Islamophobia

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New Study Highlights Anti-Muslim Bigotry of the Spectator Magazine

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/12/2021 - 3:51am in

New Study Highlights Anti-Muslim Bigotry Of the Spectator Magazine

The most antagonistic, the most biased and the most prone to misrepresentation – Brian Cathcart argues that the Spectator isn’t posh and clever; it’s just a hate rag

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The Centre for Media Monitoring (CfMM), which tracks the treatment of Muslims in the press and broadcasting, has just published a monumental new survey, and it shines a brutally revealing light on the Spectator

It should be read by everyone who subscribes to the Spectator so they understand the degree to which they are subsidising and encouraging hatred and far-right ideas. And it should be seen by all those who treat the Spectator as though it was a respectable publication. 

Because respectable it isn’t. Long before the timeframe of the CfMM study it was publishing nakedly anti-Muslim ideas and fostering an image of Islam as foreign, hostile and relentlessly violent, or in the words of Rod Liddle in a column from 2015, ‘liberal, vindictive and frankly fascistic’. 

It was the Spectator that in 2018 published Liddle’s suggestion: ‘If you are an unpleasant person who enjoys macabre entertainment, wander down to Mile End and watch the women in full burka trying to cross the A11. That’s always good for a laugh.’ 

And a year later the Spectator published – and as usual, was happy to defend – Liddle’s proposal that the best day to hold a general election would be ‘a day when universities are closed and Muslims are forbidden to do anything on pain of hell’. 

Liddle is not alone. Plenty of other Spectator writers – Charles Moore, James Delingpole and Douglas Murray to name but three – have been given space to express and encourage hostility towards Muslims, even if they don’t usually employ the same thuggish language. 

Just jokes? Untypical? That’s where the new report comes in. 

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The CfMM tracked the output of 34 British media websites between October 2018 and September 2019 and analysed almost 48,000 articles relating to Muslims, employing a methodology designed and validated by external academic experts. 

The publication found to have the highest proportion of articles identified as antagonistic to Muslims – across all 34 outlets, ranging from the Times through the Tablet and Reuters to the Economist and the BBC – was the Spectator. No fewer than 37 per cent of Spectator articles mentioning Muslims were found to do so in an antagonistic manner. 

The Spectator was also the publication with the highest proportion of articles that misrepresented Muslim behaviour or beliefs, while in the category for the highest percentage of articles rated ‘very biased’ it was only narrowly beaten into second place (by Christian Today).

Of course, with research like this no matter how rigorous the methodology we must allow leeway for subjectivity, but when one small publication forces its way so consistently to the top of the listings the message is hard to miss. And the message is this: the Spectator doesn’t like Muslims and Liddle’s expressions of loathing and contempt are only the tip of the iceberg.

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It doesn’t like Muslims in Britain and it doesn’t like them abroad, wherever they may be. It doesn’t like Muslim women and it doesn’t like Muslim converts. It doesn’t like Islam and it doesn’t like the Quran. This is not selective or intellectual, it is a sustained antagonism towards a faith and its mostly brown- or black-skinned adherents. Two terms describe it: religious intolerance and racism. 

The Spectator and its editor, Fraser Nelson, have denied this in the past and we may expect them to continue to do so. No doubt they will dispute the CfMM’s findings – if only in a casual, probably flippant fashion – and without engaging with detail. 

Denial is necessary to them because the Spectator still trades on its past standing as the civilised, literary expression of British conservative thinking. There are still subscribers who do not see it for what it has become and there are others in the media – for example, the producers of current affairs programmes who give Fraser Nelson airtime – who prefer to think of it as what it was.

But whatever way you look at it, the Spectator is not civilised and not respectable. You can point to individual pieces of racist sloganising by Liddle or others or you can look at its output in the round, as the CfMM report has done. The message is the same: today’s Spectator is a far-right organ of intolerance.  

Letting the Spectator into your home, in other words, is for me pretty much like decorating your coffee table with a book about race by Oswald Mosley. Reading it online is, in my view, not unlike surfing the Ku Klux Klan sites. And allowing Fraser Nelson into your studio is akin to me to giving airtime to a poshed-up Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.

Read the full CfMM report here. 

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The post New Study Highlights Anti-Muslim Bigotry of the Spectator Magazine appeared first on Byline Times.

