Twenty years ago today, the United States witnessed the biggest and bloodiest attack on its soil in modern history. At least 2,977 men and women died and at least 25,000 were injured after a gang of terrorists crashed a series of commercial aircraft into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, leaving the American people in a state of shock and disbelief. Across the world, millions of people looked on in horror at devastating scenes of desperate people trapped in the upper floors of the towers, some of whom jumped to their deaths rather than face being burnt alive, shortly before the towers collapsed, leaving thousands buried under the rubble.
But what followed this tragedy was a disgrace to the memory of all those innocent people who lost their lives that day. The dust had barely settled and the blood of the victims had barely dried before the vultures started circling. Taking advantage of the mood of national grief, they launched a blitz of lies and war propaganda in order to stampede the US population into accepting the US going to war, supposedly to avenge the attack. The Patriot Act and other laws were rushed through Congress, severely curtailing civil rights and dramatically expanding the surveillance powers of the state. All this in the name of a supposed ‘War on Terror’ and the ‘defence of democracy’.
One after another, for days on end, people like then President George W Bush, Dick Cheney, and a never-ending stream of other officials, military commanders and ‘pundits’ appeared on television decrying the attack on “freedom” by the “evil forces” of Islam. Former Secretary of Education William Bennett and a host of other neocons urged the govenrment to “declare war on militant Islam,” stating that, “the United States should proceed as if in war, because it is war.” Bennett and his gang called for war on Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya, despite the fact that none of these countries had any ties whatsoever with the attack or the reactionary Al Qaeda organisation behind it.
Of the nineteen hijackers that carried out the attacks, fifteen were citizens of Saudi Arabia, yet any mention of Saudi Arabia was conspicuously absent from these public declarations. In fact, every effort was made to protect Saudi interests, up to the point of allowing eight chartered planes to safely spirit away high level Saudis from the country, starting on 13 September, despite the fact that American airspace was still under lockdown. Among those on the flights, was the late Prince Ahmed Salman, who was linked to Al Qaeda and who was later discovered to have had advance knowledge of a coming attack. While a racist and frenzied campaign of harassment against people from Middle Eastern backgrounds was being whipped up, these dark figures linked to one of the most reactionary regimes in the world were being given veritable ‘get out of jail free’ cards.
All evidence as to the source of the attacks pointed towards Saudi Arabia, which has long been the world’s foremost sponsor of Islamic fundamentalism. In fact, it was the Saudi monarchy, in collaboration with the CIA, which had originally nurtured Al Qaeda as a part of the Islamist insurgency against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Now imperialism’s Frankenstein’s monster had escaped control and had become a serious problem for the US and the West. Not a single TV channel made mention of this fact, despite banging the drum about the ‘War on Terror’, day in and day out. The US ruling class was looking to reassert itself around the globe and make an example of some of its enemies. That it had fostered such enemies to begin with was a minor detail.
It is often believed by some superficial minds on the left, that the ruling class is infallible, and that all of its decisions correspond to some grand plan devised to the last detail in the drawing rooms of power. But that is not at all the case. Mistakes and accidents play a role in history. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the US emerged as the sole superpower on the world stage. Now it was being shown up by a small gang of reactionary religious fanatics. This was not something it would tolerate.
Appearing on Fox News in the evening of 11 September, an amped-up Colonel David Hunt succinctly expressed this attitude when he told Bill O’Reilly that it was time for the US to “unleash the dogs of war.” Frothing at the mouth, the dogs at the top of the military establishment were dying to be let loose in order to restore their pride. With Saudi Arabia, the real source of the attack, being too close to the heart of their interests, the headbangers settled on Afghanistan, imagining it to be an easy target for a brutal display of US imperialism’s vengeance. But as the Bible says, “pride cometh before a fall.”
Once taken, the decision proved fateful. The war on Afghanistan was an adventure which was doomed to fail. On the eve of the fall of Kabul to American troops in November 2001, Alan Woods wrote:
“Yet again, we see how the Americans have thought nothing out to the end. They imagined that once they had pushed the Taliban out of Kabul, the problem would be solved. But this is not at all the case. (…) The Taliban have lost their grip on power, but not their potential for making war. They are very used to fighting a guerrilla war in the mountains. They did it before and can do it again. (…) The prospect opens up of a protracted guerrilla campaign which can go on for years. The first part of the allied war campaign was the easy bit. The second part will not be so easy.
“(…) If the aim of this exercise was to combat terrorism, they will find they have achieved the opposite. Before these events, the imperialists could afford to maintain a relatively safe distance from the convulsions and wars of this part of the world, but now they are completely entangled in it. By their actions since September 11, the USA and Britain have got themselves dragged into a quagmire, from which it will be difficult to extricate themselves.”
How true these words read today. Not content with the results in Afghanistan, Bush, Cheney and their gang, followed by their loyal British lapdogs, decided to double down and open a new front in Iraq, claiming that the latter was harbouring Islamic fundamentalists and weapons of mass destruction. Of course, these were blatant lies. There was no significant presence of Islamic fundamentalism in Iraq until after the arrival of the imperialists. Neither did the Saddam regime possess any weapons of mass destruction. The true aim of the war was to access Iraqi oil, increase pressure on the Iranian regime, and push deeper into areas which had previously fallen under the Soviet sphere of influence.
The Amercans thought this would be a swift affair. Again, they miscalculated. By destroying the Iraqi army, which had been used to keep Iran in check for two decades, they not only destabilised Iraq, but the whole region. On the one hand, the invasion strengthened the Iranians who built a strong base of support amongst the Shia majority in Iraq. On the other hand it created the basis for the rise of Sunni Islamic fundamentalism, which the US itself leaned on to a certain extent in order to counter Iranian influence, the graphic result of which we saw with the rise of ISIS in 2014.
Nowadays, politicians and so-called experts are queuing up in front of the western media to decry the situation faced by Afghan women following the Taliban’s takeover. These are hypocritical crocodile tears. There is no outcry for the rights of women in Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan under US occupation was far from the heaven on Earth that it is made out to have been. According to Airwars, US drone strikes since 9/11 have killed at least 22,000 civilians – and perhaps as many as 48,000. A 2015 report by Physicians For Social Responsibility, estimates the campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to have led to 1.3 million deaths! The report concludes that “this is only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths … could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.”
