Biden in Europe: 4 lessons

18 June, 2021

Biden in Europe
Biden in Europe

Biden in Europe: G7 and NATO summit, a summit with the EU, and then meeting with Putin in Geneva… Biden’s agenda in Europe could not be denser. And after so many meetings and negotiations, one idea stands out: the US is no longer what it used to be in the world imperialist game.

Table of Contents

  1. Battles between partners outweigh the US’s ability to bring them into line
  2. The US is unable to impose its strategy towards China on its own allies
  3. The US cannot single-handedly shape and set goals for the Green Deal
  4. Spain, Turkey and other Biden “gestures” in Europe
  5. Biden in Europe: first act of a drama that is just beginning

Battles between partners outweigh the US’s ability to bring them into line

G7 Summit, Biden's first scene in Europe.
G7 Summit, Biden’s first scene in Europe.

Biden went to Europe aiming to gain allies for the great global imperialist game and took it for granted that the conflict with China would focus the attention of his partners. It didn’t. First came the quarrels between the EU and Britain, then between Japan and South Korea. The G7 made it clear that the aggravation of imperialist tensions and contradictions – everyone now needs more available markets than ever before – does not make things easy for Washington to align its supposed partners along common goals. Its partners tend to prioritize battles against each other.

The verbal battles between Johnson and Macron over Northern Ireland and the not-so-veiled British threats to fuel continental separatist movements are just the enactment of something that both Britain and the EU, like Japan and Korea, actually share: the pre-eminence of their regional interests and the willingness of not letting their disputes be resolved by Washington.

The US is unable to impose its strategy towards China on its own allies

NATO Summit, Biden's second major event in Europe
NATO Summit, Biden’s second major event in Europe

This is projected onto the strategy vis-à-vis China. For Japan and Korea it is a regional problem and indeed their main imperialist conflict. Together with a Britain desperately seeking markets, they can join the alternative Silk Road proposed by the US, But Europe is a different story. What Europe stands to gain from such a project does not outweigh what China itself represents for it. If Washington expected Biden’s stay in Europe to enlist the Europeans, they were wrong.

It has already become clear to Biden in Europe that he cannot expect an abrupt change of strategy from Paris or Berlin. The EU needs China and Russia in virtually every dimension of its current major strategies. Starting with China’s own investments and markets, which it cannot afford to see endangered. And continuing with the Green Deal, unfeasible without the critical minerals and rare earths hoarded by China

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So the US can wrest from NATO the declaration, for the first time, of China as an Atlantic threat and reinforce its domestic imperialist discourse with a semblance of consensus. But the Europeans will go no further. The predictable response from Beijing is costly enough for them.

The US cannot single-handedly shape and set goals for the Green Deal

Biden's stay in Europe includes a mini-summit with European leaders to discuss the Green Deal
Biden’s stay in Europe includes a mini-summit with European leaders to discuss the Green Deal

Biden’s powerlessness in Europe to impose the U.S. agenda was clear at the G7 and his inability to set minimum common timetables for the Green Deal. But this is also the topic today with EU prime ministers and presidents: the Green Technology Alliance between the US and the EU is a recognition that for the strategy of capital revival at the expense of labor incomes that is the Green Deal to work, it needs not only a fluid capital market on both sides of the Atlantic but a matching of timing and policy measures.

Biden verified in Europe that the EU is not about to substantially modify its roadmap. In principle it will go faster than the US, so it will have the opportunity to raise more capital. That means that part of the gigantic injection of public money from the Green New Deal will end up on the eastern side of the Atlantic. And obviously, even if Biden is willing to concede a certain advantage, he does not want to indirectly subsidize the Europeans. From there on no longer lies the much-touted US leadership, but a pure dog-eat-dog negotiation.

Spain, Turkey and other Biden “gestures” in Europe

Biden while in Europe had time to offer cuddles and smiles to Erdogan despite the fact that the latter is playing an increasingly dangerous game:

Why? Because the latest European gestures, with the EU Parliament calling for example for the formal and definitive suspension of the integration talks allow the US to use Turkey as a form of pressure vis-à-vis Berlin and especially Paris, while building up its position as a necessary mediator.

The same applies to the snubbing, if not symbolic humiliation of Sánchez during Biden’s stay in Europe. By simply keeping his distance, Biden gives Morocco free rein to go ahead with its cold war strategy. In Spain they expected Biden to reverse Trump’s position on Western Sahara. The Algerian government, more sober, considered it impossible. The U.S. is aware that simply by making itself oblivious to the imperialist conflict between the two neighbors across the Gibraltar Strait is enough to put pressure on Germany… and is playing without haste.

Biden in Europe: first act of a drama that is just beginning

Biden’s stay in Europe has served to clarify the strategic differences between the US and its supposed partners. The US does not have the capacity today to remake the so-called Western Bloc. It can only push it forward, building a network of commitments and interests in the hope that little by little, its own imperialist goals will serve to unite a Europe that, as Macron told Biden, does not want to depend on the US and its strategic shifts to achieve its own goals… otherwise identical in nature to those of the US.

But that process can only move forward at the cost of increased global military and economic tension. Whether it is the Green Silk Road presented by Biden in Europe or the reconsideration of Taiwan, the massive refitting of merchant fleets that the US wants to impose on the International Maritime Organization within the Green Deal or the treatment of Russian gas… all the initiatives presented by Biden in Europe imply an immediate increase in the degree of contradiction and conflict between the different national capitals and their necessarily imperialist interests.

The drama has only just begun. We are witnessing their approach with this Biden show in Europe. But we workers can already clearly see what he has in store for us: in the immediate impoverishment dressed up as sacrifice for the climate or competitiveness, in the medium and long term profusion of armed conflicts.