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Year 2001 No. 160, September 25, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

The Support and Solidarity Tony Blair Is Drumming Up for the US-Led Coalition

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

The Support and Solidarity Tony Blair Is Drumming Up for the US-Led Coalition

Adoption of the "War against Terrorism" as Official Policy

News In Brief
Germany Denies Elite Troops En Route to Afghanistan
US loses spy plane over Afghanistan
Military build-up
SAS clash with Taleban

Blair has made Britain a target

Cuba Proclaims that It Is Opposed to Terrorism and Opposed to War

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The Support and Solidarity Tony Blair Is Drumming Up for the US-Led Coalition

As happened with the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, as has been happening with the bombing of and the sanctions against Iraq, Tony Blair has cast himself in the role of the chief ally of US imperialism. In this role he received the warm praise of George W Bush. In this role he has been drumming up support and getting European and other governments on-side in the so-called "global coalition against terrorism".

Blair and Bush are pointing out that this coalition is not expected to be temporary or last a few months, but is a matter of a considerable number of years, until this "war against terrorism" is won. What this means to the countries who are not the natural allies of Anglo-American imperialism and the other big powers, or who do not tell them what they wish to hear, is that they are being told: submit to us or we are at war with you. In other words, this is gangsterism of the first order, the entrenched attitude of colonialism and imperialism, towards any country who does not see eye to eye with the US-led coalition.

In Brussels last Friday, Tony Blair was seeking "a very strong and clear demonstration of our support and solidarity for the United States of America for action against terrorism" and "a series of specific measures both at the European level and nationally on issues to do with the way the terrorist groups move about, the extradition of wanted terrorists and how they are financed" from the EU ministers. Tony Blair has also been making it quite clear that his intention was not to "encourage" or "restrain" President Bush in these endeavours, but to present him with "military, diplomatic or political" co-operation which is "very, very close".

Under the signboard of bringing to account those responsible for the terrorist atrocity, and devising the right agenda for action at an international level, Tony Blair is organising for military action abroad and bringing all states within the orbit of Anglo-American geo-political strategy.

It has been pointed out by numerous commentators and progressive forces that to engage in military action against Afghanistan will not solve the issue of terrorism. It will, however, multiply the suffering of the Afghan people who have had the misfortune to live in a territory which has been the focus of US imperialism’s hatred for its adopted values, which before that was the subject of contention in the bi-polar division of the world, and which for two centuries before that was the subject of contention between the European powers and Russia as being of strategic importance for both central Asia and the Indian sub-continent. Britain itself has been thrown out of Afghanistan three times. The question is, what are Britain and the US planning for the region through the "global coalition against terrorism"? Can it be considered as a component in countering the growing economic strength of South and East Asia, including India and China, and establishing dominance throughout Asia?

Whatever the outcome, Tony Blair is attempting to provide a justification once more for military and other intervention in sovereign states. Once more, intervention carried out under what are professed to be the highest of ideals is set to intensify a humanitarian disaster. Since this is a "war", albeit a "war against terrorism", all manner of atrocities are set to be justified.

Article Index


Adoption of the "War against Terrorism" as Official Policy

From the first, Tony Blair has said that "mass terrorism" is the number one evil of our time. Thus, the "war against terrorism" has become number one on the agenda, the item to which all else is subordinate, for Anglo-American imperialism.

Tony Blair in his unqualified backing for George W Bush, in adopting this policy, is giving the people no other option. To join the "fight against terrorism" has to be the answer to the carnage at the World Trade Centre.

Terrorism must be condemned under whatever signboard it is carried out. But who has claimed responsibility for the September 11 atrocities? No one. The world awaits to see what evidence will be presented. Even if it were to be accepted that the eradication of terrorism were to be made the number one priority in today’s world, the questions which would have to be dealt with would be: what are its origins, what are its motives? Without addressing these, "eradicating" certain personalities and organisations could very well prolong and exacerbate the phenomenon. Far from this being made the priority, wild words and the stirring up of passions are being pursued, setting up such phantasms as "evil masterminds".

