Imperialism & War

Imperialism & War“In the end all serious questions are settled by war. The biggest question of all, the future of humanity will be settled by the war between the classes. However much we wish this weren't the case, to hide from this truth can only lead to defeat, and further terrible wars between the nations. Far better to recognise this truth now and start building a revolutionary force that can change the world.” — From Marxism and war

War is a constant feature of life under capitalism, especially in the epoch of imperialism. There has not been a single day of peace since the end of WWII, despite the appearance of WWII (and all previous wars) of being the “war to end all wars”. Capitalism is inherently unstable, competitive and violent. Moreover, there can be no final peace between the classes, since this system is based on the exploitation of the working class by the rich.

However, there are wars of different kinds under capitalism. The question of war is the hardest equation of all to judge, so careful study is essential so that revolutionaries are not blown off course by the complexities involved. For example, some “socialists” called for support for the war in Iraq, as it had the appearance of establishing “democracy” over dictatorship. Equally, the failure to understand the true meaning of WWI and its implications was the direct cause of the death of the Second International.

Wars, like revolutions, represent the sharp extreme of capitalism’s crisis. Under capitalism, there will be many wars in the future. The more revolutionaries study and understand capitalism’s previous wars, the better equipped we will be to fight against future wars and the capitalist system itself.

On 28 June 1914, two pistol shots shattered the peace of a sunny afternoon in Sarajevo. Those shots reverberated around Europe and shattered the peace of the whole world. This was the beginning of the Great Slaughter. Could it have been avoided? Alan Woods uses the method of Marxism to answer this question. He explains that, actually, whilst individuals play an important role in history, to explain events such as wars, one must look at deeper causes.

At a recent public meeting at Queen Mary University in London (hosted by the Marxist Student Federation), Hamid Alizadeh of marxist.com provided a history of the Kurdish national liberation struggle, looking at how Kurdish fighters have consistently been used as pawns by the imperialist powers in their belligerent games.

In the third episode of IMTV  the International Marxist Television channel, hosted by the UK section of the IMT, Socialist Appeal Francesco Merli provides a Marxist analysis of the situation in Israel and Palestine.

The spectacle of celebrations for the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday 14 May stood in stark contrast with the bloodshed in Gaza, where on the same day, 59 Palestinian demonstrators were killed and more than 2,700 injured by Israeli snipers. As we stated in a previous article, the mass resistance movement by Palestinians in Gaza for the right of return for the Palestinian refugees of 1948, and against the 12-year-blockade by Israel, has been growing despite the harshest repression by the Israeli Army.

In the bourgeois media today, Afghanistan is portrayed only in relation to Islamic fundamentalism, jihad, warlords and drug cartels. While these ills are a sad fact of life in Afghanistan today, that was not always the case. 40 years ago, a revolution almost shook the country out of its backwardness, only to be thrown back after the imperialist-backed, fundamentalist counter-revolution. To understand the current situation in the Middle East, as well as the rise of the reactionary forces, it is necessary to understand the rise and fall of the Saur revolution in Afghanistan in 1978.

The US and its ‘allies’, the UK and France have bombed multiple government targets in Syria in an early morning operation targeting alleged chemical weapons sites. Explosions hit the capital, Damascus, as well as two locations near the city of Homs, the Pentagon said. "The nations of Britain, France, and the United States of America have marshalled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality," President Trump said in an address to the nation from the White House at about 21:00 local time (02:00 BST).

Alan Woods, editor of In Defence of Marxism, discusses the Western response to gas attacks in Syria. Trump, Macron, and May have all been banging the war drums over the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad. But the atrocities in Syria mask the Western imperialists' own role in propping up reactionary regimes in the region and perpetuating a never-ending humanitarian disaster in the Middle East. At the same time, their bellicose rhetoric acts as a useful distraction for these imperialist leaders, who are all facing criticism and opposition back home.

Hamid Alizadeh speaks at a recent meeting of the LSE Marxist society about the political situation in the Middle East, from the Arab Spring of 2011 to the present day. Hamid provides a overview of the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary developments in the region over the past seven years. Today, the focus is on the civil war in Syria and the heroic struggle of the Kurds. But crisis is also brewing in Saudi Arabia, home to the main bastion of reaction in the region. Hamid discusses the processes unfolding in all of these countries, as well as the increasing contradictions facing American imperialism, which is no longer able to play its hegemonic role of the past.

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After all the fuss, noisy propaganda and manoeuvres at the United Nations, the so-called Syrian ceasefire has broken down suddenly, shamefully and irrevocably. In reality it was an abortion that was dead even before it was born.

At the 2017 October Revolution festival in London, Fred Weston discussed the question of imperialism from a Marxist perspective.

