World View

Redefining war
George W. Bush has said that the best way to keep “peace” is to redefine war on his own terms. Our own war against Bush and his ilk, the class war, needs no redefining.

Whatever the post-Taliban set-up in Afghanistan one thing is a forgone conclusion. Any new government will have to be ready to bow with suppliant’s knee before the interests of US and in particular its oil hounds, paying back the support their military wing the US air force and US army afforded them. But by all accounts Afghanistan looks to be years away from any semblance of peace and order – which of course gives the US an ideal excuse to maintain a military presence in an oil rich region.

Whilst Tony Blair has been globetrotting, drumming up support for the US cause like some keen-to-impress US foreign secretary, there has been every sign that George W is attempting to fulfil his father’s prophecy, mouthed during his presidential inaugural address all those years ago, that the 21st Century would be “another American century”.

For anyone interested in US domestic politics, aware that George W could never sway an electorate by the power of his words, it perhaps came as no surprise to learn that he could so blatantly repay his corporate backers and grassroots supporters so early into his administration. Within months of coming to office the gun lobbyists, oil companies, and defence contractors had their services recognised for the world to see. The 1997 Kyoto protocol on emission reductions is now history. The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty – the cornerstone of all arms-control negotiations during and since the cold war is now only fit to wipe the presidential arse with, and down the proverbial toilet went the comprehensive test-ban treaty and the UN treaty on the control of small arms. Bush even denounced the recent UN convention on slavery.

On 25 July, the US scuppered a decade of international negotiations by announcing in Geneva its intention not to back a draft protocol to reinforce the biological weapons and toxin convention, which was initially signed in 1972. Its reason? Such a move threatened US commercial interests. The protocol would have included verification measures that would have given international inspectors access to laboratories in the signatory countries. Perhaps the US has some stronger reason for denying inspections at thousands of its defence plants and biotechnology sites. What on earth are its commercial interests that it can nonchalantly destroy a treaty signed in the interest of humanity? What is the US developing? And wasn’t it the US that was so insistent that an international scientific inspectorate search behind every Iraqi door capable of being locked?

In effect, President Bush has told the world: “Fuck off, it’s US first. The world will be ruled by force and on behalf of US corporate interests”.

The evidence has been ever present since 11 September. Colin Powell, when asked to publicly provide evidence of bin Laden’s links to the attack on New York and Washington, avoided the issue by claiming such a disclosure would be a breach of national security. When the Taliban wished to negotiate, offering to hand bin Laden to a third party, Bush replied: “I said no negotiations and I mean no negotiations.” And while the US is keen to point out it has a “coalition” of support against the Taliban it has bombed Afghanistan virtually unilaterally, except for a few token cruise missiles fired from a British submarine (a doggie-snack for the ever-loyal poodle) on the first day of the attack upon Afghanistan.

It is now not only full steam ahead with the prized National Missile Defence (NMD) system with a target date for the deployment of the system set for 2005 (See March Socialist Standard), but plans are now afoot in the US to develop a space bomber that could destroy targets on the other side of the globe within 30 minutes; the bomber travelling 15 times faster than conventional bombers, able to hit a target from 60 miles up and paving the way for a new era of stratospheric warfare. And research is ongoing into direct energy weaponry, to be precise, the future use of air-based lasers and space-based lasers, able to hit even moving targets from 400 miles away at the sped of light

NMD, however is clearly a sign that the US is moving towards becoming a more aggressive and threatening military power. Experts now maintain that the issue is not so much whether an anti-missile system is feasible or desirable, but what kind of diplomatic and military policies the world’s only superpower would pursue from beneath the relative safety of a nuclear umbrella. It seems less the case that NMD is about protecting the USA from ‘rogue states’, and more the likelihood that such a sophisticated system of defence will ensure the profits flow in the right direction and that the global schoolyard bully can streamline its protection racket, safe in the knowledge it will meet little resistance.

