Centre for Research on GlobalisationCentre de recherche sur la mondialisation
In the aftermath of September 11, there was an outpouring of global sympathy for the United States and the victims of the attacks. But like the clouds of smoke that once hung over Manhattan, that sympathy has largely dissipated as the Bush administration has carried out its war on terrorism.
On the anniversary of the attacks it is clear that the U.S. war is a failure. Instead of ending violence and terror, the Bush administration through its bellicose and often inept policies has fanned the flames of conflict from Palestine and the Gulf states to the Caucuses, South Asia, the Philippines and Latin America. In particular, Bush's proclamation of the "Axis of Evil" and his obsessive determination to carry out a "regime change" in Iraq has turned much of the world against the United States.
In the months immediately after Bush launched his war against terrorism--even as hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest for peace--progressive voices were silenced in the mainstream media and the halls of Congress. In order to help break this sound barrier we edited and City Lights published, September 11 and the U.S. War: Beyond the Curtain of Smoke. The anthology collects some of the leading voices of dissent.
A common concern of virtually all of the 30 odd authors who contribute to the book is that the Bush administration was embarking on a belligerent path that would only lead to more conflict and bloodshed while doing little to end terrorism. An incipient anti-war movement adopted the refrain: "An eye for eye will leave the whole world blind." Unfortunately, this anticipation of what Bush's war on terror would mean for humanity has proven all too true.
As Zoltan Grossman asserts in one of the essays in the anthology, "Afghanistan is Vietnam...and Yugoslavia, Colombia, and Somalia, All Rolled Into One." The Taliban government that provided a base for Al Qaeda has been overthrown, but the country is hardly a picture of peace and stability. The strife and mayhem in Afghanistan continues, precipitated in part by the horrendous bombing of the country that took the lives of over 3,700 innocent civilians, as Marc Herold documents in his essay in the anthology on the U.S. air war. The sole member of Congress to vote against this war, Barbara Lee, anticipated this carnage when she proclaimed on September 14: "Far too many innocent people have already died. Our country is in mourning. If we rush to launch a counter-attack, we run too great a risk that women, children, and other non-combatants will be caught in the crossfire." (Reprinted in the anthology.)
Today, special U.S. forces serve as the personal bodyguards of Hamid Karzai, the U.S. anointed president, while the Pentagon, after initially opposing the assignment of coalition troops outside of Kabul, is pleading with its allies to provide additional security forces to help secure the countryside. Afghanistan is quickly becoming a quagmire for the United States, just as it was for the Soviet Union.
Even the campaign against Al Qaeda has largely stalled. Osama bin Laden's whereabouts are unknown, and the Bush administration openly admits that the Al Qaeda network has not been dismantled. A study by the United Nations Sanctions Committee released in late August declares that Al Qaeda's financial network is "fit and well." As Burbach points out in one of the book's first articles, "Al Qaeda is a very loose network, very well adapted to the era of globalization." Traditional military tactics and the use of brute force by the Bush administration cannot destroy that network.
To the east of Afghanistan relations are tense and potentially explosive between two nuclear powers, Pakistan and India. As Tariq Ali declares in the title of his article in the anthology, "The U.S. Can't Trust Pakistan," Bush's embrace of General Musharraf, the military ruler of Pakistan, has emboldened Muslim militants to step up their attacks against Indian forces in Kashmir, while at home Musharraf with the blessings of the Bush administration has amended the country's constitution to expand his dictatorial powers.
