US imperialist aggression in the early 21st century
Washington has reactivated the US Navy’s 4th Fleet to ensure US power projection over the Caribbean, Central and South America.
[This talk was presented at the regional “socialism conference” was held in Manila from November 27 to 28, 2010. The conference was organised by the socialist Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses) and the socialist-feminist regional network Transform Asia.]
By Rasti Delizo
November 27, 2010 -- The world has already entered the second decade of the 21st century and yet remains under the imperialist hegemony of a still militarily aggressive United States of America. With the continuing dominance of Washington over global affairs, the world’s top imperialist power has only clearly revealed its true state-terrorist character after 9/11. As the US launched a wave of “white” or overt military actions around the world, especially its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, it has also forcefully pursued a series of covert operations against its perceived enemies in all the regions of the globe. The latter imperialist pursuit is what some US foreign policy planners call “black reconnaissance” actions against a “global insurgency”. In other words, Washington views the entire world as one vast battlefield.
To be sure about it, over the last century and throughout the past decade, especially post-9/11, US imperialism and its strategic global agenda for world domination has certainly not been unchallenged on a global scale from a broad range of anti-imperialist resistance forces across the spectrum. These include state, non-state and cross-state regional forces, particularly the international socialist movement struggling for the revolutionary emancipation of the world’s working-class masses through the total destruction of imperialist capitalism and the establishment of a truly egalitarian and democratic society on a worldwide scale.
As the international socialist movement nears the eve of the centennial of the Great October Revolution of Russia in 1917, and given today’s clear and dangerously explosive international situation, we must all once again remind ourselves and the rest of the exploited and oppressed masses of some fundamentally true theoretical assertions of scientific socialism as a guide for our future collective actions ahead. Both Karl Marx and Frederick Engels asserted in their 1848 Communist Manifesto:
The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand, by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.
And from the Bolshevik revolutionary leader V.I. Lenin, who substantially and sharply defined the concept of imperialism in his 1916 pamphlet entitled, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, he likewise asserted among other points that:
The development of capitalism led to the formation of giant monopolies. The national borders are too narrow for the growth of these industries, and they are compelled to constantly acquire new markets, new sources of raw material, and new outlets for investment outside the “home” nation. Once the world was already carved up among the world powers, they are forever pushed by market competition toward rearranging who owns what, and have no other way to settle who gets what except by force. Thus, the era of imperialism is one of constant economic competition between states that breaks out again and again into open military competition.
Guided by his notion of combined and uneven development under capitalism, Lenin correctly envisaged that the imperialist era would be one of inter-imperialist contention and war, including world wars. He was also largely proven correct in viewing the imperialist era to be a period of important social revolution, even if there are some relatively peaceful interludes in between such revolutions. Even more so, almost a century later, both the steady formation of international capitalist monopolies which share the world among themselves and the territorial division of the whole planet among the greatest capitalist powers on Earth, such as those countries of the G8-G20 global axis of capitalist terror, only provides the further material basis for Lenin’s conception and warnings on imperialism.
After the Cold War and beyond 9/11
So what drives US imperialist aggression today? Basically I can think of at least 150 reasons and counting. Why? Because this number generally corresponds to the roughly 150 peripheral countries that are economically dependent and politically dictated upon by the imperialist core group of capitalist states within the G8-G20 global axis of capitalist terror, which is centrally led by the US and its junior imperialist-regional partners. These capitalist regional field marshals primarily include the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Canada and the European Union.
Certainly from a historical-materialist framework of analysis, the post-Cold War period in international affairs shifted the world system away from a more politically oriented East-West bipolarity into a relatively more economic-oriented North-South global divide. Hence, the reordering of the world system, post-1991 until 9/11, only ensured the greater dominance of the US imperialist state as the world’s leading superpower (economically, politically, militarily, culturally and technologically).
It was also during this same decade that US imperialism and its former Western capitalist allies redesigned and imposed upon the emergent international economic system a more neoliberal global order. This new international regime was based upon totally unfettered free-trade principles and rules, especially the push for even greater liberalisation, privatisation, deregulation and labour-contractualisation policies and laws in the peripheral countries.
The central aim of the imperialists was to firmly integrate the poor market economies into the neoliberal global economic regime and to widely pry their economies apart for even greater extraction of their raw materials, dumping of cheaper consumer commodities and excess financial capital, and to finally get their governments to align their states behind the imperialist camp. Inevitably, all of this was to create social-economic havoc throughout the dependent economies of the global South which sparked intermittent internal conflicts within many poor countries of the world. Understandably, this situation remains even more problematic today.
