Afghanistan Imperialism Middle East United States

What Joe Biden Means for Middle East and Afghanistan?

By Hassan Jan

At last the US ruling classes got rid of their one of the most nightmarish presidents ever in American history. Donald Trump left the oval office on 20th January without attending the oath-taking ceremony of the incoming US president Joe Biden. The US establishment along with its corporate media mobilized all their power to oust Donald Trump which they considered as an “outsider”. The corporate media and their pundits have been describing the Trump phenomenon as a temporary aberration of their “democratic” system which now they have successfully corrected by enthroning Joe Biden at the White House. In reality, this phenomenon is actually the reflection of the historical decadence of American imperialism and the organic crisis of capitalism globally which is being imitated in one country after another. Donald Trump through his reckless outspokenness revealed the ugly face of American imperialism which hitherto has been under the thin veneer of hypocritical diplomacy. With the advent of Joe Biden the American imperialism wants to reassert its ‘global leadership’ albeit in a humane manner.

In the last four years, Trump-presidency’s recklessness has been a source of worldwide embarrassment for the American ruling classes and their so-called liberal democratic values. Donald Trump tore apart the conventional niceties and subtleties of bourgeois etiquettes. He unveiled the vicious face of American corporate media by rightly calling them “fake news”. During the elections back in 2016 he called his contender Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman”, though she deserved more than that considering her criminal records as foreign secretary of US. He even bashed his generals of advocating wars “so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy”, though the world already knew how the military industrial complex had a voracious appetite for continuous wars but such assertions by an American president is uncanny.

Many of his actions and statements were unprecedented in American history, from indicting Latinos to imposing ban on immigration from certain Muslim countries to describing global warming as a hoax and harsh verbal exchanges with certain heads of states. Though he didn’t bring any fundamental change in American policies, internally or externally, but his brashness and brazenness in carrying out American interests brought humiliations globally and sometimes sabotaged the process altogether. He is even accused of fomenting racism and white supremacist currents. But systematic racism and white supremacist tendencies are the part and parcel of American imperialist state throughout its history. The fact that an “outsider” with no political background, with racist, white supremacist and xenophobic tendencies made it to the White House and a poised and shrewd Hillary Clinton was defeated speaks volumes about the historical decadence of American imperialism with all its liberal values and democratic “traditions” whatsoever.

Donald Trump’s tumultuous tenure of presidency came to an end on 3rd November elections when he was defeated by an astute representative of American ruling classes Joe Biden. Trump didn’t accede his defeat and accused his contender of wide spread rigging. Historically, the rejection of election results and accusations of rigging have been the hallmarks of elections in third world countries with poor economic conditions and chronic political crisis. But we are talking about the world’s largest economic and military power on earth! This is an extraordinary times with global capitalism in deepest crisis of its history. At times even the transition of power seemed tricky. The supporters of Donald Trump at his instigation stormed the Capitol and vandalized the building where a joint session of Congress was underway to confirm Joe Biden’s electoral win. Such scenes of vandalism in the corridors of power in America are unknown to Americans.

At last the US military had to intervene in a blatant manner. The Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a statement condemning the riots at Capitol and affirmed Biden’s victory. The statement said, “Any act to disrupt the constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values, and oath; it is against the law” Again it is unprecedented in American history for the military to intervene so flagrantly, though the deep state and the military top brass have always been calling the shots behind the scenes.

Biden has assumed the White House at a time when US economy has shrank 4-5 percent in 2020 as a result of Covid lockdowns and 22 million Americans have lost their jobs. Businesses have gone bust. Till now 456,000 people have died due to corona virus pandemic. The earlier predictions of a V-shaped recovery seems to be wishful thinking as several studies have suggested that the GDP will not return to the level of 2019 till the end of 2022. Joe Biden has laid out a $1.9 trillion package for economic revival and fighting the pandemic. But even this amount is incapable of reviving the economy because in all major capitalist economies the government investment to GDP is about 3 percent of GDP and the capitalist investment is around 20 percent of GDP. This means any major economic revival in a capitalist economy is possible only through capitalist investment but the capitalists are not investing enough as the rate of profit is at its historic low since 1945.

In his first foreign policy speech, Joe Biden announced “America is back, diplomacy is back!”It is quite ironical when he uttered the word “diplomacy”, as if his predecessor had launched wars after wars and that’s why it is the right time to end the wars and head for diplomacy. The fact of the matter is this that Trump didn’t start any new war while the man of diplomacy and the noble peace laureate US president Barak Obama launched several wars in Libya, Iraq and Syria. The reason why he is talking diplomacy is because the state of American economy and US imperialism’s organic decadence do not allow it to launch further military engagements after humiliating defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq; though this fact does not prevent them from nurturing and supporting the most barbarous and savage forces like ISIS to fight their dirty proxy wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He announced the end of US support for Saudi-led war in Yemen. The Saudi-led war on Yemen was actually in reaction to the rising Iranian influence in Saudi Arabia’s backyard and also against the ever increasing diplomatic interactions between Iran and USA which later on culminated in nuclear deal between the two. During the whole saga of nuclear deal Saudi Arabia and Israel tried to derail the talks but it didn’t work, to the great dismay of Saudis and Israelis. At times the Saudis even contemplated to buy nuclear arsenals from long time subservient ally Pakistan. That’s why America had to submit to Saudis and supported the war on Yemen and provided them technical support.

