I wrote this in 2001, during the time between the September 11 incidents, and the beginning of the war in Afghanistan. Evaluate for yourself how well my geopolitical analysis holds up thirteen years later, and whether I’ve mellowed any since then.
By Keith Preston
Islam, Globalism and Freedom
“Only an engaged and informed citizenry can bring about a reversal of the neo-imperial
foreign policy that has been foisted upon us…by the elites of both Beltway parties.”
“And how can all our meddling not fail to spark some horrible retribution?…Or will it take
some cataclysmic atrocity on U.S. soil to awaken our global gamesmen to the asking price
-Patrick J. Buchanan, speech delivered to the Antiwar.Com
Conference, March 24, 2000
“If you want to be king, some people don’t want to be subjects.” -Jerry Rubin, 1969
I have a co-worker whose aunt worked as a stockbroker on the twenty-sixth floor of the second of the World Trade Center towers to be attacked on September 11. As the phone lines in much of the New York City area were down for a couple of days after the attack, he was unable to contact family members in the area in order to inquire about the fate of his aunt. Finally, on Thursday evening, he was able to get through. His aunt had been in her office when the attack on the first tower occurred. Most of her co-workers ran to the windows after feeling their own building vibrate. His aunt wisely chose to run to the stairs instead. She continued running down the stairways, out of the building and, by the time the second tower had been attacked and the first building collapsed, she was already five blocks away. Still, she received a number of cuts and scrapes from flying debris and rubble. It had been a lucky day for her. Usually, she would take her son to work with her and leave him in the day care center on the thirty-sixth floor of her building, ten floors above her own office. On this particular day, she had left him with family instead. If she had had to travel up ten floors to retrieve her son and then escape down thirty-six flights of stairs, neither of them would have been likely to make it. Although my fellow worker narrowly avoided a family tragedy resulting from the attack, he and I are in complete agreement concerning the politics of the matter. The seeds sown by U.S. imperialism in the Middle East have yielded an awful harvest.
In one of his most famous speeches delivered while President, George Washington outlined the correct foreign policy for the new American nation. Peace and commerce for all who desire it. Entangling alliances with none. As both historians and experienced statesmen, the founders of the United States recognized that nations who persistently interfere in the affairs of other nations, and who form “entangling alliances” by making the problems of other nations their own, inevitably find themselves being dragged into war and conflict of a completely avoidable nature. The United States did indeed apply the Washingtonian vision with regards to European and Asian wars with a fairly high degree of consistency during the nineteenth century. Within the Western Hemisphere, however, the United States went the way of ruthless imperial ambition suppressing revolts by farmers and slaves, invading and conquering Indian nations in the West, crushing the southern independence movement, unconstitutionally annexing the sovereign nation of Texas, invading and annexing one third of the Mexican nation and similar forms of aggression in the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific. A full-blown global imperialism on the part of the United States began to take shape during the World War One era under the administration of Woodrow Wilson. Recognizing that U.S. entry into the European War would greatly weaken the European imperial states and radically advance the United States as a global power, Wilson entered the war near the end, when Germany was nearly ready to negotiate for peace, and this intervention resulted in the near total destruction of Germany, its humiliation at Versailles and the setting of the stage for the eventual rise to power of Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist German Worker’s Party.
After the Axis monster was destroyed in World War Two, the United States emerged with unprecedented amounts of international power while Europe and Asia were in ruins with the weak and backward Soviet Union (though strengthened by the destruction of Germany and the annexation of the eastern European nations as vassal states) providing the only partial competition. Leading American planners created a new foreign policy whereby the United States would exercise global political, military and economic hegemony under the cover of Cold War ideology. Hence, the MacArthur and Marshall Plans, the creation of the United Nations, the establishment of the National Security Council and the proclamation of the Cold War agenda outlined in NSC-68 and a foreign policy of world wide military intervention, destabilization, and subversion. A key component of this program involved the relationship between the U.S and the newly created state of Israel.
Prior to the First World War, the entire territory of the Middle East had been under the control of the Ottoman Empire. When the Ottomans were destroyed in that war, the Middle East fell under the control of the European imperial powers, particularly Britain. Most of the current Islamic nations-Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and others-came about as a result of the British and the old League of Nations carving up the map of the Ottoman Empire into various individual states. Following the Second World War, both the United States and Great Britain were faced with considerable embarrassment concerning their policies regarding their treatment of Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe during the years leading up to and including the war with the Axis powers. Both nations had refused entry to Jewish refugees out of a desire to avoid fanning the flames of anti-semitism and fascist sympathies within their respective nations. Britain also refused to allow European Jews to migrate to its territories in the eastern Mediterranean area. Both nations also wished to avoided large waves of Jewish immigration after the war.
Since the Roman destruction of the ancient Temple in 70 A.D. and the effective elimination of any serious Jewish resistance in Roman-occupied Palestine, the Jews had, over a period of nearly two millenia, been dispersed throughout the world, the so-called Great Diaspora.