Back in 1992, Paul Walfowitz (now Deputy Secretary of Defence) and Lew Libby (Bush’s National Security Adviser) formulated ideas which were presented as a confidential Pentagon document by none other than vice-president Dick Cheney:

“The US must hold global power and a monopoly of force. It will then protect the new order while allowing others to pursue their legitimate interests as Washington defines them. The US must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership, or seeking to overturn the established political order, or aspiring to a larger regional or global role…we will retain the pre-eminent responsibility for addressing those wrongs which threaten not only our interests but also those of our allies and friends. The US alone will determine what are those wrongs and where they are to be selectively righted.” (quoted by Noam Chomsky in Year 501).

This is an extremely revealing document—a document that is also very worrying. And it’s not a one-off. There are others, take for instance the US Space Command’s document “Vision 2020” which, now five years old, well telegraphs US designs for the 21st Century, suggesting that globalisation will lead to greater misery, to a lot more “have-nots” with an axe to grind and who will have to kept in line:

“Although unlikely to be challenged by a global peer competitor, the United States will continue to be challenged regionally. The globalisation of the world economy will also continue, with a widening between the haves and have-nots. Accelerating rates of technological development will be increasingly driven by commercial interests not the military. Increased weapons lethality and precision will lead to new operational doctrines . . . only military dominance will protect US interests and investments.”

In 1998, the US government report “The Long-Term Plan” reiterated this notion of there being trouble ahead from the dispossessed:

“The US will remain global power and exert global leadership. Widespread communications will highlight disparities in resources and quality of life, contributing to unrest in developing countries…The gap between the ‘haves and the ‘have–nots’ will widen, creating regional unrest. The US will remain the only nation able to project power globally.”

It is a fair bet that such sentiments have been prominent components of the US worldview for some years – at least since 1945 and definitely since 1989 and the collapse of Russian-style state capitalism. Moreover, it’s no bold assertion to suggest that China is chief the enemy in waiting – not the allegedly “rogue states” such as Iraq and North Korea, nor the threat of international terrorism which has really been a US favourite since the days of Reagan – for the simple reason that China is an economic and military power on a collision course with the US over domination of the Pacific. And if the US learns anything from its military history it is to get in first – hence the dire necessity of a fully functioning NMD.

At the beginning of July this year, only days before the New York Times announced Bush’s plans to ditch the comprehensive test ban treaty, his administration enquired of nuclear laboratories just how soon they could begin testing again – clearly intent on breaching agreements made 16 months earlier by 187 countries who had negotiated steps to strengthen the non-proliferation treaty.

On the 14 July, the US launched a missile from the Marshall Islands. Twenty-nine minutes later a second missile, launched from Vanderburg, California, intercepted it at an altitude of 144 miles. The success not only strengthened Republican arguments for a competent star wars system, but was the order for similar multi-million dollar tests to be carried out every month and helped justify the mobilisation of contractors into Fort Greeley, Alaska, to begin foundation work on a new missile silo.

Just over two years ago George W Bush, gave a speech at Charleston, South Carolina. He spoke of the “contagious spread of missile technology and weapons of mass destruction” and hence the necessity of strengthening the unrivalled military power of the US. He then boldly announced that “the best way to keep peace is to redefine war on our terms.” Which just about says it all – “to redefine war on our terms.” Forget all the crap that George W’s father mouthed when he became president. The “peace dividend” that was supposed to replace cold war hostilities and benefit all after the collapse of “communism” was as fictitious as fairies. The agenda now is as it was then and 50 years previous – US global domination in the military and economic fields and woe betide anyone foolish enough to think otherwise.

As socialists we certainly do not need to redefine our war. The war we must fight to end the insanity and horror Bush and Co would hurl us headlong into is the Class War. And this can not be fought with missiles, but something more powerful – our minds, our imagination, our solidarity and preparedness to unite as the majority exploited class and to wrest control of the planet from the madmen before it is to late.

Are you with us? Don’t take too long to think of a reply – the doomsday clock really is ticking.

John Bissett

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