Immediately after the 9/11 attacks in the US, the George W. Bush-led imperialist regime unleashed its bloody and devastating assaults across the world all in the name of Washington’s so-called ‘global war on terror’. However, I must point out here that we must accurately and correctly call this a ‘global war of terror’ instead, and that is mainly because US imperialism is only terrorising the rest of the world’s masses into obeying Washington’s global agenda. Rather than stopping terrorism, the US is the one fomenting its own global terror in order to enforce its foreign policy agenda on the rest of the world.
The US strategic agenda is primarily economic in order to further expand access to newer regional markets across the world. These markets are needed for the export of the United States’ financial capital and export commodities, and of course, to secure and ensure a near-permanent access to oil supplies, other potentially new energy sources and highly valuable raw materials. All these requirements are much needed to sustain America’s economic-military-scientific-technological machine far and deep into the new century.
Hence, the US capitalist project will always want to first and foremost ensure the protection and advancement of all its economic, political, social-cultural, scientific and military interests as the world’s leading imperialist capitalist state. Likewise, all of Washington’s past, present and future political leaderships, in direct collaboration with its Wall Street financial oligarchic elite, have and will always stand united as one federal-corporatist conglomeration to defend and strengthen US imperialism regardless of criticisms from abroad.
Thus, oil and other potential energy sources, free-market access, military-basing and military-access arrangements, and puppet governments are the necessary and vital components (preferably within one package) to which US imperialism constantly aspires for in the management of its external relations with the countries of the periphery. This is the bottom-line foreign policy agenda of Washington and to attain it, it is definitely always ready and prepared to openly use its armed apparatus anywhere in the world. And this why the US military’s forward force-projection capabilities are continuously being extended and developed throughout all the regions of the world even after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Yet even beyond the Cold War and 9/11, US imperialism remains steadily aggressive and militaristic in its genuine hatred for both the international socialist movement and the global Islamist movement for obvious reasons. To be sure, however, US imperialism always needs to have some type of a global enemy to attack in order to justify to its own people and society why it is so important for the US to remain engaged internationally, and for that matter, constantly interfering in the domestic affairs of the peripheral countries.
But a more fundamental basis for Washington’s need for global enemies is rooted in the nature of it being an imperialist capitalist state. Washington’s so-called military-industrial-political-think tank complex remains one of the country’s major political-economic bastions and its primary commodity is war material and warmongering in order to sell death for profit. As one of the world’s top military-defence spenders, its huge network of defence-related corporations is also one of the US economy’s top superprofit earners which keep US social-economic foundation intact and running.
The global order after 9/15
The Marxist assumption and long-expected internal contradictions inherent in the capitalist system once again caught the imperialist camp off guard in its own capitalist heartland. The filing of bankruptcy by Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008, triggered a subsequent collapse of Wall Street’s large financial institutions, the bailout of banks by national governments and downturns in stock markets around the world. This international shockwave has now become the 21st century’s first global capitalist crisis and is considered by many economists to be the worst capitalist crisis since the Great Depression of 1929-39 that helped set the world into a second and even bloodier interimperialist war from 1939-45.
The new global capitalist crisis, which was mainly caused by a liquidity shortfall in the US banking system, was further aggravated by a crisis of capitalist overproduction. This capitalist nightmare continues today as manifested by the present Eurozone downturn in countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Iceland and even France. In the same manner, the global markets are still reeling from the aftershocks of the presently evolving international currency war pitting many Asian currencies, especially China’s yuan, against the US dollar.
This competitive devaluation is one of the major effects of the global capitalist crisis now in motion and is generally employed by states in order to achieve a relatively lower exchange rate to shore up their own domestic markets and industry. As such, it is very much comparable to the global political-security crisis caused by 9/11, which clearly marked a dangerous turning point in contemporary world history. Likewise, the current international situation largely characterised by the global capitalist crisis, together with the global currency war it sparked, can already be called a post-9/15 period to define the presently treacherous instability of the imperialist-ruled world system. Thus, 9/15 now forces US imperialism and its reactionary collaborators to urgently react to fix it, since it was their own capitalist policies that centrally produced this global contagion in the first place.
And true enough, the world’s leading capitalists of the G8-G20 global axis of capitalist terror reacted accordingly as truly expected of their class character. In fact, just very recently, and over the past few months and weeks alone, the imperialists led by the US held a rapid series of international political and economic meetings to try to stabilise the internal bleeding of their preciously elitist international financial system. Their immediate natural response was to try to save the world capitalist system first before even thinking of how to bail out the world’s majority poor exploited and oppressed masses.
