The US has won a victory in the first round of its war against Terrorism. It rapidly gained support from its allies and former rivals to an open cheque attack on terrorism at home and abroad. It gained permission to conduct ‘dirty wars’ at will. Complaints about the civilian casualties that now exceed those killed in the S11 attacks and complaints about the interrogation of ‘unlawful combatants’ are met with arrogant disregard. The US has succeeded in three months in redefining terrorism and legitimating the dirty methods used against Afghanistan and Palestine to its huge advantage.
First, it has destroyed the Taliban and al Queda and installed its client government in Kabul. The EU and other states including NZ are now part of a UN peacekeeping force that will ‘rebuild’ Afghanistan. Afghanistan is now a UN protectorate just like Bosnia and East Timor. As in those countries, the UN forces will be used to disarm any anti-imperialist opposition movement. Second, the billions promised to rebuild the economy will be targeted at the infrastructure to subsidise the oil industry. This is one cheap way of using international aid for the welfare of the oil barons. The starving millions of Afghans will benefit little from this aid.
Second, not only has the war on terrorism been used to smash the Taliban, it has been used to pull difficult third parties into line. Russia rapidly succumbed to the US war plans looking to profit from cooperation in central Asia.
India and Pakistan, formerly allied to Russia, have been cut lose and are now all bowing to the US pressure to suppress Islamic fundamentalist movements in the name of the war on terrorism. China has backed the war in exchange for a smooth entry to the WTO.
Third, the US has used the UN to sponsor emergency legislation against terrorism to be adopted by all countries in the wake of September 11. Many states have responded with new laws that drastically reduce individual rights, including indefinite detention, suspension of habeas corpus, the reversal of the presumption of innocence etc. Terrorism is now defined as any activity the CIA thinks threatens US world dominance. [see Stop the CIA Terrorism Bill].
When George Bush said September 11 changed the world, what he really meant was that it signaled a new offensive by US imperialism against all its enemies and rivals to restore the profitability of the US economy. It was a justification for a massive government spend-up on the military to beef up the US forces, and a massive attack on the rights of all oppositional forces at home and abroad to limit their ability to question and challenge the rule of US imperialism. This has made the plight of refugees and migrants from Asia and the Middle East much worse, as they become profiled as suspect terrorists and their minimal rights further attacked.
Having used al Queda as an excuse to go to war against terrorism, the US now uses this pretext to extend the ‘dirty war’ to any and every popular challenge to its new world order.
Israel now has US backing to step up its longstanding dirty war against Palestine by detaining Arafat and other leaders, and occupying Palestinian towns and doing house to house searches to arrest suspected ‘terrorists’.
The US now routinely disregards national borders. It brushes aside the polite objections of Blair and the EU and Mary Robinson of the UN Human Rights Organisation to the double standards that allow it to go to war against terrorism, yet refuses to recognise that those it was attacking were engaged in a war. They are instead classified as ‘unlawful combatants’ and denied the rights of political prisoners. John Walker who fought with the Taliban is charged under US civil law with intending to kill US nationals who were at the time invading Afghanistan.
The Axis of Evil
Bush in his recent State of the Nation speech talked up the war against terrorism by referring to Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the ‘Axis of Evil’. These nations have vigorously rejected their designation as ‘terrorist’ as the next thing to a declaration of war on them. It seems Bush is preparing the ground for more campaigns to get ride of ‘rogue’ states that stand in the way of the expansion of US business interests.
The US now lists over 50 countries as harbouring terrorists. Why were just three, Iraq, Iran and North Korea, named by Bush as the ‘axis of evil"? Why is the US stepping up its war? It has nothing to do with stopping terrorism and everything to do with smashing its rivals.
Iraq set as next target
The first target will probably be Iraq. US planes are concentrated in the Gulf and Turkey close to Iraq. There is doubt however, that the US can get 100,000 troops mobilised before the mid-East summer. An attack on Iraq would blow up the coalition behind the war against terrorism. Both France and Russia have big investments in Iraq and would lose out to a US installed regime in Iraq.
