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Vietnam

The war in Vietnam, which completely transformed the situation in the U.S.A., did not begin in a planned way. The U.S.A. was sucked into it almost by accident. It began with a covert operation, the sending of officers and “advisers” to prop up an unpopular and corrupt government against its own people. This is the usual style of U.S. imperialism! The regime of Ngo Dinh Diem was guilty of vicious repression in South Vietnam. Buddhist monks burned themselves alive in protest. Finally, Diem was assassinated by his own generals.

Three weeks later, the President of the U.S.A. suffered the same fate. Kennedy was succeeded by his Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson, who immediately announced that he was “not going to lose Vietnam”. “Win the war!” was his clear instruction. But despite all its tremendous wealth and military firepower, the U.S.A. did not win the war. On the contrary, Vietnam was the first war America ever lost. Korea was a draw. But in the steamy jungles and swamps of Vietnam, the Americans suffered a bitter defeat at the hands of a barefoot army.

In order to step up its military activities in Vietnam (as usual) an incident was required. This was (as usual) manufactured in the so-called Bay of Tonkin incident. It was alleged that a U.S. warship, the Maddox, had been fired upon by North Vietnamese naval vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin. For years it was believed that the U.S. navy had been the target of unprovoked “Communist aggression”. That was completely untrue. Even at the time, the captain of the Maddox admitted that none of his crew had made “actual visual sightings” of North Vietnamese naval vessels, and not one sailor either on the Maddox or the Turner Joy had actually heard North Vietnamese gunfire. The opening of the Hanoi archives has proven conclusively that the North Vietnamese did not fire on the American ships, which were actually inside Vietnamese territorial water at the time. Yet the American public was persuaded to back a foreign war on the basis of false information – and not for the last time, as we know.

The very next day Lyndon Johnson ordered the bombing of North Vietnamese naval bases and an oil depot. It was the start of a huge campaign of bombing that caused havoc in Vietnam, killing a large number of civilians and destroying its industry and infrastructure. On television, President Johnson declared:

“Repeated acts of violence against the armed forces of the United States must be met not only with alert defense but with positive reply. That reply is being given as I speak to you tonight.” (Quoted in Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing, Cold War, p. 216.)

There was not a word of truth in any of this. Johnson and co. had decided to send U.S. troops to Vietnam and that was that. In the same way, George W. Bush and his friends decided long before 11 September to invade Iraq and lied through their teeth about the alleged weapons of mass destruction that were supposed to pose a deadly threat to American security to sell it to the public.

In the years that followed, high explosives, napalm and cluster bombs rained down on Vietnam. The U.S. Air Force dropped toxic chemicals, including the notorious agent orange on forests, allegedly to kill the vegetation and deny shelter to the Vietnamese guerrillas. A total of 18 million gallons of herbicide were dropped. Even today U.S. servicemen are dying from the effects of just handling these toxic agents, especially cancer. One shudders to think of the effects they had on the Vietnamese men, women and children on whom they were dropped. Tests have shown that the South Vietnamese have levels of dioxin three times higher than those in U.S. citizens. It will take many years to flush these toxins out of the fragile ecosystem. This was chemical warfare pursued with a vengeance!

In all, the U.S. dropped more tons of explosives on Vietnam than were dropped by all sides in the Second World War. After bombing one village to rubble, one U.S. officer was quoted as saying: “We had to destroy the town in order to save it.” They are still “destroying towns in order to save them” today. Ask the inhabitants of Fallujah. And the tactic of dropping tons of poisonous chemicals still continues in Colombia, where herbicides are being used in the so-called war against drugs. The damage to people, vegetation and wild life will be the same as in Vietnam. But nobody talks about that.

The name of this particular operation was “Rolling Thunder”. There must be somebody in the Pentagon, some frustrated poet, whose sole function is to think up picturesque names for such acts of barbarity. Lately we had “Operation Shock and Awe”. It is a pity such talented people were not around at the time of the fall of the Roman Empire, or Attila the Hun might have called his activities: “Operation Sweetness and Light”. No matter what the name was, it did not succeed. Once an entire people stands up and says “no!” to a foreign invader, no amount of troops, guns, bombs or chemical agents will make any difference, as George W. Bush will learn to his cost in Iraq. The Vietnamese continued to resist. More and more U.S. troops had to be sent in and more and more body bags were being flown home.