In quick succession, US imperialism led by the US President Barack Obama’s regime, either dominated or attempted to dominate the meetings of the United Nations General Assembly (and its Security Council) in New York in late September 2010, in order to aggressively assert its own US foreign policy agenda. It continued with this same imperial arrogance and behaviour in the successive meetings of the ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) in Brussels in early October, the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit in Hanoi in late October, at the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Seoul in the second week of November, and still again during APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in Yokohama in mid-November.
At the 2010 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) summit in Lisbon, Obama publicly maintained that US and NATO troops will remain in combat in Afghanistan until 2014 and possibly beyond. This was in stark contrast to what the rest of NATO’s member states publicly announced, and which was, to pull out all NATO forces from Afghanistan by 2014. In fact, we all should ask aloud why NATO is fighting in Afghanistan since its expected area of operational responsibility should only cover the Atlantic theatre of operations and not the West Asian area of operations. Unless of course we should rename NATO as the “New Afghanistan Troops Organisation” or even “New American Terrorist Organisation”, but then again, either way, it was the US imperialists who ordered NATO troops into Afghanistan to help the US secure further oil supplies from around the region, especially Iran.
US imperialism’s currently aggressive thrusts
After having briefly presented some key theoretical and historical elements explaining the true character and agenda of US imperialism, I would right now like to present to you the real situational context in relation to the presently aggressive thrusts of US foreign policy. Before I proceed, however, and if you may, I wish to start off with this general premise:
US imperialism urgently aims to strengthen itself as the world’s undisputed hegemonic power within the next decade. It shall try to do so by having a controlling dominance over the international economy, together with its oil and other strategic resources. It will do this through American-led and influenced political alliances while maintaining its own independent stance to secure its own self-interests. Toward this end, US imperialism will never hesitate to use both its white and black operational forces against any and all perceived global threats whenever necessary.
I shall now present the following points and inputs to further show and emphasise in concrete terms the currently aggressive course of US imperialism under the present international situation. I am citing these in order to support my general premise.
Washington’s further political swing to the right. This month’s US mid-term elections aftermath only strengthened the more traditional US right-wing base inside the US Congress and a majority of states. The reactionary Republican Party now has control over the House of Representatives and the governorships of 26 states out of 50. This vote signals a further political shift to US imperialist values, especially abroad. President Obama and his Democratic Party will be forced to contend with this if he expects to get re-elected in 2012. As such, we can expect him to undercut the Republican Party’s more hawkish foreign policy orientation by initiating a more militarist-oriented foreign policy to gain more voter support from the American right.
To emphasise this point, we can already see this in terms of his immediate foreign policy reaction to the military clash in the Korean Peninsula (November 23, 2010). As I speak, the US Navy’s Carrier Strike Group Five (CSG 5), led by the USS George Washington is now on its way from Japan to South Korea under direct orders of Obama to join up with its South Korean puppet force to immediately conduct so-called military exercises just off North Korea in the Yellow Sea beginning November 28 until December 1.
Therefore, as revolutionary socialists and progressives, we must all urgently condemn this blatantly jingoistic imperialist reaction that can only provoke Pyongyang into a further military response, and which could engulf the East Asian region into a new US imperialist-initiated war of aggression, which would eventually involve China and Russia, among many regional actors.
And before anybody forgets, the two Koreas remain locked in a state of war that has never officially ended with a final peace agreement since the start of the conflict in June 1950. The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) only signed an armistice in July 1953 resulting in a 57-year-old battlefield ceasefire, which clearly explains why 28,000 US military forces remain stationed in the ROK bearing the official designation of US Forces Korea (USFK).
Lastly, from initial information coming out from both Koreas, the DPRK claimed that its forces fired in response to initial ROK shelling just below the 38th Parallel that divides the two states. Seoul’s top military command has already confirmed that they indeed fired artillery shells below the 38th Parallel and just moments before Pyongyang responded. So basically, we already see that the ROK forces provoked and instigated this latest military clash with the DPRK clearly knowing that the US Forces Korea contingent was scheduled for a joint-military exercise during this same period. In short, the standing presence of US imperialist troops egged on the ROK to provoke the DPRK into retaliatory actions without thinking of the consequences.
US imperialist competition with China and Russia. The US views very seriously both China and Russia as immediate and longer-term strategic threats and direct rivals to Washington’s hegemonic global plans. For obvious reasons too, both Beijing and Moscow have their own strategic interests to protect and advance, including the further development and enhancement of their respective military-industrial complexes as genuine world powers. One chief ingredient needed to achieve and sustain such objectives for all three global powers is basically oil and other essential energy sources.
