El Presidente, the Cash Lady and Geneva Redux

VP Harris is greeted by Guatemalan Minister of Foreign Affairs Pedro Brolois, June 6. Photo courtesy of Deseret News and Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press

Biden-Harris go global. The results are dubious.

America exits the pandemic and its “low expectations time” once again, where we last left off pre-pandemic. This stratagem worked for Biden during the campaign: don’t promise…don’t deny there are problems…it will take time…we’re in this together. Repeat.

But drumming it out in Geneva in the company of a petty autocrat who likes to wreak havoc simply buys time for the unforeseeable: your hackers screw us up, our hackers will screw you up. The press pool has a byline for this silliness: “strategic stability.” The upshot of “low expectionizing” is that the adversary can play too. So Putin got the Geneva takeaway line: ‘happiness is not what life is about.’’

Really?

America “retweeted” this trope, even brushing it off with some Tolstoy. Sorry America, Putin was artfully making a disdainful dig at that line in the US Constitution… something about the “pursuit of happiness.”

Harris didn’t go to the border, to trace the steps of refugee caravans, to put America in the sandals of refugees. Harris’s journey was a one way trip: clean up your act, Guatemala, and here’s the money to do it. Guatemala will get more money than several US inner city drug rehab programs. Roger that with nation-wide affordable housing programs.

Burying our cynicism, let’s look at what’s going on.

The name of the game is influence. But is influence letting more of the people have a seat at the table? To steal the memorable line from Camelot, ‘how do the powerful (simple) folk live? What do the powerful (simple) folk do?’

The powerful, dominant folk influence.

‘Influence’ is remarking that I am superior to you, that I know your problems and their solution ‘better’ than you do. (Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents) ‘Influence’ is “putting me in my place,” reasserting an organizing to which I am excluded.

So Vice President Harris goes to broken Guatemala, instead of bringing Guatemalans to Washington to explore issues and approaches. She’s America’s “cash lady,” showering a corrupt, broken society with cash. Sound familiar? Throw money at the problem, scoff at the consequences. No wonder it was a “one way, one off” trip. Visiting the US-Mexican border would mix the metaphors, precisely what refugees do… and risk their lives for.

President Biden returns from Geneva, not claiming victory, not suffering defeat, but sharing the thought that though we are not in a Cold War, we are in all things war-like. Commonality, not ‘common purpose’ was sought — ‘how would you like it, Mr. Putin if your oil lines were shut down due to hackers?’ This is not a clever sound bite. This is the language of adversaries, tit-for-tatters, school yard patty cake. This is the struggle for influence in real time.

Leave it to the hackers, working their influence.

Leave it to the corrupters, upsetting happiness.

June 21

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Rodney Clough

Rodney Clough

Refuses to nap. Septuagenarian. Cliche’ raker. Writes weekly.