Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Dec. 27, 2001
issue of Workers World newspaper
CONVENTIONAL DEVASTATION AND NUCLEAR TERROR:
BUSH PUSHES WAR ON MANY FRONTS
By Fred Goldstein
The Bush administration is pushing out on all fronts in an
effort to develop a permanent state of belligerency and war.
Right now it is trying to prolong the war in Afghanistan, is
supporting Israel's war in Palestine, is planning to launch
wars in other areas of the world, and is trying to keep the
people of the U.S. in a perpetual state of fear, suspicion
and patriotic war fever.
This is what was behind the showing of the inflammatory tape
of Osama bin Laden for 24 straight hours by all the
television networks. This is what is behind the escalating
campaign against Muslim students, other Middle Eastern
immigrants and Muslim charities. And this is what is behind
the periodic announcements of "terror alerts" coming from
On the battlefield in Afghanistan, the Pentagon is trying to
prolong the war and the killing as long as possible-to wreak
destruction and havoc and to condition the population at
home to a state of prolonged war.
As an example, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld went to
Afghanistan to review the troops, assess the situation and
dictate instructions to the new puppet leadership. During a
visit to an airfield, he met with Hamid Karzai, who is to be
installed as the provisional head of the new government, and
the incoming Secretary of Defense, Gen. Muhhamad Fahim.
Rumsfeld told them that even though the Afghan local forces
considered the war over, the U.S. was going to continue its
military operations in the country.
RUMSFELD DECIDES WHEN WAR IS OVER
Warlord commanders in the Tora Bora region said they had
taken control of the area and, according to the New York
Times of Dec. 17, commanders Muhhamed Zaman and Hazirat Ali,
tribal leaders in the region, both declared that the
military conflict was over.
"There is no need for American bombing," commander Zaman
said. "Our men have control over the situation." Commander
Ali, speaking of the fortified caves in which bin Laden
might be hiding, said, "There is no cave that is not under
the control of the mujahadeen."
On the next day, according to the Times of Dec. 18, "the
Pentagon delivered its answer. ... American AC-130 gunships
continued to prowl over the mountain area. Then a thunderous
explosion lit up the sky. The American bombing had resumed
and was continuing on the other side of the mountain today."
"They have got their own program," declared Ali. "Last
they even bombed us."
Washington's determination to keep the war going as long as
possible and to bring as much killing and destruction as
possible was further demonstrated earlier in the week. "The
anti-Taliban, anti-Qaeda commanders were furious and
dejected," reported the Times of Dec. 13, " believing that
they had negotiated a cease-fire and surrender agreement in
good faith, only to see it derailed by American bombing and
strafing by AC-130 gunships through the night and a heavy
barrage early in the morning, just before the surrender was
supposed to take place."
The agreement was to allow the Al Qaeda fighters to
surrender and for Arab, Pakistani and other foreign fighters
to be turned over to the United Nations. But Rumsfeld was
not having any of that. The Pentagon vetoed the agreement
with bullets and the killing continued.
THE BUSH DOCTRINE: MILITARY DEVASTATION
This military policy was dictated by the political strategy
of the so-called Bush Doctrine of perpetual war for decades
to come, first enunciated to a joint session of Congress on
Sept. 14. Bush made a follow-up elaboration of this new,
ultra-militaristic doctrine in a speech at the Citadel
military college in Charleston, S.C., on Dec. 12.
Pumped up by the victory in Afghanistan, he denounced those
who thought that after the destruction of the Soviet Union
"our military would be used overseas, not to win wars, but
mainly to police and pacify; to control crowds and contain
ethnic conflict. They were wrong."
He drove home the lesson that the Pentagon and the ruling
class wanted everyone to learn from the war in Afghanistan.
"Our military has a new essential mission: For states that
support terror, it's not enough that the consequences be
costly; they must be devastating."
The New York Times, reporting on the speech, said that "Mr.
Bush cited the American military campaign in Afghanistan as
a model for future wars, and said the United States needs to
further develop unmanned planes, like the Predator, and
With intentional racist insensitivity, Bush referred to the
war in Afghanistan and the new use of high technology by
Special Forces operations as "strikes from horseback in the
first cavalry charge of the 21st century." Speaking at this
Southern military academy in the land where slavery was
defended and the Native people were conquered by the
cavalry, the symbolism was hard to miss.
It is fitting that Bush has now chosen the Citadel to make
two major policy speeches. Charleston is the birthplace of
the Confederacy-the site of Fort Sumter.
U.S. NUCLEAR TERROR AND CANCELLATION OF ABM TREATY
In the same speech Bush signaled his intention to withdraw
from the ABM Treaty of 1972, which he did officially a few
days later. It shows the dimension of the global military
threat that the Rumsfeld wing of the Pentagon had been
working on before Sept. 11. Breaking the treaty will free up
the U.S. government to begin the construction of anti-
missile silos in Greeley, Alaska, as early as June of next
There was much ado in the ruling class opposition about how
this would damage relations with Russia. It is a
characteristic of this administration's fiercely militarist
wing, headed by Rumsfeld and his deputy secretary Paul
Wolfowitz and supported by a host of strategists for the
military-industrial complex, that they advocate
subordinating diplomacy wherever it interferes with military
expansion or plans for aggression. These are the so-called
The multilateralist "coalition builders," represented in the
administration by Secretary of State Colin Powell, tried
mightily to work out a negotiated arrangement with Russian
President Vladimir Putin. In fact, Powell was in Moscow
trying to work it out when, according to the New York Times
of Dec. 12, "Mr. Bush concluded ... that Secretary Powell's
last effort would likely fail." Bush had already told Putin
by telephone that he was pulling out.
