The tramp of boots continues to be heard in Africa, in the Sahel region. The heads of state of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met on August 10 and ordered the “immediate activation” of an intervention force to restore the president of Niger, who was overthrown by a military coup at the end of July. American and French leaders are at work behind the scenes. French president Emmanuel Macron is the leader most eager for war. He made it clear that France’s 1,500 soldiers present on Nigerien territory would actively support such an intervention.
In the meantime, Niger has been experiencing a blockade for two weeks. The country’s population –more than half of whom live under the poverty line – faces power outages, cancelled bank transactions, soaring food prices, and growing shortages.
The imperialist powers pose as defenders of democracy. In reality they defend the right of some big industrial and financial concerns to keep reaping profit in this region. The “French interests” that Macron seeks to protect are those of Orano, formerly Areva, which has been exploiting Niger’s uranium for 50 years; those of oil and construction giants Total and Bouygues, and other French capitalists who make profit by keeping African working people in underdevelopment and poverty.
The officers who made the coup in Niger seek popular support by denouncing how France looted the country. But only a few weeks ago, these top brass were France’s accomplices. They took their share of the spoils, just like the corrupt leaders they overthrew – whom American and French leaders defend in the name of “democracy”. Western governments can very well find common ground with these officers. After all, they know them because they trained them. But they do not accept that these military men pretend to stand up to them, especially in the current context of widespread tension in international relations.
The showdown in Niger is part of a more general and never-ending war the great powers wage for control of markets, sources of raw materials, and spheres of influence. They aim to exert control over Africa like over the rest of the world, and even in earth’s orbit! The imperialist system constantly plunges nations and peoples into barbaric wars. With the deepening crisis and economic war between governments, the major powers have begun an escalation that could lead the world to all-out world war.
Deadly conflict has pitted the imperialist countries led by the United States against President Vladimir Putin’s Russia through Ukrainian intermediaries for the last year and a half in Eastern Europe. Tension with China is escalating. The major powers are sharply increasing their military spending. Their military staffs are preparing for “high intensity” wars which their populations will also be drawn into, sooner or later.
In France, workers and ordinary people are not yet dying under the bombs. But they are already paying for the consequences of these military preparations. The billions that are spent on producing ever more expensive weapons are lacking from the hospitals, schools, housing, transportation, and so on. But war preparations bring fortunes to certain industrialists like the Dassaults and other makers of killing machines. In an uncertain economic situation, the capitalists win big through the establishment of a “war economy” which guarantees them rising profits.
The governments and all the political representatives of the bourgeoisie claim their military expenditures are intended to “defend our country”. Tomorrow this same argument will be used to muster us and send us to kill or be killed by other workers who heard the same lying speeches from the other side.
The future promises us ever more serious crises and ever more widespread wars. Workers’ destinies cannot remain in the hands of the ruling classes, their governments, and their military commands. We must expropriate the corporations preparing for war and confiscate their profits. We must dedicate these billions to hiring in hospitals and schools. Society must be led by workers. This is humanity’s only hope to escape catastrophe!