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Beware the Angels of Death on Biden's team

Joe Biden has nominated Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence and retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense — the first woman and African-American in Biden’s diversity effort for the National Security establishment.

This is not an historic step: Biden’s choices are cosmetic in nature, and U.S. addiction to war will not change because there are more women and blacks in power.

Haines follows powerful females such as Democratic war hawks Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, whose capitalist and militarist ideology is a root cause of U.S. wars in Africa and Asia.

Philosopher Franz Fanon’s assertion about race applies equally to Austin and Haines: “What matters is not so much the color of your skin [or your gender] as the power you serve.”

Haines was CIA Deputy Director under Obama. She refused to discipline agency personnel who illegally hacked the computers of Senate Intelligence Committee staffers as they were writing a report that documented the CIA’s illegal torture regime.

She also worked closely with CIA Director John Brennan on Obama’s targeted drone assassinations — strongly condemned by the American Civil Liberties Union. Haines was also an outspoken supporter of Gina Haspel as CIA Director, despite the latter’s involvement at secret torture sites and assistance in destroying videotapes of CIA agents engaged in that illegal practice.

Media pundits celebrating Haines’s and Austin’s appointments ignore their murderous careers. As head of the U.S. Central Command, Austin attempted to resurrect the Pentagon’s “spectacularly failed program of trying to arm” the so-called “moderate rebels” in Syria to fight ISIS who turned out to be al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorists allied with ISIS (Caitlin Johnstone, Dec. 8). Despite the fact that thousands of Americans have been killed in our illegal regime-change wars in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. armed these very same Islamist jihadists it vowed to destroy.

Matthew Hoh, Marine Iraq War combat veteran who resigned his State Department position in Afghanistan in response to the escalation of that war, writes that Austin’s decades of military service “do not seem to have imparted on him the wisdom of the folly, destruction and immorality of war.” Austin “was integral in the disastrous wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, as well as the escalation of the vicious, illegal and counter-productive drone wars” (Institute for Public Accuracy, Dec. 9). Afghan-Iraq War veteran and West Point history instructor Danny Sjursen condemns the diversity bankruptcy of Austin’s appointment: “That a black man might [lead] the war machine that effectively chews up black and brown bodies is an obscenity.” (SheerPost.com, Dec. 13).

After retirement, Austin became a board member of Raytheon Technologies, the world’s third- largest merchant of death. Along with American planes and attack helicopters, Raytheon’s bombs are used by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition in its criminal air attacks on Yemen, causing the greatest humanitarian disaster in the world and the worst famine in decades. This aid, begun under Obama with Austin in command, was opposed by every congressional Democrat in 2019.

What would Dr. King say about Austin’s nomination? In his 1967 oration, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” King denounced the U.S. as the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world,” so it’s doubtful he would fall for the diversity gambit. He saw Vietnam — as he would see Iraq, Libya, and Syria — as “a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit,” asserting that “the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together.” The “whole structure of American life must be changed.” Our forever wars and domestic injustices speak to the truth of his charge.

Biden’s victory rid us of the despicable Trump, but it’s delusional to think that his administration will even consider King’s plea for fundamental change. Biden will not move to end racist and imperialist wars that have left a trail of death, devastation, and Islamist terrorists — who have often been recruited, trained, and armed by Washington. He represents the Democratic establishment; as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he supported G.W. Bush’s illegal and unconstitutional invasion of Iraq — other than Vietnam, the greatest foreign policy disaster in our history.

When our drones and cruise missiles devastate entire nations, and Saudis use U.S. weapons to kill Yemeni, will the victims grieve less knowing the attacks were approved by an African American or a female? Will anti-war marches arise in Ashland to protest these atrocities? Or will there be silence and complicity from those who profess their opposition to racism and violence?

John Marciano lives in Talent.