As such, the US has for a long time now competed with the two countries (both directly and indirectly) in many areas of the world by using various counter-positional approaches to maintain its overall leadership in the world system. For example, during the APEC summit two weeks ago, Obama publicly supported Japan against China and Russia in Tokyo’s sovereign claims over two sets of long-disputed islands separately claimed by Beijing and Moscow.
And just days before going to Japan, Obama visited India and openly attempted to woo and co-opt New Delhi into a US-led alliance to counter China and Russia. During his speech at the Indian parliament, the US imperialist leader suggested assigning India a future role to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. India has for a long time now tried to make this a UN reality and so, it now agrees with the US idea.
US imperialist belligerency toward Iran. It is already a worldwide fact that the US deeply covets Iran’s massive oil supplies, together with its relatively large consumer market and highly developed industrial economic base. Washington also views Iran’s valuable geostrategic position in terms of US imperialism’s future and broader regional thrusts around the West Asian region, quite similar to the role played by the Zionist state of Israel in relation to US policy thrusts in that volatile but oil-rich part of the world. Likewise, it is internationally well-known that Washington is constantly, and in an almost non-stop manner, attacking Tehran diplomatically, politically and economically whenever an opportunity arises over the Iranian nuclear question.
In fact, US imperialism has had a long history of interfering in Iranian national affairs ever since the CIA’s successful coup (codenamed Project TPAJAX) that ousted Iran’s democratically elected prime-minister Mohammad Mossadegh in August 1953. US military advisers were once stationed in Iran in the 1970s, and in April 1980 it conducted a failed rescue operation in an attempt to recover US diplomatic staff and personnel seized at the US embassy in Tehran by Iranian revolutionary students five months earlier. And ever since the Iranian revolution of 1979, Washington’s much-publicised verbal attacks against Tehran have only escalated in fervour and rage with many US senior government officials warning of imminent military attacks against Iran, with a possible pre-emptive strike using Israel as a ready spearhead prior to an all-out US war on Iran.
Not surprisingly, with US combat troops and component military forces and bases currently positioned right across Iran’s borders (Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan) and very close by (Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Yemen and Jordan), Iran is right now effectively encircled by US military forces that are capable of marching right into Iran from across its northern, western and eastern border regions if ordered to do so by Washington. Because of this, Iran maintains a heightened military alert, just as it has for over three decades now.
Iran’s top political and military leaders have recently revealed to the international media that it has suffered a series of Stuxnet cyber-worm attacks against its nuclear program, which caused problems to computers earlier this year. And just this week alone, a top Iranian air-defense general confirmed that Iranian military aircraft were able to intercept and force away unidentified drone-aircraft over Iran’s eastern borders on six separate occasions.
So far, Washington’s “white” operational forces have not yet attacked Iran but, there are already several public documents reporting about ongoing US “black reconnaissance” operations inside Iran in the past decade. Their primary mission? To collect valuable tactical and strategic intelligence data in preparation for a future US military invasion of Iran and to pre-identify targets for assassinations, bombings and other sabotage operations prior to the planned imperialist strike. Hence, it is only a matter of time before the US uses its military forces to reclaim Iran as it once did over half a century ago.
Washington’s extended war in Iraq and undeclared war in Pakistan from Afghanistan bases. Upon entering the White House on January 20, 2009, President Obama promised to end US combat operations in Iraq by August 31, 2010, and to pull out US forces. But as of today, more than 49,000 US troops remain in Iraq while those who left were just shifted to another imperialist warfront in Afghanistan as part of a new force surge aimed at intensifying Washington’s military intervention in Afghanistan against the Taliban. Since the US imperialist invasion of Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, which eventually ousted the Taliban from Kabul together with Osama bin Laden, the US still remains locked in a bloody quagmire almost mirroring their bloody imperialist misadventure in Vietnam in the 1960s.
Indeed as of today, the US military’s quagmire in Afghanistan has already exceeded the duration of their troop presence in Vietnam (from March 8, 1965-March 29, 1973). And just like they operated in Vietnam, wherein US troops and “black reconnaissance” units secretly entered both Cambodia and Laos to carry out their fight against North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regular soldiers, today US “black reconnaissance” teams and drone aircraft are carrying out a secret and undeclared war inside Pakistan. Certainly, the US imperialist troop presence in both Afghanistan and Pakistan is aimed in the long run to secure still untapped oil and natural gas reserves in these two countries and, at the same time, use this area as a staging base for future military operations inside Iran.
