The "Evidence" of Empire

Revolutionary Worker #1122, October 14, 2001, posted at

On Sunday, October 7, U.S. armed forces struck hard at Afghanistan. Swarms of bombers and Tomahawk missiles crossed Pakistan from the Arabian sea and penetrated deep into the Central Asian highlands--hitting the Afghan capital of Kabul and exploding across the countryside. British missile launching submarines and armed forces of France, Germany, Australia and Canada were reportedly also involved.

As we go to press, the combined forces of these major imperialist countries, led by massive U.S. carrier strike forces, are pounding one of the poorest countries of the world.

Even before this attack, almost four million Afghans have lost their homes and live as refugees in camps surrounding their country's borders. Now it is them--the villagers, workers and peasants of Afghanistan's many peoples--who will suffer the punishment and challenges of this new U.S. attack. Meanwhile, the U.S. media reports that anti-government forces in Pakistan are being rounded up--to prevent the powerful anti-American sentiment of Pakistan's people from erupting over this attack on their neighbor and over the slavish support the U.S. is getting from Pakistan's government.

Our heart-felt solidarity goes out to our sisters and brothers in Afghanistan--to the revolutionary people struggling under such difficult conditions. The Afghani people, who fought the Soviet invaders of the 1980s and have struggled against the brutal fundamentalist Taliban government, are now being subjected to American-style "death from the skies" -- the beginning of a new, heartless war by the U.S. military and their partners in crime.

The U.S. and British government are, typically, cloaking their war in a wardrobe of lies. They claim there will be few civilian casualties on the ground in Afghanistan. They dare claim that this bombing is "clearing the way for the humanitarian component" of their operations--which is supposedly providing food for the people who are being scattered and made homeless by those same U.S. bombs. They are claiming their cause is "civilized," "just," and "necessary." And this official disinformation makes it all the more important for people all over the world to work hard to uncover the truths about this war--its true results and its real purposes--and to unite people in struggle against it.

The official reason for targeting Afghanistan is that the government in Kabul, the fundamentalist Taliban, has refused to hand over Osama bin Laden and members of his al-Qaida organization. The Taliban has repeatedly and publicly asked the U.S. for evidence that bin Laden was responsible for the attacks on September 11. The U.S. has replied, harshly, crudely, that their demands are "non-negotiable" and they do not need to provide this government any evidence. After the growl of threats there has now come the roar of U.S. and British missiles--what the world is being given is the "evidence of empire."

The Machinery of Empire

This attack on Afghanistan has been prepared over three weeks through the mobilization of the vast resources and alliances of a military power. Three U.S. aircraft carrier groups moved into striking range within the Arabian Sea. In the eastern Mediterranean, the U.S. military has gathered an air, land and sea force of 23,000, based in Mubarak Military City in northwest Egypt. There, under the guise of a "routine military training exercise" they are conducting war maneuvers and planning, together with 47,000 troops from Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Spain and Britain. Offshore, a fourth U.S. naval battle group, led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt, is prepared to transport troops and bomb distant targets.

On October 5, the Pentagon announced that 1,000 troops of the 10th Mountain Division would soon be arriving in Uzbekistan--where the corrupt government has been bullied and bribed into allowing the first U.S. base in former Soviet Central Asia.

U.S. spy satellites and unmanned drones have been crisscrossing Asia, pinpointing "assets" that the U.S.-led forces are now targeting with missiles and bombs. USA Today (Sept. 28) claimed that Green Beret and Navy SEALs were sent into Afghanistan after September 13 to operate as forward observers and assassination squads.

Meanwhile, Bush signed an executive decree freezing the U.S.-based financial assets of anyone accused of relations with the fundamentalist group al-Qaida. He admitted that there were very few such funds in the U.S., so he went on to demand that the banks and financial systems of the whole world suspend their own rules and freeze assets of 27 people and organizations. On October 1, Bush released a list of 19 countries where the banking systems had obeyed his commands.