Afghanistan and Its Challenge to Feminism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/11/2021 - 5:05am in

How should anti-imperialists relate to the coming to power of the misogynist Taliban regime in Afghanistan?

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The post Afghanistan and Its Challenge to Feminism appeared first on New Politics.

The Normalisation of Hate Against Pakistanis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/11/2021 - 3:13am in

The Normalisation of HateAgainst Pakistanis

Faisal Hanif inspects the racism directed at former Yorkshire cricket player Azeem Rafiq, and what this tells us about the treatment of Pakistanis in the UK

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There are several ways to interpret the reaction of Yorkshire Cricket Club to the allegations of racism made by its former player Azeem Rafiq. The club’s rather brass neck response to their own findings that he was victim of “racial harassment and bullying” have led some to label it as institutionally racist – a charge hard to argue against when seven of 43 allegations made by Rafiq were upheld including the fact that he was routinely abused with the “P” word.

All the while, politicians including senior Government ministers have called for heads to roll and for mass resignations.  Despite the cascade of condemnation from power brokers on all sides, including major global sponsors, Yorkshire’s initial defiance in describing the abuse as “good natured banter” looks to be a serious error of judgement.

Some in the Yorkshire hierarchy are said to have encouraged a pushback against Rafiq with a counter allegation that his reference to his former teammate Gary Ballance as “Zimbo” – a non-offensive abbreviation to describe the Zimbabwean born batsman – was a tit-for-tat exchange between mates.

The resignation of its chairman Roger Hutton, who took on the role 18 months after Rafiq had left the club in 2018, brings another culprit into the fray. Hutton in his leaving statement took a parting shot at the English Cricket Board, who he says were “reluctant to act” when he approached them on first hearing of Rafiq’s allegations.

To anybody familiar with the history of English cricket’s relationship with Pakistan, this may not come as much of a surprise. What has transpired at Yorkshire is not just the singular act of a county which has long seen itself as exceptional in the hierarchy of English cricket, it also fits in with the long history of English cricket’s disdain for Pakistani cricketers and their country.  


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Some of England’s past captains, its best ever player and certain officials – all backed by a virulent media – have created a narrative in which Pakistan is demonised. Pakistani players meanwhile have become synonymous with the practice of dark arts than the deserved praise for their other-worldly talents through which they have revolutionised aspects of the sport. The ex-England player and later coach of Pakistan Bob Woolmer suggested that many of these allegations had racist overtones

In this long history, some English players have become a law unto themselves in the belief that it wasn’t the skill of Pakistan but some nefarious method by which it triumphed over them. In 1956, for example, a group of touring Englishmen resorted to kidnapping a Pakistani umpire, Idrees Baig, blaming him for their impending defeat.

Thirty years later, another Pakistani umpire, Shakoor Rana, was on the end of a verbal barrage from the England captain Mike Gatting – an incident which caused a diplomatic crisis and prompted The Sun newspaper to give its readers a ‘Sun Fun Dartboard’ featuring the umpire’s face. The old cricketing maxim of the umpire’s decision being final seemed not to matter when it came to Pakistani umpires. 

Officiating aside, five years later a touring Pakistan side armed with two of the game’s finest swing bowlers humbled their hosts and won a memorable five-match test series. English players encouraged by visceral media coverage resorted to accusing the conquerors of cheating to win. Reverse swing – which Pakistani bowlers had discovered and perfected over nearly two decades – was viewed with suspicion and only became palatable to English sentiments when it helped the team to end its Ashes misery against Australia in 2005, by which time it was being hailed as an art form.  

Fuelling the Far-Right

All this may seem trivial in the face of Rafiq’s allegations, which left him on the brink of suicide. Yet Yorkshire’s insistence that he should accept the racist abuse as banter forms part of a dehumanising narrative which excuses English cricket from having to deal treat Pakistan and Pakistanis within normal rules of civility. Just last month, the English Cricket Board reneged on an agreed two match tour of Pakistan, a decision described as “cowardly” and representative of a culture of double standards “which appears to view some nations are far less important than others”.

Even England’s most famous cricketer of Pakistani descent, Moeen Ali, was treated as an exception earlier this year. The all-rounder, who was part of England’s touring team for a four-match test series in India, “chose to go home” according to the England captain and Yorkshire player Joe Root. Ali wasn’t the only player who returned home during the series and did so according to a pre-agreed schedule dictated by concerns over the mental health of players and to alleviate them from the pressures of being confined to stringent COVID-19 bubble.

