George W Bush - Redefining War

As I write, it is having just learned that the Northern Alliance has ‘taken’ Kabul and that the Taliban are now in retreat. The ‘war’, if it could ever have been described as one, is said to be almost over. Already there has been much speculation as to the post-Taliban set-up in Afghanistan.

Speculation is not something socialists like to engage in. For one thing it is a forgone conclusion that any new government will have to be ready to bow with suppliant’s knee before the interests of US corporate elites and in particular the oil hounds, paying back the support their military wing the US air force and US my afforded them. And by all accounts, with the Northern Alliance suggesting they would decline the offer of an international peace-keeping force, Afghanistan is years away from any semblance of peace and order.

What is as important is that the rules of global interaction are changing. This is not least because the US is forging stronger links with repressive regimes in the Middle East and with governments in the Caspian region, but more importantly because of the ongoing delegitimising of international law, the US insistent it will act unilaterally where it wishes, regardless of any views of the UN and the threat of the war on terrorism finally replacing the threat of international communist conspiracy and how this will serve as the new pretext for US military adventurism. We can further anticipate the race for the militarisaton of space – albeit a one horse race and further sophistication of US war-fighting capabilities.

Whilst President George W has strutted and fretted about the US stage, his advisers burying their heads in their hands every time he speaks, Tony Blair globetrotting, drumming up support for the US cause like some keen-to-Republican foreign secretary, there has been every sign that Dubya is attempting to fulfil his father’s prophecy, mouthed during his presidential inaugural address all those years ago, that the 21st Century would be ‘another American century’.

For anyone interested in US domestic politics, aware that George W could never sway an electorate by the power of his words, it perhaps came as no surprise to learn that he could so blatantly repay his corporate backers and grassroots supporters so early into his administration. Within months of coming to office the gun lobbyists, oil companies, and defence contractors had their servitude recognised for the world to see. The 1997 Kyoto protocol on emission reductions is now history. The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty – the cornerstone of all arms-control negotiations during and since the cold war is now only fit to wipe the presidential arse with, and down the proverbial toilet went the comprehensive test-ban treaty and the UN treaty on the control of small arms. Bush even denounced the recent UN convention on slavery.

Let’s just leave aside Bush’s recent meeting with President Putin of Russia and his suggestion that the US is willing to negotiate cutting it’s nuclear arsenal by one third , to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads, for the simple reason that the US no longer perceives Russia as its prime military and economic threat. Moreover, Putin, in line with his Chinese counterpart, has given his blessing to the US bombing raids on Afghanistan in the hope the US will now support their own wars against ‘terrorists (in Chechnya and China’s Muslim Xingjiang province). So at the moment there is a lot of back slapping camaraderie amongst leaders whose countries are notorious for their state terrorism. This is not, however, a sign of the US seeking a more stable world, but an acknowledgement by the Republican right that National Missile Defence is still very much on the agenda and that the US does not need such a large nuclear stockpile now that it can depend upon other methods of defence. Neither does Bush’s promise to reduce the nuclear arsenal heed recent Russian and Chinese claims that any NMD system would only spur other countries to increase their own arsenals in the hope of overwhelming a nuclear umbrella.
On 25th July, the US scuppered a decade of international negotiations by announcing in Geneva its intention not to back a draft protocol to reinforce the biological weapons and toxin convention, which was initially signed in 1972. It’s reason? Such a move threatened US commercial interests. The protocol would have included verification measures that would have given international inspectors access to laboratories in the signatory countries. Perhaps the US has some stronger reason for denying inspections at thousands of its defence plants and biotechnology sites. What on earth are its commercial interests that it can nonchalantly destroy a treaty signed in the interest of humanity? What the hell is the US developing? And wasn’t it the US that was so damned insistent that an international scientific inspectorate search behind every Iraqi door capable of being locked?

In effect, President Bush has told the world: ‘Fuck off, it’s US first’. Somewhat echoing his father’s sentiments’ that he would ensure the 21st century was another ‘American century, son George W has announced his intention that the world will be ruled by force and on behalf of US corporate interests.

The evidence has been ever present since September 11th. Colin Powell, when asked to publicly provide evidence of bin Laden’s links to the attack on New York and Washington, avoided the issue by claiming its disclosure would be a breach of national security. When the Taliban wished to negotiate, offering to hand bin laden to a third party, Bush replied: “I said no negotiations and I mean no negotiations.” And while the US is keen to point out it has a ‘coalition’ of support against the Taliban it has bombed Afghanistan single-handedly, except for a few token cruise missiles fired from a British submarine (a doggie- snack for the ever-loyal poodle) on the first day of the attack upon Afghanistan.

It is now not only full steam ahead with the prized National Missile Defence system with a target date for the deployment of the system set for 2005 (See also the Socialist Standard of March this year), but plans are now afoot in the US to develop a space bomber that could destroy targets on the other side of the globe within 30 minutes; the bomber travelling 15 times faster than conventional bombers, able to hit a target from 60 miles up and paving the way for a new era of stratospheric warfare.

