US President Joe Biden is the antidote to the last three US presidents; George W Bush whose invasion of Iraq in 2003 did not find any weapons of mass destruction and whose term ended in the 2008 global recession from which the world is yet to fully recover; Barack Obama whose internationalist posture did not exactly do away with US unilateralism.
Mr Obama, who was president during Vladimir Putin’s re-establishment, is the embodiment of the Russian state.
He took out Osama bin Laden but other highlights of his presidency included the Libyan fiasco of 2011 that ended with the elimination of Muammar Gadaffi that flipped Libya to years of disaster.
Mr Trump did not wage any major foreign military campaign itself, a factor that may have tipped Washington against him. His attempts to moderate the North Korean nuclear threat did not yield much apart from a two-country summit.
North Korea will never voluntarily release its nuclear arsenal putting all neighbours and the United States ill at ease.
The US continues to manage its global economic competitor China warily, enacting rafts of legislation to bring China to account but otherwise with little to do militarily to check its aggressive posture in the Himalayas, South China Sea or even curtailing freedoms in Hong Kong.
China is a bit preoccupied at home with Covid-19, resistance to mounting foreign debt, and a slowing economy at home.
In 2022/2023, the Chinese economy will grow at just 3.8 percent down from 5.6 percent in 2021/2022. China’s population, just like that of the US, has aged much faster than earlier predicted, straining retirement resources and putting an end to the one-child policy.
The US Supreme Court recently overturned Roe v Wade that established a constitutional right to abortion perhaps a feeble answer to the strain capitalist society is putting on the institution of the family.
Inside the US, the left’s attempts to repair family ties through social legislation, expanded child tax credits, universal child care fell flat in the legislature, and the right’s answer is to simply ban abortion now illegal in 25 of the 50 states.
The world is changing fast. The European powers are eager to reassert their imperialist influence especially in their former colonies. France is more active than ever in Africa. The situation in the DRC is the same. Belgium has mended fences with the DRC returning Patrice Lumumba’s remains (exactly one golden tooth) for interment in his home country.
Sometimes it appears a scramble for Africa’s riches is on the horizon. When President Museveni announced there were tons of gold in Uganda, there was a new interest in verification whether these claims were true.
New developments in the gold trade, refining capacity in Africa have been a cause of alarm from traditional mineral processing houses in South Africa and Europe. The debate on black gold, “coffee” also shows the European powers will not go down without a fight.
There has been some recent quiet in military coups which were starting to form a pattern in Africa in 2020 and 2021. However internal strife in countries like Sudan, DRC, Central African Republic continues. There may be some return to more dialogue and more international cooperation as the policy and politics cycle of some of the most recent unilateral actions matures. Brexit is now a fact of law but as the British found out when they tried to start a rendition program for refugees to Rwanda there are limits. The EU is not caving in on the Northern Ireland Protocol that establishes a customs barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Biden’s term will see further expansion of Nato with the admission of new members, Sweden and Finland after a nearly 30 year lull after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, realpolitik has sent both the US and Europe back to the negotiation table with the oil rich Middle East. Pressure at the pump is real political pressure. The US has mid-terms in November 2022 expected to result in a change of power in Congress. Weak economic growth collapsed the Liberals majority in Parliament in Canada and France’s Macron’s centrists lost their majority in Parliament in June. The Conservatives have lost 4 by-elections in a row including two last month.
Uganda fortunately does not have an election anytime soon. Women’s Elections were recently cancelled. What we have is another re-engineering at the grassroots, the Parish Development Model to answer why 35 years of implementing structural reforms - capitalist policies, we still have not made the grade for middle income.
Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-At-Law and an Advocate.