Saagar Enjeti blasts Biden’s potential administration after reports from The American Prospect detail how strategic consultants will define Biden’s cabinet.
The American Prospect: How Biden’s Foreign-Policy Team Got Rich
Transcript00:00all right Sagar what’s on your radar00:01well the RealClearPolitics average has00:03Joe Biden up 8.7% Achon average over the00:07last three weeks nationally and in every00:09single battleground state and yesterday00:11we featured this map on the show it00:13shows that the upper bound of what is00:16electoral possibility in November is a00:18massive electoral landslide none of this00:21is a guarantee as we learned in 2016 but00:24what does it mean is that we have to00:26start taking very seriously what it00:29actually means for Joe Biden to become00:31President of the United States and00:33commander-in-chief this is especially00:35relevant after the most recent deep00:37state plot to derail Afghan peace00:39negotiations and the bipartisan push to00:41keep thousands of troops in Afghanistan00:43for no reason our friends over at the00:45American Prospect gave us a distressing00:47look into what exactly we’re dealing00:49with here on the national security front00:51if Biden ever ascends to the Oval Office00:54and just how deep the swamp will extend00:57inside the prospect details how to close01:00Biden associates Anthony blinken and01:02Michele Flournoy decided to start a01:04boutique consulting firm for defense01:06contractors and fortune 100 companies01:09after they unexpectedly found themselves01:11without a job in here with Hillary01:13Clinton’s administration blinken and01:15flora Noyes practice entails helping01:17tech companies try to get Pentagon01:19contracts helping defense contractors01:21get more contracts and basically01:23advertising itself as a one-stop01:25consulting shop for any massive01:27corporation that wants help influencing01:29the national security or diplomatic01:31swamp now in a particularly galling01:33section of their website the pair01:35literally advertise that they can help01:37major companies quote develop a strategy01:39for expanding market access in China01:42blinken and Flournoy are not going to be01:45low-level aides in a Biden01:46administration floor annoy was well01:49known in Washington to be the next01:51Secretary of Defense in waiting under01:53hillary clinton administration i01:54personally attended an event with her01:57and biden in 2016 in which biden02:00jokingly called her Madame secretary and02:02which she jokingly referred to Biden as02:04mr. president blinken on the other hand02:06was deputy national security adviser02:08under Obama and a Deputy Secretary of02:11State02:12recent Biden campaign event he was02:15introduced as quote senior foreign02:17policy advisor and the rest of Biden’s02:19foreign policy team is exactly the same02:21as the prospect lists including Nicholas02:23burns of the Coen Group Kurt Campbell of02:26the Asia group Tom Donilon of Blackrock02:29Investment Institute Wendy Sherman of02:32the Albright Stonebridge group and02:34former Hillary adviser Jake Sherman of02:36macro advisory partners you beginning to02:39sense a theme here former very high02:41ranking national security officials now02:43working as outright consultants for02:45finance Sears and Chinese companies and02:47defense contract or companies who take02:49those people on as clients does any of02:52this bother Joe Biden02:53well when the prospect asked his02:55campaign for comment this is what they02:57had to say quote there’s a difference03:00between consulting and lobbying and that03:03here’s a pretty strong line there so03:05presumably we don’t have to have a ban03:07on people who were consultants at one03:09time on another since I am one myself it03:12is just too good to be true03:14what’s disgusting about this is the pure03:17nakedness of it all Michele Flournoy as03:20they point out literally serves on the03:21presidential intelligence advisory on03:23the CIA directors external advisory03:26board on the Pentagon’s defense policy03:28board she has access to very classified03:30and important information who knows what03:32she is and isn’t using to influence her03:35advice to the most powerful corporations03:37in the world under Biden they will this03:40is only going to ramp up a member of the03:42firm that floor annoyin blinken found it03:44even admitted to the prospect that Biden03:46would be great for business saying quote03:48think about it if Biden were to win we03:50do think that companies will start03:52coming to West exec for hey what is the03:55Commerce Secretary thinking the clear03:57picture we’re getting here Biden and his03:59team is that they’re not rigidly04:01ideological if they were outright04:03neo-cons04:04in a