Defend Afghanistan! Defeat Imperialism! (2001)
Stop Bush and Blair’s Bloody War!
Joint Statement by: League for a Revolutionary Communist International, Fraccíon Trotskysta and Communist League – Workers Power (Greece)
Note by the Editor: The following article has been published by the predecessor organization of the RCIT (the League for a Revolutionary Communist International; later renamed into League for the Fifth International) in 2001 shortly before the beginning of the imperialist atack on Afghanistan. We are republishing this article on the 15th anniversary of this war. The founding cadres of the RCIT have been expelled from the LFI in 2011 when the protested against the centrist degeneration of this organization.
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On 7 October the USA and Britain, supported by their allies in the European Union and with the complicity of Putin’s government in Russia launched a barbaric assault on Kabul, Kandahar and Jalalabad. This attack is imperialist revenge for the World Trade Centre and Pentagon attacks, which exposed the vulnerability of the most powerful military nation in the world.
The imperialist have started an attack on the Afghan people creating hundreds of thousands of refugees and bombarding one of the poorest countries in the world into submission. Their objectives in this war up to this point are to destroy the supposed bases of the Al Qaida organisation, to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden and overthrow the Taliban regime.
We, the undersigned revolutionary organisations, unequivocally condemn the US and UK imperialist attacks. We declare that the USA is the greatest terrorist threat to the world. We call for:
• the immediate and unconditional cessation of the attacks
• the defence of Afghanistan against imperialist attack
• the defeat of the US/UK/Coalition forces
• solidarity with the Afghan people resisting imperialist aggression
• defence of the victims of racist and anti-Islamic bigotry in the West
• an end to US and EU repressive laws and attacks on civil liberties and democratic freedoms.
Without giving an iota of support to the arch-reactionary Taliban government in Afghanistan or the movement of Osama bin Laden, we call for and support the united action of all Afghan forces – including Islamist forces - to repel the imperialist assault.
We commit ourselves to help to build the biggest possible global united front against imperialist aggression, uniting trade unions, anti-capitalist campaigners, youth, poor peasants, Socialists, Communists, anarchists, women’s initiatives and oppressed people all over the world in common action to stop the war.
The first and overriding aim of US foreign policy in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks has been to assemble a Grand Coalition of states which will grant them the unrestricted right to pursue their objectives by any means, including military action against any forces, anywhere in the world, within any state.
Nevertheless, although all the US allies have declared their support for the “war against terrorism” Bush has not been given a “blank cheque” nor have they unconditionally accepted the military and political objectives of the USA. Signing up to the US campaign is limited by the search by each state to defend its own national interests.
Russia has said that it will actively collaborate in the aggression but it has in return demanded a heavy price, starting with the explicit recognition of its “rights” in Chechnya. In the EU the UK has offered its support without reservations but France and Germany, with their own interests, demand certain limits to the intervention, fearful that the conflict will lead to greater destabilisation. The Arab and Islamic governments are squeezed between supporting the US and the pressure of the masses who want to reject all US intervention. In Latin America the alignment of the region’s governments with Bush has been at the cost of important internal discussions on how this support should be given and takes place in the midst of opposition by the population to the imperialist aggression.
Hot on the heels of the 11 September terrorist attacks, stock markets dived around the world. Billions of dollars were wiped off share prices. Airline bosses rushed to bring forward plans for mass sackings; the value of insurance companies, tourist and hotel industries and other financial and service organisations fell sharply. This was not solely caused by the New York and Washington events – they merely provided an impetus for a long-developing crisis. The US and European economies are entering a recession – one which is already raging in the semi-colonial countries of south-east Asia, Africa and Latin America.
This enormous heightening of military, political and economic tensions in the world proves decisively that the neo-liberal offensive led by the USA has not ushered in an epoch of peace, prosperity and an end to conflict between nation states. On the contrary, US imperialist domination has brought in its wake a dramatic increase in global instability, inequality, class conflict and war.
The USA is using the shocked reaction of millions to the terrorist attacks to achieve:
• legal rights to take such military action in “self-defence” under the UN Charter and under the mutual defence provisions of Article Five of NATO’s founding treaty
• the re-definition of NATO as an anti-terrorist alliance (which European powers blocked last year but now cannot resist)
• closer co-ordination of world intelligence and security agencies
• stricter controls on refugees
• stricter controls on travel between states
• further reductions of civil liberties and democratic freedoms in the capitalist democracies
• the right to undertake unrestricted surveillance of private individuals
• the right to examine bank accounts and financial information
• the right to declare its enemies as terrorists, including anti-capitalist protestors.