In fact, the "war against terrorism" is being used to provide a justification for not only a war against Afghanistan but the campaign against "terrorist organisations" and the targeting of various sections, stirring up and organising attacks on this basis.

The "fight against terrorism" has been made the overriding programme which all are supposed to unite around. On this basis, attention is not only being diverted away from the renovation society needs in order to solve its problems, but all kinds of actions which go against the rule of law and international norms for sorting out conflicts are being sanctioned.

It is the case that the Afghan people have suffered many times and are being made to suffer once more. However, what the workers and democratic people must demand is that the government desist from all kinds of reactionary measures, of war and fascisation of the state, carried out under the guise of this national programme and that all who are not with these measures are against the eradication of terrorism. In other words, the demand for defence of the rights of all must be advanced within these circumstances.

It is very positive that the masses of the people are refusing to accept that there should be an unquestioning national unity around the "war against terrorism". What is also extremely crucial is that the workers should step forward under the banner of defence of the rights of all, to condemn Tony Blair as a warmonger, and affirm their programme in favour of the peoples and the resolution of the problems of society. They must realise the necessity to take centre stage in order to prevent the disasters Blair and Bush have in store for the world.

The Workers’ Opposition has the crucial task of coming forward to condemn all the measures to carry out imperialist war and the fascisation of the state, and to develop the politics which champion a society in which the claims of all on its are recognised.

Article Index

News In Brief

Germany Denies Elite Troops En Route to Afghanistan

The German defence ministry denied a report on Saturday that an advance group of elite troops has been dispatched on a mission to Afghanistan.

A defence ministry spokesman said a report due to appear in Welt am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday that members of the army's "Kommando Spezialkraefte" (KSK) unit had flown to the region as ordinary passengers on civil aircraft was false.

The paper said the troops were preparing a mission in a country neighbouring Afghanistan.

The paper said the German troops were working with elite forces from the United States and two other countries, possibly on a mission to free the foreigners from the charity Shelter Now International who are being held in Kabul.

Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping said on Friday it was possible that the German parliament would only be informed in retrospect about certain military missions.

Earlier last week, Die Welt newspaper reported that KSK paratroopers and logistics specialists would be taking part in a mission in the region, while the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that up to 300 men could take part in operations in Afghanistan, possibly with troops from other NATO countries.

The German lower house of parliament voted overwhelmingly last week in favour of a motion declaring solidarity with the United States and the readiness of the German armed forces to support any military retaliation. However, parliament would still have to vote again on any specific German involvement.

US loses spy plane over Afghanistan

The United States confirmed on Sunday that one of its spy planes has been lost in Afghanistan.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell confirmed that US military planners were targeting the organisation of Saudi-born militant Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan in the first phase of a war on terrorism.

As the United States continued a massive military build-up in the region, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld admitted that a spy plane had been lost over Afghanistan. On Saturday the Taleban government said it had shot down an unmanned spy plane.

Military build-up

US defence officials say more warplanes are being sent to bases or aircraft carriers near Afghanistan, adding to the estimated 350 planes already in the region.

Five thousand extra air National Guard and air force reservists have been called up, bringing the total number to 15,000.

US military planes have landed in Uzbekistan on the northern border of Afghanistan and they continue to mass air and sea power in the region.

The British MoD has confirmed that a Navy fleet of 13 ships, including the nuclear submarine HMS Superb, has passed through the Suez Canal. The craft are still officially due to take part in a series of manoeuvres in Oman, codenamed Saif Sareea II (Swift Sword), which was planned well before the terror attacks. Almost 20,000 British armed forces personnel were due to take part, although there has been widespread speculation that they will be the first to be redirected to Afghanistan.

Seven RAF Tornados left RAF Marham in Norfolk on Sunday morning to take part in the exercise and join others based in the region. An MOD spokeswoman said the planes were among the last to leave Britain to take part in the operation.

The British Armed Forces operation began earlier this month and sees the biggest Navy deployment since the 1982 Falklands conflict. Regiments from the RAF and Army make up the task force, which includes aircraft carriers, tanks, helicopters, amphibious landing craft and jets.

