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11th September 2001

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From: The Socialist issue 453, 7 September 2006: Fighting back against attacks on NHS

Search site for keywords: 11th September 2001 - War - US - Socialist - Afghanistan - Terrorism - Imperialism - Class - Capitalism - Middle East - Capitalist - Israel - capitalist system - Iraq

Following the attacks on New York and Washington on the 11th September 2001 (9/11),  the Socialist Party published the following statements and analysis:

After the carnage in the USA: World Crisis Deepens

Socialist Party statement, 12 September 2001

THE KILLING of thousands of innocent civilians in New York, Washington and elsewhere in the US has caused horror and revulsion among ordinary working people worldwide.

The suicide tactics of the attackers are condemned and opposed by socialists. Such tactics can never advance the struggles of oppressed nationalities or working-class people anywhere across the globe. In fact the immediate results of such action could be to weaken working-class solidarity as governments in the West whip up the mood for revenge on those who are blamed for carrying out the attacks.

Inevitably, as on 11 September, it will be the workers, the oppressed and dispossessed who pay the price for what the US leaders and commentators describe as an 'act of war'.

Whilst no group has claimed responsibility as The Socialist goes to press, and Osama bin-Laden is rumoured to have denied involvement, the US government is certainly preparing to revenge these horrific attacks. With leading politicians correctly pointing out that this is a more devastating attack on US imperialism than Pearl Harbour, a US government (particularly one led by Bush) will inevitably have to be seen to do something in the face of such an assault.


The attacks will be seen as huge turning point for world capitalism and will have immense consequences for the world politically and economically, apart from the devastating effect it will have on the lives of tens of thousands of people in the USA and indeed worldwide.

As we go to press share prices have plummeted and the price of oil and gold have increased dramatically - a recognition of the scale of the crisis that international capitalism feels it is facing.

Following Tuesday's horrendous events there will certainly be an escalation of the Middle East crisis, which is likely to see the US and other imperialist powers more directly involved and could lead to all-out conflict in the region. Unfortunately, it is likely to result in further assassinations and reprisals against the whole Palestinian population on behalf of the imperialist powers.

Israeli premier Ariel Sharon has indicated that he sees this as a green light to intensify action against the Palestinian masses and he will draw on US support - either directly or indirectly - to carry out wider repression in the region.

Inevitably in the immediate aftermath, large sections of US workers will temporarily acquiesce in whatever actions the previously unpopular, reactionary President Bush takes.


And the pandemonium following the scenes of carnage engulfing New York and Washington after Tuesday's suicide attacks have led to a wider panic about the implications of the strikes.

Immediately following the aircraft crashes into the World Trade Centre and Pentagon - potent symbols of world capitalism's financial and military might - share prices, which had been falling dramatically in previous days, fell further. The price of oil rose by $2-$3 a barrel reflecting anxieties about increased instability in the Middle East - the likely source of the 'terrorist' attack.

The air strikes led to an immediate state of national and international crisis, which will provoke further questioning of the authority of capitalism's rulers. Government and financial services were paralysed in the USA and stock markets in other advanced capitalist countries dropped dramatically or were suspended following the attacks. Even if capitalism manages to stabilise matters in the short term the medium and long-term effect will be to deepen the underlying economic crisis.

Imperialism's "revenge"

No doubt Bush and Western imperialism will step up their drive against Islamic 'terrorism' in retribution. The co-ordinated 'assault on America' will lead to co-ordinated US state action to hunt down and get 'revenge' against Islamic groups, regardless of whether they were involved or not.

It is also possible that a witch-hunting atmosphere could develop in the United States and elsewhere against Arabs, Muslims or others suspected of associations with terrorist states or groups.

This could also be used against any radical groups that challenge the capitalist system.

It is also conceivable that governments will use these attacks to ban anti-globalisation protests or restrict demonstrations against their capitalist system. It is very likely that the anti-globalisation protest in Washington at the end of this month will either not go ahead or be banned.

Blair found the bombings a convenient way of avoiding criticism of his privatisation plans at the TUC and has immediately used the opportunity to step up security. Whilst many workers will initially accept such measures - as was the case in Britain in the early 1970s with the adoption of the Prevention of Terrorism Act after events in Northern Ireland and Britain - such measures do not stop the threat of such attacks and have been used against those on the Left and the labour movement generally.

