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November 2001

At the end of this week the reality of the ‘war against terrorism’ has become clearer.

In the Qala-i-Janghi prison near Mazar-i-Sharif US and British forces took centre stage in a massacre of captured Taliban prisoners that ranks with the worst brutalities of the Vietnam and Gulf Wars such as the My Lai and Basra Road massacres.  It has left scenes of medieval barbarism, of hundreds of bloodied and dismembered bodies and body parts littering a prison compound subjected to at least thirty aerial bombing attacks directed by the CIA.

Many of those butchered have been filmed lying with their hands tied behind their backs giving the lie to accounts presented by the US and British, and peddled faithfully by the media, that they voluntarily died a martyr’s death.  A massacre was predicted and a massacre has happened.  US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stated that he wanted no prisoners and now there are no prisoners.

The war has turned into a massacre and in a war between a small and reactionary movement in one of the poorest countries in the world and the most powerful imperialism on the planet there was always only going to be one winner.  The massacre shows this victory will be one for unrestrained barbarism that shocks even those with no illusions in the ‘humanitarian’ values of imperialism.

After the War

The post war carve up of the country is already taking place with a conference in Germany that has only one function - to provide a cover for a US imposed regime.  The US has already decided the outcome just as it decided who could attend the conference, how big the delegations were to be and what the agenda was.  The arrival of more and more US marines on the ground was meant as a clear signal of who will dictate the peace.

So if war has turned to massacre and one reactionary regime is to be replaced by another what role is there for a movement against war?

In previous wars, in the Gulf and Balkans, the end of war and victory for imperialism has meant the end of the anti-war movement.  This will happen again unless we realize that we must not only be against imperialist war but also against imperialist victory.  We must be against imperialism!

We may well be told shortly that the war against terrorism has a new target and that we must support a new war because the last one was victorious.  We should have one clear answer.  A victory for Bush and Blair is not our victory.  A defeat for Bush and Blair is our victory!

The Stakes

We must realize that this ‘war against terrorism’ is taking place right across the world and not just in Afghanistan.  In the US the constitution has been suspended and secret military tribunals set up.  In Britain internment is re-introduced and a state of emergency declared.  In Ireland Shannon is handed over to the US military, neutrality is torn up and huge job cuts are announced with terrorism as the excuse.

The exceptional nature of these attacks on civil liberties indicates the scale of the assault.

What is on view is a huge world-wide offensive to make the world a happy hunting ground for US multinationals and a free fire zone for anyone that gets in the way.  As Bush has said, if you are not for us you are against us.  He has attempted to whip up public hysteria not seen since the days of cold war McCarthyism.  He continues to push massive tax cuts for the richest section of the world’s population, to build a missile defense system that will allow the US to carry out a nuclear attack without fear of retaliation, and to continue the deadly pollution of the planet.

All around the world to oppose the war is to oppose state sponsored mass propaganda campaigns identifying opposition to exploitation and oppression as terrorism.  Standing against this and going on to build a mass opposition to it will be no easy task.  That’s why we need to be armed with a clear appreciation of the nature of the offensive presently underway and understanding of what is required to roll it back.  It will not be enough to be anti-war.  The left must advance an alternative to all of imperialisms plans.  We must say not only what we are against but what we are for.

In many countries a positive start in creating an anti-war movement must be built on to face the next initiative in the so-called ‘war against terrorism.’  As this war continues it can become clearer to many what the objectives of it really are and provide opportunities to build opposition to it.  The policies of imperialism were unpopular with many before the war and the war may not be able to hide this or intimidate opposition against them forever.  Just as the massacre of Qala-i-Janghi has revealed the brutality of the war in Afghanistan so can the anti-war movement expose the barbarism of the whole ‘war against terrorism.’

Stop the War!  Self-determination for Afghanistan!  Defend Democracy and Civil Rights!

No cooperation with US imperialism!  Fight all redundancies and wage cuts!  Build the Anti-war movement!



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