At first the U.S. authorities simply hid the facts of the growing escalation from the American public. They continued to lie and deceive with the active assistance of what is known in some quarters as the free press. But as Abe Lincoln pointed out: you can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. Slowly, by degrees, and not all at the same time, the people of the United States became aware of what the true situation was.

The suffering of the Vietnamese population will never be fully known. Apart from the huge number killed and maimed, the war caused many other human casualties. The relentless bombing, shelling and defoliation drove tens of thousands of peasants from the countryside to the outskirts of the big cities where they lived in humiliating poverty. The traditional structures of Vietnamese village life were shattered. Young girls became prostitutes for the U.S. soldiers.

A drug culture flourished, which later fed back into the cities of the U.S.A., with devastating results. In 1971 the Pentagon calculated that nearly 30 percent of the U.S. troops in Vietnam had taken heroin or opium, while smoking marijuana was commonplace. Attempts to stamp out the drug trade met with the opposition of the South Vietnamese puppet regime, which was heavily involved in it. That was an indication of the rottenness of the regime the U.S.A. was trying to prop up.

By the end of 1967 the U.S. was spending $20 billion a year on the Vietnam War, which contributed massively to a balance of payments deficit of $7 billion. By the end of 1968, the number of U.S. troops in Vietnam was over 500,000. Towards the end of the war, the U.S. troops in Vietnam were completely demoralized. They understood the situation, that they were fighting an unwinnable war. The Vietnamese were fighting a just war of national liberation, while the U.S. army was a hated army of foreign occupation. In any army there is an element of killers and sadists, and in such a situation atrocities and brutality against civilians became routine. Eventually, these horrors became known at home, with the massacre at My Lai among the most infamous. The supposed moral justification for the war was blasted to pieces – just as in Iraq today.

In January 1968, President Johnson announced that the U.S.A. was winning the war. This was immediately blown apart by the Tet offensive. The Vietnamese mounted simultaneous attacks in more than a hundred cities. In Saigon a sapper unit even managed to penetrate the U.S. embassy compound. These events were shown all over America on the television screens to a shocked public. This cruelly exposed the fact that for all its military might, the U.S.A. had not succeeded. The war finished Johnson’s political career. Richard Nixon, the Republican candidate, defeated L.B.J.’s Vice President Hubert Humphrey in the Presidential elections of November 1968.

The Anti-Vietnam War Movement

While these dramatic events were unfolding, on the other side of the world, France was facing revolution. In May 1968 the French working class staged the biggest revolutionary general strike in history. Ten million workers occupied the factories, while the students demonstrated on the streets of Paris, built barricades and fought with the police. The general mood of radicalization naturally affected the youth first. The youth of America was mobilizing for Civil Rights and against the Vietnam War. Already in October 1967 anti-war protesters organized a huge march. For the first time since 1930 the Federal government called in armed troops to defend the capital. The kids tried to fraternize with the troops, but that night the troops attacked the demonstrators, kicking and clubbing them with extreme violence. One eyewitness spoke of “troops and marshals advancing, cracking heads, bashing skulls.”

This was a good lesson in the realities of bourgeois state power. Engels and Lenin explained that the state in the last analysis is “armed bodies of men”. Its whole purpose is to keep the majority under control by means of organized violence or the threat of violence. The rest is just show. The pent-up tensions of American society, which exposed deep unresolved contradictions, were about to erupt in a most violent way. Dramatic events were being prepared. The broad sweep of the Civil Rights movement had shaken America from top to bottom. The assassination of black leader Martin Luther King sparked-off mass rioting in a hundred cities. There were more than 20,000 arrests and fifty deaths. 75,000 troops were called out to keep order. King’s death meant that the leadership of the black movement passed to more radical elements. The Black Panthers, who embraced Marxism and advocated the united struggle of the black and white poor, were organizing military training in the ghetto of Oakland, California. People were calling openly for revolution. The assassination of Robert Kennedy underlined the general mood of violence and social tension.

A million students and faculty members were boycotting classes in protest at the war. Things came to a head with the Democratic Party convention in Chicago, where the Party was to choose its Presidential candidate. Mayor Richard J. Daley announced: “As long as I am mayor, there will be law and order on the streets”. He gave the Chicago police the order to shoot to kill. When thousands of demonstrators descended on the city, they were brutally attacked by the police. The demonstrators were infiltrated by 200 plainclothes policemen. Demonstrators, newsmen and passers-by were all clubbed and beaten. So much tear gas was thrown that it entered the ventilation system of the hotel where Humphrey was giving his acceptance speech, with predictable results. He commented bitterly: “Chicago was a catastrophe. My wife and I went home heartbroken, broken and beaten.” Some of the demonstrators went home rather more broken and beaten than Mr. Humphrey.

