16 years on from the 9/11 attacks in the United States

16 years on from the 9/11 attacks in the United States

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It is now 16 years on from the deadly attacks in the US that killed thousands of people. We are reproducing this Socialist Party statement that was issued on 12 September 2001, the day after what took place.

There is no doubt that the increased US/UK interventions in the Middle East have not made the world a safer place for working class people, neither in the region, in Britain or elsewhere. In fact the opposite is true. We are still faced with the choice – Socialism or Barbarism. Capitalism does not offer a decent future for the majority of the world’s population. It is time for socialist change.

After the carnage in the USA: World Crisis Deepens

Socialist Party statement, 12 September 2001

THE KILLING of thousands of innocent civilians in New York, Washington and elsewhere in the US has caused horror and revulsion among ordinary working people worldwide.

The suicide tactics of the attackers are condemned and opposed by socialists. Such tactics can never advance the struggles of oppressed nationalities or working-class people anywhere across the globe. In fact the immediate results of such action could be to weaken working-class solidarity as governments in the West whip up the mood for revenge on those who are blamed for carrying out the attacks.

Inevitably, as on 11 September, it will be the workers, the oppressed and dispossessed who pay the price for what the US leaders and commentators describe as an ‘act of war’.

Whilst no group has claimed responsibility as The Socialist goes to press, and Osama bin-Laden is rumoured to have denied involvement, the US government is certainly preparing to revenge these horrific attacks. With leading politicians correctly pointing out that this is a more devastating attack on US imperialism than Pearl Harbour, a US government (particularly one led by Bush) will inevitably have to be seen to do something in the face of such an assault.

Attacks

The attacks will be seen as huge turning point for world capitalism and will have immense consequences for the world politically and economically, apart from the devastating effect it will have on the lives of tens of thousands of people in the USA and indeed worldwide.

As we go to press share prices have plummeted and the price of oil and gold have increased dramatically – a recognition of the scale of the crisis that international capitalism feels it is facing.

Following Tuesday’s horrendous events there will certainly be an escalation of the Middle East crisis, which is likely to see the US and other imperialist powers more directly involved and could lead to all-out conflict in the region. Unfortunately, it is likely to result in further assassinations and reprisals against the whole Palestinian population on behalf of the imperialist powers.

Israeli premier Ariel Sharon has indicated that he sees this as a green light to intensify action against the Palestinian masses and he will draw on US support – either directly or indirectly – to carry out wider repression in the region.

Inevitably in the immediate aftermath, large sections of US workers will temporarily acquiesce in whatever actions the previously unpopular, reactionary President Bush takes.

Pandemonium

And the pandemonium following the scenes of carnage engulfing New York and Washington after Tuesday’s suicide attacks have led to a wider panic about the implications of the strikes.

Immediately following the aircraft crashes into the World Trade Centre and Pentagon – potent symbols of world capitalism’s financial and military might – share prices, which had been falling dramatically in previous days, fell further. The price of oil rose by $2-$3 a barrel reflecting anxieties about increased instability in the Middle East – the likely source of the ‘terrorist’ attack.

The air strikes led to an immediate state of national and international crisis, which will provoke further questioning of the authority of capitalism’s rulers. Government and financial services were paralysed in the USA and stock markets in other advanced capitalist countries dropped dramatically or were suspended following the attacks. Even if capitalism manages to stabilise matters in the short term the medium and long-term effect will be to deepen the underlying economic crisis.

Imperialism’s “revenge”

No doubt Bush and Western imperialism will step up their drive against Islamic ‘terrorism’ in retribution. The co-ordinated ‘assault on America’ will lead to co-ordinated US state action to hunt down and get ‘revenge’ against Islamic groups, regardless of whether they were involved or not.

It is also possible that a witch-hunting atmosphere could develop in the United States and elsewhere against Arabs, Muslims or others suspected of associations with terrorist states or groups.

This could also be used against any radical groups that challenge the capitalist system.

