Why U.S. Imperialism Needs War

Reprinted from The Worker, newspaper of the Workers Party, USA, April 12, 2017

The extreme aggressiveness of U.S. imperialism threatens all of humanity. Successive U.S. administrations led by both parties – casting aside all of international law – have officially adopted the doctrine of “preemptive” military strikes while declaring that every country must either join with the U.S. or be “treated as terrorist.” They have repeatedly emphasized that this so-called “war against terrorism” will last for decades. At this time the U.S. has already started or escalated war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, the Philippines and elsewhere. The U.S. is preparing an all-out war against Syria. These wars are directed against the independence of countries and the liberation movements of the people. The character of these wars is graphically revealed in the willingness of the U.S. government to unleash the most sophisticated weapons against civilian populations.

Gaining a perspective on the extent and causes of this war program is one of the decisive practical tasks facing the anti-war movement. Only a clear-cut perspective and scientific theory will empower the people to work out the political strategy and tactics for eliminating the war danger.

In fact, one of the ways in which liberalism and opportunism try to suppress the anti-war struggle is by thwarting genuine political discussion and imposing their subjectivist ideologies on the movement.

For example, the war danger is said to arise only from the stupidity or vindictiveness of individual political personalities, that it is only “an election ploy” or a “diversion.” All these “theories” try to cover over the cause of war in the capitalist-imperialist system. Such theories, in fact, minimize the war danger and narrow the scope of our movement.

All-Sided Crisis

The U.S. government’s war program – this bipartisan program of Republican and Democratic parties – is a product of the crisis and decay of the capitalist-imperialist system in the U.S. and the world.

Capitalist-imperialism is a human-devouring system. The very social existence of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class is based not only on the exploitation of the American working class but also the superexploitation and enslavement of peoples all over the world.

In relentless, insatiable pursuit of markets, sources of raw materials, economic territory, etc., U.S. capitalism seeks to penetrate every corner of the globe and remove every roadblock or competitor which prevents it from maximizing profit. This social system is a system of exploitation, of colonial domination and subordination of one state to another. As such it can only be built on military force and maintained through war.

What is more, for a number of years, the worldwide system of capitalism has been in a general crisis, a crisis which is the inevitable result of the basic law of monopoly capitalism – the pursuit of maximum profit which requires continually expanding markets.

The need of capitalism to “expand or perish” brings to the bursting point all the basic contradictions of the system. In particular, it sharpens the contradictions 1) within the U.S. between the monopolies, on the one hand, and the masses of people, on the other; 2) between U.S. imperialism and the colonial peoples; and 3) between the imperialist powers and capitalist states themselves.

For many years, the U.S. monopolies have sought to escape the crisis and “overcome” these contradictions by shifting the burden onto others.

With the collapse of the Soviet empire, U.S. imperialism declared a “new world order” with itself as the “sole superpower.” But to maintain and expand this “new world order” it has had to rely on military force.

Thus, U.S. imperialism launched the first Persian Gulf War not only to project its power directly into the Middle East but also to force all the capitalist states to recognize its strategic dominance.

So too, the Clinton administration launched war against Yugoslavia not only to partition that country but to grab a new military base in the Balkans. As the struggle amongst the capitalist states over control of Europe intensified, U.S. imperialism again turned to military force to insert itself into the equation and secure its spheres of influence.

So too, the war against Afghanistan aims to secure another strategic base for the U.S. monopolies. Again, U.S. imperialism relied on its military predominance to redraw the map of the region.

So too, the war against Iraq aims to recolonize Iraq, secure U.S. domination of the strategic, oil-rich Middle East, and to assert U.S. imperialism as the sole superpower and military ruler of the world.

During this entire period, U.S. imperialism also continued to prepare and wage war against the peoples’ liberation movements in Palestine, in Colombia, in the Philippines and elsewhere.

In short, U.S. imperialism’s post-Cold War “new world order” is based on tearing down the entire edifice of international law and openly declaring that Might Makes Right. It is in reality directed against the liberation movements of the peoples and against any country which, for whatever reason, resists the dictates of U.S. imperialism. Time and again the U.S. government has openly trampled underfoot the sovereignty of countries, torn up international treaties, declared itself the judge, jury and executioner of the peoples, waged wars against the liberation movements of the people, threatened and intimidated countries with nuclear holocaust and other weapons of mass destruction, willfully targeted civilian populations, etc., etc.

In other words, U.S. imperialism wants and needs war in order to maintain its profits and empire.

It needs war to redraw the map of the world and grab new markets, sources of raw materials, spheres of economic dominance.

It needs war to reimpose the colonial system and direct U.S. military rule.

It needs war to bring the weaker capitalist states and other imperialist rivals under its thumb.

It needs war to further militarize the U.S. and put the whole of our country’s economy at its disposal.

In sum, the “war against terrorism” is U.S. imperialism’s blueprint for world domination through force of arms. An objective analysis of the features and causes of this war program confronts the people with 1) the urgent need to continuously mobilize the widest possible sections of the people into struggle and 2) to organize the independent movement of the people in opposition to and struggle against the parties of war and imperialism.