No to Bush's War: The Military Face of Globalization
HUNDREDS OF millions of people across the world were horrified on 11 September. Television brought into their living rooms and offices minute by minute images of the destruction of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, with people waving from windows and jumping into space in a futile attempt to evade certain death.
Now hundreds of millions of people across the world are just as horrified by something else. George Bush wants to inflict an even greater horror upon the inhabitants of one of the poorest countries in the world. He has enlisted the support of a gaggle of the world's most unscrupulous career politicians, oppressive regimes, military dictators and absolute monarchs. In tow are thousands of professional sycophants, $150 a line journalists, TV commentators hoping for easy honours, and armchair generals, all urging us to relish a vengeance which will cost the blood of people who had nothing to do with 11 September. At home we have seen attacks on civil liberties, and racists targeting Muslims.
Bush has proclaimed a "crusade against terrorism ". "Crusade" , the Oxford English Dictionary tells us, is a translation of the Arabic word "jihad". It has very specific historical connotations. It refers to the onslaught directed by ragtag European armies which plundered the Middle East in the 12th and 13th centuries under the guise of religion, murdering, looting and slaughtering Muslims, Jews and local Christians alike, in an orgy of destruction that culminated in the sacking of the Christian city of Constantinople.
The immediate target of the new crusade is Afghanistan, a country where five million people are already on the edge of starvation after 22 years of war and civil war that have reduced the capital, Kabul, to rubble.
George Bush claims this is justified because one man, Saudi-born Osama Bin Laden, has been living in Afghanistan. For this the whole population is going to suffer.
But Osama Bin Laden was first sent to Afghanistan, 20 years ago, by the American CIA, the Saudi royal family and the Pakistani secret service. They used him to build up US-backed forces for war both against the Russians and against other forces in the Afghan resistance movement. If Bin Laden knows about methods of terror, it is because the CIA taught them to him.
The American government denounces the Taliban regime as "barbaric" for its treatment of women and minority groups in the country. But it was the Pakistani secret service, the Saudi royal family and American agents working in the interests of the great oil companies that organised the Taliban's push for power in 1994-6.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair justifies the war by saying that those behind the World Trade Centre attacks "have no sense of humanity, of mercy or of justice. To commit acts of this nature requires a fanaticism and wickedness that is beyond our normal contemplation." Such acts are, we hope, beyond the "contemplation" of those who read this pamphlet. They are not, however, beyond the contemplation of George Bush and Tony Blair.
George Bush's father masterminded cold-blooded destruction by aerial bombing during the "Desert Storm" war against Iraq ten years ago. This killed no fewer than 100,000 civilians and conscripts - 20 times the horrific death toll of 11 September. The United Nations estimates that over half a million Iraqi children have died as a result of sanctions imposed by the US and Britain since that war.
Tony Blair worked with his friend, the former president Bill Clinton, to mastermind the aerial bombing of Belgrade two years ago. It included the devastation of the TV building where civilians were working, as well as the Chinese embassy.
The US and British governments say they are "reconciled to civilian deaths" in their war. They cold-bloodedly admit they will be killing people who had nothing to do with the attacks in New York and Washington. There is no sense of "humanity", of "mercy" or of "justice" in that - just the plainest hypocrisy.
Revenge attacks against Afghan people are not a way to fight terrorism. If there really are people who are going to spread anthrax germs in London or poison reservoirs in California, as the media claim, they will not be stopped by adding more rubble to rubble in Kabul or burning people alive in Kandahar. Such a response can only increase the feelings of impotent rage in the region and breed small groups dedicated to further revenge attacks.
If Bin Laden was behind the World Trade Center attack, it was because of the rage he felt when he saw his former ally, the US, bomb Baghdad and back the Israeli war against the Palestinians. The barbarity of the Gulf War bred the barbarity of 11 September. Bush and Blair are now intensifying the cycle of terror and counter-terror. It is the road to unlimited barbarism in the Third World - and in the cities of the West.
There is only one way to stop this. It is to build the biggest possible anti-war movement. We need debates, teach-ins, protests and demonstrations. We need to take to the streets, but also to organise in the workplaces, the trade unions, the schools and the colleges. We need to connect the issue of the war with the other horrors which Bush and Blair want us to forget in the clamor for revenge - the devastation of welfare systems and health provision, the neo-liberal mania for privatization, the unbearable burden placed on the poor of the world by debt, and the economic crisis which is destroying jobs by the thousand.
If we can build a movement to stop Bush and Blair, we can do something else as well. We can show there is a way to confront the pain suffered by so many throughout the world without resorting to the methods which Bin Laden learnt from the CIA. Since the great demonstration in Seattle in November, 1999 there has been new hope in the world -the hope that mass action can make another world possible. In that hope lies the only real answer to the bitterness and despair that drive a few people to terrorism.
But to unchain that hope we have to build the anti-war movement now. In this pamphlet we try to bring together the arguments that can help to do so.
Osama Bin Laden: Friend Turned to Foe
GEORGE W Bush, his allies and the media have built up Osama Bin Laden as "Public Enemy No 1". They choose to forget that the wealthy Saudi was a friend of the US during the war against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. The US state made Bin Laden the key figure in its attempt to bring the Afghan resistance movement under the West's control. Bin Laden built his guerrilla force in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan with the help of the secret police of Pakistan - the key pro-US state in Central Asia. The US backed him until its drive to dominate the whole of the Middle East turned him and others (for example, Saddam Hussein's Iraq) against the West.
Bin Laden's father was a Yemeni-born construction millionaire who became connected to the Saud dynasty which rules Saudi Arabia. Osama Bin Laden first visited Afghan rebel camps in Peshawar, north western Pakistan, in 1980. Over the next two years he funnelled Saudi and US money to the Afghan resistance to Russian occupation.
The Saudis, with full US backing, wanted to spread their version of Islam, Wahhabism, in Afghanistan as part of undermining other guerrilla leaders and building a movement that would owe its allegiance to Western interests. Bin Laden was central to that plan.
The Pakistani secret services wanted a Saudi royal to lead a client guerrilla group in Afghanistan. No royal was willing to give up their sumptuous lifestyle for Afghanistan's harsh terrain. So Prince Turki Al Faisal, who was head of the Saudi secret police, persuaded his friend Bin Laden to go. Bin Laden, funded by the CIA, built the Khost tunnel complex as a major arms depot in 1986 and took over the al-Quaida guerrilla group in 1989.
After Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Bin Laden lobbied the Saudi royal family to raise a force to fight Iraq, similar to the one he had led in Afghanistan. The Saudi royal family instead turned to the US, and allowed Western forces to be stationed in the country to launch the murderous Gulf War against Iraq in January 1991. That enraged Bin Laden. He came to hate the US presence in Saudi Arabia and its arrogant intervention in the Middle East. He fell out with the dominant faction of the Saudi ruling family, and therefore the US, and had to leave for Sudan in 1992.
