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Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
April 28 2021
Recording: Go to website and listen to Joe Biden’s War Powers ·
illustration above: Addicted to War: Why the U.S. Can’t Kick Militarism by .
WN: In the end, Joe Biden’s devout Catholicism, his profound empathy from personal tragedy, his commitment to the welfare of others, are all circumscribed by “America First.” Bottom line: his ethics on KAF (KeepAmerica First) are identical to Trump’s MAGA–and to all past Presidents’ MO: brutal destruction of all peoples and infrastructure that stand in the way of American Empire.
America’s Presidents from inception with the twin original sins of slavery and indigenous genocide have been towering monstrosities on the order of Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler, Stalin, and mass murderers throughout the annals of history. Or tell me it has not been so? . . . Tell me there has been one exception . . .
To believe otherwise from my awareness of history is to take an ostrich-head-in-the-sand view of American history. (Not that Canada or any Western country has not done concomitant great evil!) America the Beautiful?
Novelist J.M. Coetzee writes in Waiting for the Barbarians (1980):
One thought alone preoccupies the submerged mind of [American] Empire: how not to end, how not to die, how to prolong its era. By day it pursues its enemies. It is cunning and ruthless, it sends its bloodhounds everywhere. By night it feeds on images of disaster: the sack of cities, the rape of populations, pyramids of bones, acres of desolation (p. 133).
This is America: the diametric inversion of a Shining City on a Hill.
If you went back and looked at every foreign policy decision Joe Biden made — every single one — would you be any closer to understanding him? This week on Intercepted: Our editor-at-large and senior correspondent Jeremy Scahill and reporter Murtaza Hussain examined the past 50 years of Biden’s decisions, poring over hundreds of pages of archival copies of the congressional record and reviewing declassified CIA documents for mentions of Biden. The investigation is called “Empire Politician,” and it’s the result of this painstaking research into Biden’s historical record. Jeremy and Murtaza also analyze Biden’s recent pledge to withdraw forces from Afghanistan by September this year.
No president has served in public office prior to his election to the White House longer than Joe Biden. He’s been at the center of America’s foreign policy decisions for decades, from the Church Committee’s reckoning with CIA abuses of power, to congressional debate over Reagan’s dirty wars in Central and South America, and the invasion and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Joe Biden’s career is a reflection of the evolving nature of American military power and the struggle between the executive and legislative branches and wielding the authority to execute that power abroad.
Our Editor-at-large and Senior Correspondent Jeremy Scahill, and reporter Murtaza Hussain asked the question, “What if you went back and looked at every foreign policy decision Joe Biden made — every single one? Would you be any closer to understanding him? Does a Biden doctrine exist?”
Their resulting investigation is called “Empire Politician,” [see my post here] and it’s a detailed examination of the past 50 years of Biden’s decisions. This project is a result of painstaking research. In many cases, the historical record of Biden’s role in important episodes has all but vanished. Reconstructing it required poring over hundreds of pages of archival copies of the Congressional Record to find raw transcripts of his words. Jeremy and Murtaza also dug into the memoirs and biographies of government officials and reviewed declassified CIA documents for mentions of Joe Biden.
You can find a link to “Empire Politician” encompassing more than 50 separate articles in today’s show notes. Intercepted Lead Producer Jack D’Isidoro spoke to Jeremy and Murtaza about this project.
JS: Joe Biden is an unprecedented president of the United States. There’s the obvious things, you know? At 78 years old, he is the oldest person ever sworn into office. And back in 1972, when he ran for the U.S. Senate, and wins, he ends up being sworn in at the age of 30, which made him one of the youngest people ever elected to the United States Senate.
…JS: Joe Biden’s view on the Vietnam War was not, “Wow, two million Vietnamese have been killed. 65,000 American service members have been killed.” Biden’s position on that war was that it was what he called “a tragic mistake based on a faulty premise.” So Biden enters the U.S. Senate not having been an activist on any domestic issues, not having been an activist on any of the premier global issues of the day. But he comes into a Senate that is just starting to grapple with the incredible damage that was done, particularly by Richard Nixon and his administration, but also a CIA that was out of control that was engaged in domestic spying inside the United States, was conducting coups and assassinations abroad. And Biden sort of gravitates toward the crowd of people in the Senate that were taking on questions of accountability for the CIA and “What is the role of Congress?” And so Biden ends up being an original member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee which was established so that there would be oversight of the CIA and oversight of the executive branch.
On the flip side, there’s a dark aspect to some of those qualities, and that is that Biden is a totally unapologetic, unrepentant empire guy who is an American nationalist, and he is almost never concerned about the death toll of non-Americans in war.
JS: One of the pieces of legislation that Biden signs on as a co-sponsor to in the first year of his Senate career is the 1973 War Powers Act.
JB: Does the Congress have greater flexibility to tell the president, for example: “Do not place any troops in Honduras, period; you are not authorized”? The President says it’s in our national interest to be in Honduras. The Congress says it is hereby declared by Congress that it is not in the national interest of the United States of America to place troops in Honduras or — let’s not pick Honduras, pick a country — in country X. And the president says, “I think it is in our national interest.” But we say ahead of time in the Congress, both houses of Congress; the President can veto it, obviously, the legislation, and it overrides the veto of the president, saying: “It is declared by Congress that no American troops should be placed in country X because it is not in our national interest.” Can the Congress do that?
JS: And what you see is that every administration from 1973 to the present has violated that law.
Ronald Reagan: Since 1798, there have been a few more than 200 military actions by the United States in foreign countries. Now, we have only been in five declared wars in our entire history. But the bulk of them, somewhere around 140 of them, were by American presidents that, on their own, put American forces in action because they believed it was necessary to our national security and our welfare.
Biden is one of those “I will never apologize for America” guys. I think that that is sort of his nature wrapped into one. . . If you’re a sovereign country that’s about to have cruise missiles rain down on you, Biden’s question isn’t, “What children are going to be killed today?” His question is: “Is this good for American interests?”
JS: Biden becomes this really passionate, dedicated proponent of congressional authorities over the executive branch. When Reagan gets into power, the premier issues of the 80s were, on the one hand, Iran-Contra and, on the other hand, Reagan’s support for death squads and right-wing dictatorships in Central and Latin America.
On the flip side, there’s a dark aspect to some of those qualities, and that is that Biden is a totally unapologetic, unrepentant empire guy who is an American nationalist, and he is almost never concerned about the death toll of non-Americans in war. His decision-making is almost exclusively guided by what is best for the shining city on the hill, what is best for American nationalism. And I think that some of the qualities that you hear described about Biden and his family and why people admire him so much, and his loyalty, it also exists in his defense of American Empire.
Biden is one of those “I will never apologize for America” guys. I think that that is sort of his nature wrapped into one. If you’re Biden’s friend, or his family member, he’s probably the greatest person you know; the most loyal, dedicated person you know. If you are a civilian in Vietnam, Biden doesn’t care about you. If you’re a sovereign country that’s about to have cruise missiles rain down on you, Biden’s question isn’t, “What children are going to be killed today?” His question is: “Is this good for American interests?”
What you can conclude is that this is an incredibly sophisticated politician, someone who desperately wants to perceive themselves as a force for good in the world, but whose definition of good when it comes to politics is exclusively about what’s good for the nation that I happen to have been born in, or that I happen to work for right now. And I think that’s Joe Biden in a nutshell.
Please click on: Joe Biden’s War Powers