In Iraq, the same ‘freedom loving’ people who raised a hue and cry over supposed weapons of mass destruction did not hesitate to use chemical weapons such as white phosphorus in civilian neighbourhoods in Fallujah. Meanwhile, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the states set up by the United States were packed with the most corrupt and reactionary gangsters and sectarians. US imperialism did not bring democracy and human rights to these countries. It brought sectarianism, corruption, death and destruction at unprecedented levels.
The mood turns
While there were big anti-war protests in the US at the beginning, as a whole, the American masses were initially pushed into accepting the wars after the shock of the 9/11 attacks. Very soon however, this mood changed. According to Gallup, at its height in 2002, support for the Afghanistan war stood at 93 percent. From here however, the figures only went downhill. By 2019, after 18 years of fighting at the cost of thousands of American lives and more than a trillion dollars, 6 in 10 Americans said that fighting Afghanistan wasn’t worth it. American workers today are far more interested in improving their own conditions than footing the bill for never-ending wars abroad. This change in mood has had important political consequences.
In 2012, the Obama administration’s proposal to bomb Syria fell flat on its face after congress refused to support it, with only 9 percent of the US population being in favour. In 2016, when Donald Trump was elected president, one of his most popular campaign promises was to pull the US out of the wars in the Middle East. The opposition to war severely hampered the ability of US imperialism to manoeuvre in the manner it was used to. Any major military campaign involving ground troops would come at a big political cost for any administration, and as such was ruled out. Added to this was the economic cost of military interventions. By 2019, the total cost of US interventions in the Middle East was estimated at $6.4 trillion – a further drag on the willingness to embark on new military adventures.
Crisis of imperialism
The outcome of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was clear from the beginning, but both the Obama and Trump administrations kept postponing the final decision,unwilling as they were to accept the humiliation of defeat. Sooner or later however, something had to give in. Joe Biden has been rightly criticised for the execution of the withdrawal from Afghanistan in the past month. The rapid advance of the Taliban and the chaotic evacuation of Kabul was a direct result of his incompetence and that of his colleagues at the top of the army. But however it was executed, the defeat of the US had been certain for many years. The withdrawal was only the final admission of this fact. This will have important consequences.
Iraq is next in line. Whether through a chaotic withdrawal as in Afghanistan or as a part of a deal with Iran, the US presence in Iraq on the present basis is untenable. But matters will not stop there. Seeing the US military machine being ground down by a bunch of Taliban fanatics with Kalashnikovs will embolden other countries to challenge US domination, such as China, Russia and even weaker regimes such as Iran. The result is the opposite of what the gung-ho generals were aiming at when they set out to display their might after 9/11. Rather than a display of US military might, the incompetence, limitations and weaknesses of US imperialism have been put on display for the whole world to see. US allies around the world will now have serious doubts about how much they can rely on Washington for support.
US imperialism is still the most powerful military and economic force on the planet. However, as we have explained, its ability to maneuver has been severely curtailed. As a result, any major US military campaigns are ruled out for now. Instead, it will be more inclined to resort to economic warfare, limited special operations and proxy campaigns. Far from making the world a safer place, this will increase instability and tensions in world relations. Like a drunk on the day after a binge, the US ruling class is now forced to reckon with the processes it has set in motion.
Crisis of the US regime
The consequences of these events are not limited to world relations, but also to the relationship between the classes inside the United States. Almost 800,000 US soldiers participated in the war in Afghanistan. The majority of these returned home with deep physical and mental scars – that is, if they returned home at all. In an interview with Vice a former marine who fought in some of the toughest battles of Afghanistan gave an interesting glimpse into the mood amongst many within this layer. When the interviewer asked if he thinks the war was in vain, he responds:
“Yeah, I do. You know as somebody that bled in that war as all of us have… the guys that didn’t come home… why? Why did they not come home? These are 19-20 year-old kids that never got to come home. Never got to start their lives and we abandoned them. We abandoned those guys. And that’s hurtful.”
The feeling of betrayal runs through every word of this statement. It is not difficult to imagine the anger that must pervade many of those ordinary Americans who supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as they come to realise that they have been deceived. After twenty years of war, none of the promises made to them have come to fruition. Rather than a safer, more democratic world, the rampage of US imperialism has left behind it a trail of barbarism and misery.
Islamic fundamentalism has not been defeated – rather, with US aid, it has found safe havens that it never had before in Iraq, Syria and Libya. Iraq and Afghanistan are not one step closer to democracy than they were before. All talk of a ‘new world order’ based on so-called democratic, American values; ‘nation building’; the ‘War on Terror’, and American exceptionalism has been shown to be nothing but hot air. These are serious problems for the establishment, which is increasingly seen by Americans as an incompetent pack of liars, opportunists and charlatans. Speaking on the Net Assessment podcast, Christopher Preble of the conservative Cato institute sounded the alarm:
“We have this pattern of misleading, false or in a few cases outright lies [in the] statements pertaining to the effectiveness of Afghan security forces. …The credibility gap was the problem from the Vietnam era of US government officials saying things about the progress of that war, for example about the durability of the government of south Vietnam or the fighting effectiveness of the army of the republic of Vietnam, which turned out not to be true. That was a credibility gap. And thus US officials weren’t trusted to tell the truth. … My point is that this credibility problem is not confined to foreign wars. We have a collapse in trust in the institutions of this country right now. And millions of Americans are unable to differentiate fact from fiction … There is a credibility problem and it is getting worse. The American people do not believe government officials.”
These are sobering words of warning coming from one of the more intelligent strategists of US capitalism. While the tragedy on 11 September 2001 and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan initially strengthened the mood of patriotism and national unity, defeats in those wars have added to the mood of hate and suspicion towards the ruling class. The crisis of US imperialism abroad is also a crisis of US capitalism at home. Together with factors such as the criminal handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, falling living standards, widespread economic uncertainty, and the scourge of racism, it has fed into the molecular process of revolution which is taking place beneath the surface. The chickens are coming home to the roost for US imperialism. The conditions are being prepared for the American capitalist class to face punishment for its crimes – not by the Islamist madmen it itself nurtured, but by the revolutionary masses.
