Detroit Workers' Voice #28
. The following two articles are from Detroit Workers' Voice #28, October 3, 2001, which is published by the Detroit Marxist-Leninist Study Group. They are reprinted in Communist Voice #28, Jan. 2002.
. The Bush administration is preparing a series of military adventures and covert assassinations that, it says, are going to continue for years. The first such blow is to fall on Afghanistan, and maybe a million Afghanis have already fled in panic. This will not be justice, but a war of revenge. It will likely fall most heavily on ordinary Afghani people who themselves are oppressed by the Taliban and the bin Laden group. It is the tainted fruit of Bush's "war on terrorism".
. The bloody attacks of Sept. 11 were an act of mass slaughter, which showed a savage disregard for life. It is still not completely clear who is responsible for it, although it may well be the bin Laden group, as the Bush administration claims. The worse the crime, the more carefully it must be investigated. Such investigation would show that bin Laden, the Taliban, and many right-wing terrorists were originally encouraged and financed by CIA covert operations as part of American foreign policy. When CIA-fostered forces bite the hand that used to feed them, that is called "blowback", and that's what Sept. 11 looks like. If so, it shows that the present path of strengthening repression and covert operations won't solve the problem of terrorism, but exacerbate it. No wonder the Bush administration has already put its military plans into operation before such an investigation of the events of the Sept. 11, and indeed would prefer to never see it done. Better to shout for revenge than to look too closely at what led up to the atrocity of Sept. 11. Better for him, that is, but not for the people who are suffering and dying.
. Moreover, the target of Bush's war on terrorism isn't simply those who carried out the bloodshed of Sept. 11. In his speech of Sept. 20, Bush declared war on all nations and groups who don't align with U. S. imperialism, calling them all terrorists. In his words, "Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. " This is a prescription for a protracted global confrontation. It is the replacement for the Cold War. Like the Cold War, it is to be a permanent state of emergency, requiring a restriction of civil liberties and huge budgets for war and spies and police. Aside from bin Ladin and al-Qaeda itself, who is attacked will depend on who is a U. S. ally, not on their responsibility for Sept. 11. Indeed, Bush is fostering an atmosphere of revenge in order to implement the aggressive foreign policy and restriction of domestic civil liberties which the conservatives have long wanted. The wiretapping, racial profiling and other measures championed by conservatives such as Attorney General Ashcroft are things they have wanted for years.
. Clearly this "war on terrorism" will not be restricted to other countries. Inside the U. S. , the rights of immigrants are being restricted, surveillance of everyone will be stepped up, and there have been attacks on minorities such as Arabs and Sikhs. Bush may make a show of embracing Islamic clergymen in order to placate the clerical regimes backed by the U. S. State Department, but on the streets of America, the "war on terrorism" plays out as discrimination and bigotry against Arabs and Islamic people. Already three people have been killed, and many more have been attacked or harassed.
. While Bush is pushing a conservative wish list in the name of fighting "terrorism", the
Democrats only quibble over details. This is because repression and war reflect general interests
of imperialism. The Democratic liberals reflect the class interests of the same corporations and
exploiters as the conservative Republicans do, and care as little for the rights of the working
people, here or abroad. Meanwhile the mass media has behaved particularly disgracefully, and
the national TV networks have done their best to whip up an atmosphere of hysteria.
. In truth, the atrocity of Sept. 11 and the war of revenge in the making are both attacks on the working people of the world. They are carried out by different bourgeois political trends: U. S. imperialism on one side, and, apparently, a section of the Islamic fundamentalists on the other. Both are enemies of the working people. Both were once in alliance, with bin Laden having originally been encouraged by the CIA as part of its intervention in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and the Taliban having received abundant U. S. support. Both are settling their differences at the expense of the working people.
. But Bush's war on terrorism is not aimed simply at rival reactionaries, or just at the rights of the American people. It also aims to suppress various peoples who are fighting against intolerable conditions. The U. S. government has long labeled any forcible resistance to its dictate or that of its allies as terrorism, while itself organizing or condoning the most blood-stained methods of suppressing the people. This hypocrisy continues today. The CIA has repeatedly helped overthrow governments the U. S. frowned on, such as the Allende regime in Chile. The CIA also helps reactionary governments and paramilitaries massacre their opponents, as General Pinochet did in Chile after overthrowing Allende, as the Salvadoran oligarchy did to suppress revolution all through the 80s, as the Colombia paramilitary death squads are now doing, and as the Israeli government is now doing to the Palestinians. The U. S. also routinely carries out sanctions that strike at the livelihood of the civilian population of one country after another. Through the CIA, through special commando units, and through sanctions, the U. S. government has struck at civilians, and it has backed local reactionary killers who hit at the U. S. -approved target of the day. These activities will be stepped up in the name of fighting terrorism, and even the weak ban on direct U. S. government assassinations may be lifted. Bush's "war on terrorism" doesn't aim to end terrorism, but to keep it as an American monopoly.