Expansion and enhancement of US forward force projection capacities. The US is deadly serious in ensuring their forward force projection capabilities so as to intervene anywhere around the world using military force. As the world’s leading imperialist power, the US needs to constantly expand and enhance its capacity to back up its strategic foreign policy interests wherever and whenever threatened. This is the case right now with the USS George Washington and Carrier Strike Group Five steaming toward the Korean Peninsula. Likewise, Washington reactivated its US Navy’s 4th Fleet (based in Florida) only two years ago to ensure US power projection over the Caribbean, Central and South America. And far away in the Persian Gulf region, Bahrain is now the headquarters of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet to also guarantee US imperialist force projection over West Asia and the Horn of Africa, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and certainly Iran. For Africa, the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) was activated in October 2007 and now has military arrangements with 53 African countries, except Egypt.
Of course, US military forces are already based in Europe through NATO-deployed units. The US is now highly focused on the Asian region and it very much wishes to develop a much stronger military presence in this part of the world. And so, aside from Japan and South Korea, US imperialist troops have recently stepped up operations in other Asian and Pacific countries either through “status of forces” and/or “mutual logistics support”-type bilateral military agreements with concerned governments. As such, US military forces now conduct joint military operations with military forces from Australia, New Zealand, India, Mongolia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Tonga and, once again, in the Philippines since 1999.
Furthermore, to fully guarantee its global defence posture, Obama pushed for the immediate creation of a so-called “NATO missile shield” during his attendance at the NATO Summit in Lisbon. This missile shield is aimed at protecting Europe and the United States from any potential missile attacks from Russia or even Iran.
Attempts to co-opt ASEAN against China. In its escalating confrontation with China, the US has recently turned toward the ASEAN as a regional counter-balance to Beijing’s own power projection in East Asia. In this regard, Washington has newly and officially designated a US Permanent Mission to ASEAN and has already conducted several joint ASEAN-US leaders’ meetings since 2009. Concretely, the US has publicly announced on several occasions that it openly supports ASEAN’s calls for a multilateral approach with China in relation to resolving the Spratly Islands question (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spratly_Islands_dispute) as an urgent and common regional issue. This US imperialist public positioning has only infuriated Beijing and unnecessarily added further pressures to the US-China relationship, which in turn only increases regional tensions.
Black reconnaissance operations against a “global insurgency”. For more than six decades now (since 1945), US imperialism has been directly and/or indirectly involved in all types of illegal regime changes, including attempts at such. One well-researched book has documented at least 60 such cases involving US secret services (i.e. the CIA and DIA) employing assassinations, bombings, sabotage, terrorism, including electoral fraud, among many other black means.
Whenever the imperialist centre can no longer use and abuse a peripheral country, Washington will first attempt to employ open (or white) measures (diplomatic, political, economic, military, etc.) to force a necessary change in the national political leadership of the target state. However, when Washington can no longer attain its objectives using “white” or overt actions then, it does not hesitate to initiate, conduct and pursue “black reconnaissance” actions against its perceived and identified enemy targets, or threats to its global strategic interests. Black reconnaissance actions are primarily hidden in the dark and kept from the public, secret and clandestine in nature. They are almost always illegal and violate accepted international principles and norms to which the international community is universally obligated to abide by.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that well-respected US journalists have recently reported on a new and secret US government program creating and operating black reconnaissance action teams outside established legal federal government channels, yet report directly to specific unidentified officials inside the Pentagon with a clearance by the White House. In fact, many black reconnaissance operations are kept away from the director of the CIA himself for certain reasons. And according to some reports published in 2005 in the The New Yorker, for example, these black reconnaissance action units have already conducted (and continue to conduct) secret operations inside Iran as part of preparations for an expected US invasion of Iran in line with Washington’s imperialist policy aims concerning a future US-led Iranian government.
Since these reports initially came out only five years ago, we therefore, should not discount the possibility that such units have also been operational in Latin America, especially in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Honduras. Over the past few years, the left governments of these countries have been targeted by Washington – first in the open (diplomatic attacks), then through a series of coup attempts (Venezuela, Honduras and Ecuador) and rightwing-led mass mobilisations (Bolivia and Venezuela), which all failed.
Perhaps, we can uncomfortably assume that other US black reconnaissance operations are presently being conducted within other countries that still have significantly well-organised anti-imperialist and revolutionary socialist movements such as the Philippines.
In concluding my presentation, I would now like to state that the abovementioned points can only validate the general premise about US imperialist aggression today. Therefore, we are left with no other choice but to intensify and escalate our collective and united revolutionary mass struggles against US imperialism all around the world until the proletarian masses break free from their shackles of capitalist exploitation and oppression in the countries of the imperialist periphery. Only socialism can liberate us all and nothing less than the final destruction of imperialism can satisfy our movement’s revolutionary commitment and militancy!
[Rasti Delizo is an executive council member of PLM.]