The chickens are coming home to roost. Far from the 'war against terrorism' making the world a safer place, its consequences are leading to the threat of more wars and devastation. India and Pakistan are on the brink of a war involving nuclear weapons.
But this is only one part of the instability that the 'war against terrorism' and the bombing of Afghanistan have unleashed. The war in Afghanistan itself is far from over. Fighting still continues in the south of the country, the government's writ does not run outside Kabul and the country is in danger of sliding back into civil war. Freedom and democracy are as far away as ever for the people of Afghanistan. Western troops have been reduced to firing on wedding parties in the mistaken belief that celebratory gunfire at these events is an attack by Al Qaida.
Events in Palestine signal the dangers inherent in the strategy. Ariel Sharon has used the events of 11 September to deepen his merciless war on the Palestinians, again in the name of the war against terrorism. Reaction to the attacks on the Palestinians in recent months throughout the Middle East has shown the huge political significance of the question in the region and the unpopularity of the pro-Western governments there.
This instability from Morocco to Syria has given even George Bush's generals food for thought. In Washington there is serious debate about whether they can move to attack Iraq with up to 200,000 US troops early next year. The US is seen by many as all powerful, but it is not in a position to invade Iraq without the support of at least some of its neighbouring regimes. Yet even the most devotedly pro-US regimes are reluctant to give such support in the face of mass opposition from below and the threat of greater instability in their own countries as a result of such an invasion. Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, whose active support is needed to ensure a successful invasion, are expressing concern at developments.
Opposition does not just reside in those countries immediately surrounding Iraq. The populations of most Western countries are expressing grave reservations at the policies of the US government. There is no enthusiasm for further war among the European populations. Even their governments are less than fully behind Bush. In Germany last month two demonstrations in Berlin against Bush numbered 100,000 and 50,000. The PDS (former Communist Party in East Germany) unfurled a banner in the Reichstag (parliament) against Bush's war drive as Bush was speaking.
The grievances which motivated Bin Laden and his supporters have certainly not gone away since 11 September. US troops are still on Saudi soil; the Palestinians are still oppressed; and the attacks on Iraq have only been exacerbated in recent months. The coming months will determine who wins in the clash between those who want to extend the war and those who oppose it. On one side are the imperialists, the rulers of the major capitalist powers--especially our own Tony Blair. On the other are those fighting against oppression and injustice and for a more equal world. In Britain there have been six major demonstrations over the war and Palestine since last October, as well as hundreds of local protests and meetings. We have built one of the biggest anti-war movements in Europe. We have to ensure that the priorities of Bush, Blair and Sharon do not win out.