And, understandably, well he may make such an urgent appeal. Because the United States is a bitterly divided house between seemingly irreconcilable factions. Former Republican president Donald Trump didn’t even show up for his successor’s inauguration – the first time that such a snub has happened in nearly 150 years.
Many of Trump’s supporters among the 74 million who voted for him are convinced that the election was stolen by the Democrats. Biden’s call for unity is scoffed at by these people who denounce him as a “Marxist”. (That’s a ludicrous description of Biden, an arch capitalist and imperialist, but that’s what they believe.)
For Democrats, many of those on the other side of the house are crazy white supremacists, fascists and “domestic terrorists” who need “reprogramming”. That’s a broad brush too, although the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, QAnon cult, and so on, might certainly qualify for such designation.
Anyway, Biden’s going to need a mountain-load of luck to unify such internecine perceptions and passions. And it should be said too that the Democrats bear a big responsibility for the dire state of affairs. It can’t be all blamed on “Trump the demagogue”. For nearly four years, the Democrats and their media networks relentlessly undermined the Trump presidency and his 2016 mandate by peddling absurd claims about “Russia collusion”. So it’s a bit rich for President Biden to now appeal to the nation for “unity” and “healing”.
The United States is facing an existential crisis over bitter internal divisions. If unity of the nation cannot be restored then the legitimacy of governance is at stake.
Biden alluded to this precarious predicament in his inaugural speech with repeated and somewhat desperate calls for unity.
He said: “We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature, for without unity there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos… This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward.”
So if unity is absent, he warns, there is “no nation, only a state of chaos”. That thought is the stuff of nightmares for the political class in America and the oligarchy of super wealthy.
How is this precious “unity” to be found by the political class?
This is where the danger of intensified American imperialism and foreign wars rears its ugly head again.
By starting a war with some designated “foreign enemy”, the US ruling class will gamble that such a move can “unify” the country in “patriotic duty” and rallying around the flag. A war would defuse the explosive internal problems of excruciating economic inequality, partisan divisions and alienation from the governing institutions.
The historical record does not bode well. Out of its nearly 245 years of existence as a state, it is estimated that the US has been at war for over 90 per cent of the time. Virtually every one of the past 45 presidents have launched or continued an existing war. This gives a risible context for Trump attempting to congratulate himself as “a president who did not start any new wars”. Yeah, it’s that rare, it’s almost a virtue, although it wasn’t for the lack of trying by Trump with regard to Iran and China.
As the 46th president, Biden has the odds stacked in favor of war, if historical pattern is anything to go by.
Also, there is Biden’s own personal record as a Senator and Vice President who enthusiastically supported wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, among others. Can he really change his warmongering habit this late in life?
Furthermore, his new cabinet taking shape is full of holdovers from the Obama administrations who were big proponents of regime-change wars as well as aggressive policy towards Russia and China.
People like Antony Blinken who is nominated to be Secretary of State; Victoria Nuland who fomented the 2014 coup d’état in Ukraine; and Avril Haines who was former deputy director at the CIA associated with advocating drone assassinations.
Biden’s team may have politically correct “diversity” in appearance and be fluent in liberal-sounding lexicon. But it is shaping up to be hawkish on war and American imperialism – all in the cynical cause of “noble principles” and “world leadership”, of course.
During confirmatory hearings this week in the Senate, Blinken and Haines both spoke about confronting China and Russia, expressing approval of aggressive policy. This was while Biden was pleading with the nation for “unity”.
The more desperate the need for unity to salvage the United States, the more likely is the danger of war serving for that very purpose.
If the American people and the rest of the world think that getting rid of Trump means a return to normal, they better think again. Because “normal” for the US ruling class is war. And especially so at a time of internal crisis.