The fallacy of the “war on terror”

As a new spree of terrorist attacks unravels with increasing frequency, the menace of Islamic fundamentalist terror seems to be beyond the control of the ruling elite, their state and their system. The haughty claims of the moneyed political elite, of uniting against “terrorism” and for “national unity” have proved to be boastful absurdities and hypocritical deceptions.

The vows of the state institutions and the generals to annihilate terrorism through military operations seem utopian with this ferocious resurgence of bombings and mayhem. During his recent trips to London and Washington, Pakistan’s military chief General Raheel Sharif was exceptionally honoured and given protocol at the level of those given to the head of an important state. This act in itself speaks volumes about the hypocracy of the imperialists who despise the Pakistan army for hunting with the hounds and running with the hare. The imperialist rhetoric about democracy and civilian rule stands utterly exposed.

He swanked to the imperialist bosses that, “Countless strikes in the tribal badlands have virtually destroyed the militants’ training camps and that only a couple of areas remain insecure.” The claim is almost impossible to verify. A senior diplomat in Islamabad dismissed it as a gross exaggeration, with insurgents still operating widely across the Federally Administered Tribal Areas bordering Afghanistan.

The Economist wrote, “As for the distinction between ‘good and ‘bad’ Taliban, Western officials are convinced that the Haqqani network, a brutal Afghan Taliban affiliate with historic links to the Pakistani army’s spy agency, was helped to move out of North Waziristan to safety before the onslaught began. Nor has pressure so far been brought to bear on the wider Afghan Taliban movement, whose leadership resides in Quetta, Peshawar and other locations in Pakistan. And the army has pointedly not moved against jihadist groups that focus their violence on India…”

The prime minister’s statements are ludicrous if not ironic. “Religious seminaries and organisations involved in terrorist activities should be identified and proceeded against. No terrorist or militant organisation should be spared. The militant and terrorist organisations, which were not ready to hold peace talks with the government, would have to face action. No one will be allowed to wage insurgency and commit violence under the patronage of sectarian and other organisations. The government was committed eradicating terrorism and extremism.”

peshawar-massacreHow shallow! It reeks of utter failure and the impotence of authority and politics. As if talks have not miserably failed and the snooty claims of the success of the military operation have only ended up with a new wave of terrorist attacks in Islamabad, Lahore and again in Peshawar. The generals consider Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister as a cipher in the country’s affairs.

nawaz-sharifHowever, his advisors might not have elucidated him on the fact that this terrorism is financed by the same black economy that also has now assumed a pivotal role in politics, the economy, the state and society of this country’s rotten capitalist system, which cannot even exist within its own laws and basis. With all the bills passed in parliament, ordinances introduced, and military courts set up, the mullahs continue to noisily blare hate speeches on countless loudspeakers, even in sleepy hamlets and in the vicinity of hospitals and student hostels. The madrassas are vibrant as ever, the indoctrinations continue unabated, and the centres of religious bigotry such as the ‘Lal Masjid’ in the heart of Pakistan’s capital, along with the venomous clerics, cannot be touched by the “security forces”. The army’s reinsertion into judicial and national affairs more covertly is being dubbed as a “post-modern coup”. It has not and will not make much difference with the extent to which the terrorist violence and socio-economic turbulence has exacerbated in Pakistan.

pakistani-talibanTerrorism today is above all a financial operation and is used for strategic accumulation of capital and astronomical profit motives. The IS in the Levant and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan are more black capital-generating crusades rather than the result of genuine religious piety or a quest for any heavenly deliverance. These terrorist campaigns are not just for “non-state” actors — imperialist designs and strategic state interests are complicit in this gruesome brutality. The imperialist powers have manipulated religious terror in various forms for decades and this strategy has persisted covertly and in some cases overtly.

While the United States would like to consider itself the leader of the anti-terrorism alliance, its relationship with many extremist groups and individuals is intricate and strategic. Among many perilous and brutal terrorist groups in the world that have been backed by the U.S. government, Al Qaeda is the one that is particularly “exemplary” to show that U.S. foreign policy is based on realpolitik and the short-term pursuit of narrow interests.

