America’s Wars for Profit in East Asia and Oceania

So long as the monopoly bourgeoisie that is at the helm of the military industrial complex holds the reins of power in the U.S. government, the policy directions and strategies that embody American objectives and interests in East Asia and Oceania will always be highly influenced by the war industries. The U.S. military industrial complex of the monopoly bourgeoisie thrives on a war-driven economy and a “permanent war.”

By Bobby Tuazon

“The country that rules the Pacific, rules the world.” This is exactly what U.S. Sen. Alfred Beveridge said in 1900 when he rallied the U.S. Senate to support the U.S. invasion and colonial acquisition of the Philippines and other countries in Asia Pacific. Referring to the great landmass Eurasia, Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. national security adviser, said: “A power that dominated Eurasia would exercise decisive influence over two of the world’s three most economically-productive regions, Western Europe and East Asia…A country dominant in Eurasia would almost automatically control the Middle East and Africa.” Before we talk about reconciling these clashing geopolitical perceptions, I propose that the simpler formulation should be: “The power that rules America, rules the world.”

Indeed, it was the industrialists and bankers in the U.S. who, in their paramount quest for markets and sources of raw materials and to amass greater profits gave the impetus to U.S. imperialism’s westward expansion toward East Asia and the rest of the Asia Pacific region by the late 19th century until the turn of the next century. Intense trade and financial competition with other imperialist powers including Japan and Germany drove U.S. imperialism to be involved in two world wars in the process expanding its war industries that became profitable particularly during World War II.

In East Asia and Oceania, with its rise as the world’s economic and military power beginning in the mid-1940s and in the guise of containing communism, U.S. imperialism became more aggressive and unilateralist in launching armed interventions in China, the Korean Peninsula, the Philippines, Indochina, Indonesia, Thailand and in other countries. With every war and armed conflict that it fomented, U.S. imperialism expanded its military presence and boosted the profits of its war industries in the United States giving rise to what is called “military industrial complex” that placed itself at the core of what some political economic theorists call an independent war-driven economy. The policy of maintaining military supremacy in the region was augmented by the creation of a system of security and basing agreements with these countries which, incidentally, also became the U.S.’ major recipients of military aid and importers of its weapons.

Today in East Asia, it may be considered that globalization-driven trade rivalries between the economic hegemon, U.S. imperialism, and Japan and also between U.S. imperialism and China, are the key flashpoints of hostilities that result in the flexing of military muscle. Trade rivalries are driving competition over the control of strategic trade routes even if the U.S. Naval Fleets under the command of the U.S.PACOM remain dominant in these waters. But the search for sources of fuel oil that will determine the rise and fall of the economies of Japan, China as well as the U.S. in the future is also aggravating tensions particularly between China and Japan in East China Sea. Australia is an economic and military power that also seeks a strong presence initially in Southeast Asia, and is poised to gain an economic foothold in East Timor while entering into bilateral and aggressive war exercises and counter-terrorism military cooperation with the Philippines and other countries.

U.S. fomenting tensions

All things considered, it is U.S. imperialism that is fomenting greater tensions in the region brought about by the desire of its trade and financial oligarchy to maintain monopoly capitalist hegemony and preserve this as an important bulwark of the global American Empire. It is this drive that pits U.S. imperialism against China through a military encirclement strategy supported in no small measure by a theater missile defense system. It is also suppressing the aspirations of the Korean people for reunification while provoking North Korea to maintain a high level of costly military preparedness speculating that it would crumble in an economic collapse. The struggles of the peoples of the rest of East Asia against economic disparity, unemployment and for self-determination are either suppressed by their own repressive regimes or rendered illegitimate by U.S. imperialist jingoism that describes these as mere terrorist threats or part of the so-called “arc of instability.” Their assertion of economic sovereignty and for a new liberating economic order within their own countries is continually undermined by bitter economic programs imposed by imperialist-led multilateral institutions such as the IMF-World Bank and ADB even as regional trade cooperation is being transformed into multilateral security arrangements couched in anti-terrorist ideology.

In justifying its enhanced policy of intervention in the aftermath of 9/11, U.S. imperialism is using the specter of “terrorist threat” posed by Al Qaeda networks and a member of the “axis of evil” – North Korea – thus drawing support from its junior partners, Japanese imperialism and Australia, as well as its client states and other allies. It is also using the threat of China as a rising military power to justify its continued encirclement of this former socialist giant even if it continues to engage it in a robust trade relationship. The threats contrived by U.S. imperialism especially in the light of 9/11 have – in East Asia and Oceania – led to the fast tracking of the missile defense system; the beefing up, readjustment and redeployment of U.S. forces and facilities; the forging and/or reorientation of security agreements to fit the “counter-terrorist” agenda; the increase in military aid and training exercises; the increase of arms sales; as well as the launching of combat operations, intelligence and surveillance particularly in the Philippines. Aside from helping secure U.S. imperialism’s access to the region’s resources and markets, maintain its preeminence in strategic trade routes, and ensure support for U.S. imperialism’s current geopolitical objectives, they also reap profits for the U.S.’ war industries.

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