As a religious and ethnic minority in every country in which they resided, they were frequently victims of repression, persecution and discrimination. In the nineteenth century a secular Jew, Theodor Herzl, began a movement known as “Zionism”, the purpose of which would be to establish a Jewish state somewhere in the world that would serve as a haven for Jews attempting to escape persecution. Herzl had little interest in the religious or messianic aspect of Jewish culture. His motivations were largely ones of political expediency and ethnic self-preservation. Originally, Herzl planned for the Jewish state to be in the Ugandan area of Africa then under the control of the British Empire. However, this idea was naturally rejected by the more religious and culturally conservative Jews who felt that the Jewish state must be in the ancient Jewish homeland of Palestine. The Zionist movement became a worldwide Jewish phenomenon and included many diverse strands-secular and religious, reform and orthodox, socialist, Marxist, pacifist, theocratic and others. Large numbers of Jews began to migrate to Palestine and establish settlements there. Although the Arabs were not thrilled with large waves of Jewish immigration, the Israeli and Arab violence that plagues the Middle East today did not really begin until the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. During that time, Jewish paramilitary groups invaded Palestine and drove many indigenous Palestinians from their homes and land, massacring thousands in the process. The Jewish invaders were armed and financed by England and the United States. The Palestinian refugees fled to camps in areas surrounding the new Israeli state and immediately launched a guerrilla war hoping to recapture their homeland and destroy Israel. Arabs and Muslims throughout the Middle East viewed Israel as an illegal invader and occupier of their territory. It is also important to remember that the conflict was not merely between Muslims and religious Jews. A substantial minority of Palestinians are Christians and many ultra-orthodox Jews regard the pseudo-religious racial-nationalist variation of Zionism that has traditionally dominated much of Israeli politics as a blasphemous perversion of authentic Jewish messianism and blame the militant Zionist movement for the hostilities in the region.
Since its founding, the Israeli state has been strongly expansionist believing itself to be entitled to the entire area of the Middle East that it regards as the biblical “Promised Land”. On several occasions, most famously the 1967 war, Israel has invaded and occupied surrounding areas. Often the stated justification for these annexations was the fact that these areas, containing numerous Palestinian refugee camps, were the launching point for attacts inside of Israel by guerrillas of the Palestine Liberation Organization and other revolutionary movements. However, upon occupation, the Israelis have proceeded to confiscate Palestinian homes and land and attempt to establish Jewish colonial settlements in the area. The Arab nations view Israel as having imperial designs on much of the Arab territory of the Middle East and view Israel as a security risk to themselves. Some Arab nations, such as Egypt and Jordan, have attempted to appease Israel and its Western benefactor, the United States, by taking a moderate, accommodationist stance toward Israel. Indeed, it was the efforts of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in this area that led to his assassination by hard-line anti-Israeli Islamic militants. Other Muslim states, such as Libya, and various Islamic fundamentalist movements, such as Hamas and Osama bin Laden’s El Qaeda, have called for the complete elimination of the Israeli state.
The hatred of the United States displayed by Islamic fundamentalists and Arab nationalists is rooted in the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. The Muslims believe, as do many Americans, that Israel would not be able to survive if it were not for the enormous amounts of aid in terms of arms and billions of dollars in foreign aid that Israel receives annually from the U.S. As Israel is viewed as an illegal invader of Muslim territory and occupier of Palestinian land, the United States is viewed as a financier and accomplice to these transgressions. The U.S. and Israel have maintained this relationship for more than half a century. What is the continued significance of Israel to the United States? Israel is a staunch military ally and is regarded as a possible base during wartime. This was particularly true during the Cold War era when the U.S. was concerned about Soviet influence in the Middle East. American Jews, although only two percent of the overall population, often display an inordinately strong attachment to Israel and are influential in political, media, academic and financial circles. To some American Christian fundamentalists, an important grassroots voting bloc for the Republican Party, the reestablishment of the state of Israel in 1948 is considered to be the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy necessary to usher in the Second Coming of Christ. The oil industry, to which the family of President Bush has connections, exercises much control over U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. These interests have considerable holdings and investments in the region and do not want these to fall under the control of hostile, Arab nationalist or Islamic governments. Finally, there is the imperial ambition of the American regime to maintain hegemony over the region and integrate this area into the overall global system being orchestrated by the elites of the advanced nations.
The conflict between the United States and the Muslim world extends well past the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. For decades, the U.S. has pursued Middle Eastern policies regarded as an outrage by many in that region. The CIA-organized coup that brought the Shah of Iran to power in 1953 is the principal issue in the U.S.-Iranian conflict. The Shah, who remained in power for twenty-six years, brutally suppressed Islamic fundamentalism and murdered and tortured thousands of Muslims in the process. The Shah’s secret police force, SAAVAK, was funded and trained by the American CIA. The U.S. also aided the Israeli incursions into Lebanon in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia is viewed as a defilement of the Muslim Holy Land. The oil monarchies in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and elsewhere are viewed as treasonous sellouts of the Arab and Muslim people who squander the wealth produced by the oil fields while the common people of the region live in dire poverty. The U.S. war against Iraq is also a major issue for Islamic fundamentalists. Although the stated goal of the 1991 American assault on Iraq was the expulsion of Iraqi troops from Kuwait, the American air war targeted civilian areas within Iraq for the purpose of destroying the nation’s infrastructure and wrecking its economy. These actions combined with a decade-long embargo against Iraq have reduced that nation to a pre-industrial state. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, have died from starvation and from preventable diseases because of the unavailability of food and medicine resulting from the embargo. In addition to the ongoing U.S. terrorist war against Iraq, civilian targets in Afghanistan and in the Sudan have also been attacked. U.S. missles have destroyed schools and hospitals and killed children in Afghanistan. The casualities resulting from the U.S. attacks on the Sudan may have been in the tens of thousands. Noam Chomsky notes that efforts by the United Nations to investigate the number of casualties in these attacks were suppressed by the United States. In addition to repeated military aggression by the U.S. in the Muslim world and efforts to exercise hegemony in the region, the Muslims also regard the U.S. as attempting to bring their part of the world into an international order where their religion, culture and traditional way of life would be destroyed and subjugated by the monied interests of the advanced powers.
