But the United States is not any government -- it is one led by the most reactionary and hawkish elements of the American capitalist class. It has chosen a much higher gear and decided to launch the "first war of the 21st century". It has sought, not just international cooperation to bring the perpetrators of the attacks on New York and Washington tojustice, but a coalition of military might sufficient to wage a protracted, full-scale war.
The Bush government is now reaching out to take the power US imperialism
has long been seeking -- and intensively seeking since it declared "the
new world order" -- the power of US global hegemony and
Now, in the name of grief and justice, Bush thinks he can just issue orders to governments around the world. Co-operate or else, he tells the government of Pakistan. All major banks must root out terrorist funds or risk losing business with the US. People are either with the US or against it, he declares.
The grand coalition and its war machine is being put together without any discussion at the United Nations. Not even Nato's opinion has been sought. In Britain the House of Commons has only been recalled because of pressure from some MPs.
As usual when matters of life and death, peace and war come to the fore, no one asks us, or any other citizen in the capitalist world for a point of view -- our job is just to pick up the tab and suffer the consequences. What's more, even though our warships were heading for the Gulf before Parliament had met, we were still told the war would be fought to defend "democracy".
And now there is growing concern that the US could be planning to settle what it regards as other unfinished business while its war machine is still hot and running.
Washington has long had a list of so-called "rogue states" it would like to subdue. The names on the list seem to vary from time to time, but they are those which resist adopting the required subservient posture to US imperialism.
The most likely country to be attacked once again is Iraq. Whether or not this happens will depend on the military possibilities or drawbacks.
Certainly the pretext for war would be easily found by simply asserting that US intelligence has discovered a link between Iraq and Osama bin Laden's organisation. Under the guise of classified information the US can of course say whatever it likes about anyone or any state. After all the US has a long history of framing its intended targets.
It is clear though that Afghanistan is the prime target as Washington believes it is harbouring bin Laden and it believes that he is the leader of the organisation that carried out the attack on the United States.
The advocates of war pin a great deal on the argument that it was utterly wrong for the attackers of the World Trade Centre to kill ordinary American workers such as firefighters, cleaners, typists and so on as a reprisal for the actions of successive US governments. Yet they do not accept that it would be just as wrong to send a huge military force against a country because of the actions of one group within it.
Already innocent people are suffering as a direct result of the threat of war. Refugees, including large numbers of women and children, are flocking to the borders of Afghanistan in the hope of finding safety, shelter, food and warmth. Many are heading for Pakistan, a country that has many problems of its own.
Blair talks of making air-drops of aid to the refugees. What is this -- a parachute load of bread today and a cruise missile tomorrow? Surely the primary need is for peace!
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by our Arab affairs correspondent
US IMPERIALISM outlined its war plans to Nato defence chiefs in Belgium this week as the build-up of British and American military might continues in the Persian Gulf. But any hopes that Iran would join the anti-Afghhan crusade have been dashed by a bitter rejection from the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Nato defence ministers, meeting at the Atlantic Alliance HQ in Brussels, were briefed on imperialism's war plans on Wednesday by US Deputy Defence Minister Paul Wolfowitz. The meeting, which included a Russian observer, predictably re-affirmed its support for the American military and diplomatic offensive even though some of them will not have been told of the full White House agenda.
Back in the States Defense Secretary Donald H Rumsfeld talked about a campaign which would last "not five minutes or five months" but years while the Pentagon called up thousands more reservists. Two US aircraft carriers are already in the Gulf. Two more are on their way. Each ship carries about 5,000 sailors and 75 warplanes and each one is covered by about a dozen warships including submarines capable offiring Cruise missiles. American troops in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf have been mobilised and the B-52 bomber base on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia has been put on alert.
The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious has joined some 20 Royal Navy warships taking part in joint exercises with Oman. The RAF and 24,000 British troops are already in the region and more are expected to join them.
But while the military buildup continues relentlessly the diplomatic offensive has faltered. Bush dropped the offensive to Muslims word "crusade" after his spin doctors realised who actually won them. And the original name for the operation "Infinite Justice" was also dumped following further Islamic objections that this epitaph was only suitable for God.
Russia predictably caved in to imperialist pressure and agreed to allow American access to Russian bases in the Central Asian republics. Two of the three states which recognised the Taleban adminstration, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, broke off diplomatic relations.
The third, Pakistan, has withdrawn its diplomats from Kabul. And Foreign Minister Jack Straw's charm offensive in the Middle East appeared to be working when he received a cordial welcome in Iran, the first visit by a senior British member of the government since the 1979 revolution.