NMD, however is clearly a sign that the US is moving towards becoming a more aggressive and threatening military power. Experts now maintain that the issue is not so much whether an anti-missile system is feasible or desirable, but what kind of diplomatic and military policies the world’s only superpower would pursue from beneath the relative safety of a nuclear umbrella. It seems less the case that NMD is about protecting the USA from ‘rogue states’, and more the likelihood that such a sophisticated system of defence will ensure the profits flow in the right direction and that the global schoolyard bully can streamline its protection racket, safe in the knowledge it will meet little resistance.

Back in 1992, Paul Walfowitz (now Deputy Secretary of Defence) and Lew Libby (Bush’s National Security Adviser) formulated ideas which were presented as a confidential Pentagon document by none other than vice-president Dick Cheney:

“The US must hold global power and a monopoly of force. It will then protect the new order while allowing others to pursue their legitimate interests as Washington defines them. The US must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership, or seeking to overturn the established political order, or aspiring to a larger regional or global role…we will retain the pre-eminent responsibility for addressing those wrongs which threaten not only our interests but also those of our allies and friends. The US alone will determine what are those wrongs and where they are to be selectively righted.” (quoted in. Year 501 by, Noam Chomsky)

This is an extremely revealing document - a document that is also very worrying. And it’s not a one off. There are others, take for instance the US Space Command’s document “Vision 2020” which, now five years old, well telegraphs US designs for the 21st Century, suggesting that globalisation will lead to greater misery, to a lot more ‘have-nots’ with an axe to grind and who will have to kept in line:

“Although unlikely to be challenged by a global peer competitor, the United States will continue to be challenged regionally. The globalisation of the world economy will also continue, with a widening between the haves and have-nots. Accelerating rates of technological development will be increasingly driven by commercial interests not the military. Increased weapons lethality and precision will lead to new operational doctrines…..only military dominance will protect US interests and investments.”

In 1998, the US government report “The Long-Term Plan” reiterated this notion of there being trouble ahead from the dispossessed:

“The US will remain global power and exert global leadership. Widespread communications will highlight disparities in resources and quality of life, contributing to unrest in developing countries…The gap between the ‘haves and the ‘have–nots’ will widen, creating regional unrest. The US will remain the only nation able to project power globally.”

It is a fair bet that such sentiments have been prominent components of the US weltanschauung for some years – at least since 1945 and definitely since 1989 and the collapse of Soviet-style state capitalism. Moreover, it’s no bold assertion to suggest that China is chief the enemy in waiting – not the allegedly ‘rogue states’ such as Iraq and North Korea, nor the threat of international terrorism which has been a US favourite since the days of Reagan – for the simple reason that the republican right perceive China to be an economic and military power on a collision course with the US over domination of the Pacific. And if the US learns anything from its military history it is to strike first – hence the dire necessity of a fully functioning NMD.

At the beginning of July this year, only days before the New York Times announced Bush’s plans to ditch the comprehensive test ban treaty, his administration enquired of nuclear laboratories just how soon they could begin testing again – clearly intent on breaching agreements made 16 months earlier by 187 countries who had negotiated steps to strengthen the non-proliferation treaty.

On the 14th of July this year, the US launched a missile from the Marshall Islands. Twenty-nine minutes later a second missile, launched from Vanderburg, California, intercepted it at an altitude of 144 miles. The success not only strengthened Republican arguments for a competent star wars system, but was the order for similar multi million dollar tests to be carried out every month and helped justify the mobilisation of contractors into Fort Greeley, Alaska, to begin foundation work on a new missile silo.

Just over two years ago, President elect, George W Bush, gave a speech at Charleston, South Carolina. He spoke of the “contagious spread of missile technology and weapons of mass destruction” and hence the necessity of strengthening the unrivalled military power of the US. He then boldly announced that “the best way to keep peace is to redefine war on our terms.”

Which just about says it all – “to redefine war on our terms.” Economic war? Surely not the more bloodier version? And what is ‘redefining’ war? To provoke your competitors to the point that they begin arming themselves with better weaponry, then making a pre-emptive strike, bombing them back into the stone age on the pretext they threatened world peace, safe in the knowledge, there will be no retaliation and that you can then overtake their markets? We jest not!

Forget all the crap that George W’s father mouthed when he became president. The peace dividend’ that was supposed to replace cold war hostilities and benefit all after the collapse of ‘communism’ was as fictitious as fairies. The agenda now is as it was then and 40 years previous – US global domination in the military and economic fields and woe betide anyone foolish enough to think otherwise.

As socialists we certainly do not need to redefine our war. The war we must fight to end the insanity and horror Bush and Co would hurl us headlong into is the Class War. And this can not be fought with missiles, but something more powerful – our minds, our imagination, our solidarity and preparedness to unite as the majority exploited class and to wrest control of the planet from the madmen before it is to late.

Are you with us? Don’t take too long to think of a reply – the doomsday clock really is ticking.


