WHEN JOE Biden declared ‘America is back’ in a major speech on US foreign policy, he intended his listeners to contrast his supposed support for human rights and democracy with the ambivalence of Donald Trump’s isolationist ‘America First’ policy.
But just 32 days after his inauguration, the familiar boom of US foreign policy exploded over Syria, as Biden used the president’s executive powers to bypass Congress and order the bombing of an Iraqi militia fighting on the side of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
The pretext for the raid was a rocket attack on a US airbase in Erbil, northern Iraq, allegedly carried out by groups linked to the Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces, a largely Shia paramilitary force formed by the Iraqi government to fight the Islamic State insurgency.
These tit-for-tat exchanges come as Iran tries to apply pressure on Biden to lift crippling sanctions on Iran imposed by Trump after he abandoned the Iran nuclear deal. At the same time, Iran, Russia and China were carrying out joint naval exercises in the Indian ocean.
Biden’s bombing run, the first in Syria since 2019, is intended as a signal to the rival great powers, particularly China which is now the region’s largest investor, that the US is far from abandoning its interests in the region. This airstrike diplomacy under executive powers confirms that the predatory US ruling class cannot claim the moral high ground at home or abroad.
It also shows that while Trump’s presidency may have accelerated the decay of US democracy, it was merely an aggressive symptom rather than the cause. Whether control over the world’s most powerful military arsenal is in the hands of Democrats or Republicans, both parties will increasingly resort to its use to defend the United States’ declining world hegemony.
The circling of the great powers in the Middle East not only prolongs the suffering of the regions peoples under the dictators backed by Russia and the USA, but raises the risk of an escalation and a clash between the nuclear armed superpowers.
Russia’s support for Bashar al-Assad is the principal reason for the defeat of the Syrian revolution, but its degeneration into a sectarian civil war is primarily the overspill from the US and UK invasion of Iraq in 2003. Ten years after the Arab Spring sparked revolutions against dictatorship and poverty, the imperialist domination and exploitation of the region has only deepened.
We need to rebuild an internationalist anti-war movement which fights for the withdrawal of all foreign military forces and bases, and ends our government’s support for murderous dictators like Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman or Egypt’s General Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi.
This movement must recognise that a final end to imperialist exploitation and war can only be achieved by dissolving the ruling class and its state apparatus and replacing it with a socialist system based on common ownership and democratic planning.
In the US this requires building a workers party independent of the Democrats which can link the desperate inequality of the USA, with the wealth that its rulers plunder from abroad. Such a party, rooted in the struggles of trade union activists, Black Lives movement campaigners, women and migrant labour can be a powerful weapon in the fight for the most effective solidarity possible – the overthrow of the US ruling class, the greatest enemy of the world working class.