He returned to Afghanistan in May 1996. The following year the CIA launched an abortive covert mission to assassinate him. The US state again tried to kill him in August 1998, and was targeting him yet again before the attacks on the World Trade Centre.
Afghanistan: Chessboard of the Powerful
THE WARMONGERS have dubbed Afghanistan a "rogue state". Yet the US leaders who condemn the Afghan government today backed it until recently, and supplied the arms and finance the Taliban needed to seize power. Now they want to bomb it out of existence.
Afghanistan has already all but been destroyed by the capitalist system and outside intervention. It escaped formal colonial rule in the 19th century, but the country was hemmed in by the Russian Empire to the north and the British Empire to the south and east. Afghanistan was on the frontier of a struggle between those two empires for control of the vast Central Asian region. Just before becoming Viceroy of India in 1898, Lord Curzon wrote of Afghanistan and its neighbors, "I confess they are pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a game for the domination of the world." This was called the Great Game.
The end of the Second World War brought a new struggle for domination. The British Empire crumbled and India achieved independence in 1947, only to be partitioned into India and Pakistan. Afghanistan was one of the countries ground between the two superpower blocs, centered on the US and Russia, during the Cold War. A royal family held power through links with local leaders, landlords and military figures who had power bases in different areas of the country. A succession of governments made attempts at industrialization and development, but they never offered significant change for the vast majority of the population, and succeeded only in fuelling the tensions between different groups.
In 1979 a pro-Russian government that had come to power the year before began to break up. Afghanistan slid towards civil war as various armed Islamic groups stepped up their campaigns to seize control of remote parts of the country. Then the superpowers stepped in and poured petrol on the flames. Russia sent troops into Afghanistan in December 1979 to prop up its client government. The US threw its weight behind the assorted Afghan forces ranged against the Russians. Through its allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the US flooded the country with arms, pouring $500 million of military aid behind the rebels in 1980. Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher spoke of the "brave Afghan struggle for freedom".
The war devastated the country, and millions fled. Many urban supporters of the government grew to hate its dependence on the Russians and went over to the Mujahadeen rebels - a loose coalition of armed Islamic groups. The Russians were finally forced to withdraw in 1988 and 1989, and the triumphant Mujahadeen seized the capital, Kabul, in April 1992. By then almost a quarter of the population was rotting in refugee camps and the country was in ruins. The US had found $3 billion to finance war, but it now cut off aid, providing not a penny to rebuild the country.
The Mujahadeen split. The US and Saudi Arabia backed a group led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who bombarded Kabul, killing 25,000 people in one week, just as horrifically as those who died in the World Trade Centre.
The Taliban emerged out of this devastation in 1994. They took their ideology from a version of the Islam practised by the Saudi ruling family. Within two years they went from a 30-strong guerrilla movement based in southern Afghanistan to an army able to seize the capital. The Taliban initially won considerable support from the mass of people, who were sickened by fighting and warlordism, and who were desperate for stability.
The Taliban crucially got the backing of the US and its allies in the region. The Pakistani intelligence services had helped arm the Taliban. Many of its cadre came out of the Islamic boarding schools in Pakistan ( "Talib" means "student" ). A few months before the Taliban entered Kabul, a US State Department official said, "You get to know them and you find they really have a great sense of humour." Hours after they took Kabul in September 1996, acting State Department spokesperson Glyn Davies said the US could see "nothing objectionable" about the Taliban's version of Islamic law.
The coldest of calculations lay behind US policy. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 had created five independent states in Central Asia. The early 1990s were awash with speculation that these states were sitting on huge reserves of oil and gas. A top US commentator wrote that the Taliban's "most important function was to provide security for roads and, potentially, oil and gas pipelines that would link the states of Central Asia to the international market through Pakistan rather than through Iran".
The Taliban failed to take the whole country. The US did a U-turn. It now feared the Taliban would encourage radical Islamist movements in other countries which could threaten US interests. US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright signalled the shift in November 1997 with a typical display of hypocrisy. She got on her knees in front of Afghan children in Pakistan and said, "I'll never forget you. I will do everything to help you and your country."
But the US's only contribution since 1997 has been to bomb part of the country in 1998 in an ongoing attempt to kill Osama Bin Laden. The US, Russia, European powers, oil multinationals and local rulers are playing a new Great Game which stretches from Turkey through Central Asia and Afghanistan to the western provinces of China. The men moving the chess pieces are hurling millions of people into poverty, with tens of thousands of people forced to flee from numerous civil wars. Violent intervention by Bush and Blair will only make matters worse, and create more people ready to die to hit back at the West.
Bush's Bloody Allies
BUSH SAYS that ranged on his side are the forces of "civilization" against "barbarism". But among Bush's coalition are some of the most violent and undemocratic regimes in the world. All are using his calls for war to step up repression against minorities in the name of "fighting international terrorism".
RUSSIA under its leader Vladimir Putin is responsible for scenes of devastation every bit as terrible as those we saw in New York. Russia has unleashed the full power of its military to pound the people of the small republic of Chechnya since late 1999. Twice in six years Russia has devastated the country - both times bombing homes, hospitals and schools regardless of civilian casualties. It has virtually razed the Chechen capital, Grozny, killed some 50,000 people and made many, many more into refugees. Last year, while this horror was going on, the then US president, Bill Clinton, said newly elected Putin had got off to "a good start". "We are together on the core points," said Clinton. Tony Blair also praised Putin, and scrambled to be the first Western leader to meet him and shake his hand.
The former Soviet republics to the north of Afghanistan rushed to join Bush's coalition and offer the US use of their military bases. All of the regimes are corrupt and authoritarian, and have been accused by independent agencies of human rights abuses. The leaders of KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN, TAJIKISTAN, TURKMENISTAN and UZBEKISTAN were key figures in the Stalinist bureaucracy when the countries were part of the Soviet Union (up to late 1991). Tajikistan was racked by civil war throughout the 1990s. Some 300,000 people fled in 1993. Opposition parties were legalised only in 1999, but cannot operate freely. Tajik rulers have grown rich on the proceeds of shipping heroin from neighbouring Afghanistan. The government says suppression of internal Islamist opposition is now part of Bush's "war on terrorism".
CHINA has occupied Tibet since 1950, and brutally put down all resistance to its rule. In 1989 its rulers massacred pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, killing thousands. The regime routinely jails dissidents, has tortured them, and bans all opposition. It executes thousands of people every year. It has brutally repressed the Falun Gong religious group and is now trying to claim its persecution of national minorities in the north west of China, who happen to be Islamic, is a war on "terror".
