Revolutionary Worker #1132, December 23, 2001, posted at http://rwor.org
Halfway through December, the White House offered the world a video that the CIA claims to have gotten in Afghanistan. It was, they said, proof of the justice of this war the president has unleashed--a "smoking gun."
On the ground, in Afghanistan, there are smoking villages, smoking craters, smoking mountains, smoking ruins of prisons. The Pentagon has wrecked a whole country.
In the U.S. the grief of people who lost loved ones in the smoldering ruins of September 11 is being twisted anew into a cry to justify an unjust war.
The U.S. media reports that the masses in the streets of the Arab world are "skeptical" of George Bush's grainy video of Osama bin Laden. And it is worth thinking about why that might be.
It is not just that people all over the world are aware that the CIA prides itself in psyops and routinely fabricates disinformation.
But, more important, they have a deep sense that whatever it is that the U.S. is trying to justify--it will not be in the interests of the people around the world. And all over the world there are people rejecting the logic of crusade vs. jihad.
Images and messages come pounding at the brain from the mass media. But there is a "disconnect"--a nagging separation between official propaganda and reality. It comes up whenever people ask "Why exactly is America so hated around the world?" "How have U.S. actions in the world unleashed reactionary fundamentalist forces?" and "Where exactly is the White House going with all this?" The disconnect widens whenever the forbidden truths break through the fog of war.
The Emperor has no clothes. The Empire has no justice.
The Caves of Tora Bora: Reminder of Origins
For months, the U.S. talked about hunting Osama bin Laden in "the caves." The picture came to mind of Islamic fundamentalists huddled over campfires within the ancient caves of Afghanistan's mountains.
But when the actual fighting focused on Tora Bora, a different reality came out. These "caves" in the White Mountains are huge modern complexes of arms depots and bunkered command posts--with steel doors, observation posts, and roadways large enough for tanks and trucks. Not exactly ancient "caves."
A "disconnect" between image and reality--and from that disconnect, one of the hidden stories of this war reappears.
These "caves" were built during the mid 1980s, when the Reagan administration made Afghanistan the battleground for a CIA war with the Soviet Union. Osama bin Laden first came to Afghanistan because his family ran the construction company of the royal Saudi family--and his firm was commissioned to build the massive infrastructure (roads, camps, arms depots and bunkers) needed for the CIA's secret war.
During this 1980s proxy war between the Soviet and U.S. imperialists, the revolutionary and progressive forces of Afghanistan were systematically targeted and killed--many died at the hands of the U.S.-backed fundamentalists. And the U.S. secretly poured in billions of dollars to fund and arm the most intolerant, reactionary, fundamentalist political forces in the region--to forge them into a CIA-controlled contra force called the Mujahideen.
As Osama bin Laden oversaw the construction, he worked as a bag-man bringing money from Saudi Arabia to the Mujahideen. He brought with him his crews of Arab fundamentalists to fight as proxy troops for the U.S.--and who later became the core of al Qaida.
The roots of Osama bin Laden's al Qaida (and the Taliban too) are in the global moves of U.S. imperialism and their close Saudi and Pakistani allies. The people of Afghanistan have suffered terribly from these brutal U.S. creations.
And now the U.S. wants to impose yet another government on Afghanistan. First bombs, then peanut butter packages, now a "government in a crate"--all dropped from the sky.
The U.S. has bribed and pressured a new puppet government into existence, made up of utterly corrupt, reactionary, discredited but very pliant forces. They have helicoptered this "government" in--to impose it on the Afghan people using 15,000-pound "Daisy Cutters" and Special Ops hit squads.
This is naked colonialism. What justice can this possibly bring to the people of Afghanistan or the surrounding region?
"A 2,000-pound bomb, no matter where you drop it, is a significant emotional event for anyone within a square mile."
U.S officer on the USS Carl Vinson, Guardian, Nov. 2
"This is a war of extermination,"
Marine Col. Gary Anderson (ret.), Washington Post, Dec. 13
"It's Rumsfeld's moment. The secretary of defense is hotter than the exhaust fumes on a B-52. Everyone's genuflecting before the Pentagon powerhouse."
"Rumsfeld, America's New Rock Star," Washington Post, Dec. 13
At 3 a.m., on December 1, B-52 bombers made four passes over the farming village of Kama Ado, dropping 25 1,000-pound bombs, each 10 feet long. Kama Ado is a 10-hour hike away from Tora Bora--the cave complex that has been the focus of U.S. attentions.
