Vietnam's (meager) resources

Charles Brown charlesb at
Tue Jun 2 13:38:48 PDT 1998

Communism is a political and economic enemy of capitalism. So really fighting communism, does not contradict trying to get some minerals and other economic goals , like setting up neo-colonialist, i.e. economically exploitiative relations. Originally, I think, this thread arose in response to a sort of half-joking (maybe not) remark about U.S. machoism as the motive. Sure national chauvinism and male chauvinism are co-reinforcing pillars in bourgeois ideology. But why are we going to the other extreme from a vulgar materialist explanation , to a mainly political explanation? Ultimately, anti-communist politics in Viet Nam or Iraq serve capitalist economic "penetration" (economic metaphorical machoism.) "Imperialism" is an economic category, as in _Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism_. In general the Marxist category is "politicaleconomy" not politics and economics. Why say U.S. imperialism is more poltical than economic ?

Charles Brown

>>> Jim heartfield <Jim at> 06/02 2:38 PM >>>
In message <l03130305b199d76c1344@[]>, Doug Henwood <dhenwood at> writes
>Why is it so hard to believe that the U.S. really *was* fighting Communism
>in Vietnam? Why do we have to assume the war really was over some precious
>natural resource? The domino effect may have been ludicrous in strictly
>military terms, but if the U.S. hadn't spent the last 50 years destroying
>socialist and nationalist revolutions (and the USSR), the world would be a
>very different place.

I think this makes more sense than the endless quest to find the mineral deposits that spur the imperialists on to war. You could see what they meant in the case of Iraq - just (after all it wasn't as if there was a problem at the level of oil shortages, more likely the war had the effect of stemming the oil glut). But what on all Earth would be the natural resource that drove the West into Somalia, or Haiti.

It was always a vulgar reading of imperialism that the troops went in to dig up natural resources. Adventures like Thatcher's invasion of the Falklands or the endless baiting of Gadaffi in the eighties were about establishing political authority in the world, not directly about resources. Presumably the point was that by winning political domination, any attack on resources was made less likely.

If you read Norman Schwarzkopf's memoirs he makes it clear that Saddam Hussein became public enemy number one because that spot was vacated by the Soviet Union, not because of any economic interest (meaning I suppose that April Glaspie told the Iraqis the truth, before the truth was rewritten). The organisation of Nato depended on having a clear target. When the SU gave up, Schwarzkopf directed US attention to their former ally. After the Gulf war was over, Colin Powell was quoted as saying that he was running out of dictators to beat up on, there was only Fidel and Kim Il Sung left. Political priorities came first. -- Jim heartfield

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