Tuesday, November 9, 2021


Despite the rather dismal and disappointing results of this year’s Group of Seven, Group of 20 and COP26 summits, President Biden is getting ready for another one. This next one is dedicated to the advantages of democracy versus authoritarianism, and he will try once again to present himself as “the leader of the free world.”

Mr. Biden‘s achievements at home are not impressive. His job approval ratings keep sinking, the COVID-19 pandemic is not under control, inflation is on the rise and a southern border crisis continues. The list could go on and on, but I believe the most important thing we are witnessing is further polarization instead of promised unification of society.

The recent elections indicate that the House, and possibly the Senate, will flip to the Republican Party in the midterms. As Bill Powell writes in Newsweek, the Republicans “could conceivably seek to impeach Biden over the lethal Afghanistan debacle or his alleged failure to enforce immigration laws at the southern border.”

The obvious question is whether it is a good time for Mr. Biden to host the Summit for Democracy next month with an explicit challenge to Russia and China.

This summit lines up with Mr. Biden‘s repeated signals that he intends to assume the role of leader of all the world’s democracies that President Trump supposedly lost.

For a short period after the collapse of the Soviet Union, America indeed was the undisputable world leader. Then came President Clinton’s sex scandals. President Bush’s and President Obama’s failed democracy promotion crusades killed and wounded millions, including Americans, and created tens of millions of refugees. After that was the Trump era of continuous fake Russiagate drama and Mr. Biden‘s unimpressive record mentioned above. The U.S. is hardly a model of good governance and strategic thinking.

As American University history professor Peter Kuznick notes, you cannot find many folks these days who take seriously those cross-eyed ideologues who “cling to U.S. indispensability and exceptionalism — the idea that the United States is God’s gift to humanity — and announce that America is ready to resume global leadership.”

So is there anything we can suggest instead of wasting time and money on this so-called democracy forum?

Here’s my two cents. First, on climate change, let’s consider some alternative to a Green New Deal that doesn’t entail spending trillions of dollars and drastically dismantling advanced industrial economies to root out the production of carbon, methane and other gases that are synonymous with industry and agriculture.

Like what? Well, there are 3 trillion trees in the world. Trees are major absorbers of greenhouse gases. A hardwood can absorb up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, adding up to about a ton of carbon dioxide in its first four decades.

Thomas Crowther and a team of researchers from ETH Zurich have calculated that the world has an additional 2.2 billion acres of land suitable for reforestation. That is enough room to plant an extra 1.2 trillion trees and provides a lot of potential for carbon sequestration. More than half of reforestation potential is in six countries: Russia (373 million acres), the United States (255 million), Canada (194 million), Australia (143 million), Brazil (123 million) and China (99.3 million).

The possibility: 1.2 trillion trees could take up 205 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere. That is two-thirds of the 300 billion tons of carbon released into the atmosphere from human activity since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Cooperation on planting trees would not only help us cope with climate change but also represent a benign form of international partnership instead of warmongering.

Amazing technology is already available. Drones can shoot seeds into the ground to plant hundreds of trees in a matter of minutes. Wouldn’t it be nice for a change to use the drones for ecology instead of killing?

The second idea is the summit — not the one to unite the world against China and Russia, but to turn these two declared enemies into friends or at least into partners. I am talking about a summit for Mr. Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping to draw up mutually acceptable international “rules of the road” that would allow a win-win agenda for all three nations and the world to live in peace and harmony.

I can imagine what kinds of reaction these ideas would provoke in the deep state, the swamp, the blob or MICIMATT. The proposal would have Mr. Putin’s name written all over it.

They would rather stick with plan A on the table now: a dogged but doomed drive for perpetual U.S. global hegemony, stepped-up confrontation with Russia and China, followed by — Oops! — a thermonuclear war. Forget the trees. Let’s go with literally the last word in bioengineering: a sharp increase in temperature to about 100,000,000 degrees Celsius, followed by prolonged, effectively permanent planetary cooling.

Furthermore, most, if not all, of those troublesome carbon-producing humans and methane-blasting cows — and pretty much everything else, including those trees — would be gone forever.

It would be interesting to know which outcome most Americans would choose in a public opinion survey. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone is going to ask them.

Edward Lozansky is president of American University in Moscow.

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