As is usual when a U.S. president takes a trip to Europe, Bill Clinton's visit has been an occasion for journalistic attempts to reassess relations between U.S. imperialism and its European allies.
In the past, both Republicans and Democrats alike have sounded the isolationist trumpet, crying that such a trip was a presidential junket, an attempt by the president to divert the public from domestic issues by leaving the country and fishing in troubled foreign waters.
No one has made these charges regarding Clinton's visit to Europe. They all see his trip as asserting U.S. imperialism's interests in Europe.
One all-important factor which has made the present situation different from past years is the collapse of the USSR. This collapse has given the European powers an opportunity to reassert themselves on the world scene as against the United States. No longer can the U.S. rulers charge that this opposition gives aid and comfort to communism in the East--as they did in the old days.
The truth is the collapse of the USSR has created many opportunities for the European capitalists to do well for themselves without the intrusion of U.S. finance capital. The USSR's collapse has, at least potentially, created a vast market for European goods and services, for exports as well as imports.
Who needs NATO?
This trip should also have been the opportunity for the European powers--if they could get together in a single session--to declare the demise of NATO. The original basis for this anti-USSR alliance no longer exists. But no such death of NATO has taken place.
It is not that the European capitalist powers need NATO. No, the U.S. needs it far more. U.S. finance capital needs NATO in order to assert its interests on the continent.
The principal ideological justification for U.S. involvement in Europe was first and foremost to mobilize the continent against communism. But this ideological basis did not in itself explain the enormous interest of U.S. finance capital in Europe. Behind the ideological front was also the global expansion of U.S. monopoly capital, whose economic interests propelled U.S. involvement in Europe in the first place.
With the collapse of the USSR, the entire situation seems to be changed. But this change is only one of form and not of content.
U.S. monopoly capital is as much concerned with what goes on in Russia and all of Europe--east and west--as it ever was. But German and French capitalism, now reinvigorated and no less avaricious than the U.S. variety, are also attempting to strengthen their positions on the continent.
So for all the friendliness shown to Clinton on his tour of Europe, an abiding antagonism persists underneath.
There are of course old speeches--slightly rewritten in the U.S.--which talk about Europe's fear of being left alone while the U.S. is off on a Far East tour, leaving poor, old Europe to fend for itself. But this is pure bunk.
The European imperialists, no different from imperialists elsewhere, are savagely concerned with extending their own interests. No matter how imperialist diplomacy covers up this antagonism, it is there nonetheless, and tends now and then to break out into the open.
Imperialist diplomacy and Yugoslavia
This has surfaced nowhere more than in the mutilated, strangulated area that once was a thriving socialist federation: Yugoslavia.
The former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslav stood alone against the imperialist powers. For decades, it was able to ward off both the threats and entreaties of the United States.
There are many questions about the overall historical role of Tito, the Yugoslav leader. But there is no doubt that the movement he led was one of the first great national liberation movements to arise out of World War II. And Tito succeeded in the very difficult task of holding together the many different nations that made up the Yugoslav federation.
With Tito's death in 1980, the imperialists intensified their rivalry and stepped up their continual attempts to play upon national differences in order to break up the Yugoslav federation.
With overt and covert operations, they made an attempt to destroy what was a truly historic example of how different nationalities that had experienced intense conflicts in the past could exist in friendship within a socialist federation.
Now the imperialist bourgeoisie sheds crocodile tears about the carnage in Bosnia, one of the republics that was doing well under the Yugoslav federation.
Who really is responsible for what is going on in Bosnia? The imperialists themselves. They are the ones who instigated the war there in the first place because of their voracious appetite to control whatever can be brought within their reach.
Capitalist Germany and France each had a hand in all this. Germany encouraged the separation of Croatia and Slovenia from Yugoslavia. France moved its troops into Bosnia. But they have deft hands and try to hide their predatory interests behind humanitarian phrases.
It is in this situation that Clinton has arrived to pour a little gasoline on the fire--so as later on to pose as the fire fighter from the imperialist colossus that can save the situation.
In fact the Western imperialists have issued another threat to bomb Bosnia. Should they carry through this threat, the carnage in the Balkans will no doubt triple.
Clinton, however, seems to have his eye cast mainly toward Russia. This he sees as the world's greatest untapped market, opened up to imperialism by the collapse of the USSR. Clinton comes to the Ukraine and to Russia presumably with an urgent appeal to safeguard the nuclear weapons in the Ukraine, disarm them and transport them to Russia. Russia in turn is now disarming and dismantling its nuclear arsenal.
No such disarming is being carried out by the U.S. military-industrial complex.
How far will all this go?
The Ukraine has a rich history of struggle. It is by no means a small country unable to stand on its own feet. It is also true that its interests lie in collaboration with a friendly Russia.
But friendly collaboration seems impossible if the old forms of bourgeois rule are reborn, as they seem to be with daily developments in both Russia and the Ukraine.
So far as the imperialists are concerned, Clinton is there to make hay while the sun shines for them. But all of this overlooks the silent factor, which can easily smash to smithereens the imperialists' panoramic view of Europe and Russia.
The resurgence of the working class in Europe and Russia, which has such a vast and rich revolutionary heritage, can throw over the whole kit and kaboodle. Can this happen? It would be not a day too soon.
What happened in south Mexico took the whole world by surprise. A trans-Atlantic version of that would be a great, healthy and revolutionary antidote to all the imperialist calculations. It would allow Europe and Russia to enjoy a new revolutionary spring.
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