U.S. Whips Up Imperialist
Defeat U.S./NATO War Drive -- For International Socialist Revolution!
Newspaper headlines and editorials scream “War.” Television networks proclaim in unison, “America Under Attack.” The capitalist rulers of the United States are beating the drums for imperialist aggression and domestic repression following coordinated attacks on the morning of September 11, in which airplane hijackers slammed passenger jets into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C. The bourgeois politicians and media are marching in lock-step demanding bloody reprisals against whoever is designated the target of choice as the American empire strikes back. U.S. president George Bush Jr. vows to win a “new kind of war,” and now top U.S. officials have called for “ending states who sponsor terrorism” and an ongoing “global assault” on anyone they label a supporter. Just as “human rights” was the war cry of the American and European imperialists as they terror-bombed Yugoslavia in 1999, today in the name of “anti-terrorism” the gang that carried out the 1990-91 “Desert Slaughter” against Iraq is preparing to obliterate semi-colonial countries as well as others where capitalist rule has been overthrown.
The Internationalist Group, section of the League for the Fourth International, calls on the working class throughout the world to fight to defeat the imperialist drive for war and repression. As the U.S. gears up to invade Afghanistan, revolutionaries defend it, Iraq and any other countries assaulted by the would-be global cops of the New World Order led by Bush & Co., who are far and away the biggest mass murderers of all. As the rulers of Israel seize upon the frenzy in Washington in their escalating war on the long-suffering population of the Occupied Territories, we must step up our defense of the Palestinian people. We demand: all U.S. forces out of the Near East and South Asia! And as war hysteria whipped up by the capitalist media in the United States and Europe leads to anti-Arab xenophobia and attacks on immigrants (and others who “look foreign”), we call on class-conscious workers to come to the defense of these vulnerable minorities against chauvinist attacks, including organized physical defense of their homes, shops and neighborhoods.
As the World Trade Center burned and collapsed, anguished working people across New York (many of them blacks and immigrants) frantically sought to find out if family members and co-workers were safe. Proletarian revolutionaries categorically oppose the indiscriminate terror used by the hijackers, who in grotesquely taking the lives of several thousand ordinary working people thereby equate them with the American government that oppresses workers and minorities in the U.S. along with peoples around the world. Far greater, however, is the danger to mankind posed by the U.S./NATO imperialists, who are responsible for millions of deaths of innocent people the world over to ensure their exploitation of the entire planet. These state terrorists are armed to the teeth with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. While spouting talk of “democracy,” U.S. rulers have used these weapons of mass destruction before and will use them again, at the same time as their forces of “law and order” carry out racist police terror at home.
The United States alone has used atomic weapons in war, wiping Hiroshima and Nagasaki off the face of the earth and incinerating over 200,000 innocent civilians in August 1945. This was after firebombing Tokyo (100,000 killed in a single raid), as well as Hamburg (50,000 dead) and Dresden (225,000 dead). None of these attacks were directed at military targets, but instead were openly intended to terrorize the civilian population. U.S. forces inflicted more than a million deaths on the Korean people during the Korean War. In the Vietnam War, the U.S. dropped vast quantities of bombs, napalm and Agent Orange, killing more than two million as it went down to humiliating defeat at the hands of the heroic Indochinese peasant and worker soldiers. In Iraq, the deliberate bombing of waterworks and electrical plants followed by a decade of brutal economic “sanctions” has led to the deaths of more than one million children. And while continuing to bomb Iraq on the pretext that Baghdad might develop chemical and biological weapons, it has now been confirmed that the U.S. not only has a huge arsenal of such weapons, but is engaged in developing more potent strains of anthrax and other deadly agents. U.S.-allied Israel, too, has chemical/biological weapons and is today the third-largest nuclear power in the world.
