Athens Meeting 19-20 June 2003, Contribution by CP of
by Dr Hannah Middleton
A JUST AND PEACEFUL WORLD IS POSSIBLE
Masters of the World
"The United States has no rival. We are militarily dominant
around the world. We use our military dominance to
intervene in the internal affairs of other countries . our
goal is not combating a rival, but maintaining our imperial
position, and maintaining imperial order Planning for
imperial wars is different from planning for conventional
international wars. In dealing with the Soviet Union, war
had to be avoided Imperial wars to restore order are not so
constrained. The maximum amount of force can and should be
used as quickly as possible for psychological impact to
demonstrate that the empire cannot be challenged with
impunity. During the Cold War, we did not try very hard to
bring down communist governments. Now we are in the
business of bringing down hostile governments and creating
governments favorable to us Imperial wars end, but imperial
garrisons must be left in place for decades to ensure order
and stability. This is, in fact, what we are beginning to
see, first in the Balkans and now in Central Asia Finally,
imperial strategy focuses on preventing the emergence of
powerful, hostile challengers to the empire: by war if
necessary, but by imperial assimilation if possible."
Stephen Peter Rosen: "The Future of War and the American
in the Harvard Review, May-June 2002.
Rosen was Director of the neo-conservative Olin Institute
for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. He also worked
in the Department of Defense, the National Security Council
of the USA and the Naval War College and was a founding
member of the Project for a New American Century.
The world-wide struggle between the people and the
transnational corporations is intensifying. The situation
in Australia and internationally is marked by this struggle
at the centre of which is the struggle between the
capitalist class and the working class.
Never has the division of society into two great hostile
camps, into two great classes, directly facing each other,
been sharper or clearer.
Following World War II, US imperialism's drive for hegemony
was subject to constraints imposed by the presence on the
world stage of the USSR and other socialist countries. The
US was forced to operate with policies of containment and
the balance of power.
In the 1990s the victory of counter-revolution in the
Soviet Union and the majority of the world's socialist
states removed the one force on the international stage
able to confront and deter imperialism.
Today, US imperialism's overwhelming military strength
provides it with an historically unprecedented weapon with
which to dominate the world in the interests of US
At the same time, the most aggressive and reactionary
segment of US imperialism, represented by the
administration of George W. Bush, moved into the White
As a result, policy makers in Washington began to implement
a qualitatively new approach to achieving the long-term
goal of US domination of every region of the globe,
employing its overwhelming global military presence.
September 11, 2001 gave the Bush administration the pretext
to implement its policies. The attacks on and occupation of
Afghanistan and Iraq are the first steps in an appallingly
dangerous military strategy intended to bring about a
qualitative and permanent change in the world balance of
forces with US imperialism and the transnational
corporations dominating the world.
The central US goal is control of the planet, power to
install governments subservient to its demands, power to
privatise and deregulate the economies of every nation in
the world, the power to inflict on peoples everywhere "free
market" corporate capitalism. US supremacy will be ensured
by preventing the emergence of any other potentially
competing power or government independent of its control.
These policies raise the dangers of aggression and war to a
new level. Combined with US imperialism's willingness to
use its massive arsenal of nuclear weapons, planetary
destruction is becoming a real possibility.
The new strategy brings with it increasing economic and
political attacks on the working class and other social
Far from being a locomotive of growth and development, the
US economy is parasitic, feeding on its exploitation of the
labour and resources of other countries. In 1989 the US
trade deficit was US$100 billion. By 2000 it had grown to
US$450 billion. The parasitism of the US economy can only
be sustained by major capital flows from the rest of the
In these conditions, military capacity to impose and
maintain "stability" for US investments, and to guarantee
its secure control of strategic resources, such as oil, are
of paramount importance.
To control the flow of petroleum is to control the most
vital processes of modern industrial society. Oil is an
essential resource for transport and the generation of
electricity. But it is also the raw material for a whole
range of multi-billion dollar industries of primary
importance, such as the manufacture of fertilisers,
herbicides, pesticides, detergents, explosives, paints and,
not least, plastics and synthetic fibres. Oil's strategic
as well as economic importance is immeasurable.
But serious economic crises and competition are creating
many difficulties for the economy of the US empire. No
longer in a position to assert economic supremacy to
protect US "national interests" and despite "free market"
rhetoric which the Australian Government enthusiastically
echoes -- the US increasingly relies on coercion.
Further increasing its unrivalled military superiority is a
top US priority. The Bush administration has spent
trillions of dollars to expand a war machine that has
already outstripped the rest of the world combined.
The report on "Rebuilding America's Defense" drawn up by
the neo-conservative "Project for the New American Century"
said in 2000 that the US military's task is to "preserve
American pre-eminence through the coming transformation of
war made possible by new technologies".