This in depth article deals with the horrors that capitalism has inflicted on humanity. In the first part of this article we see the real face of the capitalist class, both its predatory nature on a global scale and its capacity for violent suppression of any mass popular revolt that challenges its right to rule. Some will say, yes but this was in the past; now the system has become more civilised and humane. Recent history shows that this is utterly false.

There has been much confusion on the left about the events that have unfolded in Syria in the past five years, with some supporting Assad as a supposed "anti-imperialist", while others have supported the so-called "Syrian revolution", de facto ending up in the same camp as the western imperialists who support the so-called "moderate rebels". In order to cut though this fog of confusion it is necessary to analyse the nature of the Assad regime, what it was and what it became, and also the process which cut across the initial revolutionary movement of the Syrian youth in 2011, transforming revolution very quickly into counter-revolution. Here we provide a list of the key articles we have

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Niklas Albin Svensson discusses the Marxist perspective on war, analysing the various positions taken by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky in relation to the wars seen throughout the 19th and 20th Century. What is the relationship between capitalism, imperialism and war? What demands should Marxists pose in relation to wars? And what is the perspective for a Third World War today?

In this talk from a 2016 Socialist Appeal day school, Daniel Morley discusses the question of Imperialism - what Lenin described as "the highest stage of Capitalism".

The saying goes that there are lies, damned lies and statistics. To this list we must add diplomacy, which is lying raised to the level of an art form.

As western media overflows with damning images of the atrocities carried out in Syria's Aleppo, the humanitarian disaster in Yemen is being more or less quietly brushed under the carpet. The reason? The west is elbow deep in the Yemeni tragedy.

The recent NATO summit in Warsaw was full of contradiction and tensions between members of the alliance. The fragility of NATO’s power and the instability of world relations were on display for all to see.

At the 2015 Labour conference, shortly after Corbyn’s victory, Labour members voted in favour of a Unite motion to only support air-strikes on Syria if they have United Nations (UN) backing. More recently in the Commons vote to authorise this bombing, in the absence of UN support, Diane Abbott, a key Corbyn ally and Labour left-winger, urged caution, saying that “if some MPs are intent on military action, surely their first step should be to pressure Cameron to obtain some kind of UN resolution?”.

The publication of the Mexican edition of Lenin’s Imperialism, could scarcely come at a more appropriate time. No book has ever explained the phenomena of modern capitalism better that this. All of Lenin’s predictions concerning the concentration of capital, the dominance of the banks and finance capital, the growing antagonism between nation states and the inevitability of war arising out of the contradictions of imperialism have been shown to be true by the entire history of the last 100 years.

On Armistice Day - 11th November - Alan Woods analyses the factors behind the First World War - "The Great Slaughter" - and discusses the revolutionary alternative to imperialism and war today.

Since last week when Russia began bombing targets inside Syria, Western media has been overflowing with articles about the crimes of Russian imperialism in Syria. But the idea put forward that “moderate” rebels are being bombed by ruthless Russians raises more questions than it answers.

Since early Thursday morning hundreds of fighter jets from Saudi Arabia and a wide coalition of Arab states have been bombing targets across Yemen, killing dozens, destroying all major runways and much of the key infrastructure of the country. Yet again Yemen, which is the poorest Arab country, has become a target for savage attacks by the Saudi regime.

Many Americans are justifiably horrified by the atrocities being perpetrated by the ISIS gangsters. But imperialist intervention, which led to this wreck in the first place, is no solution. There is no short-term way out. Only a socialist revolution can transform the region and the world.

In a press conference on 28th August, US president Barack Obama openly admitted that he did not have a strategy yet to combat the jihadist ISIS group in Iraq and Syria. Obama’s confession reveals the impasse the US are facing with the new, explosive crisis provoked in the Middle East by the advance of ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

A storm of bombs and fire grotesquely denominated “Operation Protective Edge” has been unleashed by the Israeli government on the civilian population of Gaza. Over the last days more than 400 tonnes of high potential bombs have hit targets within the densely populated Gaza Strip, killing at least 100 civilians, including many children, and injuring hundreds.

The spontaneous uprising of the Syrian masses, inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt, has degenerated into a sectarian bloodbath. Deprived of a revolutionary leadership, the hopeful beginnings have been transformed into a tragedy. On the other hand, US imperialism's hypocritical and bellicose zig-zags are a complete and utter farce, and graphically illustrate the limits of US power.

The declaration of Obama that the USA will step up its support for the rebels in Syria represents a change in the situation. The White House announcement means that the US is to supply direct military aid to the Syrian opposition for the first time. Spokesman Ben Rhodes did not give details about the military aid other than to say it would be “different in scope and scale to what we have provided before”.

Once again the Democratic Republic of Congo has been through months of turmoil, soldiers defecting en masse from the Congolese Army (FARDC) followed by fighting between government forces and militia in the Kivu regions. But why is all this happening and what interests lie behind these events? Gavin Jackson looks at the different forces on the ground and outlines the looting on the part of the various imperialist powers that is the real reason behind the barbarism.

