Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Home » It is Zugzwang for Biden

It is Zugzwang for Biden

by Thomas Burke
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“The big question is whether the Nord Stream sabotage will also be the undoing of the Biden presidency?” – M.K. Bhadrakumar, Indian Ambassador and prominent international observer, puts a question.

‘The New York Times’ reported that a ‘pro-Ukrainian group’ sabotaged Nord Stream pipeline in the Baltic on Sept. 27, 2022. But the bottom line is the caveat that the Times report was not made with high confidence and is apparently not the predominant view of the US intelligence community, and that the Biden Administration has not yet identified a culprit for the attack — succinctly put, this isn’t necessarily the last word on the subject!

But the reverberations of the Times’ claim are already being felt in Europe — Ukraine and Germany — although the report was carefully worded to keep out Ukrainian leaders outside its purview. Meanwhile, Ukraine has flatly denied involvement and German media reports stressed that there’s no proof that Ukrainian authorities ordered the attack or were involved in it.

But Moscow is plainly derisive. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told RIA Novosti, “Clearly, the authors of the terrorist attack want to distract attention. Obviously, this is a coordinated stuffing in the media.”

Indeed, when asked about the Times report, the highly opinionated US National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby referred questions to investigating European authorities and excused himself saying he was “not going to get ahead of that investigative work.” Kirby played it safe.

To be sure, what we have here is a high level leak planted in the Times by the US intelligence, which is non-attributable but probably serves as kite flying to see how far it will travel, especially in Europe, or, equally, it could just be, as Peskov put it, the stuff of “obvious misinformation campaign coordinated by the media.”

Either way, someone high up in the Biden Administration is playing for high stakes. This is taking place at a time when Biden himself has been implicated by Seymour Hersh for ordering the destruction of Nord Stream — an act of international terrorism — and of course Biden is yet to announce his candidacy for the 2024 election.

As things stand, candidate Biden will not want the Nord Stream scandal to be another Albatross around his neck. The point is, if he stands for election, which he likely intends to, Biden can be sure that the scandalous Ukraine stories concerning him and his son Hunter Biden, dating back to his time as vice-president, will roar back to the centrestage.

Conceivably, the implication by the Times report that a “pro-Ukrainian group” may have been behind the Nord Stream attack can be seen as a veiled threat to the powers that be in Kiev to understand which side of their bread is buttered if push comes to the shove.

Biden desperately needs a second term. He cannot be too sure even if some other Democratic candidate wins in 2024. God forbid, if the Republicans seize the presidency, Biden and his family members will be fighting with their backs against the wall.

But there is also the flip side. Biden’s candidacy will bring Nord Stream, Hunter Biden, Ukraine war, et al, to the centre stage of the election campaign. Is it worth the risk?

Frankly, it is a ‘zugzwang’ for Biden. It is his turn to move, but all of his moves are so bad that having to move can lose the game — and in chess, there is nothing like “pass,” either.

The sabotage of the Nord Stream forms part of the Ukraine issue. Whoever destroyed that pipeline did it with the intention to eliminate any residual prospect left of a revival of the post-cold war Russian-German alliance in Europe built around the two countries’ energy cooperation and interdependency.

The Biden team in sheer naïveté thought that sabotage of the Nord Stream would be a geopolitical masterstroke to humiliate Germany and make it a vassal state, destroy all bridges leading from Russia to Europe, and consolidate the US’ transatlantic leadership. They overlooked, out of sheer hubris, that it still remained a cowardly criminal act.

To compound matters, the war in Ukraine flowed out of Biden’s decision to destroy the Nord Stream (which, according to Hersh, dated back to September 2021.)

Today, Biden cannot easily end his war as he is also beholden to Zelensky (who knows far too much about Hunter Biden’s escapades in Kiev.)

Will Biden Administration succeed in hushing up the Nord Stream scandal?

Hersh is sure to revisit the topic. Biden cannot walk away from the crime now. But it doesn’t cease to be a crime.

Biden’s remaining option may be to announce he’s going to contest the 2024 election, stresses M.K. Bhadrakumar.

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