Imperialists Use “Anti-Terrorism” to Terrorize the Oppressed
As they prepare for war, America’s rulers are first “securing” the home front. FBI “counter-terrorism” squads were deployed around the country, Mexican and Canadian border crossings closed off, combat fighter patrols deployed over major American cities. U.S. Army units were put into the streets of Washington, National Guardsmen in humvees with mounted machine guns “patrolled” the area around Wall Street and in Brooklyn. The civilian population, most of which has never seen the military deployed except for hurricane rescue and flood control – and suppressing ghetto revolts – has been given a taste of a state of siege. Cordoning off all of lower Manhattan, ostensibly to open up streets for emergency rescue vehicles (of which there were few), got middle-class whites used to living under police lockdown. The racist NYPD murderers of Amadou Diallo are now trying to cover their crimes with the cloak of “anti-terrorism.”
Clearly the airplane hijackers’ suicide attacks played into the imperialists’ hands, as U.S. rulers cynically exploit the heart-wrenching anguish of the bereaved families. Washington seeks to brainwash the population into supporting the war drive by claiming that “every American” is targeted by terrorist mad bombers. While hitting the center of U.S. military power, the Pentagon, and New York’s twin towers, which the bourgeois press lyrically describes as “Icons of the American Dream,” the fact is that more than 40,000 working people went about their jobs in commercial and financial enterprises in the World Trade Center every day. The attack on the WTC was timed to guarantee that a large number of these workers (including Arabs, Muslims and Asians), would perish in the inferno. Marxists have always opposed individual terror as a method of despair that can only hold workers back from mobilizing their tremendous class power against the exploiters. Beyond this, such an indiscriminate attack randomly striking the population at large is directed against the working class itself.
It also directly harms the Palestinian Arab people desperately fighting the Israeli military juggernaut with little more than stones and a few Kalashnikovs. It was reported in the first hours after the attack that some Palestinians on the West Bank cheered the crash into the WTC. After enduring months of lockdown and hundreds of children shot by Israeli soldiers in cold blood, on top of two and a half decades of brutal Zionist occupation, some members of this deeply oppressed people may welcome any perceived blow against the power they see standing behind their oppressor. But such a knee-jerk nationalist reaction is already being cynically used by Israeli leader Ariel Sharon (who was responsible for the 1982 slaughter of over 2,000 Palestinians in the Beirut refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila) to try to undercut international support for the Palestinians. In the same way, Israeli rulers exploit indiscriminate suicide bombings inside Israel to bind Hebrew workers to their exploiters. The anti-democratic, racist Zionist state must be brought down from within, through Arab/Hebrew class struggle, backed by international workers solidarity. The League for the Fourth International fights for an Arab/Hebrew workers republic in a socialist federation of the Near East.
Bin Laden – “Frankenstein the CIA Created”
Washington has now singled out Osama bin Laden as the “prime suspect” for masterminding the September 11 attack, while simultaneously claiming that any operation so elaborately coordinated had to have state support. What state? Bin Laden is reportedly holed up in Afghanistan. Since the withdrawal of the Soviet forces in 1989, a key factor in setting the stage for the counterrevolutionary destruction of the Soviet Union, this non-state has been fought over by an array of reactionary fundamentalist Islamic forces. It is currently dominated by the Taliban, a group of extreme fundamentalist mullahs sponsored by Pakistani military intelligence. U.S. rulers like to portray their adversaries as the personification of “evil” (as in Reagan’s designation of the USSR as the “evil empire”). Today it is bin Laden, whom they link to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, 1996 attacks on Americans in Saudi Arabia, the 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa, the October 2000 attack on the U.S. destroyer Cole in Yemen, and now the World Trade Center/Pentagon attack.
Whatever role this Saudi millionaire and Islamic fundamentalist may have played, he was made what he is by the United States government. During the 1980s, as the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency recruited, trained, financed and armed reactionary forces in a decade-long war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, bin Laden was one of the CIA’s guys. Washington spent several billion dollars on its counterrevolutionary operation, while Saudi Arabia pumped in billions more. Islamic fundamentalists flocked to Afghanistan to join the jihad (holy war) against the Soviet “infidel.” Among them was bin Laden.
