Archive article from The Socialist Issue 325
Losing The War On Terror
THE DREADFUL carnage of the Istanbul bomb attacks clearly revealed the futility of Bush and Blair's war on terror.
Socialists unequivocally condemn the attacks in Istanbul, which al-Qa'ida claimed responsibility for. Those who suffer most from these attacks are not the world leaders closeted in their security bubbles in London or Washington but ordinary working people in Turkey and Britain.
Hypocritically Bush and Blair seized upon these suicide bombings in Turkey (targeted because it is an ally of both the US, Britain and Israel) and to justify their actions in Iraq and to crank up the repression that their war on terror is perpetuating around the world.
They also attempted to use the bombings to belittle the massive show of protest against Bush and Blair's global policies that took place in London on the same day.
This magnificent demonstration showed the massive opposition there is to the imperialist policies of Bush and Blair and reflected a growing mood for 'regime change' in Britain and the USA.
Blair's support for Bush's military occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq massively increased the likelihood of British people and cities being targeted. Last week's bombings will intensify the anxieties of ordinary people about possible future attacks.
Bush and Blair's actions, far from eradicating support for groups like al-Qa'ida, will only push more of the oppressed to take desperate measures, including suicide bombings, to try and defeat imperialism.
At the same time the terrorist methods of groups like al-Qa'ida are counter productive and play a reactionary role in allowing the imperialists to intensify their repression at home and abroad - in Iraq, the Middle East and throughout the world.
Civil liberties threatened
In the USA, according to the New York Times, the FBI is collecting extensive information on anti-war protesters. Had the Istanbul bombings occurred a day or so before the anti-war demo, the government would have intensified its pressure to get the demo stopped.
Blair's government is apparently considering a civil contingencies bill in the aftermath of the Istanbul bombings which will see a further draconian attack on civil liberties.
The Socialist Party has consistently opposed war and terror, explaining that both are the destructive consequences of a capitalist system that exploits the working people and oppressed - the overwhelming majority - across the planet.
The terror methods of groups like al-Qa'ida allow the capitalists to breed mistrust and sow divisions amongst workers, the poor and oppressed of the world.
Socialists argue that the way to defeat imperialism is not through the methods of individual terror but through united mass movements of protest action and strikes.
The huge protests against Bush and Blair's occupation show the potential there is for such a movement. And, many of those now protesting are looking for answers on wider issues than just why we should oppose the war and occupation of Iraq.
Many are now agreeing with the socialist conclusion; which also argues for regime change at home and abroad and the socialist transformation of society to bring peace and freedom to the people of Iraq, the Middle East and throughout the world.
'Yes to peace, no to war'
GEORGE BUSH and Tony Blair seized upon the news of the latest suicide bombings in Turkey to justify their occupation of Iraq, as part of the 'war on terror'.
This shameless piece of propaganda however, conveniently ignores the fact that Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network is the product of the US's cold war strategy. Moreover, it is Bush and Blair's attempts to reconquer areas of the Middle East as part of an imperialist expansion and their support for the Israeli government's repression of Palestinian areas that is acting as a recruiting sergeant for these right-wing Islamist groups.
Robert Fisk writing in The Independent (21/11/03) pointed out: "The Australians paid the price for John Howard's alliance with Bush in Bali. The Italians paid the price for Silvio Berlusconi's alliance with Bush in Nasiriyah. Now it is our turn."
Although media reports in Britain generally portrayed the peace demos in Turkey following the bombings as sympathetic to Britain, many of the banners and speeches attacked the Bush and Blair invasion and occupation of Iraq. This is hardly surprising in a country where polls gave a 90% opposition to the war against Iraq.
'"There is war in Iraq, there is war in Palestine, the people are very angry about that," a teenage student said. Most of those taking part in the rally, held under the banner 'Yes to Peace, No to War', were from leftist groups, including trade unionists, students and members of the communist party,"' reported AFP at a 3,000-strong demo in Istanbul.
Clearly, many Turks blame US and British foreign policy for fuelling the wave of terrorist attacks.
Only one month before the invasion of Iraq by US and British armed forces, the Joint Intelligence Committee warned Tony Blair that a war on Iraq would heighten the terrorist threat from al-Qa'ida associated groups. This information was ignored.
Bush and Blair justified their "regime change" in Afghanistan and Iraq by saying that this would deny terrorists a safe haven and support. The increase in terrorist bombings in Turkey around the world has served to confound this perspective.
Nurturing the terrorists
GEORGE W Bush should reflect that it was his father, George Bush senior, (a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director), who as US Vice-President in the 1980s, helped arm, train and finance Osama bin Laden and his fellow Islamist groups to wage a guerrilla war against the Soviet army then occupying Afghanistan.
During the Cold War a central part of the strategy to protect US and Western imperialism's interests in the Middle East, ie its vital oil and gas supplies and the state of Israel, was to form anti-Communist alliances with Islamic groups.
The CIA using third countries, principally Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, built a 50,000-strong mercenary army to fight the Russians. Billions of US dollars, matched by donations from rich Saudi tycoons like bin Laden, money from the fraudulent Bank of Credit and Commerce International and the proceeds of drugs money, funded this secretive campaign.
By 1989, the collapsing, Stalinist-run Soviet state couldn't sustain its war in Afghanistan and President Gorbachev withdrew the Russian army.
"Now under the American presidency of George Bush (1989-93), the CIA celebrated its victory with champagne. Nevertheless the holy alliance of the Americans and the Islamist forces against the Russians had ended in a series of distinctly unholy wars and epidemics of violence, affecting much more than the ex-Soviet Union." (Unholy Wars by John Cooley, Pluto Press)
At the 1995 and 1996 trials in the US when the blind cleric Sheikh Omar Rahman and his co-defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre and other crimes, all references connecting the defendants to the Afghan war and the CIA did not appear in the public court records. The CIA was covering up its tracks.
With the war over, bin Laden concentrated on building his al-Qa'ida group as an urban guerrilla organisation aimed at destabilising 'impious' Arab governments.
Following the 1991 Gulf War, he began backing anti-US opponents of the Saudi regime.
In February 1998 Bin Laden and four senior Islamist leaders formed a front against Israel and the US, issuing a fatwa which declared it legitimate to kill any American, civilian or military.
So, when Western leaders justify their imperialism as a 'war on terror' it's worth reminding them that they nurtured these terrorist groups.