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From: The Socialist issue 273, 18 October 2002: Pay The Firefighters

Search site for keywords: Terror - War - Bali - Military - Anti-war - US - Socialist - Iraq - Terrorism - Afghanistan - Imperialism - Terrorist

Only 'System Change' Can End Terror And War

THE HORRIFIC bomb attack on the Indonesian island of Bali has underscored the futility of George W. Bush's 'war on terrorism'.

Over 200 people, mostly Western tourists, have been killed and hundreds horribly injured in what looks like the biggest terrorist incident since 11 September. The finger of suspicion has pointed to Jemaah Islamiah, a right-wing Islamic group which is alleged to have links with al-Qa'ida.

Whether or not al-Qa'ida was associated with the attack, it's clear that its network is functioning internationally and that war in Afghanistan - which resulted in as many as 8,000 civilian deaths - has done nothing to lessen the threat of terrorism.

US imperialism

While implacably condemning terrorist methods, The Socialist opposed the war in Afghanistan. We explained that the war wasn't about fighting terrorism but defending the global power and prestige of US imperialism. "US imperialism hopes to take advantage of the 11 September attacks... to assert itself around the globe in defence of its own interests" (The Socialist 12 Oct 2001). With plans for a war against oil-rich Iraq gathering pace, US imperialism's aim of worldwide economic, political and military domination is clearer than ever.

We also pointed out that attacking Afghanistan would have a destabilising effect throughout Asia and the Middle East, fomenting the very terrorism that the war was supposedly meant to end.

Unfortunately that perspective is now being borne out. This latest bombing in Bali was preceded by an attack on a French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen and the shooting of a US Marine in Kuwait earlier in the same week.

Violence and unrest continue to plague Afghanistan, while in neighbouring Pakistan there have been several recent attacks on Western civilians. Now an Islamic coalition, which includes right-wing groups, appears to have won control of two provinces bordering Afghanistan and could hold the balance of power nationally.

If Bush goes ahead with a military attack on Iraq the global repercussions will be even more serious. The war would, in the words of the secretary of the Arab League, "open the gates of hell". It would massively fan the flames of anti-US, anti-western imperialism sentiments throughout the Arab and Muslim world and act as a recruiting sergeant for terrorist groups internationally.

Anti-war movement

In his TV address to the US on 7 October, Bush said that war was not "imminent or unavoidable". But the countdown to war and 'regime change' continues. The pro-war Economist called it his "scariest speech to date" (12 Oct). The military build up in the Gulf is escalating and Congress has given Bush the green light to proceed with military action, with or without UN authorisation.

"But", continued the Economist "Mr Bush should not let himself be beguiled by such institutional successes into believing that he has now won his battle in the wider court of world opinion. He hasn't".

That was clear in Britain on 28 September when up to 400,000 people protested against war with Iraq. In the US, support for war has fallen from 57% to 53%. When asked about unilateral military action a majority are opposed. An anti-war demonstration in New York on 6 October attracted over 20,000 protesters.

Even a section of the Democrats, who have tried to avoid the question of Iraq because they were worried that it would damage their electoral prospects in the mid-term elections on 5 November, have had to give a certain voice to the unease that many Americans feel about military action.

Bush has had little success in his campaign to link Saddam with al-Qa'ida and terrorism internationally. This latest attack in Bali will increase opposition from those like defeated Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, who think that attacking Iraq is a 'distraction' from the war against terrorism. Yet, Bush will undoubtedly try to use the attack to justify a war strategy.

However, the US does not have a clear road to war. Whatever the twists and turns over the next weeks and months, the anti-war movement has the potential to develop further into a substantial force in Britain and internationally. Making the 31 October day of action as successful as possible (see page 8) should be the next step for all those who are opposed to a war with Iraq.

Many will want to go further and fight to change the system as a whole. As The Socialist explained on 12 October last year: "Under capitalism it is not possible to rid the world of terrorism and conflict. Even if the US succeeds in capturing bin Laden and destroying his bases in Afghanistan, the conditions which give rise to terrorism - poverty, corruption and oppression - will still remain.

