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The Wallpaper War: the United States a decade after 9/11

category international | imperialism / war | feature author Thursday June 14, 2012 20:10author by Michael Schmidt - ex-ZACF Report this post to the editors

The United States a Decade After 9/11

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Uncle Sam gets stuck in

As the US enters yet another election cycle (though it is hard to say whether the US is ever not in election mode these days), it is worth interrogating the current state of the world’s unipolar hyperpower – and of the foreign policy, red in tooth and claw, that affects us all.

The first thing that is important to recognise about the foreign policy of the United States of America is that it has a very specific history, or rather a national mythology that distinguishes it from other countries by the explicit nature of its revolutionary aims. The Revolutionary War established a unique republican state in the West, a reflection in part of the values of the French Revolution, but, isolated by the vast Atlantic, destined to pursue a path of its own. It is thus useful to consider the US state as an explicitly revolutionary state (albeit institutionalised in the Mexican sense of the word), with a national mythology which endows it with a sense of mission in the world. Comparable, though very different, states with expansionist missions driven by revolutionary myths would include Revolutionary France, the Soviet Union until its collapse, Nazi Germany, and post-apartheid South Africa today, with a ruling party explicitly dedicated to a “National Democratic Revolution”. The foreign policy and thus warmaking of Britain and the Netherlands, in contrast, despite having possessed globe-spanning pre-war empires, were never guided by anything similar to such political myths.


The Wallpaper War

The United States a Decade After 9/11


Introduction: A Dispatch from the Hyperpower

As the US enters yet another election cycle (though it is hard to say whether the US is ever not in election mode these days), it is worth interrogating the current state of the world’s unipolar hyperpower – and of the foreign policy, red in tooth and claw, that affects us all.

I arrived in the USA on the eve of the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, spent just over a month there, and left just after visiting the Occupy Wall Street sit-in on Columbus Day. Book-ended by these two great, emotive American commemorations, my visit to the US was the first I had made there in 27 years and I was very curious to see how things had changed since the Wild West heyday of Reaganomics.

Visiting as a teenager, albeit one from the side aligned with the West against the Soviet Bloc, I had been overwhelmed by the brash displays of American consumerism. I was, after all, visiting from the grey, razorwire-snarled frontlines, from a place not dissimilar, strangely enough, to East Germany (with their granite faces, black Hombergs and black suits with red lapel carnations, there was little visible or visceral difference between Erich Honecker and PW Botha). Accustomed to austerity, I was offended by Western waste, and by the hollow ostentation of what we would now call the “bling”.

But the Wall had long fallen and the world and I had changed unalterably. Born into war – the 1961 formation of the ANC’s armed wing having preceded my birth by five years – and having expected peace with the end of that misnamed “Cold War” in which South African conscripts like myself had fought a hot war, partly a US proxy war, against Cuban, East German and Soviet-supplied armor in Angola, I had hoped the fall of apartheid and of the bipolar superpower world of which it was a relic to bring peace.

But the world of 2011 was a world of permanent warfare – and the USA was the prime progenitor, in thrall to the ascendancy of what had once been accurately identified by warmongering US President Lyndon B Johnson as “the military-industrial complex,” a useful shorthand for the agglomeration of corporations based on the oil and defence industries which often drive US foreign policy in a protectionist and sabre-rattling fashion.

As the days passed into weeks, I was impressed by the repeated references in the domestic media to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and to ongoing terrorism trials – references which, apart from a lone notice of the combat death in Helmand of a 22-year-old Marine from Asheville, in the mountains of North Carolina, seemed remote from the apparent calm of everyday American life, a wallpaper war that served as a frequently-referenced, but never quite real backdrop to daily dramas.

That calm proved deceptive, as demonstrated in particular by the internal wars being fought over cultural issues such as the profiling of Muslim Americans as automatic terrorist threats, President Barack Obama’s reversal of the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy on gays in the military, and Alabama’s harsh new law on undocumented immigrants. This article will interrogate that dynamic tension, between a country perpetually at war abroad – and a voting populace at home who enable that warmaking in a context in which they are largely untouched by its effects.

The Ghosts of Wars Past

The first thing that is important to recognise about the foreign policy of the United States of America is that it has a very specific history, or rather a national mythology that distinguishes it from other countries by the explicit nature of its revolutionary aims. The Revolutionary War established a unique republican state in the West, a reflection in part of the values of the French Revolution, but, isolated by the vast Atlantic, destined to pursue a path of its own. It is thus useful to consider the US state as an explicitly revolutionary state (albeit institutionalised in the Mexican sense of the word), with a national mythology which endows it with a sense of mission in the world. Comparable, though very different, states with expansionist missions driven by revolutionary myths would include Revolutionary France, the Soviet Union until its collapse, Nazi Germany, and post-apartheid South Africa today, with a ruling party explicitly dedicated to a “National Democratic Revolution”. The foreign policy and thus warmaking of Britain and the Netherlands, in contrast, despite having possessed globe-spanning pre-war empires, were never guided by anything similar to such political myths.

And because the US national institutional-revolutionary myth is rooted in an armed defence of its version of democratic values, its missionary zeal comes armed; in colonial times this would have meant Bible and black-powder; but now it involves Hollywood/Madison Avenue and US Air Force/CIA-operated Reaper hunter-killer drones. Despite its institutional-revolutionary sense of mission, my term describes the USA at the federal, collective level, and it is important to recognise that there remain significant, deep, historically-rooted regional differences between blocs of individual States – and not merely between the Old North and Old South, or between the East Coast and West Coast (1).

Wherever one goes in the US, one finds evocations of the ghosts of wars past. There are innumerable Revolutionary War statues of alert musket-toting Minutemen, and unashamed tributes in the Southern States to the Confederate Army (the chapel at Duke University in North Carolina has statues of Confederate generals guarding its portico (2)). Less in evidence, unless one looks at the US Marine Corps Museum in Washington DC, are remembrances of American armed interventions in half of the developing world, though a current USMC recruiting pamphlet that I found on the Duke campus boasts: “More than two centuries of winning battles”.

But ubiquitous in the form of public memorials, is World War II which for the Baby-Boomer generation of US presidents prior to Obama was the revolutionary myth updated for the modern era: the shining democratic torch putting evil Nazism to flame and banishing it from the world stage.

The National World War II Museum in New Orleans is an intriguing installation whose curators are clearly trying to grapple honestly with an uncomfortable set of facts. In attempting to redress the imbalances of the past, displays examine the anti-Japanese racism of the US military alongside Japanese anti-Americanism, and sombrely examine the fire-bombing of Tokyo and the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – but stop short of describing these latter as the actual crimes against humanity they were, for it is, I assume, considered morally impossible for an institutional-revolutionary democracy to admit to having committed genocide.

Vietnam is of course the other war that is indelibly imprinted on the modern American conscience, though for very different reasons: there, the enemy was evil Communism, but the torch of democracy sputtered and died in Saigon, a failure that continues to define the Left and haunt the Right. A 10 October New York Times op-ed piece called Vietnam a ghost that dogged Obama’s war policy; meanwhile the “Wall of Healing” Vietnam Memorial – a mobile miniature of the long black marble wall inscribed with names of the dead at The Mall in Washington – travelled the country, affording far-flung veterans the opportunity to mourn their lost youth.

