Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume III, Number 48 January 11 - 17, 2004 Quezon City, Philippines
of U.S. War Policy After September 11th
Ray O. Light (USA)
At the time we wrote these words, almost no U.S. leftists were even willing to utter the word "imperialism" as it applied to US foreign policy in the fields of economics, politics, or military strategy. The eradication of the Socialist Camp---the dismantling of the Soviet Union and the overt capitalist developments in China had left these forces disoriented and demoralized and vulnerable to the imperialist bribery and corruption which Lenin taught was so endemic to the parasitic oppressing nations in the imperialist era. In short, to the extent that there was any "left" remaining in the USA, it was dominated by social-democratic, social-pacifist, and social-chauvinist illusions about the nature of US imperialism at the dawn of the new millennium. Such Social Democrats of all hues (echoing their counterparts in Lenin’s time) asserted that, "monopolies in economics are compatible with non-monopolistic, non-violent, non-annexationist methods in politics…" (Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism)
Using the September 11th skyjacked airliner attacks on the World Trade Center as his cover, U.S. President George W. Bush exposed the utter falsehood of these social-democratic illusions, launching an unprovoked war of aggression on the people of Afghanistan in pursuit of US imperialist monopoly control of the world’s oil supply. In the first place, this war served to prevent a non-US (Argentinian) company, Bridas Oil, from establishing a massive oil and natural gas pipeline from the oil and natural gas rich Central Asian (former Soviet) Republics such as Tajikistan and Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean to quench the industrial thirst of the rapidly developing Chinese and Indian economies. Had this project, sanctioned by the Taliban government, been allowed to reach completion, a vast economic powerhouse would have existed outside the control of US imperialism.
Until this incredibly lucrative and strategically important project had been allocated by the Taliban government to Bridas Oil, the US government had strongly supported the Taliban. But with US oil giant UNOCAL bypassed, US imperialism had clearly already decided to replace the Taliban in Afghanistan long before September11th. The Bush Regime moved so quickly and decisively there that its imperialist rival-partners, caught off guard, became parties to the strengthening of US imperialist hegemony, at their expense, with the projection of US military power into an area hitherto unpenetrated by US imperialism. Even the Russian regime of Putin, functioning as a US puppet, made not even a murmur of protest as the US military occupied the oil/natural gas treasure fields of the Central Asian Republics!
Even before its war against the people of Afghanistan started winding down, US imperialism opened what it called a "second front (in the war on terrorism)" in Southeast Asia. Allegedly, the US military established a military foothold in the Southern Philippines to assist the Philippine puppet troops of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government in defeating the Muslim gang of thugs, the Abu Sayyaf. Like the al Qaeda of Osama bin Laden, Abu Sayyaf had been spawned by the US CIA. This provided a thin rationale for including this new military invasion of the Philippines under cover of revenge for September 11th. But, with perhaps no more than a hundred armed gangsters, in reality, from the beginning, the US combat troops, including elite fighting units, were aimed against the decades-old revolutionary liberation movements of the Filipino peoples including both the Communist Party-led New Peoples Army and the Moro (Muslim) peoples movement based in Mindanao. Indeed, already, by August of 2002, Philippine Secretary of Defense Angelo Reyes admitted that "half of the aid the US pledged to Manila to fight terrorism, would be used to strengthen the Philippine military to fight the communist movement." (The Christian Science Monitor, 9-5-02)
The ultimate economic objectives of US imperialism in the Philippines, too, are connected to oil and natural gas wealth. Major oil reserves exist off the Southern coast of the Philippines as well as in East Timor, Aceh and other islands within the current Indonesian state which can be easily reached by a military force based in the Southern Philippines. In addition, the area includes invaluable sea-lanes reaching into the heart of Asia through which much of the world’s commerce will pass in the near future.
