In the European media the week of the Oscars and Sinn Féin’s election victory in Ireland was accompanied by new episodes of political crisis in Germany and Spain. All these issues were dealt with in detail during the last few days, but we cannot close the week without focusing on at least two more issues: the renegotiation of Argentina’s debt and the global escalation of the war and militarism.
Further reading in Spanish
Argentina initiated negotiations with the IMF, which proceeded by denying any possibility of debt relief. The vice president’s starting argument, supported by Alberto Fernandez, is that the IMF breached its charter by lending money to prevent currency devaluation. The real reason is that any attempt to achieve a budget surplus, without debt relief would further hit economic activity and automatically generate a recession. The Argentine government actually proposes to reduce the debt to the point of making it possible to payback what is left without going below 2% growth.
To his credit, Fernández counts the promises he made during his eventful European tour to Merkel, Macron, Conte and Sánchez. Against a “country risk” that keeps rising and the last volley of the U.S. trade war: the Trump government is modifying an exemption from U.S. trade laws. Two dozen “developing countries” would lose current tariff concessions, including China, India, South Africa… Brazil and Argentina.
Argentina’s left responded with a mobilization on nationalist grounds, defending national capital against the IMF by proposing the non-recognition of debt, the nationalization of banks and the nationalization of bankrupt companies. But the problem is not a foreign imperialist capital against a “good” national capital that should be protected because there is still possibility of capitalist development. The problem is that capitalism as a whole no longer has a real horizon of development ahead of it. And thus, that the national capitals of the “export model”, semi-colonial countries like Argentina, have no other possible insertion way in global capital and thus no opportunity for independent development in a world of saturated markets and trade wars.
And under these conditions, Argentina, like any region or sector without the capacity to incorporate and attract more capital, is going to have less and less of a place in the global pie of profits. Whether under Macri’s government, Peronism or the left, whether it is “liberalizing” monopolies or nationalizing the ravines, the only way to save national capital is at the expense of the workers. Just in case there was any doubt: the average salary, measured in dollars, fell by 44.3% since 2015 when we were told that “the economy was going well”. No, the struggle is not about saving national capital by means of state capitalist measures, it is about confronting capital as a whole and from now on with anti-capitalist slogans.
Two strategic statements of intent have been the focus of this week. First, the U.S. federal budget presented by Trump. The United States is winning the trade war, in 2020 it expects to grow by 3% and the structural perspectives seem to support Trump: a renationalization and automation of the productive chains is coming, say the American economists. What does the budget bring in that framework? Even more militarism (44 billion euros) and new cuts worth millions in social protection, education and health.
In Europe, practically at the same time, Macron was presenting the French military and nuclear strategic doctrine, stating that grouping around the French “nuclear umbrella” is the last option for European capitals to be able to assert their own imperialist interests without being absorbed by the China-USA polarization, the Russia-USA nuclear race and the chaos of increasingly violent conflicts with an increased number of actors with their own imperialist agendas.
We can only draw two conclusions: the first is that the generalisation of war is already an increasingly dangerous reality integrated into the immediate political and military consciousness of the European states; the second is that the responses will only aggravate it, and that the French way of doing so will try to push the post-Brexit EU into a military bloc
And to show the will of French-European military affimation, a French military offensive in Mali followed by an almost immediate political counterattack by the Malian government, which is trying to escape French control. with the Malian President recognizing in an exclusive French TV program its negotiations with jihadist groups, a way to put an end to the “exponential number of deaths” in the Sahel very different from the macronite one. It was not the only alleged “rebellion” of an ally that the great powers have suffered this week. This week Duterte ended the defence collaboration agreement with the US. A sign not so much of a strategic perspective of its own – it is impossible for the Philippines to counter Chinese pressure without its former coloniser – but of the need to obtain economic relief through projects with China.
The bloodiest focus of the week has again been on Syria, where the escalation between Turkey and Russian-backed Al-Assad troops continues.
The tacit agreement between Russia and Turkey was that only Syrian ground troops would face each other directly. Those of Al-Assad’s Syrian Arab Army with support from Russian aviation, those of the Free Syrian Army with support from Turkish artillery. The reality: Idlib has become the linchpin of the endless Syrian war and both Russian air bases and Turkish soldiers are starting to become direct targets.
During the week, the obscenely militaristic statements of Erdogan and his government and the bloody threats of Al-Assad and his government ended up leaving Russia as an impossible mediator. Not only did the talks between Erdogan and Putin come to nothing, but the Russian troops themselves were surrounded by the Syrian factions supported by Turkey.
At this point the Erdogan government continues to send reinforcements to impose a forced ceasefire–even at the risk of entering an all-out war.
And meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of refugees continue to flee Al-Assad’s troops in “the most rapid migration we have seen,” according to UN officials. It is also the largest war yet and is shaping up as a “humanitarian catastrophe,” with thousands of children, sick and old people out in sub-zero temperatures.
On the contrary, the pockets of war are expanding, global arsenals are widening, and tensions between powers are growing at the pace of the difficulties of global capital. As can be seen in the US budget, not even the workers of the “winning” power can be expected to be relieved, quite the contrary: the prospect of hunger is spreading there too while billions of dollars are spent on new armaments. And are they expecting us to close ranks with “our” national capital, which keeps us in ever greater misery and militarism?