Most of the major banking centers in Europe, including Britain, France, Switzerland, Italy and Luxembourg, joined in. One important Persian Gulf financial center, the United Arab Emirates, did likewise, as did Pakistan, where many companies and Islamic charities with links to Afghanistan have operations. Hong Kong and Singapore, two major Asian financial centers, pledged compliance. Another 12 nations, including Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, ordered their banks to closely watch accounts for association with Bush's hit list. The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding that the UN's 189 member states crack down on the financing of "terrorist" movements.

Those countries which did not obey Bush's demands for bank policing, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, were threatened by U.S. government officials in the days that followed. Bush announced that a total of $6 million had been blocked in the accounts of 50 banks, 30 in the U.S. and 20 abroad. Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that his government had frozen $88 million in Afghan government accounts controlled by the Taliban.

Demanding a Blank Check

"Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.... We will ask, and we will need, the help of police forces, intelligence services, and banking systems around the world."

President George W. Bush, Sept. 20

History has never seen such a blanket threat of war as the U.S. President put forward on September 20. It was intended to send a chill throughout the world--especially in the third world. Not a country, not a government, not a square inch of the planet will be allowed to be silent or neutral--when this U.S. president barks.

And who, exactly, is the enemy that everyone in the world was ordered to sign up to fight? Essentially it is whoever the U.S. decides to point its finger at.

The Saudi fundamentalist Osama bin Laden has become the official poster of this enemy--but there is discussion throughout the U.S. power structure of other targets and just how ambitious U.S. war plans should be.

Over and over again, U.S. spokespeople have insisted that this war could go on for years--that this will not be a matter of a few quick air strikes. This war is going to be measured in decades, they say. Conservatives think-tankers and commentators speculate that this war will need "phases"--starting with the al-Qaida group and Afghanistan, but then spreading out to other countries and forces the U.S. decides to crush.

Charles Krauthammer wrote in a Washington Post column called "The War: A Road Map" (Sept. 28) "Yes, we need to get Osama bin Laden. ... But the overriding aim of the war on terrorism is changing regimes....Afghanistan is just stage one. A logical stage two is Syria... Stage three is Iraq and Iran, obviously the most difficult and dangerous."

The world is about to play a deadly game of "American Roulette"--where the barrel gets spun in Washington and the missiles go wherever they point.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced, as he made a whirlwind tour of Eurasia, that the alignments and alliances of the world were now going to be permanently changed in major new ways. The attacks of Sept. 11 have become the moment (and the occasion) where powerful forces of the U.S. ruling class are stepping out to forge, enforce and announce a whole new stage of the American-dominated "New World Order."

Behind the scenes, the U.S. ruling class is engaged in an intense internal debate over who to target and when to attack--but meanwhile the other governments of the world (and certainly the masses of people) are not supposed to question or debate any of these moves. The empire, scorched on September 11 and now raging all over the planet with its weapons unsheathed, is demanding submission and obedience from everyone everywhere.

Price of Alliance: Support and Belief

Heavy demands are being made on loyal allies (and wannabe running dogs) of the U.S.--not just on those formerly considered "rogue states."

Many Muslim countries are facing the heavy and rather openly colonialist demand that they accept U.S. troops and planes on their soil. And because such U.S. occupation is so intensely hated--these governments are being told to prepare to suppress political forces within their countries who oppose the U.S. intrusion. One by one, various Muslim countries have agreed to offer themselves for U.S. military purposes. Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia already have U.S. bases--and have agreed to allow them to be used to support (in various ways) the military attacks the U.S. is preparing to launch.

In a major shift of alliances, two former Soviet republics--Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the heart of Central Asia--have agreed to U.S. military overflight and the stationing of U.S. troops. Pakistan's government, which shares a long common border with Afghanistan, has clearly accepted many U.S. demands--risking possible coups and internal civil war in the process. U.S. reporters claim that major Pakistani military bases have been offered to the U.S. and that Pakistan's border towns are crawling with U.S. military brass.