SAS clash with Taleban

The Ministry of Defence has refused to discuss reports that an SAS unit was fired on by Taleban soldiers in the foothills near Kabul.

The four-man reconnaissance team escaped unhurt after disturbing Taleban troops near the Afghan capital, the Mail on Sunday and Sunday Times reported. Both papers reported that the SAS had been in the country for five days and had already linked up with anti-Taleban rebels of the Northern Alliance.

An MoD spokesman told BBC News Online the reports could not be confirmed or denied, citing "operational matters". He said: "There is a lot of speculative material floating around. We never discuss matters pertaining to the special forces. At the moment Britain is in the phase of looking at what assistance we can offer to the US if they decide to take military action. That is where the bulk of our efforts lies."

Article Index

Blair has made Britain a target

WDIE is posting an article, dated September 21, by the journalist John Pilger relating to the so-called "war against terrorism".

The Prime Minister's belligerence is dangerously irresponsible. We want an end to terrorism, not a new war.

The Prime Minister's "we are at war" statements are irresponsible in the extreme. It is said that some of his senior officials understand this, as do many MPs: thus the messages of "restraint" now being whispered to journalists.

Tony Blair is endangering the people of this country as well as Britons abroad. His willingness to join Bush's "crusade" and use military force will neither avenge nor bring justice to nor honour the memory of the ordinary people who died so terribly in America last week because this will almost certainly lead to a gratuitous slaughter of more innocents in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere. It also risks nurturing a new generation of suicidal killers. Two years ago, Denis Halliday, the assistant secretary general of the United Nations who resigned over the Anglo-American-imposed embargo of Iraq, told me: "We are likely to see the emergence of those who may well regard Saddam Hussein as too moderate and too willing to listen to the west. Such is the desperation of people whose children are dying in their thousands and who are bombed almost every day by American and British planes."

Blair's wanton disregard of this threat has been demonstrated in recent years. On a bogus pretext, he joined America's all-out assault on Iraq in 1998 and backed Clinton's missile attack on a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. The following year, his "moral crusade" with Clinton against Yugoslavia killed hundreds of innocent civilians. This summer, the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported the Bush and Blair governments had privately "given Sharon a green light" to invade Palestinian territories. With each of these actions, and now his bellicose declarations, Blair increases the risk of terrorist attack against British citizens.

Blair's being "shoulder to shoulder" with Bush means allying this country to a willingness to kill large numbers of non-Americans in pursuit of uncertain immediate goals that has long been a feature of US policy. This list is long. Remember, if you can, the "free fire zones", including the use of chemical weapons, that killed as many as 50,000 civilians every year in Vietnam; the bombing of Cambodia that killed 600,000 people; the unnecessary slaughter of tens of thousands of Iraqis during the 1991 Gulf war, the beginning of a silent holocaust that has since claimed half a million children, according to the UN. For Blair and Bush to say that war has been declared upon America is rich.

During my lifetime, America has been constantly waging war against much of humanity: impoverished people mostly, in stricken places. Moreover, far from being the main perpetrators of terrorism, Islamic peoples have been its victims - more often than not of an American fundamentalism and its proxies.

Blair is acting like a schoolboy who has never seen war and what cluster bombs do to human beings. He and the Queen shed tears for the victims in America; they have yet to shed tears for his - yes, his - victims in Iraq. Nor will St Paul's cathedral be reconvened to mourn the innocents who will die when he and Bush attack the shadows of Osama bin Laden.

In these surreal days, there is one truth. Nothing justified the killing of innocent people in America last week and nothing justifies the killing of innocent people anywhere else.

For the Prime Minister to behave responsibly, he would have to speak out with a very different voice. He could say: "Our response must not be to sink to the level of this criminal outrage and kill for the sake of killing." He could seize this extraordinary historic moment and call for the redirection of western politics away from war and towards peace - specifically peace in those regions of the world where one type of terrorism is the product largely of imperialism, old and new. Britain is deeply implicated. As John Cooley writes in Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism: "It was only Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's British government which supported the jihad with full enthusiasm." The CIA passed responsibility for backing mojahedin terrorism to the British - much of it co-ordinated by an MI6 officer in Islamabad. Osama bin Laden was given "free rein" in Afghanistan.

