Socialist Workers candidate speaks out against U.S. war drive
Imperialist forces move to border of Afghanistan: Stop the war drive!
Washington steps up assaults on workers' rights, furthers militarization of U.S.
BY BRIAN WILLIAMS
Washington and Britain have moved troops, warplanes, and an armada of ships into position around Afghanistan, rapidly putting in place plans to launch an imperialist war against the people of that country. According to reports that defense officials will not confirm, infiltration of Special Forces units into Afghanistan "has already begun," the Financial Times reported September 25. The Sunday Times based in London reported that a reconnaissance squad of four British SAS soldiers had been involved in a gun battle with Taliban fighters in northern Afghanistan.
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U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers have been deployed to an undisclosed location in the area. The Air Force is also sending an additional 100 to 130 aircraft to the Gulf region, including B-1 stealth bombers and fighters to join some 350 aircraft already in the region. The U.S. ruling class has also deepened its assault on workers rights, from widespread security checks to the Bush administration's stated intent to seek authority to detain and deport individuals because of their political beliefs and association.
In a speech to a joint session of Congress September 20, U.S. president George Bush announced the creation of the Office of Homeland Security, which will oversee the work of 40 federal agencies and departments, including FBI and CIA domestic and international spying operations. The agency, which will be a cabinet-level office, is being created by presidential executive order. His appointee to the post, Thomas Ridge, will not need to be presented to the Senate for confirmation, which is unlike other cabinet positions. Ridge is the Republican governor of Pennsylvania, and a strong advocate of the death penalty who has been seeking to put framed-up Black activist Mumia Abu Jamal to death.
The U.S. Constitution prohibits the U.S. military from operating on U.S. soil. Notes the New York Times, "Any military employment has to be under civilian authority, which could be Mr. Ridge."
U.S. troops on former Soviet territory
As part of its war against Afghanistan, the U.S. rulers have succeeded in winning agreement to station their military forces preparing for combat for the first time ever in several of the republics of the former Soviet Union, including Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, and Tajikstan.
According to the Russian Interfax news agency, three U.S. Air Force transport planes have arrived in Uzbekistan, carrying about 200 U.S. troops and reconnaissance equipment. Uzbekistan has the largest standing army in Central Asia. The region's largest air base is located at Termez near the Afghan border and there are airbases near almost all big cities in the country.
A number of heavily armed U.S. attack helicopters are also stationed on a military base about 25 miles from Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.
The regime in Uzbekistan welcomed Washington's moves, seeking to reinforce its own repressive "anti-terrorist" measures. A Financial Times article stated, "The government is accused of locking up and torturing thousands of Uzbek citizens on suspicion of aiding or supporting militants."
The president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, announced the opening of his country's air space for U.S. military operations. He also made clear that military bases and airfields--just 200 miles away from Afghanistan--would be provided to Washington if requested.
The government in Tajikstan has also expressed its willingness to cooperate with Washington, which is planning to place what it calls "rescue and recovery" troops inside its borders. Russia currently has 25,000 troops stationed in Tajikstan, with 10,000 of them right on the Afghanistan border.
The rulers in all the former Soviet republics near the border with Afghanistan have gotten the nod of approval from Russian president Vladimir Putin who pledged cooperation "in the widest sense of the word" with the U.S. military operations there.
Putin declared September 24 that the Russian government would open its airspace to what he called search and rescue operations in Afghanistan, and share "intelligence" information with U.S. spy agencies. He also vowed to step up support to the anti-Taliban group, the Northern Alliance. The forces making up this opposition coalition were overthrown by the Taliban in 1996. They currently control a sliver of Afghanistan, mainly in the northern part of the country.
Putin also took the opportunity to declare his own "war on terrorism" in the Russian-controlled province of Chechnya. He set a 72-hour deadline for rebels in that region to begin discussion with Russian officials on disarming.
In its drive to overthrow the Taliban government in Afghanistan, Washington is also stepping up its backing of the Northern Alliance. At a White House news conference September 25, Bush called for working with those in Afghanistan "who may be tired of having the Taliban in place." With wind in their sails with new backing from Moscow and Washington, the Northern Alliance has stepped up its military battles with Taliban forces. Recent clashes are reported to have occurred some 25 miles north of Kabul.
The U.S. military brass plans to use the assault on Afghanistan to test a new generation of spy drones, which have already begun to be deployed over Afghanistan. One of them, according to Washington, has already been "lost" over Afghan territory. These spy planes include the Global Hawk, which can target in on an area with radar and infrared images from 65,000 feet above ground; the RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft, which can eavesdrop on communications; and the U-2 high-flying aircraft.
