Tens of thousands of workers and youth are waging a political battle to overthrow U.S.-backed corrupt fascist dictators, cutting a wide swath throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Many have taken up arms and risked their lives fighting brutal attacks by the rulers’ cops and armies, whose tanks, guns and tear gas are marked “Made in USA.”
The rebels are also going on strike against the ravages of capitalism — skyrocketing food prices and massive unemployment — demanding jobs.
Unfortunately these courageous workers and youth will wind up with the same capitalist system that has produced this mass poverty and fascist conditions. What leadership that does exist is not fighting for workers’ power — communism — which would destroy the profit system and its ruling bosses. This only highlights the necessity to build the Progressive Labor Party to develop the kind of leadership that would make a fundamental change, a real revolution that would toss out the old ruling class and put the working class in power.
However, the U.S. may very well be playing both sides. While the rebellions oppose dictators backed by the U.S., their replacements might be U.S.-backed also. Some student rebels have been trained by CIA front groups on a 2008 organizing conference at Columbia University in NYC) as well as a union movement trained by the AFL-CIA.
Significantly these struggles are raging in and near the heart of U.S. rulers’ energy-based global empire, raising big questions: Will pro- or anti-U.S. bosses gain long-term advantage from the conflicts? And now that many Arab lands are, or could be, under shaky new management, how can Exxon Mobil and its Big Oil buddies hang on to critical oil fields and shipping routes?
Iran’s ayatollahs made their opportunistic aims clear by sending a pair of warships through embroiled Egypt’s Suez Canal into the Mediterranean, long controlled by the U.S. Sixth Fleet. Meanwhile, Obama & Co.’s response involves expanding the scope of liberal President Jimmy Carter oil “Doctrine”:
“An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force. (Carter’s 1980 State of the Union Address)
Today’s revolts could spread to Carter’s obvious focus, Saudi Arabia, U.S. imperialism’s most vital energy interest. So Obama’s actual and possible combat theater protecting U.S. bosses’ “vital interests” now stretches from the mountains of Pakistan across the Gulf to the North African coast. And now the U.S. military has admitted its Afghan strategy is failing, and is withdrawing from strategic areas in that country. (NY Times, 2/25)
Liberal Bosses Want 20,000 Troops for Libyan Bloodbath
Libya, where dictator Qaddafi’s thugs have killed hundreds, and Exxon and U.S. ally BP have had to suspend drilling for crude oil, is especially worrisome to U.S. rulers. The NY Times summed up these risks: “The worst-case scenario, should the rebellion topple him,…is…a failed state where Al Qaeda or other radical groups could exploit the chaos and operate with impunity.” (2/27)
Michael O’Hanlon, military expert at the liberal Brookings Institution, urged the Pentagon to prepare a ground force, contrasting Libya with U.S. inaction in the 1994 crisis in Rwanda: “It would have taken closer to 20,000 troops, or more, to do the job right. There could well be a similar requirement here.” (Brookings website, 2/25) Obama booster O’Hanlon even provides the outlines of a body count: “We could lose one of our soldiers or Marines for every 10 enemy fighters we had to take down. If Qadhafi loyalists numbered in the thousands…we could lose hundreds of U.S. troops.” O’Hanlon would no doubt recommend the same treatment for al Qaeda sympathizers in Libya.
But Saudi Arabia, as the world’s greatest petroleum source and ExxonMobil’s biggest supplier, poses far graver concerns for U.S. bosses — so grave, in fact, that they resort to code to speak about it publicly. Michael Levi, a fellow at the influential Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), funded by Rockefeller, Exxon and J.P. Morgan Chase, wrote: “If unrest actually migrated to the desert kingdom…Riyadh [Saudi’s capital] would probably impress on the world that it needed support if they didn’t want to see prices get out of control. That would be a credible threat, and could result in a very concrete set of responses”(CFR website, 2/25/11).
“Concrete response” means “invasion.” Two main groups seek to benefit from Saudi regime change: swelling ranks of unemployed youth and those capitalists not part of Saudi’s royal family, shut out of the fabulously lucrative oil racket. Osama bin Laden, a member of the latter, has united elements of both into the anti-U.S. al Qaeda.