Many of these countries have made official statements that their soil may be used for logistics and training but not for actually launching invasion or air attacks. The U.S. is winking at these statements--suggesting that each country will be allowed to publicly say whatever they need to to keep their governments in power, but secret treaties will determine what kind of strikes actually are launched.

After meeting with Egyptian President Mubarak, U.S. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said, "We recognize that each country has a distinctive situation and a different perspective and we want to cooperate with countries in ways that they want to cooperate with us." In Turkey he said, "Some will do it publicly; some will do it privately; each will do it in his own way, and all of it will be helpful." The New York Times called this a policy of "don't ask, don't tell."

Meanwhile, the U.S. has also made unprecedented demands on other imperialist countries. For the first time in history, Article 5 of the NATO treaty was invoked--requiring the European members of the Alliance to take military actions in support of the U.S. The U.S. made eight specific demands for military and logistical support--which were officially kept secret--and the 18 member states of NATO voted to comply.

Various European officials disclosed that the actions included allowing the use of NATO's 17 AWACS early warning aircraft and the deployment of the Alliance Standing Naval Force to the eastern Mediterranean where the island of Cyprus has agreed to provide port facilities. Exactly who is expected to be attacked from there is still unclear, though it is clear that the eastern Mediterranean is too far from Afghanistan to launch strikes.

Adding to the picture is the fact that the major war maneuvers now going on in Egypt include amphibious landings--which obviously have nothing to do with attacking al-Qaida's Afghani hideaways.

The U.S. demands also included access to NATO members' harbors, airspace, and airports. NATO members were asked to provide financial support to countries like Pakistan which may be destabilized by the coming U.S. actions. France agreed to open its airspace and has offered naval and logistics support in the Indian Ocean. Germany said the U.S. request included cooperation on intelligence, protection of U.S. installations in NATO countries, unlimited overflight rights and airspace surveillance. German soldiers are being offered for the AWACS operations. In Japan, the government is offering a wide range of logistic support for the U.S. war effort and pressing for a rewrite of the Japanese constitution to allow Japan to send its troops into battle in other countries.

All of this took place without the U.S. publicly stating who, exactly, would be attacked. And the U.S. has insisted (publicly at least) that none of the allies will have any fundamental say over how or when war gets waged. The multilateral structures of the Balkan War are being abandoned, and the U.S. is demanding sole control over its own forces and the coming events.

Meanwhile, Russia's government has also been put under intense pressure by the U.S. It is expected to accept the stationing of U.S. troops in former Soviet republics for the first time. It is watching as former Soviet allies who are now part of NATO pledge themselves to support U.S. military actions in the third world. And the U.S. is demanding the right to have flights of U.S. military transports across Russia itself. Secretary of State Powell described the Russian government's agreement on these issues as ``a seismic sea change of historic proportions,'' while others commented that Putin may be overthrown for making the deal.

One way the Putin government has attempted to justify these humiliating conditions is to suggest that the U.S. has agreed, in exchange, to give Russia a free hand in crushing the Muslim rebels of the Chechnya region.

The Court of Empire

"It is not evidence in the form of a court case."

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell,
on what the U.S. provided its allies

One of the most important roles demanded of U.S. allies is as character witnesses. One by one, NATO governments announced to the world that they have "seen the evidence" the U.S. has on Osama bin Laden, and that they find it believable.

Pakistan's military government, under intense U.S. pressure, announced that it believed that the U.S. had "a sufficient basis for an indictment in a court of law" that the attacks were by Osama bin Laden. (Notice he said "indictment," not "conviction.") In a major development, Iran's President Mohammad Khatami called in a number of Western diplomats to state that his government supported U.S. military attacks on fundamentalist Sunni forces in Afghanistan (which have long been enemies of Iran's Shi'a fundamentalist government).

