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Are the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the Beginning of the End of the American Empire?

Imperial Rot

by JAMES PETRAS

Washington outlined in explicit language its plans to engage in sequential wars in the Middle East, Southwest and Northeast Asia and the Caribbean. Under the offensive military doctrine of ‘Pre-emptive Wars’ and the ‘Global War against Terrorism’, the United States’ pursuit of military conquest was backed by Israel, Great Britain and several newly incorporated client states from Eastern Europe. The White House’s grandiose scheme of world conquest was orchestrated and pre-maturely celebrated by top Zioncon (Zionist Conservative) officials embedded in the Pentagon, White House and the National Security Council.

The imperial wars of conquest however were stopped literally dead in their tracks at their starting point: Iraq and Afghanistan. Subsequent to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, a formidable mass armed resistance emerged from the underground, aided by widespread civilian support. Large majorities of public opinion, major religious communities , trade union militants , small business associations and neighborhood-based community organizations actively and passively opposed the US-led occupation forces at every turn, providing logistical support and intelligence to the armed and non-violent resistance. Similar developments took place at a later stage in Afghanistan. Despite draconian military measures, including the bombing of population centers, systematic mass round-ups of civilians followed by brutal torture, the US military failed to consolidate its rule via puppet regimes. As the resistance grew, Washington’s efforts to foment ethnic-religious sectarian warfare and territorial fragmentation failed. By late 2006 it was clear that the imperial army’s only territorial conquest was the bunkers in the so-called ‘Green Zone’. In 2007 Washington escalated its troop commitments in a desperate effort to fend off impending defeat and to recover massive loss of domestic support.

From a world historical perspective, the Iraqi and Afghan resistance has successfully stymied Washington’s pursuit of world domination through a series of offensive wars. The success of the national liberation movements led to the over-extension of the US imperial armed forces ­ weakening efforts to launch programed ground wars against Iran, Syria and elsewhere. The prolonged resistance led to wholesale domestic opposition in the face of never-ending US casualties and skyrocketing financial costs.

The demoralization of the US infantry and National Guard prevented Washington from following up its failed coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez with a direct military invasion.

The prolonged and deteriorating war in Afghanistan, with the advances of the re-grouped guerrilla fighters especially among the civilian population, has led the US-controlled colonial coalition to engage in indiscriminate bombing of civilians ­ adding to the growth of the anti-colonial resistance.

The success of the resistance movements in Iraq and Afghanistan and the appeal of their examples has encouraged new formidable anti-colonial struggles, led by Hizbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia as well as having stiffened the resolve of Iranian leaders to resist US demands to unilaterally suspend their nuclear programs. Further abroad, the weakening of US global military interventionist capacity has taken the heat off of progressive governments in Venezuela and revolutionary Cuba. The consolidation of the Venezuelan nationalist-populist government has had a powerful demonstration impact throughout Latin America, encouraging new anti-imperialist movements and dissident governments in Ecuador and beyond. In an all out battle of ideas, programs, foreign aid and solidarity, Bush is losing out to President Chavez: Unable to launch a full-scale military invasion, to eliminate the Chavez government, Washington has failed to match Venezuela’s vast petrol subsidies and promising alternative integration proposals: ALBA has prevailed over ALCA.

The failure of Washington’s will to a world empire has led to the shrinking of power relative to its global situation prior to 2001. And in large part that is due to the fighting capacity and organized resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan: Both have demonstrated that despite the great store of modern technological warfare and monopolies of media propaganda, wars are decided on the ground, by the popular majorities directly affected. It is they who set in motion the conversion of enthusiastic domestic majorities for the US war to demoralized minorities; it is they who have given backbone and resiliency to the Middle Eastern governments who vacillate between collaboration with and rejection of the colonial powers.

JAMES PETRAS, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50 year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in brazil and argentina and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed). His new book with Henry Veltmeyer, Social Movements and the State: Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina, will be published in October 2005. He can be reached at: jpetras@binghamton.edu