Revolution #60, September 10, 2006
5 Years after 9/11
Lies from the Bush Regime, Dangers and Challenges for the People
"The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy, but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism.
On August 31, in Salt Lake City, Utah, George W. Bush told a convention of the American Legion—a pro-war organization of veterans—that “If we give up the fight in the streets of Baghdad, we will face the terrorists in the streets of our own cities.” And we are sure to hear, in the days to come, constant invocations of 9/11 to terrify the populace into lining up behind attacks on whoever Bush declares are the latest “bad guys” in the so-called “war on terror.” Before addressing his claim to be keeping Americans safe from terrorism, let’s briefly review what five years of “war on terror” have brought to the world:
So far, the “war on terror” has produced war and occupation of Afghanistan—an occupation so brutal and hated that some sections of people in that country are even rallying behind the dreadful Taliban. Then came the invasion and occupation of Iraq—justified by total lies. The British medical journal Lancet estimates 100,000 civilians have been killed during the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The latest revelation about the Marine massacre at Haditha is that, according to the Washington Post, “The Marine officer who commanded the battalion involved in the Haditha killings last November did not consider the deaths of 24 Iraqis, many of them women and children, unusual and did not initiate an inquiry.” In other words, this massacre was standard operating procedure and didn’t even call for a perfunctory inquiry. The world hasn’t even seen all of the photos documenting the horrors that took place in the U.S.-run torture chamber at Abu Ghraib. And will we ever know how high up the chain of command the responsibility lies for what happened to 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza who was raped and then murdered along with her family by U.S. occupation troops? According to a July 1 Associated Press article, the U.S. troops spent almost a week planning the assault.
On the homefront, Bush has unleashed government snooping into everything from your phone calls and emails to the books you read at the library, declaring himself above any laws that constrain who and how he can spy on people in the U.S. For three years, a U.S. citizen, Jose Padilla, was held in prison as an “enemy combatant,” without charges or trial. The Department of Homeland Security issues constant “elevated security warnings”—the timing of which, as MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann pointed out, coincides with moments when there are awkward scandals, protests, or other things the government wants out of the news and out of people’s minds. And through all this, the Christian fascist edge of the Bush Regime is being strengthened to cohere a section of people around simple-minded lies and a promise of order and stability in their lives. These forces are being pandered to and whipped up, for example, behind demands for imposing Old Testament morality in the form of bans on abortion and gay marriage.
“What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system.”
We need to be clear in understanding all this, that there is no “war on terror.” There is a clash in the world today between U.S. imperialism—and its compulsion to dominate and exploit the world on the one side, and opposition to that in some areas of the world led by reactionary Islamic fundamentalism representing social forces who are not opposed to imperialism, but who do see their interests in conflict, in some ways, with how imperialism is dominating their countries. As Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, has put it: “What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system.”
And there is much worse to come, if the crimes of the Bush Regime are not brought to a halt. The logic of where Bush is heading is leading to a war on Iran, very possibly involving a U.S. nuclear attack on that country. That war, as we pointed out last week in this paper, would be both a humanitarian and a political nightmare. Alongside the destruction of human life, it would further polarize the people of the world between Bush’s McCrusade, and Islamic fundamentalist jihad. Unless a different force—one representing the actual interests of the people of the world, steps onto the stage. All this emphasizes the critical need, now, for a real movement to drive out the Bush Regime and put a HALT to its crimes emerging on October 5th—something we will return to at the end of this piece.
This Was Never About Your Safety—And Even If It Was…
Now, back to that bullshit about how all this is keeping you safe. If this whole terrible course Bush led the U.S. into after 9/11 had anything to do with actually protecting the people in this country from terrorist attacks, then why—from the moments after 9/11 to today—has the Bush Regime done nothing but suppress any real investigation into who or what was behind those attacks? In an introduction to the book The New Pearl Harbor by David Ray Griffin, Richard Falk, professor of international law and practice at Princeton, wrote, “There are so many gaping holes in the official accounts of 9/11 that no plausible coherent narrative remains, and until now we have been staggering forward as if the truth about these traumatic events no longer mattered.”