. But Bush and the bourgeoisie aren't the only forces in this country. The U. S. is a divided into classes as are other countries around the world. If racist attacks on Arabs have proliferated around the country, so have protests against these attacks, and against the coming war of revenge. Demonstrations have taken place on over 150 campuses. As military operations begin, more protests can be expected. True, governments never look so strong as in the midst of a wave of chauvinist enthusiasm at the beginning of a war. But the demonstrations play an important role in puncturing the myth of unity behind the imperialist bourgeoisie and inspiring discussion among the working people, They also give support for the immigrants and minorities, which is vital for building solidarity in the working class across national lines.
. Thus this fight against militarism is important for encouraging the development of a independent working class movement. It should also be used to help build up ties between the working masses here and in other countries. To help accomplish these aims, we must reveal the class basis behind Bush's war of revenge. Bush's war of revenge is not a mere mistake by a person of good will; it is a reflection of the class interests of the imperialist bourgeoisie. The struggle against it must be based on the class interests of the working masses in the U. S. and around the world.>
. In the name of a war on terrorism, the Bush administration is putting forward his conservative
agenda in the U. S. and stepping up pressure for other countries to fall in line with U. S. foreign
Attacks on democratic rights and minorities
. The "war on terrorism" includes a war on the rights of the working people in the U. S. This includes new powers of detention, the proposed extension of wiretapping and electronic surveillance, and the redefinition of terrorism to include just about every movement or struggle that isn't endorsed or financed by the CIA. Civil liberties will be restricted in cases of terrorism, while the definition of terrorism will be expanded to cover just about everything.
. Immigrants will be especially subject to repression, while there is already a witchhunt in the U.S. against Arabs and people who supposedly "look like" Arabs (such as Sikhs, who wear turbans but are neither Islamic nor Arab). Even a number of foreign college students, afraid for their safety, are now fleeing the U. S. Bush makes a show of tolerance for Islam, because of his need to soothe the feeling of various U. S. allies in the Middle East. Nevertheless, the entire logic of the "war on terrorism" is based on encouraging the chauvinist atmosphere. Attacks on Arabs and minorities aren't simply the act of some misguided individuals. There is already talk of using more and more racial profiling, and indeed the search for terrorist suspects has involved such profiling.
As well, protest movements face the threat of being criminalized as a result of the "war on
terrorism". Strikes, demonstrations, the anti-globalization movement, and even the collection of
funds for stricken populations abroad may all find themselves facing sanctions as supposed
U. S. government fostered terrorists in the past, such as bin Laden himself
. While claiming that other countries provide a haven for terrorism, the Bush administration neglects to note that the U. S. itself has encouraged and provided such a haven. Some of the more famous examples include:
. * the U. S. government organized and financed a contra war on the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. The contras blew up power plants, hospitals, schools, and other civilian targets, and made use of a special CIA handbook on how to carry out terrorism.
. * Miami long served as a staging ground for anti-Castro gusanos who have raided Cuba for decades. And the CIA is notorious for its many plots to assassinate Castro.
. * The U. S. government encouraged Islamic fundamentalists to come to Afghanistan to fight the
Soviet-backed government of the 80s by any means whatsoever. Indeed, this is where bin Laden's
group got its start, with full U. S. encouragement. It also the source of the current Taliban
The U. S. government still fosters terrorism and violence
. Is all this simply a matter of the past? No way. Official U. S. policy still backs some of the most scummy forces in the world. Thus today Bush talks about how badly the Taliban treats its own people, but neglects to mention that the U. S. would forgive this if only the Taliban allied with the U.S. As well, the "Northern Alliance" in Afghanistan itself consists of fundamentalist warlords, and yet it will be accepted as part of the "war on terrorism" simply because it will align itself with U. S. policy. For that matter, Bush's Pakistani allies were themselves the main foreign support for the Taliban.
. As part of making deals to create an anti-Taliban alliance, the U. S. is granting favors to other oppressive regimes. Just as the attack of Sept. 11 was carried out by forces financed by the U. S. government as "freedom fighters" in the 80s in the fight against the Soviet Union, so the terrorism of tomorrow may be carried out by forces promoted by the U. S. today as part of the "war on terrorism".
. Meanwhile the Bush administration has backed out of the international treaty to control
biological weapons. Bush opposes such concrete steps to lower the level of the biological threat,
because they would tie the hands of the U. S. as well as that of other countries. Bush doesn't want
to eliminate terror, but monopolize it.