Alan Woods, 11 September 2011
On the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attack, we republish the following article, written in 2011 by Alan Woods on the tenth anniversary of that atrocity. It was already clear that the so-called “War on Terror” was a complete failure. Meanwhile, the recent eruption of the Arab Spring had provided a stunning illustration of the power of the masses to sweep aside reaction and imperialism from the region.
On the tenth anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers millions of people will relive the horrors of that fateful day. The television screens are filled with shocking images of death and destruction.
Once again we see the flames of blazing fuel as the planes struck the tall buildings; the desperate people throwing themselves into empty space; the collapsing edifices that filled the New York air with choking dust and turned day into night, and the men and women covered in gray dust looking like creatures from another planet.
The events of September 11th 2001 undoubtedly represented a turning-point in history. The tenth anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon provides us with an opportunity to make a balance sheet of the past decade, a decade that has reshaped the history of the world.
The past decade was dominated by the so-called war on terror. Its imagery has been burned on the collective psyche. Everybody remembers the burning towers, followed by the battle on the slopes of Tora Bora, the invasion of Iraq, the horrific pictures of hooded prisoners in Abu Ghraib, the caged prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, the assassination of bin Laden.
However, the “war on terror” is a blatant misnomer. A war presupposes the existence of two armies of more or less comparable strength, and two governments that can declare the start of a war and also end it. It also presupposes definite war aims on both sides. None of these things are applicable in this case. Al Qaeda is not a state but a terrorist organization. It has no standing army. Its war aims are vague and its supporters are dispersed among the populations of different lands. They operate in the shadows, not on the battlefield.
The idea that such an enemy could be taken on by a conventional army with tanks, guns and airplanes was always ludicrous. Terrorism is not fought on a battlefield, but by a combination of intelligence, police methods and politics. The use of conventional military means in this context was the equivalent of a surgeon wielding a battle axe instead of a scalpel, or a man using a machine gun to swat a mosquito.
Were we told the truth?
In an article that we wrote on the same day as the attack we said the following:
“This terrorist act has a completely insane and criminal character and must be condemned – but not for the hypocritical reasons given by Bush and Blair. Marxists oppose individual terrorism because it is counterproductive and plays into the hands of the most reactionary sections of the ruling class. This is clearly the case here: this bloody outrage will play into the hands of US Big Business and imperialism. It will give Bush a free hand to do anything he wants in the Middle East and on a world scale. US public opinion will be softened up for any reactionary policies at home and abroad.
“It will have a similar effect on US public opinion to Pearl Harbour, which Roosevelt publicly condemned but secretly welcomed. The American public will now be prepared to accept the atrocities of so-called counter-insurgency and counter-terrorist actions abroad, and also reactionary and anti-democratic legislation at home.” (US Suicide Bombing – Terrorism Aids Reaction, written by Ted Grant and Alan Woods Tuesday, 11 September 2001)
There were many unanswered questions about what happened that day. Ten years later these questions remain unanswered. It seemed impossible that the Intelligence Services of the USA were unable to detect this existence of a plot of such vast dimensions. In the same article we expressed a tentative opinion:
“How is it possible that the CIA was so ignorant and inept as to permit such a devastating attack on the nerve-centres of the nation? One possibility has not been mentioned – namely that it was the result of a provocation that went badly wrong. In the shadowy world of intrigue, provocation and counter-provocation that characterises the activities of the secret services, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that a section of the US military Establishment decided to allow the terrorists to launch an attack inside America as a means of boosting public support for an aggressive policy and rearmament. This would explain the surprising failure of US intelligence, although the devastating nature of the attack would suggest that the provocation got out of hand.”
I am no friend of conspiracy theories, but it is true that the “official” reports raise more questions than they answer. Ten years later, I think that the explanation we put forward at the time probably comes fairly close to the truth. We may never know. But if the facts of the action are unclear, its results are very clear indeed.
The events of 9/11 suited the imperialists very well. What GW Bush did when he declared his “war on terror” had nothing to do with fighting terrorism. It was intended to whip up a bellicose atmosphere in order to justify setting in motion the vast military machine of the USA for the sake of foreign adventures.
The imperialists are always in need of some external threat – real or imaginary – to justify aggressive foreign wars. In the past they shouted: “remember the Maine!” or “remember Pearl Harbour!” Now every sign of dissent was immediately drowned out by a deafening chorus of; “remember 9/11!”
September 11th provided the excuse for the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. A case could at least be made for taking action against al Qaeda in Afghanistan, where they had their main base, protected by the Taliban regime. But why attack Iraq? Immediately after 9/11, Rumsfeld was beating the drum for this line of action, which surprised even elements in the White House.
Everyone now knows that Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with the attack on the Twin Towers, and whatever you may think of Saddam Hussein, he was not an ally of al Qaeda but a bitter foe. Yet the reactionary clique of Bush-Rumsfeld-Cheney launched the criminal invasion of Iraq under the banner of “the war on terror”. This was based on the most blatant lies, which have now been exposed, in particular, the monstrous falsehood about “weapons of mass destruction.”
Robert Fisk, a highly intelligent and honest observer says we have avoided the real question for ten years: the one thing which any cop looks for after a street crime: the motive. “How many died on 9/11? Almost 3,000. How many died in the Iraq war? Who cares?”
The invasion of Iraq was not at all related to the events of 9/11. It had been decided long before that by a right-wing Republican clique, hell bent on extending the US sphere of influence in the Middle East after the fall of the USSR. The problem with Saddam Hussein was not that he was a dictator (the USA has supported many dictatorial regimes in the Middle East: the Shah of Iran, Mubarak in Egypt, Ben Ali in Tunisia, the Sheikh of Bahrain, the Saudi monarchy, the Algerian generals etc., etc.). The problem was that he was not sufficiently obedient to commands from Washington.
It is true that the regime of Saddam Hussein was a brutal and bloody dictatorship, which was hated by the majority of the Iraqi people. But the task of overthrowing that oppressive regime was the task of the Iraqi people themselves. When America toppled Saddam Hussein it only replaced one dictatorship with another oppressive and corrupt dictatorship, masquerading under a false “democratic” facade.
The idea that the Bush-Rumsfeld-Cheney clique was remotely interested in bringing democracy to Iraq is a joke in very bad taste. They conveniently ignored the fact that the USA had previously backed Saddam Hussein, and armed him in a criminal war of aggression against Iran. They turned a blind eye to all his crimes and even provided him with poison gas to murder the Kurds. Donald Rumsfeld personally went to Baghdad to express his firm support for Saddam Hussein in his war of unprovoked aggression against Iran.
