Links on imperialism's 'unwinnable war'



Links #20
New Course Publications, 2002
28 pages, $8 each or $39 for a six-issue subscription
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“Every nation, in every region, now has a choice to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”, was US President George Bush's ultimatum as he declared Washington's post-September 11 “war on terrorism”.

The US war on Afghanistan was justified principally as a “crusade” against Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network. The imprisonment in Cuba, without trial, of hundreds of foreigners captured by US forces in Afghanistan is allowable as these people are potential or actual terrorists, the US argues.

Yet, as Washington outlines the next stages in the war on terrorism, bin Laden and al Qaeda are already being sidelined. The three countries singled out as part of the “axis of evil” in Bush's State of the Union address on January 29 (North Korea, Iran and Iraq) had nothing to do with the September 11 attacks and have no links with bin Laden.

On the other hand, many organisations which are clearly terrorist are given protection by the US government. For example, the Miami-based, anti-Cuba group Omega 7, which has carried out assassination attempts against Cuban officials and bombed Cuban government buildings for more than 20 years, is not condemned or attacked. Recently, Cuban agents discovered infiltrating these groups in an effort to put an end to their terrorist attacks were jailed in the US.

The truth is that Bush's war is not about defeating terrorism at all. Rather, it is about the US asserting its hegemony over the Third World, crushing the hopes of the oppressed nations for economic and political self-determination, while simultaneously freezing out its imperialist rivals.

To carry this out, the imperialists need the backing of the working class in the developed countries. They must convince the masses in the US, Australia and other Western countries that their interests are served by such a war.

In ruling class circles, the rhetoric of “the end of history” has given way to theories of “the clash of civilisations”. Working people are being told that the “war on terrorism” is also a war of “modernity” against medievalism: the enlightened, democratic West against the backward, feudal east. We need to bring civilisation to the barbarians, proclaim the ruling class commentators.

However, this ideological “crusade” has not been as successful as the Bush gang would have liked, and will become less so. There is too much suspicion of the motives of the global elites for world's majority to blindly put their faith in the liberating force of the US military. We have seen an anti-war movement grow quickly in response to the bombing of Afghanistan, and can expect this to continue as the war drive continues.

The latest issue of Links, the international journal of socialist renewal, deals with what it describes as “imperialism's unwinnable war”.

With declining profits, imperialism needs to find and control new markets. The imperialists have turned to their traditional way of dealing with the problem: war. However, the political cost is one they can not afford to pay. In the long run, it a war they cannot win.

Peter Boyle, a leading member of the Democratic Socialist Party, examines the war, its justifications and the reactions to it.

The deepening opposition to neo-liberal globalisation and imperialism is discussed in James Vassilopoulos's article on the July protests in Genoa, in which 250,000 people protested against the meeting of the leaders of the G8 industrial countries.

Two articles discuss Islam, the left and imperialism. The first, by Farooq Tariq, general secretary of the Labour Party Pakistan, argues that it is imperative for the left to maintain its political independence from reactionary Islamist forces like the Taliban whilst opposing imperialism. His article is a reply to the Workers International League (known as the LIT, from its French language initials), which argued that Marxists should join a “principled united front” with all forces that oppose imperialism, including the Taliban.

In the second article, Mansoor Hekmat, a central leader of the Worker Communist Party of Iran, discusses the role of political Islam in the Middle East and its future.

US radical journalist and frequent correspondent for Green Left Weekly David Bacon contributes a polemic against New York Times correspondent Thomas Friedman's “paean to late 20th century capitalism, 'The Lexus and the Olive Tree'”.

James Petras provides a critique and response to Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt's influential book, Empire. Petras argues that nation states continue to play the pivotal role in the world and that the claim by Negri and Hardt that a stateless “empire” has supposedly replaced imperialism is unfounded intellectual dross.

Links #20 also contains essays on the class struggle in the Philippines, the Nicaraguan elections and the internet as a site of struggle.

From Green Left Weekly, March 13, 2002.
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