Over the last few weeks, the heated exchanges between Donald Trump, US president and Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader have escalated. Trump threatened “fire and fury” over the 25 million inhabitants of North Korea and even mentioned the possibility of using nuclear weapons. Kim Jong-un’s reply was to announce his intention to attack Guam, a US-owned island in the Pacific where the US has set up military bases.
Trump regularly makes this kind of declaration and North Korea’s leaders have always used anti-US demagogy to justify their dictatorship.
But it is not just a question of the current president’s bluster, US imperialism cannot accept being defied by a country. And that is what North Korea has done since its birth just after World War II. From 1950 to 1953, the US waged a war on North Korea in which more than a million people died. In the years that followed, North Korea was subjected to an embargo that continues to this day. Every year, at the same period, the US army, together with that of South Korea, carries out military maneuvers that are openly directed against North Korea.
Trump and the Kim Jong-un are bluffing for the moment, neither of them really wanting to go to war. But the persistent sound of jackboots is worrying because, by spreading the areas of tension from the Middle East to this region of Asia, imperialism has turned the world into a powder keg.
In August 1945, to affirm its supremacy over the world, the US dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More recently, in 2003, to overthrow Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, judged too unruly, the US launched a military adventure that plunged the whole of the Middle East into chaos and war.
On the eve of World War I, French socialist leader, Jean Jaurès, wrote “Capitalism bears war within itself as a cloud bears the storm”. Nothing has really changed since. The world is still dominated by rivalry between great powers and the search for profit by a privileged minority.
The destruction of Mosul in Iraq and Aleppo in Syria or the situation in Yemen, where the population is dying of cholera, show the barbaric consequences of a war that has lasted for years. The savagery of the imperialist world is also visible in the treatment of immigrants. Women and men fleeing from poverty and war risk their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean on boats that can capsize at any moment only to find the barbed wire that the European states have installed on their borders to keep them out.
The French population is not under fire but a different kind of war is being waged on workers and the working class. The bourgeoisie and the governments who serve them condemn millions of women and men to social insecurity, to poverty and misery. How? By bombarding them with layoff plans and imposing economic measures at the expense of social cover, retirement and health systems.
So we have every reason to be worried about the madness of this imperial world, incapable of ending a crisis that is giving rise to more and more poverty and wars. Here in France, the immediate need is to defend the conditions of our existence by refusing the social regression that the government plans to impose. But we cannot put an end to war, to unemployment, to poverty unless we overthrow capitalism. There must be women and men in workplaces and in working-class areas to defend the idea that workers must fight to expropriate the big bourgeoisie so that the riches and the principal means of production can be used to serve the community.