An imperialist war-maker will occupy the White House no matter who wins the presidential election. Imperialism inevitably breeds war to settle conflicts among capitalist nations. In the United States, both the Democrats and Republicans organize for war to maintain U.S. domination worldwide. They differ only on how to wage it, on how the war machine can best protect and project U.S. capitalists’ global interests.
Recent endorsements of Barack Obama or Mitt Romney by various retired military brass reflect a real difference in the kind of warfare the victor will pursue. In an October 21 appearance on CBS, Colin Powell, point man for the first genocidal Gulf War against Iraq in 1991, backed Obama. Three days earlier, Romney announced formation of a “military advisory council” of more than three hundred blood-soaked ex-generals and admirals. One of its more prominent members is Tommy Franks, the commander of the second genocidal Gulf War against Iraq, launched by George W. Bush in 2003. The two beribboned butchers hold competing views that mirror different capitalists’ interests.
The Powell Doctrine: Mass Support for Massive War
Colin Powell’s military doctrine demands overwhelming force, a clear objective, hosts of allies and mass popular support. The 1991 Iraq War, as waged by Powell as chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reflected the need of ExxonMobil, Chevron and British BP and Shell for oil-field security and government stability. Powell led 956,600 troops (73 percent from the U.S.) in ousting Saddam Hussein’s 120,000 soldiers after George H.W. Bush complained they “had poured into Kuwait and moved south to threaten Saudi Arabia.”
In 1991, Powell and the elder Bush took firm control of Kuwait’s oil wells and shored up Saudi defenses, a move that angered aspiring oil baron Osama bin Laden. But they deliberately refrained from marching on Baghdad. Instead, they left Bill Clinton the task of containing Hussein with airstrikes and sanctions that killed a half-million children.
Shock and Awe: War on the Cheap
Romneyite Tommy Franks was top ground commander for the post-9/11 U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and later Iraq. In neither case did U.S. forces amount to more than 200,000, even though both were aimed to defeat and replace the existing regimes. In 2003, as Secretary of State, Powell also pushed for invading Iraq. But he called for tens of thousands of troops more than Franks and his neo-conservative bosses — War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Richard Cheney — had agreed upon. Outmaneuvered, Powell quit the next year.
Rumsfeld and his cohorts proceeded to opt for a swift, high-tech, “shock-and-awe” invasion, saying the war should be run “with the troops we have.” They predicted that Iraqis would greet U.S. troops with flowers. The reality was a trillion-dollar disaster that massacred more masses of workers.
The current state of Iraq and Afghanistan, largely the work of both Bushes, Franks, Rumsfeld & Co., troubles the oil-driven capitalists served by Powell. Because of the Gulf Wars, Exxon now has major operations in both the north and south of oil-rich Iraq. But violence and a rickety government keep the country’s production under three million barrels a day, far below the six million barrels promised by war planners. In Afghanistan, meanwhile, Taliban attacks have prevented the surveying — let alone the building — of the Exxon- and Chevron-backed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. It now languishes on the drawing board.
Powell in the Rockefeller Camp
As a self-styled “Rockefeller Republican,” Powell aligns with Rockefeller-dominated firms including Exxon, Chevron and JPMorgan Chase. It’s not just a phrase. In 2003, with Iraq and Afghanistan both under siege but far less productive than he wished, David Rockefeller presented troop-booster Powell with the Gen. George C. Marshall Award for service to U.S. imperialism. And Powell sits on the board of the Rockefeller-led Council on Foreign Relations, U.S. imperialists’ top think tank.
Tommy Franks’ capitalist loyalties lie elsewhere. Until an Obama-engineered 2009 purge, Franks was a board member of Bank of America, the gigantic bank with a more domestic than imperialist focus. Today the former general sits on the board of Chuck E. Cheese, a string of pizza parlors with relatively little use for the Pentagon.
Romney’s inconsistent foreign policy pronouncements and jumbled cast of counselors mirrors a fragmented Republican Party. His top donor, Sheldon Adelson, promotes Israeli attacks on Iran. Team Romney includes neo-conservatives John Bolton, Dan Senor and Elliott Abrams, who prefer Franks-style war-on-the-cheap. But it also features at least one long-term war supporter: the Rockefellerite Robert Zoellick, a protégé of ex-Secretary of State James Baker, who has strong ties to ExxonMobil and JPMorgan Chase. For a time Zoellic headed the major U.S. imperialists’ beloved World Bank.
Romney’s uncertain allegiances stand in contrast to dyed-in-the-wool imperialist Powell’s jump to Obama. “I’m not sure which Romney we would be getting,” he told CBS. “One day he has a certain strong view about staying in Afghanistan, but then on Monday night he agrees with the withdrawal.”
Anti-Obesity Campaign = Youth As Cannon Fodder
Obama has a more insidious assemblage of generals and admirals in his corner. It promotes the wellbeing of children while not so secretly planning their deployment in all-out war against China or Russia or both. More than a hundred retired flag officers, organized as “Mission: Readiness,” have signed on to Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign. Their aim is to improve young people’s health as they are mobilized for world war. In other words, they want more effective cannon fodder.
As this group laments, “Being overweight or obese has now become the leading medical reason why young adults cannot enlist in the military. The Defense Department estimates that 1 in 4 young adults is too overweight to enlist” (Mission Readiness website, 9/25/12). But as the current depression impels more jobless youth to join the Army, U.S. military recruiters are roughly meeting their targets. So why the worry? It can only be that the Obama/Powell camp has a larger mobilization in mind than Romney and Franks envision.
Under capitalism, a system based on the bosses’ drive for maximum profits, the state apparatus called the government — including the courts, cops and prisons used in racist attacks on millions of black and Latino youth and workers — is an instrument for class rule. To enforce that rule, the capitalists require war to maintain profits and control of resources — especially oil, the heart and soul of industry and the military.
Racism: Hallmark of Imperialist War
The two Gulf oil wars have an especially racist character. They target workers and their families in the Middle East, a region that imperialist powers have long victimized and mercilessly exploited. Workers in Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan have been victimized by bombings, massacres by drones, assassinations and direct invasions. As it trains working-class soldiers, the U.S. military whips up racist hatred against Muslims and Arabs, demonizing them as violent and worthless human beings. To fill their quotas for cannon fodder, the generals are pushing the recruitment of undocumented immigrant Latino youth with empty promises of citizenship — a cynical maneuver endorsed by Obama to shore up his political base. Racist wars have long been the province of the U.S. war machine, going back to the genocide against Native Americans. Racism is the foundation of U.S. capitalism, netting the bosses hundreds of billions in super-profits from wage differentials.
Elections: Capitalists’ Tool to Oppress Working Class
Elections are created to maintain the charade of “democracy,” the dangerous lie that the working class chooses who will run the government and their lives. In reality, the role of all elected officials is to serve the capitalist class and its profit needs. In the U.S., despite tactical differences that reflect the bosses’ factional disagreements, both Democrats and Republicans represent the same interests. Capitalism is the dictatorship of the ruling class.
Our class has no stake in the capitalists’ dispute over how our daughters and sons should kill and die in their profit-driven wars. The goal of the Progressive Labor Party is for the working class — the producers of all value, from which the bosses derive their profits — to dictate the course of our lives. In so doing, we will eliminate what capitalist profits breed: wars, racism, sexism, mass unemployment and poverty. Our alternative is communism, the dictatorship of the working class, which will free us from the horrors of the profit system. Join us.