The people of Iraq have been forced to endure the humiliation of foreign occupation and the torment of sectarian slaughter that engulfed it immediately after the American invasion. This criminal act, far from damaging al Qaeda, enormously boosted it. Previously, al Qaeda had no base in Iraq, now it has plenty of them, and an army of recruits helpfully provided by GW Bush, and its other two chief recruiting sergeants, Rumsfeld and Cheney.
Recently al-Qaeda was able to launch 42 attacks across the country on a single day. And when the last American troops depart at the end of this year, what will they leave behind them? If they hoped to install a friendly government in Baghdad, they have failed. Nuri al-Maliki stands far closer to Teheran than to Washington. Nor is Iraq a democracy in any meaningful sense.
Has the war on terror succeeded?
Over the past decade the military assault on al-Qaeda has been both relentless and, from a narrow military point of view, successful. Leon Panetta, a former director of the CIA and now US defence secretary, said during a recent visit to Afghanistan that America was within reach of inflicting a “strategic defeat” on al-Qaeda.
Is this true? A large number of jihadis have been captured and killed and for ten years the organization has been unable to repeat anything on the scale of 9/11. Osama bin Laden was assassinated in May, and his new second-in-command was killed only a month ago. The organization’s command structure has been seriously disrupted and it has clearly lost a significant part of its operational capabilities.
It is true that al Qaeda still has a presence in Yemen and some other places and may still be able to stage terrorist atrocities. Terrorist acts do not necessarily require big forces. It took only 19 men armed with cardboard cutters to mount the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon ten years ago. Small terrorist groups were able to organize large-scale atrocities in Madrid and London.
However, after a decade of intelligence-gathering, ferocious attacks and mass arrests and detentions in Guantanamo, al Qaeda has been severely weakened. This was the case even before American SEALs killed bin Laden. Yet the myth of al Qaeda, a supposedly omnipresent and ever-present terrorist threat, is still maintained and carefully nurtured in the media. Why?
Every year the USA spends huge amounts on arms. There are powerful vested interests in justifying this vast expenditure, especially at a time of economic crisis and concerns about the colossal US deficit. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Military-Industrial Complex needed another external threat in order to defend its economic interests. The right-wing clique around Bush also represented powerful oil interests that had an eye on the vast oil reserves of Iraq. These were the real interests behind the so-called war on terror.
The “war on terror” was allegedly fought in defence of American democracy. But the latter has been one of the first casualties. The Economist writes:
“To secure the homeland, America did not just wage foreign wars. It also created a colossal security and intelligence bureaucracy at home. The Washington Post reported last year that more than 1,200 government organizations and almost 2,000 companies were working on programmes related to counter-terrorism, homeland security and intelligence.
“Some might say that America has paid a big price in the loss of freedoms great and small. It has become normal to remove your shoes before boarding an aircraft. America did not intern Muslim citizens after September 11th, as it did Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbour, but the Bush administration rode roughshod over cherished liberties. Congress, the courts and a new president eventually pushed back, but not all the way. Though America no longer subjects suspected terrorists to waterboarding, Guantánamo is still open, an emblem of everything America is supposed not to stand for. Many of its inmates could spend the rest of their lives in captivity without ever having a proper trial.”
These lines are sufficient to expose the reactionary consequences of terrorism in general and 9/11 in particular. For a time it strengthened the hand of imperialism and the most reactionary circles of the US ruling class. But now all that is beginning to unravel. Ten years after 9/11 the winds of revolution are blowing everywhere.
The Arab Revolution
The only way to bring about a genuinely democratic regime in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world is by revolutionary means – as shown by the events in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. This marks a complete repudiation of al-Qaeda’s authoritarian and fundamentalist doctrine. The jihadists and Islamic fundamentalists played little or no role in these revolutionary movements, although in some countries they may still succeed in hijacking them if the workers do not take power into their own hands.
The West can claim no credit for this awakening. It was not inspired by the invasion of Iraq, to which the Arabs were fundamentally opposed. The Arab street understood very well that Iraq’s new government is a puppet regime. They knew that George Bush’s “freedom agenda” meant only the freedom of the imperialists to loot Iraq and rob it of its oil and other resources. They do not trust the “democracy” preached by governments that for decades have propped up the most vicious Arab regimes.
When the revolutionary wave finally swept over Tunisia, Egypt and the whole of the Arab world almost a decade later, it was not the result of America’s display of “shock and awe” tactics but a spontaneous eruption of rage and frustration at intolerable conditions. Its sole motor force was the revolutionary people, especially the workers and the revolutionary youth, for whom the USA is not a model, but rather an enemy who backed the hated old regime till the eleventh hour and after.
In Libya, too, the Gaddafi regime was overthrown by the armed people. NATO, hiding behind the fig-leaf of the so-called United Nations, intervened when it became clear that Gaddafi was in difficulties. Their bombing campaign was intended to tip the balance in favour of the rebels, and thus to safeguard the interests of the Americans and Europeans after his overthrow. But the imperialists were not prepared to arm the rebels, who they distrusted, and still distrust.
The people of Libya are not so stupid that they cannot see through the intrigues and lies of the imperialists who supported Gaddafi and his regime up to the last moment, when they conveniently switched sides. It is public knowledge that both the Europeans and the USA had close links with the Gaddafi regime, that they sent arms to Gaddafi and that their secret services collaborated actively with the old regime.
The victory of the rebels has meant the opening of the archives of Gaddafi’s secret police and military intelligence. This proves beyond any doubt that the CIA and British Intelligence (MI5 and MI6) provided intelligence to the Gaddafi regime to combat the Libyan opposition, and handed over oppositionists to the torture chambers, including the present leader of the Libyan armed forces. All this was done in the name of “the war on terror”. These facts show the repulsive hypocrisy of the imperialists and their false attachment to “democracy”.
Afghanistan and Pakistan
In Afghanistan, America succeeded in chasing out al-Qaeda and its Taliban protectors. But al-Qaeda and the Taliban, with the aid of the Pakistan Military Intelligence (IS), merely shifted their operations to new bases over the border in Pakistan, from whence they proceeded to launch attacks on the US forces.
