The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

A Widening War in the Middle East

Apr 14, 2024

The U.S. took a step closer to engaging its own military in a spreading Middle East war.

Oh, certainly, Biden declared that the U.S. doesn’t want a wider conflict.

But the conflict in the Middle East is getting wider. And the U.S. already is directly involved.

On April 1, when Israeli war planes carried out an aerial attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria, the U.S. was already in place to back up Israel. It had two destroyers carrying missiles in waters near Iran. The U.S. also had missile batteries on the ground, ready for action, in countries near Iran: Iraq, Syria and Jordan. And it used these to mount the defense of Israel.

Up until now, the U.S. may have avoided overt, direct entanglement of its own army in recent wars in the Middle East, but now the U.S. stepped out openly.

The U.S. is implicated in the history that produced wars all through the Middle East.

Israel was established on top of Palestinian villages and towns. After World War II, Jewish refugees were funneled to Palestine by British and U.S. ships. Those refugees had been driven into death camps by European fascism during the war, and denied entrance into the U.S. and Britain by so-called “democratic” governments. For many Jewish refugees, Palestine was a last hope. Many went intending to work with the Palestinians. But the Zionist movement—flush with money coming from Britain and the U.S.—organized terrorist violence to drive Palestinians from their homes.

The Palestinians may have been uprooted, but Israel could not stand by itself. For decades, the U.S. funded Israel, built up its military, kept its economy going. This was not out of generosity. The U.S. was paying to keep Israel as its chief cop in the oil-rich Middle East.

The Israeli army—like a number of others—was a surrogate, a stand-in for U.S. military forces. This was the result of choices made by the rulers of this country, especially after the Vietnam war.

That war had created enormous problems for U.S. rulers. In this country, opposition to the Vietnam war was massive and growing. The big urban centers were exploding in social revolts. In Vietnam, U.S. soldiers were refusing orders, even attacking officers. In the U.S. itself, social revolution was not only a word. It was a possibility.

With the end of the Vietnam war in 1973, the U.S. military sought to develop a different policy. It still would use military force to impose the hold of U.S. corporations around the world. But the U.S. would pay surrogates—the armies of other nations—to provide the human cannon fodder who would die to protect Exxon’s and Ford’s profit.

Millions of people were killed in wars—U.S. wars—that few people in this country ever knew were going on.

This policy lasted from 1973 to 2001. But difficulties in the Middle East brought that policy to an end. The U.S. sent its own troops into Afghanistan and Iraq. But U.S. rulers attempted to avoid the problems of Vietnam. Instead of instituting a new draft, the army would depend on “economic conscription.”

The capitalist economy co-operated. Never able to provide enough jobs for young people coming of age, the capitalist economy drove part of each new generation into the army.

Whether carried out by its own troops or by surrogates it pays, whether based on the legal draft or “economic conscription,” the U.S. economic system needs war. It is the same capitalist system that holds the whole world in its grasp today.

Everywhere, it is the same story. The corporations that organize the economy in one country attempt to search for sources of additional wealth they can steal from other countries. But the theft of wealth requires force. It requires war. Capitalism feeds on war.

This is why the Middle East is moving toward a wider war. This is why the whole world is moving toward a wider war. Capitalism needs it. Until the working class stops it, capitalism will have war.