Straw told the Iranians that he was not carrying any message from the United States and that his only purpose was to deepen "positive understanding" between London and Tehran. Straw made some sympathetic references to the Palestinians, which angered the Israelis -- the next stop in his tour, but he gave the game away when he revealed that another reason for his visit was because "Iran is an important source of advice on Afghanistan".
Some suspect that his real motive was to tout support for the ex-king of Afghanistan, who has lived for the past 30 years in obscurity in Rome. Now the old man, well into his eighties, is being rolled out in the West as the possible replacement for the Taleban regime.
Now Mohammed Zahir Shah is barely remembered in his homeland -- let alone wanted, but he does have one advantage for the West. He comes from Afghanistan's Pashtoon community -- the tribes which the Taleban also draws its support. And the weakness of the opposition United Front -- the old Northern Alliance which hold some ten per cent of the country -- is that its leaders are all drawn from the Tajik and Uzbek minonties.
If that was Straw's hope it got short shrift in Tehran. This was spelt out by the editor of Iran News who said the king's return would be "regression" and "not tolerable".
US -- arrogant bully
But worse was to come. After Straw left for Tel Aviv Iran's Supreme Leader Ayattollah Khamenei used the opportunity of addressing a rally of families of Iranians killed in the war with Iraq to launch one ofthe strongest attacks on the United States heard in Tehran in recent years.
Ayattollah Khomenei denounced the United States for its "arrogance" and "bullying" in using the crisis over terrorism to serve its own interests.
"America does not have the competence to guide a global movement against terrorism, and the Islamic Republic of Iran will not participate in any move which is headed by the United States".
Iran's highest religious authority, who under the Islamic constitution has the final say on all policy matters, then looked at Bush's appeal. "How dare you ask for our assistance when you have been dealing blow after blow against Iran for the past 23 years?" he declared. Many in the crowd shouted "Death to America!" as he spoke. Bush says you are either with the United States or with the terrorists. Well Khamenei said "Iran is neither with you or the terrorists".
In Afghanistan the Taleban militia is preparing for war. Some 300,000 fighters have been mobilised, many deployed along the frontier with Pakistan. The United Front has made some gains in the north though they have so far failed to capture their immediate objective ofthe key city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
Taleban militiamen downed a pilotless US spy-plane over the week -- apparently using scatter-guns while theeir chiefs gave interviews to tell the press of the bloody welcome the Western forces would get should they set foot on Afghan soil.
In Kabul thousands of Taleban supporters took to the streets in the first anti-American demonstration they have ever endorsed. The empty US embassy was torched by the Islamic students.
Peace movement grows
Across the world the campaign to stop the Afghan war is growing. This war must and can be stopped.
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by Caroline Colebrook
HUMAN rights in Britain are under threat as the Government prepares new anti-terrorist legislation in the wake of the attacks on New York and Washington a fortnight ago.
Top of the list of measures likely to be introduced is compulsory identity cards even though no one in Government has been able to explain how they could have prevented the American tragedies.
Those who carried out the attacks and are now dead did have full sets of identity papers -- false ones. Any serious criminal would have little problem in obtaining false papers or forging them.
But when questioned closely, Government representatives shift their ground and start talking about benefit fraud. So the threat of terrorism is to be used as an excuse for a clamp down on small time benefit Fraud.
But a system of plastic ID cards is already being introduced for benefit claimants.
Compulsory identity cards will simply criminalise forgetfulness. Anyone who pops out to the shops, forgetting they have left their card in their other jacket, handbag or jeans pocket will technically be a criminal, liable to arrest and to be held until they can prove who they are.
Thousands of cards will end up accidentally in the wash, at the dry cleaners, down the backs of sofas or being chewed by dogs. There will have to be a procedure for replacing lost or damaged cards. And in this there will be plenty of scope for corruption and fraud. A whole new criminal industry will be born.
Police and other authorities cannot practically ask everyone to show their identity cards on a regular basis. They will select a random few. And they will select those they believe look most likely to be criminals.
It does not take much imagination to realise that ID cards will be yet another means for police and other bodies that are institutionally racist to further harass and discriminate against anyone who looks different. Ethnic minorities will be prime targets.
Research in countries where ID cards are compulsory has shown that police demand their production disproportionately from ethnic minorities.
Home Secretary David Blunkett has suggested that the Human Rights Act, passed only a year ago, may have to be amended to allow the new anti-terror legislation to be passed.
He said the European Convention of Human Rights -- incorporated into British law by the Human Rights Act -- has proved "difficult to deal with in the current circumstances".
Parliamentary sources have suggested there could be up to three separate anti-terrorist Bills put before the next Parliament.
These are likely to abolish some rights of appeal for immigrants and asylum-seekers turned back at airports and new police powers to arrest those suspected of knowledge about terrorism.