way I would respect it more but04:06worse they are transactional neo04:08liberals who will tell you with a04:10straight face that they believe in04:12making the country a better place while04:13enriching themselves off perpetuating04:16the status quo that can’t afford to get04:18out of Afghanistan because it would hurt04:20their clients they can’t afford to pull04:23back from Europe because it would hurt04:24their a bit04:25consult companies who want to do04:27business with NATO the grifting list is04:30on and on and on and the wholesale04:33ownership of Biden’s foreign policy team04:34by this system and his inability to push04:37back against it is a signature of some04:40very troubled times to come in the next04:42four years if he ever ascends to the04:45presidency and crystal I mean I don’t04:47know if you read this piece but it is04:48stunning because it’s not just blinking04:50and floran wise he points out every04:52single person works for some consultancy04:55group and then not even that it’s just04:57it’s the naked lack of reporting why04:59does this have to come from a05:01progressive left outlet you should in05:03the new york times be investigating this05:05is manna ford stone level stuff right05:07yeah they don’t care because it’s just05:09normal it’s like a normal grift of05:11washout yet that everybody is just like05:13oh yeah you know she made a couple05:14million bucks here a couple million05:16bucks they’re gonna be the next defense05:17secretary who knows how many contracts05:19gonna steer their way to somebody’s05:21friend oh good just normal now they’re05:23like the fish swimmin in the ocean they05:25can’t see the water this is just like05:26the way things are done indeed I mean it05:29reminds me a lot of you know when we05:31were talking about hunter Biden05:35congressman Ted Louise like people serve05:37on boards right make money the fact that05:41is normal doesn’t mean it’s okay that05:43actually makes it so much worse and I05:46really encourage people to go read this05:48piece it’s it’s such an important look05:50inside the way that policy is actually05:53made and the human beings who are at the05:56table and the interest sometimes that05:58are secret by the way they’re not06:00upfront about life they don’t have I’m06:03also you know I’m also working with06:04Northrop Grumman just so you know so06:06when I’m advocating for like this06:07missile system that they have to make06:09you might want to know that piece of06:11information I mean that is literally06:12laid out in this piece and it is06:15completely common operating procedure in06:17this town so on the one hand it’s just06:19like it’s so normal that they don’t even06:21think to report on it and look into who06:24the individuals are who they represent06:26how that might influence their policy06:28and on the other hand the other piece of06:30this is like so much of our political06:32coverage I touched on this yesterday06:34when we were talking about Susan Rice’s06:35potential VP06:37or any of the other potential VP picks06:39it’s all just treated as horserace yes06:42and personality driven and like06:44demographic driven like what boxes do06:46they check rather than actually digging06:49into the substance and the policy and06:51what that might mean for an06:52administration especially when you do06:54have someone like Joe Biden that’s the06:55other piece that’s interesting here is06:57they talk about the way that he’s a06:58perch for the policy it sounds actually07:00a lot like Trump yeah it’s very07:02personality driven he has this like07:03glad-hand approach he he believes in07:06these personal relationships many of07:08which have gotten him into a lot of07:09trouble in terms of his decision-making07:11trusting people and leaders that he07:13really has arrested one of the best07:15parts of the piece yeah about I forgot07:17actually this because this is my07:18background he was the guy who backed07:21Nuri al-maliki right Iran who is the07:24person who started a sectarian civil war07:26gave rise to Isis Andrew into the07:29country after he was like his but yeah07:33and it was like fighting walked into07:34Iraq thinking he was dealing with to07:36Delaware political bosses is like yeah07:38it turns out the sunni-shia conflict is07:40a lot more complicated right and then07:42maybe we should apply a little bit more07:43intellectual rigor there that is07:45actually the piece that worries the most07:47because you can see it right now on07:48Afghanistan because Biden and his team07:51are like Oh Trump wants to get out of07:52Afghanistan they’re gonna abandon Biden07:55has a record of pushing restraint in07:57Afghanistan his entire record was saying07:59hey don’t do this let’s do the08:00counterterrorism thing even in 2006-200708:03he