It is also conceivable that governments will use these attacks to ban anti-globalisation protests or restrict demonstrations against their capitalist system. It is very likely that the anti-globalisation protest in Washington at the end of this month will either not go ahead or be banned.

Blair found the bombings a convenient way of avoiding criticism of his privatisation plans at the TUC and has immediately used the opportunity to step up security. Whilst many workers will initially accept such measures – as was the case in Britain in the early 1970s with the adoption of the Prevention of Terrorism Act after events in Northern Ireland and Britain – such measures do not stop the threat of such attacks and have been used against those on the Left and the labour movement generally.

Bush and Blair

Imperialist politicians like Bush and Blair, however, bear a huge responsibility for the policies which have led to global instability and now bring terror onto the streets of the USA. These imperialist powers have pursued policies which have led to the deaths of thousands in the Middle East and throughout the globe.

President George W Bush’s father, the other President Bush, was the world leader who used a war in the Gulf to assert his ‘New World Order’. That new order ushered in the era of globalisation, which has impoverished and alienated billions.

US imperialism’s dominance of the globe has brought increased instability, tension and turmoil to every corner of the planet. Combined with the absence of a mass movement of the working classes and oppressed, this has led some to pursue extreme and futile methods, such as the suicide tactics which led to the carnage in New York and Washington.

Imperialism’s policies have antagonised millions around the world. US Secretary of State Colin Powell had said in May this year:

“Terrorism is part of the dark side of globalisation. However, sadly, it is part of doing business in the world – business we as Americans are not going to stop doing.”

Oppressed People

US and Western leaders talk sanctimoniously about acts of ‘evil’ terrorism but gloss over their own acts of terrorism – military, politically and economically – against oppressed people around the world.

The attacks show that despite all the armoury of the world’s only superpower they are powerless and unable to protect their own citizens in the face of determined suicide attacks. The inability of the imperialist powers to find a settlement to the crisis in the Middle East, combined with the incapacity of the Palestinian leaders to offer a way forward for the Palestinian struggle, has led to increasing use of suicide attacks as a tactic.

Whilst the suicide bombings have struck terror into the heart of Israel and America, they are not capable of bringing forth a successful resolution of the Palestinian conflict. Nor will they deter US and other world leaders from continuing with their policies of state terror and economic exploitation.

Among the lessons that workers internationally will draw from these terrible events is that the imperialists, like Bush and Blair, cannot offer any resolution to the world’s conflicts. But neither can the tactics of the fundamentalist terrorist groups offer a way forward to the long-suffering peoples of the Middle East.

Workers

Furthermore, as well as adding to the panic on the already jittery world capitalist markets the events will confirm to large numbers of workers worldwide the instability of the global capitalist system.

At some stage these events could be a further trigger to exacerbate the economic woes of world capitalism.

Capitalism, at its most naked is a system of conflict, civil wars, wars, poverty, starvation and insecurity for the mass of people on this planet. It is the oppressed people of the world – whether workers in America or Palestinian youth – who pay the price of capitalism’s inability to resolve the crises their system creates.

It is the oppressed people of the world who can provide a solution to this era of global crisis by uniting to end the rule of the capitalist system and establish a socialist world where the horrors and insecurity of imperialism’s so-called New World Order are abolished once and for all.

 

Trump orders missile strikes on Syria

Trump orders missile strikes on Syria

Ordinary people across the world have watched the events in Syria unfold with horror, particularly the recent escalation of chemical weapons used against civilians and the response of missile strikes from Trump’s US. We are republishing the below article by Niall Mulholland of the Committee for a Workers’ International on the ongoing situation. 

US President Donald Trump’s decision to launch missile attacks against the Shayrat air base, in Syria, ratcheted up the long running conflict in Syria and dangerously fuelled tensions between the US and Russia and Iran, and also with North Korea and China. It will also significantly increase rivalries between Sunni and Shia-based regimes in the Middle East.

Trump claimed that the tomahawk missiles attack was ordered “on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched”, referring to Khan Sheikhun, where over 70 people died earlier this week.