Playing with fire
. The Bush administration is planning to invade Afghanistan; it is debating among itself whether
to attack Iraq; and other possible targets include Syria, southern Lebanon, and Iran. These plans
will affect millions of people, and not just the "terrorist networks". To patch together a coalition
for these actions, the U. S. government is withdrawing its sanctions against Pakistani and Indian
nuclear weapons. While these economic sanctions are themselves a dubious method of
diplomacy, their withdrawal under these circumstances shows that the Bush government cares
less about a possible nuclear war on the Indian subcontinent, than about getting diplomatic and
military support for the U. S. adventure of the moment.
The bloody hand strikes in secret
. While declaring war in general, the Bush administration hasn't specified who and what is under
attack. It has simply written itself a blank check with Congressional approval. Moreover, it has
declared that the actual acts of this war might even be secret. Who will be assassinated as part of
the war on terrorism, and what governments will be subverted? Government officials tell us that
we might not even be told about the U. S. role in such "successes" even after they take place, and
they certainly won't be publicly debated prior to their accomplishment. Many bloody acts of
retribution decided in secret, carried out in secret, and not taken responsibility for. This is not the
elimination of terrorism, but government-approved terrorism in action.
Attacks on people's movements in other countries
. Bush's war on terrorism will also intensify U. S. pressure against a number of mass struggles around the world as supposed terrorism. For example, the struggle of the Palestinian people for their rights has been long declared terrorist. Meanwhile the State Department doesn't regard the bulldozing of Palestinians homes, or the periodic assassinations of Palestinians by Israeli decree, as terrorism--only as occasionally inexpedient.
. In Colombia, prior to Sept. 11, the Bush administration--following in the footsteps of the Clinton administration--was also stepping up military pressure against the guerrilla forces. Right-wing paramilitary death squads operate freely there, with collusion from the Colombia military. Hundreds of trade unionists and opposition figures are assassinated each year, and peasants are massacred if suspected of sympathy with the left-wing. Bush's "war on terrorism" would not end this long agony of the Colombian people, but would instead brand the resistance to this oppression as "terrorism".
. Other regimes around the world will also label their opposition as "terrorist". Apparently Bush
has already made a deal whereby in return for Russia supporting Bush's attack on Afghanistan,
the West will be more sympathetic to the brutal Russian crushing of the national independence of
Chechnya. The global "war against terrorism" is an alliance of governments against their
opponents, where each government grants the other the right to suppress its local opponents as
The Democrats fall in line
. The Democrats fell in line with Bush's chauvinism with hardly a whimper. Only one Democrat in Congress, Barbara Lee of California, voted against the open-ended authorization for Bush's war (and even she ran up to congratulate the Bush team after his war speech of Sept. 20). The Democrats enthusiastically insist on national unity behind the war of revenge and other imperialist aims. They too are calling for restrictions on civil liberties. "Some Democrats, like Michigan Representative John Conyers, want to tone down the Bush administration proposals but accept curtailing democratic rights and a wider definition of terrorism. " And liberal Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California goes even beyond Bush in dreaming of a six-month-ban on all student visas to the U. S.
The unanimity between Democrats and Republicans in backing Bush's war on terrorism is not an
accident. It shows that imperialism is not simply a mistake of the Bush administration, or a
policy of the conservatives, but the policy of the big corporations, which have bought and paid
for the politicians of both parties.
Can terrorism be ended?
. Terrorism has several sources. The U. S. bourgeoisie and its allies employ it both against rival bourgeois powers and as part of their arsenal to put down revolts of the masses who have suffered economic ruin and political repression at their hands. So do the bourgeois regimes in conflict with the U. S. , and the U. S. -Soviet rivalry during the Cold War was the source of a lot of terrorism. Bin Laden's terrorism was originally encouraged by the U. S. as part of the CIA dirty war against the equally brutal Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Today his terrorism is still part of a struggle between rival bourgeoisies, this time between the US and a section of the fundamentalist bourgeoisie. This is the apparent source of the atrocity of Sept. 11.
. Meanwhile desperate social conditions--combined with the disorganization and confusion in the workers struggle and other progressive movements today--also breed lesser acts of desperation on the part of downtrodden people fighting for their rights. There are different political and social trends in these movements, some in favor of the working masses and some not. So long as the bitter social and national conflicts continue, so long as wars themselves cannot be eliminated, there can be no honest guarantee against all terrorism.
. The best way for workers in the U. S. and elsewhere to deter terrorist attacks on themselves is
by uniting in strong organizations that stand for working class interests, and that support the
movements of the oppressed masses abroad as well as fighting for better conditions here. Only
then will both governments and reactionary movements pay a substantial political price for
carrying out atrocities. It is also the development of the class struggle in the U. S. and abroad that
can frustrate the plans of the capitalists to mobilize each national section of the working masses
behind the bourgeoisie's attack on other nations and peoples. Ultimately, it is only the elimination
of the capitalist system, by which a minority of haves dominate a majority of nave-nots, and
imperialism, by which a minority of privileged and powerful countries oppress the rest of the
world, that can end the social conditions that lead to wars and bloody conflicts, including
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