Socialist Studies Socialist Studies

State Terrorism - US Style

Introduction

In 2001, The Socialist Party of Great Britain published a pamphlet "Capitalism Causes War and Terrorism". It was the time when, following the 9/11 attacks in New York, the United States embarked on its War on Terror, supported by The UK and other NATO countries.

A million people in London marched against the war. We were there with our literature table and sold the entire stock of pamphlets we took with us. Few who read the pamphlet contacted us. Even fewer became committed socialists. Capitalism and its wars still continued. As we wrote in the preface to the pamphlet at the time:

"In this pamphlet the Socialist Party of Great Britain addresses the question of terrorism, its relation to war and why both are caused by capitalism and the pursuit of profit. We have always held that conflict, terrorism and war are inevitable under capitalism but that their abolition can be accomplished by the establishment of socialism"

It fell on deaf ears.

Now the war in Afghanistan is over. The War on Terror has gone full circle. The Taliban are back in control. They impose their feudal and barbaric ideology on the country. Public floggings and hangings, misogyny towards women, and theological authoritarianism are what these terrorists inflict on those unfortunate enough to live in Afghanistan.

With the end of the war there is nothing to celebrate. Socialists are not dancing in the streets with the capitalist Left. We do not rejoice at the United State's defeat. Capitalism is still intact and capitalism's wars still take place in the world: in Syria and Yemen, Libya and on the continent of Africa. Socialists do not single out the United States as the villain of the piece. Yet the United States is not exceptional, it has imperialist designs, it is ruthless and tries to take what it wants. No different than any other capitalist country.

The Capitalist Left and Imperialism

The United States likes to paint itself as the good guy, the cowboy with the white hat or the seventh Calvary riding to the rescue of the homesteaders being attacked by Native Americans. Although the history of the United States is one dripping in blood, plunder and misery it has a slick PR machine. It hides its imperial adventurism in the South Seas as a defender of democracy from a rapacious Chinese capitalism. And it is applauded by its obliging street walkers, like the United Kingdom, who hang to its coattails and uncritically do its bidding.

Socialists do not take sides in the squabbles between the capitalist class of one country and that of another. We maintain that the working class, those forced to live on wages and salaries, have no country. War and imperialism flow from the competition of the market and commodity production and exchange for profit. Capitalist states want to dominate the world and have access to its resources, they impose their will on less stronger countries that fight back with nationalist struggles, violence and terrorism.

This is not the case with the capitalist Left. The capitalist Left do take sides. The capitalist Left see the United States as a personification of evil. There was much rejoicing in capitalist Left circles with the humiliation heaped on the United States by leaving Afghanistan in August this year. The capitalist Left has a history of supporting nationalist liberation movements, particularly during the Soviet era. The United States enemies are the Left's friends: the politics of the stupid.

The capitalist Left end up supporting barbaric dictatorships, terrorists, authoritarian governments, regimes imposing anti-working class exploitation. Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Lenin, Trotsky, Castro and a whole host of other political leaders have been supported or explained away by the capitalist Left because they all opposed the United States. A gallery of rogues hang from the bedroom walls of the capitalist Left, like the student pin up Che Guevara. Socialists urge the working class not to support leaders. Do not have heroes and heroines.

Socialists have never supported one country or nationalist group against another. We have said a plague on both your houses. We have attacked the United States just as severely as the old USSR and its Empire. We had no truck with North Vietnam and the Vietcong or the IRA or the myriad of African "freedom fighters" supported by Moscow.

We do not support those countries like China, who claim to be 'socialist' or 'communist'. Socialists see China as a ruthless capitalist country exploiting its working class, preventing free trade unions and a principled socialist party from putting the case against capitalism. We do not take sides. We are opposed to world capitalism and all the nation states that make up the global capitalist order expressed by the private ownership of the means of production and distribution by a minority capitalist class to the exclusion of the working class majority.

War and Capitalism

Warfare is not a game of cricket. The method of war under capitalism is to annihilate the enemy using whatever technological advantage is at hand.