US missile "defence" plans, allowing the US to launch
missile strikes against any country while limiting any
retaliatory strikes, are a key element of a program to make
the US the master of space. Vision for 2020, a 1996 report
of the US Space Command, opens with: "US Space Command --
dominating the space dimension of military operations to
protect US interests and investment."
The report compares the US effort to "control space" and
"dominate" the Earth below to how centuries ago "nations
built navies to protect and enhance their commercial
interests." It stresses the global economy stating: "The
globalisation of the world economy will also continue, with
a widening gap between `haves' and `have-nots'."
The nightmare scenario of nuclear war and nuclear accidents
is brought closer by US military planning.
The US administration's Nuclear Posture Review, released in
February 2000, envisages the "pre-emptive" and "preventive"
use of nuclear weapons against "rogue states" that do not
have any nuclear weapons but are merely suspected of
attempting to develop or gain possession of them. The US
now plans to use nuclear weapons as weapons of first,
rather than last, resort.
The administration is planning third generation nuclear
weapons, tailored mini nukes, nuclear weapons capable of
destroying underground bunkers, nuclear weapons suitable
for space deployment.
Comparisons of the United States to Imperial Rome and
Imperial Britain are now common within the mainstream
press. Rome's pre-eminence was built on its roads; British
colonialism was based on mastery of the seas. The new US
empire will be built on militarising and controlling space.
The Global Resistance Movement
With the Seattle, Washington, Melbourne, Prague and other
anti-globalisation activities, a largely NGO dominated
anti-globalisation movement was transformed into a much
broader front of global forces. Some governments and
political parties as well as a variety of social forces are
also part of this movement.
The anti-globalisation movement has created an important
and enduring legacy. For many, it was their first
experience of international action and solidarity. For many
it has exposed the true nature of capitalism and
imperialism and its appallingly dangerous drive for world
The more recent rise of the anti-war movement has brought
an unprecedented force onto the world stage with over 10
million people in the streets around the world. It is more
politically conscious, better organised and more inclined
to action than ever before. It has drawn into action a
greater range of social forces, including in some countries
sections of the ruling class which have deep reservations
about the Bush doctrine.
The level of working class involvement in the
anti-globalisation and anti-war movements varies from
country to country. However, there is no doubt that in the
recent anti-war movement it was at a higher level than
previously and that this level must be increased
Despite the ebbing of mass anti-war actions, the mass
sentiment that drove those marches has in no way dissipated
and many new forms of action are being undertaken.
The anti-globalisation movement has come together with the
anti-war movement, giving the combined movement tremendous
strength. It has become the superpower of the people.
The Australian experience
The situation in Australia reflects the global picture.
A small anti-globalisation movement in Australia was
galvanised by the events in Seattle and then by a massive
protest action at the time of the World Economic Forum
meeting in Melbourne in September 2000. The Melbourne
street battles and debates were accompanied by a dramatic
expansion in the political understanding of many activists.
Our Party noted at the time: "The word `capitalism' has
come back into the vocabulary here in Australia and a good
basis for real social change is being built."
One weakness at the time, which remains a problem for our
work, was the low level of trade union involvement.
Since that time, anti-globalisation work has taken two
forms: an activist wing, composed mainly of students and
the radical left, and an NGO dominated wing which is doing
excellent research, public education and lobbying.
Many members from both these wings became active in the
broad anti-war coalitions which were quickly built in late
2002 in every Australian State. No Australia-wide
organisation was created. [Australia has a federal
structure which, together with problems of huge distances,
make State based organisation the norm.]
However, links around the country between some of the
organisations (particularly the political parties)
affiliated to the State-based coalitions ensure good
co-ordination of actions.
A wide range of social forces are involved in the anti-war
movement. Participation by the organised working class
through the trade union movement is good in some, but not
The Australian Labor Party leadership took the position of
supporting action against Saddam Hussein if it was endorsed
by the United Nations. Despite this, hundreds of thousands
of ALP members and supporters are active in the anti-war
movement and opposed the war even with UN endorsement.
When the United Nations refused support for the invasion,
many ALP members of Parliament began marching at the front
of the demonstrations.
In all States the Greens are particularly active in the
The Communist Party of Australia plays a leading role in
some, but not all of the anti-war coalitions. I am
co-convenor of the Walk Against the War Coalition in
Sydney, for example. It is interesting that there are two
other convenors, one a member of the ALP and the other a
member of the Trotskyist oriented Democratic Socialist
We recognise a weakness in our Party that has to be
overcome. Some of our members have not taken the anti-war
issues into their areas of work and have not actively
supported the anti-war coalitions.
