With Austin in charge, Biden defends democracy
Pundits predict that the Democrats could lose their political clout in the midterm elections. While the Democrats presently have margin in the House of Representatives (221-209), the U.S. Senate is already equally divided, but two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, can already not be relied upon to vote for issues supported by President Biden. Consequently, Blacks should expect the president to have difficulty implementing “Build Back Better” programs that are opposed by Republicans.
An unexpected and now all-consuming issue is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The world was compliant when Russia occupied Crimea in 2014. However, the attempt to acquire Ukraine indicated that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has gone too far. While his objectives were not precisely known, he had clearly violated the limits established by the western nations of Europe. It is important for Blacks to have an understanding of this history, because some Black objectives will be put on hold as the U.S. confronts the crisis in Ukraine.
After World War II, the United States became the leader of the so-called free world. With Nazism defeated, allies in the western bloc of nations united to engage in the Cold War with Russia. Joseph Stalin, who was then premier of Russia, had established the USSR, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, to establish the principle of communism among Eastern bloc nations that had allied with Russia as a defense against Nazi Germany.
This conflict between east and west was called the Cold War because it did not involve bombs and bullets. Rather, it was a battle for ideas — communism vs. capitalism. The concept of communism appealed to authoritarian states in which private property ownership was limited. States espousing capitalism, democracy and the right of the individual to own private property support capitalism and personal freedom.
It was inevitable that countries with these opposing ideas might one day violently conflict. The United States and its European allies created a military alliance entitled NATO in 1949. The fundamental principal is that an attack on one NATO member is equivalent to an attack on them all. The Soviet Union formed the Warsaw Pact in 1955 to counter NATO, but it functioned primarily as a mechanism to propagate communism.
Russians have been coping with communism since the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, but Western European countries did not embrace the concept, and most of those Eastern bloc countries that joined with Russia did so primarily to defend against the Nazis. Even today, Putin claims that the purpose of his invasion of Ukraine is to rid the country of Nazis. In fact, the Nazis are long gone.
After the death of Stalin in 1953, the brutal aspect of communism diminished. Nikita Khrushchev operated with the confidence that communism would defeat capitalism. East bloc nations became independent again and developing nations in Asia and Africa organized on market principles. There was also considerable criticism of the United States being the leader of the free world with the problem of racial discrimination being unresolved.
The United States is clearly Ukraine’s most significant benefactor. President Biden sent Lloyd Austin, his Secretary of Defense, to convene a meeting with the defense officials from 40 allied countries that are committed to aid Ukraine. At a time when many of the politics of those countries are frayed by the issue of Black immigration, the spokesman for America at that meeting was a Black man.
The racial hostility of Republican Party members is damaging to America’s concept of democracy. Black voters should note that Biden makes a remedial move whenever possible. It is easy to support Biden when one considers the alternatives.