Outside of south Asia, the results of the war on terror are just as dismal. U.S. advisers have been dispatched to Georgia as the country's internal political and social conditions continue to unravel. Not satisfied with U.S. activities in this former Soviet republic, President Putin of Russia has sent troops into Georgia to pursue alleged terrorists from Chechnya. To the southeast, in Kyrgyzstan, the U.S. and its allies have stationed upwards of two thousand troops there as the country's ruler, Askar Akaev, acts in an increasingly autocratic manner that has fueled domestic unrest. On the eastern rim of Asia, in the Philippines, the Bush administration has dispatched 1,300 military advisers and trainers to help battle bands of guerrilla outlaws in the Islamic region of the country. Sparking huge anti-American protests in Manila, the Philippine capitol, the United States has now agreed to withdraw most of the troops, leaving behind a small force of U.S. liaison officers. Even Latin America has been victimized by the "war on terror." The Bush administration has turned the war against drugs in Colombia into a war against "narco-terrorism," aligning the United States with newly elected President Alvaro Uribe who enjoys historic ties with the right wing paramilitary units that are unleashing a new wave of terror in the countryside.
The truth of the matter is that the United States government isn't fighting a war against terrorism but rather a war for global domination. Like the Cold War, the war on terror is intended to provide the overarching cover for expanding U.S. influence and control in strategic areas of the world. But unlike the cold war in which many nations of the world fell into one bloc or the other in the superpower conflict, this war is increasingly a U.S.-only venture orchestrated by a narrow "military-energy complex" headed up by George Bush and Dick Cheney. These interests stand to benefit significantly from a "war against terror" that interjects U.S. forces into areas of the world with significant oil reserves while lavishing funds on an already bloated military apparatus.
This is why the Bush administration has little interest in securing fig leafs--from the United Nations or its allies--to cover the bulging phallus of U.S. imperial aggression. Bush officials simply believe their self-interests are divergent from those of other big powers, be it in the Middle East, the Caspian Basin, southwest Asia, or Colombia. Unfortunately, because both the European democracies and the Middle East dictatorships and monarchies are dependent on U.S. military support for their own 'regime continuity' the governmental resistance to U.S. aggression could ultimately prove to be rather constrained.
In the United States, the vast majority of residents will never receive a share of the war dividends, just as we never received a peace dividend from the conclusion of the Cold War. Moreover we have suffered a serious erosion of our civil liberties with the onset of the war on terror, as Michael Ratner eloquently points out in his essay in the anthology, "Fortress America." Attorney General John Ashcroft's flagrant violation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is analogous to what happened when another attorney general, A. Mitchell Palmer, carried out "the Palmer Raids" of 1919. Then over five thousand people were arrested, most without warrants, and about 250 were deported. Many of the deportees, including the renowned early feminist and anti-war activist, Emma Goldman, had lived in the United States as immigrants for decades. Like Ashcroft's internal war on terror, this earlier violation of the U.S. constitution came as government officials and the media whipped up domestic hysteria over an alleged "Red Scare," while a U.S expeditionary force was dispatched abroad, in this case to Russia to support the conservative "white Russians" in a civil war against the Bolshevik red army.
In the anthology Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish judge who issued the warrant that led to the arrest of General Augusto Pinochet in England in 1998, warns that "there will come a time when justice is demanded of those responsible for these mistakes [of war] and the loss of a historic opportunity to make the world more just." It is no accident that the Bush administration has refused to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). In recent days administration officials have let it be known that they are not only concerned with the court's possible prosecution of U.S. soldiers who commit war crimes, but also that the ICC may pursue high ranking U.S. government officials for past and present actions.
George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are well aware that they do not have a lock on world opinion and that their bellicose actions are viewed adversely by the leaders and peoples of many other countries. In Vietnam, in addition to the perseverance of the Vietnamese resistance, it was the loss of U.S. prestige and the eruption of a global anti-war movement that brought an end to the conflict. The Bush administration is well on the way towards losing the battle for hearts and minds in its "war on terror." In the coming weeks and months we now need to mobilize fully to stop the Bush administration and its dogs of war.
Roger Burbach is the author of Globalization and Postmodern Politics: From Zapatistas to High Tech Robber Barrons, and director of the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA). Ben Clarke is editor of Media File a journal of media analysis published by San Francisco's Media Alliance. www.media-alliance.org . September 11 and the U.S. War can be ordered online at www.freedomvoices.org or www.media-alliance.org/books/smoke.html Copyright Roger Burbach and Ben Clarke 2002, For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .
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