‘A Nation on the Edge of Chaos’

The election of Richard Nixon signified the continuation of the war. It also signified the continuation of the anti-war movement. Nixon authorized the extension of the war into Cambodia, where the U.S. Air Force staged an even more vicious bombing campaign than in Vietnam. The massive destruction and loss of life caused by this bombing was the real explanation for the fanatical hatred of the Americans and their Cambodian allies that motivated the later brutal conduct of the Khmer Rouge, ending in the “Killing Fields”, and a new period of chaos, death and bloodshed.

The student protests against the war led to the shooting of students at Kent State and Jackson State Universities. This poured petrol on the flames. Five hundred universities closed in protest. “Four dead in Ohio” sang the rock group Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. There was a general outcry. Meanwhile, an increasingly paranoid President authorized wiretaps, surveillance, and “surreptitious entry” – a euphemism for burglary – against the leaders of the anti-war movement. This was the slippery slope that led the Nixon administration to Watergate.

Nixon was re-elected, just as George W. Bush was re-elected. But his troubles had only just begun. He tried to force Hanoi to come to terms by stepping up the bombing of the North. For twelve days over Christmas, the North was battered by wave after wave of B-52 bombers. Still Nixon spoke of “peace with honor”. The people of Vietnam still faced two more gruelling years of war, but in reality the will to fight on the part of the Southern army and the U.S. troops in Vietnam had collapsed. In early 1975 the North launched another offensive, leading to the fall of the cities of Hue and Da Nang. First there was military rout, then political collapse. The American stooge Thieu fled. Within days the Vietnamese Liberation Army entered Saigon. The world was witness to the incredible scenes of panic as the last remaining American personnel had to scramble into helicopters from the roof of the embassy building in Saigon.
The Vietnam War was not only the greatest military defeat in American history. It had a profound effect on American society. The truth is that U.S. imperialism was defeated, not in the swamps and jungles of Vietnam, but in the cities, campuses and streets of the U.S.A. From a military point of view, there was no reason why the U.S.A. should not have won the war – in time. But the colossal drain of the war had a revolutionary effect on American society. In fact, if a revolutionary party had existed in the U.S.A. at that time, it would have been on the brink of a social revolution. This is not an exaggeration. A presidential commission set up to investigate the shootings in Ohio, concluded:

“The crisis has its roots in a division of American society as deep as any since the Civil War. A nation driven to use the weapons of war upon its youth is a nation on the edge of chaos.”

The word “chaos” must here be understood as a synonym for revolution.

The explosive mood of discontent was not confined to the students, as has often been maintained. The student youth is always a sensitive barometer reflecting deep moods of discontent in the bowels of society. The wind always blows through the tops of the trees first. A radicalization of the students is an anticipation of a later revolutionary movement in society as a whole. That was true of the first Russian revolution, which commenced with student agitation against the war with Japan and ended with the revolution of 1905. The student demonstrations in Paris in May 1968 did not cause the general strike, as many have believed. It merely acted as the catalyst for moods of discontent that had been accumulating silently over a long period of time. In the same way, the student agitation in the U.S.A. was the expression of a general mood of dissatisfaction and discontent, which had not yet surfaced but which was being prepared.

It is no accident that the movement of the black Americans reached its most explosive point at the same time, and found its expression in the Black Panthers, the most conscious, courageous and consistently revolutionary of all the tendencies in the black community (along with Malcolm X before his death). They were seen as a particularly dangerous threat by the Establishment because they had moved beyond black nationalism towards Marxism and were advocating the revolutionary unity of black and white workers – an absolutely correct policy. For this they were deliberately targeted by the state and systematically exterminated.

But the greatest danger to the state came from within the state. The U.S. troops in Vietnam were not only completely demoralized by this time. They were in a state of open revolt. There were many cases of mutiny, and also of the killing of officers by their own troops. A new verb entered into the English language at this time: “fragging”. This is derived from “fragmentation grenade” A soldier would pass the officer’s mess or quarters and casually lob a grenade in, killing and wounding those inside. The fact is that the U.S. government had to withdraw the troops from Vietnam, or else face a general revolt. One American general, commenting on the state of the U.S. troops in Vietnam, said that there was only one possible historical analogy, and that was the morale of the Petrograd garrison in 1917. That is correct. If there had been an American equivalent of the Bolshevik Party, which would have had cells in the army, the analogy could have been carried to its logical and successful conclusion.

Intervention in Latin America

For more than a century, the U.S.A. regarded Latin America and the Caribbean as its own back yard. In 1954, the CIA organized the overthrow of the democratically-elected government of President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in Guatemala. Arbenz was a reformist leader who had intervened in labor disputes between the U.S.-owned United Fruit Company. The latter had considerable influence in Washington, where one of its directors had been U.S. Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles. His brother, Allen Dulles, by a fortunate coincidence, was head of the CIA. By an even more fortunate coincidence, the latter was a former member of the company’s board of trustees.

With a little friendly encouragement from United Fruit, the Eisenhower administration approved a secret plan to depose Arbenz, now dubbed “Red Jacobo”. In fact, Arbenz was never a Communist, although he had been supported in the election by the Left Parties in Guatemala. But Arbenz was carrying out a land reform. He had nationalized 400,000 acres of uncultivated private land, much of it belonging to United Fruit. That was sufficient for Washington. The U.S. ambassador wrote to John Foster Dulles: “If the President is not a Communist, he will do until one comes along.” (Quoted in Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing, Cold War, p. 185.)

In June 1954, an army of Guatemalan anti-Communist exiles, armed and trained by the CIA, crossed the frontier. Prior to this, the CIA had subverted the officers of the Guatemalan army, who defected to the rebels. Arbenz was forced into exile and a right wing U.S. puppet, Colonel Castillo Armas, was installed in power. His junta immediately reversed the land reform and evicted 500,000 peasants from the land they had occupied.

A nightmare began for the people of Guatemala, which has lasted till the present day. The junta unleashed a white terror, killing hundreds of left wingers, union leaders and peasants. The Eisenhower administration, however, was euphoric. Guatemala was considered to be pacified. Central America was safe for United Fruit. But this was an overly optimistic assessment. Guatemala and the whole of Central America was plunged into instability. Castillo Armas was murdered by unknown assassins three years later. Guatemala suffered years of civil war, resulting in genocidal slaughter.

The Guatemalan incident shows just how far the government of the U.S.A. is controlled by the big corporations like United Fruit and just how far the foreign policy of the U.S.A. is dictated by big business interests. There is an uncanny resemblance between these events and the events leading to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the ongoing U.S. intrigues within Venezuela.

The U.S.A. and Cuba

In 1898 the U.S.A. invaded Cuba, allegedly to free it from Spanish rule. But, as the people of Iraq have discovered, such “liberators” tend to hang around for a long time after the “liberation”. In the decades after driving out the Spaniards, Cuba was virtually bought up by American companies. Unlike Puerto Rico, the island could not be directly annexed, since this was ruled out under an amendment signed by the U.S.A. at the time of Cuba’s “independence”. But there was nothing to prevent U.S. businessmen from buying up most of the land and industry. In this way, Cuba’s so-called independence became a fiction. U.S. business ruled there with the collusion of corrupt puppet governments like that of the dictator Fulgencio Batista y Zaldivar, who ruled the island directly or indirectly for 25 years until he was overthrown by the Cuban revolution in 1959.

Fidel Castro organized a guerrilla struggle against Batista’s increasingly unpopular and corrupt regime. After two years his government collapsed like a house of cards. A general strike by the workers of Havana dealt the regime the final death-blow. On January 8, 1959, Castro led his guerrilla forces into Havana, after Batista had fled to Miami. At that time, his program went no further than democracy and land reform. It did not include proposals to nationalize U.S. property. Moscow adopted a cautious attitude. The Cuban “Communists” had supported the dictator Batista.

The initial program of the Cuban revolution was therefore not socialist but national-democratic. But all history shows that under modern conditions the national-democratic program cannot be carried out under capitalism. Either the revolution is prepared to go beyond the limits of capitalism, or it is doomed. The Cuban revolution is a classical case. The U.S. companies in Cuba tried to sabotage Castro’s land reform, just as United Fruit had done in Guatemala. In response, Castro leaned on Moscow for support. The Russians signed a trade agreement with Cuba and Washington responded by imposing an economic blockade and stopped buying Cuban sugar. This was a blatant act of aggression against a sovereign state. Since sugar was Cuba’s main export, it would have meant the swift strangulation of its economy.