The Globalisation of War Today

Any commentator on American affairs worth their salt has noted the echoes in the American psyche of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in the 2001 “9/11” attacks in New York City and Washington: both were rare, massive attacks on US soil that shook a complacent, inward-looking populace to its core and forced them to re-examine the world outside. Conspiracy theorists claim that Pearl Harbour’s “day that will live in infamy” had in fact not proven so long-lived, had faded in the public mind, and that a cynical cabal within the military-industrial complex orchestrated 9/11 as a pro-war motivational spectacular. I’m not going to pronounce on that – aside from noting that the abysmal pseudo-documentary Zeitgeist, so beloved of the Left, in fact clearly originates with the paranoid American Right. What is true, however, is that the direct effect of 9/11 was to breathe new life into the American institutional-revolutionary mission abroad.

Recognisable chunks of the aircraft engines and landing gear debris from 9/11 are displayed in shafts of light as holy relics at the Newseum in Washington, the centerpiece of a sort of stations-of-the-cross hagiography of the FBI’s role in American internal affairs. That very day, the nation’s front-page news in just about every newspaper celebrated the killing by Reaper drone of alleged Al-Qaeda leader in Yemen, Abu Ali Al-Harithi. The socio-political aftermath of 9/11 was ever-present.

I walked to the 9/11 Ground Zero memorial building site in New York City – which is still partly a big construction site, a decade after the event – and took photographs in a local diner of a score of firemen who had lost their lives that day, a reminder of the intimate, emotional drivers behind the Iraqi and Afghan Wars; the widening ripples of the seemingly perpetual “War on Terror”:
  • Pakistan: I visited the US Navy Memorial in Washington which lauds the SEALs whose Team 6 killed Osama bin Laden last year. Interestingly enough, former Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had admitted at a talk that I attended at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that the SEALs had gone into Pakistan with orders to kill not capture and bring to trial Osama bin Laden, in line with the Nuremburg principles which the US had such a leading role in establishing. This embrace of extrajudicial action is more than adequately demonstrated by the “extraordinary renditions” (kidnapping) of terror suspects to Guantanamo and other detention facilities – and their treatment once there, something that Obama promised and failed to rectify.

  • Iraq: I listened to former CBS Iraq correspondent turned Associated Press intelligence writer Kimberly Dozier, who was seriously injured in a car-bombing in Baghdad in 2006 which killed her driver and the US serviceman she was travelling with, speak on how investigative journalists in the wake of 9/11 navigate the disinformation minefields laid by intelligence agents. With the very reasons for the Iraq War incontrovertibly shown to be bogus, investigative journalists were increasingly called on to negotiate these minefields on behalf of a public that prefers its information stripped down to near-meaningless sound-bites and tweets.

  • And back home in America: a visit to the Washington Post was notable for my guide, the Ombudsman, talking about how the newspaper had been forced to adopt a sophisticated mail-handling system to neutralise anthrax, or other attacks by mail; in some respects, the chickens had come home to roost. Later, I visited the colourful yet calm Occupy Wall Street sit-in in New York City on the on the contested anniversary of “Columbus Day”, a foundational part of the American myth, with its prevailing anti-war sentiment, where a former US Marine made a name for himself on television by defending protestors attacked by the police, saying that he had not fought abroad to defend police brutality at home. But the characterisation by so many people I spoke to of the Occupy Movement as “revolutionary” shows how far removed from reality is their understanding of the balance of forces in their own society.
It is clear to me that Americans, being unaccustomed to protest that does more than merely “speak truth to power,” with their organised working class long since domesticated and integrated into the relative benefits of the system (even though it is largely the poor and working class that forms the bulk of its footsoldiers (3)), have no real notion of how to grasp the nettle of power much beyond the ritual of voting or abstaining. So, despite this marginal domestic dissent, with the “borders” of the US now considered strategically to be located at the frontlines in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Colombia, Jamaica and elsewhere, the war has clearly been successfully globalised by the military-industrial complex. So the question then, was: what was the effect of being perpetually at war with the world mean to the American people themselves?

Homegrown Hate

It would be disingenuous to suggest that America’s threats all originated with foreign devils; after all, the 1995 Oklahoma Bombing was clearly a homegrown affair, committed by outriders of the persistent ultra-Right tendency within the American body politic which on the one hand takes America’s founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution with its early Amendments (including the right to bear arms) literally as the word of God, interpreted in a racial-nativist manner, while on the other hand seditiously attempts to strip the American Revolution of its ossified aspects (including federal institutions such as the Federal Reserve Bank), desiring a return to a presumed purer, original Revolution in which the county sheriff is the highest authority, taxation is abolished, and a rugged autonomous individualism prevails (4).

In order to understand domestic terrorism, in New Orleans, I listened to Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) intelligence project director Heidi Beirich speak on the demographic and economic drivers behind the rise of domestic hate groups. The SPLC was founded in 1981 and has carved out a niche for itself as a key provider of intelligence on, and interdictor of, hate groups ranging from Neo-Nazis and the Klan, to the Nation of Islam and Radical Traditional Catholics, though two-thirds of them are white-supremacist, with 602 white nationalist groups in 2000, rising to more than 1,000 today.

Beirich said there was a “frightening” proliferation of hate groups over the past decade, since 9/11, and especially since Obama’s election: while the FBI claimed about 800 hate crimes were committed each year; the Bureau of Justice Statistics put the figure at 200,000/year.

Few hate groups are specifically anti-gay, and yet the reversal of the “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” policy on gays in the military erupted into the mainstream during my visit, with Republican politicians in a TV debate totally ignoring a question posed by an openly gay soldier via video-feed from Afghanistan – despite the fact that he was clearly serving his country on the frontline – while in North Carolina, legislative opposition to gay marriage was the big culture-war issue of the day. And although few hate groups are focused exclusively on the anti-immigration cause, the drastically changed ethnic demography of the US was a clear driver of hate: in 1970, Beirich said, the US population was 83% white; but that figure had dropped to 66% today; and by 2050, the white population was predicted to fall under 50%.

Fears of being culturally overwhelmed by assimilation-resistant non-whites lay behind the controversial new immigration law, passed in Alabama while I was there, which made it a criminal offence to be found to be an undocumented immigrant in the state. The law was passed despite the fact that it was targeted at a tiny population of only 130,000 out of 4,7-million Alabama residents. The day it was passed, weird scenes unfolded as scores of immigrant families fled the state, leaving keys to homes with sympathetic neigbours and hungry dogs roaming the streets.

A second key driver of hate was the parlous state of the economy after the sub-prime housing boom imploded and the banks responsible were bailed out by the taxpayer victims; this, against a backdrop of longer-term deindustrialisation which has seen factory capacity relocate to under-unionised developing countries, leaving former industrial cities such as Detroit transformed into eerie wastelands, with vacant lots, boarded hotels, looted doctors’ surgeries, vandalised concert halls, and abandoned apartments with food rotting in the fridges (5).