Bush and Blair

Imperialist politicians like Bush and Blair, however, bear a huge responsibility for the policies which have led to global instability and now bring terror onto the streets of the USA. These imperialist powers have pursued policies which have led to the deaths of thousands in the Middle East and throughout the globe.

President George W Bush's father, the other President Bush, was the world leader who used a war in the Gulf to assert his 'New World Order'. That new order ushered in the era of globalisation, which has impoverished and alienated billions.

US imperialism's dominance of the globe has brought increased instability, tension and turmoil to every corner of the planet. Combined with the absence of a mass movement of the working classes and oppressed, this has led some to pursue extreme and futile methods, such as the suicide tactics which led to the carnage in New York and Washington.

Imperialism's policies have antagonised millions around the world. US Secretary of State Colin Powell had said in May this year: 

"Terrorism is part of the dark side of globalisation. However, sadly, it is part of doing business in the world - business we as Americans are not going to stop doing."

Oppressed People

US and Western leaders talk sanctimoniously about acts of 'evil' terrorism but gloss over their own acts of terrorism - military, politically and economically - against oppressed people around the world.

The attacks show that despite all the armoury of the world's only superpower they are powerless and unable to protect their own citizens in the face of determined suicide attacks. The inability of the imperialist powers to find a settlement to the crisis in the Middle East, combined with the incapacity of the Palestinian leaders to offer a way forward for the Palestinian struggle, has led to increasing use of suicide attacks as a tactic.

Whilst the suicide bombings have struck terror into the heart of Israel and America, they are not capable of bringing forth a successful resolution of the Palestinian conflict. Nor will they deter US and other world leaders from continuing with their policies of state terror and economic exploitation.

Among the lessons that workers internationally will draw from these terrible events is that the imperialists, like Bush and Blair, cannot offer any resolution to the world's conflicts. But neither can the tactics of the fundamentalist terrorist groups offer a way forward to the long-suffering peoples of the Middle East.


Furthermore, as well as adding to the panic on the already jittery world capitalist markets the events will confirm to large numbers of workers worldwide the instability of the global capitalist system. 

At some stage these events could be a further trigger to exacerbate the economic woes of world capitalism.

Capitalism, at its most naked is a system of conflict, civil wars, wars, poverty, starvation and insecurity for the mass of people on this planet. It is the oppressed people of the world - whether workers in America or Palestinian youth - who pay the price of capitalism's inability to resolve the crises their system creates.

It is the oppressed people of the world who can provide a solution to this era of global crisis by uniting to end the rule of the capitalist system and establish a socialist world where the horrors and insecurity of imperialism's so-called New World Order are abolished once and for all

These comments were written as The Socialist went to press. A fuller analysis will appear in next week's The Socialist. (Ed: See directly below)

From The Socialist 21 September 2001

No To War

Stop Bush and Blair's military plans

Don't let workers pay the price

THE SHOCK of last week's attacks in New York, Washington and Pittsburgh has provoked mass anger and opposition against terrorism. But it has also brought apprehension among working people worldwide about what happens next.

Bush and Blair are banging the drums for immediate phase one action against the alleged perpetrators of last week's terror attack - a swift attack on their so-called bases. This is to be followed by phase two - a long drawn-out battle, possibly involving countries like Iraq as well as alleged terror groups.

But there is a wider anxiety about how the working class and oppressed globally will have to pay the price in lost lives, economic crises and upheaval for this new war against an indeterminate enemy.

The world's bosses have made it clear they don't intend to bear the cost of protecting their capitalist system. They immediately rushed in to use the developing crisis to sack thousands of workers.

Richard Branson's Virgin Airways announced 1,200 redundancies - many of whom daily face risk in their working lives. Now they are to be sacrificed - not to a terrorist attack but to the terror of upholding big businesses' profits. Continental, United and American Airlines are carrying out similar retrenchments in the USA.

Likewise, the insurance companies are threatening huge increases in premiums; pensions and other financial investments are likely to plummet as share values continue to slide.

