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

U.S. Expands War in the Middle East

Jan 15, 2024

On January 11, the U.S. bombed more than 60 targets in Yemen. According to U.S. military officials, these strikes were in response to attacks on shipping by the Iranian-backed Houthi militias.

Maybe the U.S. launched these strikes because Houthi attacks on shipping were disrupting trade—though almost all the Houthi missiles and drones were either shot down or fell harmlessly into the sea, and the few that hit caused little damage and no injuries or deaths.

Certainly, the U.S. attacks on the Houthis are a warning to all the states and armed groups, like Hezbollah, that if they engage themselves in the war Israel is inflicting on the people of Gaza, they will face the U.S. military itself.

But they are also a demonstration to the world that the U.S. is ready to engage its own military forces against anyone, anywhere. And even though U.S. military leaders say they want to avoid it, these strikes are a big step toward the wider war the U.S. is preparing. They are open attacks, and the U.S. claims them.

Since it withdrew from Afghanistan, the U.S. might have appeared to be acting a little less openly with its own military, relying more on proxies like Ukraine and Israel to do its dirty work. The U.S. never stopped deploying military forces all over the world—in Syria and Iraq, for instance. But U.S. leaders posed as if they were acting carefully to avoid escalation.

In fact, well before the last war ended, the U.S. was preparing for the next war. Ten years ago, the U.S. military began to “pivot to Asia,” further encircling China. It reinforced bases in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. It built new bases in the Philippines. It deployed even more massive naval forces to the region.

Decades before the Russia–Ukraine war began, the U.S. was expanding its military forces surrounding Russia. It brought countries that used to be allied with or even part of the Soviet Union into NATO, the military alliance the U.S. dominates. It put U.S. bases in some of these countries. Since that war began two years ago, the U.S. has armed Ukraine to the teeth, using the Ukrainian people as cannon fodder against Russia. The U.S. has sent even more forces to bases in the region and pushed its European allies to build up their own militaries.

The forces they have built up show what the U.S. military leaders are preparing for. It may not be clear when it will start or how the various countries will line up. But the U.S. has created military forces, prepared systems of alliances, and built bases spread around the world on the scale needed to fight a world war.

But wars are not fought by weapons and bases alone—they are fought by populations. Today, the U.S. population is not enthusiastic to go to war again. People here see little benefit from the wars the U.S. military carried out in the first decades of this century in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

The U.S. military has faced this problem before: after the Vietnam War, military leaders complained that the U.S. population had “Vietnam Syndrome,” meaning people weren’t ready to fight their wars anymore. For a whole period, the U.S. relied on proxy forces to fight its wars in Central America and the Middle East. But little by little, the U.S. military tried to find a “cure” for Vietnam Syndrome: little wars in Grenada and Panama and the limited invasion of Iraq in 1991. These “little” wars—not so little for the people of these countries, but relatively short and with relatively few U.S. casualties—helped prepare the U.S. population for the bigger, longer wars the U.S. carried out in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Like those “little” wars, the attacks in Yemen are part of the U.S. military leaders’ preparation for a much bigger war. Most of all, these attacks are a preparation for the U.S. population, aimed at “curing” us of any hesitation to go to war, getting us to accept once again that it is normal to have U.S. military forces involved in fighting.

Workers have no reason to swallow this “cure.”

These wars are paid for out of money taken directly from what we need. The cities and small towns are already crumbling, the schools are starved of money, the public health services are in even worse shape than before COVID. All of these services will be made even worse to fund wars that will not be in any way in the interests of working-class people in this country. This is the world capitalism prepares for us.

Homeless veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are camped out on the street corners of the big cities, broken by what they were sent to do. This capitalist system is preparing to send more of our sons and daughters to be maimed or to die to maintain U.S. corporations’ domination of the world.

The wider war capitalism is preparing carries with it a threat to all of humanity.