War on Terror is War of Terror

Fifty people are reported dead and over 700 injured, with casualties expected to double in number as emergency response teams continue their search through London's underground. Take a look at Lenin's Tomb for analysis of the bombing of London, its political causes, and its political exploitation:
"The interpretation of Labour Against the War, Socialist Worker, Mike Marqusee and George Galloway was that this is the catastrophic blow-back from Blair's foreign policy, that Londoners are paying the price for a policy that they didn't implement and by and large didn't even support"
As London mayor Ken Livingstone declared, the attack on London targeted working people, taking public transit to work that morning. (My friend Victor Serge makes an argument along these lines -- see his blog And your little dog too). Though no group has formally claimed responsibility at this time, already all fingers are pointing toward "Islamic extremists", and claims that the attacks have all the "hallmarks" of an al-Qaeda operation are proliferating in the Anglo-American press. (Al-Qaeda may well prove to be responsible; that is beside my point here.) Even though Londoners are apparently reacting calmly to the tragic events, the potential for retaliation against Muslim and immigrant communities in Britain is high, especially in light of the thinly-veiled, islamophobic statements of leaders of the self-described "civilized world". "I think we all know what they are trying to do", said Blair in an official statement yesterday:
"they are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cower us, to frighten us out of doing the things that we want to do, of trying to stop us going about our business as normal, as we are entitled to do, and they should not, and they must not, succeed. When they try to intimidate us, we will not be intimidated. When they seek to change our country or our way of life by these methods, we will not be changed. When they try to divide our people or weaken our resolve, we will not be divided and our resolve will hold firm. We will show, by our spirit and dignity, and by our quiet but true strength that there is in the British people, that our values will long outlast theirs. The purpose of terrorism is just that, it is to terrorise people, and we will not be terrorised." (Emphasis mine...but implicitly his)
Thanks for the illuminating tautology, Tony. And thanks, for once again displaying your prediliction for the most eggregious of double-standards. Because "the slaughter of innocent people" was, manifestly, also the modus operandi of the Anglo-American imperialist invasions and occupations of Iraq, of Afghanistan, of the Balkans. And the victims of those brutal wars and occupations are ordinary civilians, "innocent people," in Blair's terms. Britain and the U.S. are nations at war, and these attacks are acts of war, and war always terrorizes ordinary, working-class, powerless people. And what about terror in its other, more mundane forms? What about systemic inequality, inescapable poverty, starvation, poisoned water, unemployement, homelessness, barred access to life-saving medicine, life-long drudgery, indebtedness, indenturement, oppression...? In Afghanistan, ostensibly liberated by the U.S. over three years ago (but where U.S. bombing continues),
“39 percent of the population in urban areas and 69 percent in rural areas have no access to clean water. One child in eight dies because of contaminated water. People living in Kabul and other urban areas have electricity only a few hours a day...Life expectancy is 44 years. One woman dies from pregnancy-related causes every 30 minutes. All this in a country that has been forcibly handed to the institutions that the G8 leaders tell us can make poverty history." (Elaheh Rostami Povey quoted in Socialist Worker)
Global in/security, in its many forms, is terrorism, to which billions of people around the world are subject, and who now are expected to be grateful for the pittance they are handed with much self-aggrandizing moralistic fanfare by the leaders of the so-called civilized world. At the much-anticipated culmination of the summit at Gleneagles, the G8 has pledged a mere 50 billion USD in aid to Africa, and has agreed to the cancellation of the debts of 18 of the world's poorest nations (14 of which are in Africa). Two developments which had been announced before the summit even began. And how does this commitment to "relieve" these nations of their debt measure up, in political economic terms (terms which are deliberately and consistently eschewed for moralistic platitudes)? Well, as the Green Left Weekly reports,
"Britain’s annual contribution to the debt write-off will amount to between $70 million and $96 million, which is much less than the Blair government spends on its occupation of Iraq each year, and just a shade more than the $67.1 million it forks out each year in payments to maintain Queen Betty Windsor and her dysfunctional family. Washington will need only find between $130 million and $175 million a year, which is almost three times less than it spends each year just to run its Baghdad embassy. The total 10-year cost for the US is around what Washington will spend to build a new embassy in the Iraqi capital. Washington alone spends $2 billion a month to wage war in Iraq. If those figures call into question the “historic” scale of the West’s benevolence towards Africa and the Third World, compare them to the US annual “defence” budget, which will be more than $441 billion in 2006 alone. Or to the G8's spending $350 billion year on subsidies to its agribusinesses, which allows the of flooding Third World markets with cheap produce that has devastated local producers. Or compare it to Britain’s income from arms sales to Africa, which topped £1 billion (US$1.8 billion) in 2004. Or to US President George Bush’s cutting taxes for the richest Americans by $200 billion a year. It should be also noted that debts owed to the Inter-American Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank are not included in the deal, nor are the Third World countries’ huge bilateral debt burden (that is, debt owed to individual rich countries)." (Emphasis mine, quotation from "Africa Needs Justice, not Charity," at Green Left Weekly)
Organizations lobbying the G8, most prominently Oxfam and the Make Poverty History Coalition, declared their disappointment at the G8's all-too-minimal, all-too-typical commitments. The question is, why, in the first place, did they invest hope in the leaders of the world's most powerful nations, who have repeatedly and consistently demonstrated themselves to be the most callously indifferent, destructive forces on this sad, struggling little planet? Why go along with the show, when its fraudulence is so transparent? And why reproduce the politics of dependency and implicitly endorse the racist, self-serving rhetoric of the "white man's burden" by appealing to the G8 to "restore" Africa? The eminently concise words of Ghanian socialist Mani Tanoh are worth repeating here:
“We will not beg for aid from the G8. Instead we demand justice.”
What is needed is a unified call for reparations. The G8 must be resisted as the world's plunderers that they are, not aggrandized as the world's leaders, or much less, the world's saviours.
My hope is that Londoners -- and British people, in general -- will make these connections between what is considered around the world as the reign of terror of the Bush-Blair regime and the acts of terror against civilians in the west. That they won't retaliate against Muslim Britons, South Asian, Middle Eastern and African immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, that they won't reproduce their leaders' islamophobia and racist constructions of a "civilized world" subjected to acts of "barbarism", that they'll resist the us/them logic in Anglo-American foreign policy and in their own neighbourhoods; that instead, their calmness will give way to anger, the kind of anger that has the potential to occasion epiphanies on a mass scale, and which they'll harness in order to collectively take Blair down. My hope is that they'll expose his complicity with terror, both at home and abroad, and they'll begin to demand justice, for Africans, for Iraqis, for Afghanis, for Palestinians, for non-status people hunted by immigration authorities and dominated by borders, for Americans -- whose political morale and imagination are likely at their lowest levels ever -- for themselves, and for all of us, taking the same underground train day in, day out, suffering little deaths of spirit, little amputations of our being, which compound, ossify, deaden us, little by little, with routinized regularity, as we wait for something to change. My hope is for a very different kind of explosion, one that has the power to "stop all speeding trains" -- to quote Joe Hill; an explosion of the collective human spirit, against terror in all its forms, against terror waged against all the world's working people.


Post a Comment

<< Home