The bosses will try and blame these cuts on the 'terror' recession - just like the capitalists tried to blame the 1974-75 recession on the Arab-Israeli war. But this recession was being prepared by the bosses' system long before last week's attacks.

Now they will extol workers to sacrifice everything possible - all to uphold their profit system.

Whilst many workers are horrified at last week's events and have no sympathy for those who carried out the attacks, they will also be opposed to paying the price of the bosses' crisis. The war that Bush and Blair are planning will not protect or advance the interests of workers in America, Britain or anywhere in the world.

This new war is unlikely to succeed in bringing those who carried out last week's attacks to justice. It is being prepared to uphold the interest of US imperialism specifically and the Western imperialist powers generally.

Workers in the advanced capitalist countries must oppose the war and fight for a socialist alternative to end the capitalist system which is bringing increased instability to all the oppressed worldwide.

Military Action No Solution

BUSH AND the US administration are preparing for war. The US Senate unanimously authorised the use of "all necessary and appropriate force". Targets could include not just Osama bin Laden, the US number one suspect for the attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, but also any country which is accused of organising or 'harbouring' terrorists. Tony Blair has echoed Bush's statements about war.

Working-class people around the world will have been saddened and angered by the thousands of deaths caused by the suicide attacks. Understandably many will support the idea of taking action against the perpetrators. This is especially true in the US, where 84% say they support military retaliation.

However, other polls have shown a more contrary mood and a scepticism about giving Bush and Blair a blank cheque for an open-ended war.

We share the horror felt about the killings and oppose the suicide attacks. But at the same time we oppose the hypocrisy of Bush, Blair and other leaders who condemn terrorism while pursuing policies around the world that create the conditions which breed such actions.

Waging war against Afghanistan, where bin Laden is thought to be living, or any other country, will not end terrorism. On the contrary it will increase tension, instability and turmoil worldwide.

One option being considered, is the launching of cruise missiles against targets in Afghanistan. But as the experience of Iraq and Kosovo/Kosova has shown, missiles often miss their targets, killing and maiming innocent civilians.

Thousands of Afghan civilians have already been killed during more than 20 years of civil war. 3.8 million are refugees, the largest group in the world. Inside Afghanistan even before recent events, four million people were on the brink of starvation. Now aid workers have had to withdraw and millions face a desperate situation.

If special 'snatch squads' are sent in to capture bin Laden, as some are proposing, there is no guarantee they would find him and the lives of thousands of US soldiers would also be put at risk.

Global instability

TEN YEARS after the Gulf War, US and British imperialism continue to bomb Iraq. Sanctions have killed between 500,000 and one million children. Yet Saddam Hussein remains in place. It was not the bombings during the war in Kosovo/Kosova that removed Milosevic, but mass action by ordinary Serbs, including the organised working class.

The US is trying to build a broad coalition to back its actions, moving beyond Nato to involve Arab and Islamic countries in the Middle East and Asia. The ruling class in most countries have condemned the suicide attacks and supported in general a 'war against terrorism'. But at the same time many are fearful about the possible consequences.

Involvement by Pakistan, for example, will provoke huge unrest and instability in a country which has nuclear weapons and in a region of the world which is already extremely unstable.

Sharon in Israel, has taken advantage of the situation to launch fresh attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank. This will harden opposition amongst the Palestinians and Arab masses throughout the Middle East.

Global capitalism is responsible for the poverty, repression and conflict which, in the absence of mass parties of the working class and oppressed people, has led some to the blind alley of terrorism.

Military attacks will only intensify the crisis of capitalism internationally and solve none of the problems that working class and oppressed people face around the world. It is only through mass action to end capitalism and replace it with a socialist system, that a real and lasting solution will be found.

From The Socialist 21 September 2001

Workers' letters from America

Tuesday 11 September

I WAS out in the street in Greenwich Village and I saw part of the first World Trade Centre Tower collapse. 

A man standing next to me seemed to be in shock. He said he worked in the World Trade Centre and he was late for work today, all his co-workers were dead. As he spoke to me, I saw the second tower collapse completely. People were jumping out the windows engulfed in flames.

After the first blast, people covered with white ash were running up the main streets, to get away from the wave of smoke that was following them. Clusters of men and women were weeping in the streets.

