Published May 1, 2011 6:42 AM
Four months ago it was hard to foresee that a rebellious movement in Egypt would have a direct impact on the struggle of workers in the United States. Yet workers and students who occupied the Capitol in Madison, Wis., were inspired by the struggles in Tahrir Square. Activists in Egypt went online and bought pizzas for those sitting in at Wisconsin’s Capitol.
The rebellion against the status quo had started in Tunisia, then spread quickly to Egypt and throughout the region. In Tunisia and Egypt, the rulers had worked hand in glove with the U.S., Britain, France and other NATO powers. So this mass movement threatened the domination of the imperialist ruling class — the same class of multi-billionaires that is coming down ever more savagely on the workers here at home.
What have these exploiters done in response to the peoples’ movements? They have developed a strategy to maintain and even extend their domination of the region.
In Egypt and Tunisia — and perhaps now in Yemen — when they can no longer keep the favored ruler in power, the imperialists work to keep the system intact, changing only the faces on top. In Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, however, they are still defending the old rulers, no matter if they are absolute monarchs or a quasi-military dictatorship. In Palestine they support Israel’s long-term campaign to crush a popular liberation movement.
Their tactic toward Libya and Syria is different. The U.S. and the other NATO powers see an opportunity to oust governments they never liked and replace them with ones that are more compliant, that will open the entire country to foreign rule and plunder.
So the Pentagon, the CIA and other U.S. agencies that serve the super-rich are now launching bombs and rockets at Libya. It has become yet another country under siege by imperialism in the energy-rich region of North Africa and Southwestern Asia.
For workers to succeed in defending our rights here at home, we have to understand what is going on there. This is no easy task. Each country has its own recent history, its own ruling groups. Some were colonized by Britain, France or Italy but won a measure of independence during the period of national liberation struggles. Some are states whose rulers stay in power because they serve U.S. banks and corporations and get Pentagon weapons in return.
On top of the complexities in the region, there is a torrent of misinformation in the corporate media and from politicians. These are the same forces we have already learned to mistrust based on what they say about our own struggles, from New York to Wisconsin to California.
U.S. foreign policy is easier to understand, however, when you consider that it comes from the same elite social grouping that is pushing the attack on workers’ rights and livelihoods here in the U.S. Behind all the politicians and their compliant media stands the capitalist ruling class with its enormously powerful corporations and banks. This is also true in Europe, where the rulers are carrying out the same anti-worker policies as here.
Whether they’re demanding austerity from the workers at home or using military force to topple governments that defy them, the motive is the same: profits, the lifeblood of capitalism.
At one time the existence of the Soviet Union acted as a deterrent to the global ambitions of the rich and super-rich. Now those who command the powerful states and military machines of the Pentagon and other NATO countries are quicker to go on the offensive. They feel freer to cut down whatever was won by workers at home. And they feel freer to unleash their troops and bombers to re-conquer and loot those countries and peoples who managed to win liberation from colonial rule when the socialist camp existed.
We need to start with this truth: The U.S./NATO intervention in this energy-rich region of the world has nothing to do with the character of the individual rulers or the individual governments of the states there.
The failure of the capitalist system to produce stable growth is what is driving the rich ruling class to foreign adventures. The demonization of an individual ruler, whether it be in Libya or Syria, for example, is merely a pretext for invasion and conquest, as happened in Iraq.
The politicians and media here want to convince us that our taxes should be spent on “regime change” through acts of war. They want to send our youth to kill and die there. So they demonize first and then attack.
The money it costs for each bomb, each missile of the thousands launched at the people there could be used to hire scores of teachers or nurses here. The arms dealers, the oil corporations and the banks share the plunder, but the workers here and the people being bombed are forced to pay the costs.
For the people of that region and for the workers in the U.S. and Western Europe, there is absolutely no reason to support any intervention by the exploiting powers. Our role should be to fight against intervention, especially military intervention, in any of these countries. That is the only way to show solidarity with the legitimate people’s struggles there and at the same time to fight for the interests of the workers here.
No arms, no bombs, no rockets, no advisers, no troops! U.S., Britain, France, NATO, out of Africa and Western Asia!