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(en) France, Ist Congress of the UCL - Anti-imperialist action on the new geopolitical chessboard (Fougeres, 28-30 August 2021) (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sun, 19 Sep 2021 09:13:07 +0300

During the decade of 2010, the balance of power evolved between the main capitalist powers: United States, China, Russia, European Union... What guides their policy ? What are the risks and consequences for the people ? What are the specificities of French imperialism ? Revolutionaries need to update their analysis grid. ---- US hegemony called into question ---- The United States: Declining, Still Aggressive Global Imperialism ---- In the 1990s, the United States took advantage of the disappearance of the USSR to impose its hegemony over international politics. Thirty years later, the empire is in crisis, faced with threats it has underestimated. If at first neoliberal globalization strengthened its power, it also allowed the emergence of competitors who today question its preeminence.

The Afghan quagmire, the Iraqi fiasco and other military dead ends ("drone wars" in Yemen and Pakistan) have made the United States cautious. They now favor "economic sanctions" - a form of blockade - to bend recalcitrant countries: North Korea, Venezuela, Iran. In Syria, they sought to instrumentalize politico-military forces - both the Islamist far right and the Kurdish left - in their own interests.

With China and Russia a direct military confrontation is highly unlikely due to the risk of all-out nuclear war. With regard to them, American imperialism is developing a strategy of containment resulting in the installation of hundreds of military bases and support points in neighboring countries. They add targeted economic sanctions, the objective of which is to maintain their technological lead.

China: a strengthening imperialism

Second world economic power, China should overtake the United States during the decade of 2020. For the moment it does not claim hegemony, but a multipolar order where its interests are taken into account, without interference in its "internal affairs": Han colonization of Tibet and Xinjiang, bringing Hong Kong to heel, claiming Taiwan. China is developing expansionist military pressure throughout its Asia / Pacific region which could lead to armed conflicts: India, the Indochinese Peninsula, Malaysia, the Philippines ... as far as Australia. For a long time the CCP has made business prevail over international politics. But in recent years the tone has changed. To secure its "new silk roads»In Africa, South America and as far as Central Europe, Beijing is working to equip itself with a military projection capacity far from its borders which could, tomorrow, make it a major imperialist player.

China today has an important place in the African continent, which it has acquired to the detriment of Western imperialisms. There is a growing number of economic sectors in which China is positioned across the continent: telephony, construction, raw materials (oil, uranium) and the agricultural land market. However, the military and political domination of the French state, to take just this example, does not allow Chinese imperialism to supplant Western imperialism in the medium term.

Russia: neighborhood imperialism

Emerging from the catastrophic situation of the 1990s, Russia has once again established itself as a world-class player, but with objectives different from those of the USSR. No more question of a planetary ideological struggle. The priority is to control its neighborhood - Ukraine, Belarus, the Caucasus... - and to break the American policy of encirclement by playing with divisions within NATO.

At the global level, the Kremlin is proposing multilateralism against American hegemony. The revival of the army and the military-industrial complex allows it a more aggressive foreign policy: direct military intervention in Syria, indirect in Libya. But its average economic power limits its possibilities and pushes it to get closer to China.

The EU, economic giant, political dwarf

The difficulties in getting the national Parliaments to ratify the recovery plan decided by the Commission, the national egoisms that erupt over migrants or the Covid show that the old national bourgeoisies have still not given birth to a unified European bourgeoisie.

Torn between its voluntary submission to the United States and the desire for strategic autonomy carried by the Franco-German tandem, the European Union is incapable of a common position and intervention on the geopolitical chessboard. The arms industry has experienced a concentration on a European scale, but there is strong opposition to the building of a European army, an idea mainly defended by France.

NATO therefore remains the essential framework of "Europe of defense", but is undermined by its divisions, in particular on the attitude to have vis-à-vis Russia. While Poland and the Baltic States are on a hard line, Germany, France and Italy aim at reconciliation and growth of economic exchanges. Recently, Turkish expansionism has caused great tension with Greece, Cyprus and France.