After more than a century of invasion, plunder and bombing (since the 20s by the RAF), we in the west owe the people of Afghanistan and the Middle East peace. The start of peace would be the establishment of a Palestinian homeland, as laid down in international law by a 34-year-old UN resolution; the lifting of the horrific embargo on the civilian population of Iraq; and the careful, negotiated ending of Afghanistan's isolation.

A tall order, yes. But these are the root causes of a grievance and rage we can barely imagine, and there is no other enduring solution than peace with justice. Unless real politics replaces the autocratic impositions of power, the understudies of those who murdered so many in America will appear and act; nothing is surer. They cannot be bombed into oblivion. Only justice for the millions of ordinary people, who are not murderers, will bring the peace and security that is, after all, a universal right.

Article Index

Cuba Proclaims that It Is Opposed to Terrorism and Opposed to War

Speech by President Fidel Castro Ruz, president of the Republic of Cuba, Havana, September 22, 2001

Fellow countrymen:

No one can deny that terrorism is today a dangerous and ethically indefensible phenomenon, which should be eradicated regardless of its deep origins, the economic and political factors that brought it to life and those responsible for it.

The unanimous irritation caused by the human and psychological damage brought on the American people by the unexpected and shocking death of thousands of innocent people whose images have shaken the world is perfectly understandable. But who have profited? The extreme right, the most backward and right-wing forces, those in favour of crushing the growing world rebellion and sweeping away everything progressive that is still left on the planet. It was an enormous error, a huge injustice and a great crime whomever they are who organised or are responsible for such action.

However, the tragedy should not be used to recklessly start a war that could actually unleash an endless carnage of innocent people and all of this on behalf of justice and under the peculiar and bizarre name of "Infinite Justice".

In the last few days we have seen the hasty establishment of the basis, the concept, the true purposes, the spirit and the conditions for such a war. No one would be able to affirm that it was not something thought out well in advance, something that was just waiting for its chance to materialise. Those who after the so-called end of the cold war continued a military build-up and the development of the most sophisticated means to kill and exterminate human beings were aware that the large military investments would give them the privilege to impose an absolute and complete dominance over the other peoples of the world. The ideologists of the imperialist system knew very well what they were doing and why they were doing it.

After the shock and sincere sorrow felt by every person on Earth for the atrocious and insane terrorist attack that targeted the American people, the most extremist ideologists and the most belligerent hawks, already set in privileged power positions, have taken command of the most powerful country in the world, whose military and technological capabilities would seem infinite. Its capacity to destroy and kill is enormous while its inclination towards equanimity, serenity, thoughtfulness and restrain is minimal.

The combination of elements – including complicity and the common enjoyment of privileges – the prevailing opportunism, confusion and panic make it almost impossible to avoid a bloody and unpredictable outcome.

The first victims of whatever military actions are undertaken will be the billions of people living in the poor and underdeveloped world with their unbelievable economic and social problems, their unpayable debts and the ruinous prices of their basic commodities; their growing natural and ecological catastrophes, their hunger and misery, the massive undernourishment of their children, teenagers and adults; their terrible AIDS epidemic, their malaria, their tuberculosis and their infectious diseases that threaten whole nations with extermination.

The grave economic world crisis was already a real and irrefutable fact affecting absolutely every one of the big economic power centres. That crisis will inevitably grow deeper under the new circumstances and when it becomes unbearable for the overwhelming majority of the peoples, it will bring chaos, rebellion and the impossibility to govern.

But the price will also be unpayable for the rich countries. For years to come it would be impossible to speak strong enough about the environment and the ecology, or about ideas and research done and tested, or about projects for the protection of Nature because that space and possibility would be taken by military actions, war and crimes as infinite as "Infinite Justice", that is, the name given to the war operation to be unleashed.

