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US Policy Goes Up In Smoke
AT LEAST seven US soldiers were killed on 4 March in Afghanistan's mountain ranges during brutal fighting when Al Qa'ida and Taliban fighters ambushed an American helicopter.
Over 1,000 US and allied troops are still trying to 'search and destroy' an enemy that President Bush thought had been beaten during the autumn months of aerial bombardment.
US forces recently stepped up their ground offensive but also carried on bombing. US aircraft have dropped some 300 BLU-118B thermobaric bombs, "Big Blue Two", designed to kill people hiding in caves or bunkers without collapsing the structures.
The blast from this bomb's cloud of solid fuel creates a fireball which sucks up oxygen, collapses lungs, breaks eardrums and pulls out eyes.
Last autumn, even as the Taliban were collapsing, The Socialist warned (16/11/2001), that the US's "military successes will not necessarily be the prelude to a swift overall military victory in Afghanistan, let alone a stable peace.
"If anything they compound the political problems facing US imperialism and its allies." We also warned of the dangers of a drawn-out guerrilla war with many possible casualties.
Conflicts have proliferated wildly recently, particularly after the horrors of 11 September. US imperialism cannot impose by arms a worldwide Pax Americana. Their 'war against terrorism' is clearly seen as having more to do with safeguarding US interests, especially their access to oil supplies, than with opposing terrorist groupings.
Now US troops are going to Yemen, the Philippines and the former soviet state of Georgia. But the US mass bombings stirred tensions in India, Pakistan, the Middle East and other flashpoints.
The death toll in the Middle East conflict has risen sharply with a vicious cycle of violence affecting both Palestinians and Israelis, raising new fears of outright civil war (see The Socialist 1 March).
Bush's 'axis of evil' speech raised military action against Iraq higher up the agenda but, without a peace deal in Israel/Palestine or an end to the war in Afghanistan, any talk of finishing off Saddam Hussein's Iraqi dictatorship (created and armed by the Western powers) becomes problematical.
Few people other than Prime Minister Blair seem now to support Bush's re-run of the 1991 Gulf War. Blair claims that Saddam is developing weapons of mass destruction and was capable of using them so the West should support whatever action the US took about it.
People are understandably worried about claims of weapons of mass destruction, although many might ask what the US's thermobaric bombs are if not terror weapons!
Many capitalist strategists, even in the US, can see that Iraq is a lot bigger than Afghanistan with 100,000 well-armed fighters. Although US forces could beat Saddam's army, the battles would be far fiercer than those in Afghanistan and the US could lose any support from the Middle East and the Muslim world.
Imperialism also worries about who'd take over in Iraq if Saddam were to go and what implications that would have for stability in the region.
With US policy in chaos, it is clear that these capitalist peace-keepers can't 'keep the peace'. If you want a world free of war and terror, keep fighting for a socialist internationalist solution which can bring genuine harmony to a troubled region.
In The Socialist 8 March 2002: