This report was delivered March 29, 2003 to the SEP conference “Socialism and the Struggle against Imperialism and War: The Strategy and Program of a New International Working Class Movement” in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Around the world, capitalist governments are engaged in a feverish military build-up and preparations for wars, behind the backs of the population. Global military spending for 2019 reached $1.9 trillion last year, the highest level since the end of the Cold War. All the imperialist countries, including France, Germany, Japan and Australia, are building up their military machines.
The United States, the cockpit of global imperialist militarism and by far the largest spender on the military in the world, is engaged in continued diplomatic and military aggression around the world, including against Iran, Iraq, and Venezuela. These are part of its preparations for what US strategy documents call “great-power conflicts” with Russia and China, which pose the threat of a direct nuclear conflagration that would likely destroy humanity. The war drive by US imperialism is driven by the historical relative economic decline of US capitalism, which it has unsuccessfully sought to overcome at the expense of its rivals through more than a quarter century of unending wars that have laid waste to large areas of the world, killed over one million people and turned tens of millions into refugees.
The ICFI is fighting to build an anti-war movement of the international working class, oriented to the overthrow of the source of war, the capitalist profit system, and the establishment of a global socialist society.
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Beginning in 2012, the Obama administration funneled billions of dollars in arms and other equipment to Islamic fundamentalist proxy forces in Syria, including the Al Nusra Front, a terrorist breakaway organization from Al Qaeda. The illegal US intervention has been aimed at overthrowing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, an ally of both Iran and Russia and the Middle East, and installing a puppet regime loyal to Washington.
The illegal US and European intervention in Syria has led to a protracted civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands and contributed to the greatest refugee crisis since the end of the Second World War. Since 2012, it has repeatedly brought the US and European powers to the brink of nuclear war with Russia.
The US and European powers launched an intervention in 2011 in Libya, overthrowing the Libyan government and murdering Muammar Gaddafi, and installing an unstable client regime of rival militias loyal to their imperialist backers.
As in Syria, the CIA intervention and arming of Islamist forces—including groups associated with Al Qaeda—was accompanied by a campaign among pseudo-left groups aimed at fraudulently presenting these imperialist interventions as a continuation of the “Arab Spring.”
In March, 2003, the world watched on with horror as the US-led “shock and awe” bombing campaign lit up the nighttime sky of Baghdad with billowing clouds of flame and smoke. This campaign and the bloody ten years of occupation that followed had a devastating impact on what was once among the most advanced societies in the Middle East. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed and millions were made homeless. One million Iraqis are estimated to have died.
The invasion of Iraq was a war of aggression, illegal under international law developed in the aftermath of the First and Second World Wars. The Bush administration employed increasingly brazen lies, centered on the claims that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda and possessed “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD). The Democratic Party supported the war, while the Obama administration, which came to power in 2008, opposed any prosecution of the war criminals who had prosecuted the illegal war of aggression.
The unprovoked and illegal invasion of Iraq by the United States is an event that will live in infamy. The political criminals in Washington who have launched this war, and the wretched scoundrels in the mass media who are reveling in the bloodbath, have covered this country in shame.
On April 30 David North, the chairperson of the editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site, addressed a meeting of students at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. We print below an edited transcript of his remarks.
The ongoing US aggression in the Middle East raises the most serious questions about the role of the mass media in modern society. In the period leading up to the invasion, the American media uncritically advanced the Bush administration’s arguments, rooted in lies, distortions and half-truths, for an attack on Iraq. It virtually excluded all critical viewpoints, to the point of blacking out news of mass antiwar demonstrations and any other facts that contradicted the propaganda from the White House and Pentagon.
On October 7, 2001, Washington and its NATO allies launched an illegal full-scale military assault against the Islamist Taliban regime in Afghanistan and Al Qaeda bases in the country. From the outset of the invasion, the WSWS exposed the lies of the Bush administration that its invasion was an act of self-defense in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11.
The war, which has spanned more than 18 years and is the longest-running war in US history, has killed over 175,000 people in Afghanistan, by conservative estimates, with hundreds of thousands more wounded, and millions driven from their homes. The cost of this “endless war” has reached roughly $1 trillion. At its height, the Pentagon was squandering some $110 billion a year, roughly 50 percent more than the total annual US federal budget for public education.
Beginning in April, 1999, the major imperialist powers launched an unprecedented multilateral war against Serbia. NATO, led by the United States but including forces from Britain, Germany, France, Italy and other allied countries, rained bombs down on the tiny country, the largest fragment of the former Yugoslavia.
The nominal pretext for the war was the conflict in Kosovo, a Serb province with a predominately Albanian population. A separatist movement, closely linked to gangsters and drug smugglers, received backing from the US and Germany and arrogated to itself the grandiose and misleading title of the “Kosovo Liberation Army.”
In December 1991, the Soviet Union was formally dissolved by the Stalinist regime led by Mikhail Gorbachev. The destruction of the Soviet Union was the outcome of the anti-socialist and nationalist policies of the ruling bureaucracy, which confirmed the warnings of the Trotskyist movement of the counterrevolutionary nature of Stalinism.
In the wake of the dissolution of the USSR, US imperialism concluded that it could now offset the challenge that American corporations faced from rivals in Europe and Japan, which had been growing since the 1970s, through the relatively untrammeled use of the US armed forces.
In November, 1991, the ICFI held a World Conference of Workers against Imperialist War and Colonialism, in Berlin. The ICFI's initiative to hold the conference was taken in response to the launching of the First Gulf War by Washington, the declaration by US imperialism of its “unipolar moment,” and the march toward the restoration of capitalism and dissolution of the Soviet Union.
David North, the chairman of the WSWS international editorial board, delivered the following lecture at San Diego State University on October 5, 2009, marking the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War.
Three quarters of a century after the end of the war, fascism and war are imminent global dangers once again.
We are publishing here the text of a lecture delivered Saturday, April 8 by Nick Beams, a member of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site. This is the third in a series of five international online lectures being presented by the International Committee of the Fourth International to mark the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution.
Nick Beams, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (Australia) and a member of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site, delivered a lecture on “World War Two: Lessons and Warnings” to audiences in Sydney and Melbourne in November, 2009.