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David Miller: Not A War For Imperialism

David Miller Online. The War Against Terror Is Not A War For Imperialism.

If you walk through the streets of downtown Christchurch these days, you will be reminded that not everyone is supportive of the war against terrorism and the US retaliatory actions in Afghanistan. The first time that I was made aware of this was when I was crossing the road near the Polytechnic and happened to notice an anti-war sticker on the traffic light. The second time was while I was having a coffee in a café and two rather odd and scruffy looking individuals entered and attached a poster to the notice board. This flyer called for people to attend a peace gathering that opposed the war being waged against the Afghan population by the so-called evil imperialists, obviously the US and Great Britain. Since this time I have noticed more of these stickers and posters being displayed in Christchurch and while I am in favour of free speech I certainly did not attend these rallies and I wonder if many people have. What happened on September 11 cannot go unpunished and this is a war that aims to destroy an international terrorism network. Yet for a small minority, this is another step in the campaign of globalisation and oppression of the third world.

The message from the peace corps of New Zealand appears to be that the events of September 11 were not random acts of terror. They are carried out by state and non-state actors and occur in the context of a world where children die of starvation, a lack of food, clean water and food. Millions of dollars are spent on weapons for the armed forces and where the majority of the world’s population live in poverty and are oppressed by the violence of a global economic system controlled by a privileged few.

The peace lobby is also speaking out against the media over the manner in which it has dealt with the events of September 11. The message I came across claimed that history is being rewritten as though the human tragedies on a larger scale do not occur and that words such as justice and peace are being used in a false manner. The peace group claimed that these terms such as these are being used to further a campaign of barbarity, racism and xenophobia. The cycle of hatred and violence continues as a result of the strikes against the Taliban.

It appears to me that the peace lobby is using the events of September 11 to draw attention to its own anti-globalisation and anti-US campaign and is seeking to construct a link between the attacks on New York and Washington with issues such as famine, disease and poverty. The underlying message seems to be that the United States brought these attacks upon itself through its own foreign policy and if you read between the lines you will see that this policy consists of the US support for Israel and its refusal to cease its campaign to force Iraq to comply with the United Nations resolutions. Another policy has centred on the US actively supporting countries with similar free market policies with financial and military support.

The United States does not have a perfect track record when it comes to international affairs but it is no different to any other state in this regard. Washington has supplied weapons and military hardware to numerous countries and governments around the world and it has used its own military to protect its interests in areas such as South America and the Middle East. Again, the US is by no means alone and it must be remembered that the arms trade is a lucrative business for communist countries as well. The difference in the eyes of the peace lobby is that because the US does not choose to export some convoluted brand of socialism and is a country that has adopted monetarist polices it does not have the right to retaliation and is embarking on another imperialist crusade.

What the US has embarked upon is a campaign to destroy a dangerous and shadowy enemy that is prepared to inflict massive civilian casualties and is supported by a vicious regime in Afghanistan. It is easy to lobby against the United States for its military strikes and point to the suffering of the Afghan people, but these people have been suffering long before the US air force appeared in their skies and at the hands of the Soviet Union and then their own people. The question I ask is that why have the Afghan regimes or other states in the region not done anything to alleviate the suffering of their people and why are people so concerned about the suffering of women and children now when they have been suffering for years.

Famine, disease and poverty are issue that the world is facing and must deal with, however they are problems that have been caused through corruption and nepotism in some developing countries. So many countries rely heavily on borrowing that leads to artificial economic growth and are not prepared for harsh but necessary consequences of structural adjustment. People tend to overlook these facts as it easy to lay the blame at the door of the US and world economic forums. This allows people to turn a blind eye to the reality of the international political system and economy.

The terrorist attacks on the US where an act of hatred and an act of war and therefore they must be countered. It appears that they may force the US to address the violence in the Middle East and its policies around the world but it will not drastically alter them. If the world wishes to be free of poverty, disease and hunger then it must look at the causes of them and act to rectify them rather that dwell on political rhetoric. This is not a war of imperialism, it is a war against terrorism and it will be fought regardless of the number of stickers stuck on traffic lights in Christchurch.

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