And lastly, the election of the first black president – an initially successful attempt by the US oligarchy to divert attention from the bailout of the banks – provoked an ultra-Right backlash that resonated beyond its usual backwoods militia bunkers: grade-schoolers on an Oklahoma bus were reported recently to have chanted “Assassinate Obama!”

And yet, Beirich noted, Muslims rather than the domestic ultra-Right have borne the brunt of investigations. An example of this Islamophobia was an instructor at the FBI base at Quantico, Virginia, who told his trainees that if a citizen was Muslim and religious, they were automatically suspect, and that the Qu’ran had come to Mohammed in an epileptic fit; trainees complained, the instructor was removed and all FBI training materials on religion and culture are currently under review. To interrogate this further, I attended debate at Duke on “the Radicalisation of Muslims in America.”

Muslims in America

Setting the scene by saying that the profiling of Muslims was out of proportion to the actual threat they represented, Prof Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina, said: “About 20 individuals per year are suspects, with no identifiable ethnic or citizenship profile. Most plots are disrupted before they acquire their materials or select their targets – and one this year was a Shi’ite planning an attack on a Sunni mosque. There have been only 35 murders [in the US] associated with Muslims since 9/11 – out of 150,000 murders a year. Since 2008, there have been 700,000 murders world-wide of which only 15,000 deaths have been associated with Muslim terrorism – excluding Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The world is safer from terrorism than at any time since the 1970s.”

Kurzman went on to quote two recent surveys of public opinion in America, the one on Islam, in which half the respondents had positive attitudes, and the other on Muslims, in which 66% had positive attitudes. This, he said, indicated that while most Americans were ambivalent about the religion, most were also warmly disposed towards “real, living people,” their Muslim neighbours.

Prof David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, an institute with direct intelligence community involvement, responded in similar vein, saying that the sample of home-soil American Muslim terror threats was “so small that it is difficult to do retroactive causal analysis. The fairest answer to why Muslims are radicalising is: we don’t know. There is no profile of the ‘homegrown terrorist’.” The claim that religiosity drove radicalism was “not true, and discredited by many studies: out of the 188 individuals in the data-set, some never became pious at all; one’s grievance was related to an uncle killed in an American drone attack,” he said, hinting that the intimate impact of US foreign policy was a factor. Kurzman said that in recent “Homeland Security closed sessions,” it had been noted that many radical bloggers had, in fact, little knowledge of Islam.

Schanzer referred to a 2008 debate in the New York Times between Dr Marc Sageman who stressed “self-radicalising individuals” and Bruce Hoffman who stressed organised recruitment by terrorists in the US (6), saying “There are many pathways to radicalisation.” Asked whether he thought mental illness played any role, Kurzman said: “Many of these individuals are isolated from their communities; these lone wolves are not weeded out. But recruited terrorists weed out psychotics because they are considered too unstable to be effective.”

Imam Abdullah Antepli, the Duke Muslim Chaplain, a fiery yet moderate Muslim of Turkish extraction who conducts theological training for young imams in Afghanistan, laid the blame directly at the door of the US’s creation of proxy armed forces abroad: “The historical roots of this lie in Afghanistan in the 1980s. I remember the US back then idealising the same people we are chasing now. Our tax money played an extensive role in creating this cancer; we created this monster by our support for the Mujaheddin and we can trace the ideological hotbed of US Muslim extremism to our relationship to the Saudi regime… Religious money is exporting poison.” Kurzman responded, however, that “in the US, only a handful of suspects are connected to Saudi- or Middle East-funded outfits; terrorist attacks are cheap and you don’t need Saudi money.”

In terms of Muslim voting patterns, especially in the swing states of Florida, Ohio and Michigan, where there are concentrations of Muslim voters: studies showed a total US Muslim population, mostly Sunni, of 2.75-million – 45% of whom had entered the US in the past 25 years – of whom about 1,5-million were of voting age; although they tended to vote 70% Democrat, 11% Republican, and the rest Independent, there was no “Muslim vote” per se as the putative “community” was fractured by race, ethnicity, class and country of origin and they tended to vote in synch with their neighbours.

So while cultural wars over gays and immigrants, homegrown hate, and Muslim terrorism vexes Homeland Security, they should weigh very little in the scales – and yet are accorded disproportional importance as a threat partly justifying US gunboat diplomacy.

The Shape of Future War

What will a future American-lead perpetual war look like? If the Republicans can be believed, when (for it is only a matter of time) they reacquire the Oval Office, it seems we are in for “Intervention Lite,” a return to a form of 1930s isolationism, but with very targeted penetrations abroad – not unlike, perhaps the (failed) 1927-1932 combat in Nicaragua against Augusto Sandino’s “Light and Truth” liberated zone.

According to Prof Charles Hermann, of the conservative Bush School of Government and Public Service in Texas (7), the ideal “over-the-horizon” military policy of a future Republican administration (and thus of NATO as well) involved strategic support for regimes that were prepared to hold regular elections, in order to prevent them spiraling downwards into failed states. Hermann asked whether the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011, nominally to prevent human rights abuses against the rebels by the regime, had not been its last hurrah, suggesting that if British and French defence spending continued at current levels, those two US allies would be unable to stage a repeat of Libya.

But the US, despite itself being hit by financial crisis, recession and a soaring national debt at 90% of GDP, driven by the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, the Department of Defence’s $675-billion/year budget had ballooned by 80% since 9/11. Hermann said that some of this defence spending was given flight by scare-mongering over the intentions of China, North Korea and Iran, but he felt that these were overstated: “I see this as a management problem, as they are running countries and are interested in staying in power.”

Hermann quoted Robert Gates, former Defense Secretary under President George W Bush and now Dean of the Bush School, saying that “fractured or failing states are the main security threat of our times,” adding that Oxford economist Prof Paul Collier noted that there was a remarkable overlap between failed states and the “bottom billion” of the world’s poor, resulting in bad governments and recurrent coups (Mali in West Africa, which has recently experienced a coup as I write this, is the third-poorest nation on earth).

So how would a Republican-run military-industrial complex wage war, via NATO in particular? Hermann recommended an “over-the-horizon” support role: “We’re not trying to overthrow bad governments [à-la Iraqi “regime change”]; we’re providing security for good governments – the reverse of [NATO policy in] Bosnia-Herzegovina – if you develop and allow free and fair elections.” So the bottom billion will be left to rot, but what would NATO do about bad governments like Syria? “If they don’t get on board, we leave them alone. I don’t think we have the resources, and to be honest, the political will, to overthrow the bad guys.” On the other hand, support for “good governments,” based on contracts with client states which would involve grooming the younger, upwardly-mobile middle officer castes, could embrace African states such as Nigeria and Kenya – to prevent the spread of the Arab Spring south of the Sahara, Hermann said.

Precisely what impact the global economic crisis will have on American military strategy in future is far from clear, however. Take, for instance, the remarkable way in which the Pentagon views itself. I managed to secure access to this enormous complex of 23,500 workers (top-heavy with brass: 70% of the military staff are officers) with its Humvee-wide corridors and its courtyard Ground Zero Café above which any future enemy ICBMs would detonate dead-centre, having recognised the building’s unique geometry incoming from space, as a journalist, not a civilian, which perhaps explains the following.