Meanwhile, after 9-11, US imperialism stopped hiding its military presence in Colombia behind the smokescreen of fighting against drug cartels. The imperialists have intensified their Plan Colombia in order to militarily vanquish the Colombian revolutionary liberation movements that have achieved the liberation of half of Colombia’s territory and maintained it as liberated territory over the past several decades. In mid 2002, strongly backed by the Bush Regime, Alvaro Uribe became President of Colombia on the promise that he would stop peace negotiations with the FARC, etc. and would lead, along with US imperialism, a military effort to crush the rebels. Here, too, not only the oil wealth of Colombia, but of neighboring Venezuela, has been the magnet that has drawn in Bush and the US military.
Since 9-11, wherever oil is in abundance, from Georgia in the former USSR to Qatar in the Middle East, to Colombia in South America to the Philippines in Southeast Asia, the US military has been sent to take control of the world’s oil supply in order to maintain US economic hegemony in the world. George W. Bush (with the aid and comfort of Britain’s Tony Blair) has unilaterally threatened unprovoked ("pre-emptive") war against oil rich Iraq. Meanwhile, behind this banner, Bush has moved three hundred thousand US troops with phenomenal armaments into the oil laden sheikdoms of Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, etc and militarily surrounded Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world with proven oil reserves greater than Iraq’s. Already, mainstream US news sources have leaked the fact that US imperialism’s post Saddam Hussein direct US military occupation of Iraq, under US General Tommy Franks, has been planned up to and including the allocation of Iraq’s vast oil reserves, essentially to US oil companies.
Currently, the US has no lease agreements for Iraqi oil fields, while French and Russian leases are for huge oil reserves and Germany possesses lucrative construction contracts for Iraqi infrastructure and industry.** **
FOOTNOTE: [According to Ohio Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich in a March 2003 article entitled simply "Obviously Oil", Saddam Hussein has refused to make oil lease contracts with the largest US and U.K. multinationals: Exxon-Mobil, BP-Amoco, Shell, and Chevron-Texaco---respectively the second, fourth, eighth, and fourteenth largest companies in the world. By contrast, according to a January 26, 2003 front-page article in the Boston Globe, the largest foreign contracts to develop Iraqi oil fields at the present time have been signed by the Saddam Hussein government with French and Russian companies. The French based contracts include the Majnoon oil field with an estimated potential of 10 to 30 billion barrels of oil and the Bin Umar oil field with an estimated potential of 6 billion barrels of oil. The Russian based contracts include the West Qurna oil field with an estimated potential of 15 billion barrels of oil.]
Since mid 2002, when Bush began to focus on Iraq as his next target, the partner-rivals of US imperialism have begun to realize that they are in danger of becoming "permanent" economic subordinates to the hegemonic imperialist power. This growing realization has led to growing resistance, especially on the part of French and German imperialism, along with the Belgian imperialists and big capitalist forces in China and Russia. Thus, the US-led war against the people of Iraq and the Middle East, in contrast to the global coalition that attacked Afghanistan, is virtually a solo act by the United States.
Indeed, the year and one-half since 9-11 has witnessed the projection of US military power over so far-flung an area around the world that the "strategic overextension" that provided the condition for the decline of the British Empire a century ago is fast being visited upon the US Empire under its ignorant, chauvinistic and arrogant ruler, George W. Bush.
Ironically, in the Bush-Gore Presidential Election campaign in 2000, it was not Democrat Gore, the liberal and pacifist choice, but George W. Bush, while spouting isolationist rhetoric, who promised that, if elected, he would initiate a careful review of US military spending. Today, it is difficult to remember that, along with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, Bush did indeed initiate such a review shortly after he took office. The mere delay of the vast military contracts cost the military-industrial complex billions of dollars and they began to howl!! However, 9-11 proved to be a bonanza for the military-industrial complex; it was their salvation. Once it occurred, virtually the entire bloated complex was provided with unlimited new monies, while the rest of the economy and the government were devoured by this most parasitic and destructive sector. This year’s US military budget is about $380 billion and that does not include the new Homeland Security Department, additional billions for intelligence and police apparatus, (or the projected costs of open war with Iraq) etc. "In the military arena, the United States is poised to spend more on defense in 2003 than the next 15-20 biggest spenders combined." ("American Primacy in Perspective" by Stephen G. Brooks and William C. Wohlforth, July/August 2002 Foreign Affairs, p. 21)
While the world capitalist economic crisis has become more and more acute within the USA itself, the masses of the US people would not have allowed such a dramatic shift of wealth into the coffers of the military-industrial complex except under such circumstances as the "national emergency" which Bush has constantly invoked in the aftermath of the September 11th events.