All of this brings us to September 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were likely done for two reasons. One of these would be to demonstrate to both the U.S. and the Muslim world the resolve and the power of the Muslim resistance to American violations of their sovereignty. The second would be to inspire, motivate and radicalize the Muslim world and build support for the resistance. A useful analogy might involve the similarities between the events of September 11 and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Timothy McVeigh had become radicalized while fighting in the Persian Gulf War where he recognized the responsibility of U.S. foreign policy much of the suffering and oppression in the Middle East.
Upon returning to the U.S. after the war, McVeigh observed atrocities being committed against Americans just as he had observed similar atrocities in Iraq. He became involved with various underground revolutionary movements and decided to bomb the federal building in Oklahoma City in order to retaliate for aggression by the U.S. government against such people as the Branch Davidian religious community and the Weaver family at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. McVeigh’s aim was to avenge these atrocities and inspire revolt against the U.S. federal regime. It appears the skyjackers of September 11 had similar motivations. It might be said that the World Trade Center/Pentagon attacks were to U.S. foreign policy what the Oklahoma City bombing was to U.S. domestic policy. In both instances the casualties were, sadly, persons who had no hand in the perpetration of the deeds that motivated the attacks. In both cases, the victims were primarily working people going about their business unaware of the vicious deeds of the government under which they lived.
News coverage of the attacks on the United States has been predictably shallow concerning the issue of the motivations of the attackers. It appears that mainstream pundits and commentators would have the American public believe that the terrorists’ actions occurred within a vaccum without there being any real reason for the attacks at all. The most common explanation provided is that the terrorists simply “hate Americans”, oppose “freedom” and “democracy”, “envy our wealth”, are “uncivilized” and “barbaric” and other juvenile forms of reasoning. Ordinary people off the street who have no understanding of the complexity of the issues in the Middle East or the role of U.S. foreign policy in that region can be forgiven for swallowing such nonsense. However, when seasoned journalists such as Dan Rather and Peter Jennings promulgate such idiocy it is not excessive to accuse them of deliberate deceit. America’s leading news media superstars have paraded a stream of talking heads across the nation’s television screens who insist that the terrorists’ attacks have virtually nothing to do with U.S. foreign policy. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright remarked that only those who “do not care about democracy and human rights” would make such a claim. This, of course, being the same Madeleine Albright who told Lesley Stahl of CBS that the U.S. embargo against Iraq is well worth the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of children and adults who have died from starvation and disease as a result of that policy. This is the same Madeleine Albright who was a principle architect of the U.S. terror bombing of civilian targets in Serbia which killed thousands of non-combatants. As the conservative Orthodox nationalist Matthew Raphael Johnson has pointed out, human rights appears to be a synonym for mass murder for Madeleine Albright. Officials of the Israeli government and spokespersons for the Zionist lobby in the United States insist that the U.S. relationship with Israel has nothing to do with these attacks. Arabs hate Israel because they hate America, they insist. As Joseph Sobran notes, if this is the case then Israel should regard its alliance with the U.S. as a liability and end it immediately. Much righteous indignation has been expressed concerning the lack of regard for innocents displayed by the attackers. General Norman Schwarzkopf insisted that the difference between “us and them” is that the U.S. military forces do not attack civilian targets. Thus, the General was not attacking civilians when he supervised the bombing of bridges, factories, hospitals, shelters, urban centers and other non-military targets in Iraq a decade ago. Nor was Bill Clinton targeting civilians when U.S. missles destroyed schools and hospitals and killed children in Afghanistan or when he ordered the bombing of a pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan with thousands of casualties resulting. Clinton was not attacking civilians when thousands of non-combatants were massacred in the air assaults on Serbia. Civilians were not being targeted during air strikes on peasant farmers in Colombia or villagers in Vietnam and Cambodia. Of course, the U.S. military attacks civilian targets. It is impossible to wage war with modern military technology without killing civilians. All nations do it. The pious prattle about “not killing civilians” is simply a hypocritcial sham that states use in their propaganda wars with one another.
The simple truth is that the United States is at war with the Muslim and Arab world and has been for decades. The events of September 11 simply mark the first time the war has been brought home to American soil. The United States and its regional ally, Israel, wish to maintain the occupation of the Palestinian territory, the military presence in Saudi Arabia, the terrorist war against Iraq, the control over the oil fields by U.S. business corporations and the ongoing efforts to subordinate the Middle East to the interests of financial elites in the advanced nations. Islamic fundamentalists and secular Arab nationalists alike view all of this as a violation of their sovereignty over their own territory and as a threat to their traditions, culture and religion. The terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon for the same reason that the U.S. bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the Second World War. The terrorists are at war and they aim to win. Most Americans are clueless about their government’s foreign policy in the Middle East (or anywhere else, for that matter) nor do they really have any idea what a real war looks like. On September 11, they got a little taste of it in living color and, as the conservative commentator Samuel Francis observes, they do not seem to like it very much.
This brings us to the war fever currently brewing in the U.S. One hundred percent of the American political establishment and, according to polls, nearly ninety percent of the general public favor military retaliation for the attacks. There does not seem to be any consensus as to who the retaliation should be against. The general sentiment seems to be that somewhere, someone ought to be bombed but after that point things get somewhat fuzzy. Indications are that the U.S. military and foreign policy establishment is divided over how extensive the retaliation should be. Hard-liners in the Defense Department seem to want to expand the war on Iraq in addition to targeting Afghanistan. Moderates like Colin Powell seem skeptical on that point and prefer a more concentrated assault on Afghanistan. As of this writing, the U.S. government continues to claim that Osama bin Laden’s El Qaeda is responsible for the attacks but has yet to offer any substantive evidence to support that claim. Some in official circles have stated that such evidence is forthcoming. There have been hints that the U.S. hopes to use the international coalition it is currently putting together as a means of eliminating “terrorism” on a international scale including the independence movement in Northern Ireland, the rebellion in Colombia and others in addition to anti-U.S. revolutionary movements in the Middle East. Some Israeli hard-liners have called on the U.S. to wage an all-out war on anti-Israeli states in the Middle East-Syria, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Afghanistan and the Sudan, thereby igniting World War Three. Such lunacy has not been limited to the Israelis. Some America commentators have called for a first strike use of nuclear weapons against Afghanistan and even alleged moderates like Colin Powell and former Defense Secretary William Cohen have said that such an idea cannot be ruled out.