Another former England captain and Yorkshire batsman Michael Vaughan, who Rafiq alleges told three Asian players, “there’s too many of you lot we need to do something about it”, tweeted after the Manchester arena bombing that Ali should identify extremists amongst Muslims.

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Apart from the fact that such a demand would not be placed upon a white player tackle the growing far right threat, what this episode also shows is the intersectionality between racism which employs the “P” word and Islamophobia. Hatred of Muslims and their beliefs retains all the features of long-standing racism against Pakistanis.

The accusation that Yorkshire players used a prayer mat to clean up bodily fluids is a grotesque example of just how debased attitudes towards Muslims has become. The grooming gangs narrative once again regurgitated in Parliament by a Conservative MP last week uses Pakistani and Muslim interchangeably and often together. As shown by the remarkably evidence-light report drummed up by Conservative councillors this week in Rotherham, it remains the most prominent method by which right-wing media outlets and politicians continue their assault against predominantly Pakistani communities.

These tropes are now the weapons of choice for far-right ideologues. In November 2018, a video showing a 15-year-old Syrian refugee in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, being physically attacked by pupils at his school went viral. The actions of the bullies were defended by far-right frontman Tommy Robinson, who spoke at rallies against Jamal Hijazi, accusing the victim of molesting white girls. Robinson has subsequently lost a libel case against Hijazi.

Hijazi meanwhile gave details of the abuse he suffered – which was eerily similar to Rafiq’s. “They always called me ‘P*ki’, they never called me by my name,” he said.  

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The post The Normalisation of Hate Against Pakistanis appeared first on Byline Times.

Austrian Government Anti-Muslim Raids Inspired by Advocate of Racist Great Replacement Theory

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 09/11/2021 - 9:55pm in

Austrian Government Anti-Muslim Raids Inspired by Advocate of Racist Great Replacement Theory

A new report reveals the influence of Lorenzo Vidino, who has repeated the far-right Great Replacement conspiracy, on anti-Muslim raids that left children traumatised

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‘Experts’ sharing far-right conspiracy and with links to neoconservative groups were consulted in the run-up to traumatic raids against Muslim families in Austria a year ago, a report reveals today.

The Operation Luxor raids, which took place in the Central European country on 9 November 2020, targeted 70 homes and mobilised 930 officials including police officers and special unit agents. The raids were overseen by Interior Minister Karl Nehammer. In the intervening 12 months, no one affected by the raids has been charged for any offence. Nine of the raids have since been deemed unlawful

The raids followed a terrorist attack committed by an individual linked to ISIS. Despite attempts by MPs and the media to link the two events, there is little evidence to suggest any connection – not least because the attack was committed by ISIS and the raids were targeted against families accused of being part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Nehammer has been accused of failing to act on warnings about the perpetrator of the attack by focusing instead on Operation Luxor. 

Counter-terrorism expert Dr Maria Norris told Byline Times: “The fact that experts with clear links to the far right were consulted in regards to a counterterrorism operation affecting Muslims is deeply concerning, but not at all surprising. Unfortunately, there is a strong overlap between right-wing Islamophobic beliefs and many of the assumptions underpinning modern counterterrorism policy across Europe.”

Far-Right Conspiracy and Symbols

The report, authored by CAGE and ACT-P, shines a light on how the Austrian state cited “experts” with links to far-right views before launching the raids. 

These included Lorenzo Vidino, who was referenced 35 times in the Luxor arrest warrants. Vidino is well-known for promoting “conspiracy theories about the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe and the United States” and is on record advocating the Great Replacement theory. The baseless far-right conspiracy posits that white people are being replaced in the Global North by rising, mostly Muslim, migration. 

In 2005, when asked if Europeans were witnessing “the end of Europe” by FrontPage magazine – the far-right publication of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black activist David Horowitz – Dr Vidino described how “Europe as we knew it 30 years ago is long gone. Demography doesn’t lie: in a couple of decades non-ethnic Europeans will represent the majority of the population in many European cities and a large percentage of them will be Muslim.” 

