“Adoption of a Green New Deal would be revolutionary”

In the second part of our interview with the chairman of the CPUSA, John Bachtell talks about climate change and US imperialism on Latin America

March 02, 2019 by Muhammed Shabeer
CPUSA interview part 2

As Peoples Dispatch continues the conversation with John Bachtell of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), we talk about the politics of climate change, the internal contradictions of the ruling elite of the United States, and the present dispensation’s policy towards the Global South, especially Latin America.

Peoples Dispatch (PD): What are the CPUSA’s concerns regarding Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from treaties, especially the Paris Accords, in a situation when the US itself has become vulnerable to climate change and global warming?

John Bachtell (JB): We consider the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords to be a severe mistake, especially at a moment when humanity is experiencing a planetary emergency, and the window for avoiding a climate catastrophe is closing. Greater action and global cooperation are urgently demanded, not inaction and isolation. As the world’s largest polluter per person, the US has a vital role to play in the transition to a green economy on a global scale and must do it with urgency. The majority of Americans understand increasingly, through their own experiences from extreme weather events, what is at stake and oppose the Trump policies of promoting the coal and oil industries.

On the US political scene, the idea of a Green New Deal has gained popularity. The Green New Deal is a call for a massive program to convert the US to a green economy by 2030, in line with the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) projections, completely changing the energy production, transit, conservation and other policies. With climate change upon us, society will have to adapt to its effects, including sea level rise, drought, extreme weather events, the crisis of the oceans, mass extinction, mass migration, etc. Humanity will be forced to deal with these issues for decades to come regardless of how quickly we adopt a sustainable path of development.

Adoption of a Green New Deal would nevertheless be revolutionary and, in my opinion, would force the US to choose an alternative path of economic and social development, including vast wealth redistribution, changing the nature of the production process and its democratic management, changing federal budget priorities away from military spending and changing foreign policy to one of cooperation and mutual respect. It has the potential to place the US on a green, democratic, demilitarized socialist orientation.

PD: Is there a serious conflict of interests between the whimsical Donald Trump and the media-military industrial complex which forms the ‘deep state’ in the US, especially in the case of war in Syria and Afghanistan?

JB: That is hard to say. Trump and his advisors speak out of both sides of their mouths. We do not subscribe to the idea of a “deep state” which is a conspiratorial idea spread by the so-called “alt-right” or rebranded fascists. There are, however, centers of power and influence in the US government, including the military and intelligence agencies, which are at odds with Trump on one issue or another, and have actively opposed him on the matter of Russian and foreign interference in the US elections and infiltration of his administration.

Out of one side of his mouth, Trump pushes economic protectionism and demagogic attacks on the “elites” mainly to appeal to his base of supporters and keep them mobilized. Part of this is an attack on trade pacts and global institutions, including military alliances and political institutions like the UN. It is happenstance that his call to withdraw from NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organizations) or withdraw troops from Syria aligns with the CPUSA positions. Most Americans are for an end to the involvement in Afghanistan.

Out of the other side of his mouth, Trump supports the entire Cold War edifice, directed by the foreign policy and military establishment, and the drive for US unipolar global domination. The current coup attempt taking place in Venezuela, the support for reactionary regimes in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and its criminal conduct in Yemen, threats to carry out regime change in Iran, supported by neo-conservatives, and the USD 2 trillion nuclear modernization program as well as the so-called Space Force, which will open the door to a new global nuclear arms race, all move in this direction.

In 2017, the Trump administration adopted a new strategic policy, targeting China and Russia as chief strategic rivals. The trade war with China is all geared towards undercutting China’s economic and political rise as well as preserving US global economic and political domination. This policy is bound to fail in a world where globalization is a fact and irreversible but, in the meantime, it poses enormous dangers to peace and economic security.

PD: Earlier, when the US was busy in West Asia, a general trend of left-leaning pink tide had swept Latin American countries, especially in countries like Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, etc. But these days, we are witnessing a prolific reversal in the political trends in Latin America, including the rise of Jair Bolsonaro, the defection of Lenin Moreno, the ongoing coup attempts in Venezuela. What is your take on this, and how instrumental do you think US has been in these affairs?

JB: The US foreign policy and national security apparatus, especially the Trump administration, are heavily involved in all the developments in Central and South America and the reversal of the left trend of last 20 years. The election of left of center governments was seen as a direct challenge to US hegemony in the hemisphere, which dates to the Monroe Doctrine in the 1800. The development of alternative and independent centers of power opened avenues for trade and political relations with rival powers, China and Russia especially.

The efforts to reverse the gains toward national sovereignty, independence and alternative paths of developments have brought right-wing, and even fascist, governments to power in many countries. This will only sharpen the instability as well as class, political and anti-imperialist struggles in these countries. The migration crisis is in part due to the imposition of corporate trade pacts, the right-wing governments and destruction of civil society in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. There is a danger of a civil war and a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, if the coup is successful, and new efforts to foment a counter revolution in Cuba.

But America and the Caribbean is not the same continent of the 1800 or 1900s. The days of gunboat diplomacy and client states are over, even though US ruling circles do not admit it. The imposition of US economic domination and right-wing governments as well as the exploitation and theft of natural resources will not be tolerated by the people of South and Central America and the Caribbean. The fight has only begun.