Trotskyist Bulletin No. 8
AFGHANISTAN & THE LEFT
World Trade Center Terror Bombing
Rule: An Endless Horror
International Bolshevik Tendency leaflet, 18 September 2001
The destruction of the World Trade Center on 11 September is a
horrific act which the International Bolshevik Tendency unequivocally condemns.
Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers had friends or family members who lived,
shopped or worked in the area. Unlike the personnel in the Pentagon (the
command center of the U.S. military), the thousands of victims trapped in the
World Trade Centers twin towers and the hundreds of passengers and crew
on board the four hijacked airliners were civilians whose deaths we mourn. As
revolutionary socialists we abhor terrorist attacks that identify ordinary
citizens with their imperialist rulers.
The record of the U.S. ruling class includes many instances of
mass murder, including the firebombing of Dresden and Hamburg, the nuclear
annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the massacre of over a million
Vietnamese civilians in the 1960s and 70s. The current U.S. embargo on Iraq has
resulted in the death of at least a million Iraqi children. However, the
destruction of the World Trade Center is being treated by the imperialist media
as an attack on civilization because this time American lives were
The patriotic bloodlust whipped up in the U.S. over the past week
has already resulted in a couple of murders and hundreds of racist attacks on
Muslims, Arab-Americans, Sikhs and others perceived as foreigners.
It has played into the hands of Americas pro-Israel lobby, and undercut
popular sympathy for the Palestinian victims of the racist Zionist state.
In declaring war on as yet unspecified targets,
Americas rulers hope to achieve several objectives. Firstly, they wish to
demonstrate that in a one superpower world, other countries better
do as they are told:
The [anticipated] blow [against Afghanistans
Taliban regime] would be intended not only to destroy terrorist bases in
Afghanistan but also to demonstrate to other nations that there is a heavy cost
to be paid for those who shelter enemies of the United States.
New York Times, 17 September
The Cheney/Bush administration is openly seeking to channel
popular outrage into support for a major (and potentially open-ended) military
intervention in the Middle East, which would tighten the U.S. grip on this
strategic region. Americas most subservient imperialist
alliesBritain, Australia and Canadahave given their unlimited
support to whatever Washington decides. Support from Germany, France and other
EU imperialists has been more qualified, while the Russians have opposed any
U.S. military passage through the former Soviet republics bordering
In the U.S., the war psychosis provides a useful
pretext to expand police powers to run ID checks, control movements and
interfere with private communications. Under the guise of combating terrorism,
attempts will be made to limit free speech, free assembly and other civil
rights. A sign of the new policy direction is the U.S. governments public
declaration that assassination will once more be considered a legitimate tool
of foreign policy.
The Real Enemy is at Home
The real enemy of workers, blacks and other minorities in the U.S.
is not some shadowy Islamic fanatic in Afghanistan, but their own ruling class.
Though U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has been supported passively (and
sometimes actively) by a majority of the population, the objective interests of
ordinary working people in the U.S. are counterposed to Bush & Co. This may
come into focus more clearly as the implications of looting the Social Security
and Medicare lock box to finance the upcoming military expedition
(and bail out airline and insurance company shareholders) become apparent.
The workers movement in the U.S. should be setting up
union-based defense guards to protect Muslim neighborhoods, mosques and shops
from attacks by the racist, flag-waving bigots who are being egged on by the
chauvinist ranting of the corporate media. But the current pro-capitalist
leadership of the unions is jumping on the jingoist bandwagon. In a statement
released the day after the attack, AFL-CIO president, John Sweeney, bragged:
I have called President Bush to express the
AFL-CIOs full support for him in this time of crisis and offer any and
all assistance from the labor movement.
A class-conscious union leadership would be making preparations to
launch political strikes in response to military aggression against
Afghanistan, Iraq or any other neo-colony. As a step in the struggle to break
the grip of the pro-imperialist labor bureaucracy on the unions,
revolutionaries must win the advanced elements of the American working class to
the recognition that their interests lie in opposing the bloodthirsty military
adventures of their rulers.
