The American Working Class and "The War on Terror"

Indeed, it isn’t designed to be a cure for terror, but a shallow facade for the unrestrained and brutal tactics of U.S. Imperialism. Yet it is also unlike any we have seen previously. It is a one-sided act of aggression by the American imperialist war machine with no clear opponent or measure of victory.

Let us examine what exactly has been achieved thus far. The Taliban is out of power but has been replaced by a regime just as corrupt and unstable. Thousands of Afghani civilians have been killed. American troops are still stationed there. The “War on Terror” has also given Sharon, that arch-Zionist, the green light to increase repression and the use of state terrorism against the Palestinian people. Although it may appear on the surface that the situation on the Indo-Pakistani border has cooled a bit, the festering wound of Kashmir still remains, It is just a matter of time until this issue flares up again.
So, without a single stable regime in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent on the brink of another war (this time possibly nuclear!), the Bush clique insists on opening a new front on the “War on Terror” in Iraq! Here the economic interests of the US capitalists are blatantly obvious. Iraq is the second largest oil producing country in the world. With Iraqi oil firmly in their bloody clutches, the American ruling class will not have to worry about their “ally” Saudi Arabia.

But a second Iraqi war with objective of a “regime change” will cost tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives, and would mean a long-time occupation. The consequences of this at home would be devastating to the ruling class as we will get to later. According to the ruling class, the idea is to go in, take Saddam out and build a pro-U.S. Iraq, which will be willing and happy to be exploited by U.S. Imperialism. There is also another message behind this new war: fall in line behind our interests or be brutally destroyed

Regionally a new Iraqi war will lead to violent social upheaval, that is, war, revolution, and counter-revolution. The naive Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld trinity believes nothing can stand in their way. The working class of the region is barely, if not even an issue in the minds of these men. Alas, they are in for a rude awakening.

Meanwhile, here in the U.S. the class struggle is heating up despite lingering patriotic sentiment. The dock-workers on the West Coast are threatening a massive strike that would paralyze all ports there. Janitors in Boston are also threatening walkouts. Boeing workers in Kansas, Oregon, and the state of Washington soon will vote whether to strike or not. In Chicago, hotel workers have also approved a walk out. And don’t forget to keep an eye on UPS in the near future. Some of the reasons? Loss of jobs, wages that aren’t even enough to support a family, dignity, and lack of affordable health care. All genuinely proletarian issues.

The strikes are the beginnings of a counter-attack by the workers against capitalism. After the Enron collapse, 4,000 jobs were lost overnight. After Worldcom folded an additional 17,000 workers lost their jobs. In the past two years, two million jobs have been lost, and over $7 trillion has been wiped off the stock markets. The retirement funds of millions have been halved in value or worse. A brief note on the Enron, Worldcom, Tyco, and K-mart “scandals”; despite the media’s claims, these happenings are not the exception but the norm in this rotten socioeconomic system known as capitalism.
After September 11, the contradictions and pressures within U.S. capitalism at home as well as abroad reached a new level. At home workers’ rights are being increasingly violated and attacked. The ruling class is calling any attempt to strike a “breach of national security”, or even “an act of sabotage against the war on terror”. Abroad U.S. Imperialism is lashing out like the blinded Cyclops from the Oddessey in an effort to re-establish its authority.

In a recent New York Times article entitled “Workers are Angry and Fearful this Labor Day”, Ari Fleischer, the spokesman for the White House was quoted as saying, “There’s a real split in the labor community, with an increasing number of rank-and-file workers proud to support the president, and leaders of some labor groups also showing signs of support for the president.” Although many trade union “leaders” are bending over backward to accommodate Bush and his anti-working class policies, in many cases, the opposite is becoming more and more the case. Not only are American workers beginning to see the real face of capitalism and showing their discontent for it in the early beginnings of mass strikes, but some labor leaders are also being forced to move to the left, at least in words. In the same New York Times article John J. Sweeney, the president of the AFL-CIO said “People are really fed up and furious with corporate America”, he went on to say, “The Bush administration has been the worst for working families in decades”. This is only the beginning, Mr. Sweeney.

So what will a new war on Iraq result in here in the U.S.? If it is an extended war and most likely it will be, the soldiers who come home in body bags will be the sons, brothers, and fathers of working-class people. All patriotic sentiment will dry up like a puddle of water on a hundred-degree day. Workers, youth, small business people, all layers of society which are pulverized by capitalism will begin to mobilize against this blatantly imperialist war and the rotten system that spawned it, even if in the beginning there is support for it.

The “War on Terror” is an open-ended and one-sided imperialist military conflict and will last for an uncertain period of time. The only guarantee against more war and systematic decline in living standards and eventually global barbarism is a socialist revolution. This may sound unrealistic or utopian to some, but the real utopian view is to believe that peace, security, and prosperity can come to be under capitalism. After the collapse of Stalinism a little over a decade ago, the “theoreticians” and “thinkers” of capital believed this. As events have shown and will continue to show they are wrong. By the very nature of capitalism, the vast majority of the global population is left out in the cold. No matter how much rhetoric Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld churn out, or how many bombs they drop this will never change, and nor do they care or want it to change!

Long gone is the period of general stability of the Cold War, as we have stated so many times over we are in a period of global convulsions. A period of war, revolution, and counter-revolution.

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