Bryan Whitman, the Principal Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (8), had just expounded on how the US military operated globally, across all time-zones, underscoring the unusual degree of personal latitude allowed by the Pentagon to its regional commanders, whose six regional combatant commands divide the Earth like segments of a giant orange: “We plan centrally and operate decentrally, so the field commanders have a lot of autonomy. The ambassadors [under the State Department] focus on their own country [of posting] but the commanders [under the Pentagon] look at regional security (9).”

I responded that seeing as how the US military had this enormous 24-hour global presence, with its own state-like infrastructure (housing, engineering, social services, etc), massive staff and facilities (some ZIP codes are those floating cities called aircraft carriers), and heavily-armed semi-autonomous regional forces, and given that the military officer caste was largely unaffected by changes in whichever political party rotated through the White House and therefore could devise longer-term strategies than the State Department whose foreign policy was bound to the incumbent Presidency – given all that, was the US military not in fact a parallel world government?

Whitman gave me a long, penetrating look, and then said “I think you have answered your own question” – which to me was a remarkably frank admission from the senior ranks about how the military-industrial complex viewed itself superior to the elected Presidency (10).

The implication of this in Africa, was implied by Pentagon spokesman and legal expert David Oten who said direct military-to-military co-operation was often one of the best ways for the US to engage diplomatically “because often the [African] military is the only centre of national power – there is no strong legislature, etc.”

In sum, I suspect that the Whitmans of the Pentagon will prevail over the Hermanns or whoevers of the forseeable-future White House. But it would be a mistake to cartoon the Whitmans as boorish hawks committed to bombing-for-profit; on the contrary, his caste are sophisticated navigators of the brave new world: “Just because CNN, etcetera asks me a question, how should I rank that against a guy who runs a blog in Bolivia that covers all of Latin America and that everyone reads?”

Lieutenant-Colonel Todd Breasseale, former spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) and now the Pentagon spokesperson on Western Hemisphere policy, detainee affairs (including Guantanamo) and US Southern Command (Mexico-to-Antarctica), was even more disarming, describing ex-Marine turned Al Jazeera journalist Josh Rushing who resigned from the military after being ordered by the Pentagon not to speak to the media about his experiences managing information flow during the Iraq War, as “a revolutionary, a young, thinking officer who was engaging at a time of war. The Marines froze him out and treated him so poorly; he quit on principle – a very valid principle – and now runs the brilliant show Front Lines,” which covers the impact of US foreign policy in the Americas. “Now the Marine Corps has him speak to them about their mistakes. That’s progress.”

I had met Rushing the day before and he was honestly described. But before we are too charmed, here is that language again: the institutional-revolutionary mission of America in waging war abroad.

Conclusion: Perpetual Institutional-Revolutionary War?

So, what to make of a country where the home front is so apparently placid that walls around homes are a rarity, and car crashes rate high on state-wide news programmes – and yet which wages war across a globe it considers its own? For one thing, the 1823 Monroe Doctrine that treated Latin America as the back-yard of the US, providing the rationale for interventions everywhere from Argentina to Cuba, has clearly long been updated to embrace the whole post-Soviet world.

Regarding the American public’s investment in this vision, Breasseale estimated that “less than 1% have some involvement with the military, but the American people spend a lot of money on defence. Every time we lose someone in combat, we put out a press release, because we don’t want to ever hide the true cost – in blood.”

That’s all very well, but it implies a deep level of disconnection between where and why American blood is spilled, and the populace who politically enable their youth to go off and fight obscure battles. And I’m not sure I agree with Breasseale: the presence of the military is hard to avoid in American civilian life. From the National Guard recruiting at the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual conference – of all things! – to the almost unquestioned presence on college campuses of students in uniform and of Reserve Officer Training Corps recruiters (the 1970 Kent State Shootings are a distant memory), from a Medal of Honor recipient opening the New York Stock Exchange, to the returnees greeted at airports by girls wearing military-groupie T-shirts, from the steady trickle of bodies coming home through the giant military morgue at Dover, to the veteran-themed country fairs, it is obvious that the military is a permanent yet strangely under-recognised feature of American civilian consciousness.

The US just doesn’t feel like a country at war. And yet, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert “Disaster Bob” Ditchey, a Secretary of Defense spokesman who holds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) portfolio for the US, Canada and Mexico, co-ordinating DHS, US Northern Command (US and Canada), and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD, the joint US-Canadian aerospace defence system), told me that on Obama’s initiative, 1,200 National Guardsmen were now helping police the border with Mexico; clearly even the Obama regime had felt the need to respond militarily to the widespread domestic fears of illegal immigration run out of control. Clearly, whether Republican or Democrat, “keeping things down on the farm” by force of arms is still considered a domestic political necessity.

It also needs to be stressed that the supposedly kinder, gentler Obama regime (in 2007, before attaining office, Obama renounced the first-strike use of nuclear weapons) has also embarked on the largest-ever refurbishment and expansion of America’s nuclear warfare capacity, a programme that will run for several decades after Obama retires (11). This is clear evidence of an incumbent president serving the longer-range interests of the military-industrial complex rather than even his own party’s medium-term interests.

When I visited the US last, it was the year 1984 and many people were throwing parties mocking George Orwell’s great dystopian novel 1984, saying smugly to each other, “see how wrong he was?” But they missed the point: the totalitarian hyperpower Oceania of Orwell’s tale draws its legitimacy from its geopolitical backdrop: a far-off, possibly fake, yet endless war with their seamlessly alternating enemies, Eurasia and Eastasia. I had the eerie sense on this visit, 27 years later, that a substantial part of the US citizenry themselves had become pilotless drones, operating against a backdrop of a far-off war that, like the citizenry of Oceania, left them physically unaffected – but which yet required their ideological acquiescence.

The great French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1840 in his landmark work Democracy in America: “No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country… it must invariably and immeasurably increase the powers of civil government, it must compulsorily concentrate the direction of all men and the management of all things in the hands of the administration. If it does not lead to despotism by sudden violence, it prepares men for it more gently by their habits.”

A unipolar hyperpower, its citizenry gently prepared by a perpetual war that is more wallpaper to their daily habits than painful first-hand experience, for the concentration not of the powers of civil government – but of the powers of a military-industrial caste erudite yet far more seditious of elected democracy than any on the political fringes, armed with world-ending weaponry and a messianic sense of revolutionary right and unassailable mission, such a power has as much potential to be a long-term destabilising, as well as stabilising, factor on the world stage.

Michael Schmidt


FOOTNOTES:

1) An erudite examination of the shifts in these regional dynamics since the height of the Vietnam War is given in Jeremy Black, Altered States: America since the Sixties, Reaktion Books, London, UK, 2006.

2) It is 150 years since the North’s still-controversial “Restoration” of the South following the Civil War, which critics call the imposition by force of alien values on Southerners, and an argument was raging during my visit in one North Carolina town about whether to restore to its place of public prominence a Confederate statue damaged in a van accident.

