"War is the continuation of politics by other means". This is Clausewitz’s thesis,which Lenin retakes to characterize the imperialist world war, and from that departing pointavoid getting lost in petty-bourgeois pacifism or social chauvinism , stating clearly, with the rest of the Zimmerwald Left , the slogan of turning the imperialist war into a world civil war against the bourgeoisie. This thesis is still perfectly valid and allows us to start evaluating military interventions of the imperialist centers in Latin America.
The political objectives of the imperialist centers, and therefore the strategic objectives of any military operation that has these at its command, are the controlling and plundering of natural resources (energy resources, minerals, water, biodiversity, timber, crops, etc.), markets, routes, etc., in the region for the benefit of their monopolies.
In this sense those opposed to this objective, and thereforesignaled as their enemy (military enemy as long as they have force with which to turn their opposition effective), are in first place the insurgencies, more generally all popular movements, communities in resistance, revolutionary forces, etc. On the other hand rival imperialist centers and sectors of the bourgeoisie of Latin American countries which decide to take part for any of these rival imperialist centers.
The form of intervention depends on which force is facing and under what conditions the confrontation develops. In the case of operating against a class antagonist, against a force that threatens the entire bourgeois rule, it makes common cause with the native bourgeoisie expanding economic treaties with chapters on military cooperation, training, arming and advising their military apparatus. Probably there is no stronger example of this than the war that Colombia with support from the U.S. and Israel has carried out to try to drown in blood and fire the heroic insurgency of the FARC, other guerrillas, and in general to massacre all opposition. Other examples are the U.S. military treaties with Mexico and Central America and the Merida Initiative, the treaties of cooperation on "security" between Colombia and Mexico, the treaties of military-political cooperation between Peru and the United States, etc.
When despite the obstacles opposed to revolutionary force they have come to power then open military intervention continues and also virulent forms such as supplying weapons and training to the reaction, direct intervention, blockage, etc.
When the matter is confronting with the influence of rival imperialist centers or regimes that somehow do not accept through diplomatic means giving benefits to North American monopolies they have resorted to other measures such as coups (fresh in the memory are the recent cases in Paraguay and Honduras, in 2004 in Haiti, not far off the coup attempts in Venezuela and Ecuador, etc.), promotion and support of the destabilization (as was very evident during the post- electoral conflict in Venezuela, or the 2008 in the "half moon" of Bolivia, etc.) , attacks, terror and sabotage operations, direct intervention (as in Granada in 1983 and Panama in 1989), etc.
It counts forbacking up both types of intervention with the support of a huge mass propaganda apparatus that serves to ideologically mask its interventionsbefore the masses of their own people and among the peoples of the region and the world. To reduce opposition against its maneuvers, one of its main concerns, excuses will change and adapt over time, such as the bogus "war on drugs", the "fight against terrorism", the "humanitarian intervention", "protection of democracy", etc. Ideological constructions are repeated under the most diverse forms, at all times, presented in the press, radio, television, social networks, academia, film productions, etc. It is not an accessory but seeks simultaneously to meet political-military objectives: to demoralize the enemy, reduce its support base, inhibit the popular opposition to their aggression, confuse and immobilize layers where alliances can lie against their interests, etc.
Let's see what forces are available for imperialism to carry out the military interventions.
Let's start with the U.S.
Among its main means is the so called SOUTHCOM, Southern Command, which is composed of the 12th Corps of the Air Force (it has 396 warplanes, 32600 men, with an additional reserve of 17700 men and 214 combat aircraft), the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (it has 47000 marines, provisioned to fight autonomously for 60 days), the 2nd Marine Division (20000 men), 2nd Air Division Marines (400 combat aircraft), the 2nd Group Support Force (landing, maintenance, etc.) and the Southern Army " USARSO " (That operates from Fort Sam Houston in Texas, the base is composed by 1800 men, but it can mobilize tens of thousands of men from reservists and the national Guard). In addition, SOUTHCOM has intelligence agencies, including CIA agents, consisting of around 250 and 300 interrogators operating at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
We also find other means in the reactivated Fourth Fleet of the Navy, whose headquarters are at May portNaval Station in Florida. It has the ability to send armored ships (destroyers Squadron 6 and 14) and SEAL units to the Southern Cone. It is no coincidence that its revival was preceded a month earlier by the bombing of Ecuadorian territory by U.S. and Colombian units in March 2008.
The activity of these sailors, soldiers, pilots, counter-insurgency agents, etc., would be unthinkable without the infrastructure represented by the military bases nestled in the Latin American territory, which we list by country below.