This has come about largely because of a belief that this
is "just another" anti-war campaign. We have to win the
ideological struggle among our own members that we are now
in a qualitatively new and unprecedentedly dangerous stage
in imperialism's drive for global dominance.
One important development in the anti-war movement was
initiatives to establish local groups which are independent
but closely linked to and often resourced by the
State-based coalitions. These flourish and some reach deep
into their communities, drawing new sections of people into
The campaign against the war included defence of democratic
rights. "Anti-terrorism" measures introduced by the
Australian Government are intended to undermine political
action and have already been used to victimise migrants
(especially Moslems) and refugees.
At the height of the movement's mobilisation, just before
the invasion of Iraq, over 75 per cent of the Australian
people were opposed to the war and to Australia's
involvement in it.
The refusal by the Australian Government to listen to the
majority voice and to reverse its commitment to sending
troops to Iraq in support of the United States invasion and
occupation outraged the people and raised their
participation to a higher level. The largest demonstrations
ever seen in Australia on any issue took place.
The Howard Government has signed up Australia as a front
line collaborator with US global war plans, providing
specialist military forces and a secure base for US
electronic and satellite spying activities.
In real terms the number of Australian troops involved in
the invasion and occupation of Iraq was very small.
The role of the satellite ground station at Pine Gap in the
centre of Australia was crucial for the United States
aggression against Iraq. However, it was hardly mentioned
by government or media and unfortunately opposition to it
is not playing a major role in the anti-war campaign.
Pine Gap is one of the largest and most important US
satellite ground control stations in the world. The
satellites monitored by Pine Gap have a footprint that
covers the most important areas of US strategic interest
China, southern Russia and the Middle East oilfields.
Every branch of the US military as well as the National
Reconnaissance Office, National Security Agency and the CIA
are stationed at Pine Gap.
Ultra-left (Trotskyist) political parties are active in the
anti-war coalitions in all States. Despite contributing
many good activists to the campaign, in some areas they
cause considerable political conflict, distractions and
Conflicts between the ultra-left forces and the social
democratic forces (which constitute the majority of the
activists in the anti-war coalitions) threatened and
continues to threaten the unity of the coalitions and tends
to drive the social democrats into more conservative
There are concerns that difficulties with ultra left forces
are about to sharpen with moves to consolidate their forces
in Australia and with adoption of the Jakarta Peace
The Consensus talks of " the creation of a worldwide
Solidarity Network for Global Peace at a future time,
particularly during the meetings in Evian (G-8 summit),
Cancun (WTO Conference), the regional Social Forums and the
next World Social Forum in Bombay".
It is clear that in some countries the need to expose and
combat the ultra-left has become more pressing.
Today in Australia we face the twin problems of how to
proceed in such a way that anti-imperialism is articulated
and the broad mass mobilisation is maintained.
The Communist Party of Australia is working to encourage
the development of humanitarian aid projects as a means of
keeping the coalitions and local groups active.
Our own Party is discussing with members of the Iraqi
Communist Party in Sydney the development of a people to
people solidarity campaign, in which local schools and the
teachers' union might adopt an Iraqi school, while nurses
and other medical workers might work with their
counterparts in Iraq, and so forth. Our Party will be
supporting an Iraqi hospital.
Work is also underway towards major demonstrations
associated with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki commemorations.
Actions marking July 4, American Independence Day, are also
The key task for us is to find the campaigns which expose
the reasons behind the invasion and occupation of Iraq,
reveal the radically new and appallingly dangerous plans of
the Bush administration, and to offer an alternative vision
of a peaceful world that can and must be achieved.
These campaigns must be "popular" in the sense that they
are meaningful and appealing to our community, provide
opportunities for actions and education, and contribute to
sustaining the mass mobilisation of the people.
The CPA has identified the following areas of struggle
which can contribute to achieving these ends:
Of immediate importance is the struggle against the US
occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. With each day, the
self-proclaimed liberators are showing their true colours:
shooting protesters, manoeuvring their puppets into power,
handing over multi-billion dollar contracts to US
corporations, securing control over Iraqi oil, turning
temporary military bases into permanent ones, and blocking
any meaningful United Nations role in post war
An important task is to organise against the mounting costs
of war and their negative impact on the people's needs and
on the economy. In the recent Budget, the Federal
Government significantly increased military spending while
cutting funding to public health and public education.
Our Party is campaigning in its own right and is also
working to involve the anti-war movement in community and
trade union campaigns to defeat these attacks.
A third important task is the abolition of nuclear and
other weapons of mass destruction. This is an issue which
has always commanded wide support in Australia.
