The present world situation is marked by a desperate attempt by the US in particular and imperialist countries in general to reinforce their economic, political and cultural domination and opposite endeavours on the part of developing countries as well as resurgent and emerging powers to shape up a multipolar world order; a groundswell of popular resistance to imperialism in various forms; and certain new trends and features in the global economy.
America’s Desperate Drive for Hegemony
During the past five years the aggressive superpower in league with other imperialist powers continued with its pet scheme of world domination. Our seventh party Congress was held soon after the American colonisation of Afghanistan and in the shadows of an impending full-scale war on Iraq. When within a few months that threat became a reality, we categorised it as a war launched by petrodollar imperialism for oil, dollar dictatorship and world domination. The US has also been bullying countries like Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela and Iran, expanding the NATO and multiplying its nuclear firepower, enormously enhancing its capacity for high-tech war including space war, egging on Israel to finish off Palestine and cripple Lebanon, launching the “Asian NATO” and recruiting new client states like India, and so on. Very recently the Bush administration moved a step closer to military conflict with Iran with the unprecedented step of imposing punitive measures on its Revolutionary Guard Corps and calling the al-Quds unit of the guards a terrorist organisation. The sweeping new US sanctions affect Iranian banks, companies, officials and government agencies, which the White House says are either part of the country’s push to acquire weapons of mass destruction or supporting acts of terrorism abroad. The US was forced to act alone, however, with Britain only offering rhetorical support, and Germany apart from China opposing more sanctions at this stage. Vladimir Putin immediately called the new US sanctions the work of a "madman with a razor blade in his hand".
On the whole, the highly ambitious American campaign for absolute world domination that began after 9/11/2001 has failed. Rather than regime change, Cuba has witnessed a smooth transition in leadership. In Venezuela, Chavez rides high. North Korea has achieved what it wanted, trading its nuclear programme for aid and normalized ties with South Korea and theWest. In Palestine, the more belligerent Hamas enjoys electoral legitimacy and popular support and Israel will not easily forget the defeat it suffered last year at the hands of the Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has successfully expanded its relations with other, especially Latin American, countries opposed to US hegemonism. America’s closest partners in empire-building, such as President Jose Maria Aznar in Spain, Britain’s Blair and Japan’s Shinzo Abe, have already had to bow out largely on account of the popular distrust they earned as accomplices in the crimes against humanity. And now the big boss himself is ready for an ignominious exit as the most discredited and lampooned US President in recent history.
Multiple Currents of Opposition
At t the start of the war on Iraq we linked it to the exacerbation of all three major contradictions in our epoch, especially the principal contradiction between imperialism and the underdeveloped countries, and expressed the firm conviction that it will be a long-drawn affair, extracting a very heavy price from US war-mongers. Subsequent developments have fully vindicated us. At least three distinct streams of opposition to aggressive US designs are easily discernible today.
Popular Upheaval in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine
Afghanistan and Iraq have been the starting points and most decisive theatres of the “global war on terror” and significantly it is here that the US is facing the toughest challenge since the Vietnam War. In both these countries, powerful armed resistance movements operating mainly from the underground with broad-based and active civilian support have effectively foiled American plans to consolidate military rule through puppet regimes. The prolonged war in Afghanistan and the progress made by regrouped fighting forces have prompted the colonial coalition to resort to indiscriminate bombing of civilians. This has led to further growth of the anti-colonial resistance, compelling even a puppet like Hamid Karzai to comment that the NATO attacks acted as a recruiting sergeant for the rebels seeking to restore a hardline Islamic regime. In Iraq, US efforts to foment ethnic-religious sectarian warfare and territorial fragmentation failed miserably and today the invading army’s writ runs only over the so-called “green zone” in Baghdad. Even in the face of rapidly rising military and economic costs of extended occupation and consequent domestic demand for bringing the troops back now, the Bush administration has chosen to further escalate its troop commitments. Clearly, this was a desperate last attempt to fend off impending defeat and to recover the huge loss of support at home. But this move too is bound to prove counterproductive.
Even though the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan lacks any cohesive political unity and direction and various terrorist and fundamentalist currents are also operating within the resistance, the overwhelming assertion of the people in these countries against US occupation and domination has had a tremendous international impact. They have kept the US military too bogged down to launch wars elsewhere, such as Iran, Syria or Venezuela. Most important, the valiant fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq have once again driven home the basic truth of Mao’s classic observation about the USA and the atom bomb being paper tigers. They have shown the world that it is not mind-boggling technology and fire-power, nor spectacular propaganda offensive by monopolised electronic media, but the popular masses that determine the course of a war; that even a small force, with correct strategy and tactics, can gradually grow powerful and overwhelm a superpower.
In Palestine, in the wake of Yasser Arafat’s death, the Hamas won a landslide electoral victory. But this elected government has been under attack from US imperialism and from Israel, which have taken the opportunity to split the Palestinian resistance and pit the Hamas government against the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. We reiterate our solidarity for the long Palestinian liberation struggle and hope that the current crises can be overcome to forge a stronger and more united resistance against occupation.