3) A great cultural reference for the desperation that drives the poor into the US military, which offers them not only employment but the chance to get bursaries to study, is the harrowing film Winter’s Bone, starring Jennifer Lawrence, directed by Debra Granik, screenplay by Granik and Anne Rosellini, USA, 2010.

4) A good exposition of the root elements and flowering of this ultra-Right is James Coates, Armed and Dangerous: the Rise of the Survivalist Right, Hill and Wang, New York City, USA, 1995. Coats repeatedly mentions, but seemingly fails to appreciate, the poverty which drove many of those he describes into extremism; perhaps this is why many ultra-Right themes in America are shared by the ultra-Left. Given that Coates’s book is outdated, being a reprint of a 1987 text, an update on the religious ultra-Right is provided by Chris Hedges, American Fascists: the Christian Right and the War on America, Vintage, London, UK, 2008. There was a restricted gathering of such ultra-Right groups in the Appalachian Mountains during my trip.

5) For a chilling photographic essay on Detroit’s decline, take a look at Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s work online at www.marchandmeffre.com. Detroit was where the alleged “Underwear Bomber” stood trial during my visit, while Michigan state was home to a man arrested for planning to fly radio-controlled model aircraft armed with bombs into the Pentagon and the US Capitol.

6) Sageman is a former CIA operative based in Pakistan in 1987-1989, now anti-terrorism consultant, and author of Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, USA, 2008. Hoffman is Director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University, a specialist in terrorism and counter-insurgency, editor-in-chief of Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, and the series editor of Columbia Studies in Terrorism and Irregular Warfare. Their debate is outlined in "A Not Very Private Feud Over Terrorism": www.nytimes.com/2008/06/08/weekinreview/08sciolino.html.

7) Why focus on the Republicans only here? We know how a Democrat regime currently wages war and we can expect more of the same if Obama wins; while the recession has clearly altered Republican objectives since the Bush era. I also met with representatives of the American constructivist far Right, and constructivist far Left, by which I distinguish them from the demolitionist terrorist ultras of both stripes: the Libertarian Party on the Right is minimum-state, minimum-war capitalist; the North-Eastern Federation of Anarchist Communists (NEFAC) on the Left argued for an anti-war decentralist community control of the economy. The Libertarian Party has a marginal electoral showing (4% in the 2008 Presidential elections) and NEFAC had just split into revolutionary and moderate projects. But despite the intriguing arguments both sides could mount, they are both too far from the levers of power in America to have any impact on how, let alone whether, the US wages war.

8) Whitman’s official bio is online at www.defense.gov/bios/biographydetail.aspx?biographyid=212.

9) For instance, the new Africa Command (Africom) has now calved off European Command (Eucom), which covers Europe and North Africa, because Sub-Saharan Africa is geopolitically detached from North Africa and Europe. Africom is still headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, and has yet to find a home in Africa, though Ghana and South Africa are contenders. Africom is the aegis for the Africa-dedicated components of the US Air Force, US Marine Corps, and Special Operations (based in Germany), US Navy and US Army (based in Italy), and the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (based at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti).

10) Beyond the Presidency’s considerable powers, including the President’s as commander-in-chief of all US armed forces, there exist three large, yet less visible and mostly unaccountable and unelected centres of power in the US: firstly the military-industrial complex itself; secondly the state bureaucracy, one of the world’s largest and most powerful, which, like the military-industrial complex, has its own strategic foreign interests separate to those of the incumbent Presidency and which because it is likewise unelected has longer tenure in office and thus longer-range objectives than incumbent parties; and lastly the plutocracy, the wealthy old-boys’ club of lobbyists from Washington, Silicon Valley, Houston and elsewhere who push their own private agenda, including the US-supremacist “Project for an American Century.”

11) See Darwin Bond-Graham, "Obama’s Worst Sell-out?", Counter-punch, USA, September 23-25, 2011.

author by Waynepublication date Wed Jun 20, 2012 02:10Report this post to the editors

An excellent overview of current US political and cultural attitudes toward war. I assume it is on purpose that you do not go into the economic factors, in the era of the long decline of world capitalism. There is a need for the economically weakening US to assert itself, against rival empires and against poorer states, through its unique area of strength, namely military power.

I am a little surprised, though, that a South African, when examining the cultural background to US politics and militarism, does not mention the historic influence of the frontier and being a colonial-settler state. These things helllp shape the culture of US militarism. Also, the early US was not much of "a reflection in part of the values of the French Revolution," since the US revolution occured first (the influence went mainly the other way).

The lack of an anti-war movement right now is directly related to the massive demonstrations against the beginning of the Iraq war, in the US and around the world--which were ignored and had no effect. Very demoralizing. After that, the anti-war movement, such as it was, threw itself into electing Democrats. Even now, many support Obama on the grounds that he supposedly ended the war in Iraq and is "pulling oiut" of Afghanistan. But the wars have become very unpopular with everyone and will play a part in the mass radicalization which is barely beginning.

But thanks for the thoughtful analysis.

author by Michael Schmidt - ex-ZACFpublication date Wed Jun 20, 2012 22:32Report this post to the editors

Hi Wayne

Thanks for your kind - and your challenging - comments.

This piece was originally written in April for a more mainstream journal, which explains why it is written pretty straight-down-the-line without a distinctly anarchist analysis. Also, economics is one of my weak points, so it is not something I integrated much into the piece!

Regarding the linkages between the French and American Revolutions, I believe that in their aftermaths, the influences worked both ways - think of figures like Lafayette - at least until France succumbed to Bonapartism, and even sideways - think of L'Overture and Haiti.

It is a good point you make about the frontier myth contributing significantly to the US warfaring psyche - and certainly it is true that a similar frontier myth underwrote the apartheid state's military incursions into our Southern African neighbours, the "Frontline States".

In many respects, it is an anecdotal rather than an analytical piece, but I felt that in trying to grasp the slippery social sense of a nation that mythologised warfaring in order to commit very real acts of war, but whose population was clearly estranged from what war meant, required more, say, "cultural" tools :)

red & black regards
Michael

author by Jenjenpublication date Sun Jun 24, 2012 08:25Report this post to the editors

"NEFAC had just split into revolutionary and moderate projects"

-- Hi Michael. Could you please elaborate or cite a source? I was under the impression that NEFAC slowly dissolved into regional groupings and its rump renamed itself Common Struggle, but I'd be interested to hear if there was a political split. Are both factions remaining as endorsers with the Anarkismo statement, or has one (I'm assuming the moderate) rejected it?

author by Tompublication date Mon Jul 02, 2012 04:19Report this post to the editors

I think this is a bit superficial. For example, opinion surveys indicate that a majority of Americans want the military budget cut to fund social services. To suppose that the federal military-security state is simply a reflection of popular attitudes is misleading. I could refer to many other opinion surveys that show how what the leadership in Congress & the federal state do is at odds with majority public opinion. The plutocracy is very much in control of the state.