Ultimately, the EU's foreign policy hardly exists beyond the imperialist enterprises of its most militarily active member states.

A more multipolar world

In this context, no imperialism is able to impose its law on the whole planet. Regional imperialisms take advantage of this to carry out independent strategies on their own objectives. This leads to often deadly competition, as in the Middle East where the Turkey-Qatar, Saudi Arabia-Israel and Iran-Syria poles compete for regional hegemony.

French imperialism in this context
Ally of the United States within the framework of NATO, the French state is today a middle power, but with disproportionate influence due to positions acquired during the colonial empire and then the Cold War.:

the atomic bomb and a permanent seat on the UN Security Council ;
sovereignty over the 2 e global maritime domain through the island remnants of its colonial empire, including the Caribbean and in the Pacific Ocean ;
allegiance and business networks inherited from the colonial era, vassalized states or even "friendly" dictators who found their area of influence in French-speaking Africa ;
an external operations army ("Opex"): in January 2021, 41% of the French army's deployed personnel were in Africa, the Middle East or on the oceans, which in itself reveals its imperialist nature.
Five structuring patterns
French imperialism is inseparable from its apparatus and its neocolonial policies. French interventionism, of which Africa is the ordinary theater, has five main motivations:

defense of economic interests. In 2014, according to the Quai d'Orsay, 40,000 French companies, including 14 multinationals (Bolloré, Total, Vinci, Lafarge, Orano, Orange, Accor, Veolia, Carrefour, etc.) were operating in Africa, in sectors as lucrative as construction. , mass distribution, logistics, rail and port infrastructure, tourism, armaments. The interweaving of the Franco-African private business and state cooperation networks that make a living from it form the social base of "Françafrique", a powerful lobby to counter Chinese or Turkish competition ;
control of strategic resources. Even if it has diversified its uranium supplies, the mines in Niger remain the flagship of Orano (ex-Areva). To this must be added the high potential of Africa in hydrocarbons, coltan, copper, manganese, lithium and rare earths, of which the contemporary economy is greedy ;
an "imperial" dimension connected to the two preceding ones, but which also applies to itself. Paris exerts a form of suzerainty over several African capitals, which obliges it to prove its effectiveness in dissuading changes of allegiance, in the direction of Washington, Beijing or even Moscow. Hence certain military interventions which appear to be financial pitfalls, but are vital to demonstrate its power. And which induce secondary benefits: attribution of concessions and public contracts, sales of weapons tested "life-size ". ". The intervention of the French state in the sub-Saharan part of the African continent remains marked by competition with Anglo-Saxon imperialism. Recent history including the genocide in Rwanda are a tragic reminder of its devastation in the Great Lakes region ;
the search for partners. When a revolution or civil war "opens the game" in a country, competing political forces may seek the support of foreign states. They then try to build up a "clientele" who will later return the lift, or even subordinate themselves to this external interference. The French state does not hesitate to play this card in the face of hostile or simply rebellious governments.
the arms industry. Under the control of the State, it is an important base of its imperialism which allows it to establish its domination over the whole of the globe and to fuel a part of armed conflicts, repression of civilians, and war crimes.
French military interventionism of the decade 2010
It is with this reading grid that we must understand the imperialist interventions of the French State in the 2010s:

Côte d'Ivoire 2011: in this "jewel of Françafrique", the French army chases Laurent Gbagbo (a discredited ex-ally and considered unmanageable) and installs a new liege in power, Alassane Ouattara ;
Libya 2011: the French state seeks to profit from the revolution in Libya. Its air force, along with its NATO partners, is helping to eliminate Gaddafi (Operation Harmattan) in the vain hope of installing a pro-Western regime in Tripoli ;
Syria-Iraq 2012-2017: the French state does the same during the revolution in Syria. Thinking that Bashar al-Assad will fall, he delivers weapons to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the hope of a future pro-Western government in Damascus ; then he backtracked when it turned out that part of the FSA was phagocytosed by jihadists. It then supports the Arab-Kurdish SDF, the Iraqi army and the Shiite militias to destroy Daesh (operation Chammal) ;
Central African Republic 2013-2016: the French army intervenes to stabilize a vassal state in the grip of a civil war (Operation Sangaris) ;
Sahel since 2013: the French army (operations Serval, then Barkhane) engages in a "never-ending war" to maintain the cohesion the cohesion of its vassal states in the face of insurgencies under the jihadist flag which everyone agrees with say - including the French general staff - that they will not find a military solution.
The results