Colombia : On October 30, 2010, the government of Colombia signed with the United States a military cooperation agreement in which bases for use by the U.S. troops are assigned at Apiay air base, in the Department of Meta, the air base of Malambo, located in the metropolitan area of Barranquilla, Palanquero air base, located in Puerto Salgar, in the department of Cundinamarca, Tolemaida air base in Melgar, Tolima;also the largest military fort in Latin America, the Bahia Malaga navy base in Buenaventura, Cartagena naval base on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. These are in addition to those that were already being used, the TresEsquinas air base in Caquetá and Larandia air base, in the same department as well as the port of Turbo, for provisioning of the Fourth Fleet.
Aruba: Here is located the Queen Beatrix air base.
Costa Rica: There is a U.S. base in Liberia. In 2009, the deputy commander of the U.S. Southern Command, Paul Trivelli, reported an investment of $15 million USD at a naval base to be built in the town of Caldera, Puntarenas province, and work there also a school for the Coast Guard officer training. Additionally, the Costa Rica National Parliament in 2010 authorized the entry of 46 artillery ships, 200 helicopters, 10 aircrafts, 1 aircraft carrier, and 7000 soldiers to Costa Rican territory. In July this decision has been put under review by the Constitutional Court.
Cuba: The U.S. maintains a naval base and prison in Guantanamo, usurped territory from Cuba.
Curacao: Base in Hato Rey.
Chile: SebastiánPiñera’s government authorized facilities for a military base of the US to be opened at Fort Aguayo, near Valparaiso. SOUTHCOM made the huge investment of the military complex under the label of "executing operations of peacekeeping and civil stability".
El Salvador : Base in Comalapa, adjacentto San Salvador International Airport.
Honduras: It already had the Soto Cano Air Base in Palmerola, another one in Port Lempira, onein the Caratasca lagoon, and one more under construction in Guanaja, Bay Islands Department. To these must be added three new Forward Operating Bases (FOB)recently built in Mocorón, El Aguacate and Puerto Castilla.
Panama : Here are twelve naval bases on both coasts. On the Pacific are the ones in Chapera Island, Puerto Piña in Darien, Quebrada de Piedra, in Chiriqui, Rambala in Bocas del Toro province, Punta Coco in Pearl Islands, Isla Galera, Mensabé, Los Santos, Coiba in Veraguas. On the Caribbean are the Sherman base in Colón, El Porvenir, in Kuna Yala, Puerto Obaldía in KunaYala and San Vicente in Metetí.
Paraguay: Here is one base at MariscalEstigarribia, in the Chaco. Another basis in Pedro Juan Caballero (U.S. DEA Base), on the border with Brazil.
Peru: There are military bases in Iquitos, Nanay and St. Lucia. In addition, the Peruvian government authorized to the U.S. the useof port facilities to supply the Fourth Fleet in the vicinity of the port of Callao. In July 2010 an extension to a garrison of the Naval Base of El Estrecho, along the Putumayo River, was completed.
Dominican Republic: A naval base sponsored by the U.S. government is being built on the Island of Saona, in the southeast of the country.
Puerto Rico: When moving the base of operations of the Fourth Fleet to Florida the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, and the firing and maneuver area of the Atlantic Fleet in Vieques, were closed. The U.S. military bases on the island are designated for NORTHCOM , Northern Command, and include facilities of East Point, the aerostat in Lajas and Arecibo radar, the facilities of the Department of Homeland Security in Aguadilla, Ponce and San Juan, the facilities of the “National Guard” and “scientific facilities” in universities that perform military functions. Just over 80 % of the National Guard troops and Reserve, has been through a rotation of at least one year in combat missions abroad.
To have loyal forces within the countries under its sphere of influence, whether it is to avoid that the countryruns to an alliance with a rival imperialist center or if it comes to fighting against the revolution, the picture would be incomplete without the training of cadres, supporting military officers. For this, the U.S. military has created the "School of the Americas" located at Fort Benning, Georgia. From February 2001 it was renamed WHISC, "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation". Outside facade change, its mission remains essentially the same, lessons of torture and repression, under the name of fighting insurgency or "democratic security".
According to declassified information only for this last year of operations it had more than $18 million USD funding. Over nearly 60 years it has trained over 61,000 Latin American soldiers with an equally long history of savage crimes against the peoples from their graduates. Hundreds of thousands of disappeared and executed, hundreds of thousands tortured, exiled and political prisoners, etc. Among its graduates are the 3-16 Battalion of Honduras, 10 military dictators in Latin America, Venezuela coup officers, commanders of the various death squads that have plagued Mexico, Central America and South America, etc.