Khalil Rahman survived because he had gone outside to urinate. A bomb struck his home, killing his 12 relatives. Sprina, a 50-year old widow wounded in the attack, lost 38 of her 40 relatives. At least half of the village's 300 residents are dead.
A second nearby village, Khan-e-Mairjuddin, was bombed a few hours earlier with a likely death toll of 100 to 200, with 50 confirmed deaths by Saturday morning. And a third village, Zaner Khel, also reported being hit with scores of civilian casualties, when U.S. warplanes bombed the nearby house of a minor Taliban official. Journalists visited Kama Ado within hours, documenting the huge craters, and debris scattered across two hillsides--including children's shoes, dead sheep, and the tailfin of a U.S MK-83 bomb.
When confronted with these reports, the Pentagon and the war's Command Central answered, "It just did not happen." And that's what the U.S. media reported.
On the ground, the funerals go on--so-called "collateral damage" in U.S. military-speak.
Over 3,700 civilians have now been reportedly killed in Afghanistan during the first nine weeks of the war, according to a newly released study of world press accounts by economics professor Marc W. Herold at the University of New Hampshire. There are many more dead who don't make it into those press accounts.
Meanwhile, the evidence mounts up that U.S., British and their allied forces are carrying out systematic massacres of prisoners they capture in battle.
The most publicized killing happened at Mazar-i-sharif over three days at the end of November--where prisoners facing CIA interrogation and possible execution took over part of the prison where they were being held. U.S. bombers pounded the prisoners from the air, while Northern Alliance soldiers under U.S. command executed prisoners who tried to surrender. Reporters found piles of bodies of dead prisoners with their arms still bound behind them.
Since then the New York Times reported that dozens of Taliban prisoners in northern Afghanistan have been locked up in six cargo containers and simply left to suffocate. One western journalist reported that a mass grave near Kandahar airport contained the bodies of over 280 Taliban soldiers, and reports that at least some of the dead were massacred after being captured.
Since the release of the White House home video, much has been said about the evil of calculating the death of thousands and of showing glee at its completion. But when has such glee and calculation been displayed more shamelessly than in Pentagon press briefings--where the U.S. minister of war Rumsfeld postures and chuckles over bombings?
Rumsfeld says "This is war."
Well, it is a particular kind of war. Like the Roman slave owners who lined their highways with crucifixes, the U.S. government wants to send a message to the world. The message of the piles of dead and Rumsfeld's grin is: don't defy us, don't stand in the way, don't even dare be neutral.
"With us, or against us," said Bush.
Can there be any justice in a world defined and forged by such war?
Where Are They Going from Here?
"The Americans are walking on water. They think they can do anything at the moment."
European military official, recently returned
from General Franks' War Command Center,
British Observer, Dec. 2
"America is planning to attack al-Qa'eda fugitives in Somalia and has relied on Britain to persuade neighbouring Kenya to allow special forces to use bases there, American sources indicated last night."
British Telegraph, Dec. 13
"America intends to depose Saddam Hussein by giving armed support to Iraqi opposition forces across the country, The Observer has learnt. President George W. Bush has ordered the CIA and his senior military commanders to draw up detailed plans for a military operation that could begin within months."
British Observer, Dec. 2
From the beginning, George Bush insisted that this war was open-ended--that it may last years, even decades, and that it would be worldwide. After Afghanistan, there would be other targets. For three months, there have been steady reports that Afghanistan is "Phase 1"--and that other countries would be "Phase 2."
Never in history has a world power demanded such a blank check--from its allies or from the people of the world--to attack anyone, anywhere, at will.
Now moves are being made for the next "phases." Different forces within the U.S. ruling class have stepped up their call for expanding the war to other countries and regions.
First: The White House gave support to an intense wave of Israeli attacks on Palestinian areas--including directed assaults on Arafat's Palestinian Authority.
Meanwhile, the Times of India reported that U.S. Black Hawk helicopters were spotted flying over Somalia's capital. U.S. Special Ops troops were reported to be on the ground in Somalia spying for a future bombing campaign. A high-level British delegation visited neighboring Kenya seeking support for the attack.
The British newspaper Telegraph wrote:
" 'One of Britain's most important roles as an ally for us is to use its enormous diplomatic and economic influence in parts of the world where it once had an empire,' a senior member of the staff of Gen. Tommy Franks, the military commander of the war, told The Telegraph. He said this kind of influence was vital in obtaining permission from countries to overfly them or play host to the troops of America and other countries. But there would be no need to obtain overflight rights for any operation in Somalia because it has a long coastline and America has numerous carrier-based aircraft to call on. So it seems probable that Kenya would be needed as a land base for commando units going after al-Qa'eda members."