Unholy War (book Review)

Unholy Wars – Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism
299 pages, John K. Cooley, Pluto Press
This new edition of a book first published in 1999 provides a first rate insight into the US relationship with militant Islam during and since the Cold War and provides much ammunition for those holding to the line that in supporting the likes of Osama bin Laden during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the US was indeed sowing the seeds of a bitter harvest reaped on September 11th 2001.

The USA did not only support those opposing the Soviet forces in the Afghan War, forming a deadly and unholy alliance with militant Islam in the process, it very much instigated the war. When President Carter signed a directive for covert support for the enemies of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul in July, 1979, he was informed that do so would lead to Soviet intervention. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s National Security Adviser, would comment: “We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we consciously increased the probability that they would do so…This secret operation was an excellent idea. Its effect was to draw the Russians into the Afghan trap.” He later wrote to Carter: “Now we can give the USSR its own Vietnam War.” (p. 19)

The US support for the mujahedin and other groups would turn out to be phenomenal. Billions of dollars were pumped into the Afghan cause and thousands of Islamic zealots were given specialist training in the US and Britain. As Cooley observes: “In the United States they experienced tough courses in endurance, weapons use, sabotage, and killing techniques, communications and other skills. They were required to impart these skills to the scores of thousands of fighters who formed the centre and the base of the pyramid of holy war.” (p. 81)

The training of the warriors of jihad not enough, the CIA also promoted drug trafficking in Afghanistan, one result being that the trade found easy access into the Soviet Union and helped destabilise civil society there. Moreover, “Nowhere did the growing addiction to locally-produced drugs, encouraged by those in the CIA…wreak greater havoc than in the Red Army…on an even larger scale than the addiction of American GIs during the Southeast Asian wars.” (p.5)

And of course there was the oil. One reason why the US nurtured the Taliban was that American oil companies wanted to build an oil pipe-line from Central Asia, through Afghanistan, to the Indian Ocean. It was hoped, states Cooley, “…that the Taliban, once in control, would be a security blanket. It would be able they conjectured, to secure the truck highways and eventually routes for oil and natural gas pipe-lines.” (p. 147)

In this updated edition of the 1999 publication, Cooley brings his topic up to date with an insight into the Bin-Laden-linked international terrorist network, as well as providing information on the post 1999 Pakistani coup.

For the socialist there is much in Unholy Wars we can use in the battle of ideas, revealing the lengths the US will go to, and the stinking depths it will plummet to secure its own ends, regardless of the cost of life. Where there is profit to be made, where US interests are challenged, nothing is sacred. People, no, whole nations are there to be manipulated.


Leaders? Not Here

Many workers think we cannot function without leaders. This is a fallacy and one perpetuated by the master class to help them maintain their rule over our lives. Indeed, so prevalent is this philosophy, that from the cradle to the grave we are taught to mistrust out own intelligence and to look up to our ‘betters and superiors’ (schools, church, politicians, parents etc) and to accept without question the plans they draw up for our future.

It is assumed leaders run the world. Well, we think it is we, the workers who run the world. Politicians might make government policy, which becomes law, but it is we who build and man the hospitals and schools. It is we who build the bridges, roads and railways, ports and airports, all the products that humans need to survive. It is we who produce everything from a pin to an oil-rig and provide humanity with all the services it needs – we the working class. We don’t depend on leaders for these skills or for their guidance. They have no monopoly on our knowledge and intelligence and the inventions we dream up, but benefit from them the most. If all the worlds leaders died tomorrow, few would really miss them and society would function as before. If all the bosses decided not to turn up at their factories, their business would still function because it is we who see to it that they function. Do you need a boss standing over you all day in the office or workplace, showing you how to work? Are you constantly in search of the guidance of a more superior individual to tell you how to run your life?

The concept of leadership has emerged as a result of class society and will end when we abolish class society, when abolish the capitalist mode of production and all that goes with it. The master class have been allowed to lead because of their control over the means of living, because of their control of the education system and their monopoly of the media and other and information processes.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The greatest weapons we posses are our class unity, our intelligence, and our ability to question the status quo and to imagine a world fashioned in our own interests. The master class perceives all of this to be a threat and so will do anything to keep us in a state of oblivion, dejection and dependency. Our apathy is the victory they celebrate each day. Our unwillingness to unite as a globally exploited majority and to confront them on the battlefield of ideas is the subject of their champagne toasts.

Only sheep need leaders, and if workers want to be sheep then they can expect to get fleeced. The truth is, we have been led for so long by idiots that we have forgotten our own collective strength and lost sight of just what we, as a species, working together, are capable of.

The WSM has no leaders and has existed for 97 years without one. If someone can lead you into socialism, there will always be someone who can lead you out again. Socialism must be the free and conscious decision of the majority, otherwise it will never work. Our position is now as it was in 1904 at our inception – there is nothing that we can do for the working class that it is not already capable of doing for itself. For Socialism to be a success, it must be established without leaders and followers. It must be established by ordinary people al over the world uniting and working together to establish a new system peacefully and democratically – a world in which the exploited at last regain control of their own destiny.