The United Kingdom has a space for training troops in Belize, a fortress of NATO in the East Falkland, an airbase on Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, a naval base in Bermuda, and the greatest South Atlantic force of NATO in the Falklands archipelago.
France has two military bases in the archipelago of Guadeloupe (where the 41st Battalion of Marines, with planes, helicopters and troops of the Air Force is parked), in Martinique it has at least two bases (1000 permanent effectives of the 33th Infantry Regiment stationed at Fort de France, 500 members of the Navy and their equipment), in French Guiana it has three military bases (in Cayenne, San Juan de Maroni, the Aerospace Base in Kourou and the radar in Troubiran that link with the military satellite Galileo, and 40000 agents that fight against the independentists and against other peoples who oppose imperialism on the continent).
This impressive device is what the communists and all revolutionaries in general of the continent face. With drones, satellites, sophisticated electronic surveillance equipment, with its constant refinement of the repressive machinery of our countries, with its network of bases and everything it seems very solid.
However, despite all the sophistication of the technology involved, the human factor remainsas the main factor in this device. Militarism is subject to its own contradictions, contradictions that turn it possible to face, neutralize and forthe people to use in their advantage any new technology.
For starters, war, military intervention is not a phenomenon that is determined by its own. The economy, the organization of a society is what feeds and sustains the war effort,even more itis what determines its outbreak. This is already addressed by Engels in Anti- Dühring in the second section, in the chapters on Theory of force and power, clarifying that:
“Force, nowadays, is the army and navy, and both, as we all know to our cost, are “devilishly expensive”. Force, however, cannot make any money; at most it can take away money that has already been made—and this does not help much either (…) In the last analysis, therefore, money must be provided through the medium of economic production; and so once more force is conditioned by the economic situation, which furnishes the means for the equipment and maintenance of the instruments of force. But even that is not all. Nothing is more dependent on economic prerequisites than precisely army and navy. Armament, composition, organization, tactics and strategy depend above all on the stage reached at the time in production and on communications. It is not the “free creations of the mind” of generals of genius that have had a revolutionizing effect here, but the invention of better weapons and the change in the human material, the soldiers; at the very most the part played by generals of genius is limited to adapting methods of fighting to the new weapons and combatants.
At the beginning of the fourteenth century, gunpowder came from the Arabs to Western Europe, and, as every school child knows, completely revolutionized the methods of warfare. The introduction of gunpowder and fire-arms, however, was not at all an act of force, but a step forward in industry, that is, an economic advance. Industry remains industry, whether it is applied to the production or the destruction of things. And the introduction of fire-arms had a revolutionizing effect not only on the conduct of war itself, but also on the political relationships of domination and subjection. The procurement of powder and fire-arms required industry and money, and both of these were in the hands of the burghers of the towns. From the outset therefore, fire-arms were the weapons of the towns, and of the rising town-supported monarchy against the feudal nobility. The stone walls of the noblemen's castles, hitherto unapproachable, fell before the cannon of the burghers, and the bullets of the burghers’ arquebuses pierced the armor of the knights. With the defeat of the nobility’s armor-clad cavalry, the nobility's supremacy was broken; with the development of the bourgeoisie, infantry and artillery became more and more the decisive types of arms compelled by the development of artillery, the military profession had to add to its organization a new and entirely industrial subsection, engineering.
(…) The whole organisation and method of warfare of the armies, and along with these victory or defeat, prove to be dependent on material, that is, economic conditions: on the human material and the armaments, and therefore on the quality and quantity of the population and on technical development. Only a hunting people like the Americans could rediscover skirmishing tactics — and they were hunters as a result of purely economic causes, just as now, as a result of purely economic causes, these same Yankees of the old States have transformed themselves into farmers, industrialists, seamen and merchants who no longer skirmish in the primeval forests, but instead all the more effectively in the field of speculation, where they have likewise made much progress in making use of large masses.—Only a revolution such as the French, which brought about the economic emancipation of the bourgeois and, especially, of the peasant, could find the mass armies and at the same time the free forms of movement which shattered the old rigid lines—the military counterparts of the absolutism which they were defending. And we have seen in case after case how advances in technique, as soon as they became applicable militarily and in fact were so applied, immediately and almost forcibly produced changes and even revolutions in the methods of warfare, often indeed against the will of the army command.”
