[OPE-L:8536] Re: Main Contradictions behind War on Iraq

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Sun Mar 02 2003 - 09:05:17 EST

Re [8531]:

Hi Hans.  Thanks for your reply.

> Many contradictions come to a clash in the Iraq war, but the
> main one, in my view, has to do with the declining
> hegemonial power of the US.  The US has been the prevailing
> capitalist power since the end of World War II, both
> economicaly and militarily.  The contradiction is that its
> economic hegemony is eroding, while its military hegemony is
> more overwhelming than ever.  

I'm not sure how significant this disagreement is between the
perspective that claims that the US is losing its hegemony and
fighting to retain it vs. a perspective advanced by Cyrus that the
US already lost its hegemony and is fighting to get it back.  
Ultimately, I think you are saying very similar things. Both of
you, I think, agree that it is a desperate measure by the US that
might be successful only in achieving limited aims (e.g. 'regime
change in Iraq, etc.) but can not ultimately maintain or restore
US hegemony.   How do you (and Cyrus) think that one's 
analysis of  the US as a declining hegemonic power vs. a former
hegemonic power seeking to 'nostalgically' regain past glories 
affects the rest of one's analysis of the overall situation?

> The Iraq war can therefore be subsumed under Marx's
> definition of crisis:  a crisis is the forcible
> reconciliation of aspects which belong together but which
> have moved apart.  Economic and military hegemony belong
> together but have moved their separate ways;  the war
> is an attempt to reconcile them, an attempt which is bound
> to fail because political power cannot, in the long run,
> substitute for economic fundamentals.

Is it bound to fail?  Is there no chance that a redivision of the
territory and resources of the world among the imperialist 
powers will change the 'economic fundamentals' for the US?
Couldn't it at least -- if successful -- give the US economy
a 'breathing spell'? 

> In order to maintain world wide acceptance of the dollar,
> the USA must demonstrate that it is willing to use its
> military power.  From this point of view, war is always a
> good investment: it demonstrates to other nations that the
> USA is serious with its threat, and will therefore smoothen
> the way for US interests for many years to come.

Well, whether it is a 'good investment' depends on whether it is
or is not successful in meeting the primary US objectives. Of
course, there is a 'deterrent effect'  in international relations whether 
or not the US uses its military power.

> The long-run interests of the capitalist system require the
> weaning from capitalist dependence on oil.  But oil is one of
> the mainstays for the role of the dollar as world currency.

Do you think they are looking that far ahead?  It may be that 
there is a division among the advanced capitalist nations re
the 'necessity' of developing alternative energy technologies.
While the world's supply of oil (and other fossil fuels) is, by
definition, limited, it won't be for many, many years before
it is depleted completely or even depleted to the point that it 
would require the development of  far more advanced energy-
saving technologies for the use of oil.   I'm sure the US
and other imperial powers attempt to strategize for the 'long-run'
if the long-run is understood to mean between, say, 5 and 20
years.  I  think, though, that their time horizon does not really
extend to, say, 50 to 100 years.  There are reasons for this 

> The USA must therefore strengthen rather than weaken the
> world wide reliance on oil.  In other words, it is leading
> the world capitalist system down a blind alley which will
> result in serious upheavals when the oil is used up.  

One could be able to walk down that alley for many years
and decades before they realize that it is a blind alley.  I
think that their strategy is more pragmatic -- "we'll worry
about that bridge when and if we cross it".   If it is a chess
game that they are strategizing, then I think they probably only 
have  their first few moves planned -- certainly they don't 
have a well developed plan yet for the 'end game'.

> (This is in contradiction to Mark Jones's basic theory that
> capitalism as a system is by necessity based on oil.  If the
> above analysis is right, capitalism as a system can do
> without oil; but the US cannot maintain its hegemony without
> oil.)

I agree with your thesis that capitalism can do without oil
even if I question above some of the particulars of your analysis.

Solidarity, Jerry

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