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Socialist Workers candidate speaks out against U.S. war drive
End U.S.-British imperialist invasion of Afghanistan!
After brutal bombing, U.S. sends in troops
All imperialist troops, ships, warplanes out of the region!
"The people of Afghanistan will know the generosity of the United States," declared U.S. president George Bush (left) as he sent bombs and cruise missiles slamming into the country's major cities, part of "crusade" he called "Operation Infinite Justice," now renamed "Operation Enduring Freedom." Above, mud and brick homes in Kabul destroyed by U.S. bombs. Right: Police in Pakistan chase people protesting U.S. imperialist assault, one of a number of actions across that country. Protesters chanted, "Musharraf is a dog," referring to the military ruler of the country; "United States is a dog!"; and "Muslim world unite now!" Leaders of the protests are now under arrest.|
BY GREG MCCARTAN
U.S. and British imperialist forces began an invasion of Afghanistan after four days of brutally bombing the country's major cities. Washington admitted on October 10 that, given the lack of targets left in the country, pilots were returning to aircraft carriers without having dropped their payload, and said it would now send in helicopter gunships and continue the deployment of growing numbers of "special forces." The U.S. military has employed B-52, B-1, and B-2 heavy bombers, fighter aircraft from carriers, and cruise missiles fired from ships and submarines offshore. The imperialists have used 5,000-pound bombs and antipersonnel cluster bombs in their raids.
London's forces also sent aircraft and cruise missiles against the landlocked country of 25 million--part of its robust involvement in the military assault aimed at a land it once kept under its colonial boot.
The conflict matches the world's largest military power and its junior imperialist ally, launching a rain of terror from miles away, against one of the poorest and most devastated countries on earth, currently suffering from a drought that has sent 700,000 from their homes. Since the start of Washington's war drive, hundreds of thousands more working people have departed cities for the borders of Iran and Pakistan, fleeing the terror they knew was coming.
The imperialist bombing targeted the cities of Kabul, the capital, Jalalabad, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kandahar, and Herat. The Afghanistan government reported at least 76 civilians killed, including four security guards at a United Nations compound hit by a U.S. bomb. The ruling Taliban party has so far refused to give in to imperialist dictates and says it will organize its military forces, made up almost entirely of ground troops and some armor, to defend the country.
In addition to three aircraft carrier groups, Washington has stationed 1,000 troops, including a battalion from the 10th Mountain Division, in Uzbekistan, the first such deployment on the soil of a former republic of the Soviet Union. The move entails a further expansion of U.S. military forces eastward, one of the goals of the U.S. rulers in this operation, as in their assault on and subsequent occupation of large sections of Yugoslavia.
As of October 10, U.S. commando forces were preparing to invade. A report in Moscow News said that "two weeks ago... Russia effectively went to war on foreign territory without the parliamentary approval demanded by the Constitution" by sending artillery and antiaircraft units into Afghanistan.
Washington began calling on NATO assets this week as part of prosecuting its war, pushing to strengthen the weight in Europe of the military alliance it dominates as a lever against its imperialist rivals, especially France and Germany (see article below).
The French defense ministry revealed October 8 that it had send intelligence operatives into Afghanistan, in addition to providing naval logistical support to Washington. The Canadian government said it will contribute 2,000 military personnel, three transport aircraft, a commando outfit, and various warships to the operation.
Operation Enduring Freedom, Washington's name for the "crusade" originally called Operation Infinite Justice by U.S. president George Bush, is aimed at overthrowing the government of Afghanistan and replacing it with a protectorate under U.S. domination. Donning the thin disguise of "fighting terrorism," Bush, with the arrogance that has marked the war drive, said the military campaign would "rid the world of evil." In near-daily statements and threats against the national sovereignty of countries across the globe, Bush and other administration officials have asserted Washington's supposed right to send its military forces around the world.
"Today we focus on Afghanistan, but the battle is broader," Bush said in announcing the start of the bombing campaign on October 7. "Every nation has a choice to make. In this conflict, there is no neutral ground. If any government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocents, they have become outlaws and murderers, themselves."
Washington's United Nations ambassador, John Negroponte, informed the president of the UN security council this past week that the U.S. government "may find that our self-defense requires further actions with respect to other organizations and other states." Indeed, the Guardian reported that officials at the Pentagon have suggested that "covert operations would soon--or may already--be under way" in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia, where opposition forces threaten regimes tied to Washington.
The Bush administration threatened Iraq this week with military strikes if the government there "tried to assist the anti-American forces in Afghanistan or move against domestic opponents," reported the Washington Post.
Many governments have rejected this approach, including Cuba, Iran, and foreign ministers attending the Organization of Islamic Conference meeting in Qatar. Iranian official Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei said October 8 that the "U.S. officials have unjustified expectations from world peoples and said that whoever is not with us, is with the terrorists. But, public opinion has reacted to these false and illogical words." He noted a number of U.S. assaults on the Iranian people, including the shooting down of an Iranian commercial airliner by a U.S. warship.