The same objects behind the attack on Afghanistan are there. First, a war that unites US citizens across classes. Second, a war that justifies the increased US$48 Billion Bush has budgeted for the military. Thus, as a result the economic crisis faced by the US economy can be counteracted by a massive injection of state funding at the expense of workers, whose resistance can be dealt with as threats to ‘homeland’ security. Last and not least, the US gets its hands on a new oil rich client state to boost its imperialist super-profits.
Those who say this reasoning is too much like a conspiracy and that the US administration is bungling and confused are themselves confused. The response of US main rivals in the region, the EU and Russia, shows this to be true. Russia has condemned any war against Iraq, and the EU is opposed to extending the war without ‘evidence’ At the recent Munich conference of NATO members, objections to US plans to attack other targets were met with public statements that the US will "go it alone’ since Sept 11 posed a direct threat to the US ‘national interest’. Senator John McCain said:
''A terrorist resides in Baghdad, with the resources of an entire state at his disposal, flush with cash from illicit oil revenues and proud of a decade-long record of falsifying the international community's demands that he come clean on his programs to develop weapons of mass destruction. ''A day of reckoning is approaching.''
The US unilateral plans to go to war at will against the ‘evil axis’ is a policy dictated by the needs of US imperialism to sideline its rivals and overwhelm all popular resistance in the third world in the grab for total control of the world economy.
Revolutionaries are ‘terrorists’
The degree to which the new definition of terrorism has justified ‘dirty wars’ and demonised all third world worker and peasant movements is also seen in the US arrogance towards the Geneva Conventions. By refusing to treat the Taliban and al Queda as prisoners of war it tries to get acceptance if its dirty rules of war. By keeping these anti-imperialist fighters imprisoned in Guantanamo outside US territory, the US avoids its own laws that would protect their status and treatment.
The US rides roughshod over sovereign nations such as Pakistan and India, buying their loyalty and getting them to ban and arrest suspected ‘terrorists’. It gets formal ‘invitations’ from subservient national leaders to send its special forces to the Philippines, to Colombia and to Argentina. Here, instead of the elitist al Queda funded by Saudi oil money and the CIA, genuinely popular uprisings of peasants and/or workers are designated ‘terrorism’ so justifying a military intervention.
In Colombia, the FARC was near an agreement with the government when the US intervened to define the FARC as a ‘terrorist’ organisation and to impose tougher conditions requiring the FARC to withdraw from the demilitarised zone. The FARC refused, and now the US backed government troops and the right-wing paramilitary are once more in full-scale counter-revolutionary mode to destroy a mass popular movement.
In the Philippines, the US sent in its special forces to suppress the Maoist guerilla movement in the South. Abu Sayyaf has been linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida. About 160 U.S. special forces could be among the 660-strong American contingent accompanying Filipino troops to war zones on Basilan. The Filipino ruling class has welcomed the US troops but the left and sections of the public have protested strongly.
In Argentina, a nation-wide uprising of unemployed, employed and petty bourgeois has now reached the stage of threatening to bring down a fourth government in less than two months. The US has troops in the north in response to the picqueteros uprising last year, under the cover of a UN peacekeeping exercise. It is now poised to intervene to back the Argentine bosses against a rising revolutionary movement.
The US emerges from round one of the USWAT as an unrivalled imperialist power. Yet in declaring itself the international posse, judge, jury and executioner, US imperialism makes clear that it is the life and death enemy of the vast masses of the worlds’ peoples.
Imperialist democrats exposed
Those who see the US as a ‘rogue state’ that can be tamed by bourgeois democracy are shown up to be reactionary utopians; utopians because they cannot tame capitalism, reactionary because if they are successful in beheading revolutions, the bosses are handed victory on a plate. While all the important bosses were meeting at the World Trade Forum in New York, the democratic left bosses met again at Porto Alegre in Brazil to plot a human, peaceful and democratic fate for the masses. [see Reunion of the World Social Forum at Porto Alegre ]
More than ever the Communist Manifesto’s ringing call to arms is true today. The world’s workers have nothing to lose but their chains of exploitation and oppression.
Unite in an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist struggle to smash the US military machine and to fight for a socialist world!Workers of the World Unite!
For a new world party of revolution!
From Class Struggle 43 February/March 2002