This article has been reproduced from the Socialist Standard (March 2002), the monthly journal of The Socialist Party of Great Britain
Bush boldly announced that the “war on terror” was “only beginning” and announced an enormous hike in military spending. This year’s military budget is up $36 bn to $379 bn and next year the US war machine will receive an extra $48 bn, with a further $120 bn promised over the next five years, bringing the total spent on the military by 2007 to $ 2 trillion. To get some estimate of this level of spending it is worth noting that this year’s increase alone is higher than the joint military spending of Europe, and larger than China’s existing military budget. Though just how such an awe-inspiring arsenal of state of the arts weaponry is to stop 11 September type attacks on the USA is yet to be explained.
America has at last declared that the “war on terror” has replaced the threat of the “international communist conspiracy” and found in this the pretext to set the agenda for the coming century. The Bush administration has embedded its flag in what it believes is the moral high ground. From now on it is a war of good against evil – evil being anyone standing directly in the way of the US and its aspirations of global domination, with the “war on terrorism” allowing it to intervene anywhere and whenever and to deem who it likes a terrorist. Clearly this new “war” will involve countless military interventions with no regard whatsoever for international sensibilities.
There are now bogeymen under every rock and the world needs protecting from them. Bush identified an “axis of evil” in his State of the Union Address, pointing to the threat the world faced from North Korea, Iraq and Iran. Vice-President Dick Cheney would later remark that the US is considering military action against 50 countries and that this ongoing conflict could last 50 years, without seeming to question whether this would be sustainable.
Bush’s adviser Richard Perle commented: “This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there . . . if we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely, and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war, our children will sing great songs about us years from now.”
All of this has naturally left political analysts wondering just who will be next. Somalia (on a key oil export route and with untapped oil deposits off its coast and with whom the US has a score to settle following the botched “Restore Hope” operation of a decade ago, which left thousands of innocents dead), or Yemen, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria or Libya? All harbour bogeymen whose existence sullies the notion of American hegemony. Any could be the next target for a war machine drunk with its recent victory in Afghanistan. And what a victory! – Osama bin Laden still not caught (the entire campaign was about catching him), 5 thousand civilians dead and 7 million facing starvation in refugee camps.
A key element in the US game plan for global hegemony is clearly control of the Caspian’s rich oil reserves – estimated to be able to produce 3.3 million gallons of crude oil per day and 4850 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year. Hence US military manoeuvring in the states surrounding Afghanistan and thus the attaching of the “bogeyman” label to any state perceived as standing in the way of these profits.
Already Kyrgistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are under US military domination and there are US military tent cities in 13 states surrounding Afghanistan, with the map of US bases mirroring the route of a possible oil pipeline which would take oil through Iran to the Indian ocean.
The pretext for the US invasion of Iraq would be Iraq’s refusal to agree to terms laid down by a US-led weapons inspectorate into the country, hence Bush’s assertion in his State of the Union Address that Iraq “continues to flaunt its hostility towards the US” and that “this is a regime that has something to hide from the civilised world.”
The above may sound like so much scare-mongering, but when it is considered the US now accounts for 40 percent of global military spending, that it spends more on its war machine than the next 19 states, that in the past year it has discarded numerous international treaties, including those pertaining to weapons control, that the space taken up by its military hardware covers an area the size of Sweden, that it has served notice on all countries opposing the notion of US hegemony that their days are numbered, we can’t but conclude that warfare will be as much a part of life in this century as the one we have just emerged from.
We have every reason to be fearful for the future of humanity. War is competition for profits (either via trade routes, mineral wealth, resources or areas of influence) writ large, and to safeguard its future profits, its control of world resources the world’s greatest and largest military power is accumulating an unimaginable array of weaponry, rolling up its sleeves and marching forward to stamp underfoot all it perceives as being a threat to its interests.
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