Unfortunately, one important factor has not been considered in all of this war enthusiasm, namely, the consequences. The United States is currently embarking upon an immensely high risk course of action and is seemingly doing so with blinders on. Most of the significant variables involved in this highly volatile situation are likely to work against the U.S. No nation has ever successfully invaded Afghanistan since Alexander the Great managed to do so in the conquest wars of antiquity. The Soviet Union, admittedly weak militarily compared to the U.S., could not effectively subdue Afghanistan after a decade of fighting and 15,000 casualties. More than eighty percent of Afghanistan’s terrain is heavily land mined courtesy of the Soviets. A land war in Afghanistan will involve combatting one of the fiercest, most experienced and most fanatical guerrilla forces in the world on their home field. This is precisely the type of situation that led to the defeat of the U.S. in Vietnam. It should also be noted that seventy percent of the population of Afghanistan are women and children who are starving from the war-generated deprivation in the country and who are brutally oppressed by the Taliban regime. It is these people that the bombs will rain down upon while the Taliban leadership hides away in their bunkers.
Much of the history of American problems in the Middle East stem from efforts by the American regime to build up a particular state or private force, on the grounds that they are the lesser of some particular set of enemies, only to find that they have created a monster in the process. The U.S. built up Saddam Hussein during the Iraq-Iran war of 1980-88 and did the same with Islamic fundamentalism of the Taliban-Osama variety during the Soviet-Afghani war. Currently, the U.S. hopes to assist the so-called Northern Alliance, a loose collection of Muslim fanatics and ethnic supremacists, with the hopes of using it as a proxy army against the Taliban with the likelihood of creating yet another terrorist motley crew in the process. Amazingly, the U.S. is also attempting to bring Iran, officially designated as a terrorist state by the American government, into the current “anti-terrorism” coalition being put together by Washington. Outside of official policy making circles, leading neo-conservative war hawks, led by the predictable bore William Kristol, urge military action against Syria or Iran if they fail to comply with U.S. demands. As mentioned, Secretary of State Colin Powell seems to be content with only the possibility of another Vietnam in Afghanistan while resisting efforts by Defense Department, Israeli and neo-conservative maniacs who would prefer to commence World War Three by attacking virtually the entire Arab world. One can only hope that Powell has the President’s ear.
However successful this impending U.S. military operation previously referred to with the now-abandoned moniker “Operation Inifinite Justice” (has a nice totalitarian ring to it, doesn’t it? Kind of like “The Great Leap Forward”, “Back to the Year One” or “The Final Solution”. But is “Operation Enduring Freedom” much better?) is in the short run, and even short run success will require that much good luck come Washington’s way, the long-term consequences cannot be anything short of horrendous.
It appears that U.S. policy makers have played right into the hands of those who organized the attacks from the sky on September 11. As stated, the attackers likely had two purposes. One, to impress the Muslim world with a dramatic show of strength against the U.S. Two, to provoke a military retaliation from the U.S. which would be viewed by much of the Muslim world as still more incursion into their territory by foreign infidels who kill their people, disrespect their religion and wreck their economies. Both of these purposes ultimately serve only one purpose-to further radicalize the Muslim world, increase the influence of the extremist element and gain new recruits for the jihad. Whatever the success of the current U.S. undertaking, terrorist attacks of the September 11 variety will only expand in their frequency and severity. Remember the claims of policy makers and pundits alike who insisted that the Gulf War would be a tremendous blow to terrorist endeavors by Islamic extremists? How wrong they were. Remember the claims of the pious drug warriors who insisted the U.S. was only a few years away from a drug-free utopia? A government that cannot successfully combat drug smuggling or even illegal immigration can hardly be expected to combat a movement whose participants are not only willing but eager to give their lives (and the lives of anyone else who happens to be in the way) for their cause. The current U.S. effort serves only to accelerate hostilities and to expand a policy (i.e. Middle East interventionism) that should have never been undertaken in the first place. When will the U.S. government ever learn? Will it take a terrorist attack on American soil involving nuclear, biological or chemical weaponry with even more catastrophic results than those of September 11? Will the U.S. wait for Islamic holy warriors of the bin Laden variety to come to power in a nation with a full-fledged nuclear arsenal? When will American policy makers realize that further efforts to maintain imperial hegemony over the Muslim/Arab world are a grave danger to the safety and security of every American man, woman and child? Or have they concluded that the American public is simply expendable? Apparently, this is indeed the case. U.S. contingency plans in the event of an all-out nuclear attack on the country are designed to guarantee the survival of the government and the military with the broader citizenry viewed as excess baggage that may have to be jettisoned at some point.(1)
What should the U.S. do in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon? The answer is simple enough: Simply discontinue a fifty-year old failed Middle East policy. The United States should withdraw all of its military forces currently deployed in the region, cease to subsidize the Israeli occupation of Palestine, lift the embargo against Iraq, end the practice of financing and arming competing factions in the Middle East, normalize commercial and diplomatic relations, end attempts at political hegemony in the region and undertake a peace initiative toward the Arab and Muslim states. If the goal is to bring Osama bin Laden, or whoever is responsible for the September 11 attacks, “to justice” then the ideal way to proceed would be to present the actual evidence of bin Laden’s guilt to both the American people and to the Islamic states, cooperate with intelligence, diplomatic and military forces in those nations towards the goal of securing the capture of bin Laden and his associates and bring them before an international war crimes tribunal in a manner similar to what is being done with Slobodan Milosevic at the present time. Such an approach would be viewed by the inhabitants of the Muslim world as a genuine show of good faith and as much less a violation of their sovereignty than military action in the region by the U.S. Also, the use of an international tribunal would be appropriate, given that citizens of dozens of nations were killed in the attacks, as a trial of the perpetrators in an American court would be viewed as a lynching by a kangaroo court by the Muslim world. Also, any claim of moral high ground that the U.S. might have in this matter has been severely weakened by the ongoing terrorist war against the civilian population of Iraq and Bill Clinton’s terrorist attacks in the region which were motivated solely by personal political concerns. Of course, these are the last actions the U.S. is likely to undertake so one can only hope that whatever policy the U.S. does eventually decide upon will result in a minimum amount of damage.