An article in the New York Times (14 September) euphemistically remarks that “the United States had worked alongside him to help oust the Russians from Afghanistan.” The fact is that the CIA built bin Laden’s camps in the mountains near the town of Khost, the very same camps it hit with cruise missiles following the 1998 African embassy bombings (New York Times, 24 August 1998). In addition, “Osama Bin Laden was employed by the CIA as a chief recruiter, as was the Egyptian cleric, Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman, who was jailed for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing” according to columnist Eric Margolis (Toronto Sun, 30 August 1998). Following the 1989 Soviet withdrawal, the Arab “holy warriors” bin Laden recruited spread throughout the Near East and North Africa, now training their sights on Washington. “We created a whole cadre of trained and motivated people who turned against us. It’s a classic Frankenstein’s monster situation,” lamented a U.S. official (Guardian, 17 January 1999).
In the decade-long war in Afghanistan, it was necessary to stand solidly on the side of the Soviet Army in its fight to defend the USSR against the U.S.-armed, financed and trained counterrevolutionary onslaught. While revolutionary Trotskyists declared “Hail Red Army in Afghanistan!” a host of social democrats, “Eurocommunists” and pseudo-Trotskyists joined the imperialist hue and cry. Following the victory of the CIA’s mujahedin, Kabul was bombed to smithereens by the feuding Islamic reactionaries, the country beset by famine and mired in unfathomable poverty. Women who once studied in the university and taught in schools were shrouded in the burqa, the impenetrable head-to-toe veil, banned from working and condemned to the house arrest of purdah. The medieval sharia (Islamic law) was imposed by a regime of utter social reaction, non-Sunni Muslims were subjugated. These are the bitter fruits of the anti-Soviet war drive, and as Washington (in league with now-capitalist Russia) gears up to occupy Kabul in its “anti-terrorist” war drive, the U.S. will only plunge Afghanistan further into the misery it created.
The Afghan hell was made in U.S.A. We demand: U.S. get out.
War and Repression
The war machinery is in high gear. Fifty thousand military reserves are being called up. Never mind that they can’t say what country to go after (“we’ve got to build a case first,” says Secretary of State Colin Powell, who as Pentagon chief ordered the bombing of refugee shelters in the Persian Gulf War), the target-selection teams are hard at work. Congressmen demand that the supposed ban on assassination by U.S. spy agencies be repealed so CIA hit squads can do like the Israelis on the West Bank. With lightning speed, NATO invoked Article Five of the Atlantic Charter authorizing military action. Where? Anywhere Washington decides. A war powers act is being cooked up in Congress. Compared to the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution that gave the green light to the escalation of the U.S.’ dirty war in Southeast Asia, this will be an open-ended license for military marauding around the globe and at home. Soon the first Army Delta Force and Navy SEAL teams will be dropped, to be followed by assaults by AC-130 helicopter gunships, ground troops, aircraft carriers, A-10 and F-117 bombers.
A pervasive theme of the bourgeois media and politicians has been to compare the WTC attack to Pearl Harbor. The purpose is to bring back images of the “good war” (World War II) to blot out memories of Vietnam and bring jingoistic flag-waving hysteria to a crescendo. But despite all the talk of a “sneak attack,” the fact is that Washington had plenty of warning of the December 1941 Japanese assault on the U.S. Pacific fleet. They needed a casus belli in order to enter the imperialist war. While defending the Soviet Union, the Trotskyists took a stand of revolutionary defeatism toward both imperialist camps in that war over colonies and world domination. Today we fight to defeat the new imperialist war drive and to defend the countries targeted by the U.S. and NATO.
U.S. leaders have made it clear that they will not stop with occupying Kabul. In August, a secret Pentagon war game (“Positive Match”) was held which “tested whether the armed forces could decisively defeat one potential adversary, North Korea, while repelling an attack from Iraq” while “another event, such as terrorists attacking New York City with chemical weapons, took place at the same time” (New York Times, 7 September). The U.S. “won” the computer simulation. Bush’s plans for a “missile defense shield” are in fact intended as a cover for invasion of U.S.-designated “rogue states” and to shoot down Chinese and/or Russian satellites in a military confrontation (for example, over Taiwan). Make no mistake – this is no “Star Wars” fantasy, the Pentagon is intent on breaking the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) arms control treaty because it actually intends to use this system for war (and military blackmail).
