Joe Biden recently traveled to India and Vietnam. In India, he attended the annual summit of the Group of 20 or “G20,” a meeting of the leaders of the 20 largest economic powers in the world. The top leaders of China and Russia did not attend, but sent representatives. Biden said he was there to strengthen the United States’ economic partnerships. This statement is “politician speak,” meaning he was there, trying to advance the competitive position of the U.S. in relation to both China and Russia.
The U.S. is by far the biggest national economy in the world with its profit-squeezing tentacles reaching into every continent, taking whatever it can from the sweat of working people everywhere. China has, in recent decades, become the greatest economic competitor to the U.S. with, among other things, its Belt and Road Initiative, investing in infrastructure around the world and making many countries financially dependent on it.
Among the deals announced at the G20 summit was one to build an economic infrastructure corridor from India to Europe, involving both rail and sea, and passing through the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Israel. Heavily promoted by the U.S. and European Union, this project is clearly intended to bring countries and markets closer to them as a counter to China’s Belt and Road program.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, host of the G20 summit, seemed to be angling to play the role of a global power broker, siding both with the U.S. against China and against the U.S. on Ukraine and Russia. While playing an important role in the economic infrastructure deal challenging China, he took the side of China and Russia by announcing the latest G20 statement on the war in Ukraine. Rather than blaming Russia for invading Ukraine, as a previous G20 declaration had done, this year’s statement said that all countries should “refrain from action against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state.” Nowhere does it mention Russia, let alone blame Putin for the invasion of Ukraine, thereby opposing the U.S. position.The Summit’s declaration on the global climate crisis talked about “phasing down” rather than “phasing out” coal and didn’t even mention oil and gas. This refusal to acknowledge the deepening catastrophe shows that the great economic powers defend profits before life itself.
Following the G20, Biden visited Vietnam to strengthen business ties with Hanoi as part of Washington’s strategy to further isolate China. Neither Biden nor Nguyễn Phú Trọng, president of Vietnam, wanted to mention the U.S. imperialist war against Vietnam, in which the U.S. military dropped more tons of bombs on that one small country than all sides dropped on each other in World War II.
Global politics has changed some since the U.S. war on Vietnam. U.S. imperialism is facing different challenges. Yet one thing that hasn’t changed is that the U.S. ruling class and its government remain the dominant economic, political, and military power in the world. As such, they remain the enemy of working people both here and everywhere.