by Glen Ford
Glen Ford is editor of Black Agenda Report and a member of the Black is Back coalition. Following are portions of his presentation at the Feb. 26 public rally in Hartford, Conn., sponsored by Socialist Action.
Our world faces a multiple of overlapping and interconnected crises that can only be surmounted through socialism. Those crises become more acute each day, and they are the inevitable product of late-stage capitalism. These species-threatening crises—of which global warming is only one—are insoluble without the dismantling of capitalism, which creates these crises.
Standing in the way of the global transformation that humanity must achieve is the edifice of U.S. imperialism. It’s an imperialism that is increasingly stripped down to its most raw and brutal elements—military force. Its options narrow, becoming fewer and fewer every day. That is the clearest sign of imperialism’s weakness—that it cannot influence events decisively except by the use of raw force.
The United States constantly seeks to achieve what it calls full-spectrum dominance, in the military sense. Their reliance on the military, which is more expensive than all the rest of the militaries of the world combined, is necessitated by the inability of finance capital to play anything but a destructive role in the world today.
Finance capital, which rules in the United States, can only survive by rigging and distorting world markets. It has become a weight that suppresses the productive forces of the world, and from which other capitalist classes of the world recoil. It is a very inflexible instrument for global rule; it can’t win hearts and minds. In fact, the developing world is compelled to form compacts among themselves to organize against U.S.-dominated finance capital. Dollar dominance is something to be feared, avoided, and overcome.
And so the imperialists are increasingly reliant on their weapons. But their weapons are failing them now as well. America’s growing impotence to shape world events by non-military means is what drove the United States to roll the dice in 2003 with an offensive that was designed to project American power deep into the energy-producing regions of Asia. The Iraq invasion was to have been just the beginning of that offensive. The goal of the offensive was to neutralize Russia, and to potentially cut off Chinese access to oil and gas. It was also, of course, to restore the United States to a dictatorial position in the world. So they rolled the dice, and then they lost.
They lost so catastrophically that the ruling finance capitalists were compelled to bankroll the elevation of a brand-new face—a brown face named Barack Obama. But, of course, that was just a face. And it’s still the same moribund, increasingly desperate imperial system. It cannot bend the world to its will despite its huge war machine.
In the 21st century, U.S. imperialism can’t even bend two of the poorest nations to its will—Afghanistan and Somalia. In Afghanistan a few tens of thousands of fighters have deadlocked the United States and its NATO allies. In Somalia only a few thousand Islamic fighters have the Americans and their proxies stymied. And so we see that U.S. imperialism’s position is eroding at an accelerating pace despite ever-increasing expenditures on weapons. They are in a much worse position than they were in 2003—when they rolled the dice and they lost.
And their economic position has been shattered by the financial meltdown of 2008. Virtually the entire world, including capitalist Europe, now views American capital as a menace to their societies.
And now comes a veritable apocalypse in the making. That apocalypse is the Arab reawakening. The resurgence of Arab nationalism cannot help but deal a decisive blow to U.S. imperialism. The reawakening will be played by fits and starts, and disappointments and tragedies—but it cannot be rolled back.
Libya may well be invaded and occupied by NATO; it could happen very soon. But that will not alter this huge new factor in the human struggle. The very geopolitical region where the United States targeted numerous countries for enslavement and invasion as part of its 2003 military offensive is now coming alive with Arab nationalist fervor. …
Any rise in nationalism in that part of the world is a catastrophe for U.S. imperialism. U.S. imperialism is the enemy of all nationalisms except our own. Its imperative is to crush all notions of national independence.
Imperialism cultivates, and creates, and imposes on nations a class of people that are willing to sell out the national interest to imperial power. That, after all, is the whole point of the imperial project. Therefore, disaster looms for U.S. imperialism with the reawakening of Arab nationalism—and that is true even if the left plays a minor role in those various countries.
Washington has no idea what to do about this. They have no viable options. The occupation of Libya may happen, but it is not viable—not in an Arab world in the fever of nationalism.
> This article was originally published in the March 2011 print edition of Socialist Action newspaper.