As stated above, Bush-Rumsfeld made an initial effort to "correct" this problem. However, following September 11th, the Bush-Rumsfeld review ceased and the US military budget has become more bloated than ever. Thus, as we observed in 1999, "the military-industrial complex, as an economic force in its own right, stands in the way of providing the most efficacious protection for US imperialist exploitation and oppression of the peoples of the world."
This mass sentiment became even stronger in the aftermath of the September 11th events that were perceived as a terrorist attack from outside forces on the people of the USA. Indeed, most US people became willing to sustain ground troop casualties for the first time since the US military defeat in Vietnam twenty-five years earlier. These are important points to keep in mind as the international proletariat and the oppressed peoples evaluate the strength of the current massive anti-war movement in the USA narrowly focused on the impending war with Iraq. This particular Iraqi segment of Bush’s unending war against the world’s peoples has sparked divisions over tactics even within the US monopoly capitalist ruling class itself. Remember that in late 2002 Brent Scowcroft and other top officials of the George Bush I Administration expressed open opposition to the efforts of George Bush II to unilaterally launch a war on Iraq without even consulting the United Nations, coalition partners, etc. Many of the bourgeois liberals, pacifists, and other supporters of the system who make up a disproportionate percentage of the anti-war movement compared to the workers and oppressed nationalities within the USA will disappear from the ranks of the US anti-war movement once US troops are engaged in a large-scale war again. Thus, the size and strength of the US anti-war movement will diminish, at least until US casualties mount.
Following September 11th, US imperialism had greater military flexibility because the aroused, angry, and frightened US population rallied behind the Bush Regime as it spouted the rhetoric of revenge. While the war against the people of Afghanistan was essentially a war of quick decision with an exit strategy (though notably the US imperialists are still bogged down there today!), the willingness of much of the US population to support the all-out military mobilization for a major war in the Middle East on the flimsiest of pretexts reflects the fact that the current US imperialist regime retains some of the military flexibility it achieved demagogically in the aftermath of the September 11th events, the anthrax scare in the US mail system, etc. Meanwhile, the US active military force is still so small in relation to the global commitments of the US Empire that of the three hundred thousand US troops sent to the Middle East over the past several months in preparation for the "pre-emptive" war on Iraq, many thousands of them are military reserves, i.e. part-time soldiers hastily trained for the imminent war. This leads to the sixth point.
In November 2001, we noted the following with deep concern: "Remarkably, Bush and U.S. imperialism were able to bully, bribe and blackmail almost every current government in the world to join its worldwide terrorist war coalition ‘against terror.’ These governments have endorsed and cooperated with U.S. imperialism’s global terrorist war ultimately aimed against its imperialist partner-rivals as well as the world’s workers and oppressed peoples." One key gain for US imperialism with the war in Afghanistan was the strategic military foothold achieved in the geographical center of the most dangerous potential military alliance (with Russia and China at its core) which could be mounted against US imperialist hegemony. This global criminal coalition remained united against the people of Afghanistan. However, the coalition has now fragmented in the face of the imminent US war against Iraq. The result is that US imperialism has had to deploy much of its fighting capacity in the oil rich sheikdoms around Iraq and Saudi Arabia which leaves the US empire vulnerable elsewhere in the world.
