Monday, May 02, 2011

A War over Resources

Each time political leaders expect support for their wars it is always with the subtly implied promise that all will be well eventually. The World Socialist Movement argues that the basic cause of modern war is the international rivalries inseparable from capitalism and the capitalist class's domination of the world's resources. Wars have been caused by conflicts of economic interest over sources of raw materials, trade routes, markets, investment outlets and strategic points and places to secure and protect these. The so-called humanitarian UN/NATO war in Libya is no exception to this rule. The Socialist Party calls upon the workers the world over to understand the basis upon which they oppose the war, and to understand the potential that it shows. To understand that mere opposition and pious moralising against the war is not enough, and that it lies within their hands to make the necessary changes.

SOYMB may not agree with everything that the commentator Pepe Escobar may say but at least he does recognise that the Libyan conflict is indeed about national rivalries to gain access and control over Africa's wealth. Escobar describes the motive as "the Pentagon's Africom versus China's web of investments - the ultimate prize: Africa's natural resources." He writes "From energy wars to water wars, the 21st century will be determined by a fierce battle for the world's remaining natural resources. The chessboard is global. The stakes are tremendous. Most battles will be invisible. All will be crucial.In resource-rich Africa, a complex subplot of the New Great Game in Eurasia is already in effect. It's all about three major intertwined developments:1) The coming of age of the African Union in the early 2000s.2) China's investment offencive in Africa throughout the 2000s.3) The onset of the Pentagon's African Command (Africom) in 2007. "

Beijing sees that the Anglo-French-American bombing of Libya – apart from its myriad geopolitical implications – has risked billions of dollars in Chinese investments, not to mention forcing the evacuation of more than 35,000 Chinese working across the country. And crucially, depending on the outcome – as in renegotiated energy contracts by a pliable, pro-Western government – it may also seriously jeopardise Chinese oil imports (3 per cent of total Chinese imports in 2010). The China Military, a People's Liberation Army (PLA) newspaper, as well as sectors in academia, are now openly arguing that China needs to drop Deng Xiaoping's "low-profile" policy and bet on a sprawling armed forces to defend its strategic interests worldwide (these assets already total over $1.2 trillion). One report titled "China's New Security Strategy in Africa" actually betrays the Pentagon's fear of the PLA eventually sending troops to Africa to protect Chinese interests.

According to a 2010 US Congressional Research Service study, the US has intervened in Africa no less than 46 times before the current Libya civil war. Among other exploits, the Pentagon invested in a large-scale botched invasion of Somalia and backed the infamous, genocide-related Rwanda regime. The Bill Clinton administration raised hell in Liberia, Gabon, Congo and Sierra Leone, bombed Sudan, and sent "advisers" to Ethiopia to back dodgy clients grabbing a piece of Somalia . America's military control organisation, Africom, has some sort of military "partnership" – bilateral agreements – with most of Africa's 53 countries, not to mention fuzzy multilateral schemes such as West African Standby Force and Africa Partnership Station. American warships have dropped by virtually every African nation except for those bordering the Mediterranean. The exceptions: Ivory Coast, Sudan, Eritrea and Libya. Ivory Coast is now in the bag. So is South Sudan. Libya may be next. The only ones left to be incorporated to Africom will be Eritrea and Zimbabwe. Libya for its part presented juicy possibilities: an easily demonised dictator; a pliable post-Gaddafi puppet regime; a crucial military base for Africom; loads of excellent cheap oil; and the possibility of throwing China out of Libya.

Beijing for its part sees right through it; the Mediterranean as a NATO lake ( “Washington is all for invading against Libya and is putting more and more pressure to intervene in Syria because we want to ... clear China and Russia out of the Mediterranean,” Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary to US Treasury said and pointed out. “Those two countries are just in the way of American hegemony in the Mediterranean and certainly the Americans do not want a powerful Russian fleet stationed there and they certainly don't want China drawing energy resources,” ) , an Africa militarised by Africom; and Chinese interests at high risk. In the past decade, Africa became China's new Far West. The epic tale of masses of Chinese workers and entrepreneurs discovering big empty virgin spaces. China will soon become Africa's largest trading partner – ahead of France and the UK – and its top source of foreign investment. Chinese military retaliation to defend its commercial interests won't happen in Libya. It's not about to happen in Sudan. But further on down the road, all bets are off.

Workers have no country. Workers who neither own nor control have no obligation to the bosses who do own and control it. Our sole interest is in co-operating with our fellow workers across the world who similarly have no country. Why should we die defending what is not ours and which we will never benefit from? The only war that need concern us is the class war between the parasites who possess and the workers who produce over the ownership and control of the Earth's resources. But to win we need not initiate the violence which is characteristic of capitalism's wars. What we advocate is a war on war to be waged on the battlefield of ideas—for the hearts and minds of the world's people. And once we unite there will be no force that will stop us taking the Earth into our common possession. The only solution to war and to the miseries of capitalism in Africa, as in the rest of the world, is for the working class to organise for common ownership and democratic control, a society where the root cause of war in the economic and strategic rivalry of a minority owning class is removed and the production and distribution of wealth is conducted in the interests of the whole community—socialism. It is time the working class struggled for its own interests.

For further reading see:
China in Africa

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