Mujahid-MANPADIn Afghanistan from 1978 to 1989, U.S. intelligence agencies had backed many Islamic fundamentalist groups in the land-locked country as well as in other Islamic countries. Soon, one Saudi businessman emerged as the best protégé of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in its largest covert counterrevolutionary insurgency war to destroy the Afghanistan’s spring (Saur) revolution of 1978. His name was Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda, with many of its founders trained by the U.S. government, became the world's largest and most notorious terrorist group. Its franchises reached almost all war-ravaged and strife-torn Islamic countries.

The ideologies or myths on which Islamic fundamentalism’s present surge is based, may be pre-medieval and most concepts sheer utopias but the reasons are very modern and are the outcome not just of the economic crisis of capitalism but also the cultural, ethical, social and moral conflicts that are convulsing societies and tormenting the social psychology of these countries and communities that have some relationship to Islamic heritage or links. Apart from the traditional sects and sub-sects with different historical existences, such as Sunni, Shia, Wahhabi, Deobandi, Barelvi, Alawites, Ismailis, etc., new sects are being fostered for political domination and financial plunder that is being generated by this internecine sectarian violence. But the stark reality is that the two most virulent Islamic terrorist tendencies or groupings were the by-products of imperialist interventions, aggression and occupations. In Afghanistan the imperialist counterrevolutionary insurgency gave birth to the Mujahedeen, or “Islamic freedom fighters” according to the corporate media, leading up to the formation Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Three decades later the imperialist intervention in Syria and the Levant to hijack the mass upheavals of the Arab revolution through Islamist reactionaries created the sinister outfits of Al Nusra and the ISIL. The ramifications of all this are now being felt in Europe and far beyond.

As for the Islamic State (IS), which is “too extreme” even in the eyes of regular al-Qaeda fighters, its key members were trained by the CIA and the Special Forces command at a secret camp in Jordan in 2012, according to RT, citing informed Jordanian officials. The Turkish government, ostensibly a NATO “ally”, has been forced to admit that its intelligence service funnelled arms to Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. This so-called “moderate” Islamist regime has been caught in an elaborate cover-up and is threatening to shut down social media outlets that don’t block the reporting of the scandal. The Islamic Caliphate is part of a trend; the return of an entrepreneurial, commercial approach to Islamic fundamentalist violence that has been going on since 2004.  Since then, we’ve seen lots of evolution in the marketplace. Qatar is supplying the Islamist coalition “Libya Dawn”, including the ISIL in Libya, with weapons, the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph reported, amid rising concerns over the Gulf state’s dealings with other Islamist groups in the region. The newspaper reported that Western officials have “tracked Qatari arms flights as they land in the city of Misrata,” about 160 km east of Tripoli, which the Islamists now claim to control since it was stormed last month. The report says despite Doha claiming to be one of Britain’s “best friends in the Middle East,” owning several high-end London landmarks, it is helping to thwart London’s goal of maintaining stability in Libya.

Although private military companies were the early leaders in the return of commercial conflict (the number of contractors in Iraq outnumbered uniformed US military personnel), they were dependent on government financing.  So, when that financing ended, they wilted. Consequently, the jihadi entrepreneurs have been on a roll.  They've been innovating since the US left Iraq. They've found new sources of income from both conquered territory and black market globalization, mastered the use of the Internet for marketing and networking, developed a form of fundamentalist Islam that provides group cohesion and appeal, and opportunistically taken advantage of regional weaknesses to acquire a huge amount of territory — larger than Britain — with 8 million people in it.

The US’s relations with its oldest and long lasting ally in the region Saudi Arabia have been strained in the recent period, albeit hypocritically. The Economist commented, “A woman accused of murder was dragged through the streets of Mecca and beheaded with a sword. Though America disapproves of this sort of thing, it does not let it upset relations. (US) government delegations to the Kingdom are usually lots of men with military uniform and one official from the state department, whose job is to say that it would be nice if women could drive…” The arms sales, “at least have the virtue of being nakedly self-interested. Selling weapons is a big part of the American diplomacy in the Kingdom. A recent ambassador worked for Raytheon, the world’s biggest producer of guided missiles, before he was appointed. It is also popular in the Congress: the defence business is adept at scattering production around as many districts as possible.”

