Until a few days ago I was doing my research on the US American elections and what the possible outcome would mean for Europe. I gathered material for an article that would be interesting to read, informative and I tried to look at the situation from different angles that are not covered by the mainstream media. For those of you who don´t know anything about it; the election in the USA is scheduled for the 3rd of November 2020 with Donald Trump and Mike Pence as vice president on the Republican Party ticket and Joe Biden with Kamala Harris as vice president on the Democratic Party ticket. The mainstream media acts as if US Citizens have the choice between only these two groups. We Europeans don´t even hear the names of the candidates for vice presidency most of the time or the international policies of the presidential candidates. What Europeans hear every day in their media is how bad Donald Trump is for the United States of America and how he damages the relations between the western countries.
What many of us who are interested don´t know is that the democratic system of the USA is so kind as to allow third parties to run this race. These parties have no coverage by the media and thus no chance to get elected by the people. Howie Hawkins together with Angela Walker as vice president on the Green Party ticket and Jo Jorgensen with Spike Cohen on the party ticket of the libertarians are also part of this race. While the Libertarians are not expected to branch off votes from the Republicans, the Green Party will get some votes which the Democratic Party could get with a different policy. The way Bernie Sanders and his program were treated and blocked by the Democrats doesn’t sit well with many left-wing voters even though Sanders endorsed Joe Biden as president. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris stand for a policy that does not meet the expectations of the young people of the USA. Universal healthcare, free education, more rights to have a say in political matters, and establishing a control mechanism for the police forces which are worldwide known for their inhumane treatment of black people in the country are only a few of the demands that are made by the younger generation. In addition to that, there are environmental policies like the green new deal that many would like to see implemented what doesn´t seem possible under both options.
But not only are the Americans disenchanted about the role of the USA in the world. Many Germans who were raised with the propaganda that the USA saved Germany from itself and idolized this country as a beacon for democracy, freedom, and taking responsibility in this otherwise evil world have been unsettled for a long time now. With the election of Donald Trump in 2016 something changed in the German media landscape in connection with their reports on the US President. The German mainstream media began to report negatively on a President of the United States on a scale that was never seen before. The same can be observed in many other European countries. George W. Bush had never been a pop star in Germany but the German media tried to keep their reporting factual and respected the transatlantic relationship throughout his presidency. Even the fact that the Multi-National-Forces – Iraq under the leadership of the USA couldn´t find WMDs (which were officially the reason for the invasion) in Iraq, was not used by the mainstream media against the US establishment. In Obama´s time, Edward Snowden (https://www.dw.com/en/edward-snowden-germany-a-primary-example-of-nsa-surveillance-cooperation/a-50452863) revealed that even the German Chancellor Angela Merkel was under surveillance by US intelligence agencies and although this seemed to be a problem for the German government Barack Obama was only mentioned as part of the solution to this humiliating political scandal. Of course, instead of solving the problem, whistleblowers like Snowden were accused of espionage and the German government had “good talks” with US American interlocutors with no real change.
What Makes Donald Tick?
Donald Trump has been elected on his doctrine “America First”. One of the promises of his campaign was to build a wall between the USA and Mexico and “let the Mexicans pay for it”. Another promise was to bring back jobs to the country. “America First” has proven to be an empty goal in today´s globalized world. The jobs didn´t come back to the country. Funding for the wall has proven to be much more difficult than stated and if we are being honest; in comparison with Barack Obama who built 649 miles (1,044 km) of the barrier -vehicle barriers comprised 299 miles (481 km) and pedestrian fence 350 miles (560 km)- between Mexico and US, Trump´s contribution with 371 miles (597 km) is not that impressive. It is bewildering that nearly every policy Trump has been criticized for was implemented in the times of his predecessors and yet we don´t hear anything about that in European media (Things Obama got away with https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOfkBRaWmGE). We can say that Trump failed spectacularly in each and every one of his promises to the American people who voted for him and given the nature of his promises which were nationalistic and imperialistic in their core, this is not a bad thing.