Aside from the acceleration of hostilities between the U.S. and the Muslim world and the increased probability of large-scale international conflict in the Middle East, there are other pressing problems being aggravated by the current crisis that hardly no mainstream and few fringe commentators have taken notice of. The two most important issues facing ordinary Americans politically are the gradual conversion of the United States into a traditional police state and the subordination of Americans, and all other nationalities, under a global corporate state controlled by the financial elites of the advanced nations via the United Nations, NATO, the IMF, World Bank, WTO, NAFTA, FTAA, etc. and managed by shadowy, secretive unaccountable bureaucracies operating across conventional national borders with no public input or disclosure whatsoever. Current U.S. actions in the Middle East can only serve to speed up the process by which this slow descent into global and domestic tyranny is taking place. As many anti-statists have frequently observed, war is the health of the state. Governments tend to expand their power radically during wartime with little if any retreat afterward. Only a few weeks into this crisis, the federal government has begun to seek greater authority to suspend habeas corpus, engage in wiretapping and other forms of domestic espionage, place greater restrictions on travel, expand existing statutes regarding money laundering and other contractions of civil liberties. American civil liberties are already taking a severe pounding courtesy of the War on Drugs, “firearms control” legistlation, the prison-industrial complex, paramilitary policing, the virtual elimination of the Fourth Amendment, the federalization of law enforcement, the use of the military in domestic law enforcement, racial profiling, mandatory minimum sentencing procedures, “three strikes” laws and other constrictions of the Eighth Amendment, an epidemic of police brutality and terrorism, asset forfeiture provisions, the ongoing expansion of an imperial federal bureaucracy, land seizures, class warfare against both the rural and urban poor by means of localized economic repression, attacks on religious liberty and wholesale massacres of religious and political dissidents, oppressive taxation and countless other similar ills. The U.S. federal government emerged from the Civil War, the two world wars, Vietnam and the Cold War infinitely more powerful that it had been originally. The United States simply cannot take much more expansion of government without falling to full blown totalitarianism. This alone should be enough reason for all opposition forces in the U.S. to oppose the current foreign military intervention.
The globalism issue is somewhat more complicated. George W. Bush is only partially correct when he states that this is the first war of the twenty-first century. Actually, this is the first (major) battle in a war that has already begun. Really, there are two wars going on. One is, of course, the battle between the U.S. and the Muslim world over the question of imperial hegemony versus regional sovereignty in the Middle East. This conflict might rightfully be regarded as but one front in a larger war, namely, the emerging global conflict between those interests wishing to subordinate the entire world to the so-called “New World Order” of global governance by elite financial interests in the advanced countries on one side and all those various national, regional, ethnic, cultural, religious, linguistic and economic groups who wish to remain independent of such a global order. The neoconservative commentator George Will, a prominent spokesman for the most globalist wing of the American ruling class and a domestic mouthpiece for Israeli foreign policy hard-liners, let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, in his September 22 column where he favorably quotes the British military historian John Keegan:
“It is true that war is an extension of policy-but only when waged by stable states. War is escaping from state control and into the hands of bandits and anarchists. The great work of disarming tribes, sects, warlords, and criminals-a principal achievement of monarchs in the seventeenth century and empires in the nineteenth-threatens to need doing all over again.”
In other words, war is perfectly legitimate when waged by states as a policy tool but illegitimate as a means of resisting state tyranny. The “bandits and anarchists” spoken of so disparagingly by Keegan and, by extension, Will, are those who would use armed struggle if necessary to resist the encroaching global tyranny. Keegan understands this perfectly well. His plea is for the global elitists of today to complete the task of centralization of political and economic power begun by the absolute monarchs of the seventeenth century and the empires (such as Bismarck’s Germany) of the nineteenth. Never mind that these events-consolidation of individual sovereign territories into nation-states and nation-states into empires-is precisely what led to the very worst nightmares of the last five hundred years such as the Thirty Years war of the seventeenth centurty (with millions dead from religious and national conflict), the despotism of the British Empire (which the American founders revolted against), the tyranny of the French monarchy (which led to the bloody French Revolution and the Napoleanic Wars), the consolidation of Germany into a centralized empire (leading directly to the two world wars and the rise of Naziism and the Holocaust), the global expansion of the Western colonial empires (and the subsequent backlash of international Communism and regional ethnic warfare), the rise of the Czarist empire in Russia which paved the way for Soviet genocide and the nuclear arms race, the consolidation of the American federal regime and world wide military imperialism and countless other ills. The conservative Catholic writer Joseph Sobran points out that “in the twentieth century the great nation-states (which were also empires) collided in the two most terrible wars of all time…This would have been impossible if Europe had still consisted of those five hundred independent political entities of the year 1500.”
