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Would Biden ease wartime tensions and trade war?

2020-11-04 | Global News

There seems to be a universal media consensus that regardless of who wins, Biden or Trump, there will be no change in US policy on their usual suspects. The rapprochement between Israel and the Saudi-Emirati alliance will in all likelihood be consolidated against movements from both Turkey and Iran. Regarding China, even fewer changes are expected. The press was unanimous about the result of the elections in the United States: It doesn't matter who wins because technological and trade warfare will not stop under Biden. In Japan, neither the press nor the government expects nothing else. And in Russia the regime has maintained a histrionic neutrality revealing its fear of a new Maidan-style offensive in Europe should Biden's victory be confirmed. Its entire strategy is to try to prevent the Democrats' obsession with Russian interference in the 2016 elections from immediately turning into a casus belli. Putin went so far as to say that he saw nothing wrong with the corruption of Biden's son in Ukraine and delayed signing the START agreement on nuclear weapons so that he could do so with the Biden government should it win the election.

But what about the rest of the world?

European Union

Macron at the "War College" on February 7, 2020.

European TV stations are following the elections and the vote count in the US with more passion than any EU state. The script is that of four years ago: Biden's victory would be hopeful, Trump's a chaos. However, this position, which was the majority one among the European bourgeoisies just two years ago, is no longer the dominant one in the ruling classes of the continent. All of them are well aware that the rupture represented by Trump is already a consensus of the entire US bourgeoisie, which wants to strengthen its internal market by repatriating applications of capital and renegotiating trade balances. Thus they know that the tendency towards trade war and bloc formation is unstoppable... and does not exactly favor the interests of German or French capital.

The clearest one has been the French minister of economy and strongman of macronism Bruno Le Maire:

This choice will not change much for our trade interests. Have no illusions, because the United States has not been a friendly partner of the Europeans for many years. Sometimes they stand in rivalry and even in confrontation when they hit us with sanctions. We must be aware of this and it is time for Europeans to assume their responsibilities and build a strong European sovereignty and a strong political, economic, and technological group.

The latter, the idea that the EU can overcome its internal contradictions by launching a candidacy to create its own trade and military bloc, is what in the French eyes would make the assessment of the Trump government paradoxically positive for Europe: its pressure against China would have given Europe a chance by giving a global protagonism to the EU, even though according to the minister for the Americans it is only an adjustment variable.

German leaders were much less critical. They do not expect Biden to stop pressuring fiercely against Nord Stream 2, but they do expect him not to sanction German companies and executives as if they were Russian oligarchs, as Trump has done. They do not expect him to stop insisting that they spend more on NATO, but neither do they expect him to cut spending on the American bases in Germany even more. And on the other hand, if Biden brings the US back to the Paris Treaty on climate Deal, it would be excellent news for the European Green Deal: it would increase the scale of capitals involved in technological and energy change, facilitating and increasing the scale of the transfer of income from labor to capital which underlies the project.

That is to say, the German bourgeoisie sees clearly that the real danger is the U.S. and that its imperialist needs will not cease to pose a problem for them. But they feared that an unleashed Trump would prematurely accelerate the process, given that, in the words of Martin Schulz - presidential candidate of the SPD and Minister of the Economy - international relations are of no importance to him. Schulz actually proved Le Maire right: if Trump was finally invested as president, the EU would have to unite more closely and fight against the Trump regime. But of course, that would mean reinforcing the German dependence on France.

But for a whole section of the German bourgeoisie this seems a greater evil. The Minister of Defense and ex-successor of Merkel, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, went out of her way during the growing discussions on the French invitation to the strategic autonomy of Europe, recalling that:

Europe remains dependent on US military protection, both nuclear and conventional. ‎...‎ We must acknowledge that, for the foreseeable future, we will continue to be dependent.

The reference to nuclear dependence is a direct blow to France, whose first move was precisely to invite Germany to participate in the management - and the expenses - of its nuclear arsenal. The message is: we still prefer the United States, we are not going to place ourselves, literally, under the French wing.

Great Britain

In Great Britain the positioning is even more tricky. Johnson has avoided taking sides with either of the candidates, but the covid massacre and the rampant recession are pushing him towards a desperate play against the EU:

Some in London are seriously considering allowing a Brexit without agreement initially, somehow jumping the first months of 2021 and then forcing the EU back to the negotiating table in the hope of receiving better conditions.

At the moment everything points that way: a rough Brexit is coming. But that's where the U.S. election result starts to matter, and very much so.

The Democrats have a major Irish lobby at home. A lobby that will also take much of the credit for the election victory if Biden's presidency is finally confirmed. This lobby, linked to both the Dublin government and Sinn Fein's foreign networks, has led the party as a whole to threaten to boycott the trade agreement with Britain if the Irish peace process is jeopardized. To this day, this amounts to the establishment of customs and police controls between Ulster and the Republic of Ireland ... an almost inevitable consequence of a rough Brexit.

Johnson has already sent emissaries to Washington to cool off the situation, but the truth is that Biden doesn't seem to be trying to change the party's position in exchange for anything. Does this mean that Johnson would have to back down? Not necessarily, the strategic and commercial value to the US of Britain is incomparably greater than that of Ireland, especially in the context of increasing friction with the EU that seems predictable by all. The only certain thing is that Ireland, which has never given up on Brexit ending up in the Irish annexation of Ulster, is increasingly tempted to put pressure the way it has always done: by letting the nationalist armed groups have their way so that they can generate a low-intensity war that will turn the Irish government into necessary mediators.

South America

Mourao, Vice President of Brazil, with Xi Jinping in Beijing

In South America, the Pacific Rim (Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) - right now in its its first border dispute with China - will be aligned with the United States no matter who wins. Although they are likely to become the model for Biden's promised return to multilateralism... a warmongering multilateralism, of course, which would certainly resurrect the ProSur agreement.

In the Atlantic axis of the continent, Argentina has no other choice than to be increasingly tied to China. Officially, the USA remains its main source of foreign investment, but under the figures there are not few Latin American, European and even Argentinean capitals operating from companies based in Florida or Delaware. So, nowadays, the agreements with Beijing are being sped up, taking care to incorporate ecological clauses so as not to bother France and to avoid a boycott of the Mercosur agreement. According to all the Argentine press today, in the face of the angst with Europe, the electoral result in the United States seems to be the least important thing for the Casa Rosada:

In the assessment of the Casa Rosada, there are no major differences between Democrats and Republicans on issues such as trade, where the government's main focus and where they spend the bulk of the talks with the North

There is no lack of voices in the Argentine bourgeoisie who look forward to a competitive devaluation of the dollar. Both Biden and Trump seem destined to compete against the EU and China. And for semicolonial countries like Argentina it would be a relief because it would render dollar speculation and capital flight less attractive. In other words, both candidates' policy of low-intensity currency warfare would give them a break.

In addition, if Biden wins, Bolsonaro will likely be called into question, which is another welcome development in Buenos Aires... as long as it is limited to Huawei's role in the Brazilian 5G network... something that doesn't seem so clear. Possibly Biden, on account of the ecological discourse, might undermine Brazilian sovereignty over the Amazon, a line already opened by Macron. And that causes real fear even among the Brazilian left. Let's not even talk about Argentina and even Chile, which are at this moment trying to expand their sovereignty over Antarctica and the Ocean, two immense natural reserves, which could also become attractive for major powers.