The Home Office is also considering allowing transcripts of telephone conversations obtained by bugging by the intelligence services to be allowed as evidence in court.
The civil rights pressure group Liberty has said it will "strongly oppose" any dilution of the Human Rights Act.
Director Mark Littlewood said: "There is a real danger that, as part of the overall war on terrorism, the Government is lifting off the shelf a whole range of proposals that would do nothing to stop terrorism and will undermine civil rights in Britain.
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by Steve Lawton
AMID growing international tension and the failure still of the British Government to defuse growing anti-nationalist and anti-Catholic attacks in the north ofIreland, the IRA is responding with a measured engagement in the weapons hand-over process decommissioning -- and remains on ceasefire.
The northern Ireland Secretary Dr John Reid, rather than recognising the dangers of pursuing key Good Friday Agreement provisions that have been gutted at the behest of unionism, is exerting pressure on the IRA to make what he called last weekend an "earth-shattering step" by actually putting IRA weapons beyond use.
Ultimately, the weapons at stake are subject to political, not military decisions in this process. The silent guns and verifled arms cache of the IRA has turned out never to be enough for unionists.
The unionist interpretation of decommissioning, and that of certain forces in the British Government, is not in itself simply to disarm the IRA militarily, but to disarm republican aims, demands and organisation.
It is to disarm the legitimacy of the republican struggle among increasing numbers of nationalists and Catholics, among rising generations, who agree with them and join with them.
And it is to shape a future, unless unionist destabilising manoeuvres are blocked, that prevents any real north-south integration or that leads to Britain relinquishing its hold on the north. As the contrived inertia festers, these fears will grow.
The necessary policing changes arrived at by the Patten Commission must, among other grievances, be resurrected. A policing service that ends up disguising its pro-unionist paramilitarism and retaining British intelligence dirty-tricks, is a force that will end up jeopardising the whole process ofchange in the north.
It is this lack of resoluteness against unionism and loyalism by the British Government that is providing the vacuum for loyalist hatred that currently vents itself on defenceless schoolgirls in north Belfast. Traumas, injuries and deaths -- including a bomb incident and gun fire during the wretched loyalist blockade of the Holy Cross Primary school in the Ardoyne Rd, north Belfast -- will grow in this atmosphere.
This is made worse by the prevarication of the British Government with unionist tactics of excluding Sinn Fein from political office, or by unionisms' own threats and acts of withdrawal.
The British Government, having temporarily suspended the Assembly for a third time to pressurise Sinn Fein and the IRA, is abusing the institution to the point where its devolved basis will end up losing legitimacy.
Prime Minister Tony Blair's rush to act the global ambassador-warrior of the United States' President George Bush, sharply contrasts with the distinct lack of concern that continues to be shown for lives at risk in the north of Ireland.
Over the decades British occupation has led to the deaths of thousands and with the Good Friday Agreement, a moment arrived to end that and to begin to restructure the way the whole of the island has been living a divided existence.
The election of President George Bush gave anti-Agreement forces, here and within unionism, an opportunity to begin undermining Sinn Fein's powerful recognition in the United States.
The allegations of indirect arms links to the Colombian liberation struggle and now the attack on the World Trade Centre, are being used in a dangerously sinister way to rekindle an image of Sinn Fein and the IRA as though they are at war. Unionism has acted all along in a manner -- abetted by the British Government -- designed to test the IRA's limits.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was uncompromising last week, describing the latest suspension as "disgraceful" and accused unionists and the British Government of "hypocrisy and cynicism".
"If those who are against the Good Friday Agreement think they are going to break the will of Irish republicanism, then they are mistaken." At this weekend's ardfheis, Sinn Fein will no doubt delibarate on the crisis Britain and the unionists have created.
Text of IRA statement, 20 September 2001
FIRST of all we wish to extend our sympathy to the people of the United States and especially to the families and friends of the victims of the deplorable attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
On August 8 we confirmed that the IRA leadership had agreed a scheme with the IICD (the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning) to put IRA arms completely and verifiably beyond use.
This unprecedented IRA initiative was the result of lengthy discussions with the IICD over a long period. It was another expression of our willingness to enhance the peace process and it involved considerable problems for us and for our organisation.
The IRA leadership's ability to speedily and substantially progress the decision was completely undermined by the setting of further preconditions and the outright rejection of the IICD statement by the Ulster Unionist Party leadership.
Subsequent actions by the British government including a continued failure to fulfil its commitments, remove the conditions necessary for progress. On August 14 we withdrew our proposal.
However, as an earnest of our willingness to resolve the issue of arms, the IRA leadership wish to confirm that our representative will intensify the engagement with the IICD.
This dialogue is withih the context of our commitment to deal satisfactorily with the question of arms. It is with a view to accelerating progress towards the comprehensive resolution of this issue.