In Lebanon the government's information minister said, "We have no doubt in America's ability to destroy. What is after Afghanistan? Is it for America to define terrorism and its targets...according to its policies and interests? This is a dangerous matter."
The first vice president of the Congress in Ecuador condemned the military offensive. "We have to condemn the fact that they are throwing missiles and food at the same time at defenseless people."
Stop and search in United States
As the U.S. government let loose its deadly barrage on the people of Afghanistan October 7, U.S. cop agencies and the National Guard were sent into high gear, stepping up the military presence at airports, train stations, and at government buildings, and conducting intrusive searches of individuals and vehicles. Thousands of people were stopped in their cars heading into New York City, for example, while cops looked into vehicles with flashlights or had drivers open their cars to inspection--all without any pretense of respecting the right to Fourth Amendment protections against unwarranted search and seizure.
The Justice Department and FBI ordered a mass roundup of all "terrorists" under surveillance by federal agents this past week, which "resulted in the arrest of many immigrants suspected of involvement with groups linked to Osama bin Laden," the New York Times reported. The Justice Department is also pressing new legislation through Congress whose provisions would widen the powers of federal agencies to wiretap phones, track communications across the Internet, expand the ability of federal cop agencies to exchange information about individuals, and allow secret searches of homes.
Although leaders of the Democrats and Republicans sought to limit debate and amendments to the legislation, a few Senators questioned the constitutional implications of the measure. Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts, urged that a clause requiring renewal of the measures after three years remain in the bill despite objections by the White House. "For many of us," Frank said, "that provision is the way to incentivize the government not to misuse those powers."
Attorney General John Ashcroft has described the legislation as the "anti-terrorist" bill, and the press has covered it in those terms. But the bill opens with a description of the purpose of the new act: "To enhance intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States government in the prevention of terrorism, and for other purposes." The bill contains only a few mentions of terrorism and in general simply expands the ability of government agencies to spy on individuals and to share information with each other.
Protests across the region
Asia, the Middle East, and other regions were rocked with protests against the bombing of Afghanistan, with demonstrations taking place across Pakistan and Kashmir, as well as in Egypt, the Philippines, Oman, Sudan, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. Indian police suppressed actions in Kashmir, while in Pakistan cops use tear gas and automatic rifle fire to put down protests in Peshawar and Quetta, killing four protesters, including a 10-year-old boy. Crowds of several thousand people fought police for three hours. Palestinian police killed two students who were part of a protest in the Gaza Strip.
Pakistani troops fought battles two days in a row with military forces in Afghanistan, and also faced war threats from India. Indian officials told the Pakistani government October 8 and 9 that India would consider a military attack against Pakistani-occupied Kashmir if it did not prevent further strikes against India by rebels in Kashmir fighting for the independence of the province. "The United States and the United Kingdom must tell Pakistan in unmistakable terms, publicly, that their support to terrorism has to stop," said one official.
Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf urged Washington to end the bombing quickly, out of fear of deepening protests in the country. The Pashtun people form a majority of Afghanistan as well as a substantial portion of Pakistan's northwestern areas. Musharraf said the Northern Alliance, a loose coalition of forces opposed to the government in Kabul headed by the Taliban organization, should not be allowed to "take advantage" of the U.S. and British assault as a means to seize power. The Northern Alliance has received massive new military backing from Washington and Moscow, and support from air strikes against Taliban forces in the north of Afghanistan. So far it has proved incapable of going on the offensive, however, despite the new arms, spiffed-up camouflage uniforms, and intelligence information supplied by its imperialist backers.
Food drop ploy fizzles
In his October 7 speech Bush also said that the "oppressed people of Afghanistan will know the generosity of America and our allies. As we strike military targets, we'll also drop food, medicine and supplies to the starving and suffering men and women and children of Afghanistan." U.S. forces operating from C-17 cargo planes began dropping huge boxes full of rations wrapped in plastic printed with instructions in English.
The head of the UN refugee office in Tehran said that "any kind of assistance that is not appropriately distributed and monitored may very well not reach those who it should reach." A representative of Doctors Without Borders issued a statement saying the food-drops effort is "not a humanitarian operation. It is part of a military campaign designed to gather international approval of the attacks. It is virtually useless and may even be dangerous." Many aid organizations have noted the large number of land mines in the country and worry that the U.S. food drops will encourage people to risk their lives in mine fields searching for food. The security guards killed in Kabul by the U.S. bombs were employed by an organization that specializes in the removal of mines.
Imposing 'respectable colonialism'
In addition to calls by some government officials and pundits for Washington to immediately target Iraq and the Hezbollah organization in Lebanon as part of the war, there are those who spell out what they see as the need for the U.S. government to impose protectorates in many countries around the world.
In an article published in the Wall Street Journal entitled "The answer to terrorism? Colonialism," Paul Johnson wrote, "America and its allies may find themselves, temporarily at least, not just occupying with troops but administering obdurate terrorist states. These may eventually include not only Afghanistan but Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Iran, and Syria. Democratic regimes willing to abide by international law will be implanted where possible, but a Western political presence seems unavoidable in some cases."
