The US political landscape is shaped by next year’s presidential elections. If the US is seen as the only power capable of forcing peace, the internal electoral struggle points to a dynamic of war; the escalation of the open conflict in Ukraine and the deepening of the latent conflict in East Asia.
At the helm of the great empire is the pale figure of a senile president, whom the media would have relished if he ruled Russia, China or North Korea. Joe Biden’s second-in-command, Kamala Harris, proved incompetent, as did the trio handling the Ukrainian dossier: Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan and Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.
Things are no better in the Republican camp, where Donald Trump is imposing his candidacy, despite his age and his problems with the justice system: six simultaneous trials and 93 civil and criminal charges.
To make matters worse, those who run the government are immersed in the internal war of the establishment, with the criss-crossing of legal actions to put the opposing candidate in jail, criminalising each other, convinced that if they lose the elections they will be judged, and therefore cannot lose them. The alert is on: added to the recession, this pressure could turn the scenario of an open war with Russia into the great survival resource for the Biden administration.
All bets are off in the fight for the White House. President Biden this week became the first sitting US president to join a picket line. In Wayne City, Michigan, he expressed his support for the auto workers on strike against the three major automakers: Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.
“The truth is that you, the union, saved the auto industry in 2008 and even before. You made a lot of sacrifices and had to give up a lot of things. And the companies were in trouble. But now you are doing incredibly well. And you know what? You should be doing incredibly well, too. It’s a simple proposition. It’s just about being fair. Stand firm, because you deserve the significant increase you need, as well as the other benefits,” he said.
“Democratic” Senator Bob Menendez, a fervent conspirator against the governments of Venezuela and Cuba – among others, of course – pleaded not guilty to charges of taking bribes from three New Jersey businessmen, while more than half the Democratic senators – including Cory Booker, the junior, from New Jersey – were roaring calls for his resignation to keep him from influencing the election.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan last week charged Menendez, 69, and his wife, Nadine, with corruption for accepting gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in exchange for the senator using his influence to help Egypt’s government and interfere in police investigations of businessmen. This is the third time the senator has been investigated by federal prosecutors, but he has never been convicted, and that is not surprising.
Cuba is included on the US government’s annual list of state sponsors of terrorism, a list encouraged by Bob Menendez. While the list was imposed in the Donald Trump administration, Joseph Biden has maintained it to this day, knowing that it entails serious obstacles to trade and access to finance, as well as tightening the already suffocating sanctions regime that Washington imposes on Cubans (and Venezuelans).
The problem appears to be endogenous terrorism. On the last Sunday in September, security cameras at the Cuban embassy in Washington captured a man dressed in black who stopped on the pavement, set fire to two bottles of fuel and directed them over the diplomatic mission’s security gate. The Molotov cocktails had an impact on the window of the building. Nor is this the first time such an act has occurred.
Two weeks earlier, the young congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of Puerto Rican descent, took aim at corruption in her country and accused Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito of having ruled against Argentina – in the vulture funds case – for personal interests, in favour of Paul Singer, who paid him, among other things, for a fishing trip of some 200,000 dollars.
She added that Singer, who won 2.4 billion dollars in that lawsuit, “did business with the Court at least ten times and the legal press and the media hid his involvement”. Corollary: the federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, known for fighting financial fraud on Wall Street and who backed Argentina in its court fight against vulture funds, was removed by Donald Trump’s administration after he resisted tendering his resignation.
“We have extraordinary corruption and wholesale buying of members of the Supreme Court. I also laugh at what we just heard from the Republican side: ‘Why do we want to talk about this?’ Why women lost the right to decide, why indigenous communities lost rights, why minorities lost rights, why workers across the country lost rights because of this level of corruption.”
Power in the US is betting on collective blindness and therefore attempts to open the eyes of memory are dangerous. The most debated issues are the failed imperial recovery of the US – the failure of the various strategies promoted by Trump and Joe Biden -, increasing internal fractures, and the discussion between decline, supremacy or transnationalisation and contemporary imperial indefinition.
There are no predetermined paths and the resolutions of dialectical contradictions have to do with changing correlations of forces, leaving along the way theories of hegemonic succession (China would replace the US, just as the US displaced the UK) and the cases of the alter-imperialism of the UK and France, as well as the variants of co-imperialism embodied by Australia, Canada and Israel.
Let the Trumpist journalist, Tucker Carlson, sum up the situation: “We have already lost control of the world, now we are going to lose control and world dominance of the dollar, and when that happens, we will have Great Depression-level poverty. We are already at war with Russia, we finance and arm their enemies, but we can go to direct war, we could do a ‘Gulf of Tonkin’ in Poland (the fake incident fabricated to justify intervention in Vietnam) and say ‘the Russians did it’.”
No jobs, no hope?
Spending in the US is slowing as the economy slows, according to data from the latest Commerce Department report. On the other hand, officials at the Federal Reserve (the central bank) estimate that the target of inflation spilling out to 2 per cent will not be achieved until 2025.
Wall Street bankers, investors and economists have been debating for months if a recession is coming, but for most Americans, the relentless economic pain typical of recession has already knocked on their door.
The Federal Reserve raised interest rates to control inflation. This caused companies to focus more on profitability than growth, resulting in spending cuts and job reductions. Tens of thousands of layoffs have occurred since then.
The impact of the layoffs, which are currently concentrated on administrative workers, will have an impact on the whole economy through a large fall in overall spending. Consumer spending accounts for roughly two-thirds of economic output.
For many Americans, this is not the first time they have been laid off and left without pay or health insurance. Companies slashed their workforces after the start of the covid pandemic in 2020, when businesses closed and Americans stayed home. But the pandemic does not seem to be to blame: almost 50 million people also left their work during the two years following the start of the pandemic. And now there is no hot job market.
Richard Blumenthal, a Democratic senator, directed a speech explaining to citizens that, “in Ukraine, you get your money’s worth”. “The Russian army has been cut in half. Its force has been reduced by 50% without the loss of a single American soldier and with less than 3% of our military budget. It’s quite a bargain in military terms,” he asserted.
“Ukraine could not have survived without the United States and our allies,” the senator put into his mouth the words spoken to him by the still Ukrainian President Vlodomir Zelenski. But in the run-up to the 2024 presidential elections, cutting off military aid could be lethal for Ukraine and could jeopardise the war chest of tanks, ammunition, aircraft and artillery that reaches the front line.
For Blumenthal there is no doubt that it is profitable for the US to help Ukraine: ‘Even Americans who have no particular interest in the freedom and independence of democracies around the world should be satisfied that we are getting our money’s worth from our investment in Ukraine’,
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the US has poured $1.3 billion into Ukraine, including civilian and military assistance (much of it going to its own military industry), with no concern – Democrat or Republican – for its jobless, homeless, near-future citizens. War is an investment?