US president Bush says he’s targeting the Taliban regime because it’s harbouring terrorists around Osama bin Laden. But in the 1980s it was the US CIA which helped arm, finance and instruct Bin Laden and other Islamist groups to fight the USSR army then occupying Afghanistan.Bin Laden is just the latest reactionary politician or military figure backed by the West who later bit the hand that fed it.
War in Afghanistan
Imperialism’s bloody record
In 1991 Western planes bombed Iraqi civilians repeatedly in the Gulf War, killing over 100,000. The US/UN attacks were supposed to target Saddam Hussein, then US imperialism’s public enemy number one. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, his actions threatened major oil interests and US domination world-wide.
The imperialist powers created Saddam’s dictatorship and his war machine. US presidents backed Saddam in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war as a counterweight to Iran’s vast army. At that stage Iran was the US’s main enemy.SanctionsSince 1991 at least half a million children have died as a result of sanctions against Iraq, but Saddam still survives.Serbia. In 1998 US envoy to the Balkans Richard Holbrooke called Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic "a man we can do business with". By the next year US planes were unleashing bombs on Serbia as Milosevic’s ethnic cleansing was destabilising the Balkans. It was Serbia’s working class, not imperialist bombs, that got rid of Milosevic through a tremendous mass movement.
The politicians are silent about other interventions such as that in Nicaragua. After the Sandinistas overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua in 1979, US governments used secret funds – including money from cocaine trafficking – to aid vicious counter-revolutionary forces, the Contras, to try to overthrow this radical-speaking government.
And what about other members of the "alliance"? Israel’s leader Sharon, then his country’s Defence Minister committed war crimes in 1982. Israeli troops and right-wing militias killed Palestinian refugees at Sabra and Chatilla in Lebanon. In Operation Peace for Galilee, they invaded Lebanon and devastated Beirut. US imperialism and Israel have bombed Southern Lebanon time and again, killing thousands. But these attacks brought no sanctions, no UN reprisals.US and Western forces backed some of the worst dictators. In Chile they supported a bloody coup 28 years to the day before the horrific attack in New York and Washington. With aid from US intelligence, dictator Pinochet overthrew a democratically elected left government, killing some 50,000 opponents of the new regime. In Indonesia Western governments backed Suharto’s coup in 1965-66 which killed a million people.
In Vietnam from 1964 to 1975 US planes dropped a larger tonnage of bombs than during the whole of World War Two. Vietnamese people and thousands of US troops paid heavily for that war in defence of US imperialism’s power and profits.