Imperialist intervention is subject to a contradiction with imperialism itself, to the inter-imperialist contradictions, as is well reflected by the developments in Syria. For it is not a system of harmoniously planned development but subject to the law of uneven development which constantly confrontsmonopolies groups, blocs of states and rival imperialist centers. As one imperialist center weakens other centers run to take its place, to move their spheres of influence, to rearrange the treaties and alliances, to gain control of these resources and markets. Both rival sections of the bourgeoisie as well as popular forces sometimes exploit these contradictions to improve their positions. This does not resolve all the time through diplomacy, and more in times of crisis this is expressed in the form of military clashes, first arms race, pressures, threats and then skirmishes, finally resolved temporarily by open conflagrations.
This is very evident in the case of the Middle East and the wider region of the Mediterranean, however a similar development although still in latent phase can be observed in Latin America. The reflection of these contradictions can be seen in the data on military spending and new military alliances that Russia and China have sought in the region, as well as the weight that Brazil aims to project in air, naval and military power.
We can see an absolute increase in military spending investments for the Latin American regionsince the early 80 's, which was just over 12 billion USD to the mid 90 's, which reached 25 billion USD, which however did not results in a relative increase. That is, as a proportion of GDP or proportion of total public expenditure it did not increase, in fact decreased. This trend reversed dramatically in recent years, now military spending grows precipitously both in absolute and relative terms, while the crisis is reducing the financial ceiling of Latin American countries the growing investment in means of warfare and destruction does not cease. For example in 2013 it was of 67.8 billion USD, a year earlier it was 49.8 billion USD and one year before that it did not exceed U.S. $ 40 billion.
For example, we find EMBRAER, the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer monopoly selling its Super Tucano to Guatemala, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, and the Brazilian state itself. Their role is given by these sales in addition to the purchases of nuclear submarines and other equipment for Brazilian Navy, while Brazilian industry becomes one of the largest small arms exporters;also its tear gas grenade production goes to supply countries like Turkey.
Russia has signed contracts worth more than 11 billion USD to supply Venezuela with 100,000 Kalashnikov automatic rifles, as well as to build two plants for assembly and manufacture of ammunition , for delivery to Venezuela of SU- 25 MK2 fighter jets and 47 helicopters, 34 Mi-17B-5, 10 Mi-35M and three Mi- 26T, T-72B1 tanks, "Smerch" and "Grad" multiple mouth rocket launchers, air defense systems, S-300 transport trucks, etc. Additionally Russia exported to other Latin American military equipment and services for more than 14 billion USD.
Colombia has taken on other ,multimillion equipment purchases in fighter jets and drones (Hermes 450 and Hermes 900) from Israel, and last generation light boats (Hovercraft type and Pilot type), Bell 412 helicopters, OSV ships, etc.
Typical imperialist militarismitself is mired in contradictions also by the own economic limits of decaying capital. Since the second half of the nineteenth century Engels provides a very illustrative example of how the military duel between warships and heavy artillery came to a dead end, where just touching the water vessels were already obsolete, taking monstrous quantities of money for production and maintenance. It kept on going so until the lightest of the torpedoboats could override the heaviest ironclad warships.
Today something similar happens in the duel between fighter planesof fourth, fifth and sixth generation, which are one of the pulses where the main imperialist centers measure themselves. The program of the F-22 "Raptor", has been preparing since the early 80's of last century, it originally had planned to deliver the first fleet in 1995 at 35 million USD per plane. Today, in 2013, not a single F -22 has fulfilled a single mission, because of failures, and because its price has already soared to 300 million USD per plane. The development program of the F-35 has far exceeded the 40 billion USD and is expected to reach 56 billion by 2016; this creates so much pressure to the over-indebted economy of the U.S. that they are considering to cancel the whole project. Then we have millions and millions of dollars invested in Stealth type fighters which come down with a contrarian investment in equipment upgrades to Stealth detection.
A military investment effort which rather than serving to maintain the positions of this particular imperialist center has served to drain huge sums of money which it does not havewithout limit. Now, while the U.S. federal government was on the verge of default, with a debt of over 300% of its GDP, to destroy Libya's defenses and allow its allies from the opposition to seize power 161 Tomahawk missiles were fired at a cost of 1.41 million each, making a total of 227.01 million dollars in missiles alone (not counting the costs to jump-start the destroyers that transported the,the seamen's wages, training, operating of the guidance systems, etc.).
