While the capitalists’ election circus offers nothing of value to workers, it is an important mechanism for opposing sections of the ruling class to battle out their differences. The U.S. presidential campaign fight between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney reflects in part a disagreement over the best way to expand the looming inter-imperialist conflict with nuclear-bound Iran.
The major difference pits a less expensive warfare policy of air strikes and Special Forces (Romney) versus a longer-term, mass mobilization for a full-scale ground war (Obama). At stake is nothing less than U.S. imperialism’s top-dog status over Russia, China, and other imperialist rivals.
Securing Iran’s oil and gas reserves—the second largest in the world, after Saudi Arabia’s—has been the Pentagon’s mission since the fascist Shah of Iran, the U.S.-installed puppet, was ousted by the fascist ayatollahs in 1979. It remains the top long-term priority of finance capital, the dominant wing of the U.S. ruling class. These are the bosses who bankroll the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), whose board members include Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson. A recent CSIS report states:
U.S. national security planners accept the fact that the [Persian] Gulf is and will remain the location of a strategically vital share of the world’s petroleum resources. The U.S. is deeply tied to a global economy dependent on the flow of Gulf energy exports to Europe and Asia and to manufactured imports that require such oil and gas exports.
U.S. imperialism’s real power derives in large measure from Exxon’s ability, backed by the Pentagon, to dictate the terms of Middle East energy supply to 120 countries.
The Obama-Romney disagreement over Middle East strategy parallels the bosses’ differences over taxes. The wing represented by Obama sees the need to tax the rich at a much higher rate, in line with their financial contributions to World War II, while cutting unneeded military programs. Romney’s backers want to reduce taxes on the rich while maintaining and adding to the military budget in the name of “national security.”
Obama’s Bosses Are Winning — for Now
Despite Romney’s success in the first debate, Obama’s backers, the proponents of global war, currently seem to have the upper hand. Romney champions the faction that followed the path of Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush: war “on the cheap” to “fight with the army you have.” (The Rumsfeld forces temporarily won out over the faction allied with former Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell, who advocated the use of overwhelming force.)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (a Romney ally) was all for a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, but pressure from Obama forced him to back off. Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu laid out his “redlines” for striking Iran’s nuke sites but pushed back his deadline well into next year. The top donor for both Romney and Netanyahu, casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, raged at Obama’s time-buying alternative, charging that the president’s Iran sanctions “contain loopholes that you could drive a warhead through….They won’t stop Iran’s nuclear program” (Jewish News Service, 10/11/12).
On Obama’s side, in a New York Times op-ed piece, “Why Netanyahu Backed Down,” Graham Allison and Shai Feldman of Harvard’s Belfer Center crowed that the Israeli leader “ended speculation that Israel might mount a unilateral attack on Iran before the American presidential election.” Netanyahu gave up the thought of acting alone because the Obama administration was “upgrading American security assistance to Israel” at a “level of support… greater than ever in Israel’s history.” The authors cited a poll in which “77 percent of Israelis now oppose a military attack on Iran that is not approved by Washington, although 71 percent would support an attack with American consent.”
U.S Rulers’ Grand Plan for Iran
The dominant finance capital group of U.S. imperialists has still grander plans for Iran. On October 10, their CSIS think tank updated its ongoing study, “Iran and the [Persian] Gulf Military Balance.” Envisioning far more than a “surgical” strike, it details “the order of battle,” the relative strengths in troops and armaments of Iran and its potential foes in an all-out regional war. CSIS examines the potential military contributions of Britain, France, Israel and the oil-rich sheikdoms of the Gulf Cooperation Council to an anti-Iran alliance led by the U.S. In various CSIS scenarios, Israel becomes but one member of a group aimed at smashing the regime in Teheran. Its 207-page report begins:
The most threatening form of U.S. and Iranian competition takes place in the military and security arena…. The growth of Iran’s capabilities for warfare in the Gulf, changing the military balance in the region, creates a growing risk that this aspect of U.S. and Iranian competition could lead to a major clash or even war in the Gulf.
This is the essence of Obama & Co.’s dressing down of Romney-Adelson-Netanyahu. CSIS also criticizes the on-the-cheap military disaster in Iraq that was engineered by Rumsfeld in 2003. Influenced by the same neo-conservatives who now advise Romney, Bush failed to commit an occupation-sized army there. His limited investment in Iraq and the ensuing sectarian strife led to the destruction of Saddam Hussein’s army, a force that the U.S. could have used to check Iran today:
Iraq is a major wild card in the competition in conventional forces. [T]he U.S. invasion of Iraq stripped away Iraq’s capability to deter and defend against Iran, and act as a regional counterbalance.
U.S. rulers had previously backed Hussein’s army in Iraq’s eight-year war with Iran, supplying him with intelligence and weapons for use against Iran’s military. In fact, before his rise to power, Saddam was a paid CIA asset who helped fight off anti-U.S. forces in Iraq’s government.
Imperialist Rivals Shape Up for World War
Foreseeing unavoidable worldwide combat, CSIS repeatedly identifies Russia and China — currently Iran’s biggest allies and arms suppliers — as future opponents of the U.S. Wary of past miscalculations, the think tank declares, “There are no rules that define Iran or the course of some future conflict — only uncertain probabilities.”
If finance capital has its way, a wider war in the Middle East will have a devastating effect on the international working class. After the slaughter of the two Gulf Wars prosecuted by George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, it will kill millions more in that region. More U.S. soldiers will also be sacrificed in the name of imperialist greed. As the presidential campaign spectacle swings into its final weeks, it is clear that neither of the two ruling-class forces represents the interests of our class. Their argument is limited to how best to advance the cause of the capitalist system. Both sides are seeking maximum profit by increasing exploitation of the working class.
While the candidates debate their nonsense about “saving the middle class,” tens of millions suffer mass unemployment and underemployment. Racist police attacks on black and Latino workers and youth are rising. Women are oppressed through wage differentials and a degenerate sexist culture. Immigrant workers are super-exploited amid mass deportation. U.S. prisons and jails contain 2.4 million inmates, more than in any other country in the world, and 70 percent of them are black and Latino. Workers’ homes are being foreclosed by the millions as an economic crisis devastates the well-being of the entire U.S. working class. Meanwhile, similar policies advanced by capitalists in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America are wrecking the lives of workers there.
Turn Class War for Revolution
The capitalists’ oil-driven imperialist wars target millions of workers worldwide in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and the rest of the Middle East, along with hundreds of thousands of U.S. youth who are sent to their deaths or to lifetimes of physical and psychological trauma. The class struggle against the capitalists is raging in Indonesia, Spain, Greece, Portugal, and France. It is rising in the U.S., where workers in a dozen cities mounted the first multi-store strike in the history of super-exploiter Walmart. It is up to the working class, led by the revolutionary communist Progressive Labor Party, to rise up against this hellish profit-driven carnage. We must use our position in this class struggle — in workplaces, schools, communities, campuses, churches and especially in the military — to drive the capitalists into their graves.
PLP’s goal is a society of, by and for the working class, without bosses, profits, racism, sexism and capitalist-created borders. That’s communism. Join us!