There Is No "War on Terror"
Revolution #039, March 19, 2006, posted at revcom.us
There is no "war on terror." The invasion and occupation of Iraq are not part of a "war on terror." Neither are the current threats and war preparations against Iran. The "war on terror" doesn't exist—no matter how many times the Bush administration cites it to justify its aggressions, no matter how often Republicans and Democrats debate how to best carry it out, and no matter how frequently it's referenced in the U.S. bourgeois media.
What does exist is a horrific and criminal U.S. war OF terror against the people of the world for greater empire. The attacks of Sept. 11 gave the U.S. rulers an opening to launch this war, but it has nothing to do with halting unjust violence or "terror," nor is it fundamentally aimed at stopping future Sept. 11's (and the full truth about the U.S. government's role that day is still not known—see "9/11: New Doubts on the 'Official Story'" in Revolution #13, or at revcom.us) or "protecting" those living in the U.S. or anywhere else. Instead, it has everything to do with waging unbounded war to solidify and extend the U.S. imperialist system's killing grip on the planet and its people.
The evidence is abundant and clear. For instance, this plan for "reshuffling the whole deck and reordering the whole situation," as Bob Avakian puts it, was openly discussed by imperial strategists for over a decade before Sept. 11, including most blatantly by the Project for a New American Century, and openly articulated at the highest levels afterward, particularly in the 2002 U.S. National Security Strategy. [See "The New Situation and the Great Challenges," by Bob Avakian (Revolution #36, Feb. 26, 2006, at revcom.us).]
Second, neither Iraq nor Iran had anything to do with Sept. 11 (and the U.S. rulers have known this all along). So why have they become focal points in a war supposedly springing from Sept. 11? This doesn't prove Iraq is a "diversion" from a "war on terror," it proves that the "war on terror" is a fraud. In fact, Iraq shows what this war is really all about. The Bush regime saw conquering this ancient land as a key step in unfolding its broader global agenda: "shocking and awing" the world, strengthening the U.S. grip on the Middle East, turning Iraq into a military and political platform for further aggression, gaining tighter control of international energy supplies, controlling and reshaping the entire arc from North Africa to Central Asia, and strengthening the U.S. hand against rivals—current and future.
Third, Bush and his criminal cohorts refuse to define"terrorism" so they can label any who stands in their path "terrorists"—whether Palestinians fighting Israeli ethnic cleansing, radical nationalists, Maoist guerrillas, reactionary Islamist forces with their own conflicts with U.S. imperialism, states standing in the way of U.S. designs, or even Iraqis resisting the invasion and occupation of their own country.
They also avoid defining "terror" to obscure their own war crimes and crimes against humanity. When former Attorney General John Ashcroft appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in December 2001, he said, "Since 1983 the United States government has defined terrorists as those who perpetuate premeditated, politically motivated violence against noncombatant targets." Applying this definition, and taking into account both the motives and the toll of all its wars and interventions over the past 50 plus years including Iraq, the United States government emerges as the largest and most violent terrorist organization on earth.
You can't seriously oppose, much less stop, Bush wars of aggression by accepting the need for, or legitimacy of, the "war on terror," or debating the pros and cons of U.S. actions within that framework—as the Democratic Party insists on. Its criticisms of Bush are not based on telling the truth about the nature, aims, and objectives of Iraq and other U.S. aggressions; instead they accept, agree with, and promote the whole "war on terror" rationale (and they DO know what it’s all about). Their "criticisms" are over how to best carry it out.
This isn't being spineless or confused; it's being an imperialist party that agrees with the goal of deepening and extending U.S. global power but has differences over strategy and tactics—and is energetically working to keep the anti-war movement within these killing confines. This is why they talk of Bush lies, but not of Bush war crimes and crimes against humanity—including the Iraq war and occupation. This concern for U.S. global dominance, including dominance in the Middle East, is why they insist that now the U.S. is in Iraq, it can't "precipitously" withdraw, and it’s why they're raising the specter of civil war should U.S. forces withdraw.