A revolutionary socialist perspective for the Middle East must
combine implacable struggle against Zionist oppression with exposure of the
anti-imperialist pretensions of the petty-bourgeois leadership of
the Palestine Liberation Organization, and flat opposition to the reactionary,
misogynist Islamicist fanatics. If the oppressed Arab masses equate American
workers with Americas rulers (or Jewish workers with their Zionist
bosses), this only helps bind American and Hebrew workers more closely to their
masters. Conversely, to the extent that Israeli and American workers identify
with their own exploiters, they help cement the control of the
sheiks, generals and mullahs over the Muslim masses.
Marxists oppose terrorism as a strategy for the liberation of the
oppressed because, even in the best case, it substitutes the acts of a tiny
handful for the conscious activity of the working class. But revolutionary
Marxists differentiate between acts aimed at imperialist military targets and
those aimed at innocent civilians. For example, we recognize that the
demolition of the U.S. and French garrisons in Lebanon in 1983 by Islamic
Jihad were defensible blows against imperialist attempts to establish a
military beachhead in the Middle East. Some supposed Marxist organizations
flinched, including the left-posturing Spartacist League/U.S., which issued a
social-patriotic call for saving the surviving U.S. Marines.
Afghan Mujahedin: From Freedom Fighters to
Osama bin Laden, the elusive figure the U.S. is blaming for the 11
September attacks, was a long-time CIA asset during the 1980s, when the Islamic
fundamentalist mujahedin carried out a jihad against the Soviet Army and
its left-nationalist Afghan allies. The mujahedin rebellion began when
the modernizing, pro-Soviet government encouraged girls to go to school. The
Afghan freedom fighters were not only supported by the
imperialists, but also by a wide spectrum of the fake-left, including the
adherents of Tony Cliffs International Socialist Tendency.
In August 1998, after the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa,
Bill Clinton ordered aerial strikes against bin Ladens Afghan bases
(which the U.S. had bought and paid for a decade earlier):
The Afghan resistance was backed by the intelligence
services of the United States and Saudi Arabia with nearly $6 billion worth of
weapons. And the territory targeted last week, a set of six encampments around
Khost, where the Saudi exile Osama bin Laden has financed a kind of
terrorist university, in the words of a senior United States
intelligence official, is well known to the Central Intelligence Agency.
The C.I.A.s military and financial support for the
Afghan rebels indirectly helped build the camps that the United States
attacked. And some of the same warriors who fought the Soviets with the
C.I.A.s help are now fighting under Mr. bin Ladens banner.
New York Times, 24 August 1998
The fact that bin Laden and his mujahedin friends were
trained by the CIA has not featured prominently in the capitalist media during
the past week. But it is evidence that the attack on the World Trade Center is
only one link in a long chain of events. A massive imperialist military attack
on Afghanistan and/or Iraq would be a catastrophe that would produce many
thousands of additional innocent victims and ultimately strengthen the forces
of Islamic reaction in the region.
For World Socialism!
Revolutionaries must take a position of unconditional military
defense of any neo-colony targeted for imperialist attack. It is the duty of
class-conscious American workers to stand fast against the tidal wave of
chauvinist filth and not lose sight of the historic interests of U.S. working
people. The real threat to workers in the imperialist West does not come from
bin Laden, Saddam Hussein or the Taliban, but rather from the cynical, racist
imperialists whose global economic order created and nurtured them.
As Bolsheviks, we are committed to the struggle to create an
internationalist world party capable of organizing the working class to
overthrow the entire system of organized imperialist piracy. The only road to a
future in which every member of humanity can enjoy a secure, peaceful and
productive life lies through replacing the rapacious dog-eat-dog capitalist
system with a planned socialist economy in which production is geared to human