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   Vol. 67/No. 40           November 17, 2003  
War party on the ascent
October was the best month for Washington’s “war on terrorism” since the U.S. military victory in Baghdad last spring.

At the beginning of November, U.S. secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld and president George Bush showed they are bent on capitalizing on last month’s gains to push forward the grinding march to hegemony of the war party in the United States. That’s what was behind the November 2 lengthy appearances by Rumsfeld on all the major Sunday morning TV shows and Bush’s speech in Alabama the next day.

October brought the vote by the United Nations Security Council that codified the existing fact—the “soft” U.S. protectorate in Iraq. The stunning unanimous character of that vote—including the government of Syria—showed the effectiveness and partial legitimization of Tel Aviv’s bombing on the outskirts of Damascus just 12 days earlier. The same month Tokyo pledged to Washington not only substantial financial backing but additional troops for Iraq’s occupation. NATO also launched its rapid reaction force, capable of being deployed anywhere in the world within five days, less than a week after the imperialist military alliance’s ministerial war-game meeting in Colorado Springs.

We then witnessed the bending to the administration’s course in Iraq, however grudgingly, by opinion columnists from liberals in the New York Times to the rightist Patrick Buchanan. Their common argument is “‘We’ are there, so what should ‘we’ do?” Thinking as “we Americans” is among the most effective bourgeois myths imposed on workers to prevent us from developing class-consciousness—of identifying “we” as a class with common interests with all those toiling for a living around the world, and “they” as the capitalists, our exploiters, who have antagonistic and irreconcilable interests with the workers.

October’s string of victories for the warmakers was capped off by the bipartisan adoption in both houses of Congress of an $87 billion appropriation for the occupation and rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan, and with the “donors” conference in Madrid that drew dozens of governments around the world to emulate Tokyo’s subservient example, even though with lesser funds.

All this shows the impotence of any “left” imperialist opposition to the “global war on terrorism” as a successful strategy to derail the Bush administration and its allies.

No matter how loudly liberals argue that the Bush administration “bungled the occupation of Iraq,” Rumsfeld and his deputy Wolfowitz continue to make propaganda gains. There is no reason to believe that bourgeois public opinion in the United States has turned against Bush’s course in the “war on terrorism” today. To the contrary.

The war party in the last dominant imperialist power on earth continues its slow ascent.

The U.S. ruling class is implementing its strategy to deal with a world where they do not have Stalinist powers—like those in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe—to use to keep the toilers and various bourgeois regimes in the semicolonial world in check through the farce of “peaceful co-existence” promoted by the Stalinists.

Decades of Stalinist counterrevolutionary activity in the Middle East and elsewhere directed from Moscow has created a void that bourgeois nationalist formations like Hezbollah and Hamas fill today—organizations that have nothing in common with the popular liberation movements that marked an earlier period.

Years of Stalinist betrayals in Iraq helped pave the way for the Baathist Party government of Saddam Hussein to come to power, which resulted in crushing blows against the working class in that country.

Revolutionists in Iraq today would fight for Iraqi sovereignty, which the U.S. armed forces prevent. At the same time, they would be opposed to the return of the Baathist regime. They would use whatever civic space exists to build and consolidate a revolutionary organization that could lead working people there down the road to get rid of the U.S. troops and keep the United Nations out as well.

The analogies drawn in the big-business media between Iraq today and Vietnam in the 1960s and ’70s are worthless. The U.S. troops occupying Iraq are fighting the remnants of this Baathist regime, not a popular guerrilla force like the National Liberation Front of Vietnam that earned that popularity through a decades-long fight against French and then U.S. imperialism.

The late arrival of the U.S. military in the Balkans following the Dayton Agreement in 1995 registered in practice that the imperialist powers in the European Union would not be a military and police force in Europe or anywhere else in any meaningful sense. The road from Dayton to Colorado Springs took eight years. But a U.S.-dominated, globally oriented new-NATO, light on its feet and bypassing extensive parliamentary debate before its deployment, is at the same time the beginning of the transformation of the imperialist armed forces throughout Europe.

Former U.S. president William Clinton tried to deal with U.S. imperialism’s problems by launching cruise missiles against Afghanistan and Iraq. No serious person in the ruling class believes that was more effective than what Washington is doing today. It is clearer now what it means for the U.S. rulers to have to organize, without the Stalinists’ help, to be the dominant world power.

The war on Iraq is the strongest and clearest example yet of this reality. Iraq and Afghanistan were easy targets for U.S. imperialism because of the unpopularity of the Baathist and Taliban regimes. Washington is now pressing against similarly unpopular regimes in Iran and Syria. And it may score more victories down the road.

U.S. imperialism faces two serious obstacles as it tries to advance along this course.

First, the world is marked by a tendency toward financial collapse. World capitalism’s inevitably deepening depression conditions are Washington’s undefeatable enemy. This economic disaster generates resistance to its effects among the toilers—over time, but just as inevitably. This is the second obstacle in Washington’s path. The U.S. rulers have not been able to knock the working class and the trade unions off the center stage of politics. Workers’ resistance to the bosses’ offensive will bring reinforcements to those fighting the employers, make possible the stripping away of illusions, and increase class solidarity and political consciousness as the consequences of the mounting social catastrophe unfold.

Facing and internalizing this reality today is necessary for presenting a program and following a course that advance the line of march of the working class towards taking power out of the hands of the warmakers—of the conservative or liberal varieties—and joining the struggle to build a society based on human solidarity, a socialist society.
Related article:
Rumsfeld, Bush vow to stay U.S. course in Iraq  
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