As it collapses, U.S. imperialism is waging a dual war, directed at two targets: the growing number of countries that defy it, and the population within U.S. borders. The anti-imperialist publication Black Agenda Report has been covering both fronts of this war. In a BAG interview from this month, peace activist Elias Amare has said regarding Washington's recent meddling in Ethiopia and Eritrea that "After the Afghanistan debacle, the shambolic retreat, the US may want to create yet another war. The actors are the same in these forever wars that benefit only the military-industrial complex. So with the ending of Afghanistan, they may be looking at the whole Horn of Africa. Who knows?"
Parallel maneuvers towards intensified violence and chaos are being made in the core of the empire. This is the conclusion that BAR editor Ajamu Baraka came to in an article from this week, where he assessed that the recently accelerating U.S. police militarization is part of an effort to bring the empire's wars home:
As the economic, political, and moral crisis of capitalism deepens, it is clear that the rulers have made their decision. And that decision is intensified class warfare in the U.S and abroad. This understanding is important because it recognizes that, because of the commitment to neoliberal market fundamentalism and the irreconcilable contradictions that emerged from capitalisms structural crisis that began in 2008 and sharpened with the covid pandemic, the system has only three interrelated paths, separately or in combination, that the state and ruling class is preparing for: system collapse, a fascist response, or a radical left turn toward a non-capitalist politics. That is why the Biden administration has not departed from the overall logic of the Trump administration with the redeployment of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, the intensification of belligerence toward China, the continued illegal occupations in Syria and Iraq, expansion of AFRICOM, subversion of efforts at anti-colonial national liberation projects in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and domestically with the continuation of the DOD 1033 program, and money for more police on the streets of the U.S.
Of course, there are differences between the empire's wars abroad and the ones at home. The ones here don't currently include drone strikes or carpet bombings. But the history of U.S. colonialism shows that whatever forms of mercy the empire shows to those within its borders compared to those around the globe, the empire can and will apply its very worst warfare tactics to these internal victims at some point. The country was founded on the genocide of 9 in 10 indigenous people via biological warfare, massacres, concentration camps, and other crimes against humanity. The U.S. government has facilitated the white supremacist paramilitary terrorism that black people have been targeted with from the start, and in 1985 one U.S. police department took it a step further by bombing a Philadelphia black-liberation group.
The militarization of the U.S. police throughout the War on Terror, and the last decade's training of the country's police in Israeli anti-Palestinian repressive techniques, have intensified the daily law-enforcement violence that disproportionately impacts African and indigenous people. The building of concentration camps for the indigenous brown people from below the Mexican border, who've largely come here to flee unlivable conditions created by U.S. Latin American interventionism, has added onto this escalation of the modern colonial genocide.
These measures to wage war against the empire's internal population, with colonialism's historical victims being the foremost targets, are instrumental for keeping the country's proletariat from rising up amid ever-worsening socioeconomic conditions. And neoliberalism--which has been accelerating this living-standards deterioration by enabling the pandemic evictions crisis and leaving the masses ill-equipped to handle climate disasters like the California fires or Hurricane Ida--is part of this preemptive counterrevolution. We can tell this by looking at the nature of U.S. interventionism abroad. Interventionism that justifies itself by narratively exploiting the very crises that imperialism has created.
Washington's efforts to destabilize countries like Ethiopia and Eritrea are done with this same task in mind. By backing the TPLF's terror campaign, and by planting fabricated atrocity stories about the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments, the U.S. is applying the same Balkanization strategy that it applied to break up socialist Yugoslavia. What's strange about this imperialist war against Ethiopia and Eritrea, at least on the surface, is that these two countries are the furthest things from socialist imaginable; Ethiopia has implemented all the neoliberal shock-therapy policies that the imperialists have wanted it to carry out, and Eritrea has mirrored this by engaging in massive privatization. They haven't adopted socialistic forms of governance, like Libya, Zimbabwe, or other African countries that have been targeted by imperialism. So why would the imperialists want to attack these governments with the Yugoslavia treatment?
Clearly, it's because Ethiopia and Eritrea have both pursued China's Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure projects. And in the age of the rising multi-polar world, where Washington is perpetually escalating its cold war with China to try to stave off U.S. hegemony's decline, even neo-colonial regimes like the ones in Ethiopia and Eritrea get placed on the destabilization chopping block if they help China advance multi-polarity. In these and the other Global South countries that have been strengthening ties with China, Washington's goal is to delay the shift away from imperial control--and therefore toward conditions more favorable for a new wave of socialist revolutions--by throwing these countries into chaos.
Neoliberalism, the product of Washington's neo-colonial grip over these countries, is itself being used as the weapon with which the imperialists manufacture this destabilization. By this, I mean the appalling living conditions that neoliberal policies create within these places are used as propaganda tools for U.S. terrorist proxies like the TPLF. To succeed, these pseudo-liberation forces that the imperialists create to advance their own interests have to be able to point to genuine contradictions within the targeted countries. And neoliberalism, despite being the very system the imperialists have imposed upon these places, is having its byproducts of proletarian misery be exploited as narrative fodder for imperialism's efforts to further drive down living conditions via destabilization.
It's a race to the bottom that the imperialists have engineered. The forces of capital, faced with their inevitable contraction, are deliberately speeding up capitalism's descent into barbarism--with the current extent of capitalism's evils being portrayed as proof that what's needed is more reactionary forces like the TPLF, more imperialist-backed warfare, more manufactured chaos that destroys essential services in places like Ethiopia and Eritrea. Despite Ethiopia's famine being exacerbated by Washington's sanctions, preferred neoliberal policies, and proxy conflict, the imperialists point to this famine and say "See? This is exactly why we need to intervene even more!"
This utterly cynical approach to preserving imperial control, where the sicknesses of capital and empire are exploited to produce even more suffering so that Washington can score geopolitical points against China, is incrementally getting replicated within U.S. borders. To justify their perpetual increases in police militarization and police Israelification, our ruling class points to crime and unrest, which are the byproducts of the last half-century's engineered neoliberal dysfunction. To justify their ongoing efforts to privatize American society and cut benefits for the poor, they point to recent climate catastrophes like Katrina and Ida, which have been so severe because of the unparalleled military-created pollution that U.S. imperialism brings. On the examples could go of capital and empire using the crises they create to make these crises worse.
When capital contracts enough, and the climate crisis gets bad enough, the imperialists will be overseeing a humanitarian catastrophe within the core of the empire comparable to the ones we typically see in Africa, Latin America, or the mid-east. And from their insulated enclaves, the elites of this decaying empire will be pointing to the horrors as proof that mercenaries, troops, drones, and other imperialist instruments must be sent into the country's impoverished areas. If the U.S. empire has already gotten away with the colonial genocides, it can get away with this too--unless we defeat it.