I went to Bellevue hospital to donate blood. Thousands of people are doing the same. I am going to volunteer because they are looking for health care workers to help out in the hospitals.

...I just hope this will not be used as an excuse to start a war and kill more women and children. Already the US is looking for scapegoats. It seems the tail will be pinned on Osama bin Laden.

The cable news stations are showing footage of rejoicing on the West Bank, this is obviously meant to inflame people over here. I was surprised however, that many people were remarking that something like this was bound to happen.

Margaret Collins, healthworker, New York
Thursday 14 September

IT IS two days after the World Trade Centre bombing and New York City even now is reeling from the attack.

Police are still restricting movement in and out of the city. I have to pass a police checkpoint to enter my home. The bridges and tunnels are now police and military checkpoints and army tanks were parked in the middle of the city.

...Many people are wearing surgical masks as far as a mile away from the bombing site because the air is still filled with smoke and the wind is carrying it across the city. Reports of respiratory difficulties were reported as far away as Brooklyn.

...The mood is quite complex and varied... Some of the [Socialist Alternative] comrades have reported hearing anti-Arab remarks but generally many of us were surprised how moderate the comments were.

One of our comrades is a truck driver and expected to hear very jingoistic comments at work this morning. He gathered some of his co-workers together and told them that he condemned the bombings but that he was against going to war.

He went on to explain our analysis of the situation, not expecting many people to accept his point of view but was surprised because quite a few of the workers said that they agreed with him.

We are aware that this situation is likely to change once the media whips up the war hype. It is significant however, that after destruction of this magnitude, it is still possible to have an intelligent and reasonable conversation about the root causes of this attack.

Comradely, Margaret Collins

From The Socialist 21 September 2001

A Deadly Cold War Legacy

"Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism", by John K Cooley

FOLLOWING THE suicide attacks in New York and Washington the administration of US President George W Bush was quick to point the finger of blame at the dissident Saudi terrorist, Osama bin Laden.

Review by Dave Carr

This could be a false accusation. But if bin Laden is behind this terror attack then 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 Bin Laden and his fellow Islamist groups to wage a guerrilla war against the Soviet army then occupying Afghanistan.

The details of this anti-Soviet alliance and the Islamist guerrilla groups that were covertly built during the war - principally by the CIA - and who, afterwards, then exported their terror abroad, are amassed in John Cooley's book, Unholy Wars.

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.

But in 1979 the West's ally, the Shah of Iran, was overthrown and the anti-US, Shi'ite Muslim regime of cleric and dictator Ayatollah Khomeini came to power. This new regional power was also seen as a threat by the Sunni Muslim regime of Saudi Arabia.

According to Cooley: "Anti-Soviet and simultaneous anti-Shi'ite (read anti-Iranian) policies suited Saudi objectives perfectly. Pakistan, anxious to exclude both Russian and Iranian influence in its region and thus secure trade routes to the vast markets of central Asia for itself, had congruent reasons... So in the mid-1980s, the marriage of convenience between the United States and militant Sunni Islam became a more complicated, three-way working alliance of Washington with Islamabad and Riyadh."


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.

The collapsing, Stalinist-run Soviet state couldn't sustain its war in Afghanistan. In 1989, President Gorbachev withdrew the Soviet 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. Afghanistan lay in ruins, wasted by the jihad ['holy war'] and the civil warfare that has followed almost constantly since the CIA 'victory'." (Unholy Wars, p3)

After the Afghan war many Islamist war veterans returned to their home countries either as members of bin Laden's Al-Qaida organisation or home-grown versions, such as Egypt's Al-Gihad group. The latter was responsible for the massacre of tourists at Luxor in 1997.

'Great Satan' - the USA - and the 'Little Satan' - Israel.

Groups like Algeria's Armed Islamic Group (GIA) have waged a deadly guerrilla war against the country's ruling generals. This international Islamic front network has for a decade pursued a jihad against the 'Great Satan' - the USA - and the 'Little Satan' - Israel.

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.

So, when Western leaders call for a campaign against "global terrorism" it's worth reminding these 'defenders of civilisation' that they nurtured those terror groups that are now branded as public enemies.

