The U.S. empire’s diminishing capacity to inflict damage signals its looming demise 

The imperialists want to carry out a Libya-style military intervention in Ethiopia. Yet unlike eleven years ago, when NATO destroyed Libya, they can no longer do something like that. China and Russia have gained too much leverage in the United Nations, and have been upholding the position that Ethiopia’s civil war is an internal matter not requiring outside policing. Because of this increased capacity for the world to hold Washington accountable, by extension something like the Iraq invasion couldn’t happen today. The U.S. aggressed against Iraq amid an international situation less compatible than the one it faced during the Libya intervention, in which France jointly worked with Washington in the operation. 

The Iraq War was opposed by France, and by much of the rest of the imperialist sphere, because of how reckless it was. And the invasion came at great long-term cost to Washington’s global standing, helping catalyze the unraveling of U.S. hegemony. At this stage, of course the U.S. won’t invade Ethiopia, or any other country that’s equivalent to Ethiopia in international influence. It doesn’t have enough of the globe on its side for such a maneuver not to catastrophically backfire, worse than the Iraq invasion did. 

The imperialists want to carry out regime change coups within Venezuela, Mexico, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and the growing number of other Latin American countries that are either solidly anti-imperialist or going in that direction. Yet their hand has become too decrepit to carry out coups anymore, at least inside of countries that have a strong base of support for their existing governments. These days, the U.S. can only succeed at its coup efforts within places like Sri Lanka, which prior to July’s pro-Washington power grab was a thoroughly neoliberal regime that had driven its people into widespread discontent. (The only reason Washington targeted Sri Lanka was because it getting too close to China’s orbit.) This weakness in governmental popular support isn’t present throughout the solidly anti-imperialist Latin American countries, whose freedom from neo-colonialism is ensured by a growing regional anti-imperialist mass movement. 

When the imperialists carried out a coup in Bolivia in 2019, in under a year the liberation movement had forced the coup regime to hold new elections under threat of unmanageable unrest, and the deposed MAS party had regained power. Even stronger protections against U.S. subversion exist in Venezuela, which has a people’s army, and in Nicaragua, which fought a civil war decades ago to kick out imperialism’s lackeys. Cuba remains a dictatorship of the proletariat that’s for that reason perhaps best ensured against coups. And though the newer progressive-leaning governments in Chile, Colombia, and Peru are moderate enough that the imperialists don’t consider them primary targets, the pro-indigenous and more generally pro-worker movements within these countries have a growing amount of influence. Influence which can’t be squashed. The biggest blow these movements recently got dealt was the failure of the referendum to replace the Pinochet constitution, but that was an unsurprising outcome under bourgeois democracy. As global class conflict continues to intensify, these movements will in the long term keep building on their recent successes.

The imperialists have for decades wanted to turn Iraq and Iran back into neo-colonies, but as Washington’s influence has waned, they’ve finally given up on that goal. The pullout of U.S. military forces from much of southwest Asia has empowered Iran throughout the region, and has in particular solidified Iran’s influence over Baghdad. The Afghanistan pullout, the victory of the Houthis in Yemen, the survival of Assad’s government, and imperialism’s ongoing failure to rid Lebanon of Houthi rule have all furthered this trend away from U.S. domination over the region. Washington continues to occupy northern Syria and steal its oil, and U.S. war profiteers are still making money from the Saudi war on Yemen, but these things don’t constitute what imperialism has primarily needed within the region: neo-colonial exploitation, and control over the trade routes that will be made accessible to China should Washington not block them off. Resource looting and military-industrial complex profits are helpful for U.S. capital, but without U.S. geopolitical dominance and neo-colonial extraction, U.S. capital will ultimately be deprived of the essential life force which imperialism provides for it.

