Intensifying Global Crisis and Conflict

Intensifying Global Crisis and Conflict

Written By: / Articles / Saturday, 31 December 2016 17:39

(This paper was presented by Malcolm Guy on 6th Ojha Sanajaoba Memorial lecture held at VC’s Court room on Dec. 30, 2016)

As this paper is being written and updated in early December 2016, the US President-elect Donald Trump is selecting his cabinet of billionaires and multi-millionaires and trying to decide which of his many often-bewildering promises he will actually keep.
As the cabinet choices show, despite some hypocritical criticisms of the “elite” and big bankers, this will be business as usual for the world’s No. 1 superpower as it steps up its aggressive anti-people policies. Such policies, both within the US and globally, will simply be carried out more blatantly and in your face by a billionaire businessman and his Wall Street buddies without the “liberal” veneer provided by outgoing African American President Barack Obama and the unsuccessful Democratic Presidential woman candidate, Hillary Clinton.
It is direct rule by a capitalist for the capitalist class, of a billionaire for the billionaires, without the necessity of relying on the smokescreen of an Obama or Clinton.
Clinton, by the way, if her record and pronouncement were anything to go by, including supporting a “no fly zone in Syria,” would have been just as, if not more, aggressive and militaristic than Trump. As Julian Assange notes, “Under Hillary Clinton, the world’s largest ever arms deal was made with Saudi Arabia, [worth] more than $80 billion. In fact, during her tenure as Secretary of State, total arms exports from the United States in terms of the dollar value, doubled.”
And as for Obama, among other things he perfected drone warfare, embarked on a $1 trillion nuclear modernization program, gave even more money to the Zionist state of Israel, all the while deporting hundreds of thousands at home and further militarizing police forces that have proceeded to gun down working people, especially black men, in record numbers.
The US is a superpower in decline, as was illustrated in large part by the US elite’s inability to ensure the election of Clinton and their now desperate attempts to “normalize” and legitimize this foul-mouthed and more transparent fellow member of the ruling elite. The disarray among factions of the US elite has led to accusations of voting manipulation and serious calls for a recount.
As Trump reveals, a fading superpower can be even more dangerous and reactionary and the possibilities of a true fascistic regime, in which US imperialism completely sheds its democratic shell and the true face of the capitalist class dictatorship is exposed, like of Hitler in the 1930s, remains extremely high.
Besides the election of Trump, 2016 has been a major year for events exposing the profound and deepening crisis of imperialism. These include the 52-48 BREXIT decision to support the exit of Britain from the European Union, the devastating purges, arrests and detentions of opponents and critics of NATO-ally and strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey following a failed military coup, the widening chaos in Libya, the prolonged migration crisis, as well as the dead-end COP discussions as the globe faces an unmitigated climate crisis.
As if to exemplify the growing divide between rich and poor and North and South as 2016 draws to close, while countless millions of the world’s toiling people mourned the loss of a beloved and respected revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, the ruling elites in the US and their imperialist allies (including Canada’s “pretty boy” Justin Trudeau) boycotted Castro’s funeral.
It’s currently 3 minutes to midnight according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. By that they mean the world is as close as it has ever been to the brink of nuclear holocaust that threatens humanity’s very existence.
If we go by the mainstream press who parrot every lie and spin from Washington and Brussels, the enemy of peace is clearly Russia for annexing Crimea, for propping up a murderous regime in Syria, even for hacking Clinton’s emails in order to influence the outcomes of the US elections. Iran is another war-mongering state that threatens world peace by attempting to develop nuclear weapons and for supporting other evil regimes in the region.
In truth, as John Pilger wrote in May 2016, “In the last eighteen months, the greatest build up of military forces since World War Two – led by the United States – is taking place along Russia’s western frontier. Not since Hitler invaded the Soviet Union have foreign troops presented such a demonstrable threat to Russia. What makes the prospect of nuclear war even more dangerous is a parallel US campaign against China.”