As far back as Bush senior’s administration, with its projection of a "new world order", then Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz had written that, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the USA must act to prevent the rise of peer competitors in Europe and Asia. (See G. John Ilkenberry’s "America’s Imperial Ambitions", Foreign Affairs, Sept/Oct. 2002) As Ilkenberry puts it, "America is to be less bound to its partners and to global rules and institutions while it steps forward to play a more unilateral and anticipatory role…The United States will use its unrivalled military power to manage the global order." In June 2002, in his West Point commencement address, President Bush II established the centerpiece of his post 9-11 US security policy as follows: "America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenges…" This "new grand strategy taking shape in Washington"… "begins with a fundamental commitment to maintaining a unipolar world in which the United States has no peer competitor." (Ibid)
Rival imperialist powers have learned this lesson the hard way. The awful unity of the US-led global coalition for imperialist war and aggression against the people of Afghanistan has now so precipitously been transformed in the current Iraqi war scenario where such partner-rivals of US imperialism as Germany, France and Russia are not only not part of the coalition but are actively opposing its initiative! These powerful monopoly capitalist and imperialist states must find a vehicle to express their selfish interests in opposition to those of US imperialism.*
*FOOTNOTE: This is an historical moment in Europe--- pregnant with promise for the European (and world) proletariat. In order to defend and promote its own interests as distinct from the interests of US imperialism the European imperialist bourgeoisie has to allow the European communists and workers to mobilize and unite the European masses against US imperialism. In the process, European imperialism cannot stop the revolutionary proletariat of Europe at the door which it has itself opened to the working class for the purpose of education and organization of the European masses in opposition to US imperialism; it cannot stop them from marching on to education and organization against imperialism in general and against their own imperialist bourgeoisie, in particular!
In our view, the European Communist Parties need to pay careful attention to the following formulation about the main enemy i.e. "imperialism, headed by US imperialism". A European vanguard party dominated by opportunism can err on either side. If too much emphasis is placed on imperialism in general than US imperialism gets away lightly and the European working class and masses are not sufficiently mobilized against US imperialism, the current bulwark of world capitalism and juggernaut of reactionary violence and war throughout the globe. On the other hand, too much emphasis on US imperialism by European opportunists creates bourgeois democratic social- pacifist and social-chauvinist illusions about imperialism in general and about "their own" imperialists in particular.
opened our analysis of the World-Wide Strategy of US Imperialism in 1999 with
the following quote from great Lenin: " A proletariat that tolerates the
slightest coercion of other nations by its ‘own’ nation cannot be a
socialist proletariat." Hopefully, it is this standard that infuses the
current paper on "US War Policy Since September 11". If our European
comrades are successful in embracing this Leninist approach to the specific
question of "US war policy" and to the question of imperialist war in
general than great victories for the European and world proletariat will be
In the post 9-11 world, virtually all nations that had previously made up the Soviet Union signed on as allies of US imperialism. As stated earlier, in the war on the people of Afghanistan, the oil and natural gas laden Central Asian Republics were occupied by the US military with the cooperation of the governments in these countries. The principal military targets of Bush’s unending war of terror since September 2001 have included Afghanistan and Central Asia, Iraq (and Palestine) and the Middle East, Colombia and the Andean region of South America, and the Philippines and Southeast Asia. Thus, the strategic shift to "enhancement of US military intervention capabilities in the oppressed nations" has been underscored and taken advantage of. Indeed, the European Union (EU) has tried to apply this lesson to its own military forces: a sixty thousand member Rapid Deployment Force has been created for precisely this reason.
In our 1999 piece, we observed that, "The most consistent theme here is the US imperialist use of their own stooges as military targets!!!" This fact has maximized the usefulness of high-tech weaponry, the area in which US imperialism holds its greatest military advantage. (As we observed in 1999, "Who better to use your weaponry on than those whose military infrastructure you financed and built…") The major arenas of US confrontation thus far in the post 9-11 world, Afghanistan with its Taliban regime and Iraq under former US imperialist stooge Saddam Hussein (as well as the Middle East oil kingdoms such as Saudi Arabia, in the first place, where the US CIA had a direct role in developing its security apparatus) fit this picture fine. However, two of the other arenas in which US imperialism has sent combat troops and deployed substantial weaponry are Colombia and the Philippines, where significant revolutionary mass movements have achieved much military-political success over the past few decades. US imperialism will not be able to achieve quick victory on either of these important fronts of struggle!