We shall further illustrate these contradictions. The F-22, F-35 and other fighters of fifth and sixth generation are extremely complex devices. This presupposes components that require higher productivity to generate, sadly for capitalism higher productivity leads to a higher grade of organic composition of capital, and this in turn reduces the rate of surplus value, a contradiction perfectly insurmountablecontradiction for the military-industrial complex of the U.S. and other imperialist centers.
These devices are based on modern global production;they depend for their sustaining on being exported outside the U.S. itself and at the same time for manufacturing inputs to be imported worldwide. Now, imperialists are fighting each other for the control of materials using modern weaponry, which in turn depends on these same materials. This tangle complicatesany sustainable progress in the implementation of new technologies in combat activity. For example, many advanced electronic components, such as those used for the so-called "smart bombs", or satellite communications, etc., rely on the use of rare minerals that are refined up to 95% by China, and whose global reserves are found in 60% in the hands of China, India, Korea, and countries ofsoutheast Asia. Global manufacturing of high-flux magnets, superconductors, lasers, nuclear magnetic resonance equipment, aerospace equipment, computer screens, etc. depend onNeodymium and other capricious rare earths.
One might think that the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), drones, would be a more sustainable option for imperialism than fighters, fighter-bombers and missiles. However the problem is that flight and maintenance costs are 30 times higher than similar sized manned aircraft, UAV’s also have a bigger limit imposed on the number of weapons they can move. Increasesof the size of the UAVin order to shift more firepower or materiel displacement makes maintenance costs grow geometrically. The RQ-9 Reaper flies at a cost of $3600 USD per hour, costing tens of times more than a Cessna plane that would be its equivalent.
The other problem is that the U.S. is not the only global player who came up with that idea. Iran, for example, has developed its own drones from captured RQ- 170 Sentinel and Scan Eagles. Even Mexico, has developed its own one, called S4 Ehécatl.
Drones and other UAV’s have advantages from the point of view of the surprise factor and maximum conservation of one's forces, which is significant when determining the form of the art of war, but they do not prevent financial headaches for imperialism when using them to defend profits that are in turn absorbed by the use of their military equipment.
But in order that these technological marvels do not spend thousands and thousands of useless flight hours they require intelligence services. The recent Snowden affair exposed the PRISM project. This program intervenes in all electronic communications on the planet, storing them in a database and then extracting and analyzing them according to keywords or persons of interest of the intelligence services of the United States. But behind the program, behind screens are human analysts who receive and collect that information, and at least one of these analysts has denounced this activity, which makes all comes to fret and the secret service program is not so secret anymore. Olympia has noticed an abnormal increase in its sales of typewriters, and the FSO (Russian intelligence) have ordered a massive purchase of typewriters with a special tape to avoid their communications being intercepted. If the complex could not be destroyed by the simple, there would be no reason for fatal bacterial diseases.
Before the era of email and social networking sites the Vietnamese resistance organized through writtenand oral messages a simultaneous offensive over 100 military colonialist posts. The Bolsheviks took control during the insurrection of telephones, telegraphs, drawbridges, etc., and they ceased to serve the bourgeois government, which was isolated. There is hope for our struggle, with an efficient organization, bold and correct tactics, it can still sink imperialism.
But is not only that imperialist intervention is loaded with these contradictions but also that it has historical limits that constantly threaten to tear it down completely. Social collapse and war are odious calamities for the peoples, but at the same time accelerate contradictions, and expose to sunlight the class nature of State and the various political forces, creating the preconditions for a revolutionary break.
Therefore we reject geographical fatalism and other forms of carrying defeatism to the working class of our countries, which are propagated by those who would see us bend the knee before imperialism. Certainly the power defending monopolies reacts fiercely against those who oppose it. But there is the dialectics, as Hegel described it ( Herrschaft und Knechtschaft ), of the master and slave, when the slave rebels not only he puts himself at risk but also the master that confronts the double risk of being destroyed or cease to be master if he cannot control his former slave without destroying him. The Cuban Revolution was a huge demonstration that a revolution can be done even with an imperialist center thrown into preventing it.
After decades and decades of war and military intervention, of launching against the FARC-EP operationssuch as LASO, Destroyer 1, Destroyer 2, Sonora, Casa Verde, Plan Patriota, Plan Colombia, etc., the guerrillas still thrives, expressing the heartfelt yearnings of peasants and workers in Colombia, attracting thousands of new young people that are brought to its ranks harassed by paramilitaries themselves and the dreadful economic situation.