US President Joe Biden’s first trip abroad after he came to office six months ago was to meet with the US’ main allies. From June 10 to June 14, he went to the UK and Europe to meet the leaders of the G7 group of countries — the richest capitalist powers in the world — as well as the heads of the countries belonging to the US-led military alliance NATO.
The context for this visit was the growing challenges to US imperialism’s aim of establishing a unipolar world under its domination. Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, US imperialism has arrogated to itself the right to do whatever it wants in any part of the globe in pursuit of its own interests. In the last three decades, the US has invaded and laid waste to entire countries including Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. It has sought to bully and threaten countries that refuse to fall in line with its dictate, such as Iran, North Korea and Cuba, using inhuman economic sanctions and provocative military manoeuvres. In order to contain and encircle Russia, it has engineered disturbances in a number of countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to replace the governments there with pro-US regimes. To put pressure on a rising China, the US has floated groupings like the Quad (consisting of itself, Japan, Australia and India) to carry out military manoeuvres in waters in the neighbourhood of China.
In all these activities, US imperialism has consistently violated the international laws and norms pertaining to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries. A key feature of US imperialism’s adventures in this period has been to arm twist the United Nations to do its bidding and, when convenient, to bypass the UN altogether and form coalitions of its own (called “coalition of the willing”) to assist it to carry out its dirty work. These coalitions include countries belonging to its formal military alliances like NATO as well as many other countries which it either bribes or blackmails into participating. Through these coalitions, US imperialism has sucked up the resources and manpower of other countries for its own narrow self-serving aims. It has also tried to legitimise its campaigns by presenting them as international partnerships rather than what they really are — the actions of an aggressive power bent on enforcing its dictate on the whole world.
In recent years, US imperialist strivings for global domination have met with increasing challenges. Its long-drawn out military campaigns in countries like Afghanistan and Syria have resulted in failure due to the resistance of the people there. Its attempts to browbeat Iran, Cuba and North Korea have not succeeded. It has faced stiff military opposition from Russia, both in Eastern Europe and in West Asia. It is threatened by the steady rise in the power of China. And in the US itself and other countries allied to the US, masses of people have repeatedly come out in opposition to American aggression abroad. They have come out against the domination and plunder by monopoly capitalist companies, carried out in the name of globalisation. Even among its allies in Europe, there has been opposition to its policies.
It is in this context that Biden’s visit to the UK and Europe took place. The US tried to make out that this was a gathering of like-minded partners based on values like democracy and upholding international order. However, it was in fact an attempt by the US to make its allies fall in line with its policies. In particular, it was characterised by escalated warmongering against China and Russia.
Signing of the New Atlantic Charter
Before Biden met with the leaders of the G7 group of countries and NATO, he first had a one-on-one meeting with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on June 10. The outcome of this meeting was the signing of an agreement which was called The New Atlantic Charter.
The original Atlantic Charter was signed 80 years ago in 1941 at the height of World War II between US President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill. It signified a new stage in the relationship between Britain and the US, with Britain clearly the weaker partner, dependent on aid from the US, while the US emerged as the dominant partner. Although Britain still controlled a vast empire at that time, its power had been in decline for some decades, and it was severely weakened by the war with Hitler’s Germany.
US imperialism emerged greatly strengthened in the course of World War II. It used its enormous economic and military resources to implement its plan of dominating the post war world. Its main aim was to destroy socialism in the Soviet Union and other socialist countries that emerged at the end of World War II, crush the revolutionary struggles for national liberation, so as to expand and intensify imperialist exploitation of the whole world. To achieve this, it set up aggressive military alliances such as NATO, SEATO and CENTO. It fought the Soviet Union and other socialist countries tooth and nail in the United Nations and other international bodies that were set up in the post-war world. It set up and dominated the World Bank and the IMF. It used American “aid” to control the economies and deepen the exploitation of poor and developing countries. It fought bloody wars in Korea and Vietnam, to try and prevent revolution and socialism in those countries. In all these activities, US imperialism was assisted by the web of alliances that it had created. At the heart of these was its alliance with Britain, first formalised in the Atlantic Charter of 1941. While these were done in the name of fighting for the so-called free world against communism, the aim was to establish and expand US imperialist domination.
In signing a new Atlantic Charter eighty years later, US imperialism is sending a message to the people of Britain and the rest of Europe that it has no intention of giving up its domination over their countries.
The G7 meeting
From 11 to 13 June, Biden attended the Group of Seven (G7) summit held in the UK. The G7 meeting is an annual meeting of the heads of government of the richest capitalist-imperialist powers in the world. It consists of the US, UK, France, Germany, Canada, Italy and Japan. It began its meetings in 1975, at a time when capitalism had entered a period of deep recession for the first time after World War II. Bypassing the United Nations, this small group of countries which dominate the World Bank and IMF, use this forum to take decisions affecting the whole world. This includes not only decisions affecting international trade and finance, but also political and military matters. However, in recent years, the collective weight of these countries in the global economy has declined, with the increasing economic strength of China.
The G7 summit meeting in June formalised the decisions taken at the earlier meeting of the foreign ministers of this group [see MEL article dated 10 May, 2021]. It came up with the slogan of “Build Back (a) Better World” (B3W). It represents an attempt to convince the rest of the world that it should look to this group to take the lead in solving the major problems of the day. However, there was a lot of talk but little substance. For example, the G7 countries have faced criticism by other countries for hoarding vaccines while the Covid pandemic rages all over the world. In this summit, their leaders promised to supply vaccines to the rest of the world. However, their pledges fell far short of what is required.