Under pressure from Washington, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates broke diplomatic ties with Afghanistan, leaving Pakistan as the only country that still recognizes the Taliban government. While opening up its air space and military bases to Washington, the government in Pakistan has expressed its unease with the U.S. rulers' backing of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance.
What the Pakistani military regime is really worried about is their own ability to stay in power as reaction mounts inside the country to Washington's war drive. Due to the opposition in the country, Washington has not yet officially asked Islamabad for permission to station U.S. troops in the country, and may seek to establish instead a base just inside the Afghan border.
According to the Financial Times, Washington and the United Kingdom are planning to wage a "bombs and bread" military campaign against Afghanistan. Their aim is to utilize the distribution of food supplies as a weapon to convince Afghanis who already face food shortages due to a severe drought to join their side. According to UN figures, prior to the U.S. government's military buildup in the region, about one-fifth of Afghanistan's 25 million people depended on food and other aid from abroad.
This "will not be an antiseptic war, I regret to say. It will be dangerous. The likelihood is that more people may be lost," stated Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, using Pentagon double-talk to declare his intention of getting workers in uniform killed in the U.S. imperialist war.
A similar but more frank assessment was offered by Brig. Gen. Reinhard Gunzel, who commands an elite special forces unit in Germany. He said that what would occur in Afghanistan is a "bloodbath." According to an article in the London Telegraph, "The Brig. Gen. insisted that troops with a 'western philosophy' and a will not to die would have 'little chance against men who are willing to give their lives in a fight.'"
At a meeting with U.S. president George Bush at the White House September 25, Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi pledged his support to Washington's war on Afghanistan.
A Financial Times article notes that some of Koizumi's proposals "would authorize the most ambitious expansion of the role of the Self Defence Forces, Japan's military," which the country's constitution limits to a defensive role.
Castro speaks out on U.S. war moves
In a speech presented September 22, Cuban president Fidel Castro spoke about the U.S. rulers' war moves. "The first victims of whatever military actions are undertaken will be the billions of people living in the poor and underdeveloped world with their unbelievable economic and social problems, their unpayable debts and the ruinous prices of their basic commodities; their growing natural and ecological catastrophes, their hunger and misery, the massive undernourishment of their children, teenagers and adults," he stated.
"We have all been ordered to ally either with the United States government or with terrorism," the Cuban leader said.
"Cuba, the country that has suffered the most and the longest from terrorist action, the one whose people are not afraid of anything because there is no threat or power in the world that can intimidate it, with a high morale Cuba claims that it is opposed to terrorism and opposed to war. Although the possibilities are now remote, Cuba reaffirms the need to avert a war of unpredictable consequences whose very authors have admitted not to have the least idea of how the evens will unfold. Likewise, Cuba reiterates its willingness to cooperate with every country in the total eradication of terrorism," Castro said.
Assault on workers rights
Among the moves at home, the federal government has arrested and has under indefinite detention more than 350 people, supposedly in connection with the September 11 events. Another 400 others are still be sought for questioning. Most are being detained on immigration charges and traffic violations, and virtually none has been publicly identified. "Thus far we cannot connect any of those people that we're looking at to any of the 19" hijackers, admitted an unnamed senior law enforcement official to the New York Times.
Rightist assaults on individuals from Arab and South Asia backgrounds has continued. According to the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, more than 200 attacks have taken place just against Sikhs since September 11.
New powers granted to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) under previous laws allows INS agents to arrest noncitizens without a warrant, and immigration courts don't provide lawyers for those who are indigent.
In the name of fighting terrorism, the Bush administration has submitted a package of proposals that would expand the government's wiretapping authority and its power to monitor online communications; authorize surveillance of non-U.S. citizens in the country for up to a year; allow disclosure of secret grand jury information to FBI, CIA, or other secret government police agencies; permit courts to use information gathered by foreign governments even if it was obtained illegally; and allow the government to detain indefinitely immigrants suspected of terrorism. In addition, the attorney general would have the power to place immigrants in detention merely because of suspicion without any evidence against them.
Though support for the war drive is bipartisan, passage of this legislative package has been slowed over concerns by some in Congress over the constitutionality of the measures. "We've got to get these guys. But indefinite detention has never been allowed by the courts," commented Rep. John Conyers, the leading Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.
Leaders of countries belonging to the European Union are also now moving forward on adopting more restrictive legislation that had been under discussion for some time. EU justice and interior ministers at an emergency meeting September 20 backed the introduction of a Europe-wide arrest warrant. The warrant will replace the current system of extradition between member states. It would also allow persons in custody to be handed over directly from one judicial authority to another.