There is public discussion that the U.S. will agree to send thousands of British troops into Afghanistan in a "policing role"--freeing up the U.S. forces for the next "phase."
Detailed reports have emerged in the European press of U.S. moves toward a new war with Iraq--including the preparation of so-called "Iraqi opposition forces" who could play a role similar to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.
The British newspaper The Observer describes the Bush war plan: "It envisages a combined operation with U.S. bombers targeting key military installations while U.S. forces assist opposition groups in the North and South of the country in a stage-managed uprising. One version of the plan would have U.S. forces fighting on the ground. Despite U.S. suspicions of Iraqi involvement in the 11 September attacks, the trigger for any attack, sources say, would be the anticipated refusal of Iraq to resubmit to inspections for weapons of mass destruction under the United Nations sanctions imposed after the Gulf war. According to the sources, the planning is being undertaken under the auspices of the U.S. Central Command at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, commanded by General Tommy Franks, who is leading the war against Afghanistan."
The list of possible target countries is extensive: Beyond Somalia and Iraq, they have mentioned a dozen different countries that should consider themselves threatened by U.S. moves--including places as far apart as Yemen, Syria and North Korea.
Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State under Clinton, went onto the TV talk shows to say that the U.S. government was seeking to act, worldwide, alone, unrestrained by treaties or previous alliances. Even while the U.S. government is threatening an open-ended period of war on many states, they renounced the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty and admitted doing it without even consulting China, the major power who would consider this a direct threat.
This comes as the U.S. government has rejected the germ warfare treaty, the Kyoto anti-global warming treaty, the anti-land mine treaty and after it walked out of the global anti-racism conferences of Durban, South Africa.
The U.S. imperialists have openly explained that they want to break with the Gulf War model for the coming period--they want to forge shifting "coalitions" for war that do not give their allies any real say (or veto) over the overall conduct of these wars.
What stands out in all the current initiatives, attacks, and threats, the U.S. government seems to have taken off on an attempt to restructure geopolitical realities in key regions. It suggests a reckless superpower dream of forcibly recasting the world--and remaking it in U.S. interests.
There is a disconnect here that is worth exploring: The justification may be "war on terrorism." The official rhetoric may be about the dead of September 11. But the moves are coldly geopolitical and self-serving.
Who does it strengthen if the U.S. claims the right to seize anyone they want for trial and execution on U.S. bases? What kind of a world would this become if the U.S. gets to drop commandos and assassins wherever they want--without facing the outrage of millions inside and outside the U.S.?
The truth is that the U.S. moves around the world are fundamentally about the world and about who is going to control it. And what would such a world be like? Who would tighten their ownership of the planet? Who would tighten their control over the lives and labor of billions?
Can anyone who cares about justice and the future of humanity support such a crusade for an imperialist New World Order?
The novel Spartacus starts with the story of young Romans setting off to spend a week with relatives in Capua in 70 BC. They knew before they started that the road was tokened with punishment--meaning that crosses had been set up for miles, and on them the bodies of the punished left hanging as a warning to all. The three did not think it would be enough to disturb them.
"After all," Caius tells his companions, "it is better to look at a crucifix than be on one."
Helena replies, "We shall look straight ahead."
But once they step onto that road lined with thousands of the state's victims, they find they can't just look ahead and ignore everything.
"McWorld or Jihad?!? There must be another way."
from "Wanted: A Powerful
Antiwar Movement," RW #1129
RCP Chairman Bob Avakian recently wrote:
"We must bring forward the vision of a movement against the war acts and repression of 'our own' U.S. government that is so powerful that it cannot be hidden from the masses of people all over the world--including in the countries and areas that are targets of U.S. imperialist aggression and are, justifiably, 'hotbeds' of hatred 'against America.'
"Imagine, what it would (and will) mean to those millions and millions of people when they see hundreds of thousands and ultimately millions of people in America itself, taking on the aggression (and repression) of their own government and standing with the people of the world against all that this government stands for and is doing and enforcing in the world. Imagine the questions that will raise in those people's minds, the "dialogue" (even if indirect) it will give rise to, among people all over the world with people in the U.S. itself.
"Imagine the inspiration it will provide and the potential realignment it will contribute to--with ordinary people worldwide finding common cause against the oppressors and bullies of the world, first and above all the rulers of America--who, it will be more and more clear, do not speak and act in the interests, or in the name of large, and growing, numbers of American people themselves...."
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