Setting up an ABM system is a highly aggressive act. It
means the establishment of a first-strike force, since an
opponent is prevented from retaliating to an attack. Thus a
country like the People's Republic of China, which has only
20 or so missiles capable of reaching the U.S., would have
no deterrent to prevent a military attack by the U.S. in the
event that the Pentagon is able to perfect a workable ABM
During the era of the USSR, both Moscow and Washington
signed the ABM Treaty precisely to eliminate first-strike
capability on the other side. Setting up an effective
missile "defense" system, however, lays the basis for
further Pentagon nuclear terrorism.
The decision was regarded as "a major policy defeat for
Secretary Powell" and "a major victory for Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld, fresh from the success of the military
campaign against the Taliban and Al Qaeda," according to the
BUSH AND SHARON: PALESTINE IS PHASE TWO
The war momentum has swept the Bush administration to new
levels of aggression. The war against the Palestinians is in
reality Phase Two. Washington quickly incorporated the
massive offensive by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
into its so-called "war on terrorism."
Sharon, a war criminal of major proportions who is currently
being tried in Belgium for crimes committed during the siege
of Beirut in 1982, is trying to destroy the Palestinian
Authority, Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine, the Islamic Jihad, Fatah and all other
instruments of resistance to the Israeli occupation.
U.S. Apache helicopters, U.S. F-16s, U.S. missiles, U.S.
bullets and billions of dollars of U.S. military aid are
waging this war. It could not continue without full support
from the Bush administration.
Powell had dispatched a negotiating team headed by retired
Gen. Anthony Zinni, former head of the Central Command, to
try to placate moderate Arab regimes and the European
imperialist allies and give the impression that the U.S.
wanted to calm the situation in Palestine.
The Sharon regime sabotaged the mission in advance by
assassinating a major Hamas military commander, then opening
up a major attack after the inevitable retaliation by Hamas.
The Zinni mission was converted into a pressure group to
squeeze Yasir Arafat to open up civil war against the
resistance movement. Zinni finally had to be recalled.
PLANNING THE NEXT WAR WELL UNDERWAY
As the war in Afghanistan is winding down and the war in
Palestine is heating up, the Bush administration is already
trying to plan its next war. The New York Times of Dec. 17
wrote that it will be "making some difficult choices in the
next few weeks... . Is it taking the war to Iraq ... to
Somalia, or perhaps Indonesia and the Philippines? Or
alternatively, will events pick Phase Two for him, perhaps
in Pakistan or the Middle East.
"For weeks now it has been clear that the White House, the
State Department and the Pentagon are not waiting to see Mr.
bin Laden in handcuffs ... before preparing the next phase
of the war."
The greatest pressure in the government is to overthrow
Saddam Hussein of Iraq. The struggle inside the
administration has progressed from whether to do it to how
to do it. The difficulty in plunging into the heart of the
Middle East in a wild act of unprovoked aggression is giving
major sections of the ruling class pause for thought.
It was one thing for the Pentagon to overthrow the
unpopular, austere, medieval, counter-revolutionary Taliban
government, which had no military to speak of. It is another
thing to challenge the hundreds of millions of Arab people
who have seen the genocidal destruction of villages and
civilians in Afghanistan and who have been watching the
Israelis kill Palestinian men, women and children with U.S.
weapons and U.S. military support for the last 14 months of
the Al-Aqsa Intifada.
At the present there is an active effort to find some way to
overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The
Pentagon is exploring the possibility of encircling the
regime and initiating a proxy war involving the Turkish
government, a section of the Kurds in northern Iraq and the
Shiites in the south.
Whether such a course is practical and whether it will
satisfy the ultra-militarists is doubtful. But in any case,
one thing is for sure, the hatred for U.S. imperialism among
the masses of the Middle East is growing with each new act
Poverty and unemployment in the Middle East are growing. The
governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria are all
holding their breath at the moment, as mass discontent grows
daily. A new act of U.S. military aggression could truly set
off a conflagration that could not be put out.
And above all, if the capitalist economic crisis in the U.S.
continues to deepen, the masses of workers who are losing
their jobs, going on short hours, losing benefits, and being
driven into poverty may decide that the war they really want
to fight is the war for social and economic justice at home--
not a war to conquer the Middle East or southern Asia for
the benefit of the super-rich who are behind the layoffs and
are raking in all the aid Congress can muster.
What the militarists never count on is that mass resistance,
at home and abroad, can bring all their grandiose plans of
world conquest to naught.
- END -
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