US-led militarization and war
Pilger points out that it is the US “that has attacked and sought to overthrow more than 50 government, many of them democracies, and bombed from Asia to the Middle East, causing the deaths and dispossession of millions of people.(And) most of America’s wars (almost all of them against defenceless countries) have been launched not by Republican presidents but by liberal Democrats : Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama.”
“Donald Trump is a symptom of this, but he is also a maverick. He says the invasion of Iraq was a crime; he doesn’t want to go to war with Russia and China.” As a result, Pilger, in an article written before the US elections, quite rightly points out the dangers of a Hillary Clinton. “She is no maverick. She embodies the resilience and violence of a system whose vaunted ‘exceptionalism’ is totalitarian with an occasional liberal face.”
Indeed, under Trump, as under Obama, US imperialism stands as the principal purveyor of militarism and war, and the biggest destabilizing factor in the world today. The protracted economic crisis of the global capitalist system has impelled US imperialism to become ever more aggressive in controlling more territory as sources of raw materials and low-cost labor, as captive markets and supply routes, and as launching pads for projecting military force overseas. Its aim is “full-spectrum dominance” of the entire planet.
The US also sees the emergence of new powers such as Russia and China as a threat to its global hegemony. The US is worried by the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as an alliance to counter the US-NATO alliance, as well as the establishment of the BRICS economic bloc made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. China is also pursuing its own regional trade accord, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which excludes the United States.
To preserve its global dominance the US has proceeded to unleash wars of terror throughout the world under the guise of waging a global war “on terror”. Over the last 15 years the US and its allies have bombed, invaded or occupied at least seven countries. In 2015, the US officially dropped over 22,000 bombs, including drone strikes, on Iraq and Syria alone, an average of over 60 bombs per day. 
While burning obscene for war, an estimated US$ trillion for the war on Iraq alone, the US government denies needed social services in health and education for the American people and to come to the aid of refugees fleeing from US wars and policies.
Young Americans, especially people of color and the unemployed have been sacrificed in these wars of aggression overseas. The US government has admitted that 4,448 US soldiers died and 32,221 of them were injured in the Iraq war. Many of the US soldiers who survive these wars suffer from post-traumatic brain injury and post trauma disability.
Washington’s European NATO allies, meanwhile, have suffered the blowback from their support of the US wars of aggression in the Middle-East/West Asia with the terrorist bombings in Paris and Brussels that have victimized civilians and created an atmosphere of terror among the people.
As the terrorism that imperialist countries have exported comes home to roost, these states also become even more repressive at home by enacting more laws and regulations that curtail civil liberties, increasing mass surveillance and militarizing the police and border controls. Across the US, for example, heavily armed Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams are forcing their way into working people’s homes in the middle of the night, often deploying explosive devices such as flashbang grenades to temporarily blind and deafen residents, simply to serve a search warrant on the suspicion that someone may be in possession of a small amount of drugs.
US expands global military hoot print
Despite the massive military setbacks and growing resistance, US militarism is now further intensifying as it sets its aim at other imperialist powers, placing humanity in ever-greater peril.
The US is expanding its global military boot print by establishing a new network of bases in countries stretching from Africa to East Asia. There are now more than 88 US bases overseas in more than 70 countries – compared to no more than 30 foreign military bases for all other countries combined, mostly  owned by US allies such as France and the UK.
US overseas facilities include at least four new large-scale bases or “hubs” plus a greater number of smaller camps and “lily pads” which serve as “spokes” to house drones surveillance aircraft or pre-positioned weaponry and supplies for US troops and other military personnel present in about 160 foreign countries and territories. The new bases network – along with the US Navy’s 11 aircraft carriers – will provides more launching pads for US military intervention destabilization and aggression as well as intelligence activities and counter-insurgency operations in all corners of the planet.