Ever since U.S. president George Bush Sr. proclaimed a “New World Order” following the Persian Gulf War, while the Soviet bloc deformed workers states crumbled, the U.S. imperialist “superpower” has been chomping at the bit to use its full military potential to lord it over downtrodden “Third World” peoples and to lay down the law to its imperialist allies/rivals in Europe and Japan. The Pentagon was haunted by a “Vietnam syndrome,” the fear of another losing colonial war. Democrat Clinton tried to get around this by throwing the U.S. into one low-risk “peacekeeping” invasion after another, from Haiti to Bosnia and Kosovo. After the Kenya/Tanzania embassy bombing, they shot cruise missiles at a fertilizer factory in Sudan and the CIA-built “terrorist training camp” in Afghanistan. But now so-called “zero casualty” high-altitude bombing is out. “The constraints have been lifted,” one U.S. military officer crowed.
The war propaganda barrage is a bipartisan effort of the partner parties of American capitalism. “We must strike back with unbelievable fury,” foamed Vermont’s Democratic senator Patrick Leahy, a reputed liberal “dove.” In Congress, which last May sprang to the defense of Vietnam war criminal and former senator Robert Kerrey, the bourgeois politicians line up to swear fealty to the commander-in-chief, the president “elected” by a 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court. Lacking the slightest “democratic” legitimacy, Bush will now manufacture a “mandate” over the bodies buried in the rubble of the World Trade Center. There are “no parties” in Washington today (as Kaiser Wilhelm said of the German Reichstag in August 1914 as it voted war credits for the first imperialist world slaughter). Democrats and Republicans form only one party, the imperialist war party. “In this new kind of war,” writes New York Times (14 September) analyst R.W. Apple, the government is saying “there are no neutral states and no clear geographical confines. You must choose sides. Us or them. You are either with us or against us.” National unity is the watchword. Anyone who dissents, much less opposes the war drive, will be branded a traitor, and the laws are to be adjusted to deal with them.
The government is preparing to introduce a raft of police-state measures to regiment the country for war. The democratic freedoms supposedly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights were always sharply curtailed when it came to dealing with “subversives,” “enemy aliens” or the descendants of slaves. Even some of the big business press has reported how cries of “Pearl Harbor” brought the image of Japanese Americans in barbed-wire internment camps to the minds of many Arab Americans and others, who fear similar round-ups today. The Clinton government already greatly expanded the government’s repressive arsenal, making hundreds of federal offenses subject to the death penalty under the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act passed in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, which also drastically curtails the right of death row inmates to appeal their sentences.
The fight against the racist death penalty is embodied in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther and revolutionary journalist sitting on Pennsylvania’s death row for the last two decades. Framed up on charges of killing a Philadelphia cop, Jamal has sought to appeal his conviction in a rigged trial. But despite the confession of a witness who admits to having shot the Philly policeman, a federal judge this August refused to admit this evidence of Mumia’s innocence into the record. In fighting against the war drive, we must redouble our efforts internationally to mobilize the power of the working class to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and abolish the racist death penalty.
Now civil liberties are going to come under even heavier assault. Enough of the uproar over “racial profiling,” cry conservative war hawks. Using airport security as an excuse, they are going to racially profile the population with a vengeance, starting with Arab Americans and extending it to blacks, Latinos and others. Every participant in major events will be subjected to individual video scanning, as was the case with the Superbowl football game in Tampa, Florida last January. Meanwhile, the apparatus for domestic military repression is being readied for full-scale action. Under the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, the military is banned from carrying out police action inside U.S. borders. Already this has been undermined by the establishment of a string of Joint Task Force (JTF) units along the Mexican border in which military commandos join with a beefed-up Border Patrol to track down immigrant workers. Then in the last months of the Clinton administration, a new continental military command was set up, which has already carried out “anti-terrorist” military “exercises” with various federal, state and city police forces.
The blueprint for the domestic war operations was provided by the February 2001 report of the U.S. Commission on National Security (the Hart-Rudman Commission) which seeks to rewrite the National Security Act in the name of fighting “terrorism.” It calls for converting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) into a National Homeland Security Agency which would absorb the Border Patrol, Customs Service and Coast Guard. A National Crisis Action Center would be set up and the Joint Task Force for Civil Support expanded to include “several rapid reaction forces, composed largely of rapidly mobilizable National Guard units.” Now these plans are being put into operation.