Unholy Wars - Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism, by John K Cooley. £13.99
Published by Pluto Press, Available from Socialist Books (Add 10% post and packing) 
PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD. Tel:020 8988 8789. Fax: 020 8988 8787. email: [email protected]

Attacks On The US - Aftershocks Rock The Globe

NEW TECHNOLOGY and the speed of modern communication allowed millions of people on every continent to follow the horrific events as they unfolded. This resulted in an outpouring of emotion, a deep sense of concern and revulsion throughout the whole of the planet.

In the neo-colonial world, particularly in the Middle East, there are also expressions of open regret that innocents have had to suffer but this combines with the feeling that this is the result of the crimes of US imperialism in the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

These events have colossal repercussions for the US and its after effects are still reverberating globally.

Thousands of people have been killed and countless others maimed on the bloodiest day of violence on US soil since the battle of Antietam in the civil war in the 19th century. More than 300 firefighters, who heroically rushed into the World Trade Center (WTC) to rescue victims, were killed. Many emergency service workers perished. It is not possible to remain unmoved by the scenes of devastation and death.

While sharing these sentiments, we in no way turn our eyes away from the terrible conditions which motivated the suicide bombers nor do we line up with the hysterical hypocrites such as Bush, Blair and the capitalist rulers of the world, who are banging the war drums for military action against the alleged perpetrators of these actions.

Socialists condemn the completely indiscriminate bombing attacks. They have played into the hands of the US ruling class and internationally and the consequences will rebound on the neo-colonial masses.


THE REPERCUSSIONS from 'security', economic, social and political standpoints will be considerable and can only be tentatively anticipated as yet. The greatest effects immediately, of course, have been in the US.

As many commentators have remarked, this is the biggest attack on the US ever. Comparisons have been drawn with the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941. But even that pales before the suicide attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

Just over two thousand were killed at Pearl Harbour and provisional figures of those who perished in the World Trade Centre building are far greater. Moreover, the Pearl Harbour attack took place on a Pacific island. This is the first attack on the US 'mainland' since the 1812-14 war with Britain.

The US has not experienced this type of attack before, despite the fact that it went through the Second World War, the Cold War, including the Cuban missile crisis, and the Gulf War.

A handful of suicide attackers armed with knives successfully managed to devastate the US and world financial centre and the military power of US imperialism concentrated in the Pentagon.

New York City, paralysed for days after the bombing, is one of the richest cities on the globe independently: 

"raking in more annually than all of the world's most advanced states. In 1998, the city's budget exceeded that of some major countries, including Russia."

"New York is more than just a wealthy city of eight million people. It is the financial capital of the world's largest economy. As the significance of what happened in New York sank in across the country, America's smaller exchanges closed down one by one. But it is the New York stock exchange that moves global financial events" (Stratfor (strategic forecasters) website, 11 September).

Even before the full effects of this tragedy can be digested, questioning and divisions within the US and worldwide ruling class have opened up. For example, how was it possible for US imperialism and its 'security agencies', with its battery of the latest hi-tech equipment, with an army of 'counter-spies' to seemingly have no warning of these events? This is despite the fact that Osama bin Laden, warned as recently as three months ago of retribution against the US for the "crimes against the peoples of the Middle East and Islam as a whole".

Moreover, other states, such as France, have had recent warnings and have taken action against attacks from Islamic militants. Little wonder then that in the latest issue of Atlantic Monthly, Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former senior CIA operative indignantly writes: 

"The CIA probably does not have a single truly qualified Arabic-speaking officer of Middle Eastern background who can play a believable Muslim fundamentalist who would volunteer to spend years of his life with shitty food and no women in the mountains of Afghanistan. For Christ's sake, most case officers live in the suburbs of Virginia. We don't do that kind of thing." [Financial Times 11 September.]

Facing the wrong way

IN OTHER words, the US 'security' agencies were facing the wrong way, still fighting a version of the 'cold war' instead of anticipating the repercussions of supporting Israel, in particular, in its repressive policies against the Palestinians and the general hatred in which US imperialism is held throughout the Middle East and the Arab world in general.