Vidino’s publications have been cited by the anti-Muslim blogger “Fjordman,” whose texts Norwegian white nationalist and mass murderer Anders Breivik copied into his manifesto. Breivik killed 77 people in Norway in 2011. 

In the ideological reasoning for the Luxor raids, the State Prosecutor relied heavily on Vidino as an “expert witness.”

Vidino is a senior policy adviser for the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD), a Brussels-based think-tank that has been described as “anti-Muslim”. In a study of transatlantic Islamophobic networks and funding, the researcher Sarah Marusek listed the EFD alongside the neoconservative think-tank the Henry Jackson Society. Vidino was listed as a Policy Council Member of the society in 2012 and 2015. 

Austria’s Documentation Centre for Political Islam is also linked to Vidino. The organisation was set up to counter the loosely-defined “political Islam” and has received €0.5 million of public money under the jurisdiction of Integration Minister Susanne Raab.

The centre has set out to create an overview of problematic networks and associations in Austria that can be attributed to political Islam. This includes the Islam Map, which locates Islamic centres, mosques and even shops across Austria. The map’s publication has been linked to a rise of far-right attacks against Muslim spaces, with far-right group Die Identitären sharing the map around its networks.  

The Centre has been accused by the report’s authors of feeding “into a general suspicion of Muslim civil society actors within Austria, whereby it is widely assumed that they would pursue hidden agendas by lying to the public and society by trying to disguise its activities.”

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A History of Islamophobia

As well as Vidino, the Centre’s members Heiko Heinisch and Nina Scholz were invited and paid to write a study preparing the ideological ground for carrying out Operation Luxor. Both were hired by the Graz Public Prosecutor.

According to the report, their ‘expert’ opinion “provided the basis for the raids”. However, the authors continue, “in terms of content, the opinion was itself the outcome of an assessment of completely erroneous and false information.” This has been, they claim, “confirmed by the Higher Regional Court of Graz.”

Heinisch has received support and sponsorship from the Austrian Integration Fund (ÖIF), which has, in turn, supported the anti-Muslim policies of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party. According to an analysis completed by the Bridge Initiative – a Georgetown University project on Islamophobia –  the ÖIF has a history of producing anti-Muslim research.

The Freedom Party is controversial for its far-right policy-making and history, as well as the recent resignation of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz over corruption allegations. former leader, Jörg Haider, was notorious for praising the Waffen SS and Hitler’s labour policies. When it first joined Austria’s governing coalition in 2000, Germany’s foreign minister, Joschka Fischer proclaimed that “this is the first time an anti-European, xenophobic party with a very dubious relationship toward the Nazi past has come into the government of a member state”. More recently, the Freedom Party’s leader Norbert Hofer said that the Quran is more dangerous than the Coronavirus.

Nina Scholz appeared on a panel alongside Raab and organised by the ÖIF, where she talked about Muslim women “calling themselves feminists” would “defend the veil as female self-empowerment” before asserting that these women “are usually close to conservative Islamic associations.”

Ahmad and Sarah, whose home was raided during the operation, told researchers that an officer’s phone had “a far-right symbol on it”. Their son returned to his bedroom to find his copy of the Quran had been torn up. 


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Perhaps the worst cost of the raids is on the children caught up in the violence, who now feel themselves to be living in a hostile country where they are afraid of the police and the institutions that should protect them. One girl, who had a heart condition and was forced to use the toilet while police officers watched, told the report authors “these raids have ruined my life.”

Report co-author Azfar Sharif told Byline Times: “Operation Luxor was the opening shot in an ongoing campaign of repressive and deeply Islamophobic measures carried out by the Austrian state, in the name of combating ‘Political Islam’.”

Measures such as the Islam Map and the Documentation Centre, Sharif added, “have suffocated Austrian Muslims’ ability to their exercise civil, social and religious freedoms, and served to scapegoat Muslims while the Government has been wracked by a series of scandals. This mutually reinforcing relationship between ‘official’ and street racism is something we have seen all too often in places like Britain and the US, and it must be confronted forcefully in Austria because it always signals a dangerous political shift to the right.”

In 2020, there were 1,402 cases of anti-Muslim racism in Austria.

