The Intelligence Agencies have just issued a report on Al Qaeda and the "war on terrorism" which which should be news only to very extreme ractionaries. I and a great many people I know could have issued much of the report off s the top of our head in its larger interpretations - a bright Middle School Student with internet access to global sources of information could have put together its larger conclusions over the last three or four years.Al Qaeda remains essentially the threat that it was in 2001 in spite of the hundreds of billions spent in the "war on terrorism," i.e, the earth revolves around the sun.
Al Qaeda is continuing to organize and coordinate its operations under the leadership of Osama bin Laden from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, i.e., the earth is round.
The war in Iraq has produced "Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia", which is the "the most visible and capable affiliate" of the Al Qaeda network, i.e, the earth still revolves around the sun, even though Al Qaeda didn't exist in Iraq, which no one except these fanatics have called Mesopotamia for many many centuries, until the Bush administration launched its war, so maybe the administration is not yet ready to accept that the earth still revolves around the sun.
The failure to break up the center of the Al Qaeda network and capture its leaders derives from the Pakistani military dictator and Bush "ally, General Musharaff, to take serious action against the Al Qaeda forces
who are headquartered on Pakistani territory, albeit, "tribal" regions, i.e, the earth is still round and areas of Pakistan are still feudal and pre-feudal, even though the Bush administration continues to regard Pakistan as a "free nation" and major ally of the U.S. in the region so it may not completely accept that the earth is still round.
First, we should all agree with the Democrats and all other critics of the Bush administration that the report, from the administration's own intelligence analysts, highlights the disaster that its policies have created. These intelligence agencies have nothing to do with any critic of this administration or any U.S. administration. They were created after WWII largely to fight the cold war, a war on behalf of world capitalism against the forces of revolutionary socialism and anti-imperialism through the world. They have long held built in biases that lead them to ignore legitimate social movements, exaggerate foreign intervention when that intervention was Soviet or from some pro socialist source, and give their political masters in Washington the "data" to support policies that favor backing up dictators of the right like Musharaff, ignoring diplomatic and social economic solutions to international problems, and pursuing military interventionism.
The initial White House response today is that bin Laden himself as well as the Bush administration regards "Iraq as the central front in the war on terror."
That means, if one is to take it seriously, that the administration is using bin Laden's propaganda about Iraq to gain funding and mobilize support for his clerical fascist "holy war" against the U.S. and many other nations and societies in order to gain funding and support to continue its disastrous war policy. It is "evidence" only that Bush and bin Laden continue to need each other to validate their policies and sustain their power.
But we on the left particularly must take stock of what has happened and is happening and begin to come forward with a foreign policy that will make sense to the U.S. working class, not simply denounce Bush with the arsenal of ammunition his disastrous policies give us.
The most important thing that a future progressive U.S. government could do in the Middle East (and we should begin to work for this now) would be to come forward with a policy that breaks decisively with the
transnational oil companies and establishes something like the old postwar United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency to develop the oil resources of the whole region in order to benefit benefit the people
of the region and as part of a global energy policy. Such an agency could also work with allied United Nations agencies to advance policies that would increase employment, wages, the standard of living and quality of life generally of the people of the region. This is the only long-term solution to the distortion and manipulation of desperate peoples religious traditions by the bin Ladens of the region and for that matter the bin ladens of all religions and creeds through the world.
.This, in my opinion, is more important than the establishment of a peace process that will end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, That is of enormous general political importance but in reality does not, except
for the Palestinian and Israeli people, really directly affect the lives of the masses of people in the region; rather provides them with a distraction from dealing with their own exploitation and oppression, and also provides a distraction for large sections of the left who focus on the national rights of Palestinians to the exclusion of all else as many people of Jewish background uncritically defend Israeli state policies as a defense of Israel against their better judgment about those policies.
Such a development policy would of course have to bring about the reorganization of Arabia and the Gulf States, the removal of the feudal regions which are the longtime accomplices of the transnational oil companies. Before everyone starts calling me an imperialist and a militarist, let me say that I am not advocating an invasion of these regions, as Bush invaded Iraq with different ends and disastrous consequences. The left and a future progressive U.S. government should and can withdraw its support to these regimes, which the U.S. and transnational oil companies have propped up for more than half a century. There are socialist oriented and secular democratic elements in these societies who deserve support. There are the workers in the oil industry, many foreign "guest workers" from Muslim countries with limited rights and no great sympathies with the feudal clerical ruling groups in the region.
Also, the left and a future progressive U.S. government should and can decisively break with the clerically based military regime in Pakistan, itself a "legacy" that the British Empire left its U.S. successors in the region. At present, regimes in Islamabad in effect blackmail U.S. governments into supporting them, pointing to the elements in their society which welcome Al Qaeda and similar groups and warning that any reduction in U.S. support will enable these groups to come to power. A progressive U.S. government should end its military support for Islamabad, strengthen its relationship with a secular multi-cultural India, and support those forces in Pakistan itself that seek reconciliation with India (one should always remember that contemporary and Pakistan were for many centuries part of the same Indian Civilization and that their separation into first two and (with the formation of Bangla Desh) three states, had its roots not in peoples histories and real needs but in the political machinations and crisis created by the collapse of the British empire after World War II.
The U.S. supported Pakistan as an anti-Communist cold war ally and stooge and also as a bulwark against an Indian government which was both neutralist in the cold war, friendly with the Soviet Union and its allies, and contained significant pro socialist elements in a country which had large Communist parties. All of this was done from the 1950s on in the name of defending "freedom and democracy" even though India was a democracy and a multi-religious, multi-ethnic society and Pakistan was through most of its history what it is today, a military dictatorship that defines its state and society as Muslim.
Pursuing such policies which will change radically both the Gulf states and Pakistan will also pay a "peace dividend" against groups like Al Qaeda, since it will eliminate both the sources of funding for such groups and also the various centers and schools (most dramatically the ones in Pakistan funded by Saudi money) which indoctrinate impoverished Muslim youth and prepare them to become foot soldiers for terrorist groups.
Pursuing such policies will also make the United States respected by the peoples of Muslim background and encourage greater understanding and respect of those people in the United States itself, where one of the
ugliest and most sinister consequences of the September 11 attacks has been the escalation of fear and hostility against the ethnically diverse Muslim minority in the U.S. and Muslims generally in the world