The USA and its slavish allies in the EU are conscious that their imperialist actions run the risk of uniting Islamic, Middle Eastern, Central Asian and semi-colonial regimes against them.
For these self-interested reasons, and because of the USA’s broader global objectives, US propaganda has so far played down anti-Islamic demagogy inside his country and at the same time has increased its efforts to placate his allies in the Middle East. With the help of Britain, Bush has managed to enlist the support of the Pakistan military dictatorship and its diplomatic efforts have succeeded in getting the support of other regional Arab and Islamic government even if this support has been conditional.
Part of this attempt to subdue the unrest in the Middle East has been a change of Bush’s policy towards the Palestine-Israel conflict. For the first time he has said that he favours an unconditional return to peace talks and indicated US support for a Palestinian state- in reality a fiction of a state such as the reactionary one contained with the Oslo Accords – with the aim of putting an end to the intifada of the Palestinian masses. But this change of policy put the US into an immediate contradiction with its regional ally Israel, as expressed in the conflict between Bush and the right-wing Prime Minster Sharon.
Despite their diplomatic objectives, the imperialists’ war drive has the direct effect of whipping up anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism. In the USA an ignorant racist killer murdered a Sikh whom he thought was a Muslim. We have many reasons to fear that more such outrages will follow. The working class movement and anti-war movement must champion the struggle against racism and for defence of Arabs and Muslim people. We will promote a mass campaign against racism and for organised self-defence of Arab and Muslim communities.
Despite imperialist diplomacy, there is a serious possibility that the USA is destabilising one of its key gendarmes in the region - Pakistan. Military dictator Musharraf is acutely aware that there is huge support for the Taliban regime in northern towns like Peshawar bordering Afghanistan – especially those with a large Pashtun population (the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan). Radical Islamists have called for a jihad against Musharraf if the US uses Pakistani support to launch its attacks. A general strike has been called by Islamic clerics against the government. The prospect of a civil war bringing about the world’s first nuclear-equipped Islamist regime must be causing deep anxiety to the USA.
To support Musharraf, the USA and Britain have moved to end the sanctions imposed against his regime for testing atomic weapons. They are using the central role of Pakistan’s security and intelligence forces in the creation of the Taliban to put pressure on the Afghan government to yield.
The imperialists are making other compromises in order to win new adherents to the US-led alliance. Of greatest significance has been a new reactionary rapprochement between the USA and Russia. Putin has declared support for Bush’s war on terrorism and has granted permission for Russian airbases to be used in any assault, with the barely concealed precondition of Western backing for a new chauvinist offensive against Chechnya. German Chancellor Schroeder has issued a call for greater ‘understanding’ of Russia’s ‘problem with Islamic terrorists’.
In Latin America Bush’s global campaign has already made itself felt. Governments have agreed to push through greater “security” measures. The “anti-terrorist crusade” is used in Colombia to justify even greater imperialist intervention and an offensive against the FARC. In Argentina the De la Rúa government is using the crusade to justify a bigger role for the armed forces in the tasks of “internal security”. Similar measures are being taken by other governments in the region, to counteract the growing anti-imperialist sentiments of the masses.
The talk coming out of the White House and the Pentagon is of a long, difficult campaign that may have no clear beginning and no clear end. But this will not be World War Three as some in the media suggest. Nor need it be a short, sharp war like the 1991 Gulf War, but a conflict much more intricate and difficult to resolve immediately, containing at this moment in time an important lack of clarity and confusion about the imperialists’ war aims.
At this moment in time the USA-led coalition’s most likely military aim will be to take out bin Laden’s mainly Arab military bases and training camps, encourage the opposition Northern Alliance forces in the North and probably to drive the Taliban from power, replacing them with the former King or a coalition including the faction-ridden and warring forces deposed by the Taliban in 1995.
This plan, however, will not be easy to execute given the difficulties in reaching an agreement between the Afghan opposition to the Taliban regime and in Pakistan’s opposition to the Northern Alliance and the old monarchy. Whatever the nature and extent of the political and military intervention of the USA in the following days or weeks, its interventions in Afghanistan could detonate an enormous expansion with regional implications. The military offensive undertaken by the USA gives rise to complex scenarios and will lead to unforseeable effects.
