WHAT WE THINK
October 12, 2001 | Page 3
U.S.BOMBS had barely begun falling on Afghanistan when George W. Bush announced that "the war against terrorism" could soon target other countries.
"Today we focus on Afghanistan, but the battle is broader," he declared after air strikes began. "Every nation has a choice to make. In this conflict, there is no neutral ground."
The next day, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the campaign would last for years.
And the U.S. government sent a letter to the United Nations claiming a "right" to intervene in any country of its choosing.
U.S. officials say Osama bin Laden's videotaped message is proof that he was behind the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington. But the U.S. military onslaught against one of the world's poorest countries isn't really about bin Laden.
"If Osama bin Laden was gone today, the war would continue tomorrow," Bush's press secretary Ari Fleischer admitted on the second day of bombing.
And Bush advisers such as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and media warmongers like New York Times columnist William Safire are preaching that the war should be extended to Iraq. "It's the same fight against the same mortal enemy," Safire wrote.
Bush's claim that that the U.S. isn't waging war against the Afghan people is a sick joke. "As usual, we've been told that the Afghans are not our enemies," wrote British journalist Robert Fisk.
"That's what we said before we bombed Iraq in 1991. And it's what we said before we bombed Libya in 1985. And it's what the Americans said before they shelled Lebanon in 1982. And, as a matter of fact, it's what we told the Egyptians before we bombed them on the Suez Canal in 1956. But will the Muslim world believe it?"
British forces joined in the attack--and the leaders of Germany, France and Japan practically begged to be allowed to participate.
If the U.S. gets its way, it will use exiled Afghan King Zahir Shah and the Northern Alliance--a motley collection of corrupt warlords and drug dealers--to replace the Taliban government and create a regime to Washington's liking.
Forget the fact that the U.S. quietly backed the Taliban's rise to power in the mid-1990s.
Now Bush is waging war to get what the Taliban couldn't deliver for the U.S.--a government stable and cooperative enough for an oil pipeline to be built from the Caspian Sea through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the sea.
Washington's imperial agenda is so obvious that its "coalition against terrorism" could only be assembled through bribes and threats--and the cracks are already showing.
Israel, the U.S.'s closest ally in the Middle East, has been sidelined to avoid opposition in the Arab and Muslim world.
The Palestinian Authority joined Bush's coalition--but its police shot and killed two protesters in the first demonstrations against the bombing.
And Pakistan--formerly the Taliban's sponsor--was cracking down on protests as Socialist Worker went to press, placing the leader of the main Islamist party under house arrest.
Saudi Arabia's rulers--who share much of the Taliban's politics--are terrified of an upheaval if they openly support the U.S.
And Washington's newest pal in Central Asia, Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov, runs the former USSR republic as a police state.
But in Bush's view, repressive policies and "state-sponsored terrorism" are acceptable--as long as governments toe the U.S. line.
Syria, for example, was listed by the U.S. State Department as a "sponsor of terrorism." But Syria is on board with Bush's coalition. So as U.S. bombs were dropping on Afghanistan, Syria was elected a member of the United Nations Security Council--without objections from Washington.
Bush's war won't "end terrorism"--and it won't bring justice for the thousands killed September 11. But then, that was never the aim.
This war is only a new chapter in the long story of Washington's drive to strengthen its role as the world's most powerful country--no matter how many people suffer and die as a result.
That's why it's urgent to build the struggle against this cruel war.