Just as sovereign kingdoms and territories were consolidated into nation-states in the seventeenth century and nations were consolidated into empires in the nineteenth century, the world of the twenty-first century is witnessing the rapid drive toward the final consolidation of political and economic power on a global level. This will be an achievement that, if not reversed, will likely bring about the worst tyranny the human species has ever witnessed. A global empire state managed by secretive, unaccountable bureaucracies operating on behalf of a very narrow concentration of economic power will likely produce a system of totalitarian oppression similar to that of the Nazi and Soviet regimes of the twentieth century only with infinitely greater amounts of economic, technological and military resources. All forces throughout the world seeking to resist this development must join together, regardless of their other differences, and provide mutual support to one another in the common struggle. The current U.S.-led “coalition” against so-called “terrorism” is simply a cover for continuing the process of global consolidation of power and crushing all efforts at resistance. Hence, the calls in some corners of officialdom for an “anti-terrorist” campaign not only againt the perpetrators of the attacks of September 11 but against the “terrorist” states of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya and the Sudan (all of which are states that resist the design of the globalists) and against private “terrorist” groups such as the Irish Republican Army, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Columbian rebel forces. All of these are nationalist and separatist movements with an anti-globalism bent.
Ten years after the collapse of Soviet Communism, the post-Cold War realignment of the American political landscape is nearly complete. This landscape looks remarkably similar to the way it did in the 1920s and 1930s. The Republicans are once again a coalition of traditional “Rockefeller” Republicans such as George W. Bush and Colin Powell, social conservatives and cultural traditionalists of the Jesse Helms-Trent Lott variety and lassez faire individualists such as Gary Johnson, William Weld and the policy wonks at the Cato Institute. The Democrats have largely jettisoned the New Leftists of the McGovern era (hence the defection of so many Democratic lefties to the Nader camp) and reclaimed their Wilsonian-Rooseveltian-Trumanesque traditions of foreign policy globalism and imperialism, domestic statism and contempt for civil liberties so evident in the administration of the American Caligula, Bill Clinton. The wild card in this arrangement is the neoconservative movement, established in the 1970s by a band of right-wing social democratic Zionist intellectuals who wished to oppose the anti-Zionist, culturally progressive and anti-Cold War positions of the New Left. The neoconservatives, consisting primarily of Jewish, Zionist ex-Communists and ex-Trotskyists, have functioned for the last twenty-five years as a mouthpiece for the Israeli lobby. It is this element that has pushed the hardest for all all-out total war against the Muslim world. Echoing the sentiments of Benjamin Netanyahu and other right-wing Israeli hard-liners, the neoconservatives have sought to use American foreign policy and military power as a means of eliminating all of Israel’s regional enemies. It has been the neoconservatives who have attacked Colin Powell the most vocally for his “moderate” stance in the current crisis. This development may well bring about a split on the American political right. If moderate Republicans and the Old Rightist “paleoconservatives” continue to be regarded by the neoconservatives as to “soft” on the issue of war against Israel’s enemies, then it is likely the “neocons” will begin seeking allies elsewhere, most likely among the overtly globalist Clinton Democrats. Consequently, the neoconservatives will have to shift their domestic policy positions slightly to the left and begin reclaiming their state socialist roots.
What about the various opposition forces in the U.S.? What positions have these groups taken towards the current crisis and what positions should they be taking? What are the implications of current events for the revolutionary movements in the U.S.? The entire array of hard-core opposition groups in the U.S. have taken solidly antiwar positions. The various Communist sects, the assorted neo-nazi and and fascist groups, domestic Islamic fundamentalists, black separatists and black Muslims, left and right wing anarchists and radical libertarians all vehemently oppose U.S. military action in the Middle East. The Libertarian Pary is reportedly split on the issue. Patrick Buchanan has called for military retaliation for the September 11 attacks followed by U.S. withdrawal from the region. The moderate libertarian, Republican-friendly Cato Institute has taken an interventionist line. The leftist “anti-globalization” movement has apparently redirected much of its energy into an antiwar effort. Antiwar rallies have occurred on more than 150 college campuses. Some militia groups have taken an antiwar stance. Others have come out in support of military action in response to the attacks on the U.S. combined with a denunciation of increased attacks on civil liberties on the domestic front. The various regional separatist movements have been somewhat reserved on this issue apparently not wanting to appear to be “too radical” on one hand and not wanting to cozy up to the U.S. federal empire on the other.
