The bourgeoisie's war drums are beating all over the planet. The famous promise made by Bush Senior in 1990 that we were entering a 'New World Order' of peace and prosperity have proved to be a cynical lie; in reality war has become more and more permanent and threatening for humanity. Those who talk the most about 'peace' and 'humanitarianism' and the 'fight against terrorism' are worthy defenders of a system which is dragging the human race towards mass destruction.
Each military conflict, far from bringing peace, leads to even wider and more destructive conflicts. The frightening demonstration of American power in Afghanistan has only served to heighten instability in all the surrounding regions, in particular by intensifying the danger of a war between the two nuclear-armed states of India and Pakistan. And hardly had the American operation in Afghanistan been completed when Iraq became the next target of US threats. Of course there are disagreements between the great powers about military intervention against Baghdad, but it's not because any of them have any concern for saving the Iraqi population from a new bloodbath; it's simply because the imperialist interests of these vultures are increasingly at odds with one another, a reality which contains the seeds of even worse massacres to come.
The hands of all the world's powers and leaders are stained with blood! Not just Bush and Blair, who are calling for a new crusade against Saddam Hussein, eleven years after the slaughter which cost hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. But also the countries and politicians that prattle on about 'international law' and the need for UN approval of any action against Iraq. This opposition, led by countries like France, Germany and Russia, and echoed by the so-called 'doves' in the US and Britain, is simply a new attempt to pursue their own imperialist appetites. Let's not forget that in 1991, France and others were also reluctant to take part, but they ended up doing their bit, not least when all the major powers cooperated in pushing the Kurdish and Shiite minorities to rise in rebellion, only to be crushed by Saddam's elite units, which had been carefully spared by the 'allies'.
And let's also recall that less than six months after the first Gulf war, the same imperialist powers found themselves on different sides of the war in Yugoslavia, instigated by the growing imperialist ambitions of a reunified Germany, which had called on Slovenia and Croatia to proclaim their independence from Belgrade. For the next eight years, in the name of 'humanitarian intervention', Germany, France, Britain, the US and Russia armed and advanced their various pawns, who carried out a ceaseless genocide of the population, reaching its peak with the Kosovo war in 1999.
As in the Gulf war, the hypocrisy of the great powers was limitless. In 1991, as today, Saddam was painted as the great tyrant, the new Hitler, in order to justify military intervention; but those who most pointed the finger at him were the very ones who had set him up in the first place. "He may be a bastard - but he's our bastard" was the cynical description of Saddam by the US during the 80s when he was useful in reining in Iranian ambitions in the region. In Yugoslavia the evil tyrant was Milosevic, now on trial for war crimes; but for most of the war in ex-Yugoslavia he was supported by Britain and France to counter the advance of the Americans and the Germans. War across the planet
The story is the same in the Middle East. We are encouraged by the media to see the conflict there as the result of some blood feud between Jews and Arabs, or of the extremism of Sharon on the one hand and of the radical Islamic groups on the other. And certainly both of these local expressions of capitalism are constantly trying to outdo each other in the pitiless murder of terrorised populations. But once again, behind all the local killers lurk the great powers, who talk peace while aiming to sabotage the interests of their great power rivals through all kinds of intrigues and underhand manipulations.
It's the same in Africa: there are wars all over the continent, and the hand of imperialist powers large and small can be seen in all of them. In Algeria the US has backed the Islamic fundamentalists to weaken France, which props up the military regime; in Rwanda France trained the Hutu death squads which spearheaded the genocide of 1994, while the US and Britain supported the Tutsi rebels of the RDF; when this conflict spilled over into ex-Zaire, nearly all of the local states became embroiled, and once again the bigger powers were stoking the fires in the background.
The war games of decomposing capitalism are being played all across the planet. Countless massacres, stirring up the worst forms of racism and religious fanaticism, deepening the terrible and growing poverty which blights the majority of the world's population - this is the only perspective which the capitalist system can offer us today.
Faced with such a scenario, calls for peace and disarmament are not just empty words, they are more and more being revealed as yet another justification for imperialism. When the USA's rivals paint themselves in 'anti-war' colours, it's only to carry out their own imperialist policy in a different way, given that they cannot compete with the US directly on the military level.
The only force that can block the spiral of war is the class struggle of the international proletariat. This was proved in 1917-18 when the revolutions in Russia and Germany, the mutinies across Europe, forced the bourgeoisie to call a halt to the butchery. It was further confirmed after 1968 when the revival of workers' struggles across the globe was the key factor preventing a third world war between the two great imperialist blocs.
The interests of the working class are directly opposed to the national and imperialist interests of the ruling class. The working class is the first to suffer in imperialist wars - whether as conscripts in the front line, or through the increasing attacks on living and working conditions demanded by the national economy, which is more and more revealed as a war economy. By struggling tooth and nail against these attacks, the working class can become aware of its real strength as an international social force.
Working class internationalism is not some pious wish; it corresponds to the real material interests of the world's workers. The struggle against war starts with the immediate struggle against the economic attacks launched by 'our own' ruling class. But this is the same struggle in all countries, and it can only advance by generalising across national frontiers and transforming itself into a political offensive aimed at the victory of the world communist revolution.