Draft on the Way: Obama’s War Budget Makes Workers Pay

The U.S. ruling class’s “debate” over raising the debt limit above $14 trillion and cutting the budget is all a cover to hide the goal of forcing the working class to foot the bill for U.S. imperialism’s global wars that are slaughtering workers internationally.

Wars for control of Mid-East oil and gas and for strategic footholds against China and Russia cost U.S. imperialists a fortune — $3.7 trillion so far in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. But, as battlefields widen to Libya, Yemen, Somalia and beyond, the current depression leaves U.S. rulers with inadequate ready cash. So Obama and the major capitalists he serves are pushing a budget plan that shoves even more war burden onto the backs of workers.

Obama’s proposal for 2012-2020 slashes $655 billion from the Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits workers have earned. (White House Budget, published in 2010) This includes lowering Social Security benefits and gradually raising full retirement benefits from age 65 to past 66 and eventually to age 69. Consequently, millions more workers will die on the job before they can retire.

Meanwhile, the needs of struggling U.S. imperialism belie his promise to curb the military budget by 7%. In fact, the imperialists themselves demand a whopping 67% boost. (See CFR’s Sebastian Mallaby quote below.) The only significant “cost-cutting” move likely at the Pentagon, one now pushed by the highest brass, is restoring the draft. Most draftees, unlike career enlistees, get rock-bottom pay and no pension.

Lying Obama Promises Tea Partiers Pentagon Cuts; Bigger Bosses say ‘Forget about ‘em’

Obama’s phony Pentagon pruning aims solely at appeasing obstructionist, anti-tax Tea Party elements in Congress. The latter front for smaller domestically-minded U.S. capitalists who don’t directly benefit from the bigger bosses’ expensive and expanding war agenda. But the main U.S. imperialists, whose profits depend on war, and who bankrolled Obama into office and fill his cabinet, reveal the intentional hollowness of his rhetoric.

Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), U.S. imperialism’s leading think-tank, representing the Rockefeller-dominated wing of U.S. rulers, such as Exxon Mobil and JP Morgan Chase. They seek to undermine Obama’s cheap talk and rally Republican imperialists, the socially-liberal and fiscally-conservatives like Senators John McCain and Maine’s two Senators, part of the old Nelson Rockefeller wing of the G.O.P.

Boot wrote in the conservative Weekly Standard (7/18/11), “Obama’s proposed cuts…would seriously impair the military’s ability to meet its global commitments.” Boot then lets loose a flood of rhetorical questions that pretty much lay out his bosses’ money-burning order of battle for the near term:

“Should we completely pull out of Afghanistan? Even with the overly hasty withdrawal of surge forces ordered by Obama, we still will have 70,000 troops there at the end of next year, costing at least $70 billion. Pulling out troops even faster risks giving jihadists their biggest victory since 9/11.

“Perhaps we [U.S. rulers] should stop fighting pirates off the coast of Africa? Stop fighting in Libya so that arch-terrorist Muammar Qaddafi can claim a victory over the West? Stop targeting al Qaeda in Pakistan and Yemen and elsewhere? Stop deterring China, North Korea, or Iran? Stop patrolling the Persian Gulf through which much of the world’s oil flows? Stop fighting cyberattacks emanating from China and Russia?”

Obama’s Ruling-Class Handlers Want Massive 67% Boost, not Mini 7% Cut, in War Funding

Of course, all this call to expansion of U.S. rulers’ wars means mass murder of untold numbers of workers in these countries. Boot obviously seeks a “No” answer to the military cut question. His colleague, CFR fellow Sebastian Mallaby, goes much further, urging drastically increasing war funding and reducing workers’ living standards. In a piece entitled, “American Power Requires Economic Sacrifice (CFR website, 7/7/11) he says:

“…[I]f the U.S. has the will to allocate a rising share of GDP [Gross Domestic Product] to the Pentagon, it can sustain its global dominance for a long time to come. After all, defense claimed more than a 10th of U.S. GDP during the 1950s, compared with just below 6 per cent today. But military budgets on the scale of the 1950s entail social and economic sacrifices.”

Mallaby refers unmistakably to reducing health care’s 17% share of U.S. GDP. Furthermore, his demand to revert to 1950 military budget allocations of one-tenth (10%) from the current 6% means a two-thirds increase, or 67%.

Anti-Worker Draft Coming Back
as ‘Money-Saver’

From the Korean War in the 1950s to the Vietnam War in the 1960s and ’70s, U.S. rulers maintained the draft. Today, massive unemployment and under-employment of over 30 million workers forces job-seeking youth to enlist, which may help make recruitment adequate for U.S. bosses now. But that won’t be the case if rebellion reaches Saudi Arabia, Big Oil’s biggest energy source, and sets the whole Middle East aflame or if armed conflict breaks out with Iran’s or China’s bosses. Then the U.S. “all-volunteer” forces won’t be able to cut it, economically or politically.

With pay raises, benefits and pensions, the volunteer force costs the bosses too much. And only a shrinking segment of the population, increasingly poor white workers, seems won to enlisting. So here comes conscription again, in the guise of “economizing.” The Air Force Times (7/14/11) reported that, “The Pentagon is considering massive changes to the force — including a draft — amid fears that new and far deeper budget cuts are looming just over the horizon…. It quoted General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “You may just shift the balance of the services from active to Guard or reserve or to — the dirty word — a draft. Those are all different characters and they have different costs that you can manage.’”

A new draft would force millions of U.S. youth into a war machine that would kill them and millions of our sister and brother workers worldwide. (World War II saw 14 million in the U.S. armed forces, with half the current U.S. population.) But, at the same time, in laying bare to millions the horrors of capitalist war, it would also expand the opportunities for communist revolutionary anti-imperialist organizing in the military.

Historically, the two great communist-led revolutions in the last century, in Russia and China, arose out of the imperialist World Wars I and II.

With our lives, labor, declining wages, and ever-diminishing living conditions, workers have paid for capitalists’ wars for centuries. Aside from the incalculable money loss, their harm to our class amounts to billions of human beings impoverished and murdered. We must turn the tables on the profit-driven killers by building for communist revolution to destroy them.

Our Progressive Labor Party works towards this goal, as is evident from PLP’s immersion in, and helping to lead, class struggles: for a community library (page 7); among transit workers in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. (page 6); for client-worker unity against budget cuts in New Jersey (page 7); among hospital workers in NYC (page 1) and in Chicago (page 6). PLP joins and leads these battles to be able to raise revolutionary communist ideas and recruit these workers to build a mass Party.

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