Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

U.S.-2nd World Summit: Band of Thieves Falling Apart

First Published: Workers Viewpoint, July 5, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The smiles of Peanuthead Carter at the Venice Summit Conference could in no way hide the intense contradictions between the U.S. and the six nations of the second world–Japan. Canada, West Germany, Britain, Italy and France. In stark contrast to the recent OPEC conference, where the oil-producing countries agreed on a rise in oil prices to $32 a barrel, or the Islamic conference earlier this year where condemnation of the Soviet Union was clear and sharp, the final agreement reached by the summit contained nothing but a promise to cut oil consumption–by 1990!

These seven nations met at a time when the danger of war between the U. S. and the Soviet Union is growing daily, and the economic crisis is hitting every country hard. Inflation is surging forward and “real growth”–that is growth minus inflation–is dropping all over. Led by Italy with a 20% inflation rate, six out of the seven countries attending the summit are experiencing inflation above 10%, and three of the seven have negative growth rates. With the exception of Japan, the unemployment rate is running alongside inflation in all of the countries, with the bourgeoisie trying their hardest to put the economic crisis onto the backs of the workers.

The United States, once able to push its economic crisis onto the rest of the world, faces an economic situation that is in fact worse than anywhere else. With real growth in negative figures, unemployment rising at almost a full percentage point a month, and inflation still skyrocketing, the U.S. economy is like a huge barge rapidly sinking. And the second world countries, knowing that this economic crisis of the 80’s will be deeper than any other, are trying with all their might to avoid being dragged down along with it.

Two of the sharpest contradictions between the U.S. and the second world is over the question of how to deal with the Middle East and the Soviet Union. The Palestine Liberation Organization, after years of struggle against the Israeli Zionists, have reached a point where their victory has become inevitable. It is clear to everyone, including the U.S. imperialists, that there can be no settlement in the Middle East without the full participation of the PLO. The countries of the third world, led by OPEC, are charting an independent course and aiming their blows more and more at both superpowers. This whole motion of support for the PLO and opposition to the two superpowers is pressuring the second world countries to unite with the just demand of the third world for Palestinian self-determination, at the same time seeking to break U.S. hegemonism for their own imperialistic interests. While the U.S. cannot openly recognize the PLO at this pointy–due to contradictions among the U.S. bourgeoisie and strong pressure from the media controlled by Zionists, the European countries just two days before the summit issued a statement that recognized the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people and strongly condemned the Israeli West Bank settlements and the proposal by Begin to change the status of Jerusalem.

On the other hand the U.S. bourgeoisie welcomes the European moves toward the PLO because it makes it easier for them to move towards the inclusion of the PLO in future negotiations. The question they are forced to confront is how to resolve their contradictions with the PLO. Because of its contention with the Soviet Union and the contradictions within the bourgeoisie itself with regard to policy toward Israel, the U.S. at this time cannot openly move towards the PLO and condemn Israeli aggression. As an alternative policy, they actually promote instability in that area, fearful that a stabilized Middle East will go against all imperialism, and in particular, both superpowers.

Iran Not Even An Issue

The United States found itself so isolated in Venice that they could not even raise the question of the hostages in Iran. Whereas not more than two months ago the U.S. was trying to twist the arms of the second world countries to go along with their economic blackmail against the Iranian people, at this summit Iran was hot even mentioned once. The economic boycott of two months ago failed miserably precisely because of the different interests of the United States and the second world countries. Fearful that participation in the boycott would antagonize the rest of the Arab countries and result in economic sanctions, especially oil. aimed at them, the second world backed off from the U.S.’s plans.

Soviet’s Attempt to Gain Advantage Fails

The second major political issue the seven nations tried to reach agreement on was the question of how to deal with the Soviet Union. With President Giscard d’Estaing just having unilaterally met with Leonid Brezhnev, and with Chancellor Schmidt scheduled to do the same later this month. President Carter went to Europe determined to get the European nations to take a harder stand against the Soviet Union. Having already failed in his efforts to get all of the second world to join in the Olympic boycott and to take clear stands against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. has to deal with contention with the Soviet Union without its traditional allies.

At this point in time the countries of Europe fear the Soviet Union more than they do the U.S. and do not want to antagonize them. Whereas in the late 1950’s and 1960’s the U.S. was the #1 power in the world and could be expected to protect Europe from the Soviet Union, this is no longer the case today. The European countries have lost confidence in the U.S. and more and more are changing their policy to one of appeasing the Soviet Union. With the Soviet Union pressuring them from without, and the revisionist “communist” parties doing the same from within, this new appeasement has become a conscious part of European foreign policy.

In an effort to further split the unity of the Venice Summit and win over some of the more vacillating countries of the second world, the Soviet Union took the offensive by sending a message to the Conference on opening day announcing troop withdrawals of certain units from Afghanistan. This is in line with the Soviets use of dual tactics–at once preaching “peace” and “detente” while at the same time invading some countries and threatening others.

Like the clumsy bear that it is. the Soviet revisionists’ blatant attempt to deepen the contradictions between the U.S. and the European nations actually brought about the only seeming unity that the summit produced: a statement that condemned the Soviet Union for their invasion of Afghanistan and called for the total withdrawal of Soviet imperialism from Afghanistan.

However this condemnation is a sham lie. Actually for the U.S., the Soviet imperialists’ occupation of Afghanistan is actually a good thing for two reasons. First, it gives the U.S. an issue over which they can make an enormous amount of propaganda mileage. In this regard the U.S. is pointing out to anyone who will listen how imperialistic the Soviets are (as if the U.S. were not). And secondly, the occupation of Afghanistan has tied down over 85,000 Soviet troops, making it very difficult for them to start anything else in the world.

Contradictions Among Imperialists Aid Third World Countries and U.S. People

The failure of the Venice Summit to reach anything but paper unity not only reflects the sharpening contradictions between the U.S. and second world, it also points out the importance of making full use of indirect reserves: in this case the contradictions between major and lesser imperialist countries. With the danger of world war increasing at the same time that the economic crisis of the 80’s is sharpening, the objective differences that the U.S. and the European countries have actually aid us by giving us more time to prepare our forces to overthrow this rotten system of capitalism.

The fact that the U.S. could get no support for its reactionary policies narrows its options, isolates it from the rest of the world and weakens it tremendously. As a result, third world countries are better able to fight for their independent policies, a fight that in turn weakens the two superpowers even further. It in turn aids the U.S. proletariat’s struggle to make socialist revolution against the same enemy, the U.S. bourgeoisie. Therefore, it’s the duty of all progressive people to support the struggles of the third world countries against the two superpowers.