PAKISTAN - the US state has used threats and bribery to make sure its traditional ally, the Pakistani military, supports Bush's war. The US wants to base troops there to attack neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistan's ruler, General Musharraf, came to power in a military coup in October 1999. Pakistan's participation threatens to tear the country apart. There are some two million Afghan refugees in and around the city of Peshawar in north western Pakistan. Many millions more ordinary Pakistanis are opposed to a US-led war against Afghanistan. Such opposition is not confined to them. There are many supporters of the Taliban regime inside the Pakistani military. They played a key role in building up the Taliban from 1994. They hoped the Taliban would stabilise Afghanistan and help open up trade routes with the rest of Central Asia which Pakistani business could exploit. The Islamist parties in Pakistan have won little electoral support, but they have powerful backers, especially inside the ISI military intelligence service, which has sweeping powers. US pressure on Pakistan risks not only clashes between the state and the people, but civil war between different wings of the state itself. That would be devastating in a country of 140 million people whose military rulers have nuclear weapons.
INDIA is also backing Bush. The Indian regime, headed by Hindu chauvinists, has meted out appalling repression against those in the state of Kashmir who are fighting for independence from both India and Pakistan. Between 20,000 and 30,000 Kashmiris were killed between 1988 and 1998. Indian repression continues. Border skirmishes between India and Pakistan in 1998 over Kashmir threatened to lead to all-out war. Both states have nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them to each other's capitals.
JAPAN - the new right wing prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, wants to overturn the country's official anti-war position and use Japanese troops alongside the US military in East Asia. He recently became the first ever Japanese prime minister to visit the graves of right wing Japanese war criminals who were responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Chinese and Korean people in the 1930s and 1940s.
TURKEY - the Turkish state's dirty war against the Kurdish minority has destroyed over 3,000 villages, killed over 35,000 people, and forced over three million from their homes. The fascist National Action Party is part of the coalition government.
INDONESIA - Indonesian leader Megawati Sukarnoputri visited George Bush after the destruction of the World Trade Centre to assure him of her support. The core leaders of the Indonesian military hail from the time of the dictator General Suharto. He came to power in a CIA-sponsored coup which killed hundreds of thousands of Communists, trade unionists and members of the Chinese minority in 1966. The Indonesian army killed 200,000 people during its occupation of East Timor. It now says its suppression of radical democracy activists and independence movements in various parts of Indonesia is part of the "worldwide war against terrorism". Indonesian police smashed up an international anti-capitalist conference in the capital, Jakarta, earlier this year.
SAUDI ARABIA is traditionally the US's staunchest Arab ally. It was also a key backer of the Taliban in Afghanistan, giving them money and an ideology based on the ultra-puritanical Wahhabist version of Islam developed by the House of Saud, who have run Saudi Arabia since its creation a century ago.
Saudi Arabia is virtually a one-family state. There are no elections. Political parties and pressure groups are banned. All the oppression of women and of religious minorities we see in Afghanistan takes place in Saudi Arabia with the same ferocity. Saudi courts routinely pass sentences of death, maiming and torture. Every year it is condemned by Amnesty International. Saudi Arabia's rulers are fantastically corrupt. The country sits on 26 percent of the world's known oil reserves. Much of the money from the oil industry goes directly to the sprawling Saudi royal family-there are 2,000 top royals and thousands more hangers-on. Some 35 percent of the working age population are foreigners who have no rights and are denied citizenship. The US state will not declare Saudi Arabia a sponsor of terrorism or an abuser of human rights - for it relies on the House of Saud to secure the oil multinationals' access to the Middle East.
Many other Arab rulers have signed up to support the US state. All are brutal, undemocratic and corrupt. JORDAN slaughtered 30,000 Palestinians in 1970. EGYPT locks up oppositionists in concentration camps in the desert.
ISRAEL - Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon described Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as "our Osama Bin Laden" two days after the destruction of the World Trade Centre. This was despite the fact that everyone, including the CIA, acknowledges that Arafat and the Palestinians had nothing do with the attacks in the US. And Sharon's grotesque comment came as Yasser Arafat was personally giving blood to help the victims of the US attack. Sharon did not stop at words. Israeli gunships and troops immediately invaded Jericho, Jenin and Ramallah - Palestinian-controlled areas - killing 24 Palestinians. Sharon is himself a war criminal. September was the nineteenth anniversary of the massacre of over 2,000 Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon. An Israeli tribunal found that Sharon, whose forces had ringed the camp, was indirectly responsible for the slaughter.
Terrorists the West Has Created...
THE US state and its allies always demonise their opponents as "evil" as a prelude to launching military assaults. But recent history shows that almost all those "evil" figures have been built up by the West or at the very least have received its tacit support.
IRAQ IS again high on the list of targets for US bombing. Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator, fell out with the West after he invaded neighbouring Kuwait in August 1990. But his entire career up to that point depended on backing from the CIA and the US state. Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party seized power in Iraq through a coup in 1963. It had the full support of Western leaders. They had opposed the previous independent-minded Iraqi regime that had overthrown a British-backed monarchy in 1958. Saddam came to head the new dictatorship in 1968. The US supported his anti-Communist crusade, which meant mass public executions of members of the Iraqi Communist Party.
The West turned even more sharply to back Saddam after the pro-Western Shah of Iran (which neighbors Iraq) was overthrown in a popular revolution in 1979. The US initially supported Iraq's invasion of Iran and described Saddam as a bastion against the spread of radical Islamism across the Middle East. In March 1988 Saddam used poison gas to murder over 5,000 Kurdish villagers at Halabja as part of a wider campaign against the Kurdish minority. Western countries supplied him with the poison gas. The flow of arms accelerated in the late 1980s as the US again threw its weight behind Iraq in the ongoing war with Iran. It was only when Saddam invaded Kuwait, threatening oil supplies, that the US administration turned its ally into an enemy.
PANAMANIAN DICTATOR General Noriega took power with the help of the CIA in March 1983. He had been a paid CIA agent since 1967. By 1972 US officials had hard evidence that he was involved in the drugs trade. But the CIA, headed by George Bush Sr., protected him as he rose to become head of the secret police. Noriega provided intelligence on opponents of US policy in Central America throughout the 1980s. This was useful to Ronald Reagan as he launched a campaign of mass murder of trade unionists, socialists and democracy activists across the region.
Noriega offered sanctuary to the Shah of Iran after the revolution there. He was a key link in the CIA plot to fund the Contra terrorist attacks on Nicaragua through the proceeds of cocaine trafficking. George Bush Sr. flew with Oliver North (who was in charge of channelling funds to the Contras) to Panama City in 1983 to meet Noriega. The US sent troops in to overthrow Noriega in December 1989 only when he became too much of an embarrassment and domestic opposition had exposed the drugs money behind the Contras. Thousands of Panamanian civilians were killed during the invasion.
SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC was the last "evil tyrant" the US was going to sort out. Yet he is a former central banker who got the blessing of the West when he came to power in 1989. Senior US diplomat Richard Holbrooke famously said Milosevic was "a man we can do business with". That was in the early 1990s, even as he was tightening his grip on the Albanian population in Kosovo. The Dayton peace agreement which ended the Bosnian war in 1995 was about stabilising the regimes of Milosevic in Serbia and Franjo Tudjman (his mirror image) in Croatia. NATO's subsequent bombing of Yugoslavia two years ago was another disaster in the name of fighting a humanitarian war against terrorism and rogue states. It immediately accelerated the violence in Kosovo and triggered the mass exodus of refugees it claimed it was trying to avoid.
Most independent observers say that 2,400 people - mainly Albanians, but also Serbs and others - were killed in Kosovo in the 12 months up to NATO's war. No one knows how many people were killed during the 11 weeks of bombing. Most estimates put the figure at between 4,000 and 5,000. So the rate of killing increased at least fivefold. NATO has not brought peace to the Balkans. It is now fuelling tensions in Macedonia that could erupt into all-out civil war. Kosovo itself has been largely "ethnically cleansed" of its Serb and other minorities.
It took mass action by people in Serbia themselves, bombed and demonised by the West, to get rid of Milosevic in a revolution in October 2000.
...and Terrorists It Has Backed
BUSH JUSTIFIES his warmongering by saying that he is standing against the scourge of "global terrorism". This is the grossest hypocrisy. The US state has a bloody history of encouraging coups against governments and using terrorist groups to do its bidding across the world.
ON 11 September 1973, exactly 28 years before the World Trade Centre attacks, the CIA helped overthrow the democratically elected government of Chile. Then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had plotted for three years to get the Chilean military to carry out the coup. The new regime, led by General Pinochet, killed thousands of people, among them the elected president, Salvador Allende. In the years afterwards the US backed Pinochet's Operation Condor, which involved assassinating (including car bombing) opponents of the Chilean regime who had gone into exile.
Angola and Mozambique
THE US has also backed murderous right wing forces like Renamo in Mozambique and UNITA in Angola. In the 1980s over one million people died in Mozambique as a result of the war carried out by Renamo. As well as the killing, Renamo specialised in spreading terror by amputating legs, arms, noses or ears. Over one million people have died in 25 years of war in Angola.
THE US has also backed brutal terror groups much closer to home. It supported the right wing Contra forces that invaded Nicaragua in the 1980s. The Contras were funded via drugs money which was channelled by many of the US leaders now in Bush's White House to buy arms. The Contras raped and slaughtered their way across Nicaragua. The US also intervened in the civil war in Nicaragua's neighbour El Salvador, backing murderous paramilitary groups and death squads. Around 75,000 people died in El Salvador as a result. In Guatemala the horror carried out through the 1980s and into the 1990s by pro-US governments and death squads was such that President Clinton was forced to apologise last year for what had happened.
Oil, Poverty and War
NOWHERE IN the world is the contrast between wealth and poverty so stark as in the Middle East. This is the source of the world's most important and most profitable raw material-oil. But the wealth which comes from it is concentrated in two very narrow sets of hands.
First and foremost are the great oil companies. Half a dozen of these dominate the industry throughout the world. Most are American, one British (BP) and one half British and half Dutch (Shell). They are among the world's biggest companies, and were central to financing George Bush's election campaign. They share some of the wealth with the fabulously rich rulers of certain Middle Eastern states-notably Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
Britain was the dominant power in the region between the world wars. It drew up borders between newly formed states so that the bulk of the oil was in small states run by despotic rulers who would have to depend on it - and its oil companies - for support. It also encouraged Zionist colonists from Europe to seize land in Palestine, knowing they would be able to survive only by acting as a guard dog for Western interests. The US has taken over the dominant role from Britain since the 1940s. The methods of domination remain the same.
So while the Saudi royal family, the Gulf sheikhs and the Emir of Kuwait are among the world's richest parasites, poverty remains the fate of tens of millions of people in countries like Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
At the same time, the Israeli settlers continue to seize land from Palestinian families with living standards a tenth of theirs. There have been repeated wars in the region, in which the Western powers have fought to preserve this unjust setup.
The West backed Israel in its wars against Arab states in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973. Between 1980 and 1989 the US backed Iraq in its war against the Iranian government, which had taken over US companies, every time Iran looked like winning.
Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, and US battleships shelled the capital, Beirut, in 1983. The US led a coalition of Western powers to war in defence of the Kuwaiti monarchy in 1990-1. It was presented as a "war for democracy". But there was no democracy in Kuwait. In reality it was a war for oil.
Such conditions have created enormous resentment against the West and the local despots allied to it right across the region. The majority religion in the region is Islam. So the resentment against the West can take a religious form, Islamism. But the roots of the conflict are not religious.
Islam is Not the Enemy
GOVERNMENTS AND the media are saying they do not want the destruction of the World Trade Centre to lead to a racist backlash against Muslims. Yet they have contributed to such an atmosphere by virtually equating Islam with irrational violence for more than a decade. Islam does not equal terror. Like any of the world's major religions, it is a body of sometimes contradictory beliefs which are open to very varied interpretation.
Look at Christianity. It is the professed belief of "liberation theologists" - radical priests who fought against class inequality and brutal US-backed dictatorships in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s. It is also the religion of the Bible Belt and the Christian Coalition in the US, which supports naked US power and those same dictatorships. There is just such a range of political positions among people who consider themselves Muslim. The ruling family of the US's closest Arab ally, Saudi Arabia, is Muslim. So are most of the workers and peasants in the region who oppose the US and hate local despots.
"Islamic fundamentalism" is a loaded term used in the West. It refers to a variety of movements that look to versions of Islam to express some of the bitterness of masses of people in predominantly Muslim countries who are ground down by the world system. Such movements exist across North Africa, in the Indian subcontinent, and in Indonesia and parts of East Asia. They are most concentrated in the Middle East and it is not hard to see why.
The rulers of the Gulf states are fabulously wealthy. Yet the mass of people face grinding poverty and oppression. The royal family of Saudi Arabia has built golf courses in the desert, along with one of the most brutal regimes of repression to hold down impoverished workers and peasants. And rulers from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, Algeria, Syria, Pakistan and many more all sickeningly claim to be pious Muslims representing a community of believers which knows no distinction of class or status. Behind them stands the colossal power of the US.
Nothing has intensified the rage of millions of people in the Middle East more than the unconditional support the US has given to Israel in its unequal war against the Palestinians. Israel acts as a colonial outpost with all the arrogance pioneered by Britain and France when they ran the Middle East before the Second World War.
Deep suffering is not the sole reason why radical Islamist movements can gain support. They also gain from the despair of ordinary people that they will not be able to bring an end to their suffering through collective action. For there have been mass movements in the Middle East before. A wave of nationalist revolts after the Second World War brought independence from colonial empires. But their leaders quickly made their peace with the world system and turned their guns on the mass of people to prevent radical social change.