In fact it's the U.S. invasion and occupation that have unleashed and fueled a possible civil war. And even if civil war were to intensify with the end of U.S. occupation, which could be a nightmare for Iraqis, continuing that occupation and allowing the U.S. to complete its "mission" in Iraq would be even worse; it would not only guarantee ongoing bloodshed and torture by the U.S. and its Iraqi puppets, but also strengthen the oppression of the Iraqi people in many ways, for decades to come. And even beyond that, the consolidation of the US occupation of Iraq serves a strategic plan to make that country a "model" of US domination in the region, a reliable staging area for more aggression, more plunder and more oppression in a part of the world that has been subject to a dreadful legacy of a hundred years of savage colonial and imperialist domination. (For a history of imperialism in Iraq, see Oil, Power, & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda by Larry Everest [Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2003].)
On the other hand, forcing the U.S. out of Iraq would remove the primary obstacle to genuine liberation for the Iraqi people. It could help change the present horrendous dynamic in Iraq and strengthen secular progressive and revolutionary forces there. Beyond Iraq, a U.S. defeat in Iraq would be a serious blow to the U.S. war on the world and could make further U.S. aggression more difficult.
The most important way people in the U.S. can come to the aid of the oppressed people of Iraq is to build a powerful movement demanding the U.S. get out—NOW!
You can't seriously oppose U.S. wars of aggression by framing things in terms of "national security" either. However any individual may wish to define this, the reality is that this term has already been defined by the U.S. ruling class—and is understood broadly in society—as its predatory interests and power.
Nor can "protecting Americans" be our starting point. The Bush regime's actions have increased hatred for the United States and in various ways put people from this country in harm’s way. But why should American lives be worth any more than others? Start from this and you're on a very slippery slope to justifying the murder and torture of others. The U.S. rulers want people to accept a foul, Faustian, and ultimately phony bargain: it will supposedly protect us in exchange for our acquiescence in whatever killings, interventions, or wars it decides to wage, wherever and whenever.
The U.S. rulers have used the fact that currently their main targets are Islamic theocrats, who often have sharp contradictions with the U.S., and whose politics offers no future to the people, to justify aggression in the name of democracy and progress. First, it must be said that the U.S. is increasingly dominated by its own backward-looking ayatollahs. And, the imperialists often build up Islamic reactionary forces in opposition to secular movements in the Mideast, even though that in turn creates unintended problems for them when these forces come into conflict with the U.S. And what the U.S. is bringing to the Middle East is no better. The answer to Islamic reaction is not U.S. imperialist domination.
What is called for is the moral clarity articulated by former UK Ambassador Craig Murray before the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity by the Bush Administration: "Evil begets more evil. If we're supporting a regime—and you must remember most of the people being tortured were Muslims, and most of them were being tortured because they were religious Muslims. If we're supporting a regime like that, is it any wonder some Muslims come to hate us? No, it's no wonder at all. And my charge before this commission is, not only that the CIA knowingly and openly uses information got from torture, that this administration has introduced a dehumanization of our Muslim brothers and sisters which means that anything done to them doesn't count. And that is a step along the road to the ultimate evil. and that, ladies and gentleman, is I believe where we are…Which is just to say I don't believe it works, but even if it did work, I would personally rather die than have anyone tortured to save my life."
Democrats Out-Bush Bush on Dubai Ports Deal
Reflecting deep reservations in the ruling class over the Bush administration's foreign policy moves, Democrats and many Republicans in Congress congealed to squash Bush's plan to turn over administration of some US ports to a company based in the Emirate of Dubai.
Score one for the Democrats: They grabbed for the title of "leading the 'war on terror,'" and pandered to and whipped up racism and xenophobia (hatred and fear of foreigners). Howard Dean crowed that, "Democratic senators and representatives forced President Bush to give up the idea that six major American ports should be run by a foreign country." New York Senator Charles Schumer was welcomed onto the radio show of fascist Michael Savage—who regularly refers to Muslims and Arabs as "rag-heads" and worse. Democratic Representative Harold Ford of Tennessee produced a television commercial in which he walks through the Port of Baltimore while pictures of black-turbaned Taliban and 9/11 hijackers are shown.
Meanwhile, where is the furor, or even murmur, from the Democrats over Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and other U.S.-run torture chambers? Opposing the dire threat to the right to abortion? Or stopping Bush's illegal, vast spying network on people in the U.S.? Where is their outrage over the coverup of Bush's responsibility for the death and destruction in New Orleans? Or to saber-rattling and threats to attack or invade Iran? ...
There are real conflicts within the ruling class. But they are all within the framework of how to pursue a war for imperial plunder - the so-called "war on terror." And neither side can be aligned with.