"Most pundits of historical developments tend to perceive another global war as large scale deployment of military means in pursuit of defeat, destruction or subjugation of contending opponents. While prospects of such an ominous scenario certainly cannot be ruled out, there is reason to believe, however, that the much talked-about World War III may be of a different type: more interclass than international.
Viewed in this light, World War III is already here; it has indeed
been raging on for years: the unilateral, cross-border neoliberal war of austerity economics that is waged by the transnational class of financial oligarchy against the overwhelming majority of world citizens, the global 99%.
Globalization of capital and interdependence of world markets has reached a point where large-scale military clashes of the magnitude of World Wars I and II could lead to financial catastrophe for all. Not surprisingly, the network of transnational financial elites, who often elect politicians and run governments from behind the scenes, seem to be averse to another wholesale international war that could paralyze worldwide financial markets.
This explains why imperialistic aggressions of late have often taken the form of "soft-power" interventions: color-coded revolutions, "democratic" coups d'etat, manufactured civil wars, economic sanctions, and the like. Of course, military option always lurks in the background to be employed when/if "soft-power" strategies of regime change fail or prove insufficient.
Even then, however, all efforts are made (by the major capitalist powers) to make such military interventions "controlled" or "manageable", that is, limited to local or national levels. While "controlled" wars tend to safeguard the fortunes of war profiteers and beneficiaries of military spending (mainly the military-security-industrial complex and major banks), they would not cause paralysis of international financial markets.
This also explains why major world powers such as China, Russia, India, and Brazil tend to shy away from standing up more robustly to the bullying policies of the United States. Wealthy oligarchic circles in these countries have more in common with their elite counterparts in the US and other core capitalist countries than their fellow countrymen at home. "Whether they maintain primary residences in New York or Hong Kong, Moscow or Mumbai, today's super-rich are increasingly a nation unto themselves", points out Chrystia Freeland, global editor of Reuters, who travels with the elites to many parts of the world.
It is therefore only logical to believe that a de facto alliance exists between members of this global "nation" of the super-rich, which helps facilitate the operations of imperialist schemes of regime change. For example, when/if Russia is threatened by the United States and its European allies, Russian oligarchs tend to clandestinely collaborate with their class counterparts in the West, thereby undermining Russia's resistance to such interference from Western powers.
A brief look at recent schemes of regime change in countries like Iraq and Libya, on the one hand, and Ukraine and Iran, on the other, can help an understanding of when or where the imperialist powers resort to direct military action to bring about regime change (as in Iraq and Libya), and where or when they resort to "soft-power" tactics to achieve the same goal, as in Ukraine and Iran. Two major reasons or considerations can be identified in this context, that is, in regard with the imperialist choice of the means or tactics of regime change.
The first is related to the level of class differentiation within countries targeted for regime change. Due to extensive (and often scandalous) privatization of public property in both Ukraine and Iran, there have emerged quite wealthy circles of financial oligarchs in both of these countries.
These Western-oriented money magnates tend to collaborate with the interventionist forces of regime change from abroad; they are essentially agents of regime change from within, in collaboration with imperialist forces from without. This explains (at least partially) why schemes of regime change in these two countries have relied primarily on "soft-power" and color revolutions instead of direct military intervention.
By contrast, Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi's Libya lacked such influential and internationally connected wealthy classes. While neither Saddam nor Gaddafi were paragons of virtue or champions of democracy, they played the role of what is sometimes called "enlightened dictators": they implemented extensive welfare state programs, maintained strong public-sector economies, opposed privatization of public services such as health and education, and kept major or "strategic" industries such as energy and banking/financial system under state ownership and control.
Combined, these policies prevented the rise of powerful financial elites such as those that emerged and developed in Iran or Ukraine. This meant, among other things, that "soft-power" and/or color revolution tactics of regime change, which heavily rely on native or local allies, the so-called comprador bourgeoisie, did not have a good chance of success in these countries - hence the use of "hard-power" or direct military intervention/occupation of both Iraq and Libya.
The second imperialist consideration in the choice of soft- versus hard-power tactics of regime change is related to whether a war to be waged in pursuit of regime change can be controlled and managed at the local or national level, or whether it may spin out of control and become regional and/or global.
In the case of Ukraine, for example, a direct military aggression would certainly have involved Russia, very likely become global, with disastrous economic/financial consequences beyond the control of imperialist powers - hence the choice of soft-power and/or "democratic" coup d'etat in Ukraine.
A similar concern that an all-out war against Iran may get out of control likewise explains why schemes of regime change in that country have (so far) also focused primarily on economic sanctions and other soft-power tactics, including the color-coded "green revolution" of 2009.
By contrast, "hard power" or sheer military force was used for regime change in Iraq and Libya out of the near-certain knowledge that the wars of regime change against these countries could be controlled fairly successfully, that is, prevented from becoming regional or global."
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