Donald Trump tore apart the nuclear deal with Iran and re-imposed all the sanctions on Iran much to the delight of Saudis and Israel. Iran was put into a virtual economic blockade. Despite this tactic of “maximum pressure” America could not contain Iran’s regional influence in the Middle East. The mullahs attributed all the economic sufferings to the harsh economic sanctions imposed by Donald Trump. The sanctions and “maximum pressure” only further strengthened the hardliner mullahs. All Trump’s reckless warmongering could do was to further increase the conflagration in the region. The killing of Iranian commander General Qassem Suleimani brought the region to the brink of a war. Even Trump’s Gulf allies were frightened at the prospect of an all-out war with Iran which could immediately engulf the whole of Middle East.

Now with the Joe Biden presidency, his Secretary of State Antony Blinken wants to revive the nuclear deal with Iran. President Joe Biden has appointed Robert Malley as his special envoy for Iran. Malley played a leading role in formulating the nuclear deal in 2015. This appointment is a serious gesture that America wants to re-enter the nuclear deal. The Americans have put up only one condition that Iran must first comply with its obligations under the nuclear deal and only then America would return to the deal while the Iranians want the US to first return to the deal and lift the sanctions and then Iran would comply.

Weeks before Biden’s inauguration, Iran started enriching uranium to 20 percent purity. This move is meant to gain leverage in the upcoming negotiations for the revival of the deal but there are other factors which could add to the complexity of the matter. Above all, Israel has openly rejected the idea of US re-entering the nuclear deal. They have even hinted at a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. A nuclear Iran is not only unpalatable to Israel but also the Gulf countries, above all Saudi Arabia. They would definitely try to sabotage the revival of the deal. The assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in broad daylight in Tehran was meant to derail an imminent rapprochement between Iran and the US. The current deal ensures a nuclear “breakout” time of one year for Iran. In case of impossibility of a military strike on nuclear sites of Iran, Israel would push for a tougher deal to further extend the “breakout” time.

Deal or no deal, either way the instability in the Middle East will continue. In case of a deal and the lifting of sanctions, the Iranian mullahs will gain a new lease of life with the unfreezing of its billions of dollars in foreign banks and the export of its oil. They will further entrench themselves in the region adding further conflagration to the endless proxy wars.

Similarly, the White House’ new administration has planned to review the deal struck with Taliban back in February 2020 which obliged the US to withdraw all its forces by the end of May 2021. The US-Taliban deal was, of course, a humiliating instrument of surrender on the part of US imperialism. Despite its modern weaponry US imperialism was defeated by a reactionary outfit armed with basic weaponry. After squandering more than $1 trillion on military campaigns to defeat “Islamic extremism” and a $100 billion on “reconstruction” and bringing “democracy”, they are leaving behind a country ravaged by Taliban insurgency, a devastated infrastructure and the whole country engulfed by extreme poverty and misery.

The US-Taliban deal was severely criticized at home by the US congress but the Trump administration went ahead with the deal. Now with the increased rivalry with China and other regional players the new administration has other ideas. It seems that the Biden administration is considering putting a halt to the process of troop’s withdrawal. Recently a bipartisan congressional panel urged Biden to extend the May 1 deadline for complete troops’ withdrawal. Even there are possibilities of new troops’ deployment in the country. In such a scenario the US-Taliban deal will not worth the paper it is written on.

On the other hand, Pakistan has urged the new administration to stick to the deal. The deal was a great win for Pakistan as they have always nurtured Taliban as their strategic asset in Afghanistan. If Trump had won a second term the Talibans would have come to power very soon in Afghanistan. The abrogation of the deal will prove to be a nightmare for Pakistan. With the broader conflict with China in sight US would bring India closer to itself in Afghanistan thus mounting inexorable pressure on Pakistan. This will further aggravate the crisis of the Pakistani state already mired in its worst economic crisis of its history.

Despite all talks of diplomacy and other niceties of the new administration in White House, the conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan will continue and new ones will emerge. In the same way, conditions will not be different for the working class in US itself except for cosmetic changes. America used to be the bulwark against communism being the most advanced capitalist country with the strongest economy and military power. It was the success story of capitalism. It used to brag about its “American dream” that if anyone with whatever background comes to America with nothing in his possession can work and become a success story. That American dream has now become an American nightmare with millions of people compelled to work two jobs but still incapable of making their ends meet. The capitalist decadence is so intense that despite all propaganda the ideas of socialism are more popular in America than at any time in recent history. This popularity is being reflected in the meteoric rise of Bernie Sanders who openly declares himself as democratic socialist. Despite all ebbs and flows, the American working classes would come to the conclusion that socialism is the only way out. A socialist overthrow of capitalism in US will open the floodgates of worldwide socialist revolution.