Mr. Trump seems to be more businessman than a politician and makes his decisions mainly depending on the economic aspect of international politics. No question, he is the rudest Pres-ident the country and -thanks to social media- the world has ever seen. However, the policies of a president of the United States of America do not only concern the citizens of this country. The USA is a country that actively influences the whole world with its policies. In Western Europe, the methods are cultural and economic, in the Middle East, South America, and Africa it is the collaboration of intelligence agencies and brute force. Germany´s problems with the USA under the presidency of Donald Trump are not different. Both countries are at large united in their Middle East policies and in their attitude against Russia. The foreign policy of the United States is often backed by Germany which only dares to oppose the USA if there is a multinational agreement on its side. We can observe how Germany, like all other western Countries, supported every decision US officials made in their foreign policy. Even policies contrary to international law were carried along by the German government. From Russia and the Middle East to South America the interests of both countries seemed to be mostly common. The few disagreements between Germany and the USA which are always economical were discussed behind closed doors. But Donald Trump in his unique way of making politics named the problems openly. Trump thinks that Germany is profiting too much at the expense of the United States of America. According to John Bolton (National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump from April 2018 to September 2019), the Trump administration repeatedly expressed its displeasure about the fact that Germany clearly missed the NATO target of investing two percent of its economic power in the military with currently 1.38 percent despite rising defense spending. The decision to withdraw 12.000 US soldiers from Germany was the consequence of this displeasure.
Yet it is interesting that this diplomatic answer came after Germany decided to comply: The country has increased its military spending by ten percent in 2020 compared to the previous year. No other country in the top 15 in the world saw such a sharp increase. Berlin spent a total of 49.3 billion US dollars on its armaments. According to SIPRI (STOCKHOLM INTERNATIONAL PEACE RESEARCH INSTITUTE) the USA with 732 Billion US-Dollars is first by a long way in military expenses. Second comes China with 261 Billion US-Dollars, after India comes Russia with 65,1 Billion US-Dollars and Germany with currently 49,3 Billion US-Dollars is, together with France, at the bottom of the list. The total expenditure of all 29 NATO members in the year 2019 was 1035 Billion US-Dollars. Donald Trump doesn´t see the withdrawal of US American forces from Germany as a security -or diplomatic issue, according to his own statements this decision was made solely on the basis that Germany was not paying enough and had an economic advantage from the US Troops which are stationed in the country. Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, a retired US army officer and the former US commander in Europe said in an interview: “I always believed that this is a political decision not based on any strategic analysis”.
Another big problem between the two countries is North Stream 2 which is a new export gas pipeline running from Russia to Europe across the Baltic Sea. With the financing agreement signed in 2017, the project is nearly completed today. Since the beginning of the construction, US officials criticized the project on the grounds that Germany would make itself dependent on Russian gas. The US Ambassador in Berlin Richard Grenell threatened Germany with con-sequences if the construction was not stopped. At the end of the year 2019, the Trump administration even imposed economic sanctions against Germany. Although Germany is using a highly diplomatic language as it always does when the interlocutor is the USA, many officials couldn´t bite back the comment that this was an unacceptable interference in internal affairs. As one of the newly emerged big players in the oil & gas exporting countries the USA wants to hold on to this trend. Since the shale-era began 12 years ago or so, U.S. gas production has jumped almost 70%. Even though the USA uses far more gas than any other country in the world, it became a net exporter in 2017. The total piped exports were up a solid 13% in 2019. We said earlier that with Trump everything is about money, the US administration doesn´t care if Germany makes itself dependent on Russian gas, what it already is. Around 40% of the demand is met by Gazprom which is a Russian company and one of the biggest suppliers in the world. Trump wants Germany to buy fracking-gas which is more expensive in the production, far more expensive because of the transport routes it has to take to get to Germany and the environmental effects are devastating. Although fracking gas has the advantage of being relatively low-carbon, the damage to soil and groundwater during extraction is very high.
“Fracking is a nightmare! Toxic and radioactive water pollution. Tap water you can set on fire. Earthquakes. Runaway climate change. To produce expensive gas that will soon run out”.
Campaign group Frack Off
To sum it up the US Administration under Trump has two big issues with Germany. They want Germany to spend more money on arms and military in general and they want Germany to minimize its economic and diplomatic relations with Russia.
But What About Joseph Robinette „Joe“ Biden, Jr.?