Also, your history is inaccurate. There were some democratic initiatives from below during the revolt against England, by farmers and artisans, but this was far weaker than in the French revolution. The leadership of the revolt and the people who crafted the institutions, such as the US Constitution, hated democracy. They did NOT have a pro-democracy ideology. During the French revolution, perhaps due to influence of people like Rousseau (who was unknown in America during the revolution here), there was at least a brief period when all males had the right to vote. This never happened during the American revolution, and universal white male right to vote wasn't really secured throughout the country til after the American Civil War. At the time the US Constitution was approved only one-eighth of the population had the right to vote.

The original ideology was republicanism. Tom Paine defined this as "representative government." The elite of the revolutionary era had a classical education and were aware of Aristotle's definition of democracy as "the rule of the poor" and shared his distaste for direct democracy. The word "democracy" in the USA did not change its meaning, to refer to elections and representation as "democracy" til the era of Andrew Jackson and the first moves to enfranchise white wage-workers in the 1830s. White male worker vote happened earlier in the Anglo-Saxon ex-colonies in general than in Europe because these were settler states where the elite had a project of creating a cross-class racist alliance against the indigenous population (and against blacks in the USA).

author by Michael Schmidtpublication date Tue Jul 17, 2012 00:22Report this post to the editors

Living in another country, my understanding is necessarily patchy but you are correct that NEFAC devolved into regional groupings, first with the Canadians forming their own linguistic groupings and then in the US into other blocs. As I heard it from ex-NEFACers in New York, there was indeed a political divide in the US as well, with some branches adopting what was characterised to me as a "social democratic approach" to various issues. The apparent fact that this and the countervailing platformist tendency approximated geographical locations led me to use the term "projects" in the sense of rather loose works-in-progress. Of course in any such situation, there are a plethora of individual motivations that diverge from such looosely-defined projects. So perhaps ex-NEFACers would characterise my necessarily oversimplified explanation differently - and would provide a better, more nuanced explanation.

Red & Black regards
Michael

author by Michael Schmidtpublication date Tue Jul 17, 2012 00:39Report this post to the editors

Thanks for your insights on the plutocratic republicanism of the founding fathers - and of the belated expansion of the white male working class vote.

The sense in which I use the loaded term "democracy" here was naturally the institutional oligarchic sense. I am indeed aware of the moves towards a truer democratisation of the American Revolution and its aftermath, and the way in which they failed to achieve the critical mass that the French Revolution did, so again, the Mexican Revolution comparison is perhaps better.

I readily admit to my article being based more on anecdote and interview than on research, but I don't believe I was saying that the sentiment of the American public and working class in particular towards warfaring merely reflected that of the plutocracy. Rather I was saying that the (voting) public, and the key yet demobilised (if I can use that term!) working class, was the enabler of that warfaring, yet was strangely detached from the experiences common to most nations at war, despite the "logic" of war being so pervasive a political tool in US *domestic* as well as foreign policy.

Red & Black regards
Michael

author by Tompublication date Thu Jul 19, 2012 09:16Report this post to the editors

Michael, you speak of the working class as "the enabler" of the imperialist role (warfaring) of the USA. It seems to me this is only true in the sense that the working class in the USA has failed to develop from its struggles a powerful anti-capitalist class movement that could challenge the plutocracy for control of the country. That is true but is not a very profound or useful way of looking at the origins of the USA's imperial role.

The elite at the time of the American revolution saw the potential of the USA expanding across the continent and becoming an imperial power. This was an elite project. They did tend to sell the crass project of destruction of the native Indians on the basis that poor whites would get land. Only the poor whites didn't get much land. Speculators, railroads, mining companies etc got the land. But the initial adventures outside the boundaries of the USA were initiated from the top and did not have much working class support. Even the AFL opposed the war with Spain in 1898. The seizure of the Hawaian Islands was a conspiracy of the white plantation owners. There was a high level of working class opposition to US entry in World war 1 with the Socialist Party vote growing hugely in 1917. This is why a huge level of repression was initiated by the government in 1917. The maintainance of worldwide military network by the USA has been a bipartisan project of Democrats and Republicans since World War 2. How would working class voters who oppose this have registered opposition, given that both parties are supporters of it? This sort of ignores the undemocratic nature of the American republic.

author by Tompublication date Thu Jul 26, 2012 06:35Report this post to the editors

If one wants to make a case for sections of the working class in the USA working as "enablers" of imperialism, I think a better way to do this would to be to look not at voting, but at the foreign policy of the AFL-CIO and how it came to work closely with the US State Department after World War 2. The AFL first began to develop its own foreign policy during the revolutionary era around World War 1, when the AFL bureaucrats were challenged internally by socialists and externally by the IWW and other independent unions. This was the era when there were attempts to form revolutionary labor internationals, such as the Red Labor Union International and the International Workers Association. To defend its own turf in the union world, Gompers and the AFL leadership tried to develop a pro-capitalist labor international, starting with their links to the vellow unjon in Mexico, CROM, a right wing split from the Casas, and the bitter enemy of the revolutionary syndicalist CGT.

During and after World War 2 the AFL and CIO worked very closely with the US State Department, especially in efforts to attack communist or radical unions in various countries...AFL-CIO operatives were involved in supporting some right wing coups in Latin America (hence the nickname "AFL-CIA"). Although the Communist Party and other socialist groups had thousands of activists in unions during the huge working class upsurge in the '30s and during World War 2, the more conservative bureaucracies were able to squelch radical tendencies in the unions and the radical left were driven out of the unions to a large extent by the mid-'50s, which made it easier for a pro-imperialist foreign policy to become entrenched. That said, this is not a problem unique to the USA. The various social democratic, labor and socialist parties in western Europe, and often their associated unions, have also been pro-imperialist in practice. It's worth keeping in mind that the capitalist elite in Europe and Japan benefit tremendously from the US military machine. They have their investments protected, and the capitalist system is protected, and they don't have to spend much of their national income on maintaining a big military.

The foreign policy of the AFL-CIO is very consistent with the traditional AFL ideology of accepting capitalism and seeking only limited modifications in the capitalist regime for their specific organized groups of workers, rather than building a class-wide worker solidarity movement and seeking working class emancipation.

In more recent decades, as the unions in the USA have been under severe attack, and leftist critics have gained greater presence in some unions, at least at the local level, and especially since the "free trade" pacts were passed in the '90s, AFL-CIO has slowly been changing its foreign policy to some extent...now defending immigrant workers, developing closer links to some dissident unions in Mexico (especially the Mine & Metal Workers Union), and making at least tepid criticisms of the Iraq war...mainly due to the influence of US Labor Against the War -- a large alliance of local unions in the AFL-CIO.

author by S. Nappalos - MASpublication date Tue Jul 31, 2012 13:14author email s.nappalos at gmail dot comReport this post to the editors

To my understanding there hasn't been any splits in NEFAC. Quebec and New England divided, but I'm not sure I'd characterize that as a split. Either way it's complicated and wouldn't fit into neat boundaries solely around politics.

