The theme of today's U.N. International Day of Peace is sustainable development to eliminate poverty. It is an attractive goal. The problem is that the U.N.'s plans to diminish poverty leave capitalism in place and the plans to achieve peace ignore the United States as the dominant military power.
The overwhelming U.S. military domination is the greatest threat to world peace. In the past 15 years, the Pentagon's military machine has attacked 17 countries. These wars collectively, and each of them individually, are for economic and geopolitical domination. None of these wars have resulted in increased security or stability for the countries targeted or for the people of the U.S.
While the U.S. has a smaller land army than it did 40 years ago, it has spread its smaller, but technologically-strong units throughout the world. There are more than 1,000 U.S. bases in more than 130 countries.
The aggressive expansion of NATO—the U.S.-commanded military alliance—throughout Eastern Europe to the borders of Russia and the Pentagon’s efforts to encircle Russia and China with weapons shields are dangers to the entire world.
For 70 years the U.S. has been the only country that has refused to commit to "no first strike" in nuclear weapons, even against an opponent who has no nuclear capacity. This threat to international peace creates global insecurity.
Meanwhile CIA destabilization efforts throughout Latin America are an effort to push back the social gains of the past decade. Washington’s massively destructive wars in Central Asia, West Asia, the Middle East and North Africa are criminal policies that have created terrible destruction and millions of deaths and refugees.
The U.S. leads the world in arms sales. This fuels conflict and death, while making enormous profits for the largest U.S. corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing and General Dynamics.
U.S. and other NATO countries have fed the war in Syria, which is the latest U.S.-led effort to impose “regime change.” Washington and its allies, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have armed and financed many of the anti-government forces. The two years of uninvited U.S.-NATO bombing has ruined much of Syria's vital infrastructure.
The U.S. also carried out regime-change wars against Iraq and Libya that led to the complete destruction of every secular state institution, including the very structures that provided full access to free education, free health care, electrification, potable water, modern infrastructure, irrigation and communication.
The present wars are similar in tactics and objectives to Washington’s role in Central America in the 1980s, where it armed counter-revolutionary forces to impose regime change in Nicaragua and funded and armed Salvadoran and Guatemalan death squads.
This destructive policy created millions of refugees from Central America, just as U. S. policies of regime change in the past 12 years of war in Iraq, Libya and Syria has created even more refugees.
Endless U.S. wars are an endless profit stream for a handful of corporations and an endless source of misery for humanity. The U.S. military budget is larger than the next 10 countries combined and it grows every year.
What is the cause of this monstrous war-production?
It is a creature of the relentless capitalist drive to maximize profits. War and war production are more profitable than production for human need.
At the end of World War II the U.S. had the largest capitalist economy by far—more than half of global production. For decades giant weapons programs insured steady super profits regardless of the ups and downs of the capitalist market.
The crisis now, that has no solution, is that despite decades of trillion-dollar handouts to the military industrial complex, these government subsidies are no longer sufficient to buoy up the capitalist economy. The U.S. empire is now in decline and decay. It is therefore even more desperate and is waging wars on every front.
Since 2007, the worldwide capitalist economy has been stagnant. Investment in new technology improves productivity, but puts fewer people to work, and soon the greater productivity leads to more goods being produced than can be sold on the market. The capitalists are driven into ever sharper competition, which increases the war danger.
Endless wars abroad have led to massive surveillance programs and the militarization even of the local police forces within the U.S. In the past few years, police repression has been viewed by millions on video as executions of people of color by the police reaches astounding levels. Police kill 1,000 people a year, disproportionately Black people.
The extent of police militarization was shown to the world two years ago in Ferguson, Missouri, when armored cars, police and national guard forces carried assault weapons, wore body armor and gas masks to confront civilian populations protesting the police execution of a young Black man. The Black Lives Matter movement has continually exposed this systemic police violence.
The U.S. prison population is by far the largest in the world, in total and in proportion to population, with more than 2.3 million people in prison and millions of others trapped in the injustice system. The repression and militarization intensify racism and permeate every aspect of life.
Missing from the goals of the past and present U.N. summits is the concept that food, clean water, education and health care are basic rights of every person. Peace is the most essential right. The U.N.’s plans omit any mention of more equitable distribution. Past international conferences on reparations and debt cancelation have been pushed off today's U.N. agendas.
The U.N. “millennium goals” have failed the world’s poor and primarily ended up helping the largest corporations reap more profits.
U.N. summits—while promising global transformation—are part of the capitalists’ war on the world’s people. The accumulation of wealth and power has accelerated through these global initiatives because the largest corporations dominate the plans to privatize every essential social program. These are the same corporations and banks that profit from war and ever-increasing military contracts.
The biggest banks, transnational companies and financial institutions, like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, structure the U.N. projects while ignoring the massive destruction and dislocation of the wars. The objectives of the U.N. policy makers are to expand capitalist markets, maximize profits and restructure the developing countries more tightly into their economic web—not to redistribute the world’s wealth.
Understanding the United States' relentless drive for war contributes to an understanding of why peace is continually threatened.
Sara Flounders is co-director of the International Action Center in the U.S. and has co-authored and/or edited 10 books on U.S. wars and sanctions. She helped coordinate International War Crimes Tribunals to document the U.S. premeditated destruction of Iraq and Yugoslavia.