U.S. Global Hegemony and Capitalist Crisis
In 2008, the financial crisis spread quickly to all sectors of the global economy. To be sure, the direct cause of the crisis was primarily the bursting of the housing bubble, which in turn reflected qualitative changes in the production and exchange processes wrought by the technological revolution in electronics.
In the United States the social consequences of those shifts in the economy expressed themselves as crises of homelessness, housing, unemployment, and health care. On the global level, the consequences have been much more severe, expressing themselves in wars, famines, and diseases.
The restructuring of investment in the U.S., made possible by advances in high technology, has resulted in structural shifts in employment. The contingent worker is quickly becoming the norm, as investment moves out of production and into finance, real estate, insurance, and related services. In a highly integrated global financial market, capital has become transnational. Multinational corporations have invested in production in countries where labor power is cheap and environmental and labor regulations are practically non-existent.
U.S. domination of the global capitalist economy tightened and expanded after the fall of the Eastern Bloc and demise of the USSR. Those developments made the U.S. the hegemonic power, and it moved to tighten its grip on the world stage even more, in anticipation of future challenges from the European Union, China and Russia. The dissolution of the former Yugoslavia into its component parts in the 1990s led the Clinton administration to intervene militarily, to counter German and Russian designs to spread their influence in Europe, through their respective roles in Croatia and Serbia. Consequently, the U.S. succeeded in maintaining and expanding its influence in Europe. U.S. designs had been to control Russia’s natural resources, including its oil and gas, and ensure that it remained a second-rate power. Similarly, the U.S. moved to block China as much as possible from securing natural resources, including energy across the globe.
The 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq are cases in point. But several developments had not been going as the U.S. had planned: In Latin America, Venezuela, Bolivia, and to a lesser extent Brazil and Argentina resisted U.S. control with mixed results. In the Middle East, Iran and Syria stood in opposition to U.S. interests. In Lebanon, the liberation of the South from Israeli forces in 2000 and the rise in popularity of the resistance movement, especially Hizbollah, created a serious worry for U.S. machinations in the region. The 2006 defeat of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon to crush Hizbollah, an ally of both Iran and Syria, was a huge blow for U.S. prestige.
Despite those initial debacles and the stiff resistance the U.S. had encountered in both Afghanistan and Iraq, it remained hegemonic in the highly integrated global economy with no immediate serious rivals.
The Middle East and U.S Hegemony
Upheaval in the Arab world began in earnest in Tunisia during the month of December 2010, then spread to Egypt. The Tunisian uprising toppled the pro-U.S. Ben Ali regime. Similarly, the uprising in Egypt toppled the Pro-U.S. Mubarak regime. Iran remained undeterred by heavy sanctions and U.S. and Israeli war drums. It continued to negotiate a nuclear treaty with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany (the 5+1 negotiations). Iran finally reached an agreement with the 5+1 States in 2015.
Beginning in 2011 the U.S., Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, the UK and France began a concerted effort to topple the Syrian regime and break up the country, continuing what the U.S. had attempted to do in Iraq, until it withdrew without accomplishing its strategic goals: to break up several Arab states and Iran and control their natural resources. Success in breaking up those countries would have accomplished several more goals for the U.S.: (1) defeating any regional resistance to it; (2) denying China the region’s natural resources; (3) denying Russia access to the region and to complete the encirclement that NATO had begun in Eastern Europe; and (4) effecting a pincer movement against China from the Asian landmass and the South China Sea.
A major goal of the U.S. is to split Russia from China in order to target them separately. The bolstered U.S. military presence, presumably to deter North Korea, is in fact targeted against China. The contrived crisis with North Korea is a U.S. maneuver to check China’s influence in the South China Sea and its ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) economic and trade project. Despite U.S. maneuvers regarding China, including Xi Jinping’s and Trump’s respective visits to the U.S. and China recently, both Russia and China are aware of U.S. machinations against them.
Russia under Putin countered U.S. moves against it by supporting the Syrian regime both diplomatically and militarily, as have Iran and most recently China. The armed groups such as ISIS that the U.S. has unleashed on Syria have essentially failed in their mission of breaking up the country even though they have succeeded in destroying it.