While US imperialism desires to continue to use Arabs against Arabs, Asians against Asians, Latin Americans against Latin Americans, and Africans against Africans, for the most part the post 9-11 period has been characterized by more overt use of direct US military power than prior to September 11th. This is because, as we said earlier, the people of the USA, especially in connection with the first US war after 9-11, the war in Afghanistan, were prepared to allow our US soldiers to shed their blood for the first time since the heroic Vietnamese people defeated the US imperialist military in the mid 1970’s. Nevertheless, in Afghanistan, US imperialism was able to prop up, mobilize, and unite basic warlord gangs around the Northern Alliance to have a substantial army of Afghanis fighting the Afghanis of the Taliban. Today, taking advantage of the fact that most US people are still willing to have our soldiers’ blood shed in a war connected to 9-11, the Bush Regime has deployed three hundred thousand US troops to the Middle East to occupy the oil kingdoms there and wrest the vast Iraqi oil reserves through a pre-emptive, i.e. unprovoked war of aggression and plunder. But the fact that Bush and US imperialism have been unable to maneuver, cajole, and bribe the Arab rulers and the Arab masses into waging war against the Iraqi Arabs is a serious blow to US imperialist military strength and an important step toward "strategic overreach" which is the condition for the death knell of the US Empire.
We pointed out in 1999: "The absolute lack of shame of US imperialism…the pursuit of maximum profit by any and all means at any cost…. even to their imperialist partner-rivals is their only ‘principle’." "Such an unprincipled ‘principle’ or modus operandi gives US imperialism a strong concerted ‘will to win’ in the short run. However, over the long run, the naked and unbridled brutality, greed and selfishness of pragmatism alienate friend and foe alike!"
In the post 9-11 period, the Bush Regime has personified the unrelenting pursuit of maximum profit, no matter how high the price in human suffering, which lies at the core of US imperialism’s pragmatic method. Driven by the worsening world capitalist economic crisis which has seriously impacted the USA itself, the reckless, ignorant and chauvinistic "cowboy" conduct of Bush and his lieutenants in their single-minded pursuit of their "new world order" has helped to alienate most of the members of the reactionary coalition which only a year and a half ago was assembled and mobilized with such astonishing speed and efficiency in the unprovoked war against the people of Afghanistan. Not only the world’s oppressed and exploited and the millions who have gone into the streets around the world in demonstrations against the Bush-led, US imperialist-led war of terror against the peoples of the world, but every fair-minded citizen of the world and every imperialist rival of US imperialism can now see that Bush’s course is pursuit of world empire for the US monopoly capitalist ruling class and exploitation, oppression, subordination and ruin for virtually everyone else.
IN CONCLUSION: Clearly, the world capitalist economic crisis has now impacted every country in the world. The sharpening contradictions between labor and capital internationally, between the oppressed peoples and imperialism, headed by US imperialism, and especially among the various imperialist countries and groupings themselves are becoming quite evident in the aftermath of the 9-11 events. "The US war policy" of the Bush Regime and US imperialism embarked upon since 9-11 is thus far the key political challenge around which the international proletariat and the oppressed peoples need to unite and fight.
One change in US military strategy since 9-11 is that, whereas prior to that time the US imperialists tried to be prepared for fighting on two major regional fronts simultaneously, now, using their obscene military budget they are trying to prepare to wage war on four far-flung fronts at once---holding their own on two fronts while pursuing military victory in the other two arenas. All the more important, then, is "the responsibility of the international communist movement to lead the international proletariat and the oppressed peoples to develop such unity in struggle against the main enemy---imperialism, headed by US imperialism, and to isolate this enemy to the maximum, so as to inflict on these reactionaries utter and decisive defeat from all sides."
Besides three, four, many Vietnams which we called for in 1999, the post 9-11 world and the current US Global Terrorist War Without End call for the proletariat in the oppressor countries where millions have been protesting in the streets to look for every opportunity to turn the war crisis or the world war that breaks out into a civil war leading to the proletarian revolution. Posted by Bulatlat.com
June 6, 2003