As they press every opening to take down Donald Trump before the 2020 elections, Democrats and the liberal press leapt on tapes of French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other government leaders making fun of the U.S. president at NATO’s 70th anniversary summit in the U.K. Dec. 3.
Joe Biden, front-runner for the Democrats’ presidential nomination, claimed Trump’s conduct there was damaging “America’s standing in the world.” The summit showed NATO “may not survive” if Trump is reelected, Max Boot moaned in the Washington Post. Liberals claim Trump is ripping the U.S.-dominated alliance apart.
The U.S. capitalist rulers put the North Atlantic Treaty Organization together in 1949 after Washington came out as top dog from the second imperialist world war. Their goal was to prevent working people in Europe from fighting to take power and to advance counterrevolutionary military operations wherever Washington saw an opening. Its first action was to mobilize troops for the U.S. war in Korea.
When the French rulers decided the military alliance was operating to the advantage of Washington, not their own, they pulled out in 1966, rejoining only in 1995.
From its founding 12 members, NATO has grown to 29, all dedicated to the preservation of capitalism.
Presidents Trump and Macron clashed at the meeting, reflecting the increasingly divergent interests of the rival powers that make up the “alliance.” These conflicts were underway long before Trump assumed the presidency. Each member of NATO seeks advantage for its own ruling class amid sharpening conflicts over markets and resources; unresolved wars in the Middle East; Moscow’s military interventions in Eastern Europe and Syria; and competition from the rising Asian power in Beijing.
US rulers try to stem their decline
Like previous presidents, Trump seeks to hold off Washington’s relative decline as the world’s dominant imperialist power, while its NATO “allies” in Europe hope to continue to get protection under Washington’s military umbrella while they let their own armed forces dwindle. And the U.S. rulers are determined to prevent this.
Macron has bigger dreams. At the summit he defended his comment last month that NATO is experiencing “brain death.” He advocates EU members forming their own military alliance, with Paris as the chief.
He told the Economist that France is special, “as a permanent member of the [U.N.] Security Council, a nuclear power, founding member of the European Union, a country which is present through its overseas territories on every continent and which remains very present because of the French-speaking world.” Macron’s main point was to highlight attributes of the French government, that its main European rival — Berlin — cannot lay claim to.
“We’re less aligned with American diplomacy,” he added, “which in this world gives us more room for manoeuvre.”
Macron’s France “needs protection more than anybody and I see him breaking off” from NATO, Trump told reporters before the summit.
Macron, a meritocratic former hedge fund millionaire, who runs things for the capitalist class in France, does have problems. Close to a million people went on strike and marched across the country a few days after his return home to protest his government’s latest effort to attack their pensions.
Trump used the NATO summit to threaten tariffs of up to 100% on $2.4 billion of French imports to the U.S., after Macron’s government in July imposed a tax on U.S. tech companies that do business in France.
President Trump also dismissed promises by the German government that it would spend more on its military, calling it “delinquent.” Berlin used some creative bookkeeping to claim it had increased its contribution to NATO. German rulers counted money budgeted for new jets for government officials’ travel and some 800 million euros allocated to foreign aid development programs.
Not to be outdone, the French rulers did the same, counting both the budget for its federal gendarmes and the Paris fire department as NATO expenses.
The summit ended with a declaration condemning Moscow for its interventions abroad, asserting the need for NATO members to develop and stockpile nuclear weapons, and for the first time said the alliance faces a new threat from Beijing.
“The rhetoric is not always excellent, but substance is perfect,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told the press after the meeting, trying to put the best face on a fractious gathering that showcased the deepening imperialist world disorder today.
Socialist Workers Party campaign
While Trump — like previous Democratic and Republican administrations — defends the rulers’ interests abroad, their capitalist two-party system at home is riven with a deepening crisis. Trump returned from the summit to the Democrats’ impeachment crusade, the latest phase of their three-year-long drive to overturn the 2016 election.
The real target of their witch hunt is the working class, which they hold responsible for electing the president. They consider workers reactionary — “white guys in diners,” according to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who are driven by “animosity toward immigrants.”
The House Judiciary Committee’s first hearing on articles of impeachment featured what they billed as learned legal “experts” above the fray. But this was quickly revealed to be another partisan hit job. Three of the four “experts” called by the Democrats turned out to be fervent Democrats themselves. Professor Pamela Karlan is head of a liberal lawyers group and has donated to Elizabeth Warren’s campaign, as she did to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016.
All these “experts” did was bless the necessity of getting rid of the president as soon as possible. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi then said the committee would rapidly draw up the articles of impeachment.
As the crisis of the capitalist two-party system unfolds, the Socialist Workers Party is fielding a growing slate of candidates for the 2020 elections.
They campaign in support of workers’ battles, from the Asarco strike in Arizona and Texas to opposition to the capitalist rulers’ wars abroad. The SWP urges working people to break with the twin parties of capitalist rule, the Democrats and Republicans, and build our own party, a labor party, to fight to take political power into our own hands.