It would be obtuse to deny that these military interventions could have played, in the short term, a positive role from the point of view of certain populations threatened with massacres and destruction. Operation Serval was very popular in Mali, as well as French aid to Kurdish, Syrian and Iraqi combatants who killed Daesh. Massacres of civilians have been avoided in the Central African Republic or in Côte d'Ivoire. This is essentially what the French state communicates on.

However, this is never the primary motivation for its interventionism: it is explained in the first place by the four structuring reasons mentioned above.

Above all, in the medium and long term, this interventionism is globally counterproductive. Sometimes because it prolongs and aggravates wars ; fundamentally because it maintains bonds of vassalage and interference which are an obstacle to the autonomy of peoples, to their ability to take the destiny of their country in hand.

Domestic resistance to imperialism

Indignation and protest against the "opex" are traditionally weak in imperialist metropolises, as well in the United States, as in the United Kingdom, in Russia or in France. The stakes seem remote, and the propaganda is often effective.

But the more blood flows - especially that of the expeditionary corps - the more indignation can gain the populations and provoke embarrassing protests for imperialism. In France, this was the case against the wars in Indochina, Algeria, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.

UCL's action in France
Based on this analysis grid, the role of UCL is to:

to win the ideological battle. Many of the oppressed ignore the crimes of French imperialism. The cause is a problematic lack of interest and the bludgeoning of companies to justify imperialism: the myth of humanitarian war, revisionism (genocide in Rwanda), negationism. The revelation and dissemination of the horror of French imperialism, in Africa in particular, is an important axis of our struggles to win on the ideological front.
denounce all global or regional imperialisms. We must lift the veil and explain what Françafrique is and what are the real motivations of French military interventionism ;
organize the response in the streets and workplaces, when popular indignation permits, to impede the imperialist operations, as has been overwhelmingly against the Afghanistan war in 2001, against the 2 e Gulf War in 2003, and with much less success against the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011 or against the French intervention in the Sahel in 2013. Among the registers of direct action: the boycott is one of the initiatives that we can use against French imperialism, in particular. Particularly in Françafrique where the French colonial bourgeoisie is hegemonic: LVMH, Bouygues, Bolloré, Lafarge, Total, Veolia, BNP, ACCOR ;
support the peoples in the struggle for their freedom, whatever the imperialist camp that hinders. This supposes relaying the action and the word of the anti-imperialist forces of the left, in particular when they carry a revolutionary emancipatory project, against French imperialism in the first place. It is on him that we have the most hold, he acts mainly on our behalf and we involuntarily contribute in spite of ourselves to his material bases (taxes and appropriation of our work by the imperialist bourgeoisie). This also involves the fight for the abolition of the debt which strangles the inhabitants living in the neo-colonial spheres ;
link the anti-imperialist struggle to solidarity with migrants. To fight against imperialism and French neocolonial domination, in particular, is to fight against one of the sources of the misery which leads migrants to leave despite the countless risks. Our class solidarity with the migrants, here on the territory, is inseparable from the anti-imperialist and anti-colonial struggle ;
demand a drastic reduction in the "projection capacities" of the French army, within the framework of an ample disarmament, and the dismantling of the nuclear force, and also in the fight for the withdrawal of the French troops, with the axis: "French troops outside Africa" ;
act within the Anarkismo network for a common anti-imperialist expression whenever necessary.

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