International Socialist Group (GB)


The terror attacks in the US and the consequences

(14 September 2001)

Originally posted in the UK Left Network mailing list
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for REDS – Die Roten.

The massive terror attack on the World Trade Centre, which has killed thousands of office and other workers, is indefensible in any terms. The political conditions which probably created it, however, are not so obscure. The perpetrators are not known at this time (despite all claims by the CIA), but the driving force behind them is most likely to be a deep hatred of US imperialism generated by US foreign policy – past and present.

We share the grief of the relatives of those who have lost their lives at their place of work. The civilian victims, like the great majority of the American people, cannot be held responsible for the barbarous policies of their government. But for the first time in recent times the USA is confronted with a huge attack on its own territory. Previously this has been the fate of the Vietnamese, the Cambodians, the Iraqis, the Yugoslavs, the Somalis, the Nicaraguans ... you could a dozen more.

For years the US government, and US multi-national companies, have been imposing their will on the world by military force and financial power. They have been destroying local economies, imposing structural adjustment programmes, overthrowing popular governments, and putting the Suhartos, the Pinochets, the Marcoses, and the Mobutus in power – dictators subordinated to the US who did not hesitate to slaughter their own people in the cause of US policy.

Under today’s globalised economy, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, and increased repression is used to keep the poor in their place. The mass misery which US policy has imposed, backed by the major Western Powers (particularly Britain), on the majority of the world’s population has created the conditions for the new feature in terrorism and resistance – the suicide bomber and now the suicide pilot.

In occupied Palestine there is no shortage of young men willing to sacrifice their lives in order to strike a blow against the Israeli oppressor. Again, although such acts, particularly against civilians, cannot be supported it is easy to see how they come about. Palestinians are dying every day at the hands of an Israeli war machine supplied, backed, and bankrolled by the USA. The war criminal Sharon is totally backed by George Bush – who is also no longer even interested in the so-called peace process.

In Iraq 1 million civilians have perished through US sponsored sanctions and the destruction of the infrastructure of the country including the water supply and treatment plants. Today US and British planes continue to bomb Iraq on a daily basis.

None of these crimes by US imperialism justifies the killing of thousands of US civilians, but they do help to explain the anger which is felt against the USA and its symbols of power.

It is said that this attack is the biggest act of terror of all time. But this would only be that case if it is none-state terror. Many acts of state terror surpass it, for example the nuclear annihilation of Japanese cities and the carpet bombing of Dresden in WW2. Suharto killed 1 million people in Indonesia. Millions were killed in Vietnam. The USA dropped more bombs on Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam war that were dropped in the whole of the WW2. If Bin Laden is a terrorist he is not the biggest – even if he has done everything the US accuses him of.

The irony, in any case, is that Bin Laden was a creation of the CIA during the Soviet occupation and the Taliban – accused of harbouring him – was brought to power by the US and its allies. In fact the proxy war between the USA and the USSR in Afghanistan facilitated the development of well-trained, anti-socialist, Islamic militia network across the Middle East and further afield. Now we are told, in the most racists terms, that the civilised nations of the west are under threat from the uncivilised peoples of the East.

Bush has said that the USA is now in a state of war. Not only will those regarded by the US as the perpetrators of the terror attack be punished (which may well be on flimsy or non-existent ‘evidence’) but the countries accused of harbouring them will be attacked as well. Blair has immediately said that he will back anything the US decides to do (and no doubt provide bases and aircraft). But more than that his nominee at NATO, Lord Robertson, has declared that NATO will do the same. In fact NATO has declared that the attack is an attack on all NATO members and that the response will be in the name of all NATO members. Remarkably the TUC called off the TUC congress because of the attack, in a display of national unity, allowing the most important debate on the agenda, on privatisation, to drop off the agenda.

The UN has also backed Bush – and by a unanimous vote. Putin is backing Bush on the basis that it proves that what he is doing in Chechnya is right – since in his view the Chechens are terrorists as well. The Chinese bureaucracy is happy that it will give them a freer hand to repress human rights.

All this is carte-blanch for action against individuals and organisations accused of terrorism and against so-called rogue states accused of terrorism, and shows that the attack is not only indefensible it is counterproductive.

Whoever carried out the attacks in the USA the result of all this will be a new period of reaction. New political conditions more conducive to global capital are being created by this. Already anti-Muslim sentiment and anti-Arab racism is being stepped up – at time when Muslim communities are already under attck from the far-right. Asylum seekers will be targeted even more. New levels of repression are being prepared against those labelled by the authorities as potential terrorists. That will mean new repression against Tamil, Kurdish, Turkish and other organisations in Britain. Those organisations already banned by Straw will face further repression.

The effect that these events are going to have on a world economy is net yet clear. However, with the world economy moving towards recession before this happened it could push it over the brink. Certainly this has been one of the prime concerns of leading representatives of international capital as these events unfolded.

The job of the left will be to oppose this new reaction, defend civil rights, continue to support oppressed peoples, continue to defend asylum seekers and increase campaigning against the fascists. We have to oppose a new wave of xenophobia, defend those who are victims of the new reaction, and protest and organise against acts of war unleashed by Bush and his allies in the name of fighting terrorism. One thing is sure, the result of acts of war by US imperialism in the present circumstances will be to create the condition for such acts of terror to be repeated.

September 14th


Last updated on 18.9.2001