The inspiration from Saudi imams breeds Salafi Muslim terrorists that now are a threat to the west. The House of Saud has long been involved in bankrolling Salafi imams to preach loyalty to the dynasty. The Saudi money that sloshes through Salafi mosques finances Islamic terrorist networks all around the world. Abu Bakar Baghdadi and the black-robed elite of the ISIL use Salafi jurisprudence to impose their vicious version of Islamic law. The bestial public beheadings is the outcome of this. Americans and Westerners are facing threats that have been subsidised by the House of Saud. The argument that the House of Saud must me supported because it is stable is deeply flawed and is more of wishful thinking reflecting the military and diplomatic impotency the imperialists are suffering in their present socio-economic crisis and debilitated state of its financial capacity to impose imperialist hegemony. The danger being hyped is that the alternative could be much worse: the thought of something like IS controlling the world’s largest oil reserves.

isil 1Emboldened by the recent conflict between sections of the western ruling classes and the Saudi regime, The Economist dared to sketch an interesting comparison between the ISIL and the Saudi regime, in its September 20 issue of 2014, “The condemned may request a painkiller. Their end is not televised, and comes with a swift sword stroke from a skilled executioner rather than from hacking with a kitchen knife by an untutored brute. Otherwise there is not much difference between a death sentence in the jihadists’ ‘Islamic State’ and in Saudi Arabia, a country seen as a crucial Western ally in the fight against the I.S. Nor, indeed, is there much difference between the two entities in other applications of particularly merciless brand of sharia, or Islamic law, including public whippings and the right for victims of crime to claim eye for an eye revenge.”

The Saudi monarchy has used its massively accumulated wealth from the country’s “Black Gold” to build clout out of its piety, the “custodians of Harem Sharif” (The Kaaba) throughout the world, especially in countries with majority Muslim populations. They have supported the most vicious dictators and the most deceptive democratic rulers of the privileged classes. They have sponsored Islamic terrorist outfits with and without the connivance of the US and western imperialism. Sometimes these fundamentalists clashed with western interests. The repressive machine of the House of Saud has spread its tentacles far and wide. In countries like Pakistan their intrusion into the state is so intense that the writers and media are gagged to an extent where critique of the state and the regimes is possible but not of the Saudi Monarchy.

In the recent period the imperialists have been bogged down by their own intrinsic weaknesses. They hesitated to attack Syria, started to patch up with the Iranian reactionary clergy more overtly and increased their reliance on the Qatari Monarchy having its own regional imperialist ambitions, and the Saudi’s fumed. Some of the Princes were even arrogant and insolent towards their imperialist mentors. Hence, some reports of the heinous atrocities they have been perpetrating for almost 90 years are beginning to trickle out into the imperialist media. The tyrannies inflicted upon the migrant workers, particularly those from Pakistan including their regular beheadings and hackings. The brutal repression on the domestic front, proxy wars for regional hegemony with Iran through the most vicious of terrorist outfits and their role in the seminaries and religious institutions are concealed conveniently by the media and the intelligentsia at the behest of the west with funding and fear of the Saudi monarchy. US imperialism is complicit in the brutalities perpetrated by this and other despotic regimes in the region.

What's more, the manoeuvres of U.S. intelligence agencies are not limited to the Islamic world. In the 1990s, the U.S. Special Forces and Drug Enforcement Administration worked with a Colombian vigilante group — Los Pepes — to track down and kill drug lord Pablo Escobar. The two main leaders of Los Pepes were Don Berna and Fidel Castano, both former employees of Escobar. In 1997, some of Los Pepes’ leaders co-founded the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, more commonly known as AUC, which were responsible for numerous massacres and political assassinations in Colombia. In the 1960s, the CIA also trained and harboured two terrorists aiming to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro and to topple the government in the country. Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban citizen who fled to the United States after the Cuban Revolution, helped organize the Bay of Pigs invasion, and after it failed, became an agent for the CIA. He was trained at Fort Benning, a U.S. Army base outside Columbus, Georgia. From 1964 to 1968, he was involved in a series of bombings and other anti-Castro covert activities. Posada was found guilty by a court in Panama as one of the perpetrators behind the 1967 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. In spite of all this, he lived in the United States as a refugee and was never charged with any criminal activity there.

With such a record, the ‘war on terror’ launched by the US imperialists, with the Pakistani and Saudi establishment as their allies, is a fallacy, in reality a “war of terror”. Imperialist aggression and neofascist Islamic terror both represent in different ways the distilled essence of a decaying and stinking capitalism that has unleashed economic and social conflagration, pulverising societies today. With this relentless crisis there is not much chance of stability, peace or prosperity. The plight of the masses can only worsen and human life become even more painful if this rotten capitalist system is allowed to continue existing.