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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The US-led attack on Afghanistan is an atrocity. The war that Bush and Blair have unleashed from the comfort of Washington and Westminster will kill and maim thousands more innocent victims.
We have to be clear that in this war we want to see the imperialist coalition defeated, and that means supporting all Afghan military resistance against imperialism, including Taliban resistance. Why?
Blair and Bush’s war aim is not simply to “end terror” - it is to reassert global capitalism’s domination of the world and control the central Asian region.
That’s why tens of thousands of people across the globe have come together to oppose the war.
The American press has asked the question: “why do they hate us”? But few in the establishment can stomach the answer.
The system of global exploitation that is run from Wall Street is one, long organised atrocity.
Hunger and preventable disease kill thousands of children every day in the poorest countries of the world. Heavily indebted countries spend more on debt repayment than on education and health. And the USA’s puppets – the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organisation – are on a mission to rip away every obstacle to cheap labour and privatisation.
But global capitalism does not just kill by starvation and disease. The USA backs torture regimes and terror groups across the globe.
It backs the death squads in Colombia. It backs the Israeli murder machine against the Palestinians. It even backed bin Laden when his terror groups were useful in the fight against the Soviet Union.
To point to all these facts is not to justify the September 11 attacks – but it does justify the mass movement against the imperialist war – a movement that must unite workers, refugees and peace campaigners in the developed countries with the mass struggles against imperialism that are raging from Palestine to the Philippines.
The attack on the World Trade Centre has given Bush and Blair every excuse they need to step up repression against liberation movements in the Middle East and around the world.
It has set the stage for a crackdown on civil rights, on refugee rights, on media freedom.
And it has allowed the West’s rulers a free hand in the class struggle. As George W Bush gave a billion dollar handout to the airlines, the airline bosses were preparing to sack 90,000 – many without redundancy pay or benefits.
In Britain, those who called for the TUC to keep up the fight against privatisation were denounced as “traitors” – and the GMB union has already called off its million pound publicity campaign against privatisation. Gordon Brown has warned there will be spending cuts to pay for all the bombs and bullets.
But the class struggle will go on.
And it is no longer just a struggle against privatisation and poverty. Bush has drawn the line – you’re either for us or against us. And Blair has rushed preening to his side.
Well sorry, Tony Blair: the millions of workers who voted Labour did not vote for a US-led military rampage across Asia and the Middle East.
We need mass action, uniting trade unionists, peace campaigners, refugee groups and the anti-capitalist movement to stop the US/UK’s war. If we fail there will be a decade of carnage.
In the immediate aftermath of the World Trade Centre attack there was talk, in Washington, of carpet bombing and even nuclear strikes. Now it seems the USA is taking a step-by-step approach. But it’s just as dangerous.
The hawks in the Bush regime – and many on the US right – wanted to unleash Armageddon, not just on Afghanistan but on all the rogue states who will not play ball with US domination: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya and North Korea. They even threatened strikes against Pakistan until it agreed to co-operate with the USA.
But a different strategy has now emerged: the “ten year war on terror”. Far from representing restraint or moderation, this strategy is designed to deliver an even more complete US triumph over the peoples of the Third World.
The USA is busy constructing a coalition with some of the worst dictatorships in the world.
Jack Straw was sent on an errand to kiss the backside of the Iranian dictatorship that has killed tens of thousands of workers, students and peasants.
US diplomats are showering favours on the military dictatorship in Pakistan. Musharraf’s right wing junta can have debt relief and even its own nuclear weaponry in return for siding with the US.
Russia has been given the nod to carry on massacring and raping Muslims in Chechnya in return for its support.
The imperialists are operating the old maxim of US policy: “They may be sons of bitches but they’re our sons of bitches”. As a result, those struggling for democracy and human rights across the globe will now be on the receiving end of unbridled repression.
As well as bombing, we are likely to see incursions by ground troops, commando raids and a prolonged dirty war against Islamic movements.
It is because of the scale of opposition and resentment to imperialist rule, because they fear the transformation of resentment and opposition into mass resistance, they know Cruise missiles are not enough.
Imperialism’s other repressive techniques against its opponnets are well known and all too effective. They include police repression, deportation, torture, censorship and death squads. They include puppet leaders of mass movements and client states – people like Arafat and the Jordanian monarchy who would rather do deals with the US than lead resistance. They include tame Labour and trade union leaders who will agree to suspend the class struggle for the duration of war.
