[OPE-L:8506] Re: Re: Socialism and War

From: rakeshb@stanford.edu
Date: Tue Feb 25 2003 - 03:40:50 EST

Quoting gerald_a_levy <gerald_a_levy@msn.com>:

> I raised the possibility of an anti-war statement by the list
> in  [8460].   Since that time there have been a number of
> off-list discussions and several members have stated that
> they think OPE-L would make a better contribution
> to the anti-war effort if we were to help develop a Marxist
> analysis  (or analyses) of the reasons for war in Iraq.  
> We can do that by continuing this thread and reacting to
> the contributions by Cyrus, Diego and others (including
> non-listmember George C) .  We can, of course, discuss
> other topics simultaneously.
> In solidarity, Jerry

I heard Robert Brenner speak at UCLA today. I think I have 
perhaps a minor disagreement with him in that I think he is 
overemphasizing the extent to which the impetus for war is Bush's 
cynical attempt to unify the nation and the electorate around him 
even as he pushes through pornographically regressive domestic 
legislation.  As Perry Anderson suggested, Blair may believe that 
no matter how unpopular the war is now, a quick and easy US 
victory will be as a sure a vote getter as the Falklands War and the 
putative liberation of Kosovo. 

Even if this is true, I don't think it explains why, then, the US is 
preoccupied with the Gulf rather than say nuclear weapon wielding 
North Korea. And the  Democrats' complicity suggests  to me that 
there is no real  opposition in the US capitalist class to  Bush's 

My spin here may diverge from Cyrus's  as well.   I do welcome 
criticism as it may well be that any advantage from war and 
occupation simply does not add up to outweigh the costs...which 
in turn suggests the war is not economically but politically driven.  

Yet in terms of the US military apparatus, it seems to me that there 
is coincidence of interest: the military wants to  maintain its size 
and strength in the post Cold War era, and has a need to relocate 
its troops with the  on-going implosion of NATO (see the excellent 
Kolko piece on  Counterpunch.org); there is also the need for the 
US to  maintain, if not strengthen, its  presence in the Middle East 
given  the  inherent instability of US friendly regimes which already 
being  heavily invested in the US and dependent on it for their 
security are  likely to continue to support the US bond market, the 
US dollar and its military industrial complex. 

Of course the US does not want to  arm heavily and train too many 
personnel in those friendly  regimes  since that police/military  
apparatus could  end up in the hands of others in the event of a  
coup; in short there  is a compelling need for US bases, and the  
conquest of Iraq will  give the US the real estate as well as 
ongoing  justification for  occupation. 

That is, as Bush used the first Gulf war to establish bases in 
Sa'udi Arabia, Bush II thinks he needs a second war to strengthen 
and solidify US military occupation of the Arab world. 

I also think there has been a tendency to underestimate the fillip 
US capital as a whole receives  from US indirect control over dollar 
denominated Arab oil rent, as well as it superiority  in petroleum 
extraction technology on which even the most  nationalist third oil 
companies are dependent (the French are  quite behind, I believe 
based on a conversation I had with a chief  petro engineer). But 
technological superiority builds on  itself, so the US has to 
maintain its position in the Middle East.  

I think a Bernard Mommer at the Oxford Energy Institute has 
prepared reports about how even despite the nationalization of the 
oil industry Venezuela's  technological dependency has cost it 
most of its oil rent.  The US tech lead in petro technology and oil 
services has proven to be quite profitable even in a world of 
nationalized oil companies. 

For the US to maintain its position in the Arab world and in petro 
tech business,  it needs to engage in pre-emptive war.  

Pre-emptive not only against Iraq's full re-entry into the oil market 
with those French contracts on the basis of which France could 
develop into a more serious rival in the petro tech business but 
also against  possible coups by Islamic fundamentalist who--like 
Chavez-- may attempt (the US fears) to open up the books of what 
they take to be only nominally state owned oil companies the lion's 
share of the revenues of which are thought to end up in the hands 
of high level managers, foreign technicians and foreign capitalists.  

Now of course one may say that  Bush is pining for war in order to 
create political momentum for the next election and attemping to 
take attention away from his   regressive 
domestic politics . 

Surely this is an important element, and surely Bush thinks the 
war and occupation will provide some on-going economic 
stimulus, though there is a never simple mechanical effect from 
Keynesian deficits.  

Yours, Rakesh

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