In the US, as far as I know there are no locals or any groupings of former-NEFAC members. I have heard some individuals have quit for their perceived political differences, but I wouldn't characterize that as being radical vs moderate, nor platformist vs social democratic based on what I've heard and the individuals involved. Even casual readings of recent Common Struggle publications, activity around May 1st, etc., would make the social democratic charge pretty laughable. Having worked with CS comrades closely since occupy and May 1st pretty closely, I feel safe in saying they are some of the most reliable and dedicated revolutionaries in the US coming out of the anarchist communist tradition, and dedicated to breaking from reformist practices towards a clear anarchist communist praxis in struggle.

Those statements strike me as being second hand rumors, and especially since they seem to be coming from ex-members we should be more careful in repeating things like that given that people often leave upset. No hard feelings to Michael, but as a movement I think it's better for us to focus on public positions, activity, and principled debates and not get carried into rumors. We need more healthy debate in our movement, so I'd welcome people raising their critiques of our northern comrades in an open format where the whole movement can benefit from the lessons learned.

author by Bernardo - Common Struggle Libertarian Communist Fedpublication date Tue Aug 07, 2012 02:26author email circleamatt at gmail dot comReport this post to the editors

Yeah, whomever's spreading rumors about Common Struggle's politics (formerly NEFAC) obviously has an axe to grind, which I think should be retired to facilitate future collaboration with a fresh start. Members in New England were labeled soft and reformist over the past few years because some of us favored a change of name in order to be better received while engaging in social movements; or because we preferred putting out an agitational periodical aimed at social movement rank-and-filers audience, rather than using the Northeastern Anarchist magazine as an all-purpose periodical; or because some of us made tactical decisions to work with NGO's like Jobs With Justice and City Life/Vida Urbana. This work has allowed our members to develop important skills as organizers and reach a larger audience with anarchist-communist ideas around direct action, neighborhood and workplace organizing, anti-racism and other areas of focus.

Truth be told, quite the contrary to moving toward social democracy, we have an active (informal, porous) tendency that identifies with Jamesian Marxist politics as much/more than platformism. We're also heavily influenced by especifismo these days. Recently we've organized readings of Black Flame, Truth and Revolution, and Social Anarchism & Organization (by the FARJ). Our members are fairly heavily involved in IWW workplace organizing, Boston public transit anti-fare hike organizing, anti-fascism, rank-and-file union activism, solidarity networks, and a little bit of radical queer organizing; if all that makes us social democrats, then fine, I guess we're social democrats.

In any case, my understanding is that some of our members who more recently left this year joined another class struggle anarchist organization with which we have good relations; speaking for myself I am very impressed with said organizations' work and look forward to close cooperation as the North American social struggles continue to escalate.

(Note: I'm omitting the name of the group since it's not really my place to out anybody or otherwise gossip in public)

Related Link: http://commonstruggle.org
author by Bernardopublication date Tue Aug 07, 2012 06:50Report this post to the editors

Seems I was operating under old information; what I said about the other, unnamed class struggle anarchist group seems now to be untrue, either because it didn't actually happen or because it didn't last. Sorry for the error.

author by Tompublication date Sun Aug 12, 2012 09:08Report this post to the editors

There is one more point in this piece I want to question. Michael says: "It is clear to me that Americans, being unaccustomed to protest that does more than merely “speak truth to power,” with their organised working class long since domesticated and integrated into the relative benefits of the system."

Apparently in his brief tourist visit, or other research, Michael did not have occasion to consider what has happened to the working class in the USA over the past 35 years. Since the early '70s the plutocracy in the USA has waged a highly aggressive class war against the working class -- destroying unions, privatizing and cutting public services, reducing the legal minimum wage, and engaging in illegal and intransigent practices to avoid unions in their workplaces. During this period the average wage for a male without any college education has declined by more than one-fourth and for women with no college education by 17 percent. And the real wage rate is still declining...by far the longest and deepest decline in the wage rate in the history of the USA. Access to unemployment benefits has been made more difficult...only one third of the unemployed were collecting unemployment benefits in the current depression versus about half for the unemployed in the 1950s. With few legal protections for workers and wages in drastic decline, numerous northern European and Japanese firms have set up manufacturing in the USA, especially in the south...now regarding the USA as sort of their Latin America.

Meanwhile the tax burden has been shifted away from corporations & property to wage earners, via cuts to taxes of the wealthy & corporations, and undermining the fiscal basis of public services. Due to the plutocracy's offensive the rate of unionism in the private sector has fallen to about 6 percent...less than it was a century ago. And now the aggression has turned against public sector workers. Through this period there have been periodic fight backs and often bitter strikes, which have usually been defeated.

So maybe Michael would like to explain what the "relative benefits" are that the working class in the USA receives? Are the plutocracy sharing their booty from investments in other countries? Well, apparently not.

The working class in the USA has obviously not yet figured out how to overcome the legacy of the post-World War 2 years of bureaucratic business unionism (a problem that the working class also faces in Europe, where bureaucratic unionism is also entrenched) or figure out a new approach to actually reverse the downhill slide. But as the Occupy movement, the Oakland general strike of Nov 2011, and the Longview longshore struggle should suggest, there is resistance and people are trying to figure out new methods and initiatives to fight back.

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Issue #3 of the Newsletter of the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective

Front page

Elementos da Conjuntura Eleitoral 2014

The experiment of West Kurdistan (Syrian Kurdistan) has proved that people can make changes

[Chile] EL FTEM promueve una serie de “jornadas de debate sindical”

Ukraine: Interview with a Donetsk anarchist

The present confrontation between the Zionist settler colonialist project in Palestine and the indigenous working people

Prisões e mais criminalização marcam o final da Copa do Mundo no Brasil

An Anarchist Response to a Trotskyist Attack: Review of “An Introduction to Marxism and Anarchism” by Alan Woods (2011)

هەڵوێستی سەربەخۆی جەماوەر لە نێوان داعش و &

Contra a Copa e a Repressão: Somente a Luta e Organização!

Nota Pública de soldariedade e denúncia

Üzüntümüz Öfkemizin Tohumudur

Uruguay, ante la represión y el abuso policial

To vote or not to vote: Should it be a question?

Mayday: Building A New Workers Movement

Anarchist and international solidarity against Russian State repression

Argentina: Atentado y Amenazas contra militantes sociales de la FOB en Rosario, Santa Fe

Réponses anarchistes à la crise écologique

50 оттенков коричневого

A verdadeira face da violência!