The Palestinian national liberation movement grew in the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon in the 1960s. At points it looked to mass struggle. Terror tactics, such as plane hijacking, were marginal to it until the scale of the Palestinian struggle began to threaten corrupt Arab regimes as well as to challenge Israel. The turning point came in September 1970, "Black September", when Jordanian forces massacred 30,000 Palestinians. Palestinian militants became isolated. Some looked in desperation to individual terrorist acts to sustain the struggle.
The failure of nationalist movements to break through in the 1970s opened the door to an array of political Islamic movements. Some of those movements have had a mass character at times-in Algeria ten years ago, for example. But they too were largely crushed by state repression as they turned their backs on the strategic power of urban workers to paralyse those regimes and give a lead to the whole of the poor masses.
Across the Middle East this repression has left small groups, embittered by US imperialism and by corrupt local regimes, but also isolated from mass forces (even though they can win some popular passive support). They are drawn largely from a social layer which is not part of the working class or peasantry. They are often educated middle class people who have been to university, but who find that all their education still leaves them with few prospects. These are the people who went to fight against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, against the Russians in Chechnya, against Serbian forces in Bosnia and Kosovo, against the Indian state in Kashmir, and elsewhere - all with the West supporting them or turning a blind eye until they threatened its interests. These are the groups that identify with Osama Bin Laden, their figurehead rather than their creator.
And their tactics, terrorist acts which are likely to hit workers rather than rulers, are a product of the rage at the suffering imposed by the world system, and of the feeling that mass action against capitalism and imperialism cannot win. These are desperate measures which socialists oppose. They hurl back a portion of the brutality of the world system in a vain attempt to fight it. They wrongly target workers in the West, who are potential allies in the struggle against oppression and capitalism. That gives the forces of repression an excuse to strengthen themselves.
If Bush gets away with his war, the despair which has given rise to such terrorist groups will increase. His barbarism can only cause more counter-barbarism. On the other hand, the more people in the West stand out against his war, the more people in the Middle East and Asia will see the prospects of success through mass action and turn away from the blind alley of terror.
Marxism and Terrorism
"IF YOU are not with me, you are for terrorism," claims George Bush. But hundreds of millions of people across the globe are against Bush and against terrorism. Over the last 100 years the tradition that has influenced most revolts against oppression and exploitation is Marxism. It rejects terrorism.
It does not do so for the hypocritical reasons of Bush and Blair. They condemn piloting an airliner into the World Trade Centre as terrorism. But they say their actions in blowing up buildings with cruise missiles in other countries are part of "defending civilization".
Marxism takes an entirely different approach. It opposes terrorist methods not only because they very often lead to the deaths of working class people, who bear no responsibility for the brutality of their rulers, but also because such tactics lead away from the mass struggles that alone can successfully challenge our rulers.
Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky summed up the Marxist approach 80 years ago. His writings remain an invaluable guide to how socialists should respond to terrorism today. Trotsky dealt with the utter hypocrisy of our rulers. Socialists, he argued, have "nothing in common with those bought and paid for moralists who, in response to any terrorist act, make solemn declarations about the 'absolute value' of human life.
"These are the same people who, on other occasions, in the name of other absolute values - for example, the nation's honor or the monarch's prestige - are ready to shove millions of people into the hell of war."
He also understood that terrorism arose because of our rulers' tyranny and oppression. "We understand only too clearly the inevitability of such convulsive acts of despair and vengeance," he wrote. But "individual revenge does not satisfy us".
Moreover, as a political strategy for change socialists are "irreconcilably opposed" to terrorism. A terrorist aims at particular individual government ministers or their armies or security forces, or sometimes at symbolic targets. But the exploitation working people and the poor are fighting is not the product of an individual minister or even of particular governments.
The exploitation, oppression and injustices in society are a product of the world economic system of capitalism, not of particular individuals within it, however brutal and obnoxious they might be. "The capitalist state does not base itself on government ministers and cannot be eliminated with them. The classes it serves will always find new people," wrote Trotsky.
And, of course, terrorist attacks very often end up inflicting suffering on workers more than on the capitalist class. Even where such attacks do hit figures from the ruling class, they are counterproductive. Trotsky put it like this: "The smoke from the explosion clears away, the panic disappears, the successor of the murdered minister makes his appearance, life again settles into the old rut, the wheel of capitalist exploitation turns as before - only police repression grows more savage and brazen."
To free the world from oppression and injustice requires not merely getting rid of particular ministers or blowing up military or other targets, but tearing up the roots of the capitalist system itself. The only force with the power to do that is the collective strength of the working class.
Trotsky wrote how "a strike, even of modest size, has social consequences - the strengthening of the workers' self confidence, growth of the trade union". By contrast, the terrorist act takes place "behind the backs of the masses".
Individual terrorists or terrorist groups do not need the mass of people behind them to plant a bomb or assassinate the leaders of a state. Acts of terrorism represent an attempt by a minority to substitute themselves for mass action.
Terrorist acts can also introduce deep disarray into the ranks of the working class, particularly when ordinary people are killed or injured, as in the World Trade Centre. That can create a favorable atmosphere for the introduction of new measures of state repression. Moreover, individual terrorism, says Trotsky, "belittles the role of the masses in their own consciousness". Trotsky asked, "If it is enough to arm oneself with a pistol in order to achieve one's goal, why the efforts of the class struggle?"
So terrorism is not just a different method of struggle against oppression, but runs counter to the fight for socialism. The sort of society socialists are fighting for is one where workers themselves run it in their own interests.
Socialists do not deny the working class and the oppressed the right to use force to resist the violence of their oppressors. We know that the ruling class will not give up all its power, wealth and privilege without a struggle.
But that struggle cannot be conducted successfully by individuals or elite groups - only collectively by the mass of the working class and the oppressed.
The Military Face of Globalization
GEORGE W Bush says he is on a "crusade" for "civilisation and democracy" against "evil and terrorism". A glance at the team around him in the US cabinet shows they have never been moved by such goals. Key figures have organized massive human rights abuses and sponsored terrorism of their own over the last 30 years - in Vietnam, the Middle East, Central America and Africa. They have done so in pursuit of one overriding goal - to establish for the rulers of the US apparently unlimited global power.
One person who knows exactly what this means is Henry Kissinger. As top adviser to Richard Nixon from 1970 to 1974 he organized one of the biggest acts of mass murder in the 20th century - the carpet bombing of Vietnam and Cambodia which resulted in the deaths of around a million people. He also provided backing for the coup in Chile in 1973. Twenty years ago he bemoaned the loss of US power: "When the US entered the world arena they were young and robust, and they had the necessary might to make the world adopt their view of international relationships.
"At the end of Second World War, in 1945, the US were so powerful (at that time, 35 percent of world economic output was American), that it seemed that they were poised to shape the world according to their preferences. Three decades later, the US are not in the same position to push ahead with the immediate satisfaction of their desires."
