Centralization of power — military, political and economic — is a hallmark of fascism, the deadly necessary tool capitalists employ when they can no longer hide behind the façade of “democracy.” Obama’s Libya power grab reflects desperate efforts by the dominant — but embattled — imperialist wing of U.S. bosses to retain its grip on foreign policy. One aim of fascism is for the dominant capitalists — who must protect the long-range survival of their system — to discipline those bosses who are only out for immediate profits and disregard how negatively that might impact the system in the long run.
But Obama’s masters have a big problem. The U.S. is a big country, made up of many competing capitalists with competing interests. All employ politicians in Washington. The biggest bosses, such as the Rockefeller-bloc — owners of imperialist firms like Exxon, JP Morgan and GE — require the U.S. war machine to guard and help expand their far-flung operations. Liberal Democrats, including Obama, as well as a number of interventionist Republicans, serve them.
War-maker Obama Must Skirt Polarized, Partisan Congress
Seeking to turn part of the Arab Spring into a Khadafy-free oil free-for-all on behalf of Big Oil, U.S.-led NATO has conducted over 4,300 air strikes so far in Libya. One, on June 17, killed seven civilians. Yet Obama insists this bloodshed does not amount to “hostilities” under the War Powers Act and thus needs no Congressional consent.
In 1973, when their Vietnam genocide was failing and masses of workers and GI’s were turning against this imperialist invasion, U.S. rulers cooked up this Act in order to blame the war on Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon personally rather than on U.S. bosses’ need to counter their then rising state capitalist rivals in the Soviet Union and China. The Act’s purpose was also to put a “democratic” face on future U.S. wars by demanding Congress approve a president’s military action within 90 days. After all, the bosses’ Big Lie goes, Congress “represents the whole nation,” even though it is mostly a ruling class rubber stamp. But today Obama claims a license to kill without a thumbs-up from either Senate or House.
Oil-based Domestic Splits Sharpening
But some businesses, like Koch Oil, have primarily a short-range, domestic focus. Koch’s main push today is to build a pipeline from Canada’s burgeoning oil and gas tar fields that will connect with its existing Minnesota line. It runs through the district that Koch-backed, Tea Party presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann represents on Capitol Hill. Opposing Obama’s War Powers move, she told ABC News (6/19/11) the U.S. has “no vital national interest” in Libya. In addition, smaller business owners, seeking tax relief as a way out of the current recession, bankrolled successful anti-Obama, Tea Party candidates for Congress in 2011.
Obama also faces less ideologically consistent Republican opportunists, like front-runner Mitt Romney, trying to cash in on mass anti-war sentiment. His calls for “bringing the troops home,” designed to defeat Obama, echo Obama’s own fake 2008 campaign “peace” appeals aimed at Bush, Jr., designed to capitalize on mass disgust with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
U.S.-led Alliances Faltering
However much they need it, the main, imperialist U.S. rulers have been unable — since 1941 — to unite Congress to declare war. Similar dysfunction besets them internationally. Retiring Pentagon chief Robert Gates spent a good deal of his worldwide farewell tour berating NATO “allies” for not ponying up in troops, money or supplies. Germany, for example, chiefly dependent on Russian energy, is sitting out the mainly U.S., British and French slaughter in Libya. Washington’s NATO funding, moaned Gates in a recent speech in Belgium, has soared from a one-half to three-quarters share.
As for Libya in particular, Gates said, “While every alliance member voted for the Libya mission, less than half have participated at all, and fewer than a third have been willing to participate in the strike mission.” (Defense Department, 6/10/11) And Gates wasn’t even talking about potentially necessary invasions of Syria, Iran or Saudi Arabia — in the latter’s case to protect Exxon’s oil — in which “allies” have divergent oil and gas interests and therefore different levels of loyalty to Washington.
But U.S. Rulers’ Need for World War Persists
A week later in Singapore, however, formerly pessimistic Gates chirped merrily in a veiled way about a possible allied World War III victory over potential imperialist enemies: “[W]hen America is willing to lead the way; when we meet our commitments and stand with our allies, even in troubling times; when we prepare for threats that are on the ground and on the horizon, and even beyond the horizon; and when we make the necessary sacrifices and take the necessary risks to defend our values and our interests — then great things are possible, and even probable for our country, this region, and the world.” Who might be “on or beyond the horizon” but Chinese and Russian imperialists?
To survive amid intensifying rivalry, U.S. capitalists will do what they can and must to keep profits flowing. This mean widening wars of every kind, accompanied by an increasing police-state crackdown in the U.S. A principal face of fascism is evident in U.S. bosses’ need to intensify the squeeze on U.S. workers to pay for these wars through wage-cuts and speed-up, employing less workers to produce more; through huge budget cuts in social services; through fending off possible resistance by the tens of millions of unemployed; through the maintenance of racism in all these areas to extract super-profits from black, Latino and immigrant workers; and through the exploitation of workers worldwide to keep U.S. capitalism afloat.
The international working class’s survival, then, depends on building one united international communist party — PLP — that can function under conditions of war and fascism with the aim of overthrowing the murdering billionaire class. It is towards this goal that PLP members throughout the world must build our Party in every area of class struggle in which we are involved.