By Manus Lenihan
Irish politicians and media pundits are buzzing with excitement over the planned visit of US President Joe Biden. Media coverage is dominated by the most urgent questions: where Biden will go, and how long he will spend in each place, and which airport he will fly into, and who he will meet – yes, the things you ask your friend when they tell you they’re flying home from Australia for a week.
It’s as if Biden isn’t currently in the most powerful political position in the world, from which he’s actively making the world a worse place to be, whether by escalating tensions in the Cold War with China, approving a disastrous new oil drilling project in Alaska, or bailing out another huge bank with public money while living standards and infrastructure in the US deteriorate. All of this makes the stupefied excitement of the Irish media and politicians all the more embarrassing.
Warmonger in chief
After speculating that Biden may fly into tiny Knock Airport, the Irish Independent concludes: ‘it may be that US officials deem Shannon Airport more secure. It handles flights for more than 65,000 US troops annually.’ How is this appropriate for a state that claims to be ‘neutral’?
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq. The US government lied to the world and laid waste to a nation. They left hundreds of thousands dead with nothing to show for it except massive profits for military contractors, and the rise of ISIS from the ruins. Joe Biden did not just support the invasion of Iraq; he was one of the leading pro-war voices in the Democratic Party. He has blood on his hands that will never wash away. So does the Irish state, which provided Shannon as a pit stop for the war machine.
And then there was the series of equally disastrous interventions in Syria, Libya and Yemen while Biden was Vice President. How can the Irish state in good conscience roll out the red carpet for him? Quite easily, it would seem. Ireland’s capitalist establishment has a long history of welcoming the leaders of the US empire, with variations only in the degree of sycophancy.
Democratic Party and reproductive rights
Irish politicians felt a little awkward over Trump, because he’s such an obvious oaf and bigot – but when they met him, they held their tongues and grinned for the cameras. Now they are happy to see a ‘normal’ politician back in the White House.
But five years ago, voters in Ireland overthrew the abortion ban in a landslide vote. Biden shouldn’t be able to come here without being challenged about the desperate situation for reproductive rights in his own country. Why has he let a handful of fanatics and dinosaurs in the Supreme Court overturn Roe v Wade? State-level victories for abortion rights, even in so-called ‘Red States,’ show there is huge popular opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision – why are he and his party doing nothing to fight back?
Another part of the media commentary is focused on the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, and the politicians of Britain, Ireland and the United States all slapping each other on the back and indulging in nostalgia.
The rich and powerful extend themselves limitless credit for peace in Northern Ireland. Exactly what indispensable role was played by Clinton, Ahern or Blair, let alone Joe Biden, is never made clear. On the other hand, the role of working-class people in Northern Ireland is ignored, even though strike action and mass demonstrations against sectarian attacks were essential.
In light of Biden’s record as a warmonger, it will be pretty grating to hear him speaking about ’25 years of peace.’ Globally, these have been years of unchallenged US world domination – or, to use the polite term, ‘a rules-based international order’ – and these years have proved Biden to be someone who knows how to start wars (and how to lose them), but not how to be a peacemaker.
Biden has been at the heart of US politics since the 1980s. If any individual can be held responsible for the many pathologies of US politics, it’s Joe. The burning toxic train wreck in Ohio is a fitting symbol.
Our leaders and pundits are making a show of us as usual. But people in Ireland should repeat to Joe Biden the sociopathic words which his Vice-President Kamala Harris said to refugees from Central America: ‘Do not come. Do not come… If you come to our border, you will be turned back.’