Banking on Biden

October 28, 2020

Democratic-minded people all over the world are pinning hopes on American presidential candidate Joe Biden who has vowed to defend democracy, human rights, freedom of the press and independence of...

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Democratic-minded people all over the world are pinning hopes on American presidential candidate Joe Biden who has vowed to defend democracy, human rights, freedom of the press and independence of the judiciary.

The veteran politician has also hinted at respecting international laws, reviving the Iran nuclear deal, ending Washington’s support for Saudi Arabia on the war in Yemen, pledging to work for the protection of the environment, forging a close alliance with the European Union to prop up the rule-based system evolved in the aftermath of World War II and make efforts to restore the prestige of the sole superpower at the international level by cooperating with the World Health Organization and other global bodies.

These promises have created a ripple of excitement among democratic forces across the world and freedom-loving people in third world countries that are fed up with dictatorial regimes, autocratic monarchs and proponents of controlled democracy. For them, Trump does not want to see anything beyond American borders unless it benefits those whose business interests prompt the whimsical populist leader to unleash a torrent of criticism against countries like China. In international affairs, the rich chief executive of the second largest democracy has only tried to appease the Zionist state of Israel granting it carte blanche to continue its oppressive rule over the Palestinians. His blanket support for Israel encouraged the war-mongers sitting in the power corridors of Tel Aviv to openly flout international laws and trample global norms of diplomacy and decency. Such abetment greatly undermined the rules-based global order that was authored by American rule elites and their European counterparts.

But this optimism is creating an impression that the Democratic Party has an impeccable record of defending democracy, promoting human rights, speaking for freedom of the press, making efforts for protecting the independence of judiciary in developing countries, opposing America’s illegal wars and challenging big corporations that played havoc with the lives of millions through their reckless policies.

Those who want to repose blind faith in the Democratic leadership should remember that Biden is also for containing the Chinese influence. Perhaps the only difference between him and Trump is that the former wants to do it in a botched and crude manner while the latter is interested in achieving this by forging an alliance with European powers. Both leaders seek US hegemony and are ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of this goal.

Remember the sage Obama, the champion of human rights and international laws who turned out to be a war-monger as well. He also came up with a policy of containment though in a sophisticated style. He also sought the US hegemony behind the veneer of internationalism and global norms. It was during pacifist Obama's time that a large number of illegal drone strikes were carried out in countries like Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Civilians continued to suffer under his rule in Afghanistan because of the military operations conducted under the occupying forces in the war-torn country. Yemen continued to witness death and destruction imposed by American allies and Washington’s war machinery. Guantanamo Bay kept flying in the face of Obama’s tall claims of respecting human rights. So, it is naive to believe that Democrats could herald a new era of peace, democracy, human rights and internationalism.

It may be surprising for many that in matters of wars and conflicts both Democrats and Republicans have the same approach. Who can deny that wars and conflicts are the greatest enemies of democracy that trample every freedom under their ruthless oppression. According to some estimates, since the year 1900, reportedly 35 conflicts have been launched by Republican administrations compared to 23 by Democrats. The Korean War began and was fought under a Democrat. It was ended by a Republican.

Ironically, there have been some major conflicts in American history that were initiated by the Democrats, who have a reputation of being peace-makers and ended by the Republican that are considered hawkish. For instance the Vietnam War was imposed by a Democrat, escalated and spread beyond the invaded country under his Democratic successor, and then under a Republican. It was ended by another Republican. The Bosnian war and the bombing of Serbia were overseen by a Democrat. The 'war on terror' was unleashed by a Republican who invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and continued for nearly eight more years under a Democrat. It is interesting to note that a Republican is trying to put an end to this lengthy war of the American history. Harry Truman, a Democrat, is still the only world leader to use a nuclear bomb on a population.

It is true that after the September 11 attacks, the Republican Party’s government came up with what George W Bush’s critics called repressive measures. However, these measures were not only a property of the hawkish Republicans but dove Democrats also imposed such repressive policies. The supporters of the Democratic Party only present right-wing nationalist cold warriors as evil who curbed civil liberties of Americans. We remember Senator Joseph McCarthy’s sneering at Hollywood screenwriters or Reagan yelling at Gorbachev in absentia but tend to forget that McCarthyism’s founding political act was an executive order by Harry Truman creating “loyalty review boards” for federal employees. Under the review boards’ auspices, mere suspicion of any communist leaning was grounds for firing and blacklisting. And it was Democrats who founded and first staffed the infamous House Committee of Un-American Activities (HUAC). These organizations were the legal backbone of McCarthyism.

The purpose of this long history is to clarify that no matter which party rules America, corporate interests and the whims of war-mongers reign supreme in the land of freedom. The US has toppled elected governments, sowed chaos, orchestrated plans to mobilise public opinion against popular democratic leaders in the Global South and lent a blanket support to autocratic monarchs, dictatorial regimes and brutal military juntas. So, if people believe that things might be different under a Democratic Party dispensation, they might be mistaken. Biden’s idea of US dominance and his policy to contain China and confront Russia will prompt his administration to do the bidding of a deep state that has dominated American foreign policy and is ready to hobnob with anyone who is ready to ally with them and work against their supposed enemies.

Therefore, it is important that Pakistani democratic forces pin hopes on their people, mobilizing them against what they call the anti-people policies of the government and win the battle through democratic means. This battle for democracy and true civilian rule cannot be won without addressing the core issues of inflation, massive unemployment, extreme poverty and the rising gap between the rich and the poor. Countries like Iran, Bolivia and Venezuela got rid of their unpopular leaders through popular struggle. They used the power of their people to dislodge governments bent on appeasing the lords of capital. Allende in Chile, Arbenz in Guatemala and many other political personalities also banked on their people to liberate the country from the clutches of those rulers that made anti-people policies. So, countries in the Global South should not wait for a change of government in Washington. If they think that the economic policies of their rulers are against the interests of the people, if they believe that such policies are playing havoc with the lives of tens of millions people, they should mobilise the people and restore true popular sovereignty instead of imagining a miracle from distant lands.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

Email: egalitarianism444

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