Syrian refugees became a political football used by pro-U.S. regional States and the U.S., to pressure the Syrian regime and recruit fighters for ISIS and al-Qaeda from among the refugees. Turkey also opened the gates for the Syrian refugees to leave for Europe, a move that succeeded in creating a political crisis in the EU. Germany was forced to pay five billion dollars to Turkey to make sure that it would no longer open its borders for Syrian refugees to go to the EU.
The Obama presidential term ended without scoring any significant successes against Syria, Russia, China or Iran. The Iran Nuclear deal had allowed Iran to: (1) keep its nonmilitary nuclear program operational, albeit at low levels of uranium enrichment; (2) not relinquish its nuclear knowhow; and (3) access funds previously frozen in Western financial institutions and Iran benefited from the lifting of Western sanctions previously imposed upon it.
U.S. Hegemony in the Trump Era
Trump’s presidential term started with the “Muslim Ban” executive order. He then visited Saudi Arabia and secured $480 billion in contracts and military sales. Both moves showed the integral connection between domestic and foreign policy. The $480 billion put teeth in Trump’s domestic “America First” slogan, and his promise of creating jobs in production and infrastructure projects. No sooner than his Saudi visit ended, a huge rift ensued between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, each accusing the other of supporting and financing terrorists primarily in Syria.
This episode points out the serious rivalry among regional players and their respective relationship to the U.S.. Turkey allied itself with Qatar, who supported the Muslim Brothers regionally to challenge the Saudi regional influence. To tip the balance in its favor, Saudi Arabia moved openly for rapprochement with Israel hoping to sway it away from Turkey and Qatar. At a time of huge military successes by the Syrian regime, rivalry among U.S. regional satellites reflect disagreements within the U.S. ruling class regarding which way to proceed in the Middle East as a critical part in its geopolitical strategy against Russia, China and Iran.
Recently, Masooud Barazani, the Kurdish leader in Iraq conducted a referendum among the Iraqi Kurds about independence. The result was in the affirmative. However, power struggles among the Iraqi Kurds and the opposition of the Iraqi central government rendered the referendum result obsolete. In addition, Turkey opposed U.S. support of Syrian Kurdish forces seeking secession from Syria. Secession of Turkey’s Kurdish population, the largest in the region and roughly 25 percent of its population, would mean the loss of the entire southeast of the country and would lead to civil war.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s October 2017 visit to Saudi Arabia that coincided with the Iraqi Prime Minister’s, and his meeting with both the Saudi King and the Iraqi Prime Minister demonstrated that the U.S. was still trying to severely diminish Iran’s influence in Iraq and isolate it regionally. Tillerson’s visit to Iraq on the heels of his Saudi trip, gave further credence that the U.S. strategy of isolating Iran was still operational. The visit furthermore, showed that the U.S. was attempting to manipulate the Iraqi Kurdish issue to the detriment of the Iraqi central government. U.S. regional satellites have begun to openly normalize their relationships with Israel to face Iran. The U.S. is encouraging these moves, as they complement its policies. Isolating Iran serves other purposes as well: Weakening Russia’s position in the region and strengthening Israel’s.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Israel, and Egypt serve as the main regional thrust for the U.S. against the Russians, the Syrians and the Iranians, while Turkey and Qatar, who had coordinated their strategies for Syria before the Saudi-Qatari breakup, have now been drawn much closer together.
Turkey has drawn closer to Russia and Iran, in the hope of dissuading the U.S. from supporting the Kurds in Syria (and Iraq). Whether Turkey would completely shift towards Russia and Iran or remain in the US camp, it is not clear how domestic politics would go, given that the ruling Muslim Brothers AKP (Justice and Development Party) has failed in its adventures to topple the Syrian, Iraqi, and Egyptian regimes.
U.S. destabilization of the Middle East has added to the ongoing flood of refugees, including those from sub-Saharan Africa, where some are being sold into slavery. The overall refugee situation has added to the growing cracks in U.S.-EU relations.
All of these U.S. machinations are its attempts to remain the global hegemon. The high integration of the global economy makes the domestic and international arenas one and the same. The rise of fascism in the U.S. is a domestic expression of the global capitalist crisis. A fascist movement in the U.S. is essential for the ruling class fascist State to prepare the U.S. population for military conflict worldwide.
January/February 2017. Vol27.Ed1
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Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011