Even before Hillary Clinton announced the US’ Strategic Pivot to Asia in 2011, the US navy has been stepping up military exercises as well as provocative air and sea-based surveillance and patrol activities near Chinese borders – raising the risk of direct confrontations and war escalation in the Asia-Pacific region. It has also imposed blockades and military provocation against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
While targeting DPRK’s (North Korea) nuclear program, the US continues to stock nuclear weapons in South Korea. The US was the first-user of atomic weapons against civilian populations in Japan at the close of World War II and President Obama refused to issue an “unequivocal no-first-use pledge.” (Counterpunch)
The US is using South Korea as the launch pad for the Pentagon’s Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system, known as THAAD, ostensibly aimed at North Korea, but really targeting China.
In The Coming War China, John Pilger writes: “Across the East China Sea lies the Korean island of Jeju, a semi-tropical sanctuary and World Heritage Site declared ‘an island of world peace’. On this island of world peace has been built one of the most provocative military bases in South Korean naval base purpose-built for US aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and destroyers equipped with the Aegis missile system, aimed at China.”
The nearby Japanese island of Okinawa has 32 military installations, from which Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq have previously been attacked by the United States. Today, the principal target in China.
No room for progressive governments in the US backyard
In Latin America, the US has been supporting local oligarchs and right-wing politicians since 2002 in their relentless campaign to overthrow the Bolivarian government in Venezuela. It has  directed or sponsored coup d’ etats in Haiti, Bolivia, Honduras, Ecuador, Paraguay and Brazil to reassert its control over the Americas and reverse the advances of “leftist” or progressive governments in the region since the turn of the century.
With Fidal Castro gone, the US will step up its ongoing attempt to overthrow the socialist government in Havana, which  provides a beacon of hope throughout the Americas and the world and stands as proof that you can stand up to the monster. The US was forced to admit its deadly decades-long embargo has been unsuccessful. The US Has thus been forced to start negotiating and opening up ties with the Cuban government, but to date has refused to remove the embargo.
Despite US policies, Cuba provides quality healthcare and education to its people, unlike the US where both are a privilege of income. Castro’s legacy has been to put the needs of working people first and to provide a quality of life far beyond that of the neighbouring island nations of Jamaica the Dominican Republic and Haiti, each of which has been subjected to devastating imperialist intervention.
This is why Obama’s pronouncements during his trip to the island and Trump’s parroting of the same mantras of “democracy and human rights”, reveals astounding arrogance. They are the incoming and outgoing Presidents of the No. 1 imperialist country which at war with the world’s working peoples, that continues to occupy Cuban territory through the US base and prison at Guantanamo and which imprisons a full quarter of the entire world’s prison populations, disproportionately comprising blacks and other minorities.
Protracted crisis, which erupted in 2007-2008, has persisted. Even bourgeois economists and financial analysts now acknowledge that the global economy has not really recovered.
The present third wave of the crisis is centered in the so-called “emerging economies” with the end of debt-driven growth in China the end of the commodities boom for raw material exporting countries such as Brazil and South Africa and capital flight from developing countries as a whole.
The results of the measures taken in relations to the crisis are paving the way to greater and more dangerous convulsions. Bank bailouts and the ultra-loose monetary policy adopted by the imperialist central banks have put more money in the hands of the financial oligarchy but has inflated global debt by US$ 57 trillion in just eight years from 2007. Global debt is the ticking time bomb that is inevitably going to explode and plunge the world into another and more severe financial seizure.
Meanwhile, the richest 62 monopoly capitalists in the world have increased their stock of wealth by US$ 542 billion since 2010 while the most exploited 3.6 billion people have lost US$ 1 trillion over the same period. The official figures show joblessness is at an all-time high of 200 million people globally, with another three million expected to join the ranks of the unemployed over the next two years.
Among those employed precarious conditions of work are now the norm even in the biggest and wealthiest monopoly firms. For instance, only 6% of the total workforce of the top 50 global corporations is recognized as direct employees while the rest are hired as short-term contractual workers or informed workers. More workers are also forced to seek employment abroad, adding to the 150 million plus global migrant work-force. Monopoly capitalists are dismantling workers’ rights previously won through the heroic struggles of the labor movement, including the right to a living wage, social benefits, job security, the eight-hour workday and safe working conditions.