These events have also shattered once and for all the alleged 'invincibility' of the US. It has torpedoed Bush's and the Republicans' intention to pursue a 'unilateralist' foreign policy.

The concept that the US is the centre of the world, that little of importance takes place outside of its borders and that it can remain largely untouched by international events runs quite deep in the US psyche. That has been shattered once and for all.

Mixed in with the bewilderment and anger at the bombings and their perpetrators is a growing realisation and a perplexity that the US is not perceived as the 'defender of liberty' internationally but is hated by significant sections of the world's population for its role as an oppressor, particularly in the neo-colonial world. It is the foremost power and champion of untrammelled global capitalism.

These events mark a significant turning point in world history and particularly for the US. Gone is the concept of 'Fortress America'.

The effect on the US people's consciousness, and foremost among them the US working class, will be felt in the medium and long term. Paradoxically, the idea that the fate of the majority of the US population is tied to that of the peoples in Africa, Asia, Latin America, never mind in Europe and Japan, will grow. But in the first instance, a patriotic and maybe even a xenophobic mood will develop and be whipped up by the US ruling class.

Inept leadership

HOWEVER, 11 September will be forever engraved on the consciousness of the world's population, not only by the horrors in New York and Washington DC but also by the open and palpable ineptitude, and panic, of the political leadership of the US ruling class.

Bush's first reaction on TV was unforgettable as he referred to the suicide attackers as "these folks"! The fact that he took to a bombproof underground Nebraska shelter and criss-crossed America before returning to Washington DC did not exactly cast him in a heroic mould.

The bombings also graphically underline the futility of Bush's 'son of Star Wars' project, which would cost more than $100 billion. This 'defence' would not only have proved totally ineffectual against the suicide attackers but would have been even more so in the event of a doomsday scenario, involving the use of nuclear devices in a suitcase or biological warfare by individuals, such as took place in Japan with the Aum sect.

Contrary to many people's illusions such a development is possible with the colossal proliferation of weapons for sale throughout the world in the aftermath of the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. This includes nuclear material and devices.

War psychology

NATO HAS declared that it is not just the US but also all its members which are 'at war'. This terminology is not at all accidental but expresses the rage of the US ruling class and its allies, its determination to seek retribution not just against the alleged 'terrorists' but also against the 'rogue states' which support them. US imperialism is a wounded beast that is ready to strike out in all directions.

It is obviously preparing to strike out in a significant military intervention, probably involving thousands of troops against the perceived 'enemy'. The problem is identifying precisely who the 'enemy' is.

Roosevelt, at the time of Pearl Harbour, denounced 'this day of infamy' and mobilised American imperialism's colossal resources against an identifiable enemy, Japanese imperialism. Now, however, it is not immediately obvious who is responsible and who will be the 'targets'.

But this will be immaterial to US imperialism and its allies. Bin Laden has been identified and demonised as the main culprit, although the evidence to date points to the fact that it was probably a consortium of Islamic organisations and groups, which have been in the US for a considerable period of time, which were responsible.

Moreover, bin Laden is a creature of US imperialism's intervention, particularly through the medium of the CIA (who financed him), in the proxy war they organised through the mujaheddin against the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. The sins of US imperialism's past are being revisited on the heads of innocent American men, women and children today.

Military coalition

However, some voices are being raised cautioning against early and precipitous military action. Some even urge an examination of the social and political conditions, which have bred specifically Middle East individual terrorism.

Nevertheless, these voices are being crowded out by the shrill tones of the majority of US capitalist commentators who, as atonement for the deaths, are demanding action, and blood if necessary, and punishment for the perpetrators. The US people were first of all traumatised by these events, but following this will come the anger. The voices calling for retribution are prominently featured in the media.

US imperialism has effectively, through the aegis of Britain's 'Lord' Robertson and Blair, put together a NATO coalition similar to that which was assembled at the time of the intervention and bombing of Serbia during the Kosovo/Kosova war in preparation for action. Indeed, US imperialism is trying to go even further than this.

Just days after the attacks, they are attempting to assemble an even wider 'coalition', similar to that established at the time of the Gulf War.