When the Soviet Union agreed to buy Cuban sugar, Washington responded by refusing to sell petroleum products to Cuba. This was really an act of economic war. The Cubans replied by nationalizing U.S. businesses. Almost overnight, capitalism was abolished in Cuba. Eisenhower reacted by approving yet another covert program of action by the CIA, on the lines of the one that successfully destabilized the Arbenz government. But this time the result was very different.

The CIA trained a force of anti-Castro Cuban guerrillas in the jungles of Guatemala. Eisenhower also endorsed a plan for an amphibious landing by these forces, backed by the CIA, which they hoped would lead to a nation-wide uprising against Castro. These plans, hatched by Eisenhower and Allen Dulles, were passed on to the new president, John Kennedy, on the day before his inauguration in January 1961. He was apparently surprised by the scale of the operation but supported it anyway.

Despite the attempts to present Kennedy as a progressive president, he acted no differently than his predecessors. He kept the plans for the invasion secret and lied about them in public. Three days before the invasion was due to start, he told a press conference: there would not be “under any conditions an intervention in Cuba by United States armed forces.” But privately he told his aides:

“The minute I land one marine, we’re in this thing up to our necks […] I’m not going to risk an American Hungary.” (Quoted in Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing, Cold War, p. 189.)

The reference to Hungary is instructive. In October 1956 there was a popular uprising in Hungary, which was put down by the Russians with extreme violence. Kennedy’s words reveal the real situation and intentions of the U.S. imperialists in Cuba. They understood that, like in Hungary, they would be faced with the opposition of the majority of the population, and that, like in Hungary, they would have to wade through a sea of blood to obtain their objectives. They were quite prepared to do this.

The only problem is that they were defeated. The reactionary rabble that landed was immediately routed by Castro’s forces. The Bay of Pigs episode was one of the most humiliating defeats suffered by U.S. imperialism in its history. After only three days of fighting, the remaining counterrevolutionary forces surrendered. More than a hundred of these bandits had been killed. Only fourteen were picked up by the U.S. Navy.

U.S. imperialism has never forgiven Cuba for this humiliation. It has maintained its criminal blockade. Although this has failed in its objective, it has caused a lot of suffering for the people of Cuba. The CIA has carried on a policy of terrorism against Cuba for decades, including numerous plans to assassinate Fidel Castro. But the Cuban revolution remains a source of hope and inspiration to the oppressed and downtrodden peoples of Central and South America and the Caribbean.

From Chile to Nicaragua

In 1970 the socialist Salvador Allende was elected in Chile. Once again the CIA began a campaign of destabilization, backing the right wing in its attempts to overthrow a democratically elected reformist president. On September 11, 1974, they finally succeeded, by using the services of general Augusto Pinochet to overthrow the government. Allende was either murdered or committed suicide. In the bloody dictatorship that followed, thousands of people were arrested, savagely tortured, murdered or were simply “disappeared” – all with the complicity of the CIA and Washington.

A similar story unfolded later in Nicaragua, where a left-wing guerrilla movement overthrew the dictatorship of general Anastasio Somoza. The Somoza family had ruled Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America, for decades. They had enriched themselves by plundering the country’s wealth mercilessly with the wholehearted backing of the U.S.A. Franklin D. Roosevelt once commented about the founder of this dynasty of scoundrels: “I know he’s a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”

In 1977, there was a national uprising against this rotten and corrupt dictatorship. After a bloody civil war costing nearly 50,000 lives, the Somoza regime was overthrown. As in Cuba, a general strike in Managua put paid to the dictatorship. Somoza fled to Paraguay, where he was later murdered. The Sandinista government began a program of agrarian reform, as in Cuba. But unlike Cuba they failed to expropriate the capitalists. This was a mistake that cost them dearly.

It is not possible to make half a revolution. The Nicaraguan capitalists organized a campaign of sabotage directed against the government with the active support of Washington. But this was only the tip of the iceberg. In November 1981 the U.S. National Security Council authorized substantial funds to assist the extreme right wing counter-revolutionary insurgency of the Contras. With CIA arms, funds and training, a small counterrevolutionary army grew from a few hundred in 1981 to about 15,000 in the mid-1980s.

The stated objective of the NSC was “to eliminate Cuban / Soviet influence in the region” and, in the longer term, to “build politically stable governments able to stand such influences.” Heavy pressure was put on the Sandinista government: the U.S. Navy patrolled Nicaragua’s coast, U.S. aircraft violated its air space, and the U.S. Army staged manoeuvres in Honduras just over the border. As a result of this combined internal and external pressure, in the end the Sandinista government fell and was replaced with a bourgeois government more to Washington’s liking.