The heightening that this will mean of the misery already being suffered by the Afghan people can barely be imagined. Afghanistan has suffered over 20 years of war. It is experiencing the worst drought for a decade. Its women already live under the daily torment of the most extreme Islamist regime in the world. There are 2.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, another 1m in Iran and 300,000 in Tajikistan. Its infrastructure is almost non-existent. A further round of imperialist bombing, raids and incursions will cause another mass exodus – NGOs estimate around another 1 million people.
The undersigned organisations, as revolutionaries and anti-imperialists, call for the defeat of the imperialist forces. We support all resistance that weakens the enemy in the war. We call on all the working class organisations and anti-war activists to organise direct action, strikes, boycotts, and demonstrations for as long as the military action continues. We call on soldiers to organise resistance in the armed forces, to demand democratic rights, to oppose the attacks on Afghanistan and to rebel against the imperialists and their mass-murdering Generals. We call on workers in the munitions factories to boycott and sabotage imperialist war production. We demand that the parliamentary representatives of social-democratic, Labour, Socialist and Communist parties break with the Blairs, Jospins and Schroeders and vote against all political, military and financial support for the US War.
A victory for imperialism will lead to the imposition of slavish subordinated regimes on all countries in the region. It will demoralise the Palestinian people and encourage the racist Israeli state. It will be a blow to the growing anti-capitalist movement and encourage the pro-imperialist forces. On the other hand, a defeat for the imperialist forces would weaken its rule in the Middle East, encourage the workers and anti-capitalist movement and all people oppressed by imperialism around the globe to fight back against imperialism and the rule of capitalism throughout the world. A defeat for imperialism will not only help the workers and the oppressed masses of the world in their struggle to free themselves from exploitation, but will also encourage, for example, the Afghan masses, engulfed in misery, threatened with famine and repressed by the monstrously reactionary Taliban regime.
In the face of a bloody attack by the US and its supporters, tens of thousands in the imperialist countries are starting to build a new antiwar movement, something which began to take expression in the USA in the Washington demonstration on 29 September and in the early demonstrations on the university campuses. This is the key to undermining the war drive and stopping imperialism seizing the initiative. The streets of the cities of the USA, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australasia and Africa must resonate to the cry: No to imperialist War!
The development of the anti-war movement in the imperialist countries is progressive, and is already trying to build actions that could obstruct the imperialist military machine, to make attacks more difficult, and help to break up the reactionary unity that the imperialist governments need in order to get support for its actions, and also to demoralise the soldiers of their own countries. The best example of this was the anti-Vietnam war movement, that together with the tenacious resistance of the Vietnamese masses, made the US military intervention unsustainable and provoked the first military defeat of US imperialism at the hands of an oppressed people.
In the anti-war coalitions in the coalition countries many of the activists have pacifist illusions. We oppose all attempts to equate the imperialist war with just military defence carried out by an oppressed people. We are not for this reason neutral faced with this new imperialist aggression: we are for the defeat of the United States and its allies. There can be no peace in the world while there is imperialist domination. In particular in the semi-colonial countries pacifism drummed up by the leaders of the reformist parties and the bourgeoisie plays a reactionary role, as is also the case with the church which condemns “the violence of both sides”, hypocritically putting the oppressor and the oppressed on the same plane. In the semi-colonies this means not offering up any kind of resistance to imperialist aggression.
The imperialist powers are the main enemy. But revolutionary communists must reject vulgar anti-Americanism –which confuses ordinary US working class people with the US ruling class and its imperialist policy. This anti-Americanism is reactionary because it confuses the justified hatred of US imperialism with chauvinism against all US-Americans. It often serves the interests of ruling classes which are, or aspire to become, competing imperialist powers. Anti-Americanism must be fought - it is of utmost importance to break the US working class from its rulers and to win them to the struggle against imperialism and global capitalism. This is no impossible task - we will never forget that it was the US-working class and youth that in its great protest in Seattle in 1999 launched what has come to be called a new and growing global “anti-capitalist movement”.
We reject the reactionary demonising of all Muslim believers. At the same time we say clearly that political Islamist fundamentalism is a reactionary movement through and through. It represses women, workers and democratic rights. They are multi-class movements which seek to impose reactionary theocratic state and launch “holy wars”, using the justified hatred of the impoverished masses of the region towards imperialist domination and its policeman in the Middle East, Israel. To carry out its strategy these movement frequently use and ally themselves with different bourgeoisie in the region, including even the same imperialist powers, as was the case with the Mujahadin during the USSR’s occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. There can be no liberation of the Arab and Islamic masses under these leaderships.