Never satisfied, the monopoly bourgeoisie is carrying out a new wave of neoliberal offensives aiming to increase profits amidst crisis conditions. They are implementing more severe austerity measures and labor flexibilisation; privatizing the public sector and the commons most prominently in the form of land grabs; deepening the denationalization and compradorisation of third world economies by extending the global supply chains of their monopoly firms; and strengthening protections for monopoly-capitalist property and profits, especially by extending intellectual property rights over technologies and knowledge.
In behalf of monopoly firms and local elites in their countries, imperialist states have been competing to rewrite international and national legal systems and regulations through trade and investment agreements such as the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Economic Partnership Agreements and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). They include institutionalizing mechanisms for Investor-State Dispute Settlement that grants de facto veto power to multinational corporations over regulations or reforms that governments might adopt under increasing popular pressures for immediate relief and reforms amidst the crisis.
Trump has threatened to pull the US out of the TPPA and TTIP in the face  of rising popular resistance to these imperialist trade deals. But this is fundamentally a smokescreen. In future many such deals could be forged bilaterally as opposed to multilaterally. Trump will push to grant the major US corporations the right to veto other governments and continue efforts to open up other economies to US imperialist monopoly interests, while granting the major corporations tax holidays and handouts at home while facilitating their right to attack workers.
This can be attested by the soaring value of stocks of some of the world’s biggest and deadliest corporations – arms, fossil fuels and pharmaceuticals – in the wake of the Trump election.
All these can only be expected to further impoverish the toiling masses of the world, increase the concentration and over accumulation of capital in the hands of the monopoly bourgeoisie and exacerbate the crisis of overproduction that neoliberalism was intended to resolve in the first place.
Breaching planetary boundaries
Meanwhile, the election of Trump and continuing control of the global economy by the oil, gas and coal barons and their elected fossil fuel supporters has the world facing an ecological catastrophe of the highest degree.
As commentator Tom Engelhard writes: “With both the CIA’s coup-making and the military’s regime-change traditions in mind, could the United States also overthrow a planet? If, as the head of what’s already the world’s second largest greenhouse gas emitter, Trump carries out the future energy policies he promised during the election campaign – climate-science funding torn up, climate agreements denounced or ignored, alternative energy development downplayed, pipelines green-lighted, fracking and other forms of fossil-fuel extraction further encouraged and the US fully reimagined as the Saudi Arabia of North America-he will, in effect, be launching a regime-change action against Planet Earth.”
Of course Trump is not alone, just more transparent. Canada’s so-called “progressive” government of Justin Trudeau, who came to power on the promise of climate justice and a new relationship with indigenous people has just green-lighted two major pipeline developments, Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Project and Enbridge Line 3 Replacement. These will massively increase the extraction of dirty oil from the Alberta Tar Sands, endangering the mainly indigenous as well as other communities along its route with pipeline leaks, explosions and ship weeks and rendering it impossible for Canada to respect its climate change promises made in Paris.
In the wake of events unfolding in North Dakota near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr told business leaders that Canada is prepared to deploy the military against anti-pipeline actions deemed “not to be peaceful,” raising the possibility the country could face a scenario last seen during the Oka Crisis in 1990. Business as usual also for Canadian imperialism.
As people around the globe stand up for planet earth and environmental justice the imperialist offensive is already “not peaceful”.
At least 185 environment activists were killed in 2015, the highest annual death toll on record. Global Witness documented lethal attacks in 16 countries. Brazil was worst hit with 50 deaths, many of them killings of campaigners who were trying to combat illegal logging in the Amazon. The Philippines was second with 33. Colombia had 26 fatal attacks; Peru, 12; Nicaragua, 12 and Democratic Republic of Congo had 11.
“As demand for products like minerals, timber and palm oil continues, governments, companies and criminal gangs are seizing land in defiance of the people who live on it,” said Billy Kyte, a senior campaigner for Global Witness and author of the report. “Communities that take a stand are increasingly finding themselves in the firing line of companies’ private security, state forces and a thriving market for contract killers. For every killing we document, many others go unreported.”
