Revolution #64, October 8, 2006
Bush’s Grand Ambitions and the Danger of War Escalation
"Americans are asking ‘Why do they hate us?’ They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other. "
George W. Bush, September 20, 2001
“They hate our people because it is decent, brave, industrious, hardworking and intelligent. They hate our views, our social policies, and our accomplishments. They hate us as a Reich and as a community. They have forced us into a struggle for life and death. We will defend ourselves accordingly. All is clear between us and our enemies.”
Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, December 31, 1939.
Afghanistan. Iraq. Lebanon. Iran. Now the whole Muslim world. It’s a global struggle, Bush declares. World War 3, he and his gang call it. And they’re right. The U.S. imperialists seized on Sept. 11 to launch a global war, their World War 3. But it’s not a “war on terror” to make America—or anyplace else—”safe” or to “protect” ordinary people, much less end “terror.” These are the big lies of our times.
As every passing day shows, Bush’s war is a savage, bloody world war for greater empire. A war that is inflicting—and based on—massive terror: “shock and awe,” leveling of whole cities in Iraq, limb-destroying cluster bombs in Lebanon, nuclear threats on Iran, and the terror of waterboarding and endless imprisonment without charge.
They’ve been at it 5 years now. They launched their war on the pretext of getting those allegedly responsible for Sept. 11. But since day one they’ve had the whole world in their sights, and have expanded their war to one target after another: first they attempted to conquer Afghanistan, supposedly to capture Osama bin Laden. Then they invaded Iraq—a country with no WMD and no connection to Sept. 11. This summer they encouraged and backed Israel’s brutal assault on Lebanon. Now, they are preparing for a possible war on Iran, most likely sooner, not later. And Bush is telling us he plans years of war against any and all opponents in the Middle East—Sunni, Shi’ite, or anyone else.
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and the rest are trying to create a new Rome—but this one armed with nuclear weapons, practicing legalized, high-tech medieval torture, and declaring that anyone, anywhere can be seized and thrown into American dungeons on the word of a proven liar—George W. Bush. This new American Rome is ruled by imperialist barbarians, who claim for themselves the mantle of righteousness, hope, and humanity.
The truth is exactly the opposite: this war is being waged by the tiny handful of financial-corporate oligarchs who rule the U.S. so they can maintain, extend, and deepen their predatory grip on billions of people all over the world. It’s a war to seize control of the world’s oil and natural gas “heart”—the Middle East and Central Asia—so this energy grip and strategic position can be used to strangle and control others, whether Russia, China, Japan, Europe—whomever. It’s a war whose ultimate goal is crushing any and all opponents before they can even emerge and to create what history has never seen before: an unchallenged and unchallengeable empire.
This is the connection between Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, and every other country the U.S. threatens—not “terror” or “Islamo-fascism.”
This war pits the U.S. against a host of political and social forces in these target countries—including, most prominently, reactionary Islamic fundamentalist currents. These forces oppose U.S. plans, but they represent reactionary politics that can bring neither freedom from imperialism nor any kind of liberation to their countries. Like the U.S., these forces have indiscriminately targeted civilians—although without the massive firepower the U.S. and its ally Israel bring to bear against whole civilian populations. Yet their fundamentalism and their tactics aren’t the basic reason Bush and Co. target them as “Islamo-fascists.” The problem for the U.S. imperialists—many of whom are reactionary fundamentalists themselves, who prop up religious obscurantists, and whose strategy has often targeted civilians—is that these forces pose a major obstacle to their unfettered domination of a globally strategic region.
Grand Ambitions Meet Growing Obstacles
Grand ambitions are one thing. Realizing them is another, and the U.S.’s arrogant, criminal aggression has not only run into various obstacles, but called forth and created even more. In Iraq, the cakewalk crumbled long ago and there are now a reported 800-900 attacks on U.S. forces per week or roughly 100 per day (Guardian, Sept. 30). The pro-U.S. Iraqi government remains an agglomeration of reactionary warlord factions and the country is sliding toward a civil war between different sections of Iraqi society (Sunnis vs. Shi’ites, and Arabs vs. Kurds). There is also the anti-U.S. insurgency, which is distinct from, and at the same time related to, the civil war. According to Bob Woodward, author of the new book State of Denial, “The truth is that the assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse…” And there are growing calls within the U.S. establishment for sending more U.S. troops. (See “Talk Grows for Troop Escalation,” Revolution #63, available at revcom.us)
"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. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other."
In Afghanistan, once assumed to be safely pacified by U.S. and European troops, the Taliban and other anti-U.S. forces are regrouping and the country is starting to look like Iraq. Hezbollah has emerged from the rubble of Israel’s carpet bombing campaign in Lebanon stronger—not weaker. Across the region, the invasion of Iraq has strengthened Iran, which is so far refusing to bow to all U.S. demands on its nuclear program.
A new National Intelligence Estimate found that (in the wake of U.S. aggressions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon) Muslim jihadists were “increasing in both number and geographic dispersion,” and that, according to a New York Times analysis of the report (9/27), “over the next five years the factors fueling the spread of global jihad were likely to be more powerful than those that might slow it.”
Meanwhile, Woodward’s new book chronicles infighting and blindness within the White House. “The book describes a White House riven by dysfunction and division over the war,” the New York Times reports (9/29). “Bush’s top advisers were often at odds among themselves, and sometimes were barely on speaking terms, but shared a tendency to dismiss as too pessimistic assessments from American commanders and others about the situation in Iraq….”
The Bush Regime’s Answer to Obstacles? Ongoing War & Escalation
None of this means that the Bush regime is about to back off or come to its “senses.”
Think of it this way. The Bush regime has rolled the dice, betting that their unbounded war will secure the future strength and power of the U.S. empire. They haven’t “crapped out” yet, but they haven’t rolled any sevens either. So like compulsive gamblers whose fortunes are on the line, their attitude is “double-down,” double-or nothing. In other words, to continue the bloodshed, and escalate.
So Bush isn’t backing off—he’s doing the opposite, loudly declaring that he’s determined to see this war through to the finish, that hesitation, much less defeat, would be disastrous, and the U.S. must and will stay on the offensive—and escalate if need be.
This is the logic of “escaping forward.” Myth holds that Alexander the Great, faced with the insoluble task of untying the Gordian knot, cut through it with a stroke of his sword. Today the Bush regime envisions cutting through the boiling cauldron of contradictions it faces with the sword of military might, and perhaps nuclear weapons. “It was never possible to ‘win in Iraq’ so long as we insisted on fighting in Iraq alone,” neoconservative strategist Michael Ledeen wrote in arguing for war on Iran. “You can not win a regional war by playing defense in one country. It was, and remains, a sucker’s game.” (National Review, July 31, 2006)
And with questioning and doubts growing, Bush is threatening his critics—even those within the political establishment—that they’re embracing “the enemy’s propaganda.” (AP, 9/29)
Think about it. Here’s a proven liar—who has lied repeatedly and continuously about torture, about WMD in Iraq, about Saddam’s connection with Sept. 11, about the “progress” being made there, about the nuclear threat posed by Iran, and most importantly about the whole nature of his “war on terror.” And now, when reality is showing him a liar day after day, he basically brands any who criticize him as terrorist sympathizers. Coming hours after the passage of legislation legalizing torture and indefinite detention against America’s “enemies,” could the fascist threat of imprisonment and the torturer’s rack—no, excuse us, the waterboard—be any clearer?
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