With Trump we know what we have; admittedly not somebody who knows how diplomacy works, not somebody who thinks twice before he says something unacceptable, and with many many other flaws. But will Biden be the better president? Not only for the USA but as mentioned before the policies of a president of the United States of America do not only concern the citizens of this country. The USA is a country that actively influences the whole world with its policies. Joe Biden builds his campaign on the vague promise to make healthcare more affordable for the people, on his support for raising the minimum wage to 15$ an hour, and on planning huge investments in green energy without making any commitments on banning the method of fracking or otherwise going into detail. While he was criticized for backing the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) which shipped jobs overseas, today he makes a $400bn pledge to use federal dollars to buy American goods, alongside a wider commitment to enforcing “Buy American” laws for new transport projects. The question is not whether or not his promises sound good, of course, they do for the US citizen who can´t pay his/her bills anymore. The question is for the American people if Joe Biden can and will deliver or not. With a history of lies and plagiarism, it might be a little difficult for the American people to believe he will. Mr. Biden has been in politics for a very long time and has had many chances to prove his standing as a “democrat”. He chose over and over to be a representative of the establishment. Although people under 40 begged the Democratic Party for a progressive candidate, this was what they got and this is what makes young Americans so angry.
The election system in the USA is a farce. Three-quarters of all the money used during elections in the USA comes from less than 1% of the American people. This is exactly the reason why ProJoMedia doesn´t want big sponsors (we do want donations though). Everybody knows the dice are loaded but nobody who profits from this system wants real change. The problem is that the people who profit from this system are the only ones who have the power to demand change. This problem with the democratic system is, of course, not exclusively American but it is much clearer to see in the world’s biggest capitalist force.
Deep down our brothers and sisters in the USA know that there will be no real change in their country and in the policies of their administration. Not under Mr. Trump, not under Mr. Biden. The change they want they can only bring themselves and this process has begun al-ready. What is a whisper today will be loud and clear to hear soon.
Germany wants Biden over Trump
Particularly important from a European point of view: Biden wants to strengthen relations with the EU – and thus also with Germany. Under the slogan “Build back better!” Biden wants the instructive diplomacy against Europe and especially Germany to change.
The goal is cooperation instead of confrontation like under Trump. However, the big problems between the USA and Germany will persist. Like Trump, Biden is a staunch critic of the German-Russian pipeline project Nord Stream 2. Biden would also call for more European involvement in NATO and an increase in armaments expenditure. In addition, the continued economic dependence of many EU countries on China would be worthy of criticism for a Biden government.
And of course, there is Iran: Biden’s statements over the last year indicate the former vice president could re-enter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which President Donald Trump abrogated and replaced with a “maximum pressure” campaign with the goal to force Tehran back to the negotiating table. Biden has also said that he will work with U.S. allies in Europe to extend the deal’s nuclear constraints and push back more effectively “against Tehran’s other malign behavior in the region”. Joe Biden´s statements on Iran are so vague that they can be interpreted both as the beginning of strong multilateral diplomatic ef-forts against Iran or as simply waging war in a multinational coalition.
Who Wins Who Loses
Observing the elections in the USA objectively; we can say that it is a choice between two sworn capitalists. This means for the middle-class American people that not much will change in their lives. Unemployment is a problem under Trump and it will stay a problem under Biden. Working conditions and wages will not change drastically under the possible presidency of Mr. Biden neither. The people of America will, just like the rest of us, live with the recurring crisis of the economic system in which they/get poorer and a certain class gets richer each time. Students will complete college being deeply in debt and healthcare for all will stay a dream. The winner of this election is not clear yet but the loser is and always has been determined. Besides the people in the USA, there are other losers who don´t have the right to vote for their butcher. The people of Afghanistan, Syria, and of many other Middle-Eastern countries will suffer regardless of the outcome of the elections. US-Whistleblower Edward Snowden who has shown the world how we are being observed by the US government and by multinational companies of US origin and who has been in hiding from the NSA for seven years now will continue suffering. Other whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning will continue to being silenced and defamed. Last but not least journalists like Julian Assange, who is on trial for exposing war crimes, will continue suffering. There will be no winner of this election in the USA on the 3rd of November except for one elderly man.
By Alper Taparli