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Joe Biden has now been in office for two full years, putting us halfway through the first term of his presidency. On today’s episode, we’re focusing on U.S. imperialism during this two-year period.
In January 2021, Biden inherited a very unstable regime. U.S. institutions had been bruised and battered from four years of Donald Trump, whose America-First isolationist policies meant that American leadership globally had been weakened. This, of course, came after several decades of U.S. hegemonic decline and crises of capitalism, particularly after 2008
In this context, the U.S. had withdrawn from global diplomatic institutions such as the World Health Organization, and there was less faith overall in the U.S.’s ability to lead the world. President Biden had a clear agenda when taking office, summarized by his declaration in his first major foreign policy speech in February 2021: “America is back.”
His administration aimed to restore legitimacy to the institutions of U.S. democracy, and to return U.S. imperialism to its former glory. Unlike Trump, however, his strategy would be to return to some aspects of the multilateralism that characterized the country’s international relations before 2017.
The Biden administration’s first major foreign policy move was a humiliating military withdrawal from Afghanistan. But U.S. imperialism has come a long way since then. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in particular, was in many ways a gift for U.S. imperialism. Although it has been a challenge for U.S. and European hegemony and the war’s outcome is still uncertain, the conflict helped strengthen U.S. power in Europe, as well as strengthen and expand NATO.
Another key aspect of Biden’s foreign policy has also been the “pivot to Asia.” Like his predecessors — both Trump and Obama — Biden has been moving forward with the long-term strategy to more aggressively confront China. This has, on the one hand, taken the form of military containment and strengthening alliances in the Pacific region. But it also includes economic competition, where the Biden administration is trying to decouple the U.S. and Chinese economies. To this end, the U.S. has, for example, placed restrictions on China’s ability to access semiconductors, and begun investing billions in establishing domestic chip manufacturing through the CHIPS act.
One thing is certain: any conflict and any economic instability will fall squarely on the working class, both in the U.S. and abroad. The working class is international, and it’s critical for workers here in the U.S. — in the heart of imperialism — to mobilize, build solidarity across borders, and denounce imperialism.
In this episode, we discuss U.S. imperialism under Biden’s two years in office so far. We discuss the major contours of the Biden administration’s foreign policy during this time, particularly the conflict with Russia and Ukraine, and the strategies for countering Chinese power. Finally, we share our thoughts on what the future holds for U.S. imperialism, especially with a Republican-led House of Representatives, and the importance of internationalist, anti-imperialist leftism.
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