Cover Photo: US President Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (Source: NATO)
By Jakob Stein
The eyes of the monopoly press were on Joe Biden this week as he traveled to Europe to participate in his first summits of the Group of Seven (G7) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as president, as well as his first meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Biden’s key objective in these meetings was to reinforce the position of the US as the sole hegemonic imperialist superpower in the world today, tip-toeing the line between contention and collusion with other imperialist powers as US imperialism faces deepening crisis.
The G7 countries collectively bill themselves as the world’s wealthiest ‘democracies.’ Their summit, held this weekend in Cornwall, England, focused largely on combating the growing influence of social-imperialist China as it is predicted to become the world’s largest economy by 2028, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research.
Another key topic of the summit was the establishment of a global minimum tax, proposed to counter the billions of dollars in lost tax revenue member countries experience on a yearly basis. The tax reform is a contentious issue within the ruling class in each country, with some imperialists seeking to keep every cent possible while others opt to try to stabilize the imperialist governments as they face the constant decay of their economic system and deepening economic crisis.
Directly after the G7 summit, Biden traveled to Brussels, Belgium for the one-day meeting of NATO allies. Composed of 30 countries, the alliance was originally formed in 1949 to guard against the growing influence of Communism and the proliferation of socialist states, especially the Soviet Union, becoming the de facto capitalist bloc during the Cold War opposite the Warsaw Pact. Since then, NATO has been closely tied to the interests of US imperialism, carrying out military operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
NATO is by no means a unified imperialist body, instead seeing competition between the smaller powers like Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. Nonetheless, NATO allies are generally subjected to the interests of US imperialism, which wields the world’s largest military as well as the economic might to cause trouble for any member nations.
The key takeaway from Monday’s summit was a joint communique which labeled both Russia and China as growing threats, which claimed that the countries were “driving a wedge” among NATO allies. In the statement, NATO declares that “Russia’s aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security,” and that “China’s growing influence and international policies can present challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance.”
The communique signaled an advance for US interests in countering its biggest imperialist rivals, consolidating opposition toward China and Russia. This was especially important for Biden considering Turkey’s reliance on Russian oil and natural gas, which has contributed to Turkey having a closer working relationship with Russia than most other NATO members. Related to this, the Turkish government has been hesitant to levy sanctions against Russia when the US called for them—Turkey has also purchased arms from Russia, and became a dialogue partner with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization when their bid to enter the European Union was suspended.
Another major focus of the NATO summit was the discussion of cyber-attacks, especially the ransomware attack that caused the Colonial Pipeline in the US to shut down until the company paid nearly $5 million to the hackers. This was used as another opportunity to push the inter-imperialist conflict between the US and Russia, with NATO declaring, “The impact of significant malicious cumulative cyber activities might, in certain circumstances, be considered as amounting to an armed attack.” Following from this, the member countries agreed that such a cyber-attack would justify invoking Article 5, a clause which authorizes the use of “collective defense” in military action.
Wrapping up his week of international meetings, Biden traveled to Geneva, Switzerland for his Wednesday meeting with Putin. The previous day, when speaking about the NATO summit, Biden said he was “going to make clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can cooperate, if he chooses, and if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in the past relative to cybersecurity and some other activities, then we will respond. We will respond in kind.”
This sort of posturing against Putin and Russia is nothing new for Biden, as he made it a point on the campaign trail to condemn the biggest rivals to US imperialism. In March, during an interview with monopoly media outlet ABC, Biden affirmed that he did see Putin as a “killer.” He also warned Putin in January that he would “pay a price” for Russia’s supposed influence in the 2016 election of Donald Trump.
Aside from all of the tough talk and veiled threats, the meeting between Biden and Putin was largely characterized by emphasizing mutual “self-interest.” After the meeting, Biden claimed that “all foreign policy is a logical extension of personal relationships. It’s the way human nature functions.” In reality, neither side is interested in their personal relationship but instead in the interests of their countries’ respective ruling classes.
It is not “personal relationships” that drive the collusion and contention between imperialist powers; instead, it is the economic necessities of imperialism, constantly in decay and experiencing worsening crisis, that compel the cooperation of those who might otherwise be enemies. For two of the largest economic and military powers in the world, the costs and risks of worsening tensions and all-out conflict outweigh the benefits—collusion best characterizes the relationship between the US and Russia as well as with China.
Biden uses lofty ideals like ‘democracy’ and ‘cooperation’ to obscure the US ruling class’s principal goal –the maintenance of US imperialism and its position as sole hegemonic superpower in the world. In some cases, this includes rallying support around the US through condemnation of its rivals; however, most of the time it is simply following business as usual, engaging with Russia, China, or any other country whenever and however it economically benefits the US.
Biden has no love for true democracy. While denouncing “autocrats,” he poses for photo opportunities with fascists like Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. While speaking out on China’s foray into Africa, he is silent when it comes to US domination of Latin America and most of the world. At the end of the day, he is nothing but a hypocrite, a convenient mouthpiece for US imperialism, who props up the system that exploits the people of the US and the world, sucking their blood for the benefit of the ruling class.
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