A Turning Point in the World Situation and its Consequences for our Country
10Mehr Editorial, February 8, 2022*
US Internal Affairs: A Declining Empire
The new great depression, which coincided with the outbreak of one of the worst epidemics in the history of the world, plunged the capitalist world into a pervasive crisis. In the past, there have been cases like the current economic downturn or the outbreak of the deadly epidemic, but the co-occurrence of these two disasters in the current situation is an unprecedented event. The American people in this major pilar of the capitalist world are experiencing this hybrid crisis.
Due to the economic situation inside the United States, the crisis has worsened the living conditions of most people while we are witnessing an astronomical increase in the wealth of a tiny portion of society. Unemployment growth over the past two years is another sign of the deteriorating economic situation in the United States. In 2020, about ten million people lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 outbreak. There was some Improvement in 2021, new job opportunities arose for American workers and wage earners. But it was limited to only 6.5 million new jobs, which meant that 3.5 million jobs were still lost by the beginning of 2022.
The official inflation rate last year was 7%, in part due to supply chain breakdowns. There is no doubt that the real figures are beyond that. While wage earners are seeing sharp increases in commodity prices, including fuel prices, average wages have only increased between 3 and 5 percent. Without any doubt, the living conditions of the majority of Americans are deteriorating.
In the process of fighting against the spread of the disease and preservation of life and health of the people, the United States has suffered the most Covid deaths of any country in the world due to the failing of its private health care system and neoliberal capitalist approach to fighting the disease.
The aftermath of the events of January 6th, 2021, when the disgruntled Trump supporters stormed the Congress building, is not over. We expect social unrest to intensify, either in the form of spontaneous unrests or the rise of right-wing populist candidates in the political arena. All of this points to a society that is declining in many important economic and social dimensions.
The United States on the World Stage: The Decline of Full Spectrum Dominance
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the thinktanks of the US political establishment wrote of the beginning of a “New American century” and “undisputed American domination of the world.” For years, various US administrations imagined that China would eventually suffer the same fate as the Soviet Union; that the Chinese Communist Party would eventually lose power; and after the victory of the internal counter-revolution, the People’s Republic of China would become fully integrated into Western capitalism, similar to Singapore. But contrary to these predictions, and especially after the crisis of 2009-2008, the People’s Republic of China not only did not face a crisis, but emerged stronger than ever in the international economic and political arena.
Under Putin, Russia was able to rebuild the country’s devastated Yeltsin-era economy by focusing on the national economy based on oil and gas exports, and by investing in modern military industries based on advanced technology. But despite these changes in Russia’s economic-military position, the West and NATO have tightened the siege around Russia by expanding NATO to its borders.
In the first years of Obama’s presidency, the thinktanks of the US power establishment have revised the US global strategy, recognizing the growing power of China and Russia as the main threat to the preeminent position of the US ruling class, and have placed opposition to these powers at the top of their global agenda.
Evidence of this calculated strategic shift was the hasty withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, which the United States implemented without concern about the tragic consequences of this decision for the Afghan people and the humanitarian crisis that ensued.
Economic, Political, and Military Aspects of the New Strategy
- In the economic sphere: Sanctions were first imposed on China and Russia and then on the other countries such as Belarus, Iran, Venezuela, Nicaragua, etc., which are identified by the US as current or potential allies of those two powers. Sanctions, such as direct and indirect US sabotage of the Nord Stream 2 project, were designed to create obstacles to European economic cooperation with Russia and China, especially to prevent delivery of cheap Russian oil and natural gas to Europe.
- In the political sphere: Attempts were made to create color revolutions and destabilize the independent states that surround Russia and China. Suffice it to look at the map: Ukraine in eastern Russia, which has been ruled by neo-Nazis since 2014 with the cooperation of the US government, and Belarus, in which the West tried to overthrow Lukashenko by inciting protests and staging a color revolution. Then it was Turkey’s turn to instigate a war between Azerbaijan and Armenia on behalf of the United States. While there were serious negotiations with Russia over NATO expansion, the West sought to exploit the Kazakhstan people’s grievances and their legitimate aspirations to create another point of tension in that important region of Central Asia. To all of these must be added the incitement of jihadist groups in the Uyghur region, the destabilization and escalation of divisions between hostile groups in Myanmar, and the incitement of so-called pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong, and so on.
