With 4,000 (and counting) American deaths, over 40,000 wounded, and at least 600,000 Iraqis killed, the Iraq war has increased the suffering of workers and youth in both countries, especially in Iraq. After five years of U.S. occupation, opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq is found throughout the country at schools, on the job, and in the military. Most of the U.S. population wants the U.S. military to withdraw its troops from Iraq.
Despite all the Democratic blather about a total U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, Clinton, Obama and the U.S. congress are clearly not going to oppose the basic interests of the U.S. ruling class. Those interests require that congressional members (both Democrats and Republicans) buy time while ruling class strategists prepare to extend the current war across the entire Gulf region. This new war will require a massive military build-up, including a re-institution of the draft. It will also require that the U.S. military, sooner rather than later, take on Iran, the leading power in the region. The reason that the U.S. ruling class must strengthen its control over Iraq and the Gulf region is oil.
Oil and Imperialism. Oil is the basis of modern industry. It is critical for the operation of factories and for transportation systems, and is the lifeblood of the economy and military of every capitalist nation. The U.S. ruling class is waging its wars in the Gulf region for two reasons:
Economic crisis in the U.S. Since the 1970s, the U.S. capitalist class has been losing market share to its imperialist rivals: Europe, Japan, Russia and China. As world competition has pushed down their profits, the U.S. bosses have been forced to resort to layoffs and cutbacks, and to move factories and service operations overseas in a desperate search for cheap labor and resources.
Monopolizing oil. Why does the U.S. have two aircraft carrier groups in the Persian Gulf, when only 22% of U.S. oil is imported from that region? Because in order to control its rivals, the U.S. ruling class needs to monopolize the strategic power of oil, which means controlling its supply, transportation, and pricing.
In order to protect the U.S. superpower status and empire against challenges from imperialist rivals, particularly China and Russia, the U.S. ruling class needs to dominate the Middle East and Central Asia (and their oil) politically and militarily. The current Iraqi insurrection and civil war has prevented any political solution acceptable to the U.S. bosses from developing—so war in Iraq is the only option. The U.S. bosses are pushing patriotism and anti-Arab racism to get us to support their imperialist oil wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the real enemy is not workers from other nations but capitalists of all nations.
How Do We Stop Imperialist wars? Our battle cry should not be the liberals’ “Out Now!” but “Smash Imperialism!” As we learned in the anti-Vietnam war movement, the working class, not the lying politicians, is the key force in any fight against the capitalist class. Workers are the ones who work in the factories where the weapons are made. Workers and students are the ones who serve in the military. Workers and students led the anti-Vietnam war struggle, and these are the forces that will organize the strikes, shut down the troop trains, occupy the campuses and fill the streets in the coming anti-war struggle. We must begin to organize this struggle now. Here’s an agenda we can begin with:
- Drive all military recruiters off the campuses.
- Support draftees and soldiers who refuse to fight in the bosses’ wars.
- Fight anti-black, anti-Arab, and anti-immigrant racism.
- Organize in our unions to strike against the war. Build for a general strike.
Capitalism = Death. Capitalism generates racism, poverty and imperialist war. A system that can murder workers by the millions in Iraq and Afghanistan but cannot feed the hungry, shelter the homeless or provide decent jobs for all does not deserve to exist. The only long range answer is to build an international communist movement of workers, students and soldiers to defeat capitalism with communist revolution.
Smash Capitalism and Imperialist War with Communist Revolution!
Progressive Labor Party is a revolutionary communist party dedicated to eliminating capitalism with communist revolution as the only way to end imperialism, terrorism, racism, sexism and class inequality.
For more information, see www.plp.org.
March on May Day, International Workers’ Day
May 3, 2008 in Brooklyn, New York