Here's my piece on the historical background to the terrorist atrocities of a year ago, from today's Morning Star.
Direct responsibility for last year’s terrorist attacks in London lies with those who detonated the bombs.
But the seeds of July 7th were planted over half a century ago -by the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S.Truman.
‘I believe it must be the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. I believe we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own ways’, declared President Truman in March 1947, when announcing his famous doctrine of intervention.
When one translates ‘armed minorities’ and ‘outside pressures’ for ‘communists’ one has a clear statement of the guiding aims which have governed U.S foreign policy for the last 59 years.
Since Truman promulgated his doctrine, US policy has to been to fight communist and leftist regimes wherever they have occurred. Communism had to be fought not because evidence existed that it posed a threat to world peace, but simply because it was bad for business. ‘The business of America is business’ remarked Calvin Coolidge- a predecessor of Truman’s -and as communist countries were bad for business, they must necessarily be bad for the U.S.
Since the Truman Doctrine was first put into operation in 1947, the U.S. has supported ‘free people resisting subjugation’ in every corner of the globe- from the Balkans to the Far East- bombing over 20 different countries in the process.
Using the logic of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’, the U.S. has spent over half a century financing, arming and training a disparate collection of ’freedom fighters’ and ‘supporters of freedom’, ranging from Osama bin Laden, to the Generals Suharto and Pinochet who, whatever their differences, all had one thing in common. All were fighting communism and all were therefore worthy of U.S. support.
Never mind that communists had often come to power peacefully through the ballot box, as in Chile or Nicaragua. Never mind too that Afghanistan, under the regimes of Babrak Karmal and Najibullah made more social progress in ten years than it had in the previous five hundred: these regimes were both communist and had to go-with all available resources being made available to those ‘liberators’, like bin Laden who fought against them. Richard Murphy, former Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East may now admit ‘we did spawn a monster in Afghanistan’ , but those who said so at the time were dismissed as ‘Reds’ or apologists for the ‘Evil Empire’.
In one sense of course, the Truman Doctrine paid off. Sixteen years ago, the Berlin Wall came down and the ‘Evil Empire’ of the Soviet Union disintegrated. Time to pop the champagne corks and drop the anti-commie crusade? Not a bit of it.
Despite the increasing violence of a resurgent Islamic fundamentalism which they had helped foster, U.S. policy makers still persisted in making the global search for ‘Reds’ as their number one priority. How are we to explain such a decision? The answer can be given in one word. Greed.
By 1990 we were living in the age of ‘turbo-capitalism’, where giant multi-nationals, joined by the burgeoning financial services sector, were going into overdrive in their frantic scramble to increase shareholder value. Whatever the risk, whatever the dangers, new markets had to be found. With most of the ‘free world’ already privatised, the search intensified to find those remaining ‘unreformed’ markets that could still be colonised for international capital.
In Europe, that meant targeting the rump Yugoslavia, a country where 70% of the economy was in social ownership and where the main football teams were still named ’Red Star’ and ‘Partisan’. It mattered little to the U.S. that in attempting to destabilise Slobodan Milosevic’s left-wing administration in Belgrade, they were joining forces with a terrorist group with associations with al-Qaida. The gun-runners and heroin traffickers of the Kosovan Liberation Army were fighting ‘Reds’ (now conveniently labelled as 'Fascists’) and following the logic of the Truman Doctrine had to be supported.
Four years after the illegal attack on Yugoslavia, came the equally unlawful invasion of Iraq. Once again, the U.S. and its British ally had chosen deliberately to attack a country, which if not communist, at least operated a large state-owned sector and which was not open to foreign capital. And once again, as in Yugoslavia- their war policy has only strengthened- and not weakened the cause of those believed responsible for inspiring the carnage we saw exactly one year ago this week in London.
If we are to see an end to this depressing cycle of bloodshed, the US and Britain must move out of their 1940s mindset and consign Harry Truman’s ill-conceived doctrine to the dustbin of history once and for all. That means lifting the sanctions on Cuba and Belarus and ending the attempts to topple Hugo Chavez and other sovereign governments in Latin America. Just as importantly it means reining in the forces of ‘turbo-capitalism’, whose reckless drive for maximising profits has bought much danger upon the citizens of the world.
The business of America may well be business, but the price- as we have seen in New York, Bali, Baghdad, Casablanca, Madrid and London- is far too high to pay.