- In the military sphere: Includes creation of new imperialist alliances between Britain, Australia and the United States (AUKUS); the creation of the Quartet (QUAD) alliance between the United States, Japan, Australia and India around China, especially in the strategically important region of the South China Sea; massive US arms sales to Taiwan and numerous joint military exercises with the island, despite the past agreement and signed documents that Taiwan is an integral part of the People’s Republic of China. At the Same time, Baltic states, Poland, Ukraine, have held joint military exercises with NATO, as NATO itself has expanded to Russia’s eastern borders.
But with the qualitative change in the balance of power in the world, we are witnessing a new turning point, the main sign of which is the ineffectiveness of the various dimensions of this new strategy of American imperialism:
- In the economic sphere: The main US tactic, i.e., imposing economic sanctions on various countries, has strengthened trade and economic relations between the countries under sanctions, such as the increased economic cooperation between Iran and Venezuela. The sanctioned countries are also gradually increasing the use of alternative currencies such as the yuan in international trade, challenging the dominance of the US dollar. They have also established trade zones that are independent of the US dollar as the base exchange rate. Germany, France, and some Central European countries originally chose to buy gas from Russia as opposed to more expensive fuel from Britain and the United States, although this trend has reversed in the wake of the Ukraine war.
- In the political sphere: The response of Chinese and Russian leaders to American arrogance has changed significantly. Note the completely different way the Chinese delegation dealt with the Biden administration in Alaska. Compare the stark difference between the tone of Yeltsin phone conversation with Clinton begging him not to invade the former Yugoslavia with Putin’s and Russian government’s recent warnings to NATO and the US. The typical method of American officials expressing the desire to negotiate while aggressively pursuing their goals is no longer effective. Color revolutions are failing one after the other. The influx of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) troops into Kazakhstan severely thwarted Turkey’s pan-Turanist plans, which had been heavily funded by the United States.
- In the military field: The Chinese Red Army, which is directly under the command of the Communist Party, is being rapidly equipped with the most advanced military technology. The Chinese Navy is now equipped with modern aircraft carriers. In terms of space technology, China made a total of 55 orbital launches last year, more than any other country, with the United States in second place with 51 launches in the same period. China aims to become a major space power by 2030.
Despite all US opposition, many countries, including India and even NATO member Turkey, have now demanded to purchase the S-400 anti-missile defense system from Russia. While Russia developed supersonic weapons technology and the successful testing of ZIRKON supersonic missiles, the tests of Washington’s supersonic weapons have failed. Russia no longer seems willing to limit herself to keeping NATO and US forces out of its borders. Russia announced in January 2022, that it would reserve the right to deploy missiles in Venezuela and Cuba if NATO were deployed in Ukraine.
Evidence suggests that close cooperation between China and Russia in sharing new military technology is under way. The current understanding between the two countries should be contrasted to the previous conflict between China and the former Soviet Union. Disputes in the 1960s, which started with the refusal of the Soviet-era leader Nikita Khrushchev to provide industrial and nuclear aid to China, which led to a misguided assessment by Chinese leadership of the power of US imperialism; turning the sharp edge of China’s hostile foreign policy toward Soviet Union, and the invention of the perverted theory of “social imperialism,” inflicted the greatest damage on the left forces and liberation movements in the Third World — a hostility that might have contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
But today the situation has changed drastically, and we witness the strengthening of economic, military, and political relations between the two countries. Suffice it to note Putin’s recent remarks, in which he cited relations between the two countries as an example of international relations in the 21st century, and addressed the West by saying: “We and China remain together, and you cannot separate us.” It is not devoid of truth when some conservative members of the US Congress and the Wall Street Journal speak of the United States’ inability to engage in simultaneous conflicts with the two countries, urging the United States to focus on fighting China.
The collapse of the Soviet Union dealt a blow to the possibility of non-capitalist growth in developing countries. But now all the above evidence shows that the rise of the People’s Republic of China and its alliance with Russia represent a significant shift in the global balance of power. It opens a window of opportunity for countries to challenge the undisputed dominance of imperialism. It has, once again, made it possible for the “third world” countries to free themselves from imperialist domination.
