Capitalism and the War

Joao Pedro Stedile

The other day I was reading a study from Professor Arturo Valenzuela, the
director of the Center of Latin American Studies at Gerorgetown University
in Washington, D.C. The information in the article that comes to us from
the center of the "Empire" are in themselves revealing.

The Congress of the U.S. is currently debating the budget for 2004. They
are expecting total costs to be 2.23 trillion dollars. Of this total,
390.4 billion will go toward military spending. (Almost 20% of all public
spending.) In the military budget, they are planning to spend 57 billion
dollars on scientific studies for new weapons. (While Europe spends on
average US$7,000 per soldier in scientific military studies, the US spends
US$28,000 per soldier.) Further, the US government is estimating that a
war with Iraq will cost anywhere from US$50 - 200 billion. Thus, they are
predicting a fiscal deficit of 304 billion dollars. How is the US
government planning to cover this debt? By circulating dollars abroad and
gathering capital from periphery countries. Conclusion: the US economy is
going to try to save itself from the current crisis by spending money on
arms and having Third World countries pay for this spending. We will be
the ones paying for the war.

According to Pentagon analysts, during this four year term of George W.
Bush, the government will accumulate a fiscal deficit of 1.08 billion
dollars. According to these same sources, the total military spending
during the Bush years will be greater than all of the military spending of
all the countries of the world combined.

Another study completed in the US by economist analyst Luis Nassif shows
that during the 20 years of neoliberalism, countries in the Third World
have sent no less than 1 trillion dollars to the US. Neoliberalism has
created an exceptional mechanism for exploiting the Third World,
transforming these countries into exporters of capital. And it is exactly
this trillion that the US uses to maintain its military power, which in
turn is used to deep these same countries under the Empire's domination.
Thus the vicious circle of the US's economic, political and military power
over the world is complete.

It is becoming more and more clear that Marx was right when he said that
capitalism systematically uses the machine of war and death as a way to
overcome its cyclical crises, maintaining markets captive. Weapons are
made to augment levels of profit regardless of the cost to human lives.
Wars are only logical extensions of disputes over markets and economic

For how long will we put up with this financial, military empire? No one
knows for sure, but it is certain that its domination represents a step
backwards for humanity and the values of equality, fraternity and social
justice. Let us all work to oppose war and this Empire.

Joao Pedro Stedile is one of the national leaders of the MST (Landless Worker's Movement).