Main enemy is at home

?The world on a war footing?. This was the stark - and apocalyptic sounding - front page headline of The Independent (September 18).

Following hard on the heels of last week?s terrorist outrages in New York and Washington, US imperialism has gone into overdrive in a bid to cement its post-Soviet new world order and underline the absolute victory of the system of limitless exploitation. The world?s No1 policeman is angry and wants ?justice?. The same for the USA?s fellow gendarmes. ?We?re at war? - Tony Blair?s simple message.         

So, step forward Operation Noble Eagle to fight the ?global war against terrorism? ? wherever it lies. Congress has authorised Bush to use ?all necessary and appropriate force?, granting him $40 billion in additional funds. The imperialist war machine is cranking up for business - serious business.

Hence, George Bush has stated that ?the battle will be long? - and warned the US public that many of its soldiers may be called upon to make the ?ultimate sacrifice?. The US is about to leave behind the Vietnam syndrome through mass slaughter. Bush explained: ?Victory against terrorism will not take place in a single battle, but in a series of decisive actions against terrorist organisations and those who harbour and support them.?

Even more vividly, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld - someone who has close personal and political ties to the newly elected Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith - told us: ?People think of antiseptic types of war, and of a few cruise missiles flying around the world looking for something to blow up. But this war won?t be like that; that sort of war won?t work with this enemy. These terrorists may be sophisticated, but they cannot function without the tolerance, even the assistance of states.?

These ?rogue states? that purportedly sponsor terrorism have been formally named - Afghanisatn, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. All potential targets for what Bush - inadvertently or not - has described as the ?new crusade?

Ever since the grisly events of September 11, the White House has engaged in sustained and systematic diplomacy - ie, open bullying. Bush was explicit: ?You are either with us or against us.?

Everyone is to be brought to heel. Yes, even - at least to a certain extent - the US?s normally most bellicose ally, Israel. Initially - but quite predictably - Ariel Sharon cynically used the bombings in the US as an ?excuse? to further escalate attacks on the Palestinians. But this endangers Bush?s coalition against terrorism. In the interests of the grand alliance, the US decided to crack the whip and force Sharon to come to a ceasefire agreement with Yasser Arafat. Not because, of course, the US had had a sudden conversion to the right of the Palestinians to self-determination, but because it needed as much cooperation as possible from Arab regimes, who would be under tremendous pressure from their own populations if Israel were engaged in yet another tank assault on the West Bank or Gaza.

The prime target of course, at least for now, of all these strong-arm diplomatic manoeuvrings is of course Afghanistan and its counterrevolutionary Taliban regime - from whose territory Osama bin Laden is said to have given the go-ahead for the suicide attacks. (Unsurprisingly, bin Laden has denied involvement in the September 11 attacks.) Next comes Pakistan, one of the few states which ?enjoys? diplomatic relations with Kabul, and after that Iraq and the regime of Saddam Hussain, and then ...

The military government in Karachi was given an ultimatum - to cut off immediately all supplies to the Afghan Taliban regime, to tell the US everything it knew about bin Laden and to allow its air space to be used for any onslaught against him. Pakistan has been forced to closed its borders in an attempt to prevent supporters of bin Laden?s Al Qa?eda islamic militants from escaping.

In response to Pakistan?s acquiescence to US demands, the Taliban upped the ante and promptly sent 25,000 troops - approximately half its entire military force - to the Khyber Pass, to ready itself for the planned US assault and to threaten Pakistan. In tandem, the Taliban?s leaders have threatened a jihad against the US. As we go press, some 1,000 ulemas (clerics) are meeting in Kabul in order to make a sharia decision - ie, to decide what to do with bin Laden. They are, it would appear, deeply split. On the one hand there are those who would countenance giving him up to a ?neutral? country. On the other hand there are those such as Mullah Mohammed Hasan Akhund, the Taliban movement?s number two. He has declared: ?I would like to tell my people that our jihad will be formally resuming against the Americans. The USA and all imperialists in the world, Jews and christians and their supporters, are intending to destroy the islamic order which has been established at the cost of your blood.?

In such a militaristic atmosphere, to voice even the mildest criticism of the current war drive is to effectively become one of the ?enemy within?. The TUC decided not to take any risks and closed early. For the moment the main target of the reactionaries and warmongers are the liberal bourgeoisie. With impressive venom, Andrew Neil, editor of the Scotland on Sunday, blasted liberalism (and any opposition): ?But even by this weekend the usual suspects were beginning to backslide with weasel words and knee-jerk anti-Americanism. Those who want a foretaste of the slime that is to come America?s way when its rolling thunder of retaliation begins should scan the apologists for terror that this week have dominated the opinion pages of the hard-left Guardian, henceforth known as the Daily Terrorist? (September 16). Naturally, The Sun too has attacked ?leftwing Guardian libertarians?. As usual, the ?Bolshevik Broadcasting Company? has been targeted. The BBC?s Question time - god forbid - allowed some views critical of the US to be aired. Greg Dyke, director general of the BBC apologised for this ?scandalous? (The Sun) programme. Obviously, instead of being transmitted live, it should have been pre-recorded and then appropriately ?edited?.

In other words, ?national unity? demands censorship.

Some even dream that the coming war will inaugurate a new authoritarian dawn. In the Daily Mail, Paul Johnson waxed lyrically: ?This week has signalled the death of liberalism ? We will be in a new and sterner world. We are perhaps standing on the threshold of a new age. If so, I welcome it with all my mind and heart. And so should you.?

Still, on the outer fringes though Johnson?s opinions are, he has a long way to go to outdo the US?s very own Talibans - Rev Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. On his ?700 Club? radio show, Falwell told an agreeing Robertson: ?I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians ... all of them have tried to secularise America, I point the finger in their face and say, ?You helped this [the September 11 attacks] happen?.?

Already, anti-democratic moves are being implemented in the US. On Tuesday, John Ashcroft, the attorney general, proposed a draconian set of counter-terrorism proposals to Congress, which involved what one legal expert called a ?quite stunning? redefinition of terrorism. On top of this it is proposed the state needs new powers to tap phones. The CIA is now calling for a repeal of the ban on state-sanctioned assassinations - a ban signed by President Ford in 1976. Senior CIA officials are complained that the agency?s hands have ?been tied by restrictions? - time for a ?free run? on Saddam Hussein, bin Laden, Castro, etc?

Where the US goes, the UK lapdog follows. Along with the measures described above, there is now increased talk of introducing ID cards to the UK - even DNA profiling. It is quite possible that there will be curbs on the right to assemble and protest - the Labour Party lobby in Brighton? Some elements want to scapegoat asylum-seekers and immigrants, a potential fifth column in the UK.     Trevor Kavanagh, political editor of The Sun, spelt it out: ?Inevitably, some liberties will have to be sacrificed? (September 17).

At this very moment, imperialism is hatching its murderous plans and plots. No doubt, so are the Taliban, Al Qa?eda and other such islamicist-fundamentalist forces - and their backers - throughout the world. Communists are clear. We stand against islamic fundamentalism, the Taliban, Islamic Jihad, etc. But, most of all, we oppose the hypocritical ?war on terrorism? of Bush and Blair. The main enemy is at home.

Eddie Ford