By Gene Clancy
Workers World Newspaper
Sept 23, 2012
There are times in history when war and politics converge with economics to create a true turning point, a point at which things cannot and will not ever be the same. Such points in time are marked by fierce struggle.
When imperialist forces are involved, there are usually gargantuan efforts by those on the losing side of history to obfuscate, deny and cover up their defeat. These include not only propaganda efforts to sway the masses of people, but often a large measure of self-deception by the ruling elites themselves.
In her latest book, “War Without Victory,” Sara Flounders decisively smashes through the obfuscation and confusion sown by the Pentagon, and in a thoughtful, yet hard-hitting series of essays exposes the true dimensions of the defeat of U.S. imperialism in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and around the world.
Flounders, who is a co-coordinator of the International Action Center and has decades of experience as a top organizer of the anti-war movement in the United States, systematically demonstrates that the U.S., the foremost agent of capitalism and imperialism in decline, is wracked by contradictions which prevent it from achieving its objectives. This is true even as Washington resorts to more and more militarism, greater and greater military expenditures, egregious violations of human rights and increasing depredations of the natural world environment.
“Today U.S. imperialism is in a long period of decline and decay. It is unable to prevail in a long ground war in Central Asia against one of the poorest, least-developed countries in the world: Afghanistan. It is unable to reverse the global capitalist economic crisis or solve the growing unemployment faced by millions of workers. Its industrial capacity is now a mere fraction of global production.”
Thus, while it spends more on the military than the rest of the world put together, the U.S. cannot even afford to provide safe drinking water for over 40 percent of its people. Even as it claims to promote “freedom,” it maintains the highest per capita prison population in the world and is dependent on this slave labor to produce an increasing portion of its military hardware!
Stymied in its attempts to occupy countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon is increasingly reliant on pilotless drones and Special Forces to carry out targeted assassinations of supposed enemies. But far from crushing or intimidating resistance, such tactics have led to growing outrage and destabilization within nominal allies such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Attempts to quietly spread low-profile bases to outposts such as the Philippines, where previous military bases were abandoned in the face of mass opposition, face increasing exposure and resistance.
Flounders points out that U.S. imperialism is especially dangerous when it is losing and emphasizes the need for an aware and militant anti-war movement to monitor and oppose the machinations of the Pentagon. She focuses on the interventions in Syria, Libya and the Palestinian struggle as areas of particular concern.
Flounders also shows the role of advancing technology in the struggle of imperialism with the rest of the world. In a chapter entitled “WikiLeaks, the Printing Press & the Bible,” she shows how throughout history technological development has influenced social and political change.
Although new technology has put more lethal power into the hands of the Pentagon in the form of drones, GPS guided bombs, computers and satellite communications, many of these developments have given the masses new avenues of struggle and undermined the strategic position of their oppressors.
“The U.S. military may have originally developed the Internet for its own emergency military communication in time of war. But the Internet has long since escaped those bounds. U.S. corporate power cannot shut down the Internet without totally disrupting their own businesses, production and marketing. The contradiction is that the immediate financial interests of the bourgeoisie make the Internet ever more accessible.”
Reflecting both Flounders’ esteem among anti-imperialists worldwide and the usefulness of the book, more than a dozen individuals with prestige in the progressive movement — including Ramsey Clark, Cynthia McKinney, Sandinista leader Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, Michael Parenti and leading Black unionist Clarence Thomas — have written statements praising Flounders’ book.
U.S. imperialism is in decline and “War Without Victory” is an important and timely documentation of some of the important nails in its coffin.