Biden’s National Security Guidance document reflects the old imperialist foreign policy
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has indicated that when it comes to China and Russia he favors continuing the failed policies of confrontation with rather than cooperation with those countries. | Carolyn Kaster/AP

There was hope that after the world-wide pandemic, mutual cooperation and sharing would be the new normal among all the countries affected by the pandemic. And we have seen a few hopeful signs in this regard but there are serious concerns now that we may not see real international cooperation become the norm.

If we look at the Interim National Security Guidance document put out by the Biden Administration recently the indications are that in foreign policy, we are getting from this administration the same old U.S. imperialism and it will take a massive mobilization to turn that around.

While Trump’s slogan was “America First,” the Biden foreign policy might be characterized as   “America is back.” There is a difference in tone but the foreign policy path the country is on is essentially the same.

Throughout the document, you see the word “strength” repeated constantly, 36 times. There are belligerent statements such as, “The United States will never hesitate to use force when required to defend our vital national interests.”

This document, even as it says it prefers to ditch confrontation, intends to continue a policy of strangling China’s technological advancement through “vigorous competition” which the administration has already shown involves lining up countries to help the US weaken China economically.

So far there is no rejection of the continued hot wars in the Middle East.

Biden calls Russia’s leader, Putin, a “killer” and threatens new sanctions against Russia, while only scolding “Bone-Saw Murderer” Mohamed bin Salman.   MBS, as he is called, is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, identified by Biden himself as authorizing the killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate.  Khashoggi was a columnist for the Washington Post and a permanent resident of the United States.  Biden refuses to call MBS a killer.

Why the belligerency?

The aim of U.S. imperialism is to make the world safe for U.S. finance corporations to maximize their ill-gained profits.  Other aims include setting international rules suitable to U.S. extreme right class economic and military interests, keeping the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency, protecting death merchants defending the fossil fuel industry, and defending the chemical/pharma industry’s assault on the health of the planet and our international working class.

These predatory aims require the invention of enemies.  In the past, these used to be the Soviet Union and later, global terrorism.  Now it is China, Russia, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, and other countries trying to exercise their independence and their right to develop and choose their own economic paths.

This “national security” guidance document shows clearly who the main target will be – China.  China is attacked at least 14 times.  Russia is attacked five times.  They are labeled as “biggest threats” and “antagonistic authoritarian powers.”

If we are to successfully achieve a world where everyone is cooperating to solve the problems of the planet these countries should be seen as partners rather than threats.

They are seen as threats because the U.S. security establishment sees them as an impediment to U.S. imperialism. As such these countries are described as enemies of “democracy” while the U.S. is held up as the epitome of democracy.

The reality is that the world is becoming more multilateral and U.S. imperialism is on the decline.  That makes U.S. imperialism more dangerous.  When the word “democracy” is mentioned, it is a code word for capitalism and imperialism.  The U.S. intends to revitalize the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Indo-Pacific “Quad” Alliance – Japan,  India, Australia, and the U.S., thus attempting to “contain” the rise of China and Russia.

In this document, Biden tries to connect the problematic foreign policy to the issue of “making life better for working families.” It is merely a cover for the promotion of imperialist policies, at odds with the true interests of the working class. Can we really have a progressive policy at home and an imperialist policy abroad? The answer is obvious. This is, in the long run, an impossibility.

In the document, Biden pretends to modernize the national security institutions while making life better for working families.  It is the same old rhetorical argument made under Reagan, “Guns or Butter.”  Reagan chose guns.  It turns out that when this country promotes guns, little money is available for working families.  What has happened to the income of working families since Reagan? There has been a significant drop in the working-class standard of life and more inequality!

More recently, a certain sector of the ruling class has decided that the higher level of inequality is an existential danger to the capitalist system itself.  They are promoting a form of “inclusive capitalism” to avoid the pitchforks.  “Inclusive capitalism” has no lasting substance, however, and cannot overcome the basic contradictions of capitalism.

During the pandemic, it has been easier to make the case for a Keynesian economic intervention to alleviate the worst of the pandemic-aggravated economic crisis (on top of the already existing capitalist crisis).

Underway are massive infusions of budgetary stimulus (fiscal stimulus) from the Federal spending budget plus a huge infusion from the Federal Reserve Bank (monetary stimulus).  Combined between 2020 and 2021, they total about $6 trillion dollars.

The bottom line, however, is that imperialism has never been good for the country nor good for the working class.  It has been very good for the stock market!

Biden’s interim national security strategic guidance, it turns out is a lot of smoke and mirrors!

Confrontation over values?

A populist leftist president in Latin America states that the main characteristic of conservatism (catchall phrase for capitalism and neoliberalist policy) is hypocrisy.  By conservatism, he speaks of the ideology of resistance to change, of having to give up private unwarranted privileges and wealth.  Most of this wealth is acquired through wage theft, corruption, tax avoidance, debt traps, and undemocratic practices.

While the national security guidance talks about “democracy”, “ U.S. values” and “universal” values, what they are really talking about is making the U.S. finance capital more profitable around the world.

The guidance document makes no mention of what happened during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

No mention is made of passage of laws that essentially take away the right to vote in many states.

No mention is made of the lies used to justify the war on and killing of the people of Iraq, the Afghan people, the Syrian people, the people of Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and many more nations.