Above all, Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair now acts like he is the Bush administration's "Minister for Secret Affidavits and War Justifications." He made a speech to the British parliament waving a document that supposedly summarizes the available evidence against bin Laden and al-Qaida. 

What is this evidence offered by the U.S. government (through the mouth of Tony Blair)? They claim that 3 of the 19 men accused of the Sept. 11 attacks had "links" to the al-Qaida organization. They further claim that "one of bin Laden's closest and most senior associates was responsible for the detailed planning of the attacks." They claim that Osama bin Laden made statements that reveal he knew something big would happen in early September.

They claim there is evidence linking Osama bin Laden to the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen and the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Kenya.

And finally, they claim there is more secret evidence that is too sensitive to release.

Several things can be said about this claim of evidence:

It has still not been made public. All the world has seen are U.S. officials and allies who say they have read the evidence and believe it.

A New York Times reporter wrote (Oct. 3) that after U.S. briefings, several governments privately described it as "interesting but circumstantial to Al Qaeda but not necessarily to bin Laden himself." Secretary of State Powell himself said, "I think the case is solid. But let's not see it in terms of one that's going to trial in a court, evidence in the form of a court case... it is not a question of us trying to persuade a court. We are confident in who did it, and that's who we're going after."

It is important to remember that, even if the U.S. intelligence agencies offered "hard evidence," there would be no reason to believe them. Who can tell the difference between intelligence agencies uncovering evidence and intelligence agencies faking evidence?

The CIA and U.S. government have a long history of manufacturing lies and pretexts for military actions. It is well documented now that the U.S. government simply made up the "Gulf of Tonkin incident" that they used to justify their 1965 invasion of Vietnam. It is equally well documented that the Kuwaiti royalist forces and U.S. government fabricated claims of Iraqi soldiers throwing newborns out of incubators--to inflame a justification for the Persian Gulf war. There is still a huge debate over who shot Kennedy and whether the Roosevelt White House knew the Pearl Harbor attack was coming. Colin Powell himself is accused of advancing his military career by helping to cover up the U.S. massacre in My Lai, Vietnam.

And finally, the "evidence" reveals a pattern of warnings which suggest that agencies of the U.S. government knew major attacks were coming.

It may well be that the world will never know who, exactly, planned (or knew about) the attacks of September 11.

Meanwhile the U.S. government is claiming to have the right to attack Afghanistan based on evidence that even they admit could not produce a verdict of guilty in a public court. And they are claiming that right because they are the "world's superpower"--with the armies to prove it.

War--The Extension of Politics by Other Means

The U.S. government claims it is launching an open-ended war in order to protect the people and "civilization." But the goals of their new worldwide campaign are not new--they are acting on policies, alliances and objectives they have developed over decades.

The U.S. imperialists have long wanted to make closer ties with the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, which have oil reserves and are important for preventing a powerful Russian re-emergence on the world stage.

The U.S. has long looked for ways to control Syria, Iraq and Iran. Now powerful forces in the U.S. ruling class are openly arguing that this is the moment to hammer them into place--whether or not any evidence connects them to the September 11 attacks.

The U.S. has been looking for ways to reorganize NATO--to give it a purpose, a firm eastern European footing and to reaffirm U.S. "leadership" over European imperialists at a time when European unification raises the specter of a rival capitalist world power. And, the U.S. (with the help of British imperialism) has seized this moment to do just that.

The rulers of the U.S. are not acting to "protect" anyone--but themselves. They are stalking this planet in a frenzy of strategic power plays. They are moving forcefully to protect their own imperialist interests and strengthen their control over key parts of the world--especially Europe and the Middle East, which have always been crucial to their domination over the world

And the future they are offering the people of this planet is an ongoing global military campaign under their control, a world of checkpoints and government surveillance--with guns aimed at anyone they choose to accuse and anyone who refuses to go along.

It is a very risky path for the imperialists, but they are moving to defend and extend their empire.

As RCP Chairman Bob Avakian once said: "That's why we call it imperialism, because that's what it is."

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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