John Negroponte, the Darth Vader of U.S. foreign policy, and a bevy of Republican former intelligence and interventionists have their reasons for liking the former VP.
By John Kiriakou
Special to Consortium News
Many of us are counting down the days until we can throw President Donald Trump out of office, out of Washington, out of our lives, and out of the daily news cycle. With the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, there’s even more immediacy to replacing Trump. But what would we get with a “President” Joe Biden? What would a Biden foreign policy look like?
Earlier this month, a group of Republican former senators and congressmen endorsed Biden for president, saying that he was better equipped that Trump to run the country. At around the same time, a large group of intelligence and foreign policy professionals, most of whom had worked for Republican presidents, also endorsed the former vice president. That sounds pretty impressive. But let’s look at what it really means. It means that they believe Biden will continue an interventionist, neoliberal, pro-war foreign policy.
Former Ambassador John Negroponte is one of those intelligence professionals who endorsed Biden. Negroponte is the Darth Vader of American foreign policy of the past half-century.
Negroponte was ambassador to Honduras during the Iran-Contra affair, through which covert funds from the CIA made their way to the contra rebels; ambassador to Mexico as the drug cartels consolidated their power against a corrupt government there; ambassador to the United Nations as the U.S. sought to go to war with a knowingly false narrative of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction; ambassador to Iraq during the U.S. occupation of that country; and director of national intelligence during President George W. Bush’s torture program.
Nobody has ever accused Negroponte of being a progressive in any sense of the word. He loves war and has proven happy to jump into it with both feet. And he happily and publicly endorsed Biden.
Negroponte recently told the Daily Beast what was behind his endorsement. The interview says as much about Biden as it does about Negroponte. At the outset, Negroponte said, “All roads lead to Trump, and I’m just not sure the country can withstand another four years with a man who has shown such disregard for the office.” I agree. Just about every Democrat does. Donald Trump is a bad guy. But it’s not as simple as that.
Negroponte made a point in the interview of saying that he had disagreed with Biden on important (unspecified) issues over the years, but that Biden was “an experienced politician,” “a middle of the road kind of person,” and “a wise gentleman.” He said, for example, that he supported warrantless wiretapping of American citizens after the 9/11 attacks.
The statement was incomplete, however. Biden also supported warrantless wiretapping, voting for the Patriot Act while a senator in 2001, voting repeatedly for its subsequent reauthorizations and then opposing weakening the measure while he was vice president in the Obama administration.
There are other reasons that Negroponte and a bevy of Republican former intelligence and foreign policy big-shots have moved to Biden.
The former VP opposes a troop drawdown in Europe, saying that such a move would embolden the Russians, for example. He supports a more engaged military policy against China in the South China Sea. He supports an extension of President Barack Obama’s policy of maintaining military bases in more than 100 countries, including Forward Operating Bases across Africa.
Literally the last thing I would do is to urge anybody to vote for Donald Trump. The president has been a disaster in every sense of the word and in both foreign and domestic policy. The country can’t take four more years of a Trump presidency. But Biden is no panacea. He’s a center-right placeholder. Negroponte confirmed that.
If you think things will change in foreign policy under a President Biden, think again. It’ll be the same old expansionist, militarist policy that we had under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. So go into the voting booth with your eyes open.
John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act—a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.