In just two days from the first streaming of this show, on September 11, 2021 it will be 20 years since fanatical Islamic fundamentalists representing the al Qaeda organization hijacked several airplanes and flew two of them into the World Trade Center, a massive 110-story office complex in New York. The center was destroyed and nearly 3,000 people were killed. They also attacked the Pentagon, headquarters of the U.S. military.
In response to this, the Republican president George W. Bush declared war against the government of Afghanistan, which had allowed al Qaeda to stay in their country. The Afghanistan government was headed by another fanatical Islamic fundamentalist group, the Taliban, who ruled a highly repressive theocratic state in which women were brutally oppressed and practically erased from public life and education. This same Taliban, after 20 years of U.S. war and occupation, has now returned to power with all the horror that will bring to the people of Afghanistan.
Thus far the 20-year commemorations of September 11 have been relatively muted, focusing on lives of people here. I suspect that this has to do with the humiliating defeat of the U.S. after two decades of throwing its enormous military arsenal at one of the poorest countries on the face of the Earth. I suspect that on this September 11 Biden will likely attempt to fog and poison minds here by praising America’s supposed noble and righteous intentions doing damage control on their defeat.
The attack on the World Trade Center in New York shocked this country and the world. Images of planes flying into the towers and then this twin tower, symbol of U.S. financial might, collapsing into dust... the invincibility of the U.S. was shattered. The U.S. rulers could not let this stand and President Bush soon stood in the rubble and announced their misnamed “War on Terror.” Unleashing bloodlust and the ugliest revenge, the fascistic direction of huge sections of U.S. society was now on steroids. The black eye that the attack gave to the U.S. was answered with massive retribution; a gangster-Mafia-style invasion with bombings and occupations stretching from Africa to South Asia—with the main battlefield the Middle East.
Already with this 20-year commemoration of September 11—9/11—the media, including progressive media, are focusing on what this has meant for American lives—taking new generations back to the grief of those days when New York City was covered in dust and pictures of the missing were hanging in Union Square as thousands gathered.
Three days after the planes attacked, the Revcoms issued a statement that said this to the people here and around the world:
Through the shock we seek the truth: Global exploiters and mass murderers have no right to retribution and they can only bring more destruction and injustice. To join forces with them, to seek their protection, will only encourage them to commit more crimes against the people of our planet.
Artists soon gathered in Union Square and Times Square with signs that said “Our Grief Is Not A Cry for War.” In 2002, Bob Avakian gave a talk in which he identified the new situation as a “cauldron of contradictions” with the potential for great destruction as well as great upheaval, with the potential to make advances for revolution. He analyzed the new greater challenges, the new necessity facing the rulers of the U.S. empire, and their need to dominate strategic parts of the world—like the Middle East. The war against Afghanistan was followed soon after by the—completely illegitimate, unjustified, and immoral—invasion of Iraq by the U.S.
The wars were carried forward, as I said last week, leading to the loss of more than one million lives.
Today, in this brief commentary I am not going to speak to the whole of this, but, as people here are likely going to be saturated with all manner of bullshit about how the “War on Terror” was just—and that its American warriors are heroes, I/we want to briefly bring out some of the truth of what this war really was.
We begin with some irreverence:
But it is not just these fascist America Firsters at this rodeo who hysterically fall at first for Borat’s pro-U.S. pitch and then recoil at the thought that USA is not #1, who are infected with American chauvinism. We face a situation where many people who want a just world are blind to reality—because we have not yet disabused them of the notion, the lie, that America is fundamentally a force for good in the world—the “good guys.”
All the focus on American lives—in the form of “Thank You for Your Service,” “Honor the Soldier Not the War,” all the obsessive playing, by all too many guys—but not only––of the various “Call of Duty” video games, not to mention movies like American Sniper as well as the anti-war movies that treat the tragedy of the American soldier, leave the nature of the imperialist beast that uses them as cannon fodder relatively unscathed.
A Declaration, A Call To Get Organized Now For A Real Revolution describing the system we live under, says plainly:
the system of capitalism-imperialism destroys lives and crushes spirits. It is the source of endless horrors for the majority of people in this country and all around the world, and it is increasingly threatening the very existence of humanity. The military of this country is not carrying out an “honorable service”—and it is not some “bad ass” force that people should respect.
This is important first of all because the defeat of the U.S. in Afghanistan and its echo of Vietnam points to the reality that the U.S. is not invincible and what its oppressive role in the world actually is. And, too many of our youth respect and get into the U.S. military because they dig that it is so powerful. This statement from the Declaration is also aimed at disabusing them of such bullshit.
Some who spend their youth with the joystick of Call of Duty video games go on to sit in the CIA or U.S. military bases firing real drones at real people. Barack Obama put drone war on steroids, as of 2020 there have been over 13,000 drone strikes in Afghanistan. In addition to the cost to lives and limbs, drones are instruments of terror—imagine, in a clear sky you are spied on unaware by satellite, then there is a buzz and suddenly you are vaporized. No warning, such that everyday terror stalks the land. While “American warriors” sit in their game chairs. No, America is Not the good guys.
