Oppose Militarism and War

War and American capitalism

The world economy is integrated as never before in a single system of production, and yet this has only exacerbated the conflicts between nation-states and heightened the danger of war. Bush’s “wars of the Twenty-First Century” began with the US invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, now the longest military engagement in the country’s history. This was followed by the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans have been killed by US aggression, and millions more turned into refugees. More than 7,600 US and other foreign occupation troops have lost their lives. All over the world, atrocities carried out by the American military against civilians have become routine, while the US openly upholds the right to assassinate its perceived opponents—including US citizens.

The Obama administration has expanded these wars, including a massive surge of US soldiers in Afghanistan and the attack on Libya. Bombing campaigns in Pakistan have increased, and the administration is expanding threats and sanctions against Iran.

Enormous resources are expended by the American state in producing the most advanced means of destruction imaginable. Adding together the military budget and direct spending for US war abroad (over $700 billion total) to military-related spending outside of the Department of Defense, total annual military spending exceeds $1 trillion.

Both Republican and Democratic administrations invoke the strange and unexplained events of September 11, 2001 as justification for an unending global “war on terror.” In reality, this is merely a pretext for wars of aggression that are being fought to secure US hegemony over regions that are of vital geo-strategic importance and contain much of the world’s oil, gas and other natural resources.

The economic crisis has sharply increased global tensions, which threaten at any point to break out into war. The US is actively preparing for a military conflict with China, while the old divisions in Europe that led to two world wars are reemerging. With the major powers now armed with nuclear weapons, a new world war will threaten the future of civilization.

The SEP calls for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all US, British and other foreign troops and contractors from Iraq and Afghanistan. Those responsible for planning and waging aggressive war must be held accountable. The vast US military and intelligence apparatus must be dismantled, with the shutting down of the hundreds of US overseas military bases and the disbanding of the standing army. This will free up immense resources to pay reparations to countries ravaged by US militarism, as well as meet critical social needs at home.

The only progressive alternative to militarism is socialist internationalism—the struggle to unite the working class internationally in the fight for a socialist future in which the world’s resources can be utilized and developed cooperatively to eliminate the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance and to raise the living standards and cultural level of all mankind.

Militarism and democracy

The growth of militarism poses the starkest threat to democratic rights. Half a century ago, President and former World War II commander Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against the emergence of a “military industrial complex” with the “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power.” The American people, he cautioned, “should take nothing for granted.” The military’s power has grown uninterruptedly in the intervening decades, while its transformation into an “all-volunteer” force has isolated it increasingly from the democratic sentiments of the population.

Today’s soldiers, largely drawn from among working class youth, are subjected to continuous deployments. Tens of thousands suffer post-traumatic stress, horrific injuries or death in Washington’s neo-colonial wars. They are taught that they are “warriors” in an attempt to create what amounts to a separate military caste. The officer corps has become increasingly politicized and right-wing, with its senior members openly challenging the civilian government on matters of policy. In its social position and ideology, the American military has become more and more like its counterparts throughout the world that have carried out armed coups and imposed bloody dictatorships.

The military plays an ever more direct role in American political life. The Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of the military within the US, has been undermined through the open use of the military in domestic settings. The creation of the Northern Command has established for the first time a military command structure overseeing the US. All of these measures are the embryonic foundation for military-police rule in the United States.