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Editorial: The eyes of the world are on the US elections

Trump must be defeated, but no-one should imagine Biden represents any solution to the crises facing the Western world

THE EYES of the world are on the United States as it goes to the polls today.

A coterie of international nasties will be rooting for the re-election of incumbent Donald Trump: India’s Narendra Modi, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and here Boris Johnson are all encouraged in their reckless disregard for international law and trampling on the rights of minorities by their unhinged ally in the Oval Office.

Other leading capitalist powers will be rooting for his challenger Joe Biden. France, Germany and the European Union are clearly alarmed at the US president’s casual attitude to undermining international institutions through which Washington and its allies have traditionally exerted influence — from the World Trade Organisation to the UN Human Rights Council, and at times even the Nato military alliance.

For anti-imperialists, it should be clear that Trump must be defeated.

Trump’s endorsement of gun-toting white supremacist groups and his attempt to crush anti-racist protests with military force are dangerous escalations by a racist White House. In the year that the world woke up to the epidemic of racist police killings in the US, his defeat can energise the anti-racist movement; his victory will embolden fascists everywhere.

Trump has torn up US environmental protections, presided over precipitate decline in prosecutions of corporations that poison local ecosystems and opened vast swathes of formerly protected Arctic reserves for drilling. Walking out of the Paris agreement on climate change undermines efforts to reduce carbon emissions worldwide.

And the reckless destruction of international agreements on disarmament from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty to the Iran nuclear deal, the decision to walk out of the World Health Organisation at the height of a global pandemic, the green light given to Israel to annex swathes of occupied Palestinian territory, make the world an exceptionally dangerous place — as does the administration’s new cold war against China.

So Trump must be defeated, yet socialists must be under no illusion that the election of Biden would mean any resolution of the profound social and economic crisis gripping the capitalist world.

It might entail a partial return to international forums and dialogue, but the country that laid waste to Iraq and Libya, that has backed far-right coups from Latin America to Ukraine, will be a threat to world peace whoever is elected.

Moreover, the defeat of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party, like the defeat of Jeremy Corbyn here, means there is no longer an official opposition that recognises that our economic system is immiserating the majority and killing the planet.

A Biden presidency would, like a Keir Starmer premiership, seek to shore up a broken liberal capitalist model. Given the experience of bids to do that under Barack Obama or Emmanuel Macron, it seems unlikely they can succeed.

The ever-increasing concentration of wealth, the theft of public and natural resources by corporations and the utterly unrepresentative character of political institutions are not problems that will be solved by more competent management. Capitalism is rotten, and we live in an era of crisis. Only a resurgent radical left can take us beyond it.

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