George Bush Senior promised a New World Order. At the start of the 1990s, with the Berlin Wall down, there were no longer two great military blocs facing each other, and we were told that the threat of war had faded. That was a lie. The reality has been a proliferation of military conflicts across the face of the planet.
We have seen the massive destruction in the Gulf War of 1991, and the subsequent bombings of Iraq by the US and Britain that have continued ever since. In Europe the great powers came into conflict in the wars in ex-Yugoslavia. Across the Caucasus big and small powers committed their atrocities, still continuing to this day in Chechnya. In Afghanistan, the terror bombing started by the US at the end of 2001 was just the latest stage of a series of armed conflicts underway since the 1970s. There has been no interruption in the exchange of fatal blows in Israel/Palestine. Throughout Africa (Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Liberia, Ivory Coast, and Sudan to cite only the ten most familiar areas) devastating wars between various factions and states have worsened the desperate situation in debt-ridden countries already scarred by poverty, famine, disease. Between India and Pakistan there is a stand-off between nuclear powers. The New World Order has turned out to be one of growing military confrontations. Justifications for war
With the increasing threat of war on Iraq all sorts of false ideas are being put forward again on what is responsible for the growth of military barbarism. For Bush and Blair there are wars which are justified and necessary. The ruling class in the US, with its 'war against terrorism', says it is mounting a defence of freedom against 'rogue states'. In Britain, the government says it will not shrink from the use of nuclear weapons against countries that don't respect international conventions and illegally manufacture 'weapons of mass destruction.'
On the other hand, there are countries such as France and Germany, which support humanitarian wars or wars for the liberation of oppressed peoples, but not, of course, for oil or for sordid financial profits. Such countries are major imperialist rivals of the US, and it should be expected that they would want to hold Bush and Co responsible for the plunge into war - and to be critical of wars that serve the interests of US imperialism against the major European powers.
In reality wars are neither 'decent' nor 'dirty'. Every country and every war is imperialist, regardless of the hypocritical justifications that the ruling capitalist class can dig up for their military adventures (or to condemn their rivals). Against Iraq, for example, there is an insistence that war will be justified because of Saddam's possession of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. Yet those who condemn Iraq are countries such as Britain and the US, which not only maintain the biggest arsenals of such weaponry, but also spent years helping Iraq acquire the same technology during its 1980s war with Iran. The lies of pacifism
The fact that capitalist states are more and more compelled to use force of arms to defend their interests, as has been so clearly shown over the last ten years or so, is an illustration of a fundamental aspect of the decadence of the capitalist system. As the world economic crisis gets an ever tighter grip, each national capital is driven into more and more irrational military adventures. It's not 'evil' in the hearts of the ruling class that drives them to take up arms in conflict with their rivals; it is the very nature of capitalism. It is not because of a crisis in particular industries, or the appetites of investors in certain sectors. Imperialist wars are bred by the historic crisis of a system that has nothing else left to offer humanity.
Many people are deeply concerned about the drive to war, but the 'anti-war' propaganda they come up against conceals the nature of a society in which war has become endemic. This has always been the way with pacifism, trying as it does to convince us that there can be peace within capitalism, that imperialist war can be avoided or, at least, kept within civilised boundaries.
Typical of the mystifications put forward by pacifism is that it's the US which is the main problem, the most dangerous force on the international scene. It is definitely the greatest military power by far, but that shouldn't for one moment be used to detract from the threat posed by any and every other country and capitalist faction in the world today. Anti-Americanism always has a basis in the nationalism of other powers. The leading rivals of the US are the first to point to the chaos it leaves in its wake, while pursuing their own imperialist interests with every political, diplomatic and military means at their disposal. At a lesser level, there have been a heap of very minor powers fighting over the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but that hasn't lessened the suffering of people there. It is the decadence of capitalism that lies behind imperialist conflicts, not the difference in military capacity between different powers.
A further weapon in the pacifist armoury is the myth of the United Nations. If only the UN could exert its authority, we are told, then wars could be avoided, or at least kept under control. Surely no one needs to be reminded of the many occasions when countries just take unilateral action regardless of the view of the other countries of the UN. But, more importantly, the UN has never been anything more than an arena in which the major imperialist powers continue their conflicts. If the UN ever takes action it's going to be in the interests of one of the big powers. Importance of the working class struggle
What all the pacifist illusions have in common is the idea that somehow the good will of decent people can triumph over increasingly pervasive militarism. The drive to war is inherent in the capitalist system, not just the product of grasping leaders or immoral regimes, and so it can only be stopped by the overthrow of that system. This is the task of the working class, which is the only force in society capable of really opposing the drive to imperialist war.
Even when the working class is not involved in widespread struggles the ruling class cannot afford to forget its potential. This was clearly shown by the international wave of workers' struggles - strikes, demonstrations, mutinies and insurrections, and the revolutions in Russia and Germany - that brought an end to the First World War and put the whole capitalist social order in question. The working class remains the only international class with no national interests to defend. To understand this means resisting all the propaganda of the ruling class. Only the struggles of the working class have the potential to develop into a force that can destroy capitalism!
Against the open militarism that calls for workers to sacrifice themselves in imperialist wars!
Against the pacifist illusions that undermine the capacity of the working class to understand the true nature of capitalism!
Against the humanitarian lies that are used as so many justifications for war ('the war to end war', 'against terror', 'against militarism', 'against weapons of mass destruction')!
Workers have no country!