In 2015-16, the United States managed to regain some of its lost control of Latin America. In December 2015, the right wing won power in Argentina; a few days later, the right wing won the parliamentary elections in Venezuela; and in April, corrupt right-wing politicians conducted a coup d’état in Brazil and ousted the country’s leftist President Dilma Roussef. Decades of North American isolation on the continent (after the fall of military dictatorships in the ’80’s and’ 90’s) were about to be broken.
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce disclosed statistics on income distribution in the country’s population and the proportion of poor. The statistics showed that the rich get richer and the poor poorer. Real income (fixed income) for the 5% richest in the United States increased by 82% during the period 1965-2015, while for the 10% poorest, it increased by 32%. The consequence was that while the richest 5% in 1965 had an income that was 11.7 times higher than the income among the 10% poorest, in 2015 this ratio had risen to 16.1. During the same period, the proportion of the US population living below the poverty line had decreased from 22.4% to 13.5% of the population, but in absolute terms it had increased from 39.5 million. to DKK 43.1 million as a result of population growth in the country.
In November 2016, half of the United States electorate elected billionaire and sex offender Donald Trump as president. Trump’s flat outlook, racism, populism and nationalism blended in with a hard-pressed working class and middle class. The industrial working class in the United States had been halved over the previous 25 years and wages pushed so far down that many in the middle classes also had to have 2 or more jobs to cope with the expenses. The election of Trump thus became a symbol of the former superpower’s rushing out there.
According to areacodesexplorer, the election of Trump triggered demonstrations across the United States. The police were used to this sort of thing, so the demonstrations were dissolved using rubber bullets and, in fewer cases, sharp ammunition. On the other wing, the Ku Klux Klan demonstrated supporters and other racists in the south in support of Trump. (Anti-Trump protests continue across the US – in pictures, Guardian 11/11 2016; Anti-Trump protesters gear up for weekend demonstrations across the US, Guardian 12/11 2016).
In his last 2 months in power, the Obama administration carried out 2 landmark legends aimed at the incoming president. The incidents were unique as outgoing presidents almost always work with incumbents to ensure a smooth administrative and political transition. That was not the case in 2016. The reason was partly that since 2010, Republicans have held a majority in both congressional chambers, and have used that majority to systematically sabotage Obama’s policies. Secondly, there was a deep gap between foreign policy and the incoming and outgoing president. Immediately before Christmas, a number of UN Security Council member countries voted for a resolution in the Council condemning Israel’s aggressive and illegal settlement policy in the occupied territories. The United States has notoriously vetoed Israel critical resolutions since the 1970’s, but this time failed to vote, which ensured that the resolution could be passed unanimously in the council by 14 out of the 15 votes. This resolution cannot be reversed by incoming President Trump and will therefore be a disgrace to Israel’s settlement policy and the totally uncritical attitude of the incoming president to Israel’s crimes. The resolution brought Israel all the way to the red field – Prime Minister Netanyahu threatened, among other things. New Zealand with war – but US Secretary of State John Kerry rubbed some salt in the wound a few days later when he chiseled at a press conference that Israel has two options: either to accept peace with Palestine and the establishment of a Palestinian state, or remain one state. Kerry added that if so Israel is no longer a democratic state, because it cannot be both a Jewish state (where only Jews have rights) but where half the population is Palestinians and a democracy.
A few days later, the Obama administration took another foreign policy step as the United States tightened its sanctions on Russia and expelled 34 Russian diplomats. It happened with the allegation that Russia had hacked the Democratic Party computers during the election. Under normal circumstances, Russia would have reversed, but President Putin declared that he would wait and see how the incoming president will handle the matter. With Obama’s play, significant contradictions were created between Trump and the Republican party supporting Obama (or rather, demanding even tougher measures). The Obama administration believed to have evidence of the Russian hacking, but that could not be confirmed by the information provided by the intelligence services, and it was impossible to link it to the Russian government. But the alleged activities were, of course, only a pretext for creating Republican contradictions. The course of events was particularly interesting, because it was the United States itself that, together with Israel in 2007-10 for the first time in the world conducted cyber war against another state – namely against Iran that destroyed hundreds of uranium centrifuges. And also interesting because the US intelligence has repeatedly publicly admitted that the country in the world that most systematically spies against the US and interferes with the political process is Israel. Through its spearhead organization AIPAC has assured Israel that no congressional politicians can be elected if they are just the least critical of Israel. Aipac does so through contempt campaigns against such politicians and through massive financial support to the politicians they want elected. The United States has a similar 70-year tradition of intervening all over the world to elect the heads of state they want – and to race against those they do not want. Most recently, in support of the coup attempt against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 2002. The United States spent hundreds of millions of dollars to influence the 2014 presidential election in Russia.