The appalling death of scores of civilians, including children, quite rightly led to revulsion and condemnation from working class people around the world. However the US, supported by other Western powers, cynically seized upon the terrible incident to try to strengthen their position in the Syrian conflict. The Western powers, which want to see the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, were quick to rush to blame the Syrian regime for the deaths. The unstable Trump administration is also using the missile attack as a way to try to boost its domestic support and to divert attention from the failure to meet Trump’s election promises and provide any solutions to the lives of Americans.

In the absence of an investigation into the reasons for the chemical deaths and without seeking a UN mandate, or even a mandate from the US Congress, Trump ordered the missile attacks against Syria. The US attacks were welcomed by European governments, including the UK, Germany and France, as well as Turkey and Israel. The opposition Islamist Ahrar al-Sham militia in Syria welcomed US “surgical strikes.”

Assad will use the US attacks to try to bolster his anti-imperialist credentials at home. But socialists give no support, whatsoever, to the Assad regime, which has shown no concern for the lives of innocent civilians during Syrian’s long and bloody civil war. Assad is a brutal dictator prepared to use ruthless means to stay in power. However, as of yet, there is no hard evidence to say that the Assad regime was responsible for the death of civilians from chemicals. Given that Assad, with crucial help from Putin, is winning the war, it appears counterproductive from his point of view to launch an indiscriminate chemical attack, fully aware that it would a pretext for a possible US-led military attack.

Moscow insisted that the Syrian air force hit a depot of chemical weapons produced by rebels fighting government forces. Günther Meyer, director of the Research Center for the Arab World at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, goes further: “Only armed opposition groups could profit from an attack with chemical weapons. With their backs against the wall, they have next to no chance of opposing the regime militarily. As President Trump’s recent statements show, such actions make it possible for anti-Assad groups to receive further support.” (Quoted by the German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle (6/4/17)).

Counter-revolution

At this stage, the only certainty about this week’s terrible scenes in Khan Sheikhun is that it killed scores of civilians, on top of the hundreds of thousands of other war-related deaths. This is fundamentally a result of the counter revolution that unfolded in Syria following a genuine mass revolt against the rule of Assad in 2011, inspired by revolutionary movements in Tunisia and Egypt. But in the absence of strong united working class organisations and a socialist leadership, sectarian and Islamic forces were able to step into the vacuum, aided by reactionary Gulf States and Turkey and by western powers, leading to the degeneration of the mass revolt into a vicious multi-faceted civil war.

It is unclear whether the US air strikes are a show of strength and limited action or if they presage a broader military intervention in Syria. The Shayrat airbase is an important staging post for Syrian and Russian military operations against the largely Islamic armed opposition and the US attacks will be blow.

Russia condemned the US air strikes as an “act of aggression” and a “violation of international law” and suspended its channel for communicating military action in Syria with Washington, used to prevent accidental conflict.

These developments leave open the possibility of direct clashes between US-led and Russia military forces in Syria, with far-reaching consequences in the region and internationally.

Iran, which has militias fighting alongside Assad’s troops, also strongly condemned US actions. Adding to the dangerous complications on the ground, Iranian forces are also in Iraq, nominally fighting alongside the US-backed Baghdad regime’s troops against ISIS.

Trump appeared to order the air attacks while in talks with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, on his visit to the US, which will only serve increase tensions with the Beijing regime. Earlier this week, Trump indicated he was prepared to take “unilateral” military action against North Korea and has also made threatening remarks over Chinese military “island-building” in the South China Sea. According to the Financial Times (London, 07/04/17), “Liu Binjie, who sits on the standing committee that oversees China’s parliament, warned against unilateral action on North Korea. ‘The entire state is militarised,’ he said. ‘If you threaten them with force, it may backfire on you.'”