In the war frenzy following the WTC attack, large sections of the U.S. civilian population which has never known war except on TV are now convinced that they are “under attack.” The idea that Bush and Giuliani and the rest of ruling class give a damn about the fate of the working people is manifestly ridiculous.For the capitalists, the scenes of horrible carnage are but grist to the propaganda mills of war. They seek to achieve something like the “Israelization” of the U.S., creating a climate in which a dominant nation presents itself as besieged when in fact the depredations of its own overwhelming military power have produced the rage that now lashes out against it.
While the population in New York City initially reacted with shocked calm following the WTC attack, the non-stop flag-waving propaganda is having its effect. Liquored-up yahoos can be heard screaming for bloody revenge. Bush and Giuliani hypocritically mouth platitudes about community harmony while their war drive inevitably produces racist atrocities, as was the case in the Persian Gulf War as well. In NYC, firebombs have been thrown against mosques, cab drivers of Near Eastern and South Asian descent have been threatened by screeching would-be lynchers, Indian Sikhs have been beaten because they wear turbans. Similar scenes are reported from around the country. Workers must come to the aid of beleaguered immigrant minority communities, as the Internationalist Group has taken the initiative in doing in parts of New York.
In France, the social-democratic government of Lionel Jospin has reinstituted the “Vigipirate” security program harassing North African youth in the poor neighborhoods surrounding the major cities. The workers movement must mobilize against this program of state-enforced racist victimization. Ethnically integrated defense by working people of their class brothers and sisters can counter the threat of pogroms such as those that victimized Jews in tsarist Russia and today threaten Arabs and other minorities.
As the bourgeoisie beats the war drums in the name of “anti-terrorism,” much of the left has shamefully joined in the hysteria. David North’s World Socialist Web Site (12 September) article on “The political roots of the terror attack” goes into paroxysms of anti-terrorist rhetoric before these cyber-pseudo-socialists end with a mild criticism of “the policies of the United States” driven by the “ruling elite.” A Freedom Socialist Party statement “On Political Terrorism and the September 11 Assaults” talks “sadly” of how “the country searches for answers,” worrying that there may be a “crackdown on radicals, peace activists” with only the tiniest hint that Washington is in the process of launching a war on Asian and Near Eastern peoples. The Progressive Labor Party headlined its statement “Don’t Let Terrorist Attacks Lead Us to Support a Police State.” The reformists of the Communist Party USA and the International Socialist Organization rival each other in their effort to be indistinguishable from garden-variety Democratic Party liberals.
Meanwhile, various “anti-globalization” and “anti-sweatshop” groups talk about canceling scheduled events, since “the terrorist attack was a rude awakening” that will “change definitively the direction of history.” The common thread running through all of this is that these left and activist groups, faced with massive bourgeois pressure for “national unity” against the “terrorist threat,” are jumping on board the bandwagon for war. Certainly, they will make some noises about concerns for civil liberties, anti-Arab racism, etc., and may even mildly criticize the war drive, join candlelight vigils and sign petitions for “peace,” but their overriding concern is to make clear that they too pledge allegiance to “their own” bourgeoisie amid the war frenzy – the continuation of their politics of class collaboration in “normal” times. As the government declares it’s “us or them,” they are enlisting as the “left” wing of the “Anti-Terrorist Holy Alliance.”
Marxist revolutionaries stand intransigently opposed to the bourgeoisie’s “national unity.” The enemy of the working class and oppressed minorities is the racist imperialist ruling class and its capitalist state, covered with the blood of millions. Amid the hysteria, the Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International call to stand on the side of the victims of imperialism. We fight to build Trotskyist revolutionary parties that can swim against the stream, upholding the banner of workers internationalism as Lenin’s Bolsheviks did during the first imperialist world war, enabling them to carry out the 1917 October Revolution. The IG/LFI fight today to reforge the Fourth International as the authentic world party of socialist revolution, the only way to prevent the ruling class from plunging the planet into a wasteland of imperialist barbarism and war.
14 September 2001
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