Latin American Opposition
The US is facing a tough challenge in the group of countries it was accustomed to see as its backyard. It was here that neoliberalism was first imposed by Washington and its allies through pliant governments. The result was an economic disaster. And the resultant popular protest found expression in diverse types of mass struggles: by peasants and landless labourers (notably the MST in Brazil and CONAIE in Ecuador), indigenous peoples (notably the Chiapas movement in Mexico) and sections of organised labour in Venezuela, Bolivia and other countries, broad-based popular movements (as in Oaxaca in Mexico); as well as in elections of broadly anti-imperialist governments in a number of countries. The year 2006 was particularly rich in this respect, what with the election of Evo Morales as president of Bolivia, of Raphael Correa as president of Ecuador, of Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega as president of Nicaragua and the militant mass upheaval in Mexico against the stolen presidential election. Meanwhile Cuba has survived yet another destabilisation attempt by the US in the wake of Fidel Castro’s illness – and is along with Venezuela is at the centre of the emerging axis of economic and social cooperation of Latin American countries.
These governments represent, from within the capitalist framework, various degrees of opposition to the US-led economic onslaught. But overall, the “pink tide” certainly reflects a mass awakening against imperialism and this is the most important thing. At the centre of the continental upheaval stands Venezuela, the cradle of what they call the “Bolivarian revolution” – which is, at least until now, nothing less and nothing more than a programme of far-reaching progressive bourgeois reform being implemented by a Left-leaning nationalist-populist government based on a high degree of popular activism. The Chavez government has imposed high taxes and controls on big industries, nationalised some of them and threatened others – including powerful foreign banks – with nationalisation in the event of failure to serve the national economy as desired by the government. Venezuela has come out of IMF, and announced a plan to dissociate from the World Bank and to launch a “Bank of South” in cooperation with other Latin American countries. An inspired Evo Morales has started the process of nationalising the natural gas industry and Daniel Ortega is negotiating with the IMF to “get out of the prison”.
It should be noted, however, that all these and the whole gamut of social welfare programmes in Venezuela and some other countries have been made possible by favourable market conditions (especially the surge in prices of oil and many other commodities exported from Latin America) which are not likely to last for ever. But that does not negate the significance of what is happening in that turbulent continent.
Compared to the South-South cooperation in 1990s which lacked economic muscle and practical effectiveness, the current trends of united resistance to US-led western domination in the economic arena – and so, to some extent, also in the political and strategic spheres – are led by resurgent and rising powers like Russia and China and therefore much more potent.
Having more or less completed the painful process of capitalist conversion of the huge socialist resource base and property relations (however distorted), Russia has emerged as an energy superpower, as already noted. While there is nothing progressive about the highly exploitative and unjust social order in Russia, and while its future role on the international arena can only be guessed, at the present juncture it is working as a powerful opponent of the American overdrive for a unipolar world.
Just a couple of months ago Russia caused much consternation by a symbolic placement of the Russian flag at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. Its recent explosion of “dad of all bombs” – a non-nuclear device that is reportedly four times more powerful than what the Americans had called “mother of all bombs” – comes as further proof that the country has regained its technological edge. New ground and sea-launched nuclear missiles have also been developed. Moreover, booming oil and gas prices have allowed Putin to quadruple annual defence spending and order his long-range nuclear bombers to mount patrols in international airspace for the first time after 1991. Last July, Major-General Alexander Vladimirov told the Russian newspaper Komsolskya Pravda that war with the United States was a “possibility” in the next 10-15 years.
All these are seen as Russian responses to the US-sponsored strategic encirclement. NATO is still hell-bent on growing larger even after two rounds of eastward expansion and the US has announced plans to deploy 10 ballistic missile defence (BMD) batteries in Poland and a tracking radar station in the Czech Republic ostensibly to guard Europe against possible missile attacks by Iran but actually targeted against Russia. It is but natural that the latter, with tacit support from China, is stoutly opposing American hegemonism. Particularly notable in this connection is the growing assertion of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO), extending from the economic and diplomatic to the military arena. It may be recalled that neither Russia nor China had opposed the US aggression on Afghanistan because both were eager to get rid of Taliban. But as US moves in Central Asia became increasingly ambitious, the Eurasian giants came together more closely than ever. The recent joint military exercise of SCO in Central Asia – a most vital area in geo-strategic terms also eyed by the NATO – is a case in point.
The most crucial strategic development in recent years is the emerging “energy war”; and here Washington finds itself in an increasingly disadvantaged position, even as opponents are riding high and closing ranks. Both Russia and China are building new oil and gas pipelines, much to the chagrin of the Bush Administration. During a visit last August to Beijing, his fourth in seven years, Chavez announced that Venezuela would triple its oil exports to China to 500,000 barrels per day in three years, a jump that suited both sides. Chavez wants to diversify Venezuela’s buyer base to reduce its dependence on exports to the US, and China’s leaders are keen to diversify their hydrocarbon imports away from the troublesome Middle East. Along with a joint refinery project, China agreed to build 13 oil-drilling platforms, supply 18 oil tankers, and co-operate in exploring a new oilfield in Venezuela.
The enhanced activism and status of Russia and China in international relations – as evidenced for example in the North Korean and Iranian controversies – have been matched by expanding economic and diplomatic clout in Asia, Africa and Latin America. To cite one example, Venezuela, the second-largest buyer of Russian weaponry, has recently finalised a $1 billion deal to purchase five diesel submarines to defend her oil-rich undersea shelf and acquired the distinction of being the first country to receive a license from Russia to manufacture the famed AK-47 assault rifle. Add to this the growing role of various regional groups and organs of South-South cooperation and it is not difficult to see the prospects of a future multipolar world steadily opening up everywhere. To take one recent example, Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Caspian Summit in Iran in late October signals the emergence of a powerful Euro-Asian bloc based on the Moscow-Peking axis. The Declaration signed at the end of the summit commits the littoral states to a de facto non-aggression pact. It warns the outside powers to refrain from using the Caspian region for military operations or interfering in any other way, and supports the right of Iran to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.