‘Operation Blowback’ for U.S. Policy


The U.S. government is accusing Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi-born millionaire living in Afghanistan, of being the mastermind of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and is preparing to attack Afghanistan. When it does, it will be striking against its own creations, who have turned against it.

Bin Laden’s organization, relates Michael Moran of NBC on its website, “was nurtured by Pakistan’s state security services, … the CIA’s primary conduit for conducting the covert war against Moscow’s occupation” of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

His forces, fanatically religious Muslims from all over the Middle East, Moran continues, were trusted by the CIA more than the faction-ridden Afghans who constituted the vast majority of the fighters. The Bin Laden forces were therefore provided with “a fortune in covert funding and top-level combat weaponry … and most importantly, the knowledge of how to run a war of attrition violent and well-organized enough to humble a superpower.”

The support of the Bin Laden forces became what in CIA parlance is called a “blowback,” an operation that backfires. Such backfiring occurs not infrequently in the unstable world of capitalism.

One instance of “blowback” was Noriega, a paid agent of the CIA, who was later deposed as ruler of Panama by the U.S. military. Another instance was Saddam Hussein, who was a client of the U.S. government and supported by it in his war against Iran until he decided to invade Kuwait.

“Blowbacks” are not confined to U.S. actions. Israel, according to The New York Times (Sept. 13, 2001, p. A18), “seeking a counterweight to Mr. Arafat, assisted a fledgling group called the Islamic Resistance Movement in the 1980s. The group is known better now by its Arabic shorthand, Hamas.” Hamas, of course, is the now militant organization which claims responsibility for suicide bombings.

A military operation against Afghanistan could readily become a large-scale “blowback,” powerful as the U.S. government is and poor as Afghanistan is. Afghanistan, a highly inaccessible mountainous country with fiercely independent people, is not an easy victim, as the Soviet Union and previous would-be conquerors learned.

The U.S. is threatening Pakistan, demanding bases for an attack on Afghanistan and other forms of aid. However, if the Pakistani government accedes, it may face an internal rebellion. As The New York Times, which is supporting the drive to war but is wary of its consequences, stated on Sept. 15, “Any American victories in Afghanistan would quickly turn into a catastrophic defeat if the war there turned Pakistan, with its 142 million people and nuclear weapons, into an Islamic fundamentalist state.”

The perpetrators of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have, however, already suffered their own “blowback.” The cause for which they gave up their lives was grievously hurt by their act, which was not only inhumane in its killing of thousands of innocent people but counter-productive.

Presumably, they thought they were acting in behalf of the half-million children who have died in Iraq as a result of U.S.-enforced sanctions, of the Palestinians living in Middle Eastern refugee camps and suffering under a brutal occupation enforced by U.S. arms, and of the miserable impoverished masses of the Middle East and Asia groaning under corrupt regimes supported by the United States.

Resentment against imperialist domination took the form of religious objection to American troops near the holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

But Islamic fundamentalism cannot solve the problems of the masses influenced by it. These can only be solved by a revival of an international socialist movement that will give hope to the oppressed and the exploited everywhere and inspire them to struggle in their own behalf, not rely on some self-appointed martyrs whose actions repel potential allies.

Such a socialist revival is foreshadowed by the great demonstrations in Seattle, Washington, D.C., Quebec, and Genoa that have been held against the giant transnational corporations and the international agencies dominated by the governments of the leading capitalist powers. In the meantime, those opposed to a world that is a breeding-ground for hatred and intolerance must organize to fight against a war that will bring destruction abroad and repression at home.

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