We are a long way now politically from 2015, of course. And even further from the high watermark of US-led interventionism, which culminated in the catastrophic invasion of Iraq in 2003. Don’t expect a simple rerun of that period. Yet what is worrying is that the moralising, manichaean dynamic that informed and justified the interventionist creed persists. It is just that the points on George W Bush’s ‘axis of evil’ (Iran, Iraq and North Korea) have changed and increased in number.
Yes, Biden, Blinken et al are certainly still targeting the likes of Iran, which will continue to be subject to what the Trump administration called a policy of ‘maximum pressure’. But they are also promising to move more firmly and ‘ethically’ against China and Russia. Which means they are recommencing the pre-Trump policy of dividing up the world along culture-war lines, into the good and the evil.
So during the senate committee hearings last month for Biden’s national-security cabinet, Blinken talked darkly of tackling the ‘the challenge posed by Russia’, including, incredibly, offering to provide the Ukranian government with ‘lethal support’ against it. And he talked, too, of taking a tougher approach to the Chinese government, which he, alongside many others, is eagerly accusing of genocide (against the Uighur Muslims). Indeed, the accusation of genocide against the Chinese government is likely to be the means by which the US and its allies justify the intensification and continuation of Obama and Trump’s cultural and economic war with China. Biden’s nominee for US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, even called China ‘a strategic adversary’, whose actions ‘threaten our security, they threaten our values and they threaten our way of life’. Which sounds like China is being conjured up as an existential enemy.