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We Will Not Fight Another Rich Man's War
"War is what we need to get out of this recession." With these words, Elliot Janeway, a leading corporate economist, laid the cards on the table. The news is full of war preparations. US troops in Georgia have been getting desert warfare training and contingency plans have been revealed by the Pentagon for the possible invasion of the Persian Gulf, the most oil-rich area of the world. US corporations are hiring mercenaries to go to the Middle East to train the armies of reactionary governments that "lean" towards the United States. The Northrop Corporation has been sending helicopter pilots to the are and training the local military, an operation similar to what is being done (and has been going on for years) in Vietnam. The Vinnell Corporation, a California firm, has put ads in newspapers for Vietnam veterans to go to Saudi Arabia to train their National Guard.
All this is taking place when the system is in deep crisis. The United States, as well as most industrial countries, faces high unemployment, inflations and general collapse of production. All the contradictions of a system based on maximizing profits are sharpening, and the solutions of the masters of this system are all meant to throw the greatest burden of the crisis onto the backs of poor and working people. Preparations for wr and economic crisis -- these are tow sides of the same coin, the coin of an imperialist system. War is precisely the solution that our corporate masters are planning because it is the only solution that will temporarily "save" their system. Profits demand markets and resources and the only markets and resources that are up for "grabs" belong to the peoples of the Third World.
There's the rub. The peoples of the Third World are fighting back, no longer willing to let foreign powers dominate and control their resources and lives. The people of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau are leading examples of how the Third World is fighting for national liberation and forcing the system of imperialism to look elsewhere for its profits and domination. At the very heart of this worldwide struggle are the Arab and Persian Gulf region peoples. On the one side is the conflict of the Palestinian people fighting to regain their lost homeland seized from them by force, a homeland now controlled by the state of Israel,. On the other side are the desperate maneuvers of the imperialist powers to retain control of the oil-rich Persian Gulf.
War threatens from many sides. The Arab countries will not allow Israel to continue occupying the territories seized from them in the 1967 war. The Palestinian people will not stop fighting until they regain their rightful land. At the same time, the growing independence of the Persian Gulf countries and the rise of national liberation struggles in this area are pushing the imperialist countries to the wall. The stakes are high. At the bottom of all this turmoil stands the key question of who will control the oil o f the Middle East. When war comes, and it cannot be avoided as long as the profit system exists, the fundamental issue will be who controls the oil of the Middle East, and even more importantly, who controls the oil of the Persian Gulf, the largest oil-producing area of the world.
Oil is the lifeblood of the industrial world, the lifeblood of the imperialist system. With its more than 90 derivatives, oil constitutes one of the most important commodities liking the different parts of the world economic system into a continuous chain, and without it the whole system is not more than a heap of scrap.. It is with this in mind that the Persian Gulf, and in general the Middle East area, has become the central region of turmoil and contention between the various industrial countries and particularly between the two world superpowers -- the United States and the Soviet Union.
What are the stakes? Out of the total of 631.8 billion barrels of known oil reserves in 1971, more than 360 billion barrels, or approximately 57% of all the reserves of the world, were situated in the Persian Gulf region. Western Europe alone relies on the Gulf area for 75% of it oil imports, and Japan gets 95% of its oil from there. Israel, Pakistan and India import 70% of their oil from the Gulf also. So, the stakes are the virtual control of European and Japanese oil needs, as well as the needs of many other countries. ( The United States get only 10% of its oil from the Gulf, destroying the let that America must "protect" its well-being from Arab "bad-guys").
The governments of the Soviet union and the US know this only too well and because of this are only too willing to go to war, eve if it means fighting each other. It is with this understanding that we must view US presence in the area, what US goals are, and what are the current policies of the two superpowers in the Gulf region.
After World War II, because its productive capacity had been left relatively untouched, the US had seized control of the Gulf area from Britain, the previous "protector" in the region. The US took over old British military installations and began pumping money into the various governments that existed. US troops were stationed throughout the Middle East and the US maintained wide influence, virtually unchallenged by other western powers. But the station began to change, especially in the early 1960's. National liberation struggles broke out and many countries that had previously been easily kept in line with US interests began nationalizing resources and taking independent actions. It became necessary for the US to change its foreign "policy."
This change was to introduce the"infamous" Nixon-Kissinger doctrine. This doctrine was the response of US imperialism to a crumbling empire, crumbling from the blows of national liberation such as the Vietnamese people are waging. Briefly, this policy was to reduce US troops presence while at the same time increasing the ability for quick mobilization and intervention when a crisis develops; an increase in the reliance on the Air Force and the Navy to back up "client" regimes such as the Shah of Iran; and the development of "client" state militaries, trained and equipped by the US to effectively suppress any liberation movements in the area, or so-called "policing" operations.