And the Washington Post reported that the staff and some members of the 9/11 Commission (the official group that conducted a so-called “investigation” into the attacks) “concluded that the Pentagon’s initial story of how it reacted to the 2001 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public,” and that “suspicion of wrongdoing ran so deep that the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of its tenure in summer 2004 debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation.” And why did Bush testify to the official 9/11 Commission (he refused to testify under oath) that he had no idea that there were Al Qaeda cells in the U.S. or that there was any imminent threat, when there is repeated testimony that he was told about the likelihood of an attack and was given a presidential briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.” on August 6, just a month before September 11? (See accompanying article "911: Cracks in the ‘Official Story’")
The “war on terror,” with its endless war, repression, and torture, is not about making you safe. But even if it was—in some narrow, short-term sense of keeping you safe from angry victims of U.S. wars—then that would be a deal with the devil—aligning with and banking on mass murder and torture to keep you safe. There is much to appreciate and learn from in the statement by Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, who declared at the Bush Crimes Commission hearings that while he didn’t believe torture produced reliable information, even so, “I would personally rather die than have anyone tortured to save my life.”
What Bush Means by “The Terrorists”
In his Salt Lake City speech, Bush lumped together all kinds of forces in “a single movement, a worldwide network of radicals that use terror.” With this logic, the “enemy” can be defined as whoever is in the way of Bush’s agenda. Afghanistan in 2001 was ruled by the Sunni Muslim fundamentalist Taliban. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was a repressive secular state. Iran was—and is—ruled by Shi’a Muslim theocrats who in 2001 had very hostile relations with both Afghanistan and Iraq. And most of the people who have been officially identified as being involved in the plane hijackings on 9/11 came not from any of these countries, but from Saudi Arabia—a country Bush has consistently (so far) upheld as a model ally in the “war on terror.” In short, the countries on Bush’s hit list had nothing to do with each other and no more documented relationship to what happened on 9/11 than any other country. There was, when Bush attacked Iraq, no connection between that regime and Al Qaeda. Bush’s “terrorist” list is not defined by who is killing civilians with bombs—if it was, the U.S. and its Middle East attack dog Israel would be at the top of the list. What Bush means by the “worldwide network” of “terror” are—mainly (but not only) Islamic fundamentalist forces who pose an obstacle to U.S. domination of the Middle East.
And, in his Salt Lake City speech, Bush even had the gall to yet again invoke the long discredited “weapons of mass destruction” story as an excuse for war on Iraq.
In short, the logic of the “war on terror,” and the list of “axis of evil” states, has nothing to do with threats to the U.S. or what happened on 9/11.
Bringing "Democracy" to the Middle East
A substantial part of Bush's Salt Lake City speech is a celebration of the benefits of bringing U.S.-style (capitalist) democracy to the Middle East.
Bush claimed that "Governments accountable to the voters focus on building roads and schools-not weapons of mass destruction." This from the ruler of a country that let 1800 people die unnecessarily in the immediate wake of Hurricane Katrina, and abandoned hundreds of thousands more, and a country that diverts a good percentage of the world's wealth and resources into building a nuclear arsenal capable of unimaginable destruction.
Bush claimed that "Democracies don't attack each other or threaten the peace." This from the leader of the world's model democracy, and the world's biggest source of war-the country that just backed the invasion of Lebanon by Israel (also a democracy), that invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, and that has waged rarely interrupted wars of neocolonial and imperialist conquest from the Philippines to Cuba, and in more recent times proxy wars through funded terrorists (like the Nicaraguan Contras) or through massive bombing attacks (as against the former Yugoslavia).
And Bush had the gall to claim that “the Iraqi people have reclaimed the sovereignty of their country,” when the U.S. occupies the country with 140,000 troops.