The working class and peasant masses in Afghanistan, central Asia and the Middle East need to organise independently, to build their own mass organisations and militias to struggle against imperialism and prepare for its own struggle for power and the Islamist fundamentalists. Mass mobilisations and organisations of the workers and peasants could help to get rid of the reactionary Mullahs as soon as possible. If the cycle of vicious reactionary regimes is to be broken, the workers and peasants will need to take the power themselves and establish a socialist republic of Afghanistan and a voluntary Socialist Federation of Central Asia.
Throughout the world, imperialism is preparing another bloody spiral into recession, repression and war. Unless it is stopped, the twenty-first century will repeat the history of the twentieth, but on a new, more technologically advanced, more savage and more destructive level – one which threatens the survival of human civilisation itself.
This spiral of greater exploitation, oppression and imperialist war can be stopped and defeated. We revolutionaries struggle for the internationalist unity of the working class, the most powerful social force that can lead the fight to destroy the basis of the system of imperialist capitalism; that is to say, the control of the world economy by a handful of monopolies and imperialist states that bring misery to entire continents, deepen racism and provoke war and barbarism. Now more than ever the anti-capitalist movement must transform itself into a movement against the war and imperialism. It must base itself in the working class because only a workers and socialist revolution can realise its objectives and end the world capitalist system.
To achieve this it is necessary to push even more the internationalism that this movement has already started in its struggle for the end of the Third World debt, against poverty and the profits of the monopolies. The capitalists have their internationals – the IMF, NATO and WTO. The working class, youth and oppressed of the world and all those that struggle to end the barbarism of imperialist domination need to fight for our own revolutionary workers’ International dedicated to the destruction of capitalism and a new world without private property, nation states, racism, inequality and bloody military conflict. In order to finish off imperialist domination and begin the construction of a society without exploitation; a new world without private property, national states, racism, inequality, nor bloody military conflicts.
The impending war poses the urgent need and the chance to unite the struggles of the anti-capitalist movement in the metropolitan countries with those of the people in the semi-colonies that are already resisting the imperialist offensive, and with the oppressed masses that are now today fighting against the imperialist military aggression of the USA and its allies, against the common enemy: imperialism. We call for all anti-capitalist mobilisations in the months ahead to take up the fight against the imperialist war drive. Make the Anti-WTO day of action on 9th November a day of action against global capital and imperialist war! Make the mass demonstration against the EU-summit on 14th December an expression of mass anger against the EU’s participation in Bush and Blair’s mass murder and aggression!
For massive protests outside US embassies/consulates, in busy City centre locations, at colleges, and seats of government. Build united front committees against the imperialist war in every town, every college, every workplace. These should bring together representatives of the anti-capitalist movement, peace campaigns, trade unions, Communist and Socialist parties, oppressed minorities, youth and women’s groups.
• Defend Afghanistan - Defeat US and imperialist attacks
• Imperialist hands off Afghanistan
• USA is the biggest terrorist
• Open the borders to refugees
• Oppose witch-hunts and racist attacks against Muslims and Arab people.
• Fight all attacks on civil liberties
• Abolish NATO, instrument of global warfare
• No to state surveillance and repression, no databases of activists, no new anti-immigrant laws, no new police powers
• For trade union action to boycott troops, weapons and supplies heading for the imperialists armies, navies and air forces
• Reject individual terrorism as a method of struggle against imperialism
• For massive food and medical aid to Afghanistan without strings or conditions
• Abolish the Third World debt to Western banks and financial institutions
• The Afghan people themselves must settle accounts with the Taliban: not US/UK imperialist armies. No restoration of the monarchy or the Northern Alliance warlords. For a workers’ and peasants’ government based on shoras - democratic councils of delegates
• Down with Musharraf – for a socialist republic of Pakistan and socialist federations of central Asia and the Indian sub-continent
• Nationalise all companies – airlines, insurance companies - declaring redundancies after the September 11 attacks under workers’ control without compensation to the capitalist owners
• No to suspension of the class struggle in the imperialist democracies. Break the pro-war policy of the social-democratic, official ‘Communist’ and trade union leaders.
• Victory to the Intifada! For the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people. Down with the racist state of Israel! For a workers and socialist Palestine in which Jews and Arabs can live in peace! End sanctions against Iraq!
• Repudiate and cancel Third World debt! Break with all military pacts and agreements that tie semi-colonies to imperialism! No to CALA!
• Turn the anti-capitalist movement against imperialism
• For an international revolutionary youth movement
• For a revolutionary international of the working class– world party of social revolution
• For a workers and socialist revolution to end the domination of imperialism and construct a world socialist commonwealth without poverty, inequality, oppression and war.