"War, poverty, violence and instability are rooted in the very nature of this class-ridden system, which is based on exploitation, inequality and the ruthless pursuit of profit. It's only by eradicating capitalism worldwide that these horrors can be ended."

After The Bali Bombings Australians say "no military solution"

THE HORRIFIC bombings at the nightclubs in Bali have left up to 300 Australians dead, the biggest toll since the Vietnam War. The victims were overwhelmingly young people, mainly working-class youth on end of season football tours or once-in-a-lifetime holidays.

Steve Jolly, Socialist Party, Australia

Other casualties include the Indonesian nightclub staff who died and were injured. The local tourist industry will be wrecked, probably forever, after these attacks. Tens of thousands of Indonesian workers will be left unemployed without any social security.

Australia is in collective shock. The world events that many ordinary people thought themselves immune from have now caught up with them.

John Howard's right-wing Federal government will try and use the attacks to bolster its support for Bush's war on Iraq. Right-wing extremists will try and whip up racism with attacks on local Muslims and even anti-Iraq war activists.

However the mood amongst ordinary people is not the same as it was in the US after the 11 September attacks last year.

News of the bombings reached most Australians on the Sunday morning, yet that afternoon - 13 October - 35,000 marched in Melbourne against a war on Iraq.

The massive crowd honoured the Bali dead with a minute's silence, agreeing with speakers who explained that there was no military solution to the social problems that breed support for terrorism.

The Socialist Party in Australia argues that Howard's blind support for Bush's 'war on terrorism' and the upcoming war on Iraq, makes ordinary people targets for terrorist retaliation.

We must support those workers, students and poor farmers in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Indonesia who are fighting against imperialist domination of their countries and for a democratic, secular and socialist future.

We reject the idea that the only option is either US domination or the ideas of Islamic fundamentalism. We stand for democratic socialism and the rights of all nations and peoples to self-determination

Anti-War Mood Is Growing In The USA


ON 6 October, the national day of action called by the Not In Our Name project, 7,000 people from Seattle protested the US war plans. It was a youthful crowd, many working class and middle class families, mostly white.

The enormous turnout with very little organising is a testament to how many people are opposed to this war. There are many doubts on many Americans' part about whether this war is a good idea. And it's not just a Seattle thing because similar-sized protests happened in major cities all around the country that day.

81 people wanted more information on Socialist Alternative, (the Socialist Party's US counterpart) 14 checking the "I-want-to-join" box on our sign-up sheets. We sold a ton of papers and literature to people looking for information on the war.

We exchanged contact information with students from all around the area so that we can organise a city-wide student walk-out the day after the US starts bombing Iraq (outside the no-fly zones). By Ramy

New York

THE NEW York Socialist Alternative branch participated on 6 October in the largest anti-war rally in NYC since the Gulf war in 1991. Up to 20,000 joined the Not In Our Name demo.

This is a clear sign of a larger anti-war movement developing against possible actions into Iraq by the Bush administration compared to the war in Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. And coupled to domestic issues like the corporate scandals the 26 October demo in Washington DC against the war could be one of the largest anti-war demos in recent history.

We had two stalls with placards against the war and one reading 'Money for jobs and education and not war'.

A teacher joined Socialist Alternative and 71 people wanted more information from us. 219 copies of our paper, Justice, were sold. By Eljeer


AROUND 1,500 protested at the downtown federal building in Minneapolis on 13 October. According to long-time anti-war organisers, this is the biggest turn-out in years.

150 students from the University of Minnesota marched from the campus to the downtown protest, a 30 minute walk away. Socialist Alternative members played a key role in building the student turn-out.

Socialist Alternative members are building for a big campus demonstration on 24 October, aimed at developing a united effort of existing anti-war activists and integrating the many unorganised into concrete activities. By Ty

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