was writing op-eds against the surge08:05which is a long history of being anti08:08intervention whenever that was the08:09politically convenient kind of08:11contrarian thing to do right but this08:12goes to show with Susan Rice doing the08:15Afghanistan thing and I played his08:17comments here over last week we talked08:18about dereliction of duty for Trump and08:20all of that about how we have to stand08:22up to the Russians I just that’s when08:23you really knew this is a truly08:25transactional non-ideological figure who08:28will go wherever the winds blow that is08:30a disaster that is how you got Libya08:33Libya was the politically convenient08:35thing to do how did it work out for08:37everybody right maybe it would’ve been08:38better to have somebody hot saying yeah08:40nobody talks about that one well and08:42here’s something too exactly like what08:44you’re saying when you08:45have someone who doesn’t have like a08:47fixed ideology that they’re committed to08:50or an agenda overseas that they’re08:52committed to then the people that you’re08:54talking about here blink it in Flournoy08:55and all the rest they’re the ones that08:57fill in the gaps they’re the ones that08:59actually drive the policy then once it’s09:00set the range of options that are09:02available so just like we’ve seen with09:04Trump where he’s like I want to get out09:06of out get it like that’s just not even09:07an option that’s put in on the table09:09they’re like your options are you can09:10increase by five thousand ten thousand09:12or seventy-five thousand right it’s like09:13but I want to get out I don’t understand09:15that’s how they get you that’s what they09:17do every single time it’s and it’s not09:19just and some of these people are09:21ideological and then some of them just09:23have you know personal professional and09:25monetary direct monetary interests in09:28serving this particular role because09:30yeah why that well look if they go in09:32the administration they’ll cut all the09:33ties specifically those industries09:35they’ve got all those connections still09:37they know where their breads gonna be09:38buttered after they exit the09:40administration so don’t think that just09:42because they technically cut ties at09:44that point means that they have really09:46like the independence of thought doesn’t09:48even matter they admit it they’re on off09:50basically on background to this prospect09:52reporter being like yeah you know if09:54Biden being the president that’d be09:55great for us great for people we’ll call09:57for us and be like what is the former09:58West deck partner who’s now the Commerce10:01Secretary think about X that is worth10:03billions to companies right if they’re10:05like hey we need to know which way the10:07administration is probably going to10:08swing on the new Chinese tariffs that is10:10literally worth hundreds of billions of10:12dollars same on the defense secretary if10:14they’re gonna on Yemen that was the10:15example that was given there whenever10:17she was talking about how Michele10:18Flournoy was advocating I think of more10:21Patriot missiles for for Saudi Arabia10:23she failed to disclose we’re not10:25disclosed nobody knows she won’t even10:27admit which defense contractor she works10:29for and wouldn’t deny that Raytheon who10:32manufactures these Patriot missiles was10:34one of her company the only thing they10:36would say is quote one of the defense10:38primes which is one of the five largest10:40defense codes and they said like it’s10:41one of their contracts it’s in the10:43ballpark10:43know if you really want to understand10:45why we have the foreign policy that we10:48have why we keep getting into these10:49conflicts overseas that we can that’s10:51what once we get in that you can never10:53ever get yourself out of this piece10:55really lays10:57like the nitty-gritty of how that works10:59and look it is the norm basically almost11:02without exception with a few outlier11:05exceptions almost anyone who ended up in11:07the presidency these the type of people11:09who would come in and it’s by partisan I11:12mean the same ideology the same monetary11:15interest pervades both parties we saw it11:17with the Afghanistan peace that we11:19covered yesterday the amount of support11:21in Congress bipartisan support to11:24prevent the president from drawing down11:26troops in Afghanistan a place that we11:28have been for years and years and years11:30and where American lives are still being11:32put at risk for what for what this piece11:37really lays out like the internal11:39details of how exactly that girl highly11:41recommend everybody read it and I’m11:43looking forward to your raid our next11:44crystal
The president wants African Americans to kiss his ring.
