In 1914, the world exploded into a huge episode of death and destruction. What was then called “The Great War” was a horrific bloodbath, in which millions died in the trenches across Europe. 100 years later, the danger of a new world war is hanging over us once again.
One of the most disturbing patterns in the current period is what has been called the “Asian pivot.” The US and its allies seem to be gearing up for war in Asia.
The increased presence of the US military in the Philippines is becoming more controversial there, in light of the recent killing of Jennifer Laude. Many in the Philippines believe U.S. Marine Corps PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton murdered her, and are demanding that he be turned over to the authorities. He is currently being protected on a US Navy vessel.
In addition to the US military presence, the US-aligned government of the Philippines has increased its military spending by 17 percent, according to the most recent report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The South Korean government, backed up by thousands of US troops, has become the eighth-largest arms importer in the world, according to the same report. The US military presence in the southern half of the Korean peninsula is also expanding. The US-aligned settler regime of Australia is increasing its military spending and arms imports, as is the US-backed Central Asian human rights violator Azerbaijan.
The BBC reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes’ article published on October 14 reveals that the US Navy has gone as far as essentially rehearsing for war against the People’s Republic of China. The drills include preparing missiles to be launched from US aircraft carriers.
While the weapons and military forces are being put in place, the demonization of US enemies is being used to psyche up the public for conflict. The China- and Russian-aligned Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has become a fixation of Hollywood war propaganda. For example, in December, US moviegoers are to be subjected to a film called The Interview, a comedy portraying the assassination of Kim Jong-un. In 2013, two films portraying a North Korean invasion of the US, Red Dawn and Olympus Has Fallen, were also shown in theaters.
Every war that is currently taking place is, in effect, a proxy war with Russia and China. The Syrian Arab Republic, which has been devastated by four years of western-backed civil war, is an ally of Russia and China. The arms that flowed to the insurgent forces, including the now reviled “ISIS” grouping, came directly from the United States, as well as through US allies such as Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.
The fighting in Ukraine erupted after the overthrow of its elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was growing closer to Russia. Since the coup, the son of the US Vice President has been hired to direct Ukraine’s top natural gas corporation. The Petro Poroshenko regime that has slaughtered civilians is being backed up and supported by the United States and the European Union.
Nigeria, long the turf of Shell Oil, is gradually moving into China’s camp. Former Chinese President Hu Jintao recently visited Nigeria. China’s economic presence in the country is growing, and China recently gifted the Nigerian military with a warship.
As Nigeria, now the top the African oil producing country, moves closer to China, the US military presence is escalating there. A rapid expansion of US military presence in Nigeria took place after the “Bring Back Our Girls” public relations campaign. US drones now fly through Nigerian skies, and US troops and military bases are increasingly scattered across the continent.
Cuba and Latin American Bolivarian countries have escalated their partnership with Russia and China. Vladimir Putin recently conducted a tour of Latin American countries, where he gave speeches denouncing the US attacks on Cuba and Venezuela, and signed many economic deals.
As Latin America gets closer to both Russia and China, the US is escalating its support for the “opposition.” The recent assassination of Venezuelan official Robert Serra, and the destruction of various government buildings in the early months of 2014, show how desperate and vicious this US-backed opposition is becoming. The various governments proclaiming the goal of Bolivarian Socialism across Latin America are becoming more threatened.
A New World War For Profits?
Just like 100 years ago, the dangerous conflict on the horizon is about profits. The centers of economic power in London and Wall Street are losing their grip on the world. Russia and China, countries that were once part of the impoverished developing world, are surging forward in the lasting legacy of two earthshaking revolutions from the 20th century.
When the financial collapse occurred in 2008, throwing the western markets into chaos, China continued to grow. With a multi-trillion dollar stimulus, the Chinese state stepped in when the market failed, and the nation’s rapid economic expansion simply continued. The Chinese market seems to be protected from the boom-bust cycle that western capitalists say is inevitable. The government, rooted in the 1949 revolution and led by the Communist Party, has the ability to intervene rapidly and firmly when it so chooses.
China and Russia are the key economic links in a global bloc of opposition. Countries throughout the world such as Cuba, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, People’s Korea, and Zimbabwe are aligning with them in opposition to the old order of western financial rule.
With “expand or die” as the rule of the global market, Wall Street and London are increasingly slipping into a state of panicked desperation. Reports on military spending and even strategic drills indicate they are considering and even rehearsing a war of titanic proportions to ensure their survival as top dogs in the global market.
A direct military confrontation of the United States against Russia and China would be catastrophic for humanity. The US invasion of Iraq, which resulted in a million dead and displaced, would look like a barroom scuffle in comparison. Russia, China, and the United States are all nuclear powers, and they all have massive armed forces with huge capabilities of destruction.
The fact that such a war is increasing each day in its possibility should be startling to the US and British public. Such a war would not simply be something they viewed on CNN, but that would dramatically change their daily lives.
An Unseen Factor: The Next Generation
In their calculation of how many could die in a war with Russia and China, there is one factor that the warmakers in Wall Street and London may not be considering.
Within the United States there is an increasing level of dissent. In 2011, the Occupy Wall Street protests exploded into something that the small group who planned them never could have anticipated. Millions of people from all throughout US society suddenly became politically active, taking to the streets, confronting the police and demanding justice.
The upsurge following the death of Trayvon Martin, and the recent events in Ferguson, all point toward a force that could, potentially, be a serious factor in world events. There is an increasing number of people in the United States who are angry, confused, and uncertain about the patriotism and market-worship they have been indoctrinated with. The potential for massive domestic unrest continues to reveal itself in brief episodes of popular rage.
The new generation of young people throughout the US and Europe, now being told to accept a far lower standard of living than their parents – as well as a higher level of police surveillance and repression — may not passively accept the declaration of a massive war against Wall Street’s economic rivals. Such a war would likely be extremely costly, and would involve some form of military conscription, making it extremely unpopular.
One hundred years ago, when the First World War broke out, many of the socialist leaders — who had once opposed it — obediently got in line once the shooting started. In one country, however, the revolutionaries held true to their principles. Lenin and the Bolsheviks’ response to the outbreak of the First World War was “Turn the Guns Around!” and “Make War Against the Warmakers!” Three years into the bloody conflict, millions of Russians heard Lenin’s call. History has never been the same, and the emergence of Russia and China as economic powers is rooted in the events of October 1917.
What will the young people who joined with Naomi Klein to “Flood Wall Street” against climate change do if their government declares a new war against China and Russia?
What will the young people of Ferguson, Missouri do if they are told they must go kill Russians, Chinese, Cubans, or Iranians — or else face being locked up by the same police department that killed Michael Brown?
Will the youth of Florida, who screamed “I am Trayvon Martin” be successfully riled up to fight in a foreign land by the rightwing, flag-waving vigilantes who defended George Zimmerman?
Will the youth of London, who shook their city in 2011 with an urban rebellion, obey orders from a Tory, Lib-Dem, or Labour Government, even if that means risking their lives in war against the two largest countries on earth?
The military strategists may not be factoring it in, but the political will of the next generation of working class people in western countries could be decisive in the scenario of a Third World War. Will the people march in compliance and obedience? Or will they take history into their own hands, and join with the rest of humanity in revolt against the ruthlessness of the western profiteers?
This question could determine the very fate of humanity.
Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.