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Feature: Bush's Racist War On The Third World

Green Left Weekly presents…

Bush's Racist War On The Third World

By Leigh Hughes

“Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”

Delivering this ultimatum in October last year, US President George “Dubya” Bush declared war on the Third World.

During the past 30 years, the US has had the military capability to wage war to ensure US imperialism's military, economic and political dominance of the world. But what it has usually lacked has been the political capacity to wage such wars at will.

Now the US has found a palatable excuse — a “war against terrorism” in revenge for the September 11 terror attack.

So far this righteous “crusade” has led to the needless deaths of at least 3700 innocent Afghan civilians. However the US aggression in Afghanistan, an example of gross state terrorism, only marks the beginning of the hostilities.

Bush has already proclaimed 2002 to be a”war year” and has marked out Iraq, Iran and North Korea as likely future targets.

Open-ended war

In reality, Bush's war has nothing to do with fighting terrorism or maintaining democracy. The September 11 terror attack is being exploited by the US to justify an open-ended war against any Third World country not slavishly obedient to US foreign policy.

This “war on terror” is merely a continuation of the economic offensive on the poor countries that has been waged by the corporate interests of the wealthy imperialist nations. At times these interests are best served through institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organisation — other times they require military might and naked brutality.

Ultimately, the US needs to keep the countries where the majority of humanity live perpetually underdeveloped and subordinate to the interests of multinational corporations and the corporate rich that rule the First World. From the point of view of multinational corporations such as Nike, Shell and BHP, poor countries serve as a profitable source of cheap, super-exploitable labour and natural resources.

The real reason why Bush wants to spread the war to over 60 countries is not to prevent alleged “rogue states” from obtaining “weapons of mass destruction” or to combat an illusory “axis of evil”. It is to intimidate or punish any nation or movement that resists US imperialism.

To prepare for the upcoming offensives the US government is dramatically increasing its already bloated military budget. In February, Bush announced a 2002 defence budget of US$379 billion which will steadily increase to US$451 billion by 2007. To pay for this increase the US government is proposing to slash government spending to areas ranging from heating assistance for the poor to transport infrastructure.

Already the US has rushed to help out some of its most anti-democratic allies who support the US agenda. US military aid to the highly repressive Colombian and Pakistani governments has been increased since September 11. Total US military aid to its allies has now reached US$8 billion.

There are also moves by the US to renew military assistance to Indonesian army — responsible for the genocide in East Timor and continuing repression in West Papua and Aceh.

Meanwhile, 600 US troops have been sent to the Philippines to join the Philippines government's military campaign against the Moro peoples' national liberation struggle in the south of the country.

A recent report to the US Congress by defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld argued for the development of a “low yield nuclear weapon” to destroy “hard and deeply buried targets” that cannot be reached “with conventional high-explosive weapons”. Should the development of these supposed “low yield” nukes become a reality then the likelihood of the US using an atomic weapon against a Third World government or liberation movement becomes frighteningly closer.

Some of the most rabid supporters of Bush's war are remarkably candid about its real nature. David Brooks, the senior editor of US Weekly Standard, for example, wrote last year that “We will care a lot more about ends — winning the war — than we will about means. We will debate whether it is necessary to torture prisoners who have information about future biological attacks. We will destroy innocent villages by accident, shrug our shoulders, and continue fighting. In an age of conflict, bourgeois virtues like compassion, tolerance, and industriousness are valued less than the classical virtues of courage, steadfastness, and a ruthless desire for victory.”

Racism and repression

Another target of this war is the solidarity between the people of the First World and the oppressed masses of the Third World. Bush's war intends to destroy this solidarity, particularly the powerful Vietnam Syndrome, i.e., the unwillingness of the working class in imperialist countries to support imperialist military adventures, particularly those that result in substantial casualties.

The chief weapon used to do this is racism. Racism justifies the twisted arithmetic of imperialist war propaganda. It can justify the hugely disproportionate “collateral damage” of imperialist wars of retribution. It is used to sell the preposterous idea that the US has “score to settle” in Somalia because during the process of killing 10,000 Somalis in its 1993 invasion, 18 Americans were killed.

Racism is also the foundation of the belief that the world is full of “failed states” that require conquest by imperialism so that they can develop out of their “cultural backwardness”. This racist ideological offensive has also had disturbing ramifications in Australia with an increase in violent attacks on Arab and Muslim people. Combatting racist prejudices will be a big part of the anti-war movement.

But the US's war is not solely a military offensive against the Third World. It is also a war directed at the US working class by seeking to restrict civil liberties. This attempt by the US government to roll back democratic freedoms and silence critics is being promoted under the guise of “homeland defence”. Measures have ranged from the creation of secret military tribunals in the US which are empowered to enforce capital punishment without appeal to a forthcoming bill in Australia that will give ASIO the power to detain suspected “terrorists” for 48 hours without charges or legal counsel.

These measures are not designed to counter terrorist attacks, but to intimidate and marginalise activists that oppose the unjust policies of the US and other First World governments.

However, regardless of how many guns and missiles the imperialist government's have, Bush's war on the Third World can be stopped. But to do this the antiwar movement will need to mobilise many 1000s and millions around the world in mass demonstrations in the same way people did during the Vietnam War. Resistance believes that building such a mass movement for peace and justice will be a central task for activists in the next period.

Resistance is fighting for a real alternative to this system of war, poverty and exploitation — a democratic socialist society. We fight for a truly participatory democracy, not the farce that we have in Australia where democracy consists of voting for one racist, pro-war party or the other.

A socialist society will be based on the majority deciding how to allocate resources according to social need instead of corporate profit. Instead of spending billions of dollars on the military a socialist Australia would employ our wealth and resources to help eradicate poverty and suffering here and in the Third World.

George Bush, and his faithful allies like John Howard, will doubtlessly escalate their fraudulent and horrendous war in 2002. Young people have a very important role to play in opposing this injustice. The best place to begin would be to join Resistance and fight for a world without war and racism.

- From Green Left Weekly, February 13, 2002. Republished with permission. Visit the Green Left Weekly home page -

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