Some Points of Orientation on the Murderous Attack on Shoppers in Berlin
December 22, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 19, a truck plowed into a Christmas market in Berlin, where all kinds of people were shopping, eating, and drinking. According to news reports, at least 12 people were killed, and dozens more were injured.
Shortly after the incident, a Pakistani asylum seeker in Germany who authorities said “matched the description of the truck driver” was arrested. Immediately, news reports speculated on possible links to ISIS or other fundamentalist Islamic jihadist terror organizations. Hours after the attack, police said there was no evidence connecting the initial suspect to the attack, and he was released. Now authorities have launched a manhunt for someone they say is connected to ISIS. A pro-ISIS news site claimed the attack was carried out “in response to appeals to target nationals of the international coalition” fighting ISIS. Reactionaries in Germany, in Europe, and in the U.S. have seized on this incident and the claims by ISIS to demand ratcheted up terror, repression, and deportation of Muslims and immigrants.
At this moment, it is impossible to know who was behind this, and what their motives were. Even so, it is critical to establish, stick to, and fight for some basic principles that correspond to the truth, and to the interests of humanity.
Terrorism Is a Crime Against Humanity... Who Are the World’s Biggest Terrorists?
The first thing that must be said is that targeting ordinary people for terrorist attacks or killing ordinary innocent people in order to achieve political objectives through terror is always wrong.
The United States carpet-bombed Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in a war for empire that led to the deaths of millions of innocent civilians, with one prominent U.S. Air Force General threatening to “bomb them back into the stone age.” Here, the horror after napalm was dropped on a village, June 1972. (Photo: AP)
Child in a Baghdad hospital, 1991, one of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi infants suffering from diarrhea as a result of the destruction of the country's water and sanitation system. In 1997, the UN reported that more than 1.2 million Iraqis, including 750,000 children below the age of five, had died since the beginning of the Gulf War as a result of this and of medical shortages caused by the war and sanctions.
October 2015, the U.S. bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing 42 people including 14 medical staff. (Photo: AP)
The bodies of Afghan children who were killed by a U.S.-led NATO airstrike which killed many Afghan civilians, including ten children, April 2013. (Photo:AP)
This is true in the case of the rulers of countries like the United States and Germany, who have a long history of this in their own countries and around the world. The capitalist-imperialist rulers of Germany, after all, rounded up and murdered millions of innocent Jews and others in the Holocaust. The United States carpet-bombed Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in a war for empire that led to the deaths of millions of innocent civilians, with one prominent U.S. Air Force General threatening to “bomb them back into the stone age.”
More recently, over the last 25 years, the U.S. has been responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent civilians in order to accomplish its political objectives. In 1990, the U.S. instituted sanctions against Iraq that had the effect of poisoning the water people drank and depriving people—especially children and elderly people—of essential medicines and medical care. When U.S. UN Ambassador and future Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked on 60 Minutes if it was worth it to kill 500,000 children to accomplish U.S. objectives, she said, “We think the price was worth it.” (See “Case #76: U.S.-UN Sanctions on Iraq—“A Legitimized Act of Mass Slaughter.”).
In October 2015, the U.S. bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, despite the fact that the hospital administrators were in constant contact with the U.S. military command before the attack, and during the attack made repeated phone calls to the U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan demanding it stop. How is a sustained bombing attack on a hospital, that killed 42 people, including 14 medical staff, and wounded dozens more, not terrorism?
The U.S.-backed Saudi Arabian air assault on Yemen includes systematically bombing schools and hospitals. How is that not terrorism? And the U.S. increased military aid to Israel while Israel was carrying out a massacre in the Gaza strip region of Palestine in the summer of 2014. During that massacre, Israel targeted children playing on a beach, UN schools, apartment buildings, and hospitals. Three quarters of the 2,000+ people killed were civilians, and a quarter of those killed were children. How is that not terrorism?