The US decision to abandon earlier agreements and to go
ahead with research into a third generation of nuclear
weapons mini-nukes, bunker busters, space nuclear weapons
is causing alarm and will probably become a major campaign.
These new weapons are in addition to the more than 26,000
nuclear weapons already in our world.
There will be proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,
a terrible new arms race which will gobble up desperately
needed resources and threaten the survival of this planet
as countries arm themselves against the threat of US
invasion and occupation.
The fourth task is to develop the campaign against United
States military bases in Australia, particularly Pine Gap.
This is associated with the demand for Australia's
sovereignty and independence which became a big issue as
Australia's Prime Minister and conservative government were
seen to be playing the role of US deputy sheriff in the
The campaign against Pine Gap exposes US plans for global
domination through the militarisation of space. It creates
opportunities to link the anti-war and anti-globalisation
movements under the theme of "Star Wars: the armed wing of
The United States is now demanding new bases in Australia.
Halliburton, US Vice President Dick Cheney's corporation,
is building what is a strategic railway from Alice Springs
(near Pine Gap) to Darwin on the north coast. It is
rumoured that a US marine base will be established soon at
Darwin which is a port city ideal for control of the
strategic Timor Gap naval passage and for US plans for
containment of China.
Finally, it is vital to keep the peace movement aware of US
aggressive acts and plans beyond Iraq, most urgently via
the campaign in solidarity with the Palestinian people. The
peace movement must be alert to the schemes and actions of
imperialism (especially US imperialism) around the world,
from the Congo to Colombia, from Yugoslavia to Indonesia.
It is clear that communists must do even more to play a
major role politically, ideologically and organisationally
in the unprecedented levels of popular mobilisation around
Our understanding of the role of imperialism, our vision of
an alternative future that puts the people's needs and
interests first and in which the people's voice and
participation are paramount, and our long commitment to and
experience in building forms of left-progressive or popular
unity can all make it possible to build an anti-war,
anti-globalisation movement capable of challenging the big
business controllers of economic and political power in our
We have a major task to expand and deepen the level of
working class involvement in the anti-globalisation and
anti-war movements and to help unite these two movements.
A major responsibility is to inform and organise people in
our own countries, to bring more people into activity, to
raise their political consciousness and, above all, to
build our own Parties.
This process can and should be assisted by sharing analyses
and experiences among our parties. We already do this
through meetings such as this, through the exchange of
newspapers and documents, electronically through Rednet and
Solidnet and by the Information Bulletin published by the
KKE. Our aim is to build on what is already being done.
We would like to see the provision of more up-to-the-minute
news articles and analysis (appropriate for both
newspapers, theoretical journals and other media channels)
on the many contemporary issues and happenings that face
our Parties on a daily basis. Images can also be easily
transmitted electronically or on a website.
To the extent that additional costs would be involved in
providing such a service the Communist Party of Australia
is prepared to commit AUD$5,000 per annum for 5 years
We emphasise that our aim is to build on what is already
being done to ensure that more news reports and theoretical
documents from different Parties are translated and that
this be done more swiftly than we presently manage.
Of course, as is the position now, every Party retains its
freedom to use or not use whatever material is provided.
Another proposal is that an international list of communist
and progressive speakers who we can propose as guests to
speak in our countries be developed. They should be people
who can effectively address public meetings, can deal with
the bourgeois media, and are available to travel.
A Crucial Historical Juncture
The struggle between those who believe that the land and
resources, the labour, capital, technology and markets of
the world should be dedicated to maximising capital
accumulation for the few, and those who believe that these
things should be used for the benefit and sustainable
development of the many remains central to our work.
But now, as never before, imperialism commands military
resources capable of wiping out humanity and has adopted
radically new policies exposing its intent to develop,
expand and use weapons of mass destruction.
The US military budget is now over $US437 billion every
year. This is larger than the whole Australian economy. Yet
global poverty and inequality are getting worse.
The drive towards war is being paid for by the peoples of
the world. Struggles against poverty, for food, jobs, clean
water, for democratic rights are all negatively affected by
the political, social and economic costs of US
imperialism's drive to war.
The price of failure will be not just global dictatorship,
human misery, and environmental destruction but also the
possibility of human and planetary annihilation, the ruin
of the contending classes.
Everything depends on the extent to which popular,
progressive, democratic and socialist forces can be
mobilised. The attack on Afghanistan and the invasion and
occupation of Iraq have awakened awareness of the new level
of threat from aggressive imperialism with its aim of
recolonising the whole world.
The struggles against the military, political and economic
forms of corporate globalisation are the dominant and
defining political issues for the foreseeable future.
These movements are what is new, what is coming into being
and what will be the fundamental determinant of this new
A just and peaceful world is possible. The peoples of the
world can and must impose it on US imperialism.