For a rational,
So far as anyone can make a plausible estimate, of revenge designed to placate understandable
Osama bin Laden attacked the USA on 11 American outrage over 11 September. The
September not as an act of "desperation" but "target", Afghanistan, is selected for that purpose
with a clear calculation in mind. and no other. The USA retains its alliance with
He wanted to provoke large-scale retaliation fundamentalist Saudi Arabia and seeks to mend
by the USA which would, in turn, fuel an relations with fundamentalist Iran.
Islamic-fundamentalist backlash sufficient to 4. The "coalition against terrorism" which Blair
overthrow some of what bin Laden sees as the and Bush have put together includes some of the
"fake Muslim" regimes. worse state-licensed terrorists alive today. This is
The US government, with the help of Britain, a "war against terrorism" conducted by big,
has retaliated by sending the airforce of the wholesale terrorists against the littler terrorists.
richest land on earth to drop masses of bombs on These arguments can be won in the broad
an already wrecked and ruined country, one of labour movement.
the poorest countries on earth. Whether the rest But we should not want to – and anyway, we
of bin Laden's calculations work out, we have yet cannot – win arguments in the broad labour
to see. movement such as:
If they do, then it will be no sort of victory for The 11 September attacks should not be
national liberation against imperialism. Horrible condemned because they were supposedly
though the present regimes of countries like attacks on "imperialism", if ill-chosen ones.
Pakistan are, their overthrow by fascistic Every evil in the world is the fault of
Taliban-type fundamentalists will be an appalling "imperialism" (by which those who argue this
defeat for the workers, the women, the view seem to mean, essentially, the USA).
democrats and the dissenters of any sort in those Islamic fundamentalists, even those who
countries. have been funded and boosted by the USA in the
There are four clear arguments against this past, become progressive anti-imperialists as
war. soon as they clash with the USA.
1. As many, or more, innocent civilians will be Although the first and most numerous
killed by the US and British in Afghanistan as victims of the terrorist-fundamentalists are the
were killed by bin Laden on 11 September. In people, mostly Muslim, of the countries where
addition to the direct military casualties, their movements are powerful, we should not
unknowable numbers will die because of the explicitly denounce the fundamentalists because
economic disruption and chaos which the war is that might offend Muslims.
causing. The fundamentalists' demand for Israel to be
The people of Afghanistan need food, relief, destroyed and Jews to be driven off "Muslim land"
and help in reconstructing the country, not represents a progressive, anti-imperialist
bombs. opposition to US policy.
2. Even if the US captures or kills bin Laden – Any extra "broadness" the anti-war movement
and they themselves say they may well not – this gains by reaching out on such bases to Islamic
war will not end terrorist-fundamentalism. On the fundamentalists, or hyped-up USA-haters and
contrary, as bin Laden calculated, it is more likely Israel-haters, is illusory. The only solid political
to boost and spread it. basis for an anti-war movement is consistent
3. The US and UK are anyway not even trying democracy and internationalism, against both the
to fight an across-the-board war against US/UK war and terrorist-fundamentalism. The
terrorist-fundamentalism. This is primarily a war only solid social basis is the labour movement.
Workers' Liberty, P O Box 823, London SE15 4NA. 28 October 2001.
Web: www.workersliberty.org. Email: email@example.com. Phone: 020 7207 3997.