Unknown to many post-Reformation Christians, early centuries of Christianity—through authoritative teachers like Origen, Cyril of Alexandria, Augustine, and Gregory the Great—encouraged as many as seven “senses” of Scripture. The
- eschatological (the trajectory of history and growth), and
- “primordial” or archetypal (commonly agreed-upon symbolism)
levels of a text were often given serious weight among scholars. These levels were gradually picked up by the ordinary Christian through Sunday preaching (as is still true today) and presumed to be normative by those who heard them.
These different senses of Scripture were sometimes compared to our human senses of hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, and touching, which are five distinct ways of knowing the same thing, but in very different “languages.” After both the Reformation and the Enlightenment, Western Europeans reduced our ways of knowing to one for all practical purposes—the supposedly rational/literal/historical. We have largely compacted and limited the Bible to this single sense for several centuries now, in both its Catholic and Protestant forms. Our bandwidth of spiritual access to the Bible was consequently severely narrowed, it seems to me—and as many would say—to the least spiritually helpful level. That something supposedly literally happened in one exact way, in one moment of time, does not, of itself, transfer the experience to now, me, or us. I believe that such transference is the transformative function of any spiritual text.
The narrow, rational/literal/historical approach largely creates an antiquarian society that prefers to look backward instead of forward. In my experience, it creates transactional religion much more than transformational spirituality. It idealizes individual conformity and group belonging over love, service, or actual change of heart.
Literalism was discredited from the beginning of the New Testament through the inclusion of four Gospel accounts of the same Jesus event, which differ in many ways. Which is the “inerrant” one?
The earlier centuries of Christianity were much closer to the trans-rational world of Jesus and his storytelling style of teaching (which does not lend itself to dogmatic or systematic theology). The Gospel says, “He would never speak to them except in parables” (Matthew 13:34). The indirect, metaphorical, symbolic language of a story or parable seems to be Jesus’ preferred way of teaching spiritual realities.
Almost all of Jesus’ parables begin with the same phrase: “The Reign of God is like. . . .” Jesus fully knows he is speaking in metaphor, simile, story, and symbol. But in recent centuries, many Christians have not granted him that freedom, and thus we miss or avoid many of his major messages. We are much the poorer for it.
The U.S. has leverage over Riyadh. Let’s use it.
In fact, I’ve felt reasonably safe in Saudi Arabia. Officials were respectful and courteous even when I was painfully frank. But people also seemed more afraid to speak to a journalist than before, and mingled with the oppressiveness, there was an aggrieved nationalism in the air.
.. Senior Saudis privately accept that M.B.S. ordered Khashoggi’s death but insist that the Saudi-U.S. relationship is more important than one man’s life. For the sake of stability in the region, they say, America should stand by Saudi Arabia.
To which my answer is: The problem is not only that M.B.S. is a murderer, but also that he has destabilized the region, starved Yemeni children and undermined the interests of Saudi Arabia and the United States alike. Everything he touches, he breaks.
President Trump and Jared Kushner have placed their bets on the prince, and in a narrow sense they may be right. King Faisal managed to oust his incompetent predecessor, King Saud, in 1964, but I saw no sign that M.B.S. is in jeopardy of losing power.
My most interesting interaction was with a group of young professionals who believe that I am getting it all wrong.
“I don’t know why the media focuses on the bad side,” protested Tariq Buhilaigah, a consultant in Riyadh. Sure there have been missteps, he said, but the most important things going on are the modernization of the country and the diversification of the economy away from oil.
.. But modernity isn’t just about cappuccinos and iPhone apps; it’s also about human dignity and the rule of law. While M.B.S. is bringing social progress, he’s also reckless, oppressive and brutal, and I am skeptical of his economic competence. He hasn’t even been able to organize an initial public offering for Aramco.