A number of issues that should be of concern to revolutionary elements in the U.S. arise from the present situation. Opinion polls demonstrate increased popular support for the government at the present time. This is to be expected and is likely temporary. A similar phenomenon occurred during the U.S. assault on Iraq in 1991. Also, many within the ranks of various oppostion movements or with sympathies toward particular opposition elements have “backslidden” and expressed support for the government’s current actions in the Middle East. (Author’s note: U.S. and British air and missle strikes against Afghanistan have begun as this paragraph is being written.) This should not be particularly surprising or discouraging either. The American public has been going through substantial political changes in the past decade. Many people are in the process of becoming radicalized. The militia movement, the growth of regional independence movements, the radical gun rights movement, home schools, tax resisters, common law courts, short wave and talk radio programs and other such phenomenon suggest a sharp increase in the degree of hostility to the federal government among the broader population. However, this process of radicalization is naturally occurring very slowly and gradually. Many of these movements’ sympathizers come from traditional working class backgrounds, rural areas, smaller towns and from cultural groups where nationalism and “patriotism” are strong cultural currents. People tend to rally behind their state during times of crisis, particularly wars, and this situation currently at hand is no exception. Indeed, one of the reasons that states like wars is their usefulness as a means of rallying the public in support of the state. The present situation is a classic, classic example of a state using a public crisis, a foreign war and a demonized foreign “enemy” as a means of creating popular support for itself, silencing opposition, expanding the power of the state and attacking civil liberties. Many of the people who are currently in the process of being radicalized have yet to acquire the level of knowledge and experience necessary to successfully defend themselves intellectually and emotionally against propaganda produced by Authority and against Mob Passion. Understandably, some of these relatively new converts to the antigovernment cause, lacking solid ideological foundations on which to anchor themselves, have “backslidden” into ritualistic jingoism and the herd instinct.
All this really means is that those of us who are committed, hard-core radicals need to turn up the volume even louder. In our propaganda, literature, radio and television broadcasts, etc., we need to disemminate the information that potential antigovernment sympathizers need in order to make an informed judgement regarding issues like the one currently at hand. The best approach to take would be to point out that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is simply another failed government program. Many antigovernment sympathizers already understand that “public” schools, gun laws, welfare and even, in some cases, the drug war are efforts established by central government with disasterous results. It needs to be pointed out that U.S. foreign policy belongs on the list as well. Also, the connection between U.S. imperial design in the Middle East and globalism needs to be pointed out. It needs to be recognized that the Islamic fundamentalists and Arab nationalists are fighting the same global interests seeking to impose global goverment, international currency systems, firearms confiscation, international police forces, NAFTA and other regressive economic policies on the American people. Also, the U.S.-Israel alliance needs to be discredited in the eyes of the general public. Israel must be exposed for the treacherous “ally” that it is. Americans need to be told about how Israel sunk an American ship and machine gunned sailors fleeing in lifeboats, about Israeli espionage against the U.S., about the story of the Israeli spy Jonathon Pollard, the billions of dollars of taxpayer money wasted on foreign aid to Israel each year, the Israeli Fifth Column that works inside the U.S. to subordinate the national interests of America to those of Israel and Israel’s historic aggression against Arab peoples.
The grievances of the Arab and Muslim peoples must be presented to ordinary Americans in a way that is comprehensible and easy to identify with. Relevent analogies should be utilized. The U.S. military occupation of the Muslim holy land in Saudi Arabia should be likened to Bill Clinton allowing Chinese or United Nations troops to establish bases in America with these troops then going around and vandalizing and urinating on churches. The Israeli occupation of Palestine should be compared to an Islamic invasion of the Gulf of Mexico region and the establishment of a Muslim state in Texas. The U.S. embargo against Iraq should be exposed as the war crime that it is. The condemnation of this embargo by the Catholic church as a violation of just war doctrine needs to be publicized. The control of pro-Israel elements over the media needs to be pointed out along with the connections of many high ranking Bush administration officials to the oil industry. These elements need to be characterized as just another “special interest” group along with the National Education Association, leftwing environmentalists and other groups whom the populist right is hostile to. The repression against Christians carried out by U.S. allies in the Gulf region such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait needs to be pointed out to America’s large Christian population. The oppression of Christians in these countries rivals that found under the old Stalinist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Our antiwar rallies and programs need to feature as speakers members of Jewish fundamentalist sects, such as the Neturei Karta, who have condemned Israeli imperialism and expansionism and representatives of human rights groups working to expose repression against Christians by the Gulf states. The foreign policy vision of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson needs to be explained and current U.S. policy in the Middle East should be characterized as a betrayal of classical American ideals just as the federal regime has betrayed the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence in so many other ways. U.S. actions in the Middle East should be presented as a threat to the genuine national security interests of the nation and the personal safety of citizens as indeed they are.
The government has already set out to silence dissenters. The newly created cabinet office of Homeland Security is an addition to the domestic secret police apparatus of the FBI, BATF, DEA, INS, CIA, etc. Already, certain Islamic and Irish independence domestic internet and radio broadcasts have been prohibited. The U.S. government has sought to silence the one independent television network in the Middle East. The domestic police state is expanding and opposition forces in the U.S. must increase their efforts to fight back. In a perfect world, opposition groups would be able to bring millions into the streets to demand that the government cease to risk the safety of Americans for the sake of its imperial design in the Middle East and to end its attack on domestic civil liberties. Individual states and localities would threaten to secede and seize local military bases rather than allow the U.S. to continue its aggression against the Muslim world thereby jeopardizing the national security interests of the nation. But it is an imperfect world therefore the resistance movement will have to be continued to be built one step at a time. As of this writing, the air war against Afghanistan has begun. Much of the bombing seems rather symbolic as opposed to strategic at present. No one knows where things will go in the future. The Bush administration does not appear to be particularly gung-ho for a large scale war in the Middle East. However, considerable pressure is being exercised on the President by the neoconservatives, the Israel lobby and the Defense Department’s warmonger wing. The deeper the administration gets in, the harder it will be to get out. Hopefully, relations between the administration and the pro-Israel element will continue to be strained. Meanwhile, the primary task for dissidents is to make available the information the elite class wishes to keep concealed.
