Bush Must Be Stopped from Bullying the World into War

-- Dipankar Bhattacharya

As we go to press, the Bush administration is all set to strike back. After Operation Desert Storm, we will now see Operation Infinite Justice. What infinite hypocrisy! What infinite arrogance!

The attacks of September 11 have revealed a small secret about Fortress America. That the fortress is not as impregnable as it is made out to be. Indeed, America is quite vulnerable. This is of course not the first time that the myth of American invincibility has been exploded. Vietnam had done it decades ago. Mao had metaphorically reduced the US imperialism with its dreaded nuclear weaponry to the status of a paper tiger. But this is the first time after the Pearl Harbour bombings of 1941 that the US experienced a devastation of this magnitude on its own soil.

To add insult to injury, the dozen-odd hijackers were reportedly armed with no more than paper-cutting knives. Yet they were able to catch the elaborate intelligence network and military mechanism of the world’s sole superpower completely unawares. All the horror that American thriller writers and Hollywood filmmakers sold for all these years suddenly came true on the American sky.

The absolute suddenness of the attacks and the enormity of devastation have caused untold trauma in a country that is otherwise known to epitomize supreme confidence. With the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre reduced to rubbles, the Pentagon heavily damaged and residents evacuated from the White House, the image of the superpower has had to take a heavy beating. It is a different America television channels are beaming across the world: ‘America under attack’, ‘America terrorised’, ‘America under siege’. With airports sealed and stock exchanges closed, life had come to a virtual standstill for days together.

In tune with its characteristic superpower rhetoric, the Bush administration has been prompt in describing the events as acts of war. And with the US claiming itself to be synonymous with democracy and civilisation, the war is obviously painted in civilisational terms, as a war against civilisation, democracy and freedom. Does it not bring us perilously close to Huntington’s paradigm of “the clash of civilisations”? Yes, indeed. And we do not have to wait for Bush’s war cabinet to signal the beginning of the clash, it is already being choreographed on the streets of America with rightwing jingoists and racists waging a virulent hate campaign against the so-called communities of colour, especially Afghanis and Arab Americans.

Bush has termed this as the first war of the new century. The two houses of American democracy have unanimously authorised him to press the war button whenever ecessary. The recession hit American economy too seems to be itching for a war. The big corporations have already begun their war preparation with announcements of massive across-the-board job cuts.

What kind of a war could it be? Could it be a repeat of the Gulf War from the period of the Senior Bush or could it be more like a retake of the Clinton-era bombing of Sudan? Political commentators are however inclined to travel longer distances on the time scale to find a parallel.

Pearl Harbour, we are reminded, had drawn the US into the Second World War and culminated, according to Washington’s warped logic of war, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Quite understandably, Nostradamus’ prediction of a third world war is also in currency.

There are of course others who are citing a different history to advise restraint to the hawks in Washington. They point out that from the expedition of Alexander the Great to the most recent Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, every foreign power has eventually been humbled in Afghanistan. Such sane counsel has however never been heeded by war-hungry imperialist powers. But Junior Bush would probably find it a little difficult to create the kind of grand coalition that the senior had been able to forge at the time of Gulf War. Except Britain, the rest of Europe seems to be in no mood to blindly endorse his war plans.

The world however cannot rely merely on the possible rifts in the Bush bandwagon. We need a powerful international campaign against the Bush administration’s clamour for war. Luckily, the anti-war world opinion today is far stronger and active than what used to be the case only a decade ago. The end of the Cold War had generated tremendous illusions about a war-free, crisis-free, peaceful, democratic capitalism. The crisis engendered by globalisation has done a lot to expose and shatter these illusions and create a new round of awakening and activism against the predatory offensive of globalised capital. The anti-globalisation protests will now have to confront the reality of imperialism and racism much more directly and vigorously.

Against the backdrop of the simmering economic crisis, there already exists a discernible constituency of the far fright in almost all advanced capitalist countries. A racist, xenophobic, chauvinistic, rightwing streak has become almost universal in the developed world and it is exerting a strong rightward pressure on mainstream politics all over the West. With its global war plans against terrorism, Washington would now make all out efforts to consolidate this far-right streak and drown the voice of protest against globalisation in the imperialist clamour for war. This is why it is extremely urgent to impart a stronger internationalist socialist political content into the anti-globalisation campaign.

It is a welcome sign that even though the IMF and World Bank have postponed their forthcoming meetings, anti-globalisation activists have decided not to call off their protests. Instead they have rightly chosen to direct the protests against the US war campaign. In India too, it is heartening to note that the Vajpayee government’s shameless attempts to hitch India to the Bush bandwagon have not met with any favourable national response. The Indian movement against saffronisation and globalisation will have to contribute a powerful note to the global chorus against Bush’s war frenzy. The Bush-Vajpayee campaign for a global war will have to be stopped by all means.