Arab anger

MILITARY ACTION of one kind or another against the Palestinians, for instance, will undermine such efforts. Arab public opinion is already at boiling point because of the military repression by the Israeli ruling class, with the acquiescence of the Bush administration, against the Palestinian masses.

The consequence of the attacks is to reinforce something which the perpetrators sought to undermine, the hegemony of US imperialism. It further underlines the baleful effects of individual terrorism. Since the collapse of Stalinism, the US has been the sole superpower but with severe restraints on this power. Economically, of course, it is the colossus which bestrides the globe.

However, because of the world relationship of forces, the overwhelming power of US imperialism has still been severely constrained. Now that has changed.

Within days of these events, representatives of French capitalism, which has always traditionally sought to seek some distance between itself and US imperialism, [initially] switched tack.

Gerhard Schršder, the German chancellor, who criticised US imperialism during the Gulf War, has fallen into line.

Blair had no need to change his position as traditionally he acts, as have all representatives of British imperialism since 1945, as the poodles of American capitalism. Even Russian capitalism, in the form of Putin, initially fell in solidly behind US imperialism.

Even if the 'coalition' does not hold in the mid and long term it has, nevertheless, enormously strengthened US imperialism's hand in using whatever measures it deems necessary to strike back.

Military intervention

WHAT KIND of measures will be used is not clear yet to Bush and the American ruling class. But at the very least some kind of military intervention, possibly not just air strikes but the use of ground troops, will be deployed against bin Laden's 'bases' in Afghanistan.

This would have repercussions not just in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan, with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, which the Musharraf government is impotent to combat.

The Pakistani regime is armed with nuclear devices, as is India, and it has been an enduring concern of American imperialism that conflict in this theatre could spiral out of control and result in a limited nuclear exchange.

Now, however, the very actions of US imperialism, if it goes ahead and are on a wide scale, could lead to a situation where events spiral out of control and the nightmare scenario could be realised. This seems far-fetched but we are moving into an entirely different situation where these attacks in the US have skewed how world events will develop.

The repercussions of these events internationally could, for a time, distract attention from the economic and political effects of this recession. However, even this is doubtful, particularly as far as Europe and Japan are concerned.

In the US, there may be an element of what Britain experienced during the Malvinas/Falklands conflict where, despite the devastating economic situation in Britain at the time, Thatcher managed to win a huge election victory on the basis of the patriotic wave following the war victory.

Military victory?

INTERNATIONAL MILITARY incursions, even if they are carefully calibrated, will only compound the problems in the Middle East and, particularly, Israel/Palestine which remains a powder keg.

Under cover of these events, the Israeli ruling class temporarily moved in and occupied two Palestinian towns and then subsequently withdrew. Sharon has announced the intention to establish a buffer zone between the West Bank, Gaza and Israel proper.

This conflict has also reinforced the tendency of a section of the Israeli ruling class to contemplate the doomsday scenario of a repartition of the area, involving the driving out of the million Israeli Arabs, the consolidation of a number of the Israeli settlements already in the West Bank into Israel, and the erection of a cordon sanitaire around Israel.

The exclusion of all Palestinians from Israel would enormously compound the social and economic problems of the West Bank and Gaza and provide a festering source for another round of vicious terrorism, from which America, with the rest of the capitalist world, would once again suffer.

This running sore would be a guarantee of a further round of terrorist attacks, including on the US and counter measures, etc.

No matter which route US and world imperialism chooses, it will find no solution to its problems. Temporarily, class and social issues can be pushed to the background.

But we must emphasise that there will be a significant minority who will be looking for explanations and can eagerly embrace our analysis and can be won over to socialist ideas.

This period will be a testing time but we must not be blown off course. We must remain firm in the face of what could be another vicious round of capitalist ideological warfare which aims to demonise all who stand against their system as 'terrorists'.

However, the relationship of class forces will not be fundamentally altered by these events. The economic situation and its political repercussions will be felt in the political arena.

The CWI has established very important points of support and can grow substantially in the medium and long term, if we ideologically come to terms with this new situation.

This is a very important turning point in US and world history. How we face up to this position is an important test of socialists and CWI members and supporters.

Socialists Oppose Terrorist Methods

TERRORIST METHODS carried out by conspiratorial groups, no matter what the underlying causes - oppression, discrimination, poverty, etc - always have the opposite and reactionary effects to what its perpetrators anticipate.