Given current events, it is proper for dissident elements within the U.S. to examine the role of Islamic fundamentalism in the actual world situation, its potential benefits and potential threats. Current terrorist actions by Muslims against Americans are of a retaliatory nature in response to the occupation of Saudi Arabia, the embargo on Iraq, the aggression against the Palestinians, etc. These terrorists actions would likely end if U.S. imperialism in the region, involvement with Israel and collusion with globalism ended first. There are, of course, many, many nations around the world that do not experience terrorist attacks because they do not threaten Muslim sovereignty. Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Hong Kong and Barbados have nothing to fear from Islamic terrorists and neither would the U.S. if not for its corrupt and destructive foreign policy. Osama bin Laden and others of his ilk have stated over and over and over again that their primary issue is sovereignty for their region. Serious anti-statists in the West cannot reasonably argue with this. Indeed, the Muslims are fighting the same people as we are as pointed out earlier. The tenacity of the Arab Muslims, with its accompanying xenophobia, serves as a bulwark against globalism. For this, we should be grateful just as we should be grateful for Chinese traditions of xenophobia and isolationism. In recent times some have tried to create hysteria over the potential for an invasion of the West by conquering Muslim hordes. The British historian Paul Johnson, a neoconservative and an ally of the pro-Israeli press in America, recently published an article in the National Review expressing such a fear. Such an assertion grossly exaggerates the strength of Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East and defames Muslims living in the West. No serious military incursions into Europe by Muslim nations have occurred in the last several centuries. Even a unified central state dominating the entire Middle East and guided by fundamentalist ideology (itself an unlikely occurrence given the numerous ethnic, territorial, economic and religious divisions in the Muslim world) would not be powerful enough to be a world conqueror even on the level of the decrepit old Soviet Empire. Former Egyptian President Nasser failed miserably in his efforts to build Arab unity against the West and his hopes for a centralized United Arab Republic were an utter failure. If so brilliant a political and military mind as Colonel Nasser could not achieve such a goal, then it would certainly be impossible for the rag tag band of gangsters and mullahs currently in power in virtually all Muslim nations. Much is made in the West over the Islamic world’s rejection of modern scientific methodology and Enlightenment-based epistemology and these factors are sometimes held up as proof of the Islamic threat. This view needs to be exposed for the intellectual incompetence that it represents. Western, primarily American, Israeli and British, propagandists are currently trying to depict the Islamic world as a dire threat just as they tried to do with Communism in the mid to late twentieth century. However, it is the rejection of modernism by both ideologies (Communism and Islamic fundamentalism) that guarantees their eventual failure to achieve “world domination”. Communism explicitly rejected the Western scientific revolution of the Enlightenment in favor of the dogmatized pseudo-science of “dialectical materialism” (remember Lysenko, anyone?) which led to the Soviet rejection of both modern economic and agricultural science which effectively guaranteed their eventual economic collapse. Similarly, Islamic anti-scientific bias guarantees the permanent technological and economic inferiority of the Muslim world which effectively eliminates their prospects for becoming a major world power. The only possible exception to this is the possibilty of weapons of mass destruction technology imported from the West in the hands of fanatical leaders in the Muslim world. However, incentives for the use of such weapons would be insignificant in the absense of imperial efforts by Western financial powers in the Middle East and the economic and technological barriers to Muslim conquest outside their own historic region. Ideally, Western nations would, having abandoned imperial design in the Middle East and ceased hostitlities toward the region, offer to buy out such weapons from the Muslim nations in exchange for much needed cash income. Furthermore, normalized, open and fair trade arrangements between the West and the Muslim world would provide a powerful incentive for peace resulting from mutual economic interaction and dependency.
What about the prospects for political, intellectual and cultural development in the Muslim world? At present, these appear rather bleak indeed. Paul Johnson is correct when he points out that the world of Islamic fundamentalism is still in its dark ages phase. As noted, it is for this reason that the Muslim world poses no serious threat to the West, or would not if the West would simply mind its own business. The Europe of five hundred years ago very closely resembled the Middle East of today with its countless ethnic and religious wars and persecutions, political despotisms, upheavals, attacks on heretics and dissenters and fanatical superstitions. Europe’s intellectual, scientific, cultural and political revolutions of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteeth centuries virtually eliminated many of the ills of the past and paved the way for the prevailing “modernism” in the West of today. The Islamic world has undergone no such revolution. On that part of the globe the world is still flat and the earth is still orbited by the sun.
But that is not the concern of those of us in the West. The Middle East will have to deal with its own problems in its own way and in its own good time. Meanwhile, we Westerners have on our hands the task of rolling back the ever escalating drive towards global statism which threatens to undo the libertarian traditions that we fought for centuries to achieve and have yet to be applied with full consistency. Ironically, Islam may be among our allies in this fight for their enemy is our enemy. It will no doubt seem incongruous to characterize a militant religious fundamentalism as a potential friend of freedom fighters in the West but we should remember that the strongest international supporters of the American Revolution were the despotic, theocratic absolute monarchies of France and Spain whose level of repression and obscurantism rivaled those of the most backward Islamic states of today. As the anarchist Victor Anduril puts it:
“The entire globe is presently dominated by the most powerful rule imposer in world history. This degenerate regime will utilize every means at its disposal to maintain its totalitarian One World Order…There are hundreds of groups struggling for a piece of autonomy apart from this one world regime, and plenty of room on the planet for each to have its share. Amond all these groups-so diverse and even ideologically opposed-lies the one promise for the future, and that is their mutual desire to destroy those in power…Revolutionaries of the world, unite!”
Precisely. Let the “bandits and anarchists” come together with the “tribes, sects, warlords and criminals” and assert themselves forcefully!
Copyright 2001. Keith Preston. American Revolutionary Vanguard. All rights reserved.
[Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the point of view of all American Revolutionary Vanguard supporters.]
Categories: Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy