The Afghan Terror

World comment by Politicus

TERRORISM IS the weapon of the weak -- 'propaganda by deed', some would say.Yet, it took huge logistical skill to organise the slamming of two aeroplanes into New York's World Trade Centre within ten minutes of one another, with two separate groups of highjackers bent on committing suicide.

These terrorist groups are tiny handfuls of individuals who despair of the capacity of mass politics to change anything fundamental in the Muslim world. The international network of Islamic terrorist groups is horizontal. The vertical element is the ideology, symbolised by Osama Bin Laden. It is doubtful if Bin Laden planned this operation from the caves of Afghanistan, even if he may have morally inspired it.

The rational response to the atrocity would have been for the American government and people to ask themselves: 'Why do people hate us so much that they could do things like that?' Instead the US government, backed by Tony Blair in presidential, war-lord mode, has grabbed what they think is a golden opportunity to establish a permanent base in central Asia, right next door to the Caspian Sea's vast oil reserves

The real tragedy of 11 September is that most Americans know so little about the outside world. Fewer than one-quarter of Americans have passports. The rest never travel outside the geographically giant US. Foreign affairs get minimal coverage in most US newspapers. The result is that most Americans have no idea of the abominations committed in their name by their governments around the world; of the injustice done to the Palestinians because of uncritical US support for Israel; of the million children who have died because of US sanctions against Iraq; of the mass slaughter past US administrations have been responsible for in central America, Chile, Indonesia etc., as it backed reactionary regimes against local popular and nationalist movements.

In addition, the strong and influential Zionist lobby continues to dominate the US media, contributing to uncritical media backing for whatever Israel does.

Most Americans, while personally generous and idealistic, are just plumb ignorant of contemporary politics and history. The US media, run by millionaires, keep them that way. The US government, run in the interests of the same millionaires, can thereby get away, literally, with murder, as now in Afghanistan.

One positive result of the 11 September events may be to induce more Americans to ask themselves why US foreign policy can generate such hatred. There are likely to be positive results too for the Palestinians, in bringing home to the American people the counter-productive character of their governmentís support for the state of Israel.

The attack on Afghanistan is a blatant breach of international law. In international law a state's right of self-defence is against another state that attacks it. The twin towers atrocity was a criminal act committed by individuals, most of them not Afghans. It was not an act of war by the Afghan state, justifying America going to war against it. The cluster bombs dropped on the Afghan people, and left lying around on the ground for their children to pick up later, are against the Geneva Convention to which the US and Britain are party.

The plan to run an oil-pipeline southward through Afghanistan to the Arabian Sea from the Caspian and neighbouring Turkemenistan has been an American ambition for years. It has been a central project of the big oil companies with which president Bush and vice president Dick Cheney have close connections.

They can then sell that oil to India, south Asia and Japan, and run a string of client states south of Russia in central Asia. To achieve these simultaneously personally profitable and geo-politicial goals, they need a client government in Afghanistan that is capable of guarding that pipeline and keeping the oil flowing. An early attempt in the mid-1990s by US oil companies to get such a pipeline laid, failed because of the absence of such an Afghan government.

Oil is what the Afghan war is really all about -- that and the establishment of US client states in central Asia. So the Americans are now trying to do what imperial Britain failed to do in their 19th century Afghan wars, and the Russians failed to do in the 1980s.

The Afghan people may yet teach the American government a well-deserved political lesson -- and which will, hopefully, force more ordinary Americans

December 2001/January 2002

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This document was last modified by David Granville on 2002-02-04 13:35:39.
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