The most deadly industry to protest against was mining, with 42 deaths in 2015 related to anti-mining activities. Agribusiness, hydroelectric dams and logging were also key drivers of violence and many of the murders occurred in remote villages deep within rainforests.
Workers and peoples resistance
But despite the repression, the people continue to resist and fight back, even in the heart of the beast.
Hundreds of thousands took to the streets across the US immediately following the announcement of the Presidential win of Donald Trump. As the ILPS USA chapter stated:
“This indicates the people in the United States are not paralyzed by fear not are we willing to tolerate fascism and state repression. We must organize to ensure this fight back movement is sustained and advanced.”
“The electoral results unmask the gravity of the social and economic crisis in the United States, the deep-seated slave-owner mentality still dominant with the ruling class and the gains of the divide and conquer tactics unleashed on by the people in the US to blur and diffuse the reality of class struggle and to protest the wealthiest in this country.”
The last period has also seen a resurgence of the African American people’s progressive and revolutionary organizations working for the self-determination of black people in the United States. This includes the ongoing mass movement Black Lives Matter and events marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party.
Hundreds of thousands have protested the fact that one out of three African-Americans is in prison and are thus being used as the main fodder and modern-day slave labor for the increasingly privatized prison industrial complex.
They are likewise protesting the fact that US cops accost Africa-Americas and shoot down many of them, killing an African-American every 28 hours.
In North Dakota, the Standing Rock Sioux nation, along with 200 other Native nations and up to 7000 people from all over the world, have stood firm to block the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which would carry fracked oil from the Bakken shale in North Dakota across several states and under the Missouri River.
There have been dozens of arrests, tear gas and dogs attacks and violent dispersals by police and militia. While the battle is far from over, with Trump promising to support the DAPL, the protestors won a halt to construction of the pipeline along its present route.
The Standing Rock indigenous-led struggle is part of a number of such worldwide battles to confront and tame the fossil fuel giants  and other extractives monopolies in the face of growing militarization of indigenous territories. Nine Gualinga, an Ecuadoran activist visiting Standing Rock, told the Bill Moyers report, “The world needs indigenous people. The statistics say that we are 4 percent of the world’s population, but we are protecting more than 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity.”
Elsewhere in the US, workers are  fighting for a $15 an hour minimum wage to enable working people and their families to get enough to eat and have proper housing; the struggle is paying off  for many. Several cities, including San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, New York and Washington have passed ordinances that gradually increase the minimum wage to $ 15. On July 1, 2018, San Francisco is expected to become the first US city to reach a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour. Meanwhile, in Chicago and other cities, teachers continue to fight for good schools for their students and decent wages for themselves.
In Europe, workers and the people have conducted large mass actions demanding a stop to government cutbacks in spending on social welfare and public services, higher wages for working families, protection of trade union organizing and bargaining rights. In Greece they are demanding freedom from debt bondage to the EU banks and other instruments of imperialist globalization. Tens of thousands of people marched in the streets of Brussels, Madrid, Helsinki, Warsaw, Prague, Berlin, Munich, Paris and other European cities last year and more recently to oppose the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US.
In Asia, the factory floor of the global economy, protests and strikes against multinational corporations and governments have been increasing, including in China.
According to CNN.com, from 2011 to 2013, China Labor Bulletin (CLB), a Hong Kong-based workers’ right group, recorded around 1,200 strikes and protests across China. In 2014 alone, there were more than 1,300 incidents. The following year, that number rose to over 2,700 – more than one a day in Guangdong province – a pattern that has continued into 2016 with no province of China unaffected by strikes or worker protests. A 2010 strike at the Nanhai Honda car plant in southern China was a turning point for the country’s labor movement – showing for the first time that a young migrant workforce could stand up and successfully fight for their rights, according to Eli Friedman, author of Insurgency Trap: Labor Politics in Postsocialist China.    
