Great opportunity for the ruling elite, great danger for the rest of the world
By Choi Chun Seung-min
The "war against terrorism" which imperialists had announced just after the 9.11 terror is now going fully underway, as the US and its allies from all over the world are strengthening their political and military manoeuvres to catch Osama Bin Laden and overthrow the Taliban regime. International campaigns are also spreading, as activists join in the call for a stop to war. Tens of thousands of activists and concerned citizens are pouring onto the streets day after day, calling for peace and as in the case of Pakistan and Nigeria, anti-imperialism.
However, as rational thinking replace emotional outrage, a clearer and a more frightening picture is unfolding itself - we can now get a more definite insight into the essence of this "War against Terrorism" or as some like to boast a "New War." The brutal bombings on Afghanistan and already impoverished people of Afghanistan queueing to flee from their homes in millions is a big part of the horrifying picture, but unfortunately is far from being the entire picture. As Mokhiber and Weissman titled their article (Znet magazine), we are now witnessing the manoeuvres of imperialists as "War Opportunists."
As many conscientious critics are now pointing out, the Taliban is an offspring of the US. In 1970's, the US armed and financially supported Islam fundamentalists in order to overthrow the pro-Soviet government, establish stable support for Israel, and most importantly to keep their access to oil resources free from Arab threat. Thus they replaced the government with its own puppet - the infamous Taliban regime. Just as they had done in Latin America, the US directly and indirectly killed millions, let more millions starve in their strive to exploit resources of the Third World and also to maintain its dominance around the world. Now a the millions in poverty have lost their homes to US "crusade."
Bush declared this war to be a "war of retaliation," but if we look closely at the history of US domination and violence around the world, especially in the Middle East, it is not too far-fetching to say that the 9.11 terror itself was actually the retaliation of those angered by US unilaterism, whether or not the means of retaliation is justifiable.
There are definite signs that the US government and its imperialist supporters are seizing upon this chance to push for various legislations which were until now unable to be passed. Soon after the 9.11 terror, the US congress quickly approved to a $40 billion emergency funding package. But Defense News released during this period quotes one official as saying that the funds "will have nothing to do with rescue and emergency efforts." This "fund" is a prediction of a massive increase in Pentagon's budget. With this increased budget in the most supportive atmosphere, the Pentagon will be able to further the much-criticised Missile Defense program.
Also, the terror is being used to the full by corporations. The US economy was already on a downturn, due to increased instability of financial globalization and as the New Economy turned out to be mere bubbles. The terror attacks only acted to stimulate the already sliding industries, such as airliners who were already on the verge of high deficit and bankruptcy. Capitalists are demanding emergency funds from the government and their long-yearned corporate tax breaks and capital gain tax cuts under the name of "war against terrorism." This logic justifies the capitalists' plans to cut thousands of workers and attain further deregulations. These are far from being the means of eradicating terrorism - they are merely outright neo-liberal policies to boost the falling rate of profit. Just after 9.11, Robert Zoellick, US Trade Representative, actually said that giving full fast-track to make trade agreement advances to the president is the best way to combat the 9.11 tragedy. This rhetoric is being assessed as being highly effective for proponents of the WTO New Round to silence the voices of developing countries who oppose it. Somehow, opposing the New Round has become equivalent to siding with the terrorists.
While the ruling elite and capitalists fill up their pockets, basic democratic rights are being undermined. The Bush administration has already placed "Anti-terrorism Act 2001" to be passed in the assembly, making it much easier for the government to tap computers and telephones without having to go to individual courts to get multiple search warrants. The government will also abolish restrictions that limit access to suspects' bank records and credit card purchases, while regulations and control on immigrants and visiting foreigners become tightened. Its allies are no different. After the 9.11 terror, the British government is considering introducing new ID cards and has already pinpointed anti-capitalist radicals as "terrorists' under its Terrorism Act 2000." It is more than obvious that these acts, under the justifications of "eliminating terrorism" or "maintaining national security," will be manipulated to strengthen racist·nationalist·political discriminations. This "war against terrorism" is thus being expanded to deprive the people of their democratic rights and give an excuse to attack anti-capitalist, anti neo-liberal movements amidst the international wave of post-terror "terrorism."
For us in Korea, this all may seem quite out of the way. But is it really? Bush is busy lobbying countries into either take his side or with the terrorists. Most of world leaders, even those of ones which are considered as "rogue" countries such as North Korea, have condemned the terrorist acts and have promised full support to the US. The Kim Dae-Jung government has promised to send in financial and military support. Taxes paid by the Korean people will go into a "war" that has little justifications. What is more deploring however, is that the US is manipulating this atmosphere of abhorrence at the terrorists to push for the MD system which will threaten peace in East Asia and increase militarism. This will definitely hinder any prospects of establishing peace in East Asia.
Also, the promotion of neo-liberal policies, including the corporate-driven agendas in the coming WTO Ministrial Meeting in Doha, will have devastating effects on people around the world - in Korea and especially in the Third World, as we have already witnessed. The promotion of neo-liberal globalization has thrown tens of thousands of workers onto the streets, devastated the livelihood of small farmers, deteriorated the rights of women, immigrants and other minorities. This, together with the strengthening of "security measures" all around the world, will backfire basic democratic rights of citizens to voice out opposition and concern at the direction that the world's elite are leading to. Any form of resistance (even peaceful ones) against the government are now vulnerable to being identified as "terrorism."
For sure, the arena formed by the 9.11 terror is being led and manipulated to their own interests by neo-liberalists, militarists, racists and right-wing reactionaries. Bush's "war against terrorism" is nothing other than a permanent method of seizing control and attacking the basic rights and democracy of the people in and outside the US. In facing this so-called "new type of war," the anti-war, pro-peace campaign of the progressive community must now make a new turn. More inclusive analyses and counteractions are needed, with eyes further into the horizon. A broader strategy is required to counteract the deterioration of democratic rights, the racist violence, the attempts of the ruling class to lay-off workers and expedite free trade, and the increase of militarism all around the world.
The present situation shaped by the 9.11 terror attacks will definitely become a turning point for social movements. How are we going to defend the achievements of international struggles against neo-liberal globalization, and strengthen our internationalist perspective against the "fascist attack on a worldwide level?" The first turn has come, in the struggle for prospects of a new world and social order.
The writer is an activist of Policy & Information Center for International Solidarity (PICIS).
Choi Chun Seung-min email@example.com
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