The imperialist conflict enters new phases with a surprising synchrony and speed. What we have witnessed this week in the Mediterranean, between the two Koreas, in Hawaii between China and the US and between India and China shares a troubling element: despite the fact that they are more or less obviously trade negotiations, in all of them the main theme is the immediate threat of war.
The reference is the summit between the Chinese and US foreign ministers in Hawaii. In the midst of an escalation of military tensions, a new wave of US sanctions, of China’s restriction of access to rare lands by the Americans… the meeting ends by reasserting the commitments of the “phase 1 trade agreement”. That is to say, sanctions, tariff attacks, supply restrictions, military pressures and even nuclear strategy are set according to the results of the short-term trade balance.
Even bloodier is the escalation of border tension between India and China. After long and expensive live-fire cannonades and massively mobilizing elite units and star generals, tension erupted leaving nearly 70 dead bodies after a nightly battle with sticks and stones. The brutal massacre was followed by new troop movements, press hysteria and nationalist unrest in India.
What’s the point? In order to rescind the contracts of big Chinese companies and set up a renegotiation of the trade balance from a position of strength with as little disruption as possible to the arrival of Chinese big capital and avoiding a blockade of Tata that could lead it to bankruptcy, in order to diminish the trade deficit that has long obsessed an Indian bourgeoisie that sees the clay-footed giant that is its economic power crumble.
And it’s no different with the rising tension between the two Koreas. Just today the North began to deploy troops into the DMZ. Yesterday the South Korean army threatened to “make the North pay dearly” if they took “real military action”. The press of the Kim regime did not fall short:
North Korea’s official newspaper said Thursday that this week’s demolition of an inter-Korean liaison office was just the beginning, warning there could be additional retaliatory steps against South Korea that could go “far beyond imagination.” North Korea has been lashing out at South Korea almost daily in recent weeks over anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets flown from the South. It has vowed to deal with Seoul as an enemy, cut off cross-border communication lines and even blew up a joint liaison office earlier this week.
what is really going on? North Korea is trying to assert itself as a geo-strategic danger in order to have something to tip the scales and renegotiate the sanctions that the United States has renewed for another year today. They realize that South Korea does not have the autonomy from the United States to be able to unblock the situation… and by seeking a direct dialogue with Wahington, despising Seoul, they give the United States the opportunity to increase its military presence. Kim and Trump thus played a strange collaborative game that worsened the contradictions between the south Korean and American imperialist interests, increasing the friction between the US military and the South Korean Blue House, which stands in an increasingly difficult position to achieve its goals. Goals that also have nothing to do with “peace”, they are focused on advancing towards a free trade area with China to compensate for the growing difficulties of access to the markets of the United States and Japan.
In the Mediterranean the game is even more dangerous as it is more consolidated. Greece is on a diplomatic offensive signing maritime boundary agreements with Israel, Egypt and Italy based on promising everyone a piece in the exploitation of the hydrocarbons that the Turks seem to have found… while promoting a position “beyond mere talks” against Turkey in the EU while presenting with fanfare the plans of military response to the Turkish hydrocarbon surveys.
Greece knows that it cannot count militarily with Italy at the moment, Italy is literally playing both sides right now. Something else is France, which has already had an “incident” with the Turkish navy that is now being “investigated” by NATO. And of course Israel and Egypt, who for their own reasons – no less imperialistic – have as their priority to put a stop to both Turkish expansionism and, like France, fight internally against the “Muslim Brotherhood” – which includes Hamas in Palestine – which is sponsored by Ankara.
In other words, the situation in the Mediterranean is far from being settled by the dismemberment of Libya. Turkish capitalism cannot be contained within its borders – like all other capitalisms for over a century – and cannot even find palliatives. Finding easy and immediately profitable applications of capital such as underwater hydrocarbons can signify the viability of an already hard-pressed regime dependent only on its military successes to find markets and opportunities for its capital.
A universal problem
In each of the above examples we see how the need for access to markets, capital and investment opportunities is the direct driver of an undeniable global war escalation. We are already in a phase of “armed negotiation” which continuously threatens to result in borders and entire regions being strewn with corpses. The inter-imperialist war has ceased to be something peripheral, more or less shepherded by the major powers, to become a trade argument, if not the main one, of the regional and global powers. The world market functions more and more openly as a sadistic version of the musical chairs game. If thirty years ago it was countries like Somalia that were left out and five years ago Venezuela, now it is Turkey that is directly threatened and national capitals as globalized as South Korea and India are feeling in direct danger.
It is the same system waging war against our living conditions, which is now also playing on the tightrope endangering the lives of millions. That’s why confronting the impoverishment that is already underway and stopping the global perspective of war are aspects of the same struggle.