That is why we must be clear: imperialism’s target is not just a few Islamic “terrorists”. It is the whole global resistance to capitalism that is in the gunsights of the Washington offensive.
And whether liberals and pacifists in the west like it or not – the masses of the Third World will fight back.
If the workers’ movement does not head up the resistance it will be led by radical right-wing Islamic movements, from Egypt to Pakistan to the Philippines.
Because of this – and because of the terrible price the imperialists will extract from a global victory – the working class and socialist movements must put themselves at the head of anti-imperialist resistance.
The workers’ movement in Britain must commemorate not just the US workers who died on 11 September but also the innocent victims of US foreign policy in Latin America, the Balkans, the Middle East and across the globe.
The best way to fight for the interests of ordinary people in the USA, Britain and the other imperialist countries is to launch a mass movement against the imperialist war, protect ethnic minorities and defend civil rights.
That includes giving active support to the Palestinian struggle against Israeli reoccupation of cities and towns in the West Bank.
The anti-war movement of the 1960s and 1970s must be our model. It acted, along with the heroic struggle of the Vietnamese people, as a major deterrent to US military aggression for years.
There already exists a vibrant mass movement against global capitalism. It has “summit-hopped” its way into history, paralysing the imperialist economic diplomacy and shaking the confidence of the system’s apologists.
Now that movement – which had begun to unite with organised workers sporadically and tentatively – must do two things:
• sink deeper roots into working class communities;
• come out openly against the war and organise direct action to hinder the war machine.
The task of the moment is to prevent the imperialist attack. Blair’s ministers have been quietly shocked by the size and immediacy of the anti-war response. And we’ve only just started.
The LRCI and its British Section - Workers Power - stand clearly for the military victory of all Afghan forces that resist the US/UK offensive. This includes Taliban forces that resist the imperialist offensive.
The war against Afghanistan must be the signal for a generalised protest across the region: strikes, the occupation of roads and the blockade of US military installations can paralyse the Pentagon warmongers.
Workers across the globe must stand with the ordinary people of Afghanistan against the military onslaught.
The events of 11 September show that globalisation, and the USA’s domination of the world, are not heralding a new era of peace and plenty.
We are entering a period of dramatic instability, in which the hatred and revulsion engendered by imperialist policy, global inequality and national oppression, rouse individuals to acts of desperate violence as well as to mass resistance.
The USA is sowing the seeds of further conflicts to come, ensuring that the 21st Century will be at least as violent and bloody as the last.
The World Trade Centre attack sent shockwaves through the world economy – but it did not cause the recession that is about to be unleashed. Capitalism itself is the root cause of economic misery.
Added to the miseries of repression and war we may be about to see those of a prolonged and co-ordinated global recession.
But another world is possible.
A world without racism, war and unpredictable terror can only come about if we attack the root causes.
And the root cause is capitalism.
Capitalism sucks wealth from ordinary people to feed a privileged layer of rich businessmen. Capitalism dooms humanity to crisis and war.
Socialism means taking away their wealth and power and putting society under the control of the working class. It means allocating resources according to need, not the profit motive.
To get socialism we need a workers revolution.
And revolution – not terror – is the biggest fear that stalks the White House and Downing Street. Our rulers know that every world war has resulted in huge revolutionary upheavals.
They told themselves that, with the collapse of the corrupt, decrepit Soviet bureaucracy they had seen the end of history. But history has returned, big time.
Of course, as in all wars, there will be a wave of patriotism as “our boys” go in. Just as surely there will be a wave of revulsion when some of these young people come back in body bags while Blair, Brown and Straw sit smugly thousands of miles from the action.
Revulsion will turn to anger as workers realise it is they who are having to pay the price: through spending cuts, job losses and curtailed civil liberties.
Millions will realise that the war Blair and Bush have unleashed against “terror” is in fact a war against democracy and social justice.
Globalisation, indebtedness, poverty and the rule of military tyrants are the real payload on the warheads of the cruise missiles they will aim at Kabul, Baghdad or Khartoum.
That’s why socialists are determined to turn the struggle against the war into a struggle against the system that has spawned it.
Shoulder to shoulder, workers and young people across the globe, we can stop Bush and Blair’s war, defend Afghanistan and defeat imperialism.*