He was responding to a defeat for the US's rulers when they were forced to abandon their attempts to subdue the people of Vietnam in the mid-1970s. The "Vietnam syndrome" was the shorthand expression for their inability to bully the rest of the world into doing their will. Republican administrations under Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. set out to overcome this.
They began with small-scale operations - the invasions of the island of Grenada and of Panama, and the bombing of Libya in 1986. They sponsored right wing guerrillas who wreaked havoc in Nicaragua and Mozambique. Then in 1990-1 they launched a massive military operation against Iraq, bombing Baghdad night after night.
Under the Democrat Bill Clinton, military operations followed with increasing regularity through the 1990s. There was the landing of marines in Somalia in East Africa (begun under Bush Sr. but continued by Clinton). The country had been wrecked by a terrible civil war. In 1992 some 800,000 Somalis fled abroad. The US-led intervention killed thousands of Somalis and led to more refugees. The US initially hoped it would be able to use General Aidid, one of the Somali warlords. But US helicopters attacked civilians, blowing up a meeting of scores of Somali elders who had nothing to do with the fighting. That drove Aidid and many ordinary Somalis to oppose the US presence. US and UN troops responded with a reign of terror. Canadian and Belgian troops have since been charged with torturing Somali civilians.
Somalia was followed by repeated further bombings of Iraq, bombing of Serb forces during the Bosnian civil war, bombing of an alleged guerrilla camp in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. Then came the all-out NATO air war against Serbia in 1999.
It was under Clinton that military planners began to revive a nightmare project from the time of Reagan - the Star Wars program. This is an attempt to create a nuclear shield around the US. It would allow the US military to bomb anywhere else in the world, including with nuclear weapons, knowing that other powers would not be able to strike back. Apologists for it say it is directed at "rogue states". But the rulers of the US themselves decide who are rogue states, according to the twists and turns of their foreign policy. The real enemy for them at any point in time is anyone who questions their global pretensions. So Kissinger says many figures in the US ruling class see China as "the inevitable adversary".
Paul Rogers of Bradford University explained their logic earlier this year: "Many on the Republican right think the only threats to US dominance will come from China if it develops into an economic giant. One way to curb its growth is to force it to commit more money to defence, and the National Missile Defence system [Son of Star Wars] is one way of doing this.
"That may stimulate a dangerous nuclear arms race but, after all, the Soviet giant was successfully 'spent into an early grave', and perhaps the same strategy can be applied to China."
The same thinking that has led to the Son of Star Wars strategy has also brought a series of measures which show how little the US cares about the concerns of other governments, let alone the feelings of the mass of the world's peoples. We have seen the US state tear up the Kyoto treaty on global warming, the anti-ballistic missile treaty constraints, the UN agreement on illegal small arms trafficking, and the covenant banning biological weapons. In addition the US Senate has deferred indefinitely seeking ratification of the 1996 nuclear test ban treaty and the 1993 nuclear weapons reduction treaty.
George W Bush has seized on the sense of horror created by the destruction of the World Trade Centre to continue pressing for the goal of US domination.
The Modern Imperialism
THE GLOBAL military reach of the US, with the support of its allies, is the flip side of the power of the multinational corporations that have spread their tentacles across the world. Former US State Department official Francis Fukuyama wrote in the wake of the destruction of the World Trade Center, "Microsoft or Goldman Sachs will not send aircraft carriers to the Gulf to track down Osama Bin Laden-only the US military will."
The multinationals, powerful states and international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are locked together in maintaining the capitalist system. That system means that every day 19,000 children die in the Third World from undernourishment and disease caused by debt repayments to the bankers. Their deaths are no more accidental than were the deaths in Manhattan.
Presiding over the system that kills them are a few hundred multinationals and a few hundred billionaires. The business magazine Forbes published a list of 482 billionaires. It shows that the top 200 of them have $1.1 trillion of assets. The top three have the equivalent wealth of the 48 poorest countries.
The wealth of these individuals depends on their ownership of shares in the great corporations. Today some 200 multinationals, run by a few hundred super-rich people and a few thousand more rich hangers-on, have a combined turnover equal to more than a quarter of the world's output. The five biggest multinationals, run by perhaps 40 people, have greater output than the Middle East and Africa combined, and twice the output of all of South Asia. The few individuals at the top make decisions about what is produced, who has jobs, where money moves and who is consigned to poverty. That affects the lives of hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of people.
Most of the billionaires and most of the biggest multinationals are based in the US. They are not typical of people in the US as a whole. Some 60 percent of families in the US have seen no increase in their real incomes since the mid-1970s, despite a rise in the number of family members working and an increase in the average working year of over 160 hours. One in eight Americans now live below the poverty line, and nearly 45 million are without health insurance.
By contrast the CEOs (top bosses) of large companies have seen their wealth rocket. They got 42 times as much as the average factory worker in 1980. According to Business Week, by 1990 they were getting 85 times as much, and by 1998 it was 419 times as much.
It is these people who determine the polices of US governments, whether Republican or Democrat. They financed the bulk of the $3 billion spent on the last presidential election campaign. The links run deeper. They provide most of the members of US government cabinets. Through them they determine both US military policy and the behaviour of bodies such as the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organisation.
That's why we have seen the monstrous growth of US military power alongside the widening grip of the multinationals and the imposition of neo-liberal policies, which in the Third World especially have brought so much destruction. Forty percent of sub-Saharan Africa's population-that's 290 million people-live in absolute poverty, on less than $1 (70p) a day.
Bush's "crusade" is designed to increase still further the power of those who are responsible for such obscenities. It will make it easier for the IMF and World Bank to impose Structural Adjustment Programs on weaker countries, which will face US military might if they refuse to comply. It will strengthen the hand of the multinationals. As Thomas Friedman, a journalist close to the US State Department, said a decade ago, "The hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the US army, air force, navy and marine corps."
This system which kills even when it is supposedly at peace and constantly generates war is not new. A century ago it became known as imperialism. That word fits today. The drive for global economic and military dominance plunged the world into two world wars last century. It lay behind the countless interventions by great powers, protecting the interests of their corporations, in weaker countries.
That is why the struggle to oppose wars has always been linked to the struggle against the capitalist system that has now brought us a new imperialism - bigger corporations, more obscene weapons, more wars, and greater inequality across the globe.
There are Two Americas
BUSH CLAIMS everyone in the US is united behind his war drive. His supporters in Britain say that opposing him is anti-American. But there is opposition in the US to the war, as there has been to previous wars fought by the US's rulers over the last three decades.
The worldwide movement against the Vietnam War was at its strongest in the US in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The biggest anti-war marches took place in US cities. The US state responded with a wave of violence against the predominantly young anti-war demonstrators. The Chicago police rioted against peace protesters in 1968. National guardsmen shot dead four university students on an anti-war protest at Kent State University in 1970.