As the CWI warned, the advent of Trump’s administration marks a shift to more dangerous and unpredictable world relations. In this situation, the working class and youth of the Middle East, the US and all over the world need a mass anti-war movement and the development of powerful working class parties, with bold socialist policies, to counter the war, terror and poverty of capitalism and imperialism.

  • Stop Trump’s attacks on Syria – Oppose all outside powers’ interference in the region
  • End war and terror in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East
  • No to racism and scapegoating of immigrants and refugees
  • For workers’ unity and socialism

 

UK withdraws from Afghanistan – the socialist view

UK withdraws from Afghanistan – the socialist view

Anti-war protest

Anti-war protest

The media today has been reporting how UK military operations have formally come to an end in Afghanistan. The news will be greeted with relief by people across the UK due to the price paid in casualties and the huge financial cost which ran in to billions of pounds. Members of the Socialist Party in Coventry, as well as across the country and internationally through our sister parties in the Committee for a Workers’ International took part from the beginning in anti-war actions and protests putting forward a socialist opposition to military action. We warned that ordinary people both here in the UK and in Afghanistan itself would pay the price.

We reproduce an article below from our newspaper The Socialist in 2012 which puts forward a socialist perspective on events.

Afghanistan war: end this ‘pointless waste of life’

The Afghanistan war has been a “pointless waste of lives and not worth the billions of pounds it has cost since it started eleven years ago” think 78% of the people in a new poll by the Mirror.

Only 30% thought that the prime minister should stick with his plan to bring home the British troops by the end of 2014 rather than earlier.

This poll follows the 14 September Taliban attack on Camp Bastion in Helmand and the 15 September killing of two British soldiers by an Afghan policeman, also in Helmand.

Camp Bastion is Nato’s main base in Afghanistan, considered one of the most impregnable military bases in the world, containing 30,000 troops and civilians.

Yet just 15 Taliban fighters, dressed in US army uniforms, humiliated Nato by moving through radar, CCTV, an anti-blast wall and other defences to enter the camp, kill two personnel, wound nine and destroy £123 million worth of military aircraft.

As for the two ‘insider’ killings by the Afghan policeman, these were the latest in a steady stream of ‘green on blue’ attacks, now causing one in six Nato deaths.

They are jeopardising Nato’s entire strategy – to train Afghan forces to take over security when most of the foreign combat troops are withdrawn by 2015.

Many joint training operations were suspended this month following the two insider killings.

432 UK troops have now been killed in Afghanistan since 2001 and a total of 3,187 across all the countries involved in Nato’s International Security and Assistance Force (Isaf).

For Afghan people the tragic death toll is much higher, tens of thousands of civilians and ‘insurgents’ are estimated to have died at the hands of the Isaf forces or from other consequences of the war.

At least eight civilian women were slaughtered on 16 September by a Nato air strike in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Laghman when they were simply collecting wood and nuts in a forest.

In Logar province on 6 June, a Nato air attack killed up to 18 civilians who were celebrating a wedding.

On that same day in June, two suicide bombers struck a market near the gates of a large military airbase in Kandahar killing 22 civilians and injuring dozens more.

Nato failure

Clearly, the Taliban are not being defeated. The large Nato force (presently 130,000-strong), over more than a decade – with the US alone spending $100 billion a year on high-tech military weaponry and other Afghanistan war costs – has been unable to defeat a vastly poorer force of Taliban-led fighters estimated at less than 25,000.

The Taliban-led militias have a steady influx of new recruits outraged by Nato’s destruction and the devastating US drone strikes that rain down over the border in Pakistan.

They also gain from widespread condemnation from ordinary people of the weak, corrupt Afghan government led by Hamid Karzai.

Recently the wave of anger among Muslims globally, fuelled by the provocative anti-Islam film made in the US, has also in Afghanistan added to the desire to fight the occupation.

The Guardian reported that a British officer in Helmand has expressed surprise at the Taliban’s resilience: “I am constantly amazed by them”, he said. “They are completely over-matched by us and the Afghan army. We keep killing them, but they keep coming back for more”.

