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WHAT WE THINK
U.S. military adventures stoke violence around the world
Blowback of empire

May 23, 2003 | Page 3

BOMBINGS FROM Morocco to Israel and from Saudi Arabia to Chechnya are being lumped together into a wave of "Islamist terror"--and used to justify more aggression by the U.S. government.

"This is all connected in some way," said Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), a White House ally. "You can't disconnect, decouple what's going on in Afghanistan, Iraq, terrorism attacks in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, the peace plan, the [Israel-Palestine] road map. This is all woven into the fabric of a very complicated, dangerous situation."

The bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco are something of a political embarrassment to George W. Bush, who declared just two weeks earlier that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network--accused of being connected to both attacks--was broken. Yet Hagel's comments show how Washington will try to use the bombings as a justification for its more militaristic and openly imperialist foreign policy.

Thus, even as Bush greeted Philippines President Gloria Arroyo at the White House, Filipino armed forces--backed by U.S. military "advisers"--launched a new attack on the "terrorist" Moro Islamic Liberation Front. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has used the "war on terror" to justify a new crackdown against nationalists in Chechnya--with Washington's blessing. And in Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon used two suicide bombings to scuttle a trip to Washington to discuss the U.S.-backed "road map" proposal for "peace" negotiations--even though the plan would entrench Israeli dominance in the region.

The truth is that the wave of bombings in the Middle East is a predictable response to the U.S. drive to impose its will on the world--what the CIA itself calls "blowback." Yet since the September 11, 2001 attacks, anyone who suggested that terrorism might be the consequence of U.S. foreign policy has been accused of saying that those who died deserved their fate.

In fact, the victims in most of these attacks aren't responsible for U.S. policies. But the hawks who accuse others of "apologizing" for terrorism don't care about that. Their aim is to use the tragedy of September 11 and other attacks to promote their agenda--the scramble for oil and the expansion of U.S. political dominance.

The "war on terror" was never about uprooting al-Qaeda or "liberating" Iraq, but imposing Washington's power around the globe.

That's why the Democrats who criticized Bush last week for neglecting the "war on terror" are playing into the administration's hands. They are giving the White House cover to expand its military adventures around the globe--and to continue the terror scare and anti-Muslim scapegoating that diverts attention from the real cost of its wars at home and abroad.

Far from making the U.S. or the world safer and more secure, U.S. military intervention causes more violence--directly in the form of civilian casualties, as in Iraq, or by fueling bitterness and hatred that can "blow back" at ordinary people in the U.S. and other countries.

Anyone who doubts the scale of the anger and opposition caused by U.S. imperial arrogance should take a closer look at the "liberated" Iraq. Washington's new colonial boss, Paul Bremer, has kiboshed plans for an interim government comprised of Iraq's former opposition groups. Instead, Washington and its British allies are demanding that the United Nations grant them status as "the Authority." Bremer's idea of democracy in Iraq is the city of Mosul, where U.S. forces installed as mayor a former general in Saddam Hussein's regime.

Meanwhile, Arabs and Kurds are waging a low-level civil war in nearby Kirkuk. The U.S. solution is for the two main Kurdish parties to give up their armies--the clearest sign yet that the U.S. was only cynically using the long Kurdish struggle for self-determination as a tool to undermine the former government.

Washington's iron-fisted occupation of Iraq and its scramble to get at the country's vast oil reserves will only reinforce the view in most Muslim countries--and far beyond--that the U.S. is using its military power to dominate the Islamic world. So we shouldn't be surprised when people resist the U.S. in the name of Islam.

Washington's intervention in the Middle East and beyond is bound to lead to more opposition, expressed in a variety of forms. One of those forms will be terrorist attacks against the U.S. and its allies.

Anyone who wants to see U.S. imperialism stopped must understand that these attacks will only set back the struggle--by giving Washington the cover to expand its wars. But that doesn't change the fact that America's leaders bear responsibility for the "blowback" of empire--for the crimes they commit in our name. Opponents of Washington's war makers have to remain firm that the solution is for the U.S. to get out of Iraq and the Middle East.

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