From nobody Mon Feb 3 07:27:38 2003
From: email@example.com (Edna Cotton)
Subject: U.S. dealt blows to imperialist rivals in 1990-91 Gulf war
Date: 3 Feb 2003 05:23:03 GMT
Organization: Dorothy Rowland
Sender: Lucius Glover
Washington's Assault on Iraq: Opening Guns of World III,by Jack Barnes, in New International, no. 7, based on a talk given 30 March 1991
The assault against Iraq was the first of Washington's wars since World War II in which it sought to use its military might to deal blows, indirect but palpable, to U.S. imperialism's rivals, especially in Bonn, Tokyo, and Paris. The Gulf war exacerbated the conflicts and divisions between Washington and its imperialist competitors, as well as between these rival powers themselves. While we know these sharpening conflicts already existed (every working person has been deluged by protectionist propaganda from the U.S. government, bourgeois politicians, trade union bureaucrats, and their radical hangers-on), the war brought them to the surface with greater force and accelerated them to a degree not seen in world politics for some time.
Coming out of World War II, U.S. imperialism emerged the dominant power in the world imperialist system, both economically and militarily. For a substantial period following that war the rate of profit, and for even longer the tempo of growth of the mass of profits, was rising in all the imperialist countries. As a result, competition between the imperialist powers over markets for commodities and capital and over sources of raw materials was buffered.
Since the mid-1970s, however, the combination of the declining rate of profit, halting growth in the mass of profits, and relative slowdown in economic expansion has precipitated growing, sometimes sharp rivalry among the imperialist ruling classes. The years 1974-75 saw the first worldwide recession since 1937, as economic interdependence among the major capitalist powers grew alongside their competition and conflict. Although the sheer size and output of the U.S. capitalist economy remains enormous, and while it remains the largest market in the world, its position as an industrial and trading power has slipped substantially in recent decades in the face of growing challenges from German, Japanese, and other rivals. U.S. strategic military power remains unchallenged, however, and is the main lever the U.S. rulers have to compensate for their relative decline.
'International coalition' No power other than Washington could
have transported and put in place the mammoth order of battle
necessary to carry a war to Iraq. While waged behind the facade of a
international coalition, the war was a U.S. government
operation, with London's enthusiastic support and with Paris being
forced to join in out of weakness. Bonn and Tokyo--still limited in
their use of strategic military power abroad flowing from their defeat
in World War II--took no part in the combat at all.
Through the initiation, organization, domination, and execution of this war effort, U.S. imperialism strengthened its control over Gulf oil reserves, gaining additional leverage over its rivals in Bonn, Tokyo, and Paris in the competition for world markets for commodities and capital. By throwing the biggest military forces of any other imperialist power behind Washington's war effort, the rulers in London successfully sought to guarantee themselves a privileged junior position alongside U.S. finance capital in this region, which was once largely a British protectorate but had been penetrated more and more by French trade, aid, and loans.
The commitment of combat forces abroad by the Canadian ruling class for the first time since the Korean War, and Ottawa's increasingly open and unqualified backing of Washington's foreign policy moves, indicate the pressure to grab more firmly onto the skirt of U.S. imperialism. The regime in New Zealand did the same, easing conflicts with Washington that have grown up there over port visits by U.S. ships armed with nuclear weapons. The Australian ruling class, as usual, made sure it was represented in Washington's armed entourage as well.
The relationship of forces that existed prior to the Gulf war among the capitalist powers in Europe has not been altered, but the national and state conflicts between them have been exacerbated....
Japan the biggest loser Japan stands to be the biggest loser from the
Gulf war among the major imperialist powers. It is the most dependent
of all on imported oil, with 70 percent of its supply coming from the
Middle East (compared to some 15 percent for the United States and 35
percent for Germany). Japan is thus most vulnerable to
Washington's use of the
oil weapon in interimperialist
Several examples from the outcome of the war in the Gulf illustrate what Washington was able to accomplish as a result of its military predominance.
First, U.S.-owned companies have already been awarded an estimated 70 percent of the multibillion dollar reconstruction contracts signed by Kuwait's royal oil barons. British-owned firms rank second (London finds the degree of the U.S. capitalists' greediness a little colonial, to say the least). Germany and Japan have been virtually iced out. General Motors is getting in on the act, replacing Japan as the supplier of thousands of automobiles to Kuwait for the remainder of 1991, many of which will be used to replenish the stock of cop cars damaged during the war.
Second, the U.S. rulers brought such enormous pressure on rivals to
fair share for the Gulf operation that if they
actually pay up, Washington stands to make a
profit on the
German and Japanese armed forces One certain result of the Gulf war will be efforts by the German and Japanese rulers to strengthen their armed forces and to push back political constraints--both at home and abroad--on the use of military power beyond their own borders. The German and Japanese rulers are determined they will never again be in a position of forking over billions of dollars to their chief rival to help it strengthen its strategic and competitive power. Their resolve is all the stronger after having paid for a war that strengthens Washington's domination over a vital commodity, especially one that both Germany and Japan must import. Bonn and Tokyo have just been compelled to pay through the teeth to make the cost of their access to that oil more vulnerable to manipulation by Washington and Wall Street.
Germany and Japan already have large and modern standing armies--much more so in reality than their image in the United States would lead us to believe. Germany has the largest army in Western Europe, with 480,000 soldiers in uniform; it spends some billion on its military annually. Japan has 247,000 soldiers in uniform and an annual military budget roughly the same as Bonn's. Tokyo and Bonn will now seek to transform these armies into forces capable of taking decisive action in the world.