No mention is made of the CIA rendition and torture programs around the world, including Guantanamo’s U.S. military base and Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

No mention is made in the “national security” strategic guidance document about U.S. “undemocratic” support for the coup that overthrew the elected President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, efforts to overthrow the elected president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, efforts to overthrow elected President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua or the U.S. supported coup that overthrew the elected presidents of Honduras, President Zelaya in 2009 (Biden was Vice- President then, nominated by Obama because of his foreign policy “expertise”).

Obviously, no mention is made of institutionalized racism in this country and the consequent political instability.   No mention is made of the consequences of savage capitalism (neoliberalism) introduced in the 1980s under Reagan in the U.S. and Thatcher in the UK.  This economic policy has resulted in the loss of good-paying jobs and a lower standard of life for the working class, not only in this country but around the world.

Confrontational meeting in Alaska  

The U.S. and China had a joint meeting (March 18-19, 2021) between the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, U.S. National Security adviser, Jake Sullivan, Foreign Minister of China, Wang Yi, and chair of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office of the Chinese Communist Party, Yang Jiechi.

The U.S. sanctioned 24 Chinese officials the day prior to the meeting.  The U.S. State Department also came ready with preconditions to improved relations.

The summit turned into a posturing and recrimination session on China and U.S. human rights.  The facts point to this public confrontation as the real purpose of the U.S.- requested meeting.

“China urges the U.S. side to fully abandon the hegemonic practice of willfully interfering in China’s internal affairs.  This is a longstanding issue, and it should be changed.” Yang Jiechi urged “the abandonment of Cold War mentality and zero-sum game.”

No communique was issued after this Biden Administration meeting with the Peoples Republic of China.

Hopefully, this is not a lost opportunity to advance solution to common problems like the pandemic, climate change, nuclear proliferation, global economic recovery after the pandemic, and to engaging in cooperation to help solve issues affecting developing countries.

Take the issue of vaccination against the pandemic.  Ten developed capitalist countries are hoarding 80% of the vaccines.  Mexico’s President Obrador, during an online meeting with Biden, asked the U.S. to share its vaccine.  The reply by the White House press secretary was that “Joe Biden would not consider sharing its coronavirus vaccines.”

U.S. vaccines were denied in spite of hypocritical talk about the enduring partnership between the U.S. and Mexico “based on mutual respect and the extraordinary bond of family and friendship.”

Would you deny vaccines to your own “family”?  Now, the U.S. plans to “lend” some of its oversupply of the AstraZeneca vaccines to both Canada and Mexico. This comes after some vaccinated Europeans experienced isolated blood-clot issues and many European countries temporarily suspended the use of that vaccine.

Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa and African Union chairman has criticized this vaccine nationalism.

China, Russia, and other countries have sent their own vaccines to developing countries in Latin America, Africa, and other locations.  Socialist Cuba has developed a new COVID-19 vaccine and, in contrast to developed capitalist countries, provided exemplary international health care solidarity. Mexico has received vaccines from Belgium, China, Russia, and India.  Mexico also received the active ingredient for AstraZeneca from Argentina.

Later, under international pressure and condemnation, the U.S. pledged $4 Billion to the World Health Organization’s COVAX program.

If history is a possible indicator of future actions, the Biden administration intends to continue U.S. imperialist hegemony in a world that expects more multilateralism in foreign policy, respect for the national sovereignty of nations, and more international solidarity on common issues affecting the globe, such as pandemics, climate change, war prevention, labor migration, refugees, weapons control and global poverty alleviation.

There have been some positive moves made by Biden including extension of the New Start Treaty with Russia and willingness to rejoin the Non-Proliferation Treaty with Iran. It didn’t help that Biden bombed alleged Iranian assets in Syria, however.

There is an internal conflict between Biden’s foreign policy intentions and his domestic agenda.  Biden plans to pursue infrastructure jobs, raising wages, student debt forgiveness, economic recovery, and other domestic issues.  There is a growing domestic mass opposition and new coalitions created to oppose a confrontational foreign policy and a bloated military budget; its slogan is  – Money for Jobs, Not for War!

If you agree with this slogan, you are encouraged to join the coalition at

Biden says he wants to work with Mexico and Central American countries in a joint economic development program initiated by Mexico to alleviate the poverty and insecurity that is driving the labor migration from Central America and southern Mexico to the U.S. Nevertheless, Biden intends to keep Trump’s original 4,000 National Guard members on the southern border with Mexico, while continuing immigrant deportations and caging of 5,000 immigrant children. Biden only offers to help Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, all of which have right-wing governments allied with the United States. Countries left out include left-led Nicaragua plus Haiti. The main reason for the labor migration and refugee exodus is poverty, an effect of global imperialist policy.  Other contributing factors include climate change, wars, and gang violence.

Biden’s regional commanders (North America and Southern Command) also cautioned in a recent press conference about possible terrorists coming through the southern border.  Sounds a lot like Trump’s racist and unfounded rhetoric! These outrageous remarks are an insult to Mexico.

Martin Luther King warned,  “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

The military budget in the U.S. takes about half the discretionary spending of the national budget, leaving little money to meet social needs.  The U.S. spends (~$741 billion budgeted for 2021) more on the military budgets of the next 10 countries combined.


Álvaro Rodriguez
Álvaro Rodriguez

Álvaro Rodriguez is a long-time labor and community activist. He writes from Texas.