The smell of the gunpowder continues to haunt the Capitol Hill, amidst the reports that pipe bombs containing timing devices have been found at the offices of the two major political parties, the Republicans and Democrats. With a few days left for the swearing-in of the new US president, Joe Biden and his vice-president, Kamla Harris, the seat of power of the world’s most powerful country continues to be laden with the apprehension of violence. The fear is that the outgoing President Donald Trump might trigger off more violence. Meanwhile, two worldwide social media sites, Facebook and Twitter, have closed Trump’s accounts. However, his key-team members like Rudolph N.Giuliani, a lawyer, continue to exhort Trump’s supporters, “trial by combat” against Democrats to win the election.
Trump’s supporters had stormed the Capitol Hill during the validation process of the presidential election. The president expected that vice-president, Mike Pence, to deny Biden and Kamla Harris their victory. An angry Trump accuses Pence of being soft. To him, he appeared no more “loyal”. However, fortunately for the American state, even a number of leaders of Trump’s Republican Party do not subscribe to his “sectarian politics”. His two associates, Betsy DeVos, education secretary and transport secretary, Eliaine Chao, have already quit and one of the Republican Congressmen, Liz Cheney, has accused, “the President incited mob, he lit the flame”.
In their resignation letters, the two key members of the Trump establishment have echoed the same concern. Chao, the wife of the Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, stated,” it was a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President entered the Capitol building following a rally he addressed.” Earlier, Mick Mulvaney, a former chief of staff has also announced on a television channel that he was quitting his diplomatic post to protest the mob violence, which Trump encouraged in a bid to overturn his election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
The two major world powers, China and Russia, must have been amused for the troubles being faced by the American presidency, an institution evolved over a period of two centuries. The Russian reaction is awaited. The Chinese have already expressed their “glee” on the Capitol Hill crisis.
It appears that Trump’s tenure in the White House was quite nightmarish for the US allies too. They had to deal with an unpredictable US president. The other powers, China and Russia had a smooth relationship with Trump till the pandemic, Covid-19, engulfed the world, but the confrontation between US-China, which had started on the question of the trade balance, hit the headlines. The Russians, though tilted towards China, but tried to maintain a neutral approach. In this context one has to understand the reasons for the belated greetings from Dragon and Russian Bear.
The coming months are going to be quite challenging for the new president Joe Biden and his team. The Capitol Hill violence has adversely affected a smooth swearing-in for Biden. He has to handle both the domestic as well as international challenges with caution. The sectarian politics appears to be percolating down to the citizens. A large number of white Americans may rally around Trump’s political culture dividing the people on racial and religious lines. Another pressure on Biden will be to get the Constitutional provision waived
off that if the president quits or dies, the vice-president would be the successor. The Trump supporters have been shouting that if old man, Biden dies, Kamla Haris, a woman of African-Indian background would be the US president. An idea not acceptable to the conservative white Americans.
There is a hope that Biden would excel in his challenging assignment. Being a former US vice-president during the presidency of Barrack Obama, he is neither a novice in the global power-play chess-board nor a babe in the wilderness of the world politics. Kamla, a brilliant daughter of an Indian mother and Black father, represents the aspirations of the people of mixed races, may not be an expert on foreign affairs, but she is quite aware that how the Chinese proxies had triggered off the racial agitation in American cities spreading to various destination in Europe. Similarly, Biden too may receive the findings of the enquiry exposing the Russian secret service in implicating Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, who had contested the erstwhile US president, Donald Trump, a Republican.
The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, in his greeting message to Biden adds a polite rider “end the confrontation with my country”, and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, stresses for “equality and respect” in the international relationship. It may be noted that unlike other world leaders, both Jinping and Putin had deliberately delayed their greetings. Amidst these “not-so-polite” greetings from these two major powers, Biden faces the twin task of keeping the only super power status for his country as well as reasserting all-inclusive polity — the basic tenet of the American state.
It will be difficult for Biden to assure the allies that they need not be scared of the “aggressive Chinese policies”, but the signing of the Chinese sponsored, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) under the shadow of QUAD or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. The signatories to this informal strategic forum comprising, the United States, Japan, Australia and India is considered a belated attempt to counter the growing Chinese assertiveness in the region. The signatories to the RCEP include the Japan as Australia, the key nations of QUAD. It means, the US allies do not want to antagonize China, because they are wary of the new Biden policies in the region. India, perhaps, is the only major country, which has postponed the decision to join the RCEP.
In this contest, the US administration has to reinvent its global strategy, especially when China and Russia appear to be complementing each other in challenging the USA’s global position. In South Asia, the three countries, India being a frontline state facing the Chinese confrontation in the high Himalayas, Australia and Japan (in spite of signing the RCEP) are under the pressure of the increasingly augmented Chinese forces in the region, awaiting the new US policy. Many in India are not sure whether the US would transform the QUAD into a full-fledged security alliance.
There are important decisions awaiting from the Biden administration, such as the final withdrawal of America from Afghanistan, how to protect Taiwan from China and to find political solution in the middle-east. He may be pitting against strong Chinese resistance in the economic affairs as well as in the international conflicts.
There is a need for a consensus among all the key political players in the American politics. The Biden administration has a definite tenure to run the government, but the two world leaders, Xi Jinping and Putin can remain in power indefinitely. They are keen to dislodge USA from its apex position of a super power. With their deep penetration in different key sectors of democratic world, they are confident to challenge the USA and the rest of the world.