Revolution #105, October 21, 2007

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If You Want to Understand the Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism and the “War on Terror,” You Need to Know:


The first thing that has to be understood is that the U.S. is an imperialist power that has brought, and continues to bring, great suffering to people throughout the world. That is the context within which to understand the so-called “war on terror” and attacks that are made against “U.S. interests” around the world.

The origins of this country, and the foundations of its wealth and power, are grounded in slavery, genocide against the Native Americans and the theft of their land. And then the expansion across the continent, in the second half of the 19th century, involved further wars of aggression and theft of land (from Mexico as well as from the Native Americans), to extend the slave system (this, for example, was the essence of the fight for Texas, with its battle of the Alamo) and then, especially after the Civil War, to spread the triumphant capitalist system.

At the close of the 19th century, as part of a worldwide scramble of competing capitalist powers to establish colonial empires and subjugate and exploit the peoples living in those colonies, the U.S. grabbed more overseas territory, most notably in the Philippines—where the U.S. betrayed and then slaughtered, in the hundreds of thousands, the Philippine people fighting for independence from Spain and turned the Philippines into a U.S. colony, along with seizing Puerto Rico and turning Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean and Latin America into little more than U.S. colonies, which witnessed repeated bloody invasions and occupations by U.S. military forces in the first part of the 20th century.

Then, after World War 2, with the weakening of other colonial powers, on both the winning and losing sides in that war, the U.S. moved to bring vast amounts of territory under its domination, in the form of “neo-colonialism,” effectively controlling and robbing countries throughout the Third World, with terrible consequences for billions of people, even while those countries were nominally “independent.” Where they stood in the way of this domination and exploitation by the U.S., governments throughout the Third World, including popularly elected (and more or less secular) governments, were overthrown through bloody coups engineered and led by the CIA—for example, in Iran in 1953, and Indonesia in 1965—and brutally oppressive regimes, subservient to the U.S., were installed and kept in power for decades.

It is impossible to understand the real reasons for the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, and the deep hatred for the U.S., in the Middle East and other parts of the world, without being aware of and fully taking into account this whole bloody history of plunder and repression which the U.S. has carried out, and continues to carry out. And it is impossible to break out of the current very bad and potentially even more disastrous dynamic—where U.S. imperialism and reactionary Islamic Jihadism continue to reinforce each other even while opposing each other—without a mass movement that challenges this whole dynamic. A special responsibility in all this falls to the people of the U.S.—to mobilize active, politically meaningful and truly powerful resistance to what is being done, in their name, by the government of the U.S.

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