Now that ten years are passed since the events of Sept. 11, 2001, we would do well to look back and take note of some of the causes and consequences. We need to sum up and draw lessons. Immediately following the attacks in New York and at the Pentagon, the Bush administration began cynically manipulating events to launch an expansive and ongoing war on the peoples of the world and an escalating campaign of repression here at home under the guise of a ‘war on terror.’ This two-pronged approach to reasserting the power of the U.S. empire at the expense of working and oppressed people is continuing, and in some ways accelerating under the Obama administration.
On the heels of the attacks on 9/11, the U.S. launched its criminal war in Afghanistan in October with the stated purpose of hunting down Osama Bin Laden. They launched their bombing campaign in the face of Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s expressed willingness to cooperate in capturing Bin Laden. Come October 2011, this war will have dragged on for a decade, costing nearly $500 billion and the lives of 1670 U.S. troops, with tens of thousands of Afghans killed and seriously injured.
The illegal war in Iraq was instigated by Bush’s lies regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. In the political climate following 9/11, the corporate media supported and parroted whatever the White House and Pentagon said. The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq cost $800 billion, the lives of 1.4 million Iraqis, more than 4000 U.S. troops dead and more than 100,000 wounded. It is noteworthy that more than 300 times as many deaths occurred in these two wars than in the 9/11 attacks. Likewise, since 9/11, under the guise of the ‘war on terror,’ the U.S. has expanded wars and interventions in Colombia, the Philippines, Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Pakistan, Sudan and elsewhere.
Most recently, the U.S./NATO attacked Libya, seeking to establish a firm foothold in North Africa. All of these wars and interventions are about nothing more than strengthening the power of U.S. imperialism and of lining the pockets of the U.S. ruling class with the spoils of war in the form of oil and other natural resources. For the people of these countries, it means war, occupation and repression, along with the complete violation of their national sovereignty.
All the while, the people of the world, from Afghanistan and Libya, to Colombia and the Philippines continue to fight for self-determination and national liberation. We in Freedom Road Socialist Organization, along with progressive people everywhere, support them with the knowledge that our struggles are linked. The U.S. ruling class, oppressor of nations all over the world, likewise stands on the backs of working and oppressed people here. While the economic depression creates havoc at home for working people, the rich and powerful act as war criminals overseas.
The U.S. government was quick to shift public opinion in its favor following the Sept. 11 attacks. Bush’s “with us or against us” mentality left no room for sane discussion in the mainstream media. This fueled the fire for the notorious Patriot Acts that were quickly pushed through as part of the package deal of repression and war. As a result, an era of state terror against Arabs and Muslims began. Tens of thousands of Arabs and Muslims were subject to ‘special registration,’ put on no-fly lists, placed under surveillance and persecuted by the U.S.’s racist response to 9/11.
Not long after, it became clear that the web of domestic spying was being widened to include the progressive and anti-war communities generally. We understand this particularly well since the law enforcement officer “Karen Sullivan” infiltrated Freedom Road Socialist Organization, along with other groups we are active in, in the build up to the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota. This infiltration led to the FBI raids on the homes and offices of 11 activists on Sept. 24, 2010, subpoenaing them to testify in a grand jury investigation concerning alleged “material support for terrorism.” Today, a total of 24 activists are targets of the investigation, with the threat of indictments looming.
U.S. imperialism is in decline, and the rich and powerful are growing more desperate by the day. As we said in our 2010 Main Political Report, “The ‘war on terror’ launched by the Bush administration was a dramatic attempt by the rulers of the United States to counteract the long running decline of Wall Street’s empire, by using military means. It ended in a series of defeat and stalemates, causing the phrase ‘war on terror’ to be quietly dropped from the Pentagon’s lexicon. The result is that on every continent, the U.S. finds itself struggling to find the methods and forms to maintain its domination, in the context of a declining ability to do so.”
The tragedy of 9/11 happened as a direct consequence of U.S. imperialist policy around the world. As long as these policies, which are part and parcel to the capitalist system itself, are allowed to continue, we will see further tragedy. The U.S. government repression, resulting from the cynical manipulation of this tragedy, has come down on FRSO and our friends because we have steadfastly resisted the ongoing wars and repression, both here and around the world. Likewise people around the world are continuing to fight back against the forces of empire. Despite all of the obstacles that face us in the days, months and years to come, we will continue to resist with all our might until, through mass struggle, a new era of peace, justice and equality is won.