All this sheds light on a quote from Bob Avakian that we have been featuring in this newspaper:
"The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy, but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism.
"What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism.”
Iran in the Crosshairs
In many ways Bush’s speech in Salt Lake City led up to setting the stage for the next phase of the “war on terror,” a U.S. attack on Iran. First you buy that this is all about protecting America from the terrorists. Then you buy that if the U.S. doesn’t stop the terrorists in Iraq, you’ll be fighting them in the streets of the U.S. Next step, Iran.
Bush said, “This summer’s crisis in Lebanon has made it clearer than ever that the world now faces a grave threat from the radical regime in Iran. The Iranian regime arms, funds, and advises Hezbollah, which has killed more Americans than any terrorist network except Al Qaeda. The Iranian regime interferes in Iraq by sponsoring terrorists and insurgents, empowering unlawful militias, and supplying components for improvised explosive devices. The Iranian regime denies basic human rights to millions of its people. And the Iranian regime is pursuing nuclear weapons in open defiance of its international obligations.
“We know the death and suffering that Iran’s sponsorship of terrorists has brought, and we can imagine how much worse it would be if Iran were allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Many nations are working together to solve this problem. The United Nations passed a resolution demanding that Iran suspend its nuclear enrichment activities. Today is the deadline for Iran’s leaders to reply to the reasonable proposal the international community has made. If Iran’s leaders accept this offer and abandon their nuclear weapons ambitions, they can set their country on a better course. Yet, so far, the Iranian regime has responded with further defiance and delay. It is time for Iran to make a choice. We’ve made our choice: We will continue to work closely with our allies to find a diplomatic solution—but there must be consequences for Iran’s defiance, and we must not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.”
In an editorial last week, we exposed how the U.S. is recycling the “WMD” lie they used to justify war on Iraq, and how both Bush and some of the Democrats are pushing intelligence agencies to exaggerate how quickly Iran could produce nuclear weapons to justify a war on Iran that might well involve the use of nuclear bombs by the U.S. And we wrote, “A U.S. attack on Iran may very well involve nuclear weapons, and in any event would take the initial form of a massive bombing attack, with terrible human consequences, and terrible political consequences.” (see “Hidden U.S. Plans for War on Iran: Imminent Danger…and Strategic Stakes,” Revolution #59, available at revcom.us)
Non-Opposition, and Real Opposition to All This
Mainstream media critics of Bush, and the Democratic Party, have complained that Bush’s message that essentially says that “anyone who opposes all this is with the terrorists”—is “politicizing” the “war on terror.” Or, trying to use the “war on terror” to gain an electoral advantage over the Democrats. This misses the point, channels opposition into very harmful directions, and is not what is going on.
What is going on in relation to election season is an expression of the reality that elections aren’t where decisions are made about anything—they are where the terms of things, and the alternatives you are supposed to restrict your thinking to, are defined. In that context, Bush is indeed aiming his 9/11 fearmongering to the elections. But not mainly to get the edge on the Democrats. His 9/11 speeches will define the terms of what is argued over in the elections. Namely: who is toughest in the “war on terror.”
Bush’s lies about WMDs in Iraq? Off the agenda. Lies about Saddam Hussein’s having ties to Al Qaeda? Off the agenda. Orchestrated “negotiations,” “sanctions,” and intelligence findings to prepare for a war—very possibly a nuclear war on Iran? Off the agenda. Illegal, massive spying on Americans? Torture at Guantanamo? Renditions to other countries for torture? All off the agenda. Yes, the Democrats can argue with Bush, but it has to be over who is going to be better at implementing an agenda that is no damn good for the people.
Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean illustrated how this works. In response to Bush’s August 31 speech, what did he do? Call out Bush as a liar? Remind the voting public about the WMD hoax? Sound an alarm on the danger of nuclear war against Iran? Not at all. “You can’t trust Republicans to defend America,” Dean said. “Today we only heard more of the same propaganda from a desperate Bush administration worried more about its party’s political prospects this fall than about how to protect America and fight and win the real war on terror. It’s results that matter, and the Bush White House and its rubber-stamp Republicans in Congress have not produced results when it comes to keeping America safe.” (Chicago Tribune, 9/2/06)
|The outpouring of thousands of people in Salt Lake City, Utah—of all places—to protest Bush, and the sentiments expressed even by the mayor of Salt Lake City, tell you something about the pent-up anger and outrage at the direction this country is moving in-very quickly. That outrage is right, and necessary. But it has to be directed at HALTING the whole package, not misdirected into lining up with the Democrats!|
There is an incredible disconnect between, on the one hand, the position and role of the Democratic Party establishment, and their acceptance of the awful terms (and fighting for their own position within those terms), and, on the other hand, even some elected Democrats, much less the base of the Democratic Party. Listen, for instance, to Rocky Anderson, the mayor of Salt Lake City, speaking to an outpouring of thousands in Salt Lake to protest Bush’s speech:
“No more lies from Condoleezza Rice about whether she and President Bush were advised before 9/11 of the possibility of planes being flown into buildings by terrorists. No more gross incompetence in the office of the Secretary of Defense. No more torture of human beings. No more disregard of the basic human rights enshrined in the Geneva Convention. No more kidnapping of people and sending them off to secret prisons in nations where we can expect they will be tortured. No more unconstitutional wiretapping of Americans. No more proposed amendments to the United States Constitution that would, for the first time, limit fundamental rights and liberties for entire classes of people simply on the basis of sexual orientation…”
Anderson’s perspective, which he raises in this same speech, is that “we hold dear the values upon which our nation was founded.” That is not a perspective that really gets to the source of the problem in this society. This nation was founded on the enslavement of Africans, genocide against the Native Americans, the theft of half of Mexico, and yes—values—that justified those horrors. Those values cannot be the basis for a society that is in the interests of the people of the world, or in this country. But there is much to unite with in the spirit of his speech to protesters when Bush spoke in Salt Lake City. He said, “We won’t be quiet. We will continue to resist the lies, the deception, the outrages of the Bush administration. We will insist that peace be pursued, and that, as a nation, we help those in need. We must break the cycle of hatred, of intolerance, of exploitation. We must pursue peace as vigorously as the Bush administration has pursued war. It’s up to all of us to do our part.”
The outpouring of thousands of people in Salt Lake City, Utah—of all places—to protest Bush, and the sentiments expressed even by the mayor of Salt Lake City, tell you something about the pent-up anger and outrage at the direction this country is moving in—very quickly. That outrage is right, and necessary. But it has to be directed at HALTING the whole package, not misdirected into lining up with the Democrats!
Bush is invoking 9/11 to justify a whole new round of even worse—unimaginablewars, with draconian implications for fascist repression at home. There is a way—one way—that does provide an avenue for people, coming from a very broad range of perspectives, to step forward in their interests. As the new ad from World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime lays out:
“ENDLESS WARS! TORTURE! KATRINA! THEOCRACY! BRING THIS TO A HALT!”
And World Can’t Wait says: “This Regime does not represent us and we will not stop until we drive it out! Walk out of school! Refuse to work! No shopping on Oct 5!
“Come to mass demonstrations across the country and march through the streets calling on millions more to join us in repudiating this criminal regime with the mobilization of massive political opposition!”
A powerful mass movement to drive out the Bush Regime, to bring its crimes to a HALT—a movement that nobody can ignore, can begin to set new terms for the people of the world. Right here, in the heart of the country that is bringing so much death and misery to humanity, a statement can be made to the world that things do not have to be this way, and McWorld and Jihad are not the only two choices.
Nothing less, nothing else, speaks to what the world demands of us.
[More info on connecting with World Can’t Wait.]
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