In retaliation, the CIA sent unmanned drones to bomb them inside Pakistan. But since most of the victims of these drone attacks are civilian Pushtoons, this bombing campaign has stoked the fires of hatred towards America and provided the Taliban insurgency with a new influx of recruits eager to continue the bloody war of attrition in Afghanistan.
Years of savage war have reduced large areas of Afghanistan to rubble. Nobody knows how many people have been killed. And there is no end in sight. Despite all the brave talk of Obama, the Americans are preparing to pull out of Afghanistan in what will be a humiliating and ignominious retreat. It remains an open question how long the corrupt Karzai regime that the West is propping up in Kabul will survive after NATO’s planned departure in 2014.
They talk about victory, about inflicting a military defeat on al-Qaeda, “taking out bin Laden” etc. But these are hollow boasts. The price of this alleged “victory” has been to create new dangers everywhere. By carrying the war into Pakistan, America has further destabilized what was already a very fragile and unstable country. With a population of 190million Muslims, and a nuclear arsenal, Pakistan represents potentially a far bigger threat to America than either Iraq or Afghanistan.
All along Pakistan has been playing its own game in Afghanistan. For decades the Pakistan military and especially the ISI have been manoeuvring for control in Kabul. The Taliban were – and remain – their allies. The government in Islamabad has been kept afloat by American money, but key sections of the Pakistan state are secretly supporting the Taliban and their jihadist allies. The ISI obviously knew where bin Laden was hiding, which is why the Americans decided not to inform Islamabad of their raid on bin Laden’s house.
Since the murder of bin Laden, relations between Pakistan and America have become even more envenomed. The Economist (3 September) concludes: “America’s homeland may be safer than it was ten years ago, but its strategic posture has deteriorated in a swathe of the Middle East and South Asia, and will worsen further if Iraq falls under the spell of the mullahs’ Iran, or Pakistan implodes.”
Nowhere is the hypocrisy and double-dealing of the imperialists clearer than on the Palestinian question. In an attempt to woo Arab public opinion, Washington held out the prospect of an American-brokered peace in Palestine, but GW Bush was far more interested in friendly relations with Israel than peace and, for all his fine words, Obama has done no better. Netanyahu continues his encroachment on Palestinian lands and terrorizing of the Palestinians with total impunity.
Has this strengthened or weakened America’s position in the world? Let us consider the human and economic costs. Some 6,000 US soldiers, and many of its allies’ soldiers, have lost their lives in these bloody wars of attrition. As for Iraqi and Afghan losses, nobody knows for sure. But according to one very conservative estimate about 137,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.
These wars have created more than 7.8million refugees. The wars’ ultimate cost, including interest payments and veterans’ care, to the United States will amount to up to $4 trillion. To put this in its economic context, this figure is approximately equivalent to the USA’s cumulative budget deficits for the six years from 2005 to 2010.
This represents a colossal drain on America’s resources. And what have they got to show for all this sacrifice apart from the disruption of al-Qaeda – something that could have been better achieved by police methods and counter terrorist units? But there have been wider and potentially even more dangerous consequences. A recent poll for the Arab American Institute reported that America’s standing across the Arab world is now lower than it was at the end of the Bush presidency. The hatred of America has become deep and embittered.
These constant wars and upheavals have unsettled the minds of Muslim youth in the West. The fumes of jihadism have spread like poisonous a cloud to western countries, as when British Muslims set off bombs on the London Underground in 2005. Similar tendencies can be observed in the USA. In 2009 an American Muslim gunned down his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas and last year a new immigrant from Pakistan tried to set off a car bomb in New York’s Times Square.
It may be doubted whether these and other plots were directly organized by al-Qaeda. More likely they were merely inspired by the vague feeling of a need to lash out, copying the methods of the jihadis. But the question that must be asked is what feeds the feelings of frustration and rage that is the main motor force for such desperate actions. It is far more convenient to avoid this awkward question by sweeping references to al Qaeda – as if the latter really represented an all-powerful and ever-present force, instead of a small and beleaguered movement.
Unemployment, poverty, racism and a growing intolerance in the host societies have combined to create an alienated layer among the youth that is not confined to the Muslim population. Unfortunately for the bourgeois it is impossible to declare war on unemployment or to solve the problem of poverty by sending a drone to drop bombs. And in the absence of a strong Marxist party, sections of disaffected youth begin to sympathize with the jihadis.
This is a blind alley that only provides ammunition to the right wing and the racists, while presenting no real threat to the state. While constantly harping on the threat of Islamic fundamentalism, the media ignores the threat posed by right-wing and fascist terrorism, which was revealed by Anders Behring Breivik’s murder of 77 Young Socialists in Norway in July. The racist poison is being echoed by the “respectable” bourgeois politicians. Newt Gingrich, a possible Republican candidate for the US presidency, joined a campaign with clear racist undertones to stop the construction of an Islamic centre and mosque in lower Manhattan.
The tactics of al Qaeda, which seem to be “anti-imperialist” in fact serve the interests of imperialism. The two feed off each other and are necessary to each other, like Siamese twins tied together by a fatal umbilical cord.
Splits in the West
The “war on terror” has also produced severe strains in the Western Alliance. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the USA became the sole world super-power. Along with supreme power came supreme arrogance. Now the Europeans are tired of being dragged into America’s wars. On the other hand, America is exasperated by Europe’s unwillingness to pull its weight. At every turn the stresses and strains come to the surface.
Invoking collective defence, NATO joined the war in Afghanistan, although that country is very far from the North Atlantic. Britain, which had long ago lost its leading role in the world, has become reduced to the humiliating role of a satellite of Washington. Tony Blair, anxious to please Big Brother across the Atlantic was prepared to prostrate himself on all fours, fawning like a pet poodle to the Man in the White House, while all the time maintaining the ridiculous pretence of a “Special Relationship” between London and Washington.
The only thing special about it was its especially nauseating character of Blair’s subservience. It goes without saying that the Americans soon got tired of this ridiculous charade, which lasted only as long as they needed it to create the illusion of a “Coalition of the Willing”. The problem was that not many were willing. Only a few others who aspired to the position of “Special Friends” of Washington, such as Poland and Ukraine, rushed to volunteer for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But the really important countries in Europe, Germany, and especially France, kept a safe distance. And for most public opinion in Europe, including Britain, the war in Iraq was deeply unpopular. And after a decade of body bags the appetite of the American people for foreign wars has been sharply reduced. The economic crisis that began in 2008 and is still continuing means that ten years after 9/11, the attention of the people is focused elsewhere.