The anti-war movement, alongside the heroic resistance of the Vietnamese liberation struggle, inflicted a huge defeat on the US ruling class, forcing it to get out of South East Asia. There have always been two Americas. The divide is even deeper than political divisions over the foreign policy of successive US governments. There is a chasm between rich and poor.
There is growing opposition in the US to the bitter class divide. Three in four of the US population believe top bosses' pay is excessive. Two in three say companies are more interested in big profits than in safety. That is why most of the people on the great protest in Seattle two years ago were from the US. There have been huge eruptions of working class struggle throughout the history of the US-against racism, poverty and exploitation. American workers are victims of the same US ruling class that lords it over weaker countries and poor people on every continent. They are potential allies in the global struggle against military intervention by the big powers and rule by the multinationals.
The Anti-Capitalist Movement: Hope Against the Horror
THE MOVEMENT to oppose Bush's war took off even before US attacks started. Within less than two weeks 146 college campuses in the US had vigils and other protests calling for peace. The speed and scale of the response in Britain were unprecedented. Protests, vigils and meetings were bigger than similar anti-war activities in the run-up to the 1999 NATO war against Serbia and the 1991 Gulf War.
The same was true in many other countries, most notably Italy. That, of course, is the country in which the largest anti-capitalist protest to date has taken place-300,000 people demonstrated against the G8 meeting in Genoa in July 2001.
The anti-capitalist movement exploded into view at Seattle in November, 1999 when tens of thousands of protesters forced the bankers, politicians and businessmen to abandon the first day of the World Trade Organisation meeting. It has grown over the last two years, uniting activists on every continent. It is the hope amid the horror of war and starvation.
The movement has already gathered together forces which can be at the heart of a powerful anti-war movement. Most of the figures associated with the anti-capitalist movement quickly spoke out against Bush's war drive. And the movement itself has been characterised by people drawing the links between particular horrors of capitalism and the system as a whole.
The challenge for everyone who has taken part in the anti-capitalist protests or supported them is now to organise the large minority opposed to this war and build a movement that can win over a majority who are deeply sceptical about it.
At the same time, the anti-capitalist movement can strike at the root of all war. For it shows that there is an alternative to the brutalities of the US military, NATO, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It points a real way forward, unlike the methods of terrorism.
Mass anti-capitalist protests have taken place not only in the richest countries - the US, Quebec City in Canada, Nice in France. The list of demonstrations includes Durban in South Africa, Prague in the Czech Republic, Chang Mai in Thailand, Dakar in Senegal, Papua New Guinea, Korea, Malawi and beyond. Not every demonstration was huge or bigger than the one before. But the trajectory is unmistakably upwards. Genoa was five or six times larger than Seattle.
The protests outside summit meetings of the G8 or the IMF are what most people think of as the anti-capitalist movement. But those demonstrations are linked to another movemen t- the series of mass strikes against the IMF and its policies. Here the list is as long as it is for the demonstrations. It includes Argentina, Brazil, Zambia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nigeria, South Africa, Honduras, Paraguay, Bolivia, Mexico and more.
What unites all these movements is hatred of the present murderous setup and a signpost towards something better. It is a protest against the people who will stop at nothing to maintain the flow of profit, the people who are comfortable with a world where 19,000 children die every day because of the debt system. It is a cry of rage against the fact that 900 million people are malnourished while the world's richest 200 people have doubled their wealth in the last five years. It is a defiant insistence that another world is possible, and necessary. We can have cooperation, peace and wealth enough for everyone's needs if there is genuine democratic control from below of global wealth and resources.
The stronger the anti-capitalist movement, the greater the chance that people in every part of the world will join in a collective movement targeted at our rulers and their system. The 20 months between Seattle and the destruction of the World Trade Centre saw the anti-capitalist movement increasingly become a beacon for impoverished masses around the world. It provided the chance for the left, basing itself on the struggles of those masses, to grow. We must build a mass anti-war movement. And we must deepen the movement against capitalism.
Socialists Against War
THE FIRST World War began in 1914 with an outburst of patriotic fervor across all the warring nations. It ended with revolution. Revolts from below ended the carnage and gave hope of how the world could be run in a different way.
Russian soldiers joining workers and peasants in revolution brought war on the Eastern Front to an abrupt end in February 1917. It was not a peace treaty which halted war on the Western Front in November 1918. Instead German soldiers joined with workers to overthrow the Kaiser who had sent them to slaughter.
War intensifies all the horrors of capitalism, The First World War, which was supposed to be "over by Christmas", dragged on for years. As the toll of broken bodies climbed into the millions the devastation could no longer be hidden. In Britain and elsewhere large sections of workers who had cheered the troops as they left for the trenches soon became disillusioned with the scale of the killing and the suffering ordinary people were supposed to endure at home.
Illegal strikes broke out against the effects of the war. There was fury against soaring prices and shortages for workers while the rich continued to live lives of luxury. Sadly, only Russian socialists were organized into a party - the Bolsheviks - that organized both against the war and for a war against the employers. It was this party which brought workers and soldiers together in socialist revolution.
Bush and Blair's war is not a total war like the First World War. But we can use the same method of bringing together people who are against the war with those who are angry about the capitalists' war on workers at home. Workers are already expected to make sacrifices in the US and Britain by meekly accepting job cuts and privatization.
Every meeting and demonstration against the war, every group of workers won to defending themselves against attacks from the bosses and the government, puts our rulers under greater pressure. It makes it harder for them to get away with their myths of national unity, and to pose as champions of justice and freedom.
We stand in the Bolshevik tradition of fighting against the war and for socialism. The Russian revolutionary Lenin described the first few decades of the 20th century as "an epoch of war and revolution". Those words capture the world today. There have been three major drives to war by the great powers in the last decade - in the Gulf, the Balkans, and now against Afghanistan and other targets. The misery created by capitalism has also fuelled a host of terrible wars between and within smaller states. The Great Lakes region of Africa has been devastated. But there has also been rising resistance to the madness of imperialist war and neo-liberal capitalism, and against authoritarian rule.
Popular revolutions overthrew the 32 year old dictatorship of General Suharto in Indonesia in 1998 and the Milosevic regime in Serbia just last year. In the Serbian Revolution it was the collective power of workers in mines, factories and offices which proved too strong for the police and army to contain, as they had done with previous street protests.
Every mass movement from below draws together people with a range of ideas. That is a strength. But the rulers at the top of the state and capitalist institutions are centralised, and seek not only to suppress opposition but to divide it. They rely on the feeling pumped into working people and the poor all our lives that we cannot take society into our own hands. They depend also on those forces which seek compromise with the established order. The 20th century is littered with tragic examples of mass revolutionary movements which stopped short of confronting capitalism as a whole and were then butchered.