A major worry for US imperialism has been the agreements signed in recent years between China and 138 other countries, involving Chinese investment to build roads, pipelines, ports and other infrastructure in those countries. This major initiative by China is known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Many European countries, including Italy and Germany, are part of the BRI. This is a cause of great worry to the USA.
In the G7 summit, the US pressured its partners to declare that they would together offer a better alternative to China’s BRI to help meet the infrastructure needs of other countries. However, no coherent plan for this was outlined, nor were the projects or source of funds for such an enterprise spelt out.
On other fronts too, US imperialism tried its best to rally its allies to confront China as the main challenge in today’s world. This was reflected in the joint statement issued at the end of the meeting, which condemned China in several contexts, including human rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and freedom of navigation in the Taiwan Straits and in the South and East China Seas. However, it was clear that the US had difficulty in cobbling together a common front against China even within this small group. Several G7 members have strong economic partnerships with China, which they are unlikely to give up.
The G7 leaders at the summit claimed that their countries stood for a “rules-based international order”. This is the height of hypocrisy. It is precisely US imperialism and its allies who violate international laws all the time with complete impunity. Most recently, US imperialism refused to join the worldwide condemnation of Israel for cold-bloodedly bombing and killing Palestinians in Gaza, even while it doesn’t hesitate to label other countries “terrorist”. The rules made up by US imperialism and endorsed by its allies have nothing to do with international law and civilised behavior among nation-states.
In this G7 summit, India, Australia, South Africa and South Korea were invited to participate in the proceedings as guests. This is part of the US strategy of building a coalition of countries in the Indo-Pacific region to advance its imperialist interests.
The NATO Summit
Following the G7 summit, on June 14 there took place the meeting of leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), at its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
For more than 70 years, NATO has been the foremost military alliance spearheaded by US imperialism to carry out its wars of aggression all over the world.
NATO was established to prevent revolution in the countries of Western Europe and to destroy socialism in the Soviet Union and the countries of Peoples’ Democracies in Eastern Europe, established at the end of the Second World War.
After the Soviet Union transformed into a social-imperialist power in the sixties, NATO was the major instrument utilised by the US in its contention for global domination with the Soviet Union, in what came to be known as the Cold War. The collapse of the Soviet Union did not lead to the winding down of NATO. On the contrary, with the US emerging as the sole superpower, it has used NATO in its efforts to further extend its domination all over the globe, including in Afghanistan, West Asia and the former Yugoslavia.
Continuing to see a threat in Russia with its formidable military power, NATO has been engaged in continuous confrontation with Russia over the last few years. It has deliberately drawn into its ranks a large number of states that were formerly part of the Soviet Union or the socialist camp in Europe, with the aim of encircling and isolating Russia. This has led to an increase in its membership from 12 to 30 states at present. However, efforts by the US and its allies to detach Ukraine and Belarus from Russia have been vigorously resisted by forces in those countries and by Russia. Russia has also assisted the government of Bashar-al-Assad in Syria to resist and defeat the offensive launched by the US and its allies in 2011 aimed at overthrowing this government. For all these reasons, the recent NATO summit resounded with angry warmongering noises against Russia, which was labelled NATO’s main adversary.
A major aim of the US in this summit was also to draw NATO increasingly into its growing confrontation with China. With the steady rise in China’s economic, technological and military power in recent years, US imperialism is increasingly viewing China as the most serious threat to its pursuit of global domination. The trade war and hyped-up propaganda against China which was carried on by the previous Trump regime in the US is being continued and further escalated under Biden. Despite the fact that not all the NATO members view China in the same way, the US ensured that for the first time, the statement issued at the end of the NATO summit clearly specified China as a major challenge to NATO, in addition to Russia.
Identifying China as a challenge to NATO has dangerous implications, as it signifies the deepening of American aggressive presence in this part of Asia. Already, the Indian state has been lured into joining the Quad group, whose purpose is clearly to restrict China’s freedom of movement in the South and East China Seas and the Indian Ocean. This is being done under the name of ensuring “freedom of navigation”, when the UN conventions and international law clearly spell out the rights and sovereignty of a country over its territorial waters.
Just a few weeks back, India got a taste of how the American slogan of “freedom of navigation” can be used to violate her sovereignty. On April 7, an American warship sailed through Indian territorial waters near Lakshadweep without giving warning. It was done in order to prove the point that the US had the “right” to go wherever it wants, in violation of all accepted laws and conventions. This shows that to be an ally or partner of the US is no protection against its predatory behavior.
The revival of the Atlantic Charter, the proceedings of the G7 Summit and of the NATO summit in June are a clear indication that US imperialism is headed on a dangerous course of confrontation with China, Russia and all countries that stand in its way. However, it does not want to do this alone. It is trying to use the resources and forces of its allies to carry out its self-serving agenda of global domination. Threatened by the resistance it is facing to its aggressive pursuit, US imperialism is stepping up its warmongering behavior and applying pressure on both its opponents and its allies. This is greatly increasing the tension and conflict in the world today. It is the major threat to peace and security of the peoples.