The splits in the Western alliance have coincided with the growing economic difficulties on both sides of the Atlantic. There is less money for foreign adventures, and therefore increased tension as to who should pay for them. This was exposed by the Libyan affair. America, having burned its fingers in Iraq and Afghanistan, was not keen to get involved in a war in Libya. The Germans decided to stay out of it altogether. The British and French governments were in the first ranks of those baying for military action.
It suited the Americans to present the Libyan campaign as a NATO operation. But it only served to expose the weaknesses of NATO. Its European members keep some 2million men in uniform but they only managed to send between 25,000 and 40,000 to Afghanistan. And after only 11 weeks of the Libyan campaign, they had run short of munitions and needed American help. Even such a limited campaign exposed serious weaknesses in both the French and British armed forces.
After 9/11 the “Bush doctrine” was meant to show the world the power of imperialism, which was supposed to sweep all before it. Ten years later what is being exposed are the limits of the power of imperialism. It is compelled to intervene everywhere, but this constant pressure is undermining its very foundations.
On 11th of September 2001 we wrote the following:
“Overnight, the greatest super power the world has ever seen turns out to be a colossus with feet of clay. The most powerful military state the world has ever seen has shown its powerlessness in the face of terrorism. Before the Second World War, Trotsky predicted that America would emerge as the victor and establish world hegemony, but he added that it would have dynamite built into its foundations. These prophetic words have now turned out to be literally true. Ten years ago, after the fall of the Soviet Union, President Bush’s father promised a New World Order. Now the reality has struck home with a vengeance.
“The rape of the planet by Big Business has created a world fraught with misery, war and chaos, which has now impacted on the heart of world imperialism. This is the real cause of the present atrocity. The terrorism of world-wide hunger, disease, misery, exploitation and oppression which torments millions of men, women and children each and every day of their lives, is the root cause of the turmoil and instability which is sweeping the planet in the dawn of the 21st century.”
Subsequent events have confirmed this prognosis. One war follows another. One shock after another has shaken the foundations of society and in the process has also shaken up the consciousness of millions of people.
To most ordinary Americans today the events of 9/11 must already seem like ancient history. Sure the shocking images of the collapse of the Twin Towers still arouse powerful feelings. But there is no longer any appetite for flag waving chauvinism. As time passes the intoxicating fumes of chauvinism wear off, leaving people with a bad headache and no desire to repeat the experience.
Even some Republicans have been forced to recognize the new mood. In Iowa last month, Ron Paul, a Republican presidential candidate, was cheered to the rafters when he called for the troops to come home. The 2012 election will focus not on “the global war on terror” but on unemployment and falling living standards. The people of America want to hear less about foreign adventures and more about the problems they face in America itself.
Instead of talking about nation-building abroad, most Americans want to hear more about nation-building at home. This new mood can easily revert to old-style isolationism. The problem is that this option is no longer available. The USA is now inextricably bound up in world affairs and cannot avoid getting involved. The whole world is now one single, indissoluble whole. There is no escaping the fact of globalization. But globalization now manifests itself as a global crisis of capitalism.
The USA has accepted the role of world policeman that in the past was held by Britain. But whereas Britain derived vast profits from its imperial role, for the USA it has become a colossal drain. The difference is that British power was at its height in a period of capitalist upswing, whereas the USA’s world role coincides with a period of capitalist downswing.
The crisis of capitalism affects all countries, big and small. But America is affected most of all. The crisis of American capitalism is graphically expressed in its colossal deficit, which the ruling class is attempting to solve by placing the burden on the shoulders of the working class and the middle class. Sooner or later this will have revolutionary consequences, as we have already seen in Wisconsin. The 21st century was born in the shadow of war. But the decisive war of the 21st century will be the class war.
London, 9th September 2011
9/11 2001: US Suicide Bombing – Terrorism Aids Reaction
Ted Grant and Alan Woods11 September 2021
Today is the anniversary of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. On this occasion we publish the below article, written on the day of the attack. To this day, the article remains valid on all the fundamental points.
On Tuesday September 11, 2001 the world was shaken by news of the most devastating terrorist attack in history. Thousands of people are feared dead and many more injured after two planes crashed into the World Trade Centre towers in the heart of New York’s financial district. Just 18 minutes after the first explosion there was a second blast as another plane hit the other tower.
It is thought that the aircrafts were passenger planes, and one is believed to be an American Airlines Boeing 767 flying from Boston. The first aircraft crashed into one of the towers shortly before 9am (2pm BST). Smoke billowed out of a gaping hole in the 110-storey tower, which was utterly demolished. Soon after, the other tower was hit by a hijacked plane. People were seen jumping out of windows in a scene of appalling terror. Some 50,000 people worked in the towers, though it seems that at the time of the attack there were about 6,000 – many of whom must have been killed or injured.
The building, the tallest in New York, was a popular tourist attraction which houses financial services companies and the attack occurred at a time when employees and tourists would have already arrived at the building. The Centre was bombed in February 1993, killing six people and injuring more than 1,000 others. Now it no longer exists, reduced to a smouldering ruin.
Nor did the attacks stop here. In another incident, a plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington DC, setting it on fire. In Pennsylvania, airport officials at Somerset County Airport reported a large plane crashing just north of the Somerset County Airport, about 80 miles Southeast of Pittsburgh.
Other hijacked planes were reported to be heading for Washington. The streets of Washington and New York were gripped with panic. Bridges and tunnels in New York have been closed amid fears of further attacks. The tragedies stunned the nation and prompted officials, fearing still more attacks, to evacuate the Capitol, the White House, State Department and other federal buildings. Flights were cancelled at all major airports in the USA. Shortly after the explosion at the Capitol, the federal government ordered all federal buildings in the Washington area closed down, according to the Office of Personnel Management. Within the hour, the federal government took the additional step of shutting down national landmarks across the country, including the Washington Monument, the Statue of Liberty and the St. Louis Gateway Arch, among other locations, according to the National Park Service.
