Socialist Worker

‘War on terror’ becomes a war without end

Issue No. 2092

“We can’t agree it’s global, we can’t agree it’s terrorism, but we all generally agree it’s a war, and it’s going to be long,” wrote James Carafano, a leading neocon “intellectual” of the Heritage Foundation.

Carafano’s rebranding of the “war on terror” – that would leave a “light footprint” – into the “long war” lasting a generation, marked a recognition from within the US establishment that all was not well with the “Project for the New American Century”.

This “long war” is now being waged on many fronts.

The war launched in the wake of 9/11 now encompasses Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Lebanon and Palestine. It is spreading into Pakistan and across “the wide open spaces” of Africa.

The rationale for this war was the desire by the neocons in the US, and New Labour in Britain, to extend and strengthen the influence of imperialism across the globe. Destruction, misery and instability have followed in its wake.

In Iraq the US admits it has faced a military setback compounded by political defeat. It blames Iran for the stubborn insurgency in Iraq.

Now the US has established a military outpost a few miles from the Iranian border while aircraft carriers menace the Persian Gulf.

As imperialism struggles to contain its setbacks, it has been forced to expand the battlefront. The battle in Afghanistan has spilled over into Pakistan.

Predator

George Bush had hoped that his endorsement of Pakistan’s military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, would lead to a continuation of the “war on terror” in South Asia.

Around 120,000 Pakistani troops are engaged in a battle with “extremists” along the country’s borderAfghanistan.

Instead millions cited the president’s closeness to Bush as a reason for voting against him in last month’s elections.

Now Bush is pushing the parties that will form the new Pakistani government to allow the US to train Pakistani troops, and for the continued right to use of Predator – an unmanned, but highly armed, aircraft.

In Africa Bush and the neocons hoped that Ethiopia would conquer its neighbour Somalia and secure the strategic Horn of Africa. Despite bloody repression these troops are engaged in a fierce struggle with a growing independence movement.

The United Nations warn that 160,000 Somali children are “acutely malnourished”, and 25,000 “severely malnourished” while aid agencies estimate that 1.8 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

Now there are fears that a drought will drive the mass of the population to starvation.

Opposition

The Israeli defeat at the hands of Hizbollah in 2006 has led to a desperate rear guard action to save the US-backed Lebanese government. The US wanted to construct bases in Lebanon as part of a buildup against Syria.

Instead it is left to patrol the coast off Lebanon, while its allies struggle to keep a lid on a growing opposition movement.

The attempt to strangle the Gaza Strip is fuelling deep discontent and mass protests in Egypt. The Israelis have reacted with more desperate and bloody attacks on Palestinians.

For economists this is the “$3 trillion war”. The estimated amount the US will spend in Afghanistan and Iraq by 2017 is somewhat higher than the Pentagon’s prediction that invading Iraq would cost just $50 billion.

Gordon Brown’s government admitted on Monday of this week that the cost of the war to Britain this year alone has doubled to over £3 billion.

The scale of these setbacks has altered the political landscape in the US and Europe.

Attempts by the US to bolster Nato troops in Afghanistan has been met by reluctance with Germany, Britain and other European powers fearful of pouring more soldiers into the killing fields of Afghanistan.

On both sides of the Atlantic anti‑war feeling is held by the majority. Politicians rush to distance themselves from the disasters. The longer this war endures, the greater are the dangers faced by imperialism.

As this war lurches into another year so does the danger of it growing more bloody and more desperate.


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