Only the international working class can create a real new world order
As we go to press, the Gulf war has been officially ended. It finished very quickly, much quicker than the military commands had led people to believe, perhaps quicker than they themselves had thought. The editorial article that follows was written at the beginning of the ground offensive by the US-led coalition against Iraq. It is thus dated. However, its denunciation of the butchery of this war is still very relevant. The introduction demonstrates how much the political positions and analyses it puts forward have been confirmed from the very first days of the 'post war' phase.
The Gulf War ends: the USA, World Policeman
The end of the war has clearly confirmed the real objectives of the American bourgeoisie: demonstrating its enormous military superiority, not only vis-a-vis peripheral countries like Iraq who are being pushed into military adventures by the severity of the economic crisis, but also and above all the other world powers, and particularly those who used to make up the western bloc: Japan and the great European powers.
The disappearance of the eastern bloc, by eliminating these powers' need for the American military 'umbrella', has resulted in the disappearance of the western bloc itself and given rise to the tendency towards the formation of a new imperialist bloc. The complete effacement, during the course of the war, of the only two serious candidates for the 'leadership' of a new bloc, Germany and Japan, the demonstration of their complete military impotence, is America's warning for the future: whatever the economic dynamism of these countries (in reality, their capacity to stand up to the crisis more effectively than their rivals), the USA is not prepared to let anyone muscle in on its patch. Similarly, all of France's little attempts to 'affirm its differences' (see the editorial of International Review 64) up until 17 January went up in smoke the minute the USA succeeded in imposing its 'solution' to the crisis: the military crushing of Iraq. Today France is reduced to wagging its tail like a poodle when Schwarzkopf congratulates the French troops for doing an "absolutely superb job", and when Bush receives Mitterrand with all the right civilities. As for the European Community, which some people have seen as future great rival of the USA, it has been completely non-existent throughout the war. In short, if it necessary to identify the real objectives of the making this war inevitable and in waging it to e results are there to make everything crystal clear.
A Pyrrhic Victory
Similarly, with the end of the fighting, we have seen the rapid confirmation of the perspective we put forward from the beginning (see IR 63): war would not be followed by peace, but by chaos and more war. Chaos and war in Iraq, as illustrated tragically by the confrontations and massacres in the cities of the south and in Kurdistan. Chaos, war and disorder throughout the region: Lebanon, Israel, and the occupied territories. In short, the glorious victory of the 'allies', the 'new world order' that they claim to be setting up, are giving their first fruits: disorder, misery and massacres for the populations; wars here, there and everywhere. The new world order? Already the Middle East is more unstable now than it ever was before!
And this instability won't be limited to the Middle East. The end of the war against Iraq is not opening up the prospect of a diminution of tensions between the big imperialist powers. On the contrary. Thus, the different European bourgeoisies are already preoccupied with the need to adapt, modernize and strengthen their weaponry - and that's not with a 'new era of peace' in mind. We are also seeing countries like Japan, Germany and even Italy demanding a reevaluation of their international status by calling for a permanent place on the UN Security Council. Thus, while the USA has succeeded through this war in proving its vast military superiority, while it has for the moment slowed down the tendency towards every man for himself, this is really a Pyrrhic victory. The exacerbation of imperialist tensions and the spread of chaos all over the planet are inevitable, as is the aggravation of the economic crisis which is at the origin of all this. And there will have to be more 'punitive actions' like the one inflicted on Iraq, other monstrous massacres to serve as an 'example' and to bolster 'law and order'.
The 'New World Order': Poverty, famine, barbarism, war
Just over a year ago, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the bourgeoisie, its governments and its media, triumphantly claimed that 'liberal' capitalism had won, that an era of peace and prosperity was opening up with the disappearance of the eastern bloc and the opening up of these countries' markets. These lies have been shattered: instead of markets in the east, we have had economies ravaged by chaos. Instead of peace, we have had the most gigantic military intervention since the Second World War. Today, just as triumphantly, the leading sectors of the world bourgeoisie tell us that with the defeat of Iraq, the dawn of the new world order has definitely arrived: peace will be achieved, international stability ensured. These lies are also going to be shattered.
The rapid end of the war, the low number of deaths on the 'allied' side, have allowed the bourgeoisie to disorient the working class of the capitalist metropoles, the fraction of the proletariat which is key to the final outcome of the worldwide, historic battle between the classes. Even though many workers feel deeply wounded by the extermination of tens or hundreds of thousands of the exploited and the oppressed of Iraq, they also feel powerless in the face of the campaign of triumphant chauvinism which, thanks to the lies of the media, has temporarily deafened people's minds. But the future of poverty, famine, chaos, and ever more monstrous imperialist massacres, which is all the ruling class can offer, will open the eyes of the working masses and allow their struggles to be more and more impregnated with an awareness of the need to do away with this system. Revolutionaries must play an active part in this development of consciousness.