It is a year since the Syrian masses rose up against the Assad regime. Since March 2011, the Syrian people have faced the open brutality of the state in wave after wave of mass demonstrations, strikes and civil disobedience. These movements arose in response to the stifling dictatorship, and against the massive inequality, unemployment and poverty in Syrian society.

The capture and killing of Colonel Gaddafi has been described in detail by the mass media in all its gory details. With the death of Gaddafi and the taking of Sirte the National Transitional Council is talking about forming a transitional government. The NTC is recognized by the imperialist powers whose interests it represents. However, many ordinary Libyans look with justified mistrust at the NTC and their imperialist backers.

The end came suddenly and without warning. In the moment of truth the Gaddafi regime fell like a house of cards.

Last night the streets of Tripoli were filled with wild rejoicing as rebel forces occupied Green Square in Tripoli. Libyan rebels waved opposition flags and fired shots into the air in jubilation after reaching the central square of the capital in the early hours of Monday. Until now the vast square was reserved for carefully orchestrated rallies praising Moammar Gaddafi. Now it erupted in celebration after rebel troops pushed into the centre of the Libyan capital.

The world has been shaken by the Arab Revolution. From the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf, revolution is on the agenda. And once again Egypt has been at the heart of this process, as it has always played a leading role in the region, due to its size, population and economic weight.

When watching Comic Relief or any other sort of international aid fundraiser, viewers are often startled with images of starving children, and an attempt is made to portray the African continent as a complete humanitarian disaster, composed of destitute countries that are plagued by famine, drought, disease, corruption, and civil war. Whilst it is true that natural disasters and adverse conditions have hindered the development of many African countries, these media sources do not attempt to address why the continent is prone to civil war and corruption and no effort is made to explain the root cause of the problem: imperialism.

The split between the US generals and politicians could not have come at a worse time. The sacking of McChrystal just at the beginning of the fighting season could disrupt the entire counter-insurgency campaign, which was already going badly. The fact is that a military victory is out of the question. The greatest military power in the world is now overstretched in the region.

With the latest news of the 100th death this year of a British soldier in Afghanistan, this imperialist adventure is getting more and more unpopular. In an article published in the current issue of Socialist Appeal published at the end of November, Rob Sewell looks at the latest situation and its background of a war that can never deliver social and economic progress to the Afghan people.

The US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan are fighting an unwinnable war. This fact is seeping into the consciousness of millions of people in the west who are now opposed to the war. But also in Afghanistan there are signs that the ordinary people are tired of both the imperialist occupation forces and the Taliban. The only alternative to the present barbarism is the struggle for a socialist federation of South Asia, which would include a socialist Afghanistan.

Once again the Middle East is engulfed in the flames of war. Alan Woods explains at the IMT Winter School last weekend in Berlin the reasons for Israel's invasion of Gaza and analyses the wider implications for relations between the powers in the Middle East and on a world scale.

From 30-31 January 1968, 70,000 North Vietnamese soldiers, together with guerrilla fighters of the NLF, launched one of the most daring military campaigns in history. The Tet Offensive was the real turning point in the Vietnam War. On its 40th anniversary, Alan Woods analysed the events that led to the Vietnam War and the significance of the Tet Offensive in bringing about the defeat of US imperialism, and drew some parallels with Iraq.

The process of capitalist restoration in Serbia has been brutal. Hundreds of thousands of workers in the old industries have lost their jobs. The old social buffers provided by the planned economy have been dismantled. In this atmosphere a sombre mood dominates the working class. The only outlet the ruling class can offer is to keep whipping up nationalist sentiment.

Today August 31, Malaysia celebrates half a century of independence from British colonial rule.  At the age of 50, Malaysia still suffers from a deep ethnic and religious divide sown by imperialism. Today's problems are the legacy of colonial rule and continuing capitalist interests pitting ordinary working people against each other.

The dominant idea of contemporary bourgeois thinking is that increasing international integration of economic activity, or “globalisation” will lead to prosperity and peace for all. But globalisation is not a concept that helps us understand the world around us. It is an ideological construct used to trumpet capitalist victory – to conceal the crisis-ridden nature of the system and its perpetual failure to meet the needs of the world’s working class.

In the morning hours of Saturday, March 11, Slobodan Milosevic, was found dead in his prison cell at the Hague. With his death, the bourgeois media began once again to dig through the recent history of the Balkans in an attempt to make sense of the break-up of former Yugoslavia. But what was the role played by Milosevic, and what is the feeling over his death in Serbia?

After three and a half years of US occupation, peace, stability, and freedom are restricted in the presidential enclave behind huge concrete blocks in Kabul. Here is where Mr. Karzai resides. American mercenaries guard him, advised or dictated to, whatever you may call it, by American diplomats and instructed by the State Department in Washington.