US officials wasted no time in describing the incident as a terrorist attack. It seems that the FBI was investigating reports of plane hijacking before the two crashes. US president, George Bush, is returning to Washington and has convened a national security meeting. He said the explosions were an “apparent terrorist attack” and said “terrorism against our nation will not stand”. For the first time in American history the President has ordered a national ground stop, prohibiting all flights under threat of being shot down.
President Bush ordered a full-scale investigation to “hunt down the folks who committed this act”. “I have ordered that the full resources of the federal government go to help the victims and their families,” he said, before asking his audience to hold a minute’s silence, and offering a prayer for the victims.
This terrorist act has a completely insane and criminal character and must be condemned – but not for the hypocritical reasons given by Bush and Blair. Marxists oppose individual terrorism because it is counterproductive and plays into the hands of the most reactionary sections of the ruling class. This is clearly the case here: this bloody outrage will play into the hands of US Big Business and imperialism. It will give Bush a free hand to do anything he wants in the Middle East and on a world scale. US public opinion will be softened up for any reactionary policies at home and abroad.
It will have a similar effect on US public opinion to Pearl Harbour, which Roosevelt publicly condemned but secretly welcomed. The American public will now be prepared to accept the atrocities of so-called counter-insurgency and counter-terrorist actions abroad, and also reactionary and anti-democratic legislation at home.
Who is behind the attacks?
No group has so far accepted responsibility for the incidents, but many observers have blamed forces in the Middle East. At first, the finger was pointed at the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The Democratic Front immediately denied responsibility, and this is undoubtedly true. Such an ambitious attack, involving the simultaneous hijack of four different aircraft on US soil, must have involved a large amount of planning and organisation, taking months or even years. In fact, none of the Palestinian resistance groups would have the necessary degree of organisation, financial backing and infrastructure to mount such an attack. It is not possible to say exactly who is behind the present attacks. On previous occasions bombing attacks that were blamed on “Middle East terrorism” turned out to be the work of right wing American organisations.
“This is perhaps the most audacious terrorist attack that’s ever taken place in the world,” said Chris Yates, an aviation expert at Jane’s Transport in London. “It takes a logistics operation from the terror group involved that is second to none. Only a very small handful of terror groups is on that list. … I would name at the top of the list Osama Bin Laden.”
It is obvious that this attack is in accord with Bin Laden’s aims and methods and that he would have the necessary means of carrying them out. Bin Laden has called in Moslems everywhere to attack and kill Americans. He warned three weeks ago of an “unprecedented attack” on US interests because of Washington’s support for Israel. This man and his movement has nothing in common with socialism or anything progressive, but representative of the most rabid reaction. However, it is not enough to shout about Bin Laden. It is necessary to explain how he arose and why.
It must not be forgotten that Bin Laden was originally financed, armed and backed by US imperialism and was the creature of the CIA. When it suited Washington to stir up Islamic fundamentalism as a weapon against the Soviet Union, they did not scruple at supporting such rabid reactionaries and mass murderers. As long as the people being murdered were far away – in Afghanistan or the Middle East, these hypocrites could afford to turn a blind eye. Now they suddenly discover that Bin Laden and his like are the “enemies of civilisation”. But in that case, the threat to civilisation should be stamped “made in USA”.
As we have stated, the Trade Centre was bombed before in 1993. “A second occurrence is just beyond belief,” said Ira Furber, former National Transportation Safety Board spokesman. Indeed, it is, and it is clear that there are many enigmatic elements in this outrage. How does it come about that the terrorists managed to launch such an attack without alerting the US intelligence agencies? Such a vast enterprise must have involved a large number of people, a complex apparatus and a long time to prepare. How could this have escaped the notice of US intelligence?
It has been said that it is difficult to penetrate terrorist organisations. Actually, the reverse is the case. The CIA keeps detailed files on all these groups and undoubtedly has its agents and confidants planted in their ranks – including agents provocateurs, who would be characterised by their extremist attitudes.
In the past, the secret services have had considerable success in preventing terrorist attacks. This time there seems to have been a massive – and astonishing – failure of the intelligence network. British intelligence experts have commented that the failure of US intelligence to detect such an operation on such a vast scale, which must have been planned and organised over a long period is quite astonishing – in fact, inexplicable.
How is it possible that the CIA was so ignorant and inept as to permit such a devastating attack on the nerve-centres of the nation? One possibility has not been mentioned – namely that it was the result of a provocation that went badly wrong. In the shadowy world of intrigue, provocation and counter-provocation that characterises the activities of the secret services, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that a section of the US military Establishment decided to allow the terrorists to launch an attack inside America as a means of boosting public support for an aggressive policy and rearmament. This would explain the surprising failure of US intelligence, although the devastating nature of the attack would suggest that the provocation got out of hand.
One thing is certain. That the consequence of the attack will be to strengthen imperialism and the right wing in the USA. Once again, we see the reactionary consequences of individual terrorism – which Marxists unconditionally condemn.
The economic effects
The economic effects of the attack have been immediate and dramatic. Trading on the New York stock exchange was halted indefinitely. This news was followed by steep falls on the stock exchanges in London and other world trading centres. 80 percent of the Internet was down, and mobile phones out of action, adding to the panic.
US stock futures plunged before trading was suspended indefinitely before the opening bell on Tuesday. Stocks in Europe rapidly fell more than 6 percent, with the pan-European FTSE Eurotop 300 down 4.5 percent after earlier gains. “Investors will be wondering if this is the start of a terrorist campaign on the US. aimed at high profile institutions,” said Andrew Milligan, head of global strategy at Standard Life Investments in Edinburgh. “There are no prices. There is no trade,” said one emerging markets trader in New York. “All the brokers are downtown in the Trade Centre, so there are no prices.”
US stocks were expected to tumble after a delayed opening, while insurance stocks were hard hit on fears of massive liabilities. “When the market opens, it will open down a lot,” said Stanley Nabi, a managing director at Credit Suisse First Boston, which oversees $110 billion. “I think it will open down a couple hundred points on the Dow at least. This is absolutely unbelievable.”
Mike Lenhoff at broker Gerrard said: “It’s a disaster. It throws the whole market background into chaos. The Pentagon has been bombed and nobody really knows the American policy response, which I think is going to be pretty severe, once they feel confident about who is responsible.