Can there be any hope left after having listened, hardly 36 hours ago, to the speech made the President before the U.S. Congress?

I will avoid the use of adjectives, qualifiers or offensive words towards the author of that speech. They would be absolutely unnecessary and untimely when the tensions and seriousness of the moment advise thoughtfulness and equanimity. I will limit myself to underlining some short phrases that say it all:

"We will use every necessary weapon of war."

"Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen."

"Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists."

"I’ve called the armed forces to alert and there is a reason. The hour is coming when America will act and you will make us proud."

"This is the world’s fight, this is civilisation’s fight."

"I ask for your patience... in what will be a long struggle."

"The great achievement of our time and the great hope of every time, now depend on us."

"The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain... And we know that God is not neutral."

I ask our fellow countrymen to meditate deeply and calmly on the ideas contained in several of the above-mentioned phrases:

• "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists."

No nation of the world has been left out of the dilemma, not even the big and powerful states; none has escaped the threat of war or attacks.

• "We will use any weapon."

No procedure has been excluded, regardless of its ethics, or any threat whatever fatal, either nuclear, chemical, biological or any other.

• "It will not be short combat but a lengthy war, lasting many years, unparalleled in history."

• "It is the world’s fight; it is civilisation’s fight."

• "The achievements of our times and the hope of every time, now depend on us."

Finally, an unheard of confession in a political speech on the eve of a war, and no less than in times of apocalyptic risks: "The course of this conflict is not known; yet its outcome is certain. And we know that God is not neutral."

This is an amazing assertion. When I think about the real or imagined parties involved that bizarre holy war that is about to begin, I find it difficult to make a distinction about where fanaticism is stronger.

On Thursday, before the United States Congress, the idea was designed of a world military dictatorship under the exclusive rule of force, irrespective of any international laws or institutions. The United Nations, simply ignored in the present crisis, would fail to have any authority or prerogative whatsoever. There would be only one boss, only one judge, and only one law.

We have all been ordered to ally either with the United States government or with terrorism.

Cuba, the country that has suffered the most and the longest from terrorist actions, the one whose people are not afraid of anything because there is no threat or power in the world that can intimidate it, with a high morale Cuba proclaims that it is opposed to terrorism and opposed to war. Although the possibilities are now remote, Cuba reaffirms the need to avert a war of unpredictable consequences whose very authors have admitted not to have the least idea of how the events will unfold. Likewise, Cuba reiterates its willingness to co-operate with every country in the total eradication of terrorism.

An objective and calm friend should advise the United States government against throwing young American soldiers into an uncertain war in remote, isolated and inaccessible places, like a fight against ghosts, not knowing where they are or even if they exist or not, or whether the people they kill are or not responsible for the death of their innocent fellow countrymen killed in the United States.

Cuba will never declare itself an enemy of the American people that is today subjected to an unprecedented campaign to sow hatred and a vengeful spirit, so much so that even the music that sings to peace has been banned. On the contrary, Cuba will make that music its own, and even our children will sing their songs to peace while the announced bloody war lasts.

Whatever happens, the territory of Cuba will never be used for terrorist actions against the American people and we will do everything within our reach to prevent such actions against that people. Today we are expressing our solidarity while urging peace and calmness. One day they will admit we were right.

Our independence, our principles and our social achievements we will defend with honour to the last drop of blood, if we are attacked!

It will not be easy to fabricate pretexts to do it. They are already talking about a war using all the necessary weapons but it will be good recalling that not even that would be a new experience. Almost four decades ago, hundreds of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons were aimed at Cuba and nobody remembers anyone of our countrymen sleepless over that.

We are the same sons and daughters of that heroic people, with a patriotic and revolutionary conscience that is higher than ever. It is time for serenity and courage.

The world will grow aware of this and will raise its voice in the face of the terrible threatening drama that it is about to suffer.

As for Cubans, this is the right time to proclaim more proud and resolute than ever:

Socialism or death!
Patria o muerte!

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