Johnson added that he suspects that "the best medium-term solution will be to revive the old League of Nations Mandate System, which served well as a 'respectable' form of colonialism between the wars."
Martin Wolf wrote in an opinion column published in the Financial Times that "a sizable part of the globe" is made up of "failed states" such as Afghanistan, each one of which is "a cradle of disease, source of refugees, haven for criminals or provider of hard drugs."
"Honest government--above all the coercive apparatus...must be provided from the outside," he stated, adding that "some form of United Nations temporary protectorate can surely be created" to "save [these] failed states."
In a column posted on the National Review Online, William Hawkins noted, "In the Gulf War, the U.S. stopped after liberating Kuwait. Saddam Hussein was left untouched in Baghdad... Indeed, the failure to remove Saddam a decade ago, when U.S. troops were on his doorstep, can be considered the motive" for Pentagon officials to "make 'decisive war' the core of future doctrine."
Hawkins recognized that Washington's stated war aims "will require [that] a new, cooperative regime be installed in Kabul. Imposing such a change of regime requires troops on the ground."
All imperialist troops, ships, warplanes out of the region!
(front page editorial)
Working people in the United States and the United Kingdom have a special responsibility to join with our brothers and sisters in Pakistan, Kashmir, Sudan, Egypt, Indonesia, and elsewhere in condemning the U.S.-British imperialist bombing and invasion of Afghanistan. Under the banner that "America is under attack," the super wealthy ruling families in the United States and the government that serves them have launched a war to deepen their domination of Southwest Asia and the Middle East; deal blows to their imperialist rivals such as Germany, France, and Japan; press forward the deployment of their military forces on the lands of the former republics of the Soviet Union; and extend their more than decade-long assault on workers' rights in the United States.
Already, working people in Afghanistan's major cities have been subjected to a brutal bombing campaign that has included the 5,000-pound "bunker-buster" bombs, which are used to terrorize populations, as well as cluster bombs that shoot shrapnel out in a 360 degree radius with the intention of kill
ing and maiming as many people as possible. This they have done from miles up in the sky or hundreds of miles away using cruise missiles. Washington and London know how to rain death down on people from afar.
Already, tens of thousands of working people in Afghanistan have been forced to flee their homes, seeking refuge away from expected battle zones. Facing a drought and the onset of winter, these workers and peasants are among the first victims of the imperialist war onslaught, along with those who have been killed or injured in the bombing.
Washington is demanding the press censor itself because "our boys" are now "coming in harm's way." Pressure on unionists fighting for a contract will grow as the bosses and the government claim that "this isn't the right time" to strike. The U.S. rulers seek to get working people to accept having a cop walk up to their car and demand that the trunk be opened without even the pretense of reasonable suspicion of a crime. They want workers and farmers to agree to heavily armed cops, state troopers, National Guardsmen, and regular army troops being stationed at government buildings, and airports, and to intimidate workers into accepting random searches on the job and off.
Washington is informing its allies that it will--or has started to--send military forces to other countries it chooses. Their aim is to shore up imperialist exploitation and national oppression as the U.S. rulers more and more use military might to try to compensate for their weakening and historically outmoded system.
One of the biggest problems the super wealthy employers in the United States face is that they must simultaneously go after workers and farmers at home and abroad. And each new assault by the rulers brings with it not only the possibility of temporarily improving their position, but carries within it the likelihood of setting off further conflict.
So far the people of Afghanistan and the Taliban party have not indicated they are willing to have their country occupied and a U.S.-appointed protectorate put in place. The Palestinian people, despite renewed military offensives and killings by the Israeli regime--as well as a clamp down by Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority--will not bow down and accept a "solution" that does not grant them self-determination and a homeland. In Puerto Rico, opponents of the continued bombardment of Vieques and occupation of most of the island by the U.S. Navy are gearing up their actions, and a strike by workers in schools has just broken out, bringing thousands onto picket lines.
For workers and farmers in the United States, Washington's war against the peoples of Afghanistan hasn't meant the bosses are going to stop their speedup on the job, attempts to cut wages and set aside safety practices, or erosion of union control. Organizing solidarity for strikes and struggles--from garment workers in San Francisco to state workers in Minnesota and coal miners in Pennsylvania--is an invaluable contribution to the struggle today.
The Militant also encourages all our readers to join in the campaign to win new subscribers to the paper and readers of Pathfinder books. Now more than ever, working people and student youth need a clear, scientific understanding of the world and a proletarian course to chart in opposition to imperialism and its war. They tell the unvarnished truth in face of the lies and rationalizations of the spokespeople of the imperialist governments about the history of brutalities brought on the peoples of the Mideast, Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere. They point to how working people in the United States can raise demands that begin to unite them together with toilers in the semicolonial countries, such as canceling the Third World debt owed to the imperialist banks and governments.
End the imperialist invasion of Afghanistan!
All imperialist and allied troops out of the region!
Israel out of the occupied territories!
Stop the assault on workers' rights!