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A New More Deadly Stage Of War
ONCE YOU disentangle the web of deception that's growing around the current war, then it's clear that the US and British governments are preparing to enter a new, even more brutal stage of the conflict.
The incursion of US special troops into Afghanistan has been accompanied by statements from Tony Blair and Colin Powell that a more extensive ground war is about to begin. Given the expectations that the Bush and Blair administrations have built up this was their inevitable next step.
However, despite a Pentagon spokesperson saying: "The Taliban know that we are going to hit them hard and often" there is growing anxiety and anger about where the war actions of Bush and Blair are leading.
The Daily Mirror editorial summed it up on 22 October when it asked: "What exactly is the mission of Enduring Freedom? Every war needs a strategy and an end game. Yet it's hard to understand our current strategy and even harder to work out how this war on terrorism will end."
US vice-president Dick Cheney had partly given the Mirror their answer the day before when he speculated that "this war... may never end - at least not in our lifetime."
The Daily Mirror, along with some other newspapers, while generally toeing the government line, has struck an increasingly critical note in the last week. What has become abundantly clear in that time is that US forces are killing hundreds of innocent civilians, UN aid workers and others without achieving their objective of causing splits in the Taliban.
The Western powers' clearly now have a huge problem on their hands about the shape of a post-Taliban Afghanistan. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's recent statements where he outlined proposals for 'rebuilding' Afghanistan contained an admission that Western powers have abysmally failed wherever they have militarily intervened.
How can we trust this government or the Bush government to tell the truth about what will happen in this war and afterwards? Indeed, the British government has used this war as an opportunity to sweep under the carpet every embarrassing bad news skeleton they had in the closet.
Militarily the Western powers want to try to get Osama bin Laden and the Taliban out of their hair before the Afghan winter and the Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins in mid-November. That is a crucial and probably impossible objective given that the Soviet troops tried and failed for ten years to drive the Mujahadin out of Afghanistan.
Even if they achieve some limited 'spectaculars', that will be just the beginning of an intensification of their problems. Their rush to use ground forces is not unanimously endorsed, even among the governments of the coalition and, as the inevitable casualties of such an adventure mount, a fresh wave of opposition is likely to grow.
Middle East slides towards war
APART FROM trying to build a stable Afghan nation, the imperialist powers will have to deal with a likely increase in terrorist activities against them. There is also the continuing slide into war in the middle East, where the daily toll of deaths has sharply escalated following the recent assassinations of an ultra-right wing Israeli minister and a leading member of Hamas.
Moreover a prolonged and bloody war could become a lightning conductor for the growing anger and disquiet in Britain against the job losses, economic slowdown and deceptions of the Labour government.
A new anti-war demonstration has been called for 18 November, which could become a massive show of strength against war and against the Labour government. If that demo is built for in every workplace, school, college and community, given the 50,000-plus size of the demo on 13 October, then hundreds of thousands could be mobilised.
As well as building the anti-war movement, socialists have a responsibility to build new mass parties of the working class internationally to struggle for a socialist world without terror and war.
In The Socialist 26 October 2001: