- by Anna Pha
- The Guardian
- Issue #1984
Imperialism and war go hand in hand. According to the Canada-based Centre for Global Research the US has killed more than 20 million people in thirty-seven nations since World War II. It has engaged in 188 conflicts between 1992 and 2017 alone.
Wars mean big profits for the military industrial complex. They also provide the basis for regime change, new markets, access to cheap labour, forcible acquisition of resources, or counter-revolution.
In the past twenty years alone, the US has spent US$21 trillion (AU$28 trillion) on foreign and domestic militarisation. The human cost was and continues to be enormous. The number of people directly killed is over 900,000, and several times that indirectly due to war-induced famine, disease, blockades, and infrastructure destruction.
During the same period wars have forcibly displaced thirty-eight million people, principally in and from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya, and Syria. (Watson Institute, Brown University)
The military industrial complex requires never-ending wars to sustain its unquenchable appetite for mega-profits. Australia’s purchase of nuclear-powered submarines and missiles is part of the country’s emerging role as a merchant of death with its establishment as a manufacturer and supplier of weapons of mass destruction.
In the case of the US and Australia, the dangerous conflict with China brings out contradictions within the ruling class; for those sections whose profits depend on Chinese trade and investments and those who stand to benefit from the massive gains from the build-up to war. There are other capitalists who see China as providing an opportunity for massive investments and accumulation of capital following regime change, a reflection of the broader counter-revolutionary tactics led by US imperialism.
The US is an imperialist power in decline. Its massive expenditure on wars is taking its toll: such expenditure is unsustainable. It faces an economic crisis as a result of which its only means of asserting global hegemony is through war.
During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries up to the Second World War, Britain, Spain, Belgium, France, and Holland exploited the people and resources of their colonial possessions on the African, American, Asian and Pacific continents. Inter-imperialist wars resulted in changes in colonisers as these wealthy European nations attempted to expand their empires.
At the end of, and in the decades following the Second World War, national liberation movements saw India, Indonesia, Philippines, South Africa, Cuba, and China gain their independence. Britain, in particular, saw its once vast empire crumble. As the British empire was in decline, the US was on the rise in pursuit of global hegemony.
Capitalism with its global reach was threatened by socialist revolutions in Russia (1917), East Europe (1945), China (1949), and in Cuba (1959). These revolutions posed an ideological threat to imperialism as the working class took power, their people made gains, and their socialist governments pursued peace. A bipolar world emerged with two “superpowers” – imperialist US and the socialist Soviet Union. Following the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the US saw itself as dominant in a unipolar world.
As the US continues to assert itself around the globe, there are other emerging forces that also seek to play an independent or leading role in a multi-polar world. The concept of a unipolar world, with one imperialist power at the helm is being challenged. In addition, the People’s Republic of China, with its rapid economic, social, and military development is perceived as a threat by US imperialism.
While the US has spent trillions of dollars on the military, at the expense of its people’s needs, China has lifted hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty. Today China is the world’s second largest economy set to overtake the US within a decade.
Shifting and at times contradictory alliances mark the realignment of international forces that is underway.
Britain, once a global power with a vast empire spanning continents, is now in a war coalition aimed at China. AUKUS signals the UK’s shift to an increased participation in the Asia-Pacific as a junior partner to the US, and Australia as the launching pad for this strategy. The UK is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance with the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
In 2020, the British government released the report, Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. In the introduction to the report, conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson states:
“By 2030, we will be deeply engaged in the Indo-Pacific as the European partner with the broadest, most integrated presence in support of mutually beneficial trade, shared security and values. We will be active in Africa, in particular East Africa and with important partners such as Nigeria. And we will have thriving relationships in the Middle East and the [Persian] Gulf based on trade, green innovation and science and technology collaboration in support of a more resilient region that is increasingly self-reliant in providing for its own security.”
He continues: “We will remain a nuclear armed power with global reach and integrated military capabilities across all five operational domains. Our diplomacy will be underwritten by the credibility of our deterrent and our ability to project power.” (Emphasis added)
Military spending will be increased. The UK is already second only to the US in military spending in NATO.
The report also refers to “China’s increasing international assertiveness and the growing importance of the Indo-Pacific; systemic competition, including between states, and between democratic and authoritarian values and systems of government.”
“Russia will remain the most acute direct threat to the UK, and the US will continue to ask more from its allies in Europe in sharing the burden of collective security,” the report states.
Australia is also sharing the burden of US war plans with the purchase of nuclear submarines, long-range missiles and other materiel and a massive hike in military spending. The report does not shy away from the fact the UK is preparing for war.
EUROPE AND US RELATIONS
It is too soon to estimate what impact the departure of Chancellor Angela Merkel will have on Germany’s relations with the US. France’s President Macron has called for the formation of a European army, which could have consequences for NATO and the US. France and Germany are the most powerful countries in Europe.
A number of European countries have defied the US’s bans on trade with Russia and have also signed up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative in defiance of the US.
Nuclear-armed India, under the leadership of the reactionary Narendra Modi government, has been drawn into US war plans, and has held joint military exercises with the US and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia.
The US’s targeting of China and Russia and attempts to contain both countries are drawing them closer together. They recently held joint military exercises on Chinese territory with unprecedented cooperation. China has repeatedly made its position clear. It was Australia that decided to abandon previously friendly relations with China by discriminating against Chinese investment and meddling in China’s internal affairs.
“There is no way for China to develop economic ties with a country that treats it as an enemy,” said the Global Times newspaper. “There is no path to future prosperity for an Australia which chooses to isolate itself from the region’s largest economy.” (Global Times, 16th September 2021)
At the recent UN General Assembly, China’s President Xi Jinping pledged that his country would never seek hegemony by attacking other countries. He emphasised that China was “a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, defender of the international order and provider of public goods.”
The United States has around 800 military bases globally with around half of them at the borders of China or Russia.
The US has by far the largest nuclear arsenal of any country. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) it has an estimated 5,550 nuclear weapons – enough to destroy humanity many times over. It is constantly modernising its arsenal.
The AUKUS agreement provides for the sharing of nuclear submarine technology with Australia and paves the way for the establishment of a nuclear industry here and the development of nuclear weapons contrary to the international Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It should be noted that Australia is not a signatory.
There would be no winners in a nuclear war.
The provocative actions of the US and its allies, including Australia’s in the Taiwan Straits and South and East China Seas pose a serious risk of escalating into war. The regular joint military exercises conducted by the US and South Korea off the coast of North Korea with live weapons are a further provocation.
The world faces numerous crises including climate change and the global pandemic. At the same time the US is preparing for war with the aim of enforcing a unipolar world with itself at the helm. It seeks to overthrow China’s socialist system, by war if necessary, and to defeat it economically.
The people of Australia and the Asia-Pacific region want peace and stability. The Quad and AUKUS military alliances are a catalyst for a new arms race, and are preparations for nuclear war, against China.
Say NO to war! Cancel AUKUS! Disband the Quad! No Nuclear Australia! Time for Action!