Because of the whole history of Hitler, and World War 2, the rulers Germany have avoided overt military intervention around the world. But Germany backed the murderous sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s. And Germany is a major arms supplier to Saudi Arabia and Israel. Around the world, the German news service Deutsche Welle summarized that last year “countries in the Middle East, South America, Africa and East Asia that are either involved in conflicts or have problematic human rights records have been splurging on German rifles, handguns and other handheld weapons.” Included in that deadly mix, Germany sells the guns and ammunition that arm a range of reactionary forces engaged in the slaughter in Syria. How is that not, at least, state-sponsorship of terrorism?
And terrorist attacks are a crime and outrage when carried out—albeit on a qualitatively smaller but no less immoral scale—by fundamentalist Islamic jihadists. Whatever their role actually was or was not in Berlin, they do advocate and carry out such attacks.
No to Roundups, Repression and Reactionary War
The Berlin attack has actually benefited the imperialists. That is the case regardless of who was behind it and what their intent. Besides causing the deaths and suffering of innocent people, these killings will now be seized upon to further repress people, and intensify a vicious and violent wave of official and unofficial attacks on immigrants in Germany and throughout Europe.
This incident cannot be allowed to justify and uncork a new, escalated wave of official and unofficial attacks on immigrants and Muslims in the U.S. and Europe, and even more vicious unjust wars by the U.S. and its allies. The Washington Post reported that when asked about his plans to register Muslims, Donald Trump—who made demonizing and threatening Muslims a key element of his campaign, and who has brought fanatic “war-on-Islam” crusading military men into the core of his cabinet—declared “You know my plans.”
People cannot lose sight of fundamental dividing line between right and wrong. Everyone of conscience must oppose attacks on Muslims and immigrants. And the authorities in Germany and throughout the West cannot be allowed to use this incident to ratchet up spying, surveillance, and repression against political protest and dissent. Remember: in the wake of the terrorist attacks in 2015 by avowed fundamentalist Islamic Jihadists, France launched a massive crackdown against the environmental movement, among other repressive measures.
A Clash of Two Reactionary Poles... And How to Break Out of That
The attack in Berlin comes in the context of reactionary global conflict between Western imperialism and fundamentalist Islamic Jihad. The main factor behind that conflict is the imperialist system itself. Capitalism-imperialism has given rise to massive suffering, death, and dislocation in the world, and ultimately bears responsibility for creating conditions that give rise even to very wrong-headed and cruel actions in opposition to it.
Germany’s powerful economy and wealth are rooted in a global system that viciously exploits and oppresses billions of people around the world. And the same could be said of the U.S., France, Britain, and other imperialist powers. But things like the attack in Berlin are most definitely NOT in the interests of masses of people all over the world, and can in no way be justified.
What is urgently needed right now in countries like the U.S. (and Germany) and all over the world, is massive political resistance and opposition to what the imperialists, with the U.S. first among them, are doing—the many crimes they have committed and are continuing to commit—and to the way in which they will seize on this incident to seek to justify and carry further these crimes. This challenge is particularly urgent and acute, in the context of the rise of fascist, white-supremacist, violently anti-immigrant movements and political parties throughout the West, concentrated in the incoming Trump-Pence regime in the U.S.
There is a way to break out of the whole paradigm where, for billions of people, the “choices” are posed as Western imperialism or fundamentalist Islamic Jihad.
A genuinely emancipating revolution—a communist revolution—involves millions and millions of people who are determined to bring about a radical change in society and the world. This communist revolution aims to overturn the grotesque and horrific systems and relations in the world that cause such untold and unnecessary suffering for literally billions throughout the globe, and which themselves also give rise to and are ultimately responsible for grotesque forms of opposition to this. The nature and aim of this revolutionary struggle is nothing less than the conscious and determined struggle of millions and ultimately billions, throughout the globe, to bring into being a whole new world without exploitation, oppression, and social inequalities.
Organizing for that revolution is urgent. And right now, that requires going all out to stop the ascension to power of a Trump-Pence regime, which would, among other horrors, pour gasoline on the reactionary conflict between fundamentalist Islamic Jihad, and Western capitalism-imperialism.
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