As ex-President Nixon explained to Congress about his "New Strategy for Peace" in 1970, "Its central thesis is that the United States will participate in the defense an development of allies and friends, but that America cannot, and will not, conceive all the plans, design all the programs, execute all the decisions and undertake all the defense of the free nations of the world. We will help where it makes a difference and is considered in ours interests."
To US imperialism, the Gulf happens to be one of those areas which, in Nixon's words, "makes a difference" and is "considered in our interests." Since all major industrial countries are severely dependent on oil for their very existence, US control of oil becomes a question of paramount importance; with control of oil comes control of Europe. Moreover, since the US has had complete dominance in the area, any change in the status quo would mean the weakening of US imperialism not only in the Middle East, but on the global scale as well.
In its quest to preserve the status quo, the US began to look for an obedient "client" to carry out the necessary tasks of aggression needed to defend US interests. The US picked Iran as its main "client" in the area, because it has the necessary characteristics, large population, economic and military strength and the best geographic position -- along the northern edge of the Persian Gulf. After conniving in the overthrow of the elected government of Iran and the installment of a dictator -- the Shah -- in the 1950's, the US began increasing military aid to the current tune of $4 billion dollars, almost all in the form of military hardware. In addition, the Shah was sent over 19,000 military advisors (remember Vietnam?).
To complete the picture and the subservience of Iran, the Shah has virtually turned over or sold the majority interest of Iran's resources to US corporations. The US received a 40% share of Iran's oil rights, Britain got 40%, 14% went to Royal-Dutch/Shell and the last 6% went to other European interest. Even with the supposed "nationalization" of oil by the Shah in the early 1970's, Iran's oil is still in the hands of foreign powers. EXXON was so "disturbed" with the nationalization, they put ads in the Iran newspapers thanking the Shah and applauding his program.
Iran was not the only country picked for "client" status. Saudi Arabia was also included in the US plans for the Gulf. By arming the Saudis to the teeth, the US built up a second line of defense by incorporation this oil rich country into the overall plan. Just recently, the US announced a $3/4 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, bringing the total to more than $2.5 billion dollars in military hardware for 1974.
On the other side of the coin is the Soviet Union, displaying similar policies and intentions. The Soviets have been building up Iraq, a country bordering Iran. They have built up Iraq's Air Force until it is now larger than Iran's and the Soviets have been using Iraq's Navy to gain a presence in the Persian Gulf waters, a vital artery in transporting oil. The USSR has 3,000 military advisors in Iraq and is now seeking a naval base in the area. They control Afghanistan and are wooing Kuwait and other important sheikdoms with military and economic aid (strings attached).
The big stumbling block in the plans of both superpowers is the people of the Gulf, They have been fighting to free their lands from this kind of big power domination. Already, an independent country has been won -- the Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen. The people of Yemen, after winning their independence, have been constantly under attack because they represent a clear threat to the designs of US domination. In Oman, a key country situated at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, peasants with barely any arms have succeed in liberating most of their country from the rule of its feudal sheik.
The rise of these national liberation struggles has the US in a panic. Already the US is funding an armed expedition by Iran who has sent in 15,000 of its crack US-trained troops to put down the liberation struggle in Oman. But as in Vietnam, the people of Oman have been putting theses invaders on the run. In Iran itself, the people have been fighting the dictatorship of the Shah, even though all opposition organizations are outlawed and "subversives" shot. The people of the Middle East do not want war and they are struggling to end the threat of war by throwing off foreign domination and overthrowing the despotic regimes, like the Shah of Iran.
Increasing solidarity between Third World countries has imperialism backed into a corner. The recent Arab oil boycott demonstrated to the world only too well what the solidarity can mean. This growing independence coupled with the increasingly successful struggles for liberation of the people of the world is a direct blow to the attempts of the superpowers to foster war. With the imperialist system in crisis and control of oil threatened, poor and working people in the US are again being called on to sacrifice their lives for the rich. As in Vietnam, it will be a rich man's war, and the potential for the Middle East war to turn into a world war looms larger than ever. The two superpowers want to control for themselves and no amount of "d?tente" will stop them from fighting each other to get it.
As we have pointed out many times in WINTER SOLDIER, the system that is trying to exploit the people resources of the Middle East is the same system that is attacking poor and working people here at home with unemployment, high prices and repression -- the system of imperialism. It wants war -- it needs war. But the people don't. Their war is a war of profits, a war to increase domination, and they are preparing us to fight for them. We won't do it! Our interest is with the freedom and independence of all people. Out interest is in ending this wretched system once and for all!
U.S. HANDS OFF THE MIDDLE EAST