The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The Cost of U.S. Imperialism:
Wars without End

Jun 3, 2018

Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, filled with patriotic displays by the President and military officials, cynically playing on the deaths of soldiers to glorify past and present American wars.

Meanwhile, the political ping-pong match with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un continues. From calling him “Little Rocket Man,” Trump has switched to calling him a “good man” when he appears to be yielding to pressure. Threats of nuclear war are replaced with talk of a Nobel Peace prize and then back to threats of war again.

Insanity? Theatrics? If only the “reality show” we are witnessing was the doing of one man, Trump! Surely, he is erratic, crude, vicious in his tirades and tweets. But in fact, the policies he supports, the hateful, warlike countenance he displays to the world, are truly representative of the face of U.S. imperialism across the globe.

Will he announce the end of the Korean War? It is obvious that this is a political victory he would love to snatch for himself – to be the “only president” in 63 years to resolve this war. What nonsense. This was a U.S. war, provoked and kept in play by the U.S. alone. And it was followed by 63 years of U.S. embargoes that left the Korean peninsula mangled, divided and with North Korea isolated and starving.

Trump wants glory for himself, announcing a reunification of North and South Korea. But it will mean nothing for the Korean people who will remain under military rule in the north and U.S. troops in the south, which help impose the low wages paid by South Korean companies.

In the background, on Memorial Day 2018, other U.S. wars without end continue. In Iraq, in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Libya, in Somalia, in Yemen, in Niger, U.S. troops are engaged and/or U.S. air strikes are ongoing. The U.S. is at war in seven countries, and is involved directly in covert actions in at least seven more. In one way or another, the U.S. military carries out operations in 78 countries – 39% of the countries in the world!

And for what? Not for the U.S. population. Not to protect peace, obviously. But to pursue and protect U.S. capitalism’s interests – in oil, in trade, in raw materials, in big financial deals.

President Trump himself says that seven trillion dollars have been spent on the Middle East conflagration. The price tag for “the war on terror” was estimated at five and one half trillion dollars at the end of 2017 by academics. Seven hundred billion dollars was just passed by both parties as the budget for war this year, no doubt underestimated.

This money that is lining the pockets of the war industry billionaires is money desperately needed by the U.S. population. This is money that should be used to pay for housing, infrastructure repair, schools – all of which would create jobs.

The real cost of the wars? Immeasurable. Whole populations killed and displaced, from Korea to Iraq to Afghanistan to Syria. Civilizations destroyed; cities with no water or electricity – where there are buildings left standing.

The U.S. population has escaped the worst ravages of the wars imposed by this government and military, so far. But still, the cost in human life itself, multiplied by the shattered lives of those soldiers who survived physical and emotional damage, is devastating.

Worst of all, it leaves us in a place wherein parts of the working class support U.S. wars against other people.

We have no interest in celebrating or fighting the capitalists’ wars. We have no interest in making millionaires into billionaires and petty tyrants into bigger ones. They have their heels on our necks, too, and use the police and military when necessary to control us.

The same corrupt system that feeds on war against other people feeds on the exploitation of working people in this country. The fight against war is part of our fight for a better life, fighting for decent jobs, housing, health care and complete education for our children.