Interestingly, Saudi’s ruling king, fearing an uprising, and to calm oil interests, just allotted $36 billion for reforms in his kingdom. But rather than “calming” the situation, those oil interests see his concerns as evidence of a further threat to the region and can very well provoke even more oil price hikes.
Top U.S. Warlord Visits Big Oil States and U.S. Bases
To hammer home the U.S. invasion vow, Admiral Mike Mullen, the U.S.’s top military chief, recently visited Kuwait on the pretense of commemorating the 20th anniversary of Desert Storm. In 1991, a U.S.-led coalition of 750,000 soldiers ousted Iraqi invaders from Kuwait. But the display of U.S. and allied firepower demonstrates Obama’s promise of a repeat performance to defend Saudi Arabia.
Covering the February 26 celebration, Stars and Stripes, the U.S. brass’s mouthpiece for GIs gushed:
“Tanks, troops, armored vehicles, helicopters and barrel-rolling [combat maneuver to elude adversaries] fighter jets…passed in formation before Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and other dignitaries including Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs in 1991, and Spain’s King Juan Carlos. It was a spectacle rarely seen in the world today. Saudi, Kuwaiti, French, British, and other troops joined the relatively small contingent of roughly 175 Americans thundering down the road.”
Saudi Arabia’s participation indicated its coming turn for potential U.S. invasion.
Powell’s presence signaled the future use of his “overwhelming force Doctrine.” The Spanish, French and British showing demonstrates that Obama, more like the Bush, Sr. than Bush, Jr., understands the U.S. need for broad military coalitions.
Mullen landed in Kuwait after a five-day Gulf tour of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Djibouti and Bahrain. These seven states either produce vast amounts of oil or house major U.S. military bases that defend the U.S. strategic stranglehold on its distribution. A Mullen spokesman reassured Saudi king Abdullah that Obama intends to keep him on his throne: “The aim of the 1991 Gulf War was not to democratize Kuwait.” (Agencie French Press, 2/25)
But where would U.S. rulers find the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of troops needed for a Saudi invasion that would probably draw in Iran? Restoring the draft in present circumstances remains unthinkable. Gary Hart, a leading imperialist strategist, thinks the solution for U.S. imperialists lies in tying the liberal side of the fight over workers’ rights now centered in Wisconsin to a patriotic movement that would back U.S. rulers’ war plans.
Hart was co-chairman of Clinton’s 1999 Hart-Rudman Commission that drew up blueprints for a centralized U.S. police state, while both fearing and welcoming a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Hart figures this could galvanize mass U.S. support for a Saudi invasion, just as it did for the eventual invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the latter war now the longest in U.S. history. (See box)
Opportunities to Build the PLP
The uprisings and U.S. rulers’ reactions to them offer many valuable political lessons, about which we will write in coming issues. But for now we point to the first and foremost: Don’t trust the liberal bosses.
Meanwhile, PLP members and friends must back solidarity with — participate in — any rising working-class struggles, to be in position to guide them towards the goal of workers’ power and away from the liberals’ dead-end war aims. Recent anti-government working-class resistance to ruling-class attacks, both in the U.S. and abroad, show that politics are increasingly motivating workers. This can be advanced to demonstrate the need for a communist party, the PLP, a central role for our Party in the immediate period.
Liberal Gary Hart Seeks to Turn Wisconsin Protests to U.S. War Aims
Writing about Tea Partiers trumping U.S. imperialist policy from Madison to Tripoli, imperialist strategist Hart says, “There are lessons to be learned meanwhile about the limits of …American power. The struggle here is whether we will return to a pre-New Deal America with many fewer ladders of opportunity, safety nets for the poor and elderly, and regulatory protections for consumers, workers, and the environment.” (Hart’s weblog, 2/21) Hart wants a new New Deal, with even more ladders and nets. He understands U.S. rulers’ need to somehow recreate Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. FDR ran an alphabet soup of social programs, from the militaristic CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) to the job-creating (though slave wage) WPA (Works Progress Administration). It was these, along with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, that helped overcome Tea Party-style 1930s isolationism by luring workers into the arms of a war-making government.