Under Democratic and Republican presidents alike, the U.S. government has been embroiled virtually nonstop in wars to defend U.S. capitalist interests for the last 28 years. The 1990-91 Gulf War and ensuing combat that went on and off through this year. U.S. intervention in Somalia from 1992 to 1993. The invasion of Haiti in 1994. The 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, where the war continues 17 years later. Seven years of war in Syria. The war in Yemen. And more.
U.S. imperialism remains the strongest military power in the world, but it’s weakening, while its old post-World War II “allies” in Western Europe are weakening even more.
The Pentagon keeps some 1.3 million men and women in uniform, with 450,000 deployed overseas, alongside more than 3,000 warplanes and nearly 5,000 helicopters. It has at least 6,500 nuclear weapons, and 20 aircraft carriers anchoring naval armadas all over the world. China has a grand total of 2 aircraft carriers.
Beijing is working at building up its military might, looking to the day when it can challenge U.S. power, not just in Asia but on a global scale.
Over the last decade or so, especially under Barack Obama, the Pentagon sought to reshape the “global footprint” of the U.S. armed forces, cutting back the number of troops in Western Europe and in Korea. They put increasing weight on use of special forces and pilotless drones.
Today we are witnessing some of the biggest changes in the world in our lifetimes, as the U.S. rulers seek to maintain their grip in the midst of the coming apart of the old liberal imperialist order — from NATO to the U.N., the World Court, European Union and much more — which the U.S. rulers’ actions today are hastening. As Socialist Workers Party leader Mary-Alice Waters pointed out during her recent trip to Australia and New Zealand, this is most obvious in the Asia-Pacific region.
Beijing — a competitor worldwide for capitalist investments and trade today — was overwhelmingly a peasant, precapitalist society coming out of the second imperialist world war.
The White House of Donald Trump has taken steps to reverse cuts in military spending put in place under the previous administration. At the same time, Trump has been negotiating with North Korea on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. An agreement that removes nuclear weapons from the region would be good for the working class there, in Japan, the U.S. and worldwide. The administration has also begun negotiating with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The U.S. rulers plan to shift their military might to meet what they view as the bigger threats to their world domination coming especially from their capitalist rivals in Beijing and to a lesser extent from Moscow.
One of their biggest challenges is that their key imperialist allies there, like the Australian capitalist rulers, seek to balance their military collaboration with Washington with the increasing weight of trade with Beijing.
The Socialist Workers Party is an intransigent opponent of U.S. imperialism’s wars. We demand all U.S. troops out of Korea, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa!
It’s working people — both civilians and those in uniform who are used as canon fodder — who pay the price of the U.S. rulers’ wars. Veterans who were promised lifetime care for their service today face long waits at the Department of Veteran Affairs and spiking rates of opioid addiction.
The real question before humanity isn’t whether the capitalist rulers in Washington or Beijing come out on top.
Only the working class can put an end to imperialist war, by taking power out of the hands of the warmakers — the capitalist class.