Anti-Trump Old Guard Republican conservative Bret Stephens has an interesting column in today’s NY Times. It’s entitled “America’s Crumbling Global Position”. In it he details the foreign policy “failings” of President Biden. According to Stephens, these include:
- A failure to respond forcefully enough to an Iranian inspired drone attack on a US military outpost in Syria
- A failure to respond to renewed Russian cyber attacks.
- Dithering over Chinese near-encroachment on Taiwan’s air space
“America’s position in the world as a credible ally to embattled friends and a serious foe to adventurist enemies is visibly crumbling,” Stephens comments.
He directly blames Biden who “was elected on a promise of wisdom, experience and competence. Can anyone seriously say that we’ve gotten that?” Stephens concludes: “America desperately needs the Biden presidency to succeed. And the world desperately needs a successful America. The alternative to a failed Biden presidency isn’t a change in administration. It’s a transformation of the global order that leaves us poorer, more vulnerable, and more susceptible to the siren songs of illiberal populists, including those at home.
“Bottom-line advice to the president: Assemble a new national security team, now. Be the bigger man and invite people like Bob Gates to join it.”
What Lies Behind This
Here’s what this is really all about: The global power of US capitalism, both relative and absolute, is in irreversible decline. But no global power, whether it be ancient Rome or British colonialism or modern day US imperialism, will accept its decline gracefully. It will twist and turn, seek one alternative after another, to reverse the process. US imperialism hoped that Obama’s “diplomacy” – in other words, use of allies and only a minimal use of armed intervention (compared to his predecessor) – could reverse the process. To a large degree Obama’s failure to accomplish this helped lead to the rise of Trump, who responded with a mad mixture of initiatives which was in large part guided by his subservience to the dictator Putin. (This was mainly due to Trump’s having been a money launderer for the Russian mafia capitalist class for decades.) The US capitalist class breathed a sigh of relief when a more sane individual was elected. Now, as Stephens’ column shows, some are starting to feel that a more aggressive foreign policy is necessary. That is what his call for the elevation of Robert Gates represents.
Trumpism Lite Possible?
To accomplish this, they will need to whip up popular support. In other words, Trumpism Lite, a more “sane” Trumpism. Bad as that would be, it’s not even certain that it will be possible to limit it like that. Once started down that road, given what Trump has stirred up with the help of all the little Trumps, it could easily get completely out of hand.
Trump’s slogan, “make America great again” spoke to the decline in US global power. It spoke to the yearning for the “good old days” when US was unchallenged in the world. In fact, Biden’s election was due to a similar appeal – one based on a desire to return to “normalcy”, when we all could get along, or so millions of voters remembered the situation. Whatever the appeal, whenever a global power goes into decline, millions of its citizens will want to stem that tide. They will be open to all sorts of demagogic and patriotic appeals.
Working Class Alternative
The alternative is class struggle and class solidarity. That’s where “striketober” comes in and, more important, the tendency towards rank and file rebellion against the death grip of the union bureaucracy. The best potential for true international solidarity in deeds, not just words, is through the John Deere strike. John Deere is a a global corporation, with facilities around the world. This includes in Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, India, Cambodia, China, Finland, Germany, France… 25 countries in all, some with multiple locations. (See map.) We urge socialists and worker activists to contact us if you have any possibility of helping put John Deere workers in your country in touch with striking John Deere workers in the US.
Such international solidarity in action not just words would have to be part of the beginnings of a rebellion of the rank and file against the pro-company union leadership. As UAW member Justin Mayhugh put it, this leadership practice “business unionism” and “are more like a PR firm for the company… a buffer between the company and us.” If this tendency develops, if it deepens and spreads, then an avenue could be built to transform the labor movement and, thereby, start to build an independent presence for the US working class in US society – in other words a major step towards an independent, mass working class party. Without that, the appeals of nationalism, the appeals to return to the time when the US was #1 will have no working class obstacle. That would be a very dangerous situation.