On this anniversary of 9/11 that launched this war of terror for the interests of U.S. imperialism that has cost the people of the Middle East—millions of people—dearly, I want to bring out an important synthesis from Bob Avakian on how to understand the dynamic of the wars in the Middle East and other parts of the world: In an important talk in 2006 Bringing Forward Another Way—a title, which not so by the way, is what we must do and what the revcoms are all about—BA said this:
What we see in contention here with Jihad [Islamic fundamentalism] on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade [increasingly globalized western imperialism] 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. If you side with either of these “outmodeds,” you end up strengthening both.
While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these “historically outmodeds” has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists.
To illustrate this, and to reveal that Abiodun’s refrain: America is a Terrorist is not just rhetoric... listen to this exposure from Bob Avakian in the film THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible:
The U.S. government wages war in Africa and Asia, as well as the Middle East, claiming it is fighting to defend civilization against the brutal and murderous Islamic fundamentalist jihadists. But the imperialists of the U.S. are certainly no less brutal and murderous, and the “civilization” they boast of is literally built on the blood and bones of people all over the world. And why is this Islamic fundamentalism such a force now? Fundamentally because of the workings of capitalist imperialism itself. Besides the overall role of imperialism in creating more favorable soil for these Islamic fundamentalists, actions of the U.S. imperialists have further fed their growth.
In the 1980s, the U.S. actually armed and built up Osama bin Laden and other Islamic fundamentalists to strike at the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
In 2003, in violation of international law, the U.S. invaded Iraq to overthrow the head of government there, Saddam Hussein. This invasion was carried out under the cover of lies that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. This invasion, and the occupation of Iraq by American forces that followed, caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, set off bloody conflicts among the Iraqi people, and created more fertile ground for Islamic fundamentalist forces.
And the same thing happened in Libya. Under the presidency of Barack Obama, and with the insistent urging of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the U.S. intervened in a conflict within Libya on the side of forces opposed to the longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi. With the fall of Qaddafi—which was brought about mainly as a result of massive bombing of his forces by the U.S. and its allies—the rivalries and conflicts within Libya were intensified, and Islamic fundamentalist forces gained strength.
Or take the case of Iran. In 1953 the CIA engineered a coup that overthrew a popular government that was moving to nationalize the oil of the country, so that it could be used for the development of its economy, instead of being controlled and plundered by the U.S. and Britain. This coup brought the Shah of Iran to power, and the people of Iran suffered decades of torment and torture at the hands of the Shah and his secret police. And, here again, these actions of the U.S. created more favorable ground for the forces of Islamic fundamentalism, which ultimately seized power through the revolution that overthrew the Shah in 1979.
These are only a few examples of the American crimes that have been committed, and the kinds of consequences that have followed from these crimes, in countries all over the world.
The 20th anniversary of September 11occurs in what has developed into a RARE TIME WHEN REVOLUTION COULD REALLY BE POSSIBLE, if we struggle like hell with masses of people to see that out of the horrors of today with the dangerous potential for even worse, that there is also the potential for something really positive—a real revolution for a radically new and far better society.
The other side of the horror of the images of the carnage from drone strikes, the infuriating pictures of women forced back into the burka, is that that there is a way out of this world of backward oppression and destruction—a breakthrough in the science of communism, a breakthrough in how to know and change the world that holds the potential for the emancipation of all humanity, a strategic approach to revolution not locked in the past but for this time in history, and there is an inspiring vision and concrete plan for a radically new society in the inspiring Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian. In sum, in a time of great danger, and out of great horror, there is also the potential for something far better.
An inspiring example of this, something that profoundly moved me and all of us here at The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show is a statement just published on revcom.us by a new group that is initiating a movement of the new communism of Afghanistan, that begins with this:
The JKNA (The Movement of the New Communism of Afghanistan) is an initiating core—a group of revolutionary communist men and women who cannot stand the ugliness and crime of the present world. We have gathered to raise our voices, to say first and foremost: “No! This world is not fit for any human being...”
They write of why they are taking this up saying:
...comrade Avakian and his method of scientific and enlightening analysis shows how, in the context of this global crisis, in the midst of this confusion and incoherence that pervades the entire body of the world capitalist system, there is the opportunity to create a new path, a path leading to communist revolution. The bankruptcy of all tried and tested alternatives is more obvious than ever before.
I want to close with commentary on 9/11 and the U.S. War OF Terror with a quote from Bob Avakian:
The interests, objectives, and grand designs of the imperialists are not our interests—they are not the interests of the great majority of people in the U.S. nor of the overwhelming majority of people in the world as a whole. And the difficulties the imperialists have gotten themselves into in pursuit of these interests must be seen, and responded to, not from the point of view of the imperialists and their interests, but from the point of view of the great majority of humanity and the basic and urgent need of humanity for a different and better world, for another way.