One of the great pretences currently being played out to a gullible public is that it actually matters which of Biden or Trump actually won the recent United States presidential election. There is certainly a body of evidence that suggests that the election was less than squeaky clean, but has that been the case since at least when Bush Junior was anointed by the Supreme Court in 2000, and probably other cases over the years.
At least one of the major reasons for all the fuss about whether or not Biden won the election is that it helps promote the mythology that elections in the United States actually matter. They do not. The country has been an oligarchy run by a plutocracy for decades. The priority of the oligarchy is simply not those of the mass of the United States population that actually bothers to vote. In most presidential elections that is typically way south of 60% of the eligible population. It is significantly lower in non-presidential years.
One of the major clues as to who actually runs the United States is to look at the budget. For a rich country, the United States spends remarkably little on welfare measures that would benefit the poorer proportions of society. The reason for that is straightforward. The military in its various forms consumes far and away the largest proportion of the annual federal budget.
To take just one example, the United States spends 11 times the amount of money on the military than does Russia, a country with about one half of the United States’ population. The United States also spends about three times the amount of the annual military budget of the People’s Republic of China, a country with five times the population of the United States.
Where does the vast United States military expenditure actually go? A major portion of the budget is spent on maintaining its more than 800 military bases scattered around the world, but most heavily concentrated in proximity to the Russian and Chinese borders. One can count on fewer fingers that are on one hand the combined number of foreign military bases by those two latter countries combined.
Both major political parties in the United States are absolutely wedded to this level of military expenditure. The annual vote for the military budget is overwhelmingly passed in both the House and the Senate. The annual estimates debates are full of anti-Russian and anti-Chinese rhetoric.
Public opinion polls in the United States regularly show that ordinary people would prefer to see a significant proportion of the budget spent on things that matter to them. This includes basic health care and education, two items of the household budget that consume a greater proportion of their income than in any other developed nations. The wishes of ordinary people in this regard are also totally disregarded by the politicians.
The reasons for this are not difficult to ascertain. Study after study in the United States has shown that where the wishes of the public coincide with the priorities of the ruling class, (a very small amount of the time,) then the public’s wishes are supported. In the vast majority of cases however, the wishes and priorities of the masses rarely coincide with the wishes of the rulers, and it is the latter’s priorities that almost invariably win.
So, what does the elite want and overwhelmingly vote for? The answer is devastatingly simple. They vote for regular increases in military expenditure that consume an ever greater share of the national budget. There is no point in the ordinary United States voter changing from Democrat or Republican, or the other way round. The result is invariably the same.
Of course, it is not just the total military budget that is important. An important question that should always be asked is: are we getting value for money? Here, the answer is invariably a very loud No. There are a number of ways to measure this. An important one is, are we achieving our military goals in exchange for the vast expenditure? In the United States the answer again has to be an unequivocal No.
Since the end of World War II in 1945, now 75 years, the United States has been almost constantly engaged in military operations somewhere in the world. That is often in multiple theatres. And how many of those wars has the United States actually won? If one ignores the United States invasion of Granada in 1983, the number is zero.
Even where there have been initial successes, such as the 2001 invasion of Iraq, that has rapidly turned to an effective defeat. Although the United States is still in Iraq, 19 years after initially invading, its presence is confined to a very small number of bases from which its troops barely venture out. They are still there despite a demand from the Iraqi parliament in January 2020 that they go. Australia similarly clings on despite being told to leave.
The United States maintains a military presence in Syria, totally unlawfully like most of their actions. Their time seems to be divided principally between assisting the rebels fighting the Syrian government, and stealing Syrian oil. The latter fact is never mentioned by the Australian government or the mainstream media.
Do not expect any of this to change under the Biden/Harris administration. Biden has already made derogatory remarks about the political leadership of both Russia and China. This is partly because he knows no other way of acting. Biden was a military hawk long before he became vice president in the Obama administration 2008-16, and nothing he has said or done since suggests that he learned a single thing about how the modern world operates.
The United States will in all probability continue its “freedom of navigation” movements in the South China Sea, despite lack of evidence of a single occasion when China has interfered with the peaceful transit of those waters. It is one powerful reason why China is investing heavily in alternative routes for its products. These range from going by rail to Europe and via the frozen waters north of Russia.
Biden will also continue striving to extend NATO into the former Soviet countries of eastern and south eastern Europe. He will not however, risk a direct military confrontation with Russia. That he would be bound to lose. For all their bluff, bluster, bullying and vast military expenditure the blunt fact is that the United States military is now vastly inferior to that of Russia.
This is another uncomfortable fact that the United States cannot explain. All that money spent, and so little reward. The United States will undoubtably continue with bullying of weaker nations and the pursuit of naked economic self-interest. Plus ca change! The world is a different place from even when Biden last held office. Do not however, expect him, or the United States, to change its ways.
James O’Neill, an Australian-based former Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.