“The production line was brought to a halt by 23-year-old Tan Guocheng, who shouted: ‘Don’t work for such low wages! Don’t work for such wages!’ as he hit the emergency stop button. Dressed in matching, formless white uniforms and red Honda-branded baseball caps, dozens and then hundreds of young workers filled the factory’s courtyard, chanting slogans and singing patriotic songs.
The stike would last 19  days and grow to include almost the entire factory’s workforce, crippling its production schedule and forcing management and government officials to cede to strikers’ demands in a rare decisive victory for workers.”
In Indonesia and Cambodia workers have mounted nationwide actions for wages and have won significant increases in the last few years. These are linked to the global supply chains of multinational corporations, thus defying the global race to the bottom in wages.
In India, the largest strike action in history was held last September will over 150 million workers marching in the streets against the neoliberal policies of the Narendra Modi government. Strong resistance has greeted Modi’s sudden demonetization decision, which has hit peasants and working people particularly hard. In Kashmir, 2016 has seen the people once again rise up despite increased military operations and sweeping civilian arrests. In Manipur and Northeast India, resistance continues to the heavy militarisation, policing, proxy wars and suppression of democratic voices as well as the use of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, National Security Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Seditious Act and other repressive laws.
In South Africa and Senegal, workers and people are resisting the privatization drive and fighting courageously to improve wages and living standards. In Nigeria, workers and people are opposing the price increase of basic commodities like petrol. In Burkina Faso, protesters took to the streets to topple the three-decade-old dictatorship. In both countries, anger is growing against the militarism and terrorism backed or instigated by US imperialism.
There is also rising resistance in Africa, as in Latin America and elsewhere to transnational corporations scooping up farmland and war resources more commonly referred to as “land grabbing” and “water grabbing”, which is putting food security at risk.
In Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina and elsewhere the economic slowdown, resulting from the end of the commodities boom, is being exploited by the persistent big comprador-landlord oligarchs and rabid US puppets with attempts to reverse social gains achieved under progressive government. But workers and social movement are condemning and opposing US intervention and destabilization attempt in Paraguay, Honduras, Venezuela and other countries in the region.
Meanwhile, opposition to the imposition of US overseas military bases is sharp in several locations, including Okinawa Island in Japan, Jeju Island in South Korea as well as the Philippines.
In the face of the worsening atrocities being committed by the US, its imperialist allies and its proxies, more and more people are resisting the US-led imperialist war machine. Peoples’ anger against the US runs wide and deep in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and throughout West Asia where the worst crimes against humanity have been committed by US imperialism and its allies in recent decades. The struggle of the Palestinian and Kurdish people are some of the heroic examples of people’s resistance in this region. They are showing the path of people’s resistance against US imperialism and against the violence spread in the regions by US-backed terrorist groups.
Elsewhere progressive and revolutionary movements are also waging struggles for national liberation and democracy, including wars for liberation in the Philippines, India, West Papua and Columbia.
All over the globe the people are increasingly opposed to the wars of aggression that their government are waging in their name. To assist in widening and strengthening this movement, the International League of People’ Struggle (ILPS), in coordination with the International Womens’ Alliance (IWA), will be organizing a major international anti-imperialist war conference in Toronto, Canada in August 2-7, 2017. It is entitled, “Solidarity and Fightback: Building resistance to US-led war and militarism”.
 As the imperialist system descends further into barbarism, workers and peoples everywhere must like their struggles to one another and to a broader resistance movement against monopoly capitalism, neoliberalism, state terror and imperialist wars. We must maximize opportunities to arouse, organize and mobilize amidst the worsening global crisis and inter-imperialist contradictions. Only the struggle against imperialism and for socialism will truly end capitalist crises and imperialist wars; liberate the masses from exploitation and oppression; and realize greater freedom, democracy, social justice, all-round development and lasting peace.              (Concluded)  


About the Author

Maheshwar Gurumayum

Maheshwar Gurumayum

Maheshwar Gurumayum, Sub-Editor of Imphal Times is a resident of Sagolband Salam Leikai. He has been with Imphal Times since 2013. An avid adventure lover, writes mostly travelogue. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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