|The United States after Trump|
|Discussions series – September 2, 9 and 16, 2021|
|When Donald Trump was defeated in the last presidential election, the whole world, including most of the peoples of the USA, expressed a sense of relief. The Trump presidency was a strong turn towards authoritarian and racist policies. Trumpism was more than one erratic person; it was the expression of a right-wing camp bringing together a wide alliance of classes and sectors. Under Trump, the attempts to change some basic rules in the justice system, fiscality and policing reflected a real and imminent move towards a fascist reorganisation.|
It did not work in the end, at least for now.
Trump’s terrible mismanagement of the pandemic (over six hundred thousand deaths) horrified many Americans. Worst was the impunity of the police, whose overtly racist policies were highlighted by the murder of George Floyd, electrifying the already vibrant Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The left wing of the Democratic Party under the influence of Bernie Sanders and the “Squad” pushed very strongly to encourage people to vote, particularly amongst minorities.
So where are we now?
Biden made a lot of promises during his campaign, inspired by the call for a Green New Deal. Since the election, large-scale public investments have been announced, to upscale infrastructure and invest in selected environmental projects. Modest changes in fiscal policies and social security are expected to help this recovery. The main programs are the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and the $2.7 trillion American Jobs Program. At the same time, some of the key economic players (Silicon Valley, Wall Street, big industrialists) are hostile to any radical departure from the basic tenets of the neoliberal paradigm, including privatisation, financial liberalisation and deregulation.
At this point, it is not evident which way the elite is going. There is some hesitation within the Biden administration under the influence of the conservative wing of the Democrats, as well as a fierce battle in Congress and state assemblies, where the Republicans are very powerful. In two years, the battle will move to the congressional elections. Democrats and Republicans are already waging a protracted war which rules out some sort of compromise that would allow the Biden administration to govern and reform on the basis of a broader elite consensus.
Meanwhile, the post-Trump USA is also vacillating in its global strategy. Biden’s announcement of a return to multilateralism and to the UN-led climate change mitigation process, as well as his other rhetorical promises were heralded as signs of a big change. In reality, however, foreign policy under Biden seems to be more in continuity. The ‘new” cold war against China (and Russia) seems to be the priority, as it has been over the last decade. The Biden administration remains strictly focused on the necessity to “tame” or “reduce” China which is increasingly explicitly identified as the most dangerous “enemy” of the USA.
In contested areas, most obviously in Iran and Palestine, not much has changed. The withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan reflects a shift in military tactics (increasing role of drones and missiles rather than “boots on the ground”), and not the beginning of new policies towards the region. In South America, Washington’s aggressive posturing against dissident states and progressive parties is more discreet than in recent years, but little else has changed. The US condemns “excessive violence” in their cherished allies like Colombia and Brazil, but not much more.
Threats and Opportunities
On all these issues, the situation remains volatile. In many ways, the rejection of Trumpism reveals a healthy society with strong components of resistance and reconstruction of social movements and progressive politics. Can progressive forces in the US continue the fight and impose real, structural and long-term changes? Can the different components who rally behind Biden come together in a transformative way? How to face the environmental crash and restructure the fundamental structure of the society and the economy ?
How can foreign policies turn towards peace, demilitarization and struggling against world poverty and injustice?
We are proposing an in-depth discussion, structured around three webinars, each addressing a different dimension of the current situation.
Webinars will have simultaneous interpretation in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. They will be broadcast on Facebook Live, and available afterwards as videos on YouTube and on the Global Dialogue website.
September 2, 2021 (6pm CET)
Biden’s reform promises are vacillating, reflecting the volatile balance of forces within the political and economic elites, and the strength of the right-wing populist camp.
What are the priorities of the US government and the US ruling class, in ensuring that the “return to normal” strengthens the basic pillars of neoliberal and imperial? policies?
What are the strong and the weak points of the Biden administration?
How are the reactionary forces regrouping, under the Republican party and with the various militant civil groupings promoting a race war?
What are the intentions and ambitions of the Biden administration to re-establish themselves as the hegemon?
What is happening with the progressive sector including the left-wing of the Democratic Party and social movements like BLM?
Phyllis Bennis (Institute for Policy Studies, Washington)
Ashley Smith (Spectre)
|The United States, China and the New Cold War|
September 9, 2021 (6pm CET)
Confronting China is the major policy objective of the United States, involving economic, commercial, and technological dimensions of struggle. There are huge military implications, with the possibility of transforming the South China sea in a major site of confrontation.
What is the strategy in the USA in this escalation? Is the US ruling class coherent and united in its opposition to China?
Does this strategy reflect the unavoidable decline of the USA? Or is the Empire still up for a big fight?
Can China continue to rise as a second superpower particularly in he Global south?
Can the Chinese elite manage its own internal points of contention (Taiwan, Hong Kong, the environment)?
How can the progressive sectors avoid being instrumentalized in this inter-imperialist competition? Speakers:
Walden Bello (Focus on the Global South)
Martine Bullard (Le Monde diplomatique)
|The United States and Latin America: Taming the Rebellion|
September 16, 2021 (6pm CET)
Since the Monroe doctrine, the United States has tried to keep South America as its own “backyard”, which has required a non-stop policy of military and economic interventions. However, resistance has grown from the 1990s throughout the last decade in Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela and elsewhere. After many years of advances by the left, there is currently a counter-offensive by the Latin American right-wing, with Washington’s support.
Can the United States regain its influence in the hemisphere?
Is regime change still a viable option for US policy in places like Venezuela?
Where is people’s resistance growing – the indigenous populations of the Amazon, and social movements confronting assaults against human rights around gender and race particularly.
How can the progressive sector reunite on the political scene? Speakers:
Paolo Stefanoni (Nueva Sociedad)
Maristella Svampa (Argentinian researcher and social activist)