In the past, Marxists, who base themselves on mass action, had to oppose "individual terrorism", usually action by individuals or small groups to assassinate individual representatives of the ruling class, who would simply be replaced by new leaders.

The US attacks, however, are a form of mass terrorism carried out by a conspiratorial group, not only striking a blow at symbols of US wealth and power but also indiscriminately claiming the lives of thousands of ordinary people.

The denunciation of 'terrorists' in the mouths of Tony Blair, Bush, Ariel Sharon, Vladimir Putin and the rest of them is pure hypocrisy. They are the greatest perpetrators of mass terror, usually against mostly defenceless peoples.

Blair daily defended the mass terror deployed against the Serbian people during the Kosova war. Bush's father and his chief general of the day, Norman Schwarzkopf, perpetrated mass terror against the beaten and defenceless Iraqi army at the time of the Gulf war.

The countless civilian victims in Iraq, which we have to remember dwarfs even the terrible numbers killed in New York and the Pentagon, were merely dismissed by Schwarzkopf as "collateral damage".

Imperialism's slaughter

MIDDLE EAST expert, Robert Fisk, commented on 12 September in The Independent: 

"Ask an Arab how he responds to 20,000 or 30,000 innocent deaths and he or she will respond as decent people should, that it is an unspeakable crime. But they will ask why we did not use such words about the sanctions that have destroyed the lives of perhaps half a million children in Iraq [a Palestinian journalist in The Guardian has put the figure as one million children who have died from the effects of depleted uranium and starvation], why we did not rage about the 17,500 civilians killed in Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

"And those basic reasons why the Middle East caught fire last September - the Israeli occupation of Arab land, the dispossession of Palestinians, the bombardments and state-sponsored executions... all these must be obscured lest they provide the smallest fractional reason for yesterday's mass savagery."

Leaders of the G7 sat down for talks with Putin in Genoa, Russia's prime minister at the time of the final Russian assault on Grozny, Chechnya, in 1999 which resulted in the slaughter of thousands of people.

Socialists oppose 'terrorism'

WE OPPOSE 'terrorism' but we use this term in a different sense to the pejorative fashion in which the capitalists use it.

For Blair, Sharon and Bush it does not apply to them when they use mass terrorist methods. However, they argue it is legitimate to use this term, when a subject people, take up arms to defend themselves against an oppressive regime.

By this reasoning, the South African masses had no right to resist the apartheid regime armed to the teeth.

The Palestinian masses are expected to lie down and meekly accept the unspeakable social conditions, the denial of legitimate democratic and national rights, the torture, and the daily bombardments and killings including of women and children.

Socialists and Marxists have nothing in common with this hypocrisy in our arguments against those who use the methods of terrorism. But these methods cannot succeed in seriously weakening capitalism or imperialism never mind lead to its overthrow and a change in society.

On the contrary, the experience of the working-class movement and the struggles of the people in the neo-colonial world demonstrate the ineffectiveness and futility of such methods.

Even the history of the Palestinian struggle itself underlines this point: it was not the Palestinian guerrilla fighters from outside but the mass uprising of the Palestinian people in the intifada that forced the Israeli ruling class to step back and make 'concessions'.

Similarly, no matter what the motivation of the suicide bombers was, the net result, as is already evident in the few days following these events, has been to create the conditions to allow the ruling classes of the world to begin to strengthen and justify repressive measures.

These will be aimed not just against 'terrorists' but against working-class movements, radicals and those who intend to protest against the inequality and injustice of the capitalist system.

Socialists and Marxists have always counterposed to the methods of the 'terrorists' the idea of a mass movement and mass action of the working class.

Paradoxically, the Financial Times in Britain on 13 September recognised the force of our argument:

"A decentralised capitalist system is extraordinarily resilient in the face of physical damage. Sustained bombing campaigns, such as that against Germany in the Second World War, rarely bring an economy to its knees.

Civil disobedience - such as last year's European blockades against high fuel taxes - can halt a modern economy much more quickly. But that demands the overt participation of the many, not the secret attacks of a few."

From The Socialist 21 September 2001

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