The Left’s Stance Against the Qualitative Changes in the World
The Western Social-Democrats, and their allied forces and parties in developing countries, have invented various theories to deny the existence of imperialism. In particular, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, they used such terms as “globalization” to downplay the role of imperialism in the economic and political domination of underdeveloped countries. They highlighted the non-essential capitalist tendencies of capitalism in the People’s Republic of China, while ignoring the prevailing movement toward building of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and claiming that China is an imperialist country. They similarly emphasize the presence of industrial and financial oligarchies in Russia, casting Russia as an emerging imperialism. From this point of view, they see the increasing conflict between Western imperialism and China in the first place, and with Russia in the second place, as a conflict between imperialist powers.
Unfortunately, we are now witnessing the adoption of the same ultra-leftist positions by some militant communist parties. Despite their strong criticism of the positions of European conformist parties and Eurocommunists, they fail to see the changes in the alignment of forces in the 21st century. They consider any cooperation and support given Communist parties to non-Communis left and progressive states as “futile effort to manage capitalism.” For example, some of the parties have characterized the Ukraine conflict as a “conflict between NATO, USA and European imperialist forces who are supporting fascist forces to serve their ends,” on one hand, and “Russian capitalism expanding the interests of its monopolies,” on the other.
We see similar tendencies among left-wing parties and groups in Iran. Similarities between the policies of these groups and the tendencies of the left parties in the world can be seen clearly in their analysis of Iran’s cooperation with China. For them, if the People’s Republic of China is a capitalist country, then the “one belt-one road” initiative is merely a process aimed at exporting Chinese capital and accessing the resources and raw materials of other countries. As a result, Iran’s partnership with China will increase its exploitation and dependence. But the reality is that these groups do not recognize the enormous and dynamic force that is growing in opposition to imperialism, and the role that this force can play in changing the future destiny of the world.
What we are witnessing these days in the unprecedented attack on the government’s reorientation toward the east is partly due to this kind of thinking. Such attacks are mainly carried out from abroad, i.e., by the right-wing Iranian groups whose main aim is to overthrow the Islamic Republic Iran. And it is unfortunate that a part of the left forces, who do not even seem to be in favor of undermining the Iranian regime, are echoing the same thoughts. The proponents of regime change in Iran see the increasing economic cooperation with China, and economic-military cooperation with Russia, as helping the Iranian government to maintain its power and extending its life. In their view, the intensification of confrontation with China and Russia would render the Islamic Republic of Iran defenseless, and will expedite its demise.
More importantly, these domestic oppositions include an army of overt and covert supporters of neoliberalism, elements active in the economic mafia, a long line of bankrupt reformists, and even some clerics and fundamentalist hardliners. These elements warn against “selling Iran” to China and Russia by appealing to the patriotic sentiments of the people, and are determined to oppose the eastward tendency of the regime with all their might. In an interview watched by thousands of viewers, a university professor spoke of “Russia’s historical betrayals of Iran and the deep-rooted cynicism of the Iranian middle managerial elites towards the Russians.” Another cleric claimed in his speech: “we are accepting to be colonized by Russia and China.”
One significant flaw in all of these claims about the “Russian betrayals” is that conflate different periods of Russian history — Tsarist Russia era with nd the Soviet era; Yeltsin’s Russia, and Putin’s current Russia — and thus ignore the fact that there have been substantial differences between the policy of the “Russians” towards Iran in each of these historical periods.
These uproars over the colonization and sell-out of Iran to the East are all signs of the great obstacles that are being placed in the way of the government adopting this eastward tendency. The ruling economic mafia in Iran, which over the past forty years has been able to expand its roots into the fabric of the country’s political and economic structure, is by no means willing to accept this new orientation of the government, because it is in stark contrast with their hidden relations with the global capitalist system. They fear that deepening relations with Russia and China will create obstacles for further development of the country’s economy along the neoliberal path, and will slow down privatizations and economic adjustment policies.
A faction within the government has recently begun to try to convince people that the rapprochement with Russia and China is synonymous with further restrictions on civil liberties, increasing power of the police, and the intensification of repression in the country. They are trying to take advantage of the peoples’ distrust of the government and prevailing social dissatisfaction to provoke people into confronting the government on this new policy, and ultimately, intimidating the government and preventing it to align with Russia and China.
The regime, which for years has combatted and suppressed any grassroot and anti-capitalist organization and party, is now in desperate need of the people’s support for its new policy. But at this juncture, when a serious explanatory work among people is needed, the government is only left with its own discredited media network, such as the Islamic Republic State Broadcasting, to attract the support of the people for its eastward turn.
* Translated from original Farsi text.