Realising that they’re in an unwinnable war, last year the intervening imperialist powers felt compelled to lose some face by seeking negotiations with the Taliban.

The Taliban leaders suspended the talks in March this year, demanding the release of five Afghan men held in Guantanamo Bay.

But US representatives have recently met with counterparts from the Afghan and Pakistan governments to look at how to resume the talks.

Nominally, 75% of the Afghan population now lives in areas under Afghan government ‘control’. But the fledgling Afghan army lacks equipment, resources and training.

Furthermore, it is potentially unstable, as it is drawn from different ethnic sections of the population which are headed by rival tribal leaders and warlords.

The Taliban already control some areas, so given the weakness of the Kabul government, they are likely to expand on this when Nato withdraws – their main base being among Pashtuns who are 40% of the Afghan population.

The British commander of Task Force Helmand, Doug Chalmers, recognised this when he said that the local security forces were ‘already reaching out to the insurgents’ and ‘local accommodations and agreements could follow’. “Our job is to enable the Afghans to enter the conversation from a position of strength”, said Chalmers, indicating the extent of the failure of Nato’s mission.

Imperialism’s war aims

Many anti-war figureheads have pointed out that at no time since Tony Blair sent British troops into Helmand in 2006 have government ministers given a ‘coherent explanation’ of why they were sent.

Britain’s intelligence agencies had by then said there was no danger to Britain from any al-Qaida presence there.

As the Socialist has always argued, much of the answer lies in Afghanistan’s geo-strategic importance for the imperialist powers, as it links the surrounding blocks of countries.

Also, Afghanistan has untapped natural resources, estimated by the US government to be worth over $1 trillion.

A number of western oil and mining companies are presently hovering in anticipation of the Afghan government passing legislation allowing them to exploit the oil, iron, copper and other resources.

The western powers viewed the reactionary Taliban regime then in power as an obstacle to their interests in the region, ironically, as its very existence was a product of US imperialism’s sponsoring of Afghan mujahedeen groups in the 1980s that were fighting Soviet forces.

Brutality

Having gone in and imposed their brutality for eleven years, it’s now near impossible for the Nato powers to withdraw while at the same time safeguarding their interests.

The Guardian reported “senior Tory MPs” as openly predicting that “British withdrawal will be followed by a civil war”.

A civil war could quickly escalate, involving the neighbouring countries as well. But the government knows that keeping the 9,500 British troops in Afghanistan is not preventing the present war and is increasingly untenable because of the level of opposition from ordinary people in Britain. The US government faces the same dilemma.

The recent shenanigans in parliament reflect the blind alley for British imperialism in this war. Defence secretary Philip Hammond struggled to explain changes in policy in response to the ‘green on blue’ attacks by Afghan forces.

Dennis Skinner taunted him with: “Now that it has been revealed that the allies are unreliable, Karzai is useless and the Afghan forces are treacherous, it is time to get out!” Paul Flynn was suspended from parliament for a few days for declaring that ministers were lying about Afghanistan; “Lives have been lost to protect politicians’ reputations”, he justifiably asserted.

Cameron has felt compelled to promise a “review”, but only after the US presidential election in November.

The troops should be withdrawn immediately! Workers in Britain need investment into jobs and decent services, not war and occupation and the terrible loss of life it brings.

For the Afghan people, the interventions of the imperialist powers have been a very long nightmare. They must be allowed to determine their own future! Getting rid of foreign occupation is an urgent step for them, and then so is the task of building workers’ organisations that can demand democratic rights, women’s rights and an end to bloodshed and poverty.

This would mean rejecting all the pro-capitalist leaders, whether Pashtun, Hazara, Tajik, Uzbek, Turkman or other, in order to build unity around a socialist programme that calls for a workers’ and peasants’ government.

Such a government could take the country’s natural resources and the major industries into public ownership for the benefit of all.

