Within minutes on June 20, President Donald Trump first authorized and then canceled a U.S. military strike on Iran. The reasons he gave for stopping the planned attack were “humanitarian.”
However, consideration for human lives has not stopped this U.S. president before, whether it was his approval of so many other deadly Pentagon strikes all over the Middle East, or his brutal policy that has caused so many people, including children, to die in the scorching deserts of the U.S. Southwest and in the concentration camps called migrant detention centers.
The reasons for Trump’s reversal are the subject of great capitalist media speculation. Much of it, including from that part of the media that presents itself as liberal, is actually critical of his decision not to attack, claiming it shows weakness and undermines confidence in the U.S.
For example, an article in the New York Times about Trump’s reversal complained that it “intensified global doubts about the president’s judgment and the power wielded by the United States.”
‘Freedom’ to exploit the world
It is true that, especially since the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan at the end of World War II — which in a flash killed hundreds of thousands of people — the U.S. ruling class has relied on its preponderance of terror weapons to be able to proclaim itself “leader of the free world.”
Yes, it has enjoyed the freedom to exploit and super-exploit working people and natural resources on every continent.
It is the ability to threaten — and destroy — so many countries that has made the U.S. ruling class the richest in human history. But just because the super-rich have grown ever richer doesn’t mean workers in the U.S. benefit from that. On the contrary.
This was made stunningly clear by data provided in a recent Federal Reserve report. An analysis of the data found that “over the last three decades, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans saw their net worth grow by $21 trillion, while the wealth of the bottom 50 percent fell by $900 billion.” (New York Times, June 24)
The figure $21 trillion is so mind-boggling it is almost incomprehensible. Let’s break it down. First, the U.S. population over the last three decades averages out to 300 million people. Of that, 1 percent equals 3 million people. Divide $21 trillion by these richest 3 million and the net worth of each one of them grew by $7 million.
However, most of that increase in wealth went to the top one-tenth or even one-hundredth of a percent, some of whom have become trillionaires — a term that didn’t even used to exist.
Rich get richer, workers get poorer
At the same time, the rest of us have been getting poorer. Some 80 percent of the U.S. population now lives on credit. All this has happened even as the U.S. was bringing havoc to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Yugoslavia — and now is threatening Iran with the same fate.
Meanwhile, the oil companies and the banks behind them were raking in the dough.
So the idea that “the power wielded by the United States” benefits the working class here, the vast majority of the population, is totally false. Instead, the workers who don’t get killed or maimed in these wars are stuck with huge tax bills for ever more deadly and costly high-tech warfare.
The rich, meanwhile, have a zillion ways to minimize their taxes — a scandal that goes far beyond Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns.
The global capitalist economy, over which the U.S. claims leadership, is in a precarious position. This immense polarization of wealth cannot go on forever without reaching a tipping point.
In the crises yet to come, what will be decisive is the ability of the working class — multinational, multigender, young and old — to build the solidarity needed for the struggle to take over the productive forces it has created and run them, not for profit, but for the good of humanity and the planet on which we live.