In El Salvador, another dictatorial regime was faced with a guerrilla war that had lasted for many years. President Reagan increased the U.S. military aid to the ruling junta from $36 million to $197 million in 1984. The junta used the most savage methods to defeat the opposition, sending death squads into the villages to torture and murder any peasants suspected of sympathies with the guerrillas. Tens of thousands of people were killed or just went “missing”. Almost one in five of the population fled abroad to escape.

In El Salvador U.S. imperialism preferred a bloody right wing dictatorship to the victory of a popular insurrection. Likewise in Argentina, when the brutal military junta seized power in 1976, Washington supported the generals and had excellent relations with the dictatorship until it invaded the Falkland Islands, provoking a clash with British imperialism, the U.S.A.’s main European ally. With extreme reluctance, Reagan was forced to support Thatcher against his old friend Galtieri. But this decision was made purely for political convenience, not out of hatred for dictatorship and love of democracy.

Now Washington is faced with a new problem: the Venezuelan revolution. The people of Venezuela, after decades of oppression and exploitation at the hands of a corrupt and degenerate oligarchy of landlords, bankers and capitalists backed by U.S. imperialism, have begun to shake off the old despotism and move to take control of their own lives and destinies. As in Cuba, this revolutionary movement poses a mortal threat to U.S. imperialism because of the example it gives to millions of workers and peasants in Latin America.

With monotonous predictability, Washington has organized a plan to destabilize the democratically-elected government of Hugo Chavez. It has backed a coup, which failed, then a bosses’ lockout thinly disguised as a “general strike”, which also failed. Finally, it backed a recall referendum, which also failed. Chavez has won every election or referendum in the last six years with big majorities, yet the lie machine in Washington continues to churn out the legend that he is a “dictator”.

In their hostility to the Venezuelan revolution, there was no difference between Bush and Kerry in the 2004 presidential elections. If anything, Kerry’s statements on Venezuela were more aggressive than those of Bush. This fact only serves to underline the extremely reactionary nature of U.S. policy in Latin America. U.S. imperialism is the declared enemy of democracy and progress throughout the entire continent. Everywhere and at all times it has allied itself with the forces of reaction, the oligarchies, the thieves, the cut-throats, the torturers, and the dictators, against the people.

Dynamite in the Foundations

On the eve of the Second World War, Leon Trotsky made a very perceptive prediction. He predicted that U.S. imperialism would emerge victorious from the War and would become the decisive force in the planet. But he added that it would have dynamite built into its foundations. Decades later this remarkable prediction has come true. America has inherited the role of world policeman that was once held by Britain. But Britain had that position in a different period, when capitalism was in its phase of historical ascent. At that time Britain could make considerable profits out of its imperial possessions, despite the overheads involved in maintaining direct military-bureaucratic rule. But now all that has changed.

The U.S.A. has taken over the mantle of British imperialism at a time when the capitalist system is in decline. There is a general crisis, reflected in turbulence everywhere. Wars, uprisings and terrorism are on the order of the day. The U.S.A. finds itself sucked into one foreign adventure after another. This supposes a never-ending and ultimately unsustainable drain on its resources. Whereas Britain succeeded in plundering its colonies and enriching itself with the proceeds, America’s war in Iraq is costing it, on a conservative estimate, one billion dollars a week. Even the richest power on earth cannot sustain such a tremendous hemorrhage for long. The U.S. military is also increasingly over-extended, with long deployments and “stop loss” orders driving down recruitment and re-enlistments. The problem is that to withdraw will be even more costly. But sooner or later, withdraw they must.

The Bush Administration has learned nothing from the experience of Vietnam. It is said that the manifest destiny of the United States is to be involved in Latin America. But the people of the United States can have no interest in plundering the peoples of the rest of the continent for the benefit of the bank balances of wealthy and irresponsible U.S. corporations. The criminal activities of these corporations, and the oligarchies and dictators backed by them, are continually destabilizing the Continent. This instability must sooner or later affect the United States.

Everywhere, the people are rising against oppression. The success of the revolution in any important country in Latin America will have the most profound effects in the U.S.A., where the largest and most rapidly growing part of the minority population is of Hispanic origin. Instead of intervening against the revolution in South America, the U.S. imperialists would be fighting revolution at home.

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