Coventry shows support for Palestine

Coventry shows support for Palestine

Protest in Coventry

Protest in Coventry

By Dan Crowter

Around 150 people gathered outside the Council House in Coventry to protest against Israel’s continued onslaught on Gaza. The mood was both sombre and angry as people read the names of the hundreds of innocent children who have been killed by Israeli state terror. Unfortunately this list is growing by the hour, with the latest attacks on Gaza perpetrated by the IDF.

The names of children murdered in Gaza were read out

The names of children murdered in Gaza were read out

It is not only the inhumane slaughter of innocent people. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in Gaza have been displaced, their homes and communities being reduced to rubble, with little or no access to basic amenities. The situation is nothing short of barbarism.

Socialist Party member Paul Hunt speaking at the protest. Anti-war placard from Israel can be seen in the background - in Hebrew, Arabic and English

Socialist Party member Paul Hunt speaking at the protest. Anti-war placard from Israel / Palestine can be seen in the background – in Hebrew, Arabic and English

Socialist Party member and Coventry Unison assistant branch secretary Paul Hunt spoke bringing solidarity for the people of Palestine from trade unions in the city.  He drew attention to the anti-war protests in Israel and the West Bank and the slogan raised by the Socialist Struggle Movement in Israel / Palestine (sister organisation of the Socialist Party)– “Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation” which has been produced in Arabic, Hebrew and English . The protests in Israel are as yet small, however 6,000 have rallied in Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities, with a common slogan being ‘Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.’

A member of the community expresses his opposition to the situation in the Middle East

A member of the community expresses his opposition to the situation in the Middle East

He also echoed the feelings of many on the demo when he said that the Palestinians can’t rely on any capitalist political leaders – the US and the UK have been sending money and arms to Israel, and Labour leader Ed Miliband described himself as a Zionist. The Egyptian Government are maintaining the blockade of Gaza, which keeps the Palestinian people in poverty and locked in an open air prison. We can’t trust establishment politicians to support Palestine. Rather it will be the support, solidarity and crucially mass action of workers and ordinary people across the Middle East and indeed the world which will be the only reliable source of support for the Palestineans.

The crowd on the Council House steps

The crowd on the Council House steps

Coventry’s Labour council leader Ann Lucas and deputy leader Phil Townshend both spoke at the demo and expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people – this is welcome, but what actions will Coventry Council take to support the Palestinians? They have refused to fly the Palestinian flag from the council building, which would be seen as a basic gesture of solidarity and support.

Stop Israeli state terror

Stop Israeli state terror

There will be more protests in Coventry in the future and we urge as many people as possible to attend the national demonstration for Palestine that will be taking place in London, Saturday 9th August. There will be transport from Coventry. Contact us for more details

If you want to join the fight for a socialist solution to the crisis in the Middle East, please get in touch by clicking here

 

No to imperialist intervention in Syria

Editorial of the Socialist

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Via social media, smart phones and traditional news channels a flood of bloody images, footage and reports of the unbearable suffering inflicted on the Syrian masses has been broadcast around the world.

Initially in 2011, following the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, there was a popular uprising against Assad’s police state. But, as has been explained in the Socialist, interventions and enormous financial and military backing came from the semi-feudal monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar and imperialist forces in the hope of derailing that movement.

The uprising against Assad’s dictatorship has been skewed now into a sectarian conflict and has, moreover, unleashed a dangerous battle between the Sunnis and the Shias on a regional scale. The death toll of Syria’s now years-long conflict is estimated to be over 100,000. Two million people have fled the country and around five million are internally displaced. This is horror piled upon horror.

For the overwhelming majority of people the news that chemical weapons have been used in Ghouta, a district of Damascus, appears to represent the opening of a new circle of hell for the suffering masses. The reports that the dead are numbered in their hundreds and the injured in their thousands are as heart-breaking as they are horrifying.

Given what has taken place, combined with the threat of regional instability looming, a desire for a solution to this horror is a human response. But to hope that the US and UK governments and their allies in France, Germany and Turkey could bring any solution, given history, both recent and long-term, is horribly mistaken.

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