to go to war without UN Security Council approval had set the world “on a dangerous path to anarchy.” Joe Biden responded, “Nobody in the Senate agrees with that. There is nothing to debate. He is dead, flat, unequivocally wrong.”

[T]he U.S. and NATO attacked Yugoslavia anyway, in a war that was therefore illegal under both U.S. and international law.

Biden then played a key role in the propaganda blitz for war on Iraq. As John Feffer and Stephen Zunes wrote later, “In his powerful position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he orchestrated a propaganda show designed to sell the war to skeptical colleagues and the American public by ensuring that dissenting voices would not get a fair hearing.”

During his final 12 years in the Senate, Joe Biden never once voted against a military spending bill. Then, as vice president, despite the illusion of Obama as a “peace president,” which even fooled the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, Biden was a senior member of an administration that set a post-World War II record for military spending and dropped more bombs and missiles on more countries than Bush and Cheney did.

When I sent a similar Open Letter to Michelle Obama four years ago, there was no reply.

Perhaps you instead might care to?

In the article this post began with, we read:

The bereaved are Biden’s special constituency, the people he most easily finds a rapport with…

At a fundamental level, Biden’s promise is that he will heal a world rent by suffering and death.

But is this true? At least, should not the article’s author have inserted a huge qualifier–“American” in front of “bereaved?” And how in the world can it be said of you that you promise to “heal a world rent by suffering and death,” when the very nation you have served for decades, and now vie for its Top Job, is defined by its core value of raining down3suffering and death” on any nation in America’s way? Sadly–how could you be unaware?–beneath that American Holocaust is a “rending of real people,” a Holocaust that delivers ubiquitously and massively “suffering and death.Please tell–better so late in the game–show me it is not so, Joe! Please! Or are you, sadly, just another  American White Christian Bullshitter? Even if well-meaning and sincere–but self-deceived?

Finally, I wonder: Is the “American Way” as seen above what you also learned from Catholic Social Teaching? Or does Catholic Social/White Evangelical Teaching only apply to (select) Americans whom “God so loved” that he authorized genocide or whatever brutality is needed against all others; (select) Americans who are “exceptional” as since your country’s founding so many like to think you are–though demonstrably, massively and primarily exceptional in ubiquitous death-dealing?

Waiting for an answer,

Wayne Northey

Visits: 100

  1. See ibid, throughout the book. Historian John Coatsworth in The Cambridge History of the Cold War noted:

    Between 1960, by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin’s gulags, and the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites. In other words, from 1960 to 1990, the Soviet bloc as a whole was less repressive, measured in terms of human victims, than many individual Latin American countries [under direct sway of US Empire] (“The Cold War in Central America”, pp. 216 – 221).[]

  2. See the commentary by brilliant cultural critic René Girard, for an answer.[]
  3. Military historian Tami Biddle wrote in Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare, when in the 19th century aerial warfare was still only imagined, it meant “English-speaking peoples raining incendiary bombs over the enemy to impose the customs of civilization”; emphasis added. Some customs! Some “civilization!”[]


Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.