Stocks and the US dollar plunged and safe-haven bonds soared as investors, seeking safe havens in a time of uncertainty, drove the prices of gold and oil and the Swiss franc higher in the wake of the incidents. The London stock exchange immediately went into freefall. The London FTSE index has fallen 200 points, and similar falls have been repeated in all other stock exchanges. The price of oil has risen by two dollars a barrel. Many buildings in the City of London were hastily evacuated, as a result of fears of attack.
In Europe also, short dated European government debt yields plunged with the two-year paper hitting near two-year low. The disaster sapped liquidity from the Euro corporate bond market as investors fled into safe haven government bonds. Investors were already nervous before the attacks, now a new element of volatility has been introduced into the equation.
The dollar fell against both the Euro and yen after the explosion. The Euro stood at $0.9050, compared to $0.8978 just before the first explosions.
The Swiss franc spiked briefly to 1.4901 to the dollar, from opening levels around 1.6882, but fell back quickly to around 1.66. IPE Brent crude futures rose over three and a half dollars to more than $31 a barrel, while gold prices rose over six dollars, or 2 percent, to $278.00/$280.50 per troy ounce. The nervousness of investors was expressed by one commentator in London:
“I don’t think one can talk sensibly about market behaviour. Just as we’re talking, the UK market fell by 20-30 points – these are pretty fast market conditions. Banks, insurers will fall the most – anything that’s exposed. Oil stocks will do well and oil prices are rising. The oil price is now almost $30 (£20) a barrel compared with $27.50 earlier this morning.”
The dollar’s strength – given the weakness of the American economy – has defied the law of gravity. It has been so far seen as a safe haven in a period of global instability. At a certain stage, it was inevitable that this would be reversed as foreign investors withdrew their funds from America, provoking an increase in interest rates in the USA and pushing the US economy into recession. This process may have already begun.
After nearly ten years of boom in the USA, the world economy is already hovering on the brink of a serious recession. The reality of globalisation turns out to be – a global crisis of capitalism. The underlying cause of capitalist crisis is overproduction. Once the economic cycle reaches the critical point where quantity becomes transformed into quality, any incident can push it over the brink into recession. This was the case with the oil shock of 1973-74. It is necessary to remind ourselves that the rising price of oil was linked to events in the Middle East. Now it is possible that history will be repeated.
New World Disorder
Overnight, the greatest super power the world has ever seen turns out to be a colossus with feet of clay. The most powerful military state the world has ever seen has shown its powerlessness in the face of terrorism. Before the Second World War, Trotsky predicted that America would emerge as the victor and establish world hegemony, but he added that it would have dynamite built into its foundations. These prophetic words have now turned out to be literally true. Ten years ago, after the fall of the Soviet Union, President Bush’s father promised a New World Order. Now the reality has struck home with a vengeance.
The rape of the planet by Big Business has created a world fraught with misery, war and chaos, which has now impacted on the heart of world imperialism. This is the real cause of the present atrocity. The terrorism of world-wide hunger, disease, misery, exploitation and oppression which torments millions of men, women and children each and every day of their lives, is the root cause of the turmoil and instability which is sweeping the planet in the dawn of the 21st century.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in Palestine, where the people on the West Bank and Gaza are daily subjected to the bloody attacks of Israeli imperialism, their homes demolished, their young people shot down, their livelihood taken away. Is there any wonder that sections of the Palestinian youth have been driven to desperation? Is it surprising that there is a fierce hatred of US imperialism which backs Israel and remains silent about all these atrocities? Where was the condemnation of President Bush when the leader of the PFLP was recently murdered by the Israelis in a rocket attack? Where was all the talk about an “attack on civilisation” when hundreds of Palestinian civilians were being killed and maimed by the Israeli army?
All this has had the most terrible effects on the consciousness of the Palestinian masses. Hours after the attacks there were reports of celebrations on the streets of Nablus on the West Bank. The terrible suffering inflicted on the Palestinian people by Israeli imperialism, backed by Washington, is what provokes such a reaction. But it is profoundly misguided. Scenes of Palestinian youths on television demonstrating support for the killing of hundreds of US civilians will do tremendous harm to the Palestinian cause in the USA and internationally. The sympathy which they had won among the workers of the USA and other countries because of their suffering at the hands of the Israeli oppressors will be forgotten in a wave of revulsion, which will be used by the US reactionaries to whip up anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab feeling. This in turn will pave the way for new and monstrous acts of repression against the Palestinians which will be more acceptable to world public opinion, whereas previously they were condemned.
The Americans will have to launch a strike against some Arab country – presumably Iraq. They will need the collaboration of Israeli intelligence to carry this out. This will strengthen the hand of Israel, not weaken it. It will harm the cause of the Palestinians, not help it. Therein lays its reactionary character. One has to be blind not to see this.
Despite its spectacular impact, even the best-organised terrorist attacks can never succeed in destroying or even seriously weakening imperialism. George Robertson, the NATO secretary, immediately took advantage of the attack to advocate the stepping up of NATO’s military power. The consequences of the present attacks will be serious and reactionary. US imperialism will be under pressure to retaliate, and will not be fussy about which victims it chooses. Already, there have been attempts to blame Iraq for the atrocity. New bombings and devastation will be the answer, adding to the devilish spiral of killing and counter-killing. As far as the peoples of the Middle East are concerned, the present incident will do nothing to help them in their plight. The Palestinian people will derive no benefit from this attack. The US imperialists will be driven even further into the arms of Israel. The brutality of the latter against the Palestinians will be “justified” by the alleged threat of terrorism.
After the terrorist attack in Africa, the US imperialists bombed Libya and Sudan, although neither of these countries had anything to do with it. They will now presumably return to bombing the helpless people of Iraq – as if one bloody crime justified another. In this way, they will aggravate all the contradictions on a world scale, creating new victims and new hatreds – the fuel for new acts of terrorism. This is what they call the “defence of civilisation”.
Lenin once said that capitalism is horror without end. In recent years the Americans and Europeans have been arming to the teeth, with a view to intervening against the movement of the masses in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, as in the so-called Colombia Plan. The present atrocity will mean a further acceleration in this aggressive programme of rearmament. It bodes nothing positive for the workers and peasants of the world, but is just another manifestation of the convulsive crisis of capitalism on a world scale. In the words of the Roman historian Tacitus: “And when they have created a wilderness, they call it Peace”.
London, 11th September 2001.