That is why we need to draw together all those who see most clearly how to take the struggle against the horrors of capitalism forward. That means linking the fights over different issues and being prepared to take a stand against the lies pumped out by the capitalist media. It is not enough to be against this war or the scapegoating of asylum seekers individually. We need to be organised so that in every workplace, school, college and community we can put those arguments to wider layers of people.
Left Turn is about just that. Everyone who wins an argument with those around them to oppose this war or to organize against the attacks on us at home from big business and the government is offering democratic leadership. We are more effective if we do that together - learning from one another and acting decisively.
We need a big anti-war movement, a deeper anti-capitalist movement, stronger rank and file organization in the unions, a greater left wing challenge to globalization and war. Socialists and anti-capitalists fight to build all of this wherever we can. And each struggle is all the stronger, the greater the number of socialists and anti-capitalists organized to take on the concentrated power of the capitalist class.
"THE ASSAULT on the World Trade Centre was horrific, despicable and unpardonable, but it is important not to lose perspective, especially a historical one. The over 5,000 lives lost in New York are irreplaceable, but one must not forget that the atomic raids on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed 210,000 people, most of them civilians. But one may object that you can't really compare the World Trade Centre attack to the nuclear bombings since, after all, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were targets of war. But why not, since the purpose of the nuclear bombings was not mainly to destroy military or infrastructural targets, but to terrorise and destroy the civilian population? Indeed, the whole Allied air campaign against Germany and Japan in 1944-5, which produced the firestorms of Dresden, Hamburg, and Tokyo that killed tens of thousands, had as its central aim to kill and maim as many civilians as possible. Similarly, during the Korean War, terror bombing of civilians was the policy of the US air force's Far Eastern Command. Indeed one can say that terrorists like Osama Bin Laden, an ex-CIA protege, have learned their lessons on the strategic importance of targeting the civilian population from Washington's traditional strategy of total warfare."
WALDEN BELLO, Filipino economist and one of the foremost figures in the anti-capitalist movement
"WHAT IS more important in the world view of history? The Taliban or the fall of the Soviet Empire? A few stirred up Muslims or the end of the Cold War?"
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, National Security Adviser to President Carter in the 1970s and mentor to Madeleine Albright, when the Taliban were useful to the US
Toll of Suffering
ONE IN four babies in Afghanistan do not reach the age of five. Life expectancy is 47.
One million people died in the ten-year war against Russian occupation, with six million more forced to flee the country. At the start of this year two million Afghan refugees were living in refugee camps in Pakistan. Another 1.4 million were in Iran.
There are ten million landmines in Afghanistan, left there by retreating Russian forces in 1989. Every day 20 to 25 Afghans are killed or maimed by these mines.
The UN warned in June that five million Afghans had little or no access to food. Western governments provided no relief convoys, and their build-up to bombing forced aid workers to leave.
19th century: The British and Russian empires fight the "Great Game" for control of Central Asia. British wars against Afghanistan result in the creation of an artificially constructed state.
1919: Afghanistan frees itself from British "protection". The country is ruled by a monarchy in alliance with powerful landlords.
1950s: Afghanistan's government tilts towards Russia during the Cold War as its powerful neighbours, Pakistan and Iran, look to the US.
1973: King Muhammad Zahir Shah deposed.
1979; December: Pro-Russian Afghan government is on the point of collapse-Russia's rulers pour troops across the border to shore up their Cold War ally.
1979-89: Russia occupies Afghanistan. The West supplies arms to the Afghan Mujahadeen to resist the Russian occupation.
1989: Russian forces finally withdraw. Afghanistan for them has become what Vietnam was for the US.
1992: Mujahadeen take Kabul, but immediately split into rival factions. Civil war further devastates the country.
1994: Taliban emerge with US, Pakistani and Saudi backing.
1996: Taliban take Kabul.
1997: US abandons support for the Taliban.
1998: US bombs Afghanistan.
2001: UN agencies warn of impending famine. Western governments do nothing.
THE MEDIA and governments in the US and Britain have spread panic that ordinary people are at risk from chemical and biological weapon attacks. But the biggest threat from weapons of mass destruction comes from those states that are known to have them. They don't include Iraq or Afghanistan.
The only time Saddam Hussein was known to have chemical weapons was during the decade-long war with Iran in the 1980s - when he got the means of making them from France, West Germany and Britain. Scott Ritter, a former UN chief inspector in Iraq, has said, "Iraq today possesses no meaningful weapons of mass destruction." No agency, not even the CIA, has claimed that Afghanistan possesses weapons of mass destruction.
There were ludicrous stories in 1996 that Saddam Hussein was sending anthrax to Britain hidden in perfume bottles. There was no anthrax outbreak. But the story was a prelude to another US/British bombing raid on Iraq.
SANCTIONS ON Iraq and repeated bombing by the US and Britain have killed even more Iraqi civilians than the 1991 Gulf War.
The former UN food aid coordinator in Iraq, Denis Halliday, commented that the number of children killed by sanctions was "probably closer to 600,000 than 500,000, and that's over a period of 1990 to 1998. If you include adults, it's well over one million Iraqi people."
The sanctions continue, killing 5,000 children a month.
In addition to two major air raids on Iraq since the end of the Gulf War, British and US planes have bombed parts of the country on average once every two weeks over the last four years.
They bombed a village, killing peasants, just days before the World Trade Centre was destroyed.
Bush's War Cabinet
GEORGE W Bush has assembled a cabinet of rich people with a bloody past. These include:
DICK CHENEY, Bush's vice-president, one of the most hardened right wingers in the US. He made his name in the Vietnam War and was Defence Secretary during the 1991 Gulf War. When Bush Sr lost the 1992 election Cheney went to work for the oil companies he had helped organise the war for.
COLIN POWELL, Bush's Secretary of State, a veteran warmonger. In Vietnam he was a staff officer in the US army's 23rd division, which massacred 400 villagers in My Lai. Powell helped cover up this war crime and was rewarded with a desk job in Washington. In the 1980s he was working with right wing fanatics involved in promoting death squads in Central and Latin America. In 1989 he oversaw the invasion of Panama. In 1991 Powell drew up the battle plan for the bloody Gulf War. He told the New Yorker in 1995 "I believe in the bully's way of going to war."
Americans Against the War
ONE OF the biggest lies about opponents of Bush's war is that they are "anti-American". Some of the leading anti-war voices are themselves American.
Academic Noam Chomsky is one of the best known critics of US foreign policy. He said a few days after the destruction of the World Trade Center, "We have a choice - we may try to understand, or refuse to do so, contributing to the likelihood that much worse lies ahead."
US film-maker Michael Moore said, "Will we ever get to the point when we realize we will be more secure when the rest of the world isn't living in poverty?"
Calling for the Global Justice demonstration in washington on 29 September to turn into an anti-war protest, the American Anti-Capitalist Convergence declared, "Until we understand the violence of our economic, military and foreign policies, we continue to foster the conditions that make terrorism possible. We demand no more terror or violence be perpetrated in our name."