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   Vol. 68/No. 36           October 5, 2004  
How to defeat ‘Bush Doctrine’
The Bush-Wolfowitz team in the White House is making new gains for imperialism’s “global war on terrorism.”

To the delight of its allies in the United States, the ruling class in Indonesia is successfully mobilizing public opinion behind a crackdown on Jemaah Islamiah, a group that seeks to establish “Islamic governments” there and in the region. And when Bush administration officials say that the result of the recent Indonesian elections show that Islam and bourgeois democracy are compatible, they get a hearing in the largest Muslim country in the world.

In the debate over Ankara’s quest to join the European Union, the White House and its junior partner in London take the side of the majority Muslim Turkey. In doing so, the Anglo-American alliance continues to make headway in solidifying a “New Europe” against their competitors in the French-German bloc in the EU, who more and more seem to tolerate overt anti-Muslim prejudice.

The Bush administration keeps stressing that the U.S.-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the establishment of regimes favorable to U.S. strategic interests there are at the root of their successes. Subsequently, they point out, the Libyan government gave up its nuclear weapons program without a military confrontation. And the Pakistani regime arrested a top scientist who allegedly sold nuclear technology and material abroad. Islamabad is now on better terms with Washington.

Contrary to accusations by its liberal critics, the White House is not conducting an anti-Islamic crusade. It is arguing more forcefully that being a majority Muslim country and establishing bourgeois democracy with strong ties to “America” are not contradictory. It is trying to convince the ruling classes in India and Pakistan to stop fighting each other and instead join Washington to combat the “terrorists.” In the process, the Bush administration is seeking to settle every conflict that has to do with national self-determination—from Kurdistan to Kashmir, Palestine, and Ireland—in a way that serves the interests of capitalism and imperialism.

Why is the U.S. government and its allies among capitalists from Indonesia to Yemen getting a serious hearing for this course, despite the simmering war in Iraq?

Inside the United States, Vice President Cheney has made the most coherent and clear case for the so-called Bush Doctrine. He and other partisans of the administration’s course have described it as a break from the approach of previous governments going back to Nixon in the 1970s who would “cut and run” from “terrorism” if adversaries hit hard, or treated such attacks as police matters, rather than the warpath the sitting president has charted.

In the absence of any serious alternative to this course within the ruling class, the Bush Doctrine has gained majority support among America’s wealthy rulers and thus in public opinion. John Kerry and other Democratic Party politicians have supported the basic war policies followed by the White House, raising only tactical disagreements over how to carry them out. This is one of the main reasons that Kerry appears to be headed for defeat in November.

Internationally, the Bush Doctrine is getting traction to a large degree because of the character of many of the organizations targeting “America” and its allies.

Jemaah Islamiah is a reactionary group that has carried out bombings of civilian targets repeatedly. No wonder that Jakarta is convincing many Muslim organizations that had been reluctant to back government crackdowns against the group in the past to go along now, or even to demand harsher punishment, after the bombing at the Australian embassy there.

In the same vein, the kidnappers in Iraq who take hostages and behead them while making demands against the Anglo-American occupation have nothing to do with defending the interests of the toilers.

And the recent actions of the hostage-takers at a school in Beslan, southern Russia, offer no way forward for the people of Chechnya, who have fought a just national liberation struggle, or for other working people or oppressed nations. The gratuitous, conscious slaughter of several hundred children that resulted from the actions of this armed group can’t be finessed. Any “national liberation” movement whose political course is exemplified by actions such as these has a thoroughly reactionary, anti-working-class character.

Because of Stalinist betrayals from North Africa to the Mideast and Southeast Asia, there is a complete absence of revolutionary working-class organizations in these countries. The political vacuum thus created has been filled by bourgeois nationalist organizations—like Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, or the National Salvation Front in Algeria—that have nothing to do with defending the interests of working people.

At the same time, the claims by Republicans or Democrats that Washington stands for bringing democracy and freedom to the world are bogus. It is true that compared to living under the Saddam Hussein regime, there is more space for working people to defend their interests in Iraq today, and elsewhere in the Mideast. Revolutionists need to take full advantage of this. But class-conscious workers don’t therefore support democratic imperialism. The broad trends toward secularism, for women’s rights, and in opposition to capital punishment and torture around the world that the Militant has described, for example, are the results of struggles by working people, students, and middle-class layers in the semicolonial world and internationally. They are products of the anticolonial revolutions of the last century, not imperialist benevolence. Washington and its allies will wield them as long as they serve to advance imperialist interests—but only so far.

U.S. imperialism’s biggest enemy is the economic catastrophe capitalism is leading humanity toward and the resistance to its effects by workers and farmers. Only by joining this resistance and offering a working-class alternative to the parties of capitalism, such as that presented by the Socialist Workers Party ticket in the 2004 elections, can we defeat the “Bush agenda” and the program of Kerry too.
Related articles:
Indonesia gov’t mobilizes public opinion behind crackdown on ‘terrorist’ group
‘Old Europe’ balks at accepting Turkey in European Union; British, U.S. rulers campaign for entry  
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