The Battle for Burgos

Face à l’antisémitisme, pour l’autodéfense

Reflexiones en torno a los libertarios en Chile y la participación electoral

Mandela, the ANC and the 1994 Breakthrough: Anarchist / syndicalist reflections

Melissa Sepúlveda "Uno de los desafíos más importantes es mostrarnos como una alternativa real"

International | Imperialism / War | en

Sun 21 Sep, 08:01

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toarms.gif imageWar is hell 20:34 Wed 25 Apr by MACG 1 comments

There are two possible futures. In one of them, the conflicts between the imperialist countries, and between them and China, will grow until some miscalculation leads to a nuclear war which could destroy humanity. The other possibility, the only means of avoiding that fate, is a workers' revolution to abolish capitalism and eliminate the causes of war. We can do it and we start by building the labour movement and taking a stand against militarism today. Instead of idolising the Anzacs, we should mourn them, and instead of glorifying the military, we should oppose its very existence.

binladensnipershotdead.jpg imageThe man who knew too much 06:37 Thu 05 May by MACG 0 comments

Statement of Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group. [Italiano]

bahrain_tanks.jpg imageArab dictatorships launching their biggest attack on the masses 05:26 Tue 15 Mar by Mazen Kamalmaz 1 comments

Latest news from our Syrian comrade Mazen Kamalmaz: The situation looks quite bleak for the future of the Arab peoples' revolutions: the official machine of the regimes' repression is unleashed to its maximum in several countries, threatening to put down by brutal force the uprisings of the Libyan, Bahraini and Yemeni masses. Our solidarity is needed in terms of actions of support!
[Italiano] [Ελληνικά] [Castellano] [العربية ]

textAustralian Imperialism 17:45 Sat 24 Apr by Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group 0 comments

Unlike the capitalists, the working class can unite across national boundaries. We can sweep away the capitalists and their State, with its armies, police and prisons. We can build libertarian communism, a world of peace and plenty, a world of both freedom and security. We can and we must.

textResponse to Gaza Bombings in Manhattan - demonstration today in front of the israeli consulate 18:58 Sun 28 Dec by Ilan S. 1 comments

When news from the destruction of Gaza- which has claimed more than 200 lives- reached New York City, communities jumped into action.

Not wanting to waste time, an assorted group of Israeli activists came together that afternoon to hold signs in front of the consulate. Most of them knew each other from past demonstrations, but they were never united under one banner. They were members of Breaking the Silence, Anarchists Against the Wall, and Combatants for Peace back home.

300_0___20_0_0_0_0_0_settimanarossa.jpg imageItaly 90 years ago: World War I ends 17:21 Tue 04 Nov by Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici 0 comments

90 years later, let 4 November be a day for repudiating war, for anti-militarism and non-violence between peoples, for ceasefires and the de-militarization of all war zones, for the withdrawal of the Italian army and all armies from fake peace-keeping missions. [Italiano]

textMayday 2008: A Fine Day for the Working Class 20:03 Mon 05 May by ronan 0 comments

For those of us involved in the fight for workers' power, the 1st of May gave us much to be cheerful about. Traditionally a day to celebrate working class solidarity and militancy, workers in America and Iraq, marked May 1st with a wonderful demonstration of both of these fine qualities.

textNATO out of Afghanistan 20:00 Mon 14 Apr by Alternative Libertaire 0 comments

The French State has chosen military escalation in Afghanistan. Not only will it increase its manpower on the ground, which will increase to 2,700 soldiers this summer up from the current figure of 1,700, but it will be sending a battalion of 700 soldiers to a combat zone of much more intensity than the area of Kabul where most of the French task force is currently concentrated. [ Français ]

textThe Sino-American Arms Race Begins 01:41 Fri 19 Jan by Jeff McMahan 0 comments

The Chinese gov't just tested a ASAT (anti-satellite attack) system successfully. The US is bound to respond by ratcheting up its warmarking capabilities in space.

mediterranean.jpg image"Mare Nostrum" - statement on Italian military intervention abroad 21:19 Wed 13 Sep by Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici 0 comments

Peace in the Mediterranean cannot depend on military peace missions, only on the re-birth of civil society and on the autonomy of the workers' movements in each country, together with de-militarization and disarmament on all fronts.

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imageThe war to end all wars Aug 06 by MACG 0 comments

One hundred years ago today, Germany declared war on Belgium and Britain declared war on Germany. Starting with the assassination of an Archduke in Sarajevo on 28 June, an escalating series of mobilisations and declarations over five weeks ended up being the first truly World War.

imageThe rise of Russia in the international system Sep 26 by Bruno Lima Rocha 0 comments

Vladimir Putin, ex-KGB agent, is a man with close ties to the oil giant Gazprom, whose power is based in the Russian security apparatus and strengthened by his governments. [Português]

imageSouth Africa’s rulers have blood on their hands Apr 18 by Shawn Hattingh 0 comments

Many people in South Africa were shocked by the death of at least 13 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) troops when rebels overran their base in the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). Amongst the public and within the media questions soon started arising around the possible reasons why troops were in CAR to begin with. When it emerged that troops were possibly partly deployed to protect businesses in CAR linked to top African National Congress (ANC) officials, there was widespread outrage. The fact that South African troops were involved in protecting the political and economic interests of wealthy people linked to the South African state in CAR, and other African countries, should perhaps, however, not come as a surprise. Throughout its history, whether during apartheid or post apartheid, the South African state – which is controlled by the ruling class and headed up by members of this class - has been most willing to deploy troops in parts of Africa to protect the political, economic and strategic interests of the South African ruling class.

textClass Struggle Anarchist Statement on Gaza Jan 16 by W.S.A. 3 comments

Workers Solidarity Alliance statement on situation in Gaza

textImperialism, China and Russia Sep 07 by Pier Francesco Zarcone 0 comments

An inter-imperialist clash is taking place in the Caucasus in which the Georgian dwarf is acting on behalf of the United States. The perfectly predictable and immediate Russian response - awarding Putin the first round - has only highlighted what an imbecile Georgia's president is. As a good nationalist, he (once again) made the choice in favour of an armed diversion, counting on US assistance which, though, was never going to be in the form of military intervention, when he should instead have been thinking about his country's disastrous state. By way of aside, it was another fine example of how dangerous it can be to be an ally of Washington. [Italiano]

more >>

imageWar is hell Apr 25 Anarkismo 1 comments

There are two possible futures. In one of them, the conflicts between the imperialist countries, and between them and China, will grow until some miscalculation leads to a nuclear war which could destroy humanity. The other possibility, the only means of avoiding that fate, is a workers' revolution to abolish capitalism and eliminate the causes of war. We can do it and we start by building the labour movement and taking a stand against militarism today. Instead of idolising the Anzacs, we should mourn them, and instead of glorifying the military, we should oppose its very existence.

imageThe man who knew too much May 05 Anarkismo 0 comments

Statement of Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group. [Italiano]

textAustralian Imperialism Apr 24 Anarkismo 0 comments

Unlike the capitalists, the working class can unite across national boundaries. We can sweep away the capitalists and their State, with its armies, police and prisons. We can build libertarian communism, a world of peace and plenty, a world of both freedom and security. We can and we must.

imageItaly 90 years ago: World War I ends Nov 04 FdCA 0 comments

90 years later, let 4 November be a day for repudiating war, for anti-militarism and non-violence between peoples, for ceasefires and the de-militarization of all war zones, for the withdrawal of the Italian army and all armies from fake peace-keeping missions. [Italiano]

textNATO out of Afghanistan Apr 14 AL 0 comments

The French State has chosen military escalation in Afghanistan. Not only will it increase its manpower on the ground, which will increase to 2,700 soldiers this summer up from the current figure of 1,700, but it will be sending a battalion of 700 soldiers to a combat zone of much more intensity than the area of Kabul where most of the French task force is currently concentrated. [ Français ]

more >>
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