As one US general, Curtis E. LeMay, remarked, it is to bomb the enemy "back to the stone age". The other method is to starve, terrify and undermine the civilian population. And this is the method adopted by the United State and its allies for over twenty years as they took the "War on Terror" to Afghanistan.

When the US and the UK financed, armed and trained the Taliban they were supposed to have been regarded as "freedom fighters". The enemy then was the Soviet Union. When the scene changed they became terrorists. Double standards and hypocrisy are applied by governments to suit prevailing interests against a background of hidden agendas, strategic and economic ambitions, and propaganda lies.

As wars have become immeasurably more destructive, pain and misery falls increasingly onto the civilian population.

No more so than in Afghanistan where over twenty years tens of thousands of civilian, many of whom were children, were killed by the United States and its allies.

The Dead have a Price

Under capitalism even the dead have a price. Accountants at the Ministry of Defence even calculated the loss of civilian life in Afghanistan when the RAF or the military killed civilians by mistake.

According to the BBC, British forces are linked to the deaths of 86 children and more than 200 adult civilians during the Afghanistan conflict, the youngest recorded civilian victim was three years old (BBC News September 23rd 2021).

In February 2008 a family received just £104.17 for a confirmed fatality and property damage. The British paid out £586.42 for the death of a 10-year-old boy in December 2009. £4,233.60 for four children "shot and killed by ISAF" (International Security Assistance Force) in the same month. That is £1058 for each child. There is no record of this incident in the English language media.

The British media are not interested in civilian casualties. They just cravenly reproduce the handouts given to them by government officials; £1058 is not a lot of money even when the average income for a worker is about $11,700 (http://www.salaryexplorer.com) with a low life expectancy caused by high maternal mortality rates, the second highest in the world. So where did the millions given by the US in social care aid go? Not into maternal health.

And so the statistics seep out from the Ministry of Defence. Five Afghan children wounded by stray bullets fired from a British Army Apache helicopter received £7,204.97. A family of three Afghan farmers allegedly killed in cold blood in 2012 received £3,634 three weeks after the incident. The logs describe the money as an "assistance payment to be made to calm local atmopherics [sic]".

The Ministry of Defence paid out £688,000 for 289 civilian deaths between 2006-14, an average of £2,380.
Afghanistan war: UK's lowest payout for civilian death was £104.17 - BBC News

Such is the price of life in capitalism's wars.

The Empire is Defeated but at what cost?

So there was rejoicing from the usual suspects from the Capitalist Left - the SWP, Counterfire and assorted 'Communist Parties' as the United States and its streetwalkers left Afghanistan in abject failure, not before killing tens of thousands of civilians in a twenty year occupation although the exact figure will never be verified.

The United States does not think the civilian dead in Afghanistan are worth counting although academics at Brown University put the civilian dead at 71,000. The war, begun in 2001 has also inflicted invisible wounds. In 2009, the Afghan Ministry of Public Health reported that fully two-thirds of Afghans suffer from mental health problems as a result of the conflict.

The United States often committed acts of terrorism in Afghanistan frequently wedding gatherings. Of course they are never designated these attacks as acts of terrorism only "mistakes", "collateral damage" or, "errors of judgement".

According to the Watson Institute at Brown University (December 2020), the United States military in 2017 relaxed its rules of engagement for airstrikes in Afghanistan, which resulted in a massive increase in civilian casualties. From the last year of the Obama administration to the last full year of recorded data during the Trump administration, the number of civilians killed by U.S.-led airstrikes in Afghanistan increased by 330 per cent.

Over the last 20 years, the United States has conducted more than 93,300 air strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen that killed between 22,679 and 48,308 civilians, according to figures recently released by Airways, a U.K.-based airstrike monitoring group. The total number of civilians who have died from direct violence in America's wars since 9/11 is between 364,000 to 387,000 according to Brown University's Costs of War Project.

Can you imagine the terror of these civilians as they were bombed by drones operated by the military thousands of miles away or from high altitude bombers?

