The Joe Biden administration’s first 100 days has gotten the most publicity for its $2 trillion for COVID-19 relief and another proposed $2 trillion for infrastructure. The infrastructure bill — supposedly financed by taxing the 1% — has yet to be passed. Some call it the most extensive social program since Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Great Society.
LBJ, we recall here, wrote his history less with his Great Society than with his escalation of the U.S. war on Vietnam. This escalation created misery in Indochina, led to Johnson’s early retirement and eventually to an ignominious defeat for U.S. imperialism.
Biden, too, proposes infrastructure but provokes conflict around the world. Right now — spring 2021 — major military maneuvers are targeting Russia and China.
Washington’s European imperialist allies welcomed the Biden regime. The new U.S. president seemed more likely to give these NATO allies — Britain, France, Germany, Italy, etc. — a more reasonable share of the wealth looted from the rest of the world. And less smarmy criticism. In public, anyway.
Now NATO’s “Defender Europe” exercises has 28,000 troops from the U.S. and 25 NATO allies and partners under Pentagon leadership spreading COVID-19 through Europe as they menace Russia. (See WW article, tinyurl.com/ysytfa84)
On the other side of the globe, the U.S. Navy will ply the waters of the South and East China Sea starting May 11 in alliance with its fellow exploiters in Australia, Japan and India — joined this year for the first time by the French Navy.
Because it has four members, they called this alliance “the Quad,” as in quadrilateral. Adding France, they now call it the Quad+1 — apparently French membership is still conditional.
The Quad directs its energy and its warships against China, under the direction of U.S. imperialism. They all have extensive economic relations with China. While the Quad has not yet reached the level of an Asian NATO, French imperialism’s participation shows its potential.
French colonialism laid claim to Indochina for a century until the French rulers’ ignominious defeat in 1954 in the battle at Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam. One has to wonder if the current French regime dreams of a return, this time subordinate to Washington. It’s a dream that can quickly become a nightmare. The strategists of Japanese imperialism, which once occupied China, Korea, and for a shorter period the Philippines and other Indo-Pacific countries, should remember that too.
A corporate media deluge demonizing China accompanies the warships’ show of force near Taiwan and the Spratly Islands, adding to the danger of a new Cold War — or even a hot one. They fault China for controlling its COVID-19 crisis and resuming economic growth. The media also charges China with autocratic rule, human rights violations, etc.
The same media could easily expose the Quad — India’s pandemic disaster and its treatment of Muslims, other minorities and “lower castes,” Australia’s treatment of its Aboriginal population, U.S. police murders and mass incarceration, for example — for many more crimes, and these with a strong basis in reality.
These war exercises may look only like distant warnings of danger. But they more likely are the symptoms of a capitalist, imperialist system in decline — but still capable of great damage. However mild Biden may appear at home, the working class and progressive movement here had better keep its guard up against a new imperialist war.