The imperialists want to cut off China’s Belt and Road expansion capabilities by carrying out Euromaidan-style coups in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and the other locations throughout central Asia. This is part of a scheme to destabilize Eurasia so that China can be subdued. But the coups the U.S. has tried this year in these two countries have failed, the campaign to instigate Syria-style jihadist civil war in Xinjiang have been thwarted, Afghanistan continues to hold against Washington’s attempts at bringing war back into its borders, and Russia isn’t ultimately being weakened by the proxy war in Ukraine. These manifestations of Washington’s weakening abilities to deal damage are because of the rise of the multipolar world order. It’s dubious that twenty years ago, Russia would have had the boldness to militarily intervene in Kazakhstan so it could put down the NED-backed terrorists; that these post-Soviet states would have been able to withstand Euromaidan-style coup attempts; that China would have been in a place to provide Afghanistan with the humanitarian support it needs to survive the U.S. sanctions; or that Russia would have felt safe enough to intervene against Ukraine’s fascist U.S. puppet regime. In Eurasia, a great power shift has already happened.

The imperialists want to sow division among the countries which challenge U.S. hegemony. During the 20th century, they were able to successfully help along the Sino-Soviet split, back Pol Pot to the consequence that China and Vietnam had another conflict, and instigate war between Iraq and Iran. But today, all of these countries essentially fall within the same geopolitical bloc. Iraq and Iran have unified, as have China and Russia, as have China and Vietnam. And they’ve all engaged in these reconciliations due to them having a mutual interest in pushing back against Washington’s attempts at subduing them. The decline of U.S. power hasn’t been the sole reason why they’ve made up with their former foes; they now have different leaderships with different ideas. The Communist Party of China is a different beast from what it was when it decided to break from the USSR, or to back Pol Pot. It’s more geopolitically pragmatic now. And the wounds left over from the Iran-Iraq War that Hussein’s regime carried are now treated as immaterial to Iraq’s present interests. But if the imperialists were still as strong as they used to be, they would no doubt have an easier time than they now are at manufacturing contention among these countries. 

They used to be able to so easily start proxy wars that would force their rivals into difficult decisions that backfired. Now they’re much more limited in their reach. And they’ve so thoroughly discredited themselves in the eyes of these countries with their genocidal wars on Vietnam and Iraq, their inhumane sanctions on Iran, their latest cold war provocations against Russia, and their Uyghur-harming “human rights” sanctions on Xinjiang. The peoples of these places have united in distrust of Washington. Nobody truly respects Washington anymore, aside from Washington’s closest joint oppressor countries such as Israel. The formerly colonized world has refused Washington’s call to boycott Russia, both out of gratitude to Russia’s support for liberation movements during the Soviet era and out of disgust at Washington’s hypocritical rhetoric on “human rights” and “sovereignty.” And since Washington has been sacrificing Europe to maximize its sanctions, many NATO powers could grow divided over whether they should continue to serve this mad scheme.

There are already rumblings of that kind of dissension within the Eurozone. Germany in particular could become one of these rogue U.S. satellite states, because it did not deprive itself of crucial Russian oil in this last year out of eagerness. This decision was clearly against its best interests, so to get Germany to comply, Washington had to meddle in its politics. When the U.S. is treating Germany like it’s a neo-colony that’s threatening to break from imperial control, and is in need of the kind of coup treatment that’s been applied to places like Haiti, you know there’s a risk of renewed inter-imperialist conflict. The imperialist powers unified after World War II because they had come to see fighting a class war against the Soviet bloc as in their mutual interests, and Washington has been trying to sustain that partnership by pivoting towards cold war against socialist China. But with U.S. imperialism’s decline, that unity can’t last, and in time it will deteriorate into the imperialists squabbling over shrinking neo-colonial spoils.

Imperialism’s contradictions, from its cultivation of unsustainable global inequality, to its creation of rivalries among the exploiting powers, to its intensification of proletarian oppression, are catching up to it. The job of revolutionaries is to carry out the educational, organizational, and training work required to win the class war, and to build socialism in the ruins of the dying old order.

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