Trump’s bizarre defense of the prince reflects what has been wrong with the U.S.-Saudi relationship. It has become all transactional. The Saudis have treated us like body guards, and we have treated them like gas station attendants.
I suspect the real reason Trump and Kushner embrace M.B.S., aside from the hope that he will back their Middle East peace plan, is business: the belief that Saudis will invest in their personal real estate projects for decades to come.
The truth is that as Saudi Arabia’s significance as an oil producer diminishes, we need Saudi Arabia less. In 25 years, if we’re freed from the tyranny of imported oil, we may not need it at all.
Some Saudis kept trying to suggest to me that if we block weapons sales to Riyadh, the kingdom will turn to Moscow. That’s absurd. It needs our spare parts and, more important, it buys our weapons because they come with an implicit guarantee that we will bail the Saudis out militarily if they get in trouble with Iran.
Current and former American diplomats are expressing disgust and horror over the White House’s willingness to entertain permitting Russian officials to question a prominent former U.S. ambassador.
.. “It’s beyond disgraceful. It’s fundamentally ignorant with regard to how we conduct diplomacy or what that means. It really puts in jeopardy the professional independence of diplomats anywhere in the world, if the consequence of their actions is going to be potentially being turned over to a foreign government,”
.. During President Trump’s press conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Putin pivoted a question about extraditing the 12 Russian intelligence officers whom Robert Mueller has indicted into a quid pro quo for going after longtime betes noire currently beyond his reach.
.. Putin singled out Bill Browder, whose exposure of widespread Russian tax fraud led to the passage of a U.S. human rights sanctions law Putin hates. Standing next to Trump, the Russian president accused Browder of masterminding an illegal campaign contribution to Hillary Clinton and alleging vaguely that he had “solid reason to believe that some intelligence officers guided these transactions.” Should Trump permit the Russians to question people around Browder, Putin hinted, he will let Mueller’s people be “present at questioning” of the intelligence officers... On Wednesday, Russian prosecutors escalated the stakes. The prosecutor-general’s office said it wanted to interview Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, another Putin bete noire. McFaul—the Obama-era ambassador to Moscow—replied on Twitter that the Russians know well that he wasn’t even in Russia during the relevant time frame for any case against Browder... Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to rule out permitting the Russians to question McFaul. Sanders said that there had been “some conversation” in Helsinki about the issue, though Trump made no “commitment.”.. Heather Nauert called the Russian request for McFaul “absolutely absurd”—which was closer in line with how former U.S. diplomats viewed Putin’s gambit.“If the U.S. would make a former diplomat avail for questioning by a foreign government without evidence of wrongdoing, then that would be quite horrifying,” said Ron Neumann,.. Susan Rice, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Barack Obama’s national security adviser, tweeted that the lack of commitment to protecting McFaul was “beyond outrageous... If the White House cannot defend and protect our diplomats, like our service members, they are serving a hostile foreign power not the American people.”.. “To even hint that there’s some element of credibility to Russian disruptions and distractions puts a bullseye on the back of any diplomat and invites authoritarian regimes to bully and threaten American public servants for the crime of doing their job.. Ned Price, a former CIA analyst and spokesman for the Obama National Security Council, said Sanders’ comments made Trump look “even weaker” than during Trump’s Monday press conference with Putin. “Trump has always been all too eager to cave to Putin, but, as far as we know, it’d been largely in the abstract. He sells out our intelligence community, attacks NATO, shelves our commitment to human rights. But Putin now has specific demands in the form of human beings—one of them formerly our designated representative to Russia,” Price said... “By failing to reject the idea out of hand – immediately and forcefully – Trump signaled that absolutely nothing is off limits when it comes to Putin. And just as shocking, he’s willing to play Putin’s brand of ball, in which the world is purely transactional and lives are expendable.”.. The current U.S. diplomat said the openness to turning over McFaul capped off a shocking week for U.S. geopolitics... “The president has first and foremost his interests at the top of his mind, as opposed to the government’s. That’s very clear over the past week and a half, between shitting on our NATO allies and kissing Putin’s ass,” the diplomat said. “He cares more about himself than the nation and any of us who serve it.”The diplomat continued: “Either he’s compromised by Putin or he’s a pussy, in which case he should grab himself.”
