December 3, 2015

Terror attacks in Paris: Western Imperialism is to blame

TJ Petrowski

In the aftermath of the latest attacks on Paris that left more than 130 dead, the corporate, Eurocentric media of the West is in overdrive to scare working people into sacrificing their civil liberties and convince us of the need to launch more aggressive bombing raids, with the possibility of deploying troops, in Iraq and Syria to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS). The attacks are the inevitable response to Western imperialism's exploitation of the Middle East and North Africa and worldwide military interventions.

Each conflict in the Middle East and North Africa can be attributed to the policies of Western imperialism. The conflict in Syria is not a civil war; it is a regional proxy war being waged by Western imperialism through air strikes, sanctions, and support for regional proxies (i.e., so-called "moderate" rebels, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Israel, etc.), all with their own agendas, to weaken movements and states opposed to their interests. Likewise, the war in neighboring Iraq can be directly attributed to the illegal occupation of the country by Western imperialism in 2003; al-Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor of ISIS, was not formed until after the U.S.-led occupation.
The U.S. and its allies have over the last 50 years caused untold devastation and suffering to millions of people in dozens of countries throughout the world, especially in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. There is hardly a single country in all three regions that hasn't been subjected to airstrikes, invasions, coups, sanctions, and/or mass murders by U.S.-led imperialism. The rise of radical Islamic extremism itself has its origins in the policies of U.S. imperialism to overthrow the People's Democratic Government of Afghanistan in the 1970s and 1980s. Muslims were recruited, trained, and armed by the U.S. and its allies Pakistan, then under the control of Zia ul-Haq, an authoritarian, anti-Soviet dictator with a radical Islamic agenda, and Saudi Arabia, still controlled by one of the most corrupt and oppressive regimes in the world with an extreme interpretation of Islamic law, in camps and madrassas on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. These "freedom fighters", as Ronald Reagan referred to them, poisoned the water of schoolchildren, mercilessly tortured teachers, raped women, and fought to reestablish the power of the feudal landlords. After the Soviet withdrawal and the overthrow of the socialist government, many of these Muslim fighters left Afghanistan to wage violent insurgencies against the authoritarian dictators that serve as the puppet masters of Western imperialism in their home countries and against the Western states that support them.

Then there is the direct and indirect support for ISIS itself by Western imperialism and its closest allies in the region. Weapons, vehicles and financial aid have flowed to ISIS through the rebel groups that the US continues to support. For example, Al-Nusra (the official Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria) is directly supported by NATO member Turkey, and sells arms to ISIS. There is now evidence that US intelligence saw the founding of the Islamic State in Syria coming as early as 2012, and analyzed that it was promoted by their allies, and did not even speak out about it until 2014, when ISIS became the new justification for bombing Iraq and Syria.

Whenever a terrorist attack is committed, Western politicians and the media try to capitalize on the anger and fear of the masses to implement pre-planned agendas, while deliberately ignoring the history of these very states in committing terrorist acts themselves.

France has terrorized the people of its former colonies for decades. In Algeria, 1.5 million were killed fighting for their independence from France, among many other bloody wars of independence fought against France. French imperialism routinely intervenes in its former colonies whenever its interests are threatened; French special forces were sent to control the uranium mines in Niger and the Central African Republic, and thousands of troops were deployed in the Ivory Coast to control the cocoa trade and also to Mali to control the country’s mineral wealth in competition with Chinese investments. When French President Hollande declared, "Our democracy stands more true than these assassins," he is referring to the same 'democratic' state that massacred 200 Algerian protestors in Paris in 1961. Imperialism has no moral high ground to preach democracy and human rights.

The Paris attack itself is also politicized by the ongoing campaign of xenophobia in Europe that is undermining the rights of refugees. Both ISIS and the right in Europe are open that they do not want refugees leaving the Middle East and heading to Europe. It was widely reported just after the attacks that a Syrian passport was conveniently located at the scene of one of the attacks, an extremely helpful piece of evidence to justify closing the borders to refugees and a special gift to the ultra-right such as France’s National Front. It was less widely reported when the passport was revealed to be a fake. Then there are the questions surrounding the role of the French state leading up to the attack. The perpetrators of the crime had travelled back and forth between Syria and Europe several times in the past few years.

French police conducted more than 150 raids following the attacks in Paris. If the U.S. Patriot Act and anti-terrorism activities of police in Canada, the U.K., Australia, and elsewhere tell us anything about these raids, it is that not all of them were against suspected terrorists. The FBI has used the Patriot Act to target anti-war, anti-globalization, environmentalist, immigrant, and socialist movements in the U.S., and the RCMP have used the pretense of anti-terrorism to monitor environmental andAboriginal movements opposed to the Alberta Tar Sands.

Working people must remember that the tragic and despicable attacks on Paris are the inevitable consequence of Western imperialism's destructive policies of exploitation and terrorism abroad. Further restrictions on domestic civil liberties and more military interventions will not keep working people safe. To fight terrorism Western imperialism must first stop engaging in it and recognize the fundamental right of the people of the Middle East to live in peace and to self-determination.

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