Memorial Day is supposed to be a day to mourn the many lives lost to the violence of past wars. But this Memorial Day comes at a time when wars and military conflicts are being waged all over the world, and when the U.S. government and ruling class are trying to prepare us to accept even more of their wars for global domination.
A day doesn’t go by without news about Russia’s war on the Ukrainian people. So far, the U.S. has supplied hundreds of billions of dollars in weaponry to Ukraine to use against Russia. The Biden administration has admitted that it seeks to use Russia’s invasion as an opportunity to weaken Russia’s military and economy.
As a result, the Ukrainian people are caught in the middle of a war that drags on, already killing thousands of civilians, destroying cities, and displacing over six million people. Every day this war continues, the threat grows of it spreading to other countries, or escalating to possibly involve nuclear weapons. At the same time, this war has disrupted the world supply of wheat and other grains, and threatens tens of millions of people with famine around the world.
Meanwhile we rarely hear anything from the politicians or the media about Saudi Arabia’s seven-years-long war on the people of Yemen, fully armed and supported by the U.S. Civilian neighborhoods have been regularly bombed while an estimated 250,000 people have died, and millions more are threatened with starvation. There doesn’t seem to be any end in sight.
Other conflicts rage in Ethiopia, Syria, Myanmar, and many more places. Recently the Biden administration decided to send hundreds of U.S. troops to fight in Somalia, after launching a drone strike there this past February. This past year, we’ve also seen Israel escalate its terror on Palestinians, bombing thousands of buildings and killing hundreds of civilians. Again, this is fully armed and supported by the U.S. All together, these conflicts have led to an estimated 100 million new refugees this year alone. And other conflicts could break out involving India and Pakistan, Iran, China, and more. In the words of Bob Marley, “Everywhere is war!”
The current situation follows the decades-long U.S. wars on the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, which killed over a million people and ripped those countries apart. In the U.S., it may be difficult to imagine the devastation from these wars waged on innocent people. Not to minimize in any way the horrific mass shootings during the past weeks in the U.S., but they offer us a tiny glimpse of the kind of life-altering devastation and trauma the violence of war brings. Just imagine the pain of multiple mass shootings every day, across a country, in many cities for years on end, destroying the lives of multiple generations — that is war.
And standing at the head of this system of war is the U.S., which remains the world’s largest arms dealer, has the largest military budget on Earth, and spends more than most other countries combined, with over 750 military bases in 80 other countries. And this year the Biden administration has proposed to increase that military budget to its highest level ever. They are trying to prepare us for what they see as a new era of massive global conflict, increasingly between China and Russia on one side and the U.S. with Europe on the other. This is a rivalry between imperialist powers to redivide the world, for new terms in the global arrangement of economic and military domination, and it threatens all of humanity.
On this Memorial Day, as the politicians shed their fake tears for the people who have been killed in their wars, we should remember the real cause of all this violence — war is just a part of the basic functioning of their system of exploitation and domination.
For most people, war is just violence, horror, and death. Working people are the ones who fight their wars, and we are the ones who die in their wars — and together, we are the ones who must put an end to their system of permanent war.