Imperialism & War

Imperialism & WarClausewitz, the German military theoretician, insisted that “war is a mere continuation of policy by other means”. This goes to the heart of the matter. War is merely an extension of the struggle between nations and classes by other means, and the struggle between nations is merely an extension of the competition between the major multinational corporations. 

Capitalism is riddled with war. In a constant struggle over the profits they have extracted from the labour of the working class, the various imperialist powers engage in various forms of armed conflict. The complete domination of US imperialism, which was euphemistically referred to as pax americana, means open conflict between the imperial powers is excluded. Yet, that doesn’t in any way exclude small wars. In fact, the past few years have seen millions of people displaced and dead in conflicts in Africa and the Middle East. 

As long as capitalism remains, as long as competition between multinational corporations remains, so will armed conflict. The Second International in its famous Stuttgart Resolution advocated the use of the crisis brought on by war to further the socialist revolution. That remains the attitude of Marxists to this day. We fight against imperialist wars, but we understand that the only way to finally rid humanity of the misery of war is to rid it of the capitalist system itself. 

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.

Since the tsunami disaster in South Asia in December of last year, the bourgeois media have paid a lot of attention to the misery and poverty of  the Third World. Many people, including British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, have called for the cancellation of Third World  debt. Will this actually be done, and if so, what would it really achieve?

The following article was written by Alan Woods in 2004 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy Landings in 1944. There are many myths surrounding the Allied invasion of Europe, and the Second World War in general, but what is the true story?

The monstrously oppressive nature of US imperialism stands exposed in all its bloody nakedness. Fallujah is being reduced to smoking rubble before the eyes of the world. Heavily armed American gunships are slowly pounding it into dust. Many civilians have fled in panic; many lay buried beneath the shattered remnants of their homes.

The bloodshed that took place throughout the former Yugoslavia in the last decade has been interpreted in many different ways by many different bourgeois theoreticians. The only common threads throughout all these pearls of wisdom were those of the sometimes naïve, but mostly calculated, interest driven prejudices and nonsense. In an attempt to explain the ongoing war, the media labelled it as “ethnic”, “religious”, “civil” and in some cases even “tribal”. As Marxists we fight against these misinterpretations which flow from a basic misunderstanding of the causes and nature of the wave of violence which hit the Balkans in the nineties.

Almost five years since the fighting ceased and NATO troops were sent in to pacify the region, conflict between Serbs and Kosovar Albanians has flared up once again. This renewed conflict confirms everything we have said about Kosovo and the wider problems affecting the whole of the Balkans. The fundamental problems have not been resolved. They have been simmering below the surface.

While there are many differences between the war in Iraq and the Vietnam War, there are many parallels and lessons to be learned - above all that public opinion at home is more decisive in the long run than the actual military successes or failures in the war zone.

Jean-Bertrand Aristide stepped down as President and left Haiti early in the morning on Sunday February 29. Shortly thereafter the US announced that it was sending in marines to help 'stabilize' the country and make way for a UN 'peacekeeping' force. The UN Security Council also decided that it will send a multi-national 'peacekeeping force' for at least three months as well as a 'stabilizing force' that it will send later in the year. These developments clearly demonstrate the reactionary role played by US imperialism in the region and far from solving the crisis in Haiti it is setting the stage for further unrest and instability in the whole area.

In the three articles that Luis Oviedo has written in answer to my article published on January 7 (Marxism versus Sectarianism - Reply to Luis Oviedo) a number of very important issues are raised. These questions deserve the most careful consideration by Marxists in Britain, Argentina and internationally. However, in order to clarify the issues raised and to educate the cadres (which ought to be the aim of every polemic) it is necessary to avoid heated language, distortions and personal attacks that only serve to divert attention away from the political questions. Such an approach will only confuse matters

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My attention was recently drawn to an article signed by Luis Oviedo, entitled The Counterrevolutionary Position of Socialist Appeal(in Prensa Obrera nº 826).Having read the article, I could not decide whether it was the product of bad faith or simple ignorance. Certainly, the method used is contrary to every basic principle of Marxism and above all Trotskyism, which comrade Oviedo and the Partido Obrero (PO) claim to defend.

On the eve of the war in Iraq, George W. Bush talked about a "crusade". He was obviously quite pleased with himself for having thought of such a catchy phrase. But he was quickly silenced by his advisers, who pointed out to him that the word "crusade" has very unfortunate associations for the Moslem world.

The war in Iraq solved nothing from the standpoint of US imperialism but has ushered in a period of even greater instability on a world scale. The world is now a far more turbulent, volatile and dangerous place than it was a few months ago.

Baghdad lies shattered and bleeding. The bloody battle appears to be entering a decisive phase. The final result was never in doubt, but the time scale over which the military action would unfold and the cost in lives could only be revealed by the march of events.