A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford
“If the war against Iraq was dumb, the oil price war is the Mother of Dementia.”
Twelve years ago, the people who rule the United States wagered the fate of its decaying empire on a lightning military strike into the Middle East, beginning with the rapid conquest of Iraq. From there, the Americans planned to project imperial power deep into energy-rich central Asia, allowing Washington to isolate and strangle China, which was then only a few years away from becoming the world’s largest economy. America’s pivotal ally in the region was Saudi Arabia, the most reactionary regime on the face of the earth and a client state of the U.S. since the end of World War Two.
Instead of containing China, the Americans “accelerated the processes of their own ruin,” as I predicted on the very day they invaded Iraq. George Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, called it a “dumb war.” But, in fact, the Iraq War was a calculated act of desperate men, based on the inescapable facts of imperial decline and the logic of class survival. It was a war in which the potential damage to U.S. power and prestige in the world was weighed and measured against the consequences of allowing China to continue its rise, possibly in a future partnership with Russia, creating a new nexus of economic and political collaboration that would draw in Brazil, India, Latin America – and, eventually, even Europe. In other words, U.S. imperialism looked into the near future, and saw its own death. It chose not to die, but to preemptively re-set the global chessboard, knowing full well that failure in Iraq would hasten the pace of imperial decline. George Bush rolled the dice – and lost. But, that’s what any ruling class would do when staring death in the face.
Forestalling the Inevitable
Barack Obama, who answers to the same masters as Bush, entered office confronting the same scenario as his predecessor – only from an even weaker position. Obama chose to spread chaos through proxy jihadist wars in North Africa and the Middle East – in partnership with Saudi Arabia. But the pace of imperial decline had quickened decisively with the financial meltdown. Chaos is an unreliable weapon, and jihadists are no friends of Wall Street bankers or Saudi royalty. China is the acknowledged economic top dog, with Russia as a partner and the rest of the world reconfiguring itself. Death is still breathing down U.S. imperialism’s neck.
And so, Barack Obama, like George Bush before him, rolls the dice of war.
His partner, once again, is Saudi Arabia, without which the breathtaking plunge in oil prices could not have occurred. This time around, Washington aims to cripple Russia, before moving against China, by destabilizing the whole world’s energy sector – including U.S. energy production. But, that’s like setting your apartment on fire to get rid of an unwanted roommate. There is no way to calibrate and control such an assault on energy pricing, no possible means of avoiding a cascade of unintended consequences to the world economy. If the war against Iraq was dumb, the oil price war is the Mother of Dementia, and cannot help but further unravel all manner of capitalist structures – including deadly derivatives – throughout the planet.
But, doomed systems and declining classes will do anything to forestall the inevitable.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.