Killing Civilians

Just before the last evacuees left Afghanistan in August 2021 the US government trumpeted that they had foiled a terrorist attack by Isis. There were celebrations in the United States media. The United States might have lost the war in Afghanistan but Uncle Sam could still take out terrorists with its sophisticated drone strikes.

However, it turned out that the car which was hit by rockets fired from an unmanned drone was not being driven by 'terrorists'. The US has admitted that a drone strike in Kabul days before its military pullout killed 10 innocent people (BBC NEWS September 18 2021).

A US Central Command investigation found that an aid worker and nine members of his family, including seven children, died in the 29 August strike. The youngest child was just two years old. It was one of the US military's final acts in Afghanistan, before ending its 20-year operation in the country.

US intelligence had tracked the aid worker's car for eight hours, believing it was linked to IS-K militants - a local branch of the Islamic State (IS) group, US Central Command Gen Kenneth McKenzie said. The investigation found the man's car had been seen at a compound associated with IS-K, and its movements aligned with other intelligence about the terror group's plans for an attack on Kabul airport. All these military hand-outs are uncritically taken in by a servile capitalist media.

At one point, a surveillance drone saw men loading what appeared to be explosives into the boot of the car, but these turned out to be containers of water. Gen McKenzie described the strike as a "tragic mistake", and added that the Taliban had not been involved in the intelligence that led to the strike. The explosion set off a secondary blast, which US officials initially said was proof that the car was indeed carrying explosives. However, the investigation has found it was most likely caused by a propane tank in the driveway.

One of those killed, Ahmad Naser, had been a translator with US forces. Other victims had previously worked for international organisations and held visas allowing them entry to the US. Many of those killed had been hoping to board evacuation flights leaving the city.

The question remains - WHY? If those drone operators knew this was a civilian group, with children, loading water not bombs, and was watching them for quite a while, they must have known what they were doing, and so must their superior officers and those giving the orders. Government sanctioned murder.

So, lots of military officials knew - in advance: a case of state terrorism. Not one you will see published as such in the capitalist media. The war on terrorism began in 2001 when terrorists flew two jets into the World Trade Centre in New York and ended as a terrorist fired a stinger missile at a car carrying children and their parents to escape the Taliban

It hasn’t escaped notice that it took quite a while for the US to finally admit that this was a mistake – and not in any way excusable due to haste and urgency. In short, this admission means this killing was done with advance knowledge and in cold blood! What do the drone operators Killing Civilians think about these "mistakes"? How do they cope?

Many returning solders from Afghanistan turn to drink and drugs and are scarred by psychological problems. Mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety are likely to increase in military personnel during the months after returning from Afghanistan.

Only the politicians who sent them there - Tony Blair, the labour Government and the majority of MPs - sleep easily in their beds every night clinging to their delusionary belief that their fateful decisions in 2003 would bring democracy, peace and western influence in the Middle East.

Socialism, Terrorism and War

Capitalism is made up of competing nation states, some dominant like the United States and China, others less strong but no less destructive when pursuing their national interests. There is a continual conflict over resources like oil, gas and minerals, strategic spheres of influence and trade routes. It is within this violent and competitive framework that terrorism, international violence and war has to be understood.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain reaffirms that the interest of the working class - on whom the untold misery and suffering of conflict and war inevitably fall - lies in abolishing the capitalist cause. Only world socialism can end war, conflict and terror by abolishing class relations and nation states.

The working class can replace capitalism with world-wide socialism - a system of society based upon cooperation not completion, on common ownership of the world's resources democratically controlled by the whole community; a society with production directly for social use not profit; a classless society where wars and terrorism will be a thing of the past.

To achieve socialism the working class must wake up to the reality of the situation they find themselves in and to stop sleepwalking into yet more nightmares of terror. Not just to oppose war and terrorism, but to oppose capitalism, the cause of war and to organise world-wide, to end the profit system through conscious and democratic political action.

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