War upon war, horror upon horror. That is what faces not only the long-suffering people of Afghanistan, but millions of others across the globe if the most powerful capitalist state in the world, the US, has its way.
The US has bombed and blasted Afghanistan for over a month so that the Northern Alliance warlords could advance. The murderous record of the Northern Alliance is so grotesque that even the US military thinks its 'allies' will commit savage atrocities.
More dead Afghans do not bother George W Bush. What concerns him is the global assertion of US power-'full spectrum dominance', in the clinical language of the US military. That is what this war has been about from the beginning. That is why the first whiff of military success for the Northern Alliance last Saturday brought a spine-chilling speech from Bush.
At the UN General Assembly he spoke of war against any country or group he chooses. He said any government that rejects war against those the US state targets 'will know the consequence. For every regime that sponsors terror, there will be a price to be paid and it will be paid.'
By 'terrorism' Bush does not mean Israeli troops assassinating Palestinians. For him states 'sponsoring terror' do not include Saudi Arabia-a totalitarian state, home to 15 of the people held responsible for the 11 September attacks. He means any groups or states that do not toe the US line. Bush's Secretary of State, Colin Powell, last week threatened to extend the war to Iraq and possibly to other states.
Who pays the price?
Wider and more vicious wars have been the result of every US military success over the last quarter of a century. US-backed death squads killed 75,000 people in El Salvador in Central America in the early 1980s. That encouraged similar butchery in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras.
The US invasion of Grenada in 1983 meant it did not hesitate to murder over 3,000 people in the invasion of Panama six years later. The slaughter of Iraqi civilians and conscripts in the 1991 Gulf War led to repeated bombing of the country and sanctions that have killed one million people since.
That is just a small part of a list which will get longer if Bush and Blair are not stopped. Afghanistan will suffer, no matter what the immediate course of the fighting. Rival local powers-Iran, Pakistan, India and Russia-support different factions. Talk of the UN organising a government is about giving each of these states a slice of power, or possibly a slice of a partitioned Afghanistan.
The US bombing has increased the rivalry-most sharply between India and Pakistan. Both states have nuclear weapons. With every US B-52 bombing raid over the last month, its closest ally in the Middle East, Israel, has tightened the noose around the Palestinians. The more confident the US military is over Afghanistan, the more the US can carry on arming Israel.
Rise to the challenge
Poor people across the world will suffer more from US power too. They will suffer from the fear of US bombs or its backing for some filthy force. They will also suffer from the barbarous system the military hardware is designed to protect.
US negotiators were trying to force their agenda through the World Trade Organisation this week. They want to prise the whole world open for further domination by the multinationals. Every banker and corporate chief knows that US military power makes it easier to screw money from the poor.
This system robs workers in the West too. A million jobs have gone in the industrialised economies as global recession hits. The barbarity of the world order is creating enormous bitterness among the masses of workers and the poor in every corner of the globe. That bitterness can bring despair. That in turn can lead a small number of people wrongly to take a portion of the brutality of the system and hurl it back at the US, as happened on 11 September.
But rage at exploitation and imperialism can lead to mass revolt which can target the system effectively. We have seen that with the growing anti-capitalist movement and in the protests against Bush's war. We need to build the biggest possible movement to stop US and British imperialism in its tracks.
Socialists say something else too. Imperialism and war are products of capitalism. Smashing that system is the only guarantee of lasting peace.