Core postmodern concepts like the hyperreal and simulacra are more relevant and true than they have ever been.
Furthermore, the article claims that postmodern is characterized by an ironic self awareness, and never has this idea been more prominent in culture. In recent years I have noticed that TV commercials have become more and more self-aware. Take for example a recent commercial by what I believe was Verizon. It says something like “More coverage, more data.” and then another actor comes into screen saying “and more people saying more.” If this isn’t ironic self awareness, I’m not sure what is.
Those are postmodern concepts about culture. But the postmodern metaphysical and epistemological nihilism are, as another commenter said, basically bedrock in terms of philosophy.
.. The core of postmodernism is that we have exhausted modernity — and indeed there are no trends that are “new under the sun anymore”, not just because everything has been done before (which is almost true), but because society doesn’t care about following this or that form en masse anymore and then proceeding to another (e.g. how baroque turned romantic, turned 12-tone, etc. or similarly in any other sphere).
Instead, everything is fragmented, and everybody (artist or not) can do whatever they please and have an audience/followers. There is no canon and no single “normative” culture the way it was 80 or 100 or 150 years ago.
Plus, nothing is able to baffle anyone anymore — in the way that each generation before could shock some part of the established culture (up to perhaps punk, but probably not even that, and not even 50s rock n’ roll — it only shocked the most conservative parts of society, and had no problem being marketed, sold, and dominating the airwaves in record time).
Postmodernism is also about having access to all the cultural production and modes of the past, and the internet and co made that even more so. Artists, politicians, marketeers, etc can borrow from any period, and repackage and resell everything, combine it, etc.
All of these things are what are described as the “postmodern condition” by the now dead French theorists of the postmodernism.
And none of those things is going away.
Even a total return to modernism or classicism across all artists for example, would still be postmodern — because before post-modernism art didn’t regress to previous periods, it invented new modes.
.. Nothing is fragmented, because everything has been reduced to transactionalism.
You can do whatever you like, as long as you’re trying to make money (or sometimes more abstract social credit) by selling it/you as hard as possible to your customers.
And there are only potential customers now – not audiences in the old scene-with-common-values sense.
Postmodernism, such as it is, is now a marketing gimmick, occasionally used to add some spicy irony to make sales efforts more successful.
The real horror is that this applies everywhere – not just in commerce, but in the arts, the sciences, academia, and especially in politics.
despite the formation of an anti-establishment coalition government in Italy, and the rise of populist parties across Europe, opinion polls suggest that support for the EU is now higher than it has been in decades. According to a recent Eurobarometer survey, if a referendum on EU membership were held today, 83% of Europeans would vote to remain in the bloc; and a record-high 60% regard EU membership as a “good thing” for their country.
.. In other words, while populism can certainly sow political divisions within the EU, there is little evidence that Brexit itself has caused a domino effect.
The Brexit ringleader Nigel Farage might like to think that Italy’s new populist government represents a success for his brand of go-it-alone nationalism, but it turns out that Europe’s populists are of a different breed than those in the UK. Though financial markets have grown skittish at the prospect that Italy’s new leaders could drive their country out of the eurozone, polling conducted after the election in March showed that 60-72% of Italians would not support such a move.
.. Just 32% of citizens believe that “things are going in the right direction” for the EU
.. Trump’s tariffs have thus provided a perfect opportunity for Germany’s grand-coalition government to meet Macron halfway on his ambitious proposals to reform the EU and the eurozone.
.. Trump revels in the chaos he sows. He regards international relations as a zero-sum game of winners and losers, and, to the extent that his foreign and trade policies make any sense at all, they are transactional. By contrast, the EU’s modus operandi is one of collaboration and compromise. And now that these two worldviews are colliding, each is likely to be emboldened.