Progress will be directly influenced by the attitude of other parties to the peace process, including and especially, the British government. The IRA's commitment is without question.
However, as we have said before, peace making and peace keeping is a collective effort. It is our considered view that the Irish peace process can succeed.
The continued failure or refusal to sustain the political process and to deliver real and meaningful change has a direct bearing on how this will be accomplished.
The IRA has contributed consistently and in a meaningful way to the creation of a climate which would facilitate the search for a durable settlement.
We will continue to do so, including through our engagement with the IICD, particularly at this difficult time, and in the period immediately ahead.
We also wish to state our attitude to the arrests of three Irishmen in Colombia. There has been a lot of ill-founded and mischievous speculation about these arrests and some ill-considered and aggressive comment directed at our organisation.
We wish to make it clear that ihe Army Council sent no one to Colombia to train or to engage in any military cooperation with any group.
The IRA has not interfered in the internal affairs of Colombia and will not so do. The IRA is not a threat to the peace process in Ireland or in Colombia. The three men have asserted their support for the process and we accept that.
Signed P O'Neill.
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by Daphne Liddle
THOUSANDS of peace supporters last week attended rallies throughout Britain to call on the United States government not to retaliate against the attacks on New York and Washington by waging a war against Afghanistan -- or anywhere else -- that could only ressult in thousands more innocent people killed.
They were also demanding that Tony Blair should not lend the unconditional support of the British government to whatever George Bush may decide to do.
Rallies took place in Glasgow, London, Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Oxford, Cambridge, Colchester and many other places. US air bases in Britain, such as Lakenheath in Suffolk also drew dignified protests that paid respect to the American bereaved while calling for peace.
Whitehall was packed with peace protesters who came to support a picket opposite Wowning Street, organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Those who attended included NCP members, progressives, and many others, including hundreds of individuals belonging to no particular group.
Many had dressed in black and were holding white flowers or placards which said: "Stand shoulder to shoulder for peace and justice: No more violence".
They kept a silent vigil and handed out leaflets to passersby. At 3.30pm a delegation headed by former MP Tony Benn and veteran peace campaigner Bruce Kent handed in a petition to Number Ten, Downing Street.
Tony Blair was at Chequers at the time but received the petition later.
Newly elected CND leader Carol Naughton read a letter from the parents of a young man who was a victim of the World Trade Centre bombing.
"Not in our son's name," it said.
Bruce Kent called on George Bush to recognise the United Nations International Criminal Court and to prosecute the surviving terrorists through international law.
He said it sometimes takes a long time to bring someone to trial but "it is better to take time and not to kill innocent people on the way through".
"If the Pakistan government collapses in a popular insurrection," he added, "as a result of what Bush and Blair are planning, what happens?
"We have a Taliban influenced nuclear power. People just aren't thinking."
A meeting last Thursday in Colchester formed a Stop the War committee, which includes CND, the New Communist Party and others.
Those present agreed to start a campaign in Colchester and to organise a vigil if violence starts; to have a meeting on Friday 5 October against he US drive to war and against the loss of innocent life in the US and elsewhere.
It was agreed that US policy was at the heart of the matter
Around 300 people gathered in Nottingham Market Square last Saturday for a silent vigil for peace for over two hours.
The demonstration was organised by Nottingham Coalition Against War and signatures were collected on a CND petition.
After the silence, the Clarion Choir led singing. Demonstrators held candles.
British and American peace protesters stood shoulder to shoulder outside the US Air Force base to oppose military action in response to the attacks in a protest organised by CND.
Lakenheath is the biggest US base in Europe.
More than 1,000 peace protesters gathered in George Square to demand "Justice, not vengeance" at a rally organised by Scottish CND. They began the rally with a minute's silence for the victims of the attacks in the US.
Nearly 200 people gathered in Leeds for a major rally which is to be followed by a mass public meeting on Friday.
Other Yorkshire rallies wee held in Bradford, Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Halifax.
Around 800 demonstrators assembled in Oxford to remember the victims of the attacks on New York and Washington and to oppose a military response. Many carried candles.
They visited a number of special community sites, including Bath Street Mosque and Christ Church Cathedral and a local synagogue.
A public meeting is scheduled for Thursday.
A rally of around 50 people held a four-hour vigil in fhe market place to express sympathy for all victims of terror. Leaflets were distributed and petition signatures were collected.
And there were many other rallies in other parts of Britain, showing a mounting wave of opposition to a new US war.
Most of these rallies and demonstrations were organised by local broad based peace committees that had come together to oppose the US-British war on Iraq or the war against Yugoslavia. As western imperialism becomes more bellicose, so the response from peace protesters grows and becomes better organised.
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