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Editorial: Baghdadi's apparent death doesn't solve Washington's growing problems

US special forces have stormed a Syrian province to finish off the fugitive Islamic State (Isis) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The operation was reportedly achieved through joint intelligence work with the local Kurdish-led forces formerly allied to the retreating US contingent and Turkey.

Both Turkey, which sponsors its own jihadist contingents, and the US, which has complicated relations with a whole spaghetti alphabet of Islamist terrorists, must be relieved that the Isis boss is no longer available to testify to the complex patterns of patronage he enjoyed. 

This minor coup for Donald Trump obscures a substantial diminution of US influence in the region and a troubled reordering of US priorities that is reflected in the vicious factional fights in Donald Trump’s administration.

The US possesses a military capacity (and a matching budget deficit) of quite astounding proportions and is bigger than its closest competitors in aggregate.

But this astoundingly expensive armoury is proving ineffective when faced by the scale and nature of opposition the US faces on many continents.

The challenges imperialism generally and the US in particular face are not only not amenable to military solutions — worse for Washington, the popular mood in the US is hostile to unending foreign military adventures.

Trump is echoing this powerful mood, strongest in the key working-class regions where he won his electoral victory. The contradictions between his chaotic Twitter commentary and concrete action are down to the deep divisions in the US ruling class and the political and economic costs of its hitherto bipartisan foreign policy.

The failure of imperial pressure on Syria; the inter-imperialist mess that has been made of Libya; the increasing pressures on the US presence in Iraq; the changing balance of forces in Afghanistan and the unpredictable consequences of the Yemen war for Saudi Arabia, a key US ally — is a chapter of chaos.

And the insurgent Lebanese people, to the alarm of anxious leaders in its neighbouring states, are challenging a sectarian confessional system imposed on them by French imperial power.

It is not possible to make sense of what is going on in the Middle East (and, as events are proving, in Latin America) without a sense of the connection between capitalist crisis and imperialism.

Gordon Brown who, weeks before the 2008 capitalist crash, told the besuited City notables gathered for the annual Mansion House speech that the City of London was anticipating “a new golden age” is deservedly mocked for it.

He was speaking in the twilight of bourgeois euphoria which followed the end of socialism in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

Capitalism enjoyed a few short decades of renewed growth as more millions of working people were drawn into waged labour.

The consequent boom proved substantially shorter than the three decades of growth which followed World War II.

In Latin America imperialism is facing powerful popular challenges. Truly enormous demonstrations fill the plazas of Chile in protest against IMF austerity.

Ecuador’s IMF loan has been cancelled as Lenin Moreno is driven from Quito by mass protests.

Evo Morales triumphs over his right-wing rivals in Bolivia.

Argentina’s right-wing President Mauricio Macri is on the slide.

Venezuela has blunted the US-sponsored counter-revolution.

Uruguay’s progressive Frente Amplio is leading in the polls.

The City of London is a key nexus of imperialism’s nervous system, which is why the prospect of a Stop the War Coalition-supporting premier in Britain with a personal connection to Latin America’s anti-imperialist leaders is the cause of so much alarm in ruling class circles.

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