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We Can’t Trust the Prevent Review to be Honest About Counter-Terrorism Failings

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/10/2021 - 10:51pm in

We Can’t Trust the Prevent Review to be Honest About Counter-Terrorism Failings

It looks likely that the Government’s review of the controversial strategy will significantly strengthen the programme as a means of hitting back against its many critics, argues Dr Richard McNeil-Willson

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Despite longstanding concerns over the Prevent programme, its supporters steadfastly refuse to acknowledge any problems with it. As the findings of the Government’s review into the strategy loom, it is likely that there will follow a renewed attack on its critics.

According to the Home Office, Prevent aims to “safeguard vulnerable people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism by engaging with people who are vulnerable to radicalisation and protecting those who are being targeted by terrorist recruiters”. It is one of the four elements of the Government’s ‘CONTEST’ counter-terrorism strategy.

Concerns about Prevent are longstanding and numerous – including limited evidence of its ability to prevent terrorism, concerns around the creation of insecurity amongst minority groups, accusations of the stoking of Islamophobia and far-right extremism, and the erosion of civil and democratic rights. 

With the findings of the Government’s review of Prevent reportedly due before Parliament by the end of the year, indications are beginning to emerge as to whether any of these concerns have been taken seriously, and how counter-extremism will progress in the years ahead.

The first concern has been the effectiveness of the programme, with questions raised about whether it can be relied upon to stem terrorism.  

Prevent operates in a ‘pre-criminal’ space, aiming to deradicalise individuals often well before they even commit a crime. The problem with this approach is that it will always sit uncomfortably within the context of the law, while assuming that ideology is the key to stopping terrorism. If someone confesses a belief in values deemed to be ‘extreme’, they are on the path to violence and should be referred to Prevent; those who do not or no longer believe in these values are deemed ‘safe’. 

But there is scant evidence to suggest that such an approach works. The focus on ideological factors, as found in Prevent, ignores a host of other causes behind violence, and assumes a linear progression between thought and action. It also means that it is almost impossible to assess whether Prevent is having any positive impact – while pre-criminal approaches may be comforting for demonstrating an industrious response against terrorism, it is almost impossible to know if it is the right one. 


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Extremism and Islamophobia

The most consistent critique of the strategy has been that it is enabling and emboldening Islamophobia.

Throughout its history, Prevent has focused overwhelmingly on Islamic extremism. Originally designed solely as an intervention in British Muslim communities, it has only recently been retrofitted to include some additional focus on the far-right. 

Initiatives have been introduced through Prevent which have sought to discipline Muslim communities and domesticate a British ‘moderate’ Islam, creating a framing of Muslims in the UK as a “suspect community” and as “conditional citizens”. 

With the introduction of the Prevent duty in 2015, public sector institutions – such as schools, GP practices, universities, hospitals and prisons – were required to report extremism, leaving schoolteachers and social workers to too often fall-back on stereotypes of who an ‘extremist’ is, and making young people fearful of exercising their rights to freedom of expression.

Prevent enables an association of Muslims with violence and mainstreams an assumption that Muslim communities are somehow particularly vulnerable to extremism and radicalisation. 

Yet, despite a growing chorus of concern from academics, civil society groups, activists and faith groups that Prevent is harming community cohesion, fuelling Islamophobia and leading to the far-right’s own anti-Muslim narratives, supporters of Prevent and the Government refuse to countenance the idea that there could be legitimate problems with the programme. 

When concerns are raised, critics are framed as “Islamist agitators”, “terrorist apologists” or “disingenuous”. Years of critical peer-reviewed academic research, interviews, activism and community work by highly qualified actors across the breadth of British society are often dismissed, attacked as a result of raising concerns. Even when Prevent’s supporters have admitted that some of its elements are inadequate, it is not the strategy that is deemed at fault, but the detractors.

The Henry Jackson Society think tank, for instance, has blamed “political correctness” and suggested that Prevent should focus even more on “Islamic extremism”. The organisation has been described as having an “anti-Islam agenda”, claimed that British university campuses are breeding grounds for “Islamic extremism”, and labelled several Muslim-led community groups “extremist”, according to a report by Georgetown University


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The Prevent Review

The Government’s review of Prevent is being led by William Shawcross – a former director of the Henry Jackson Society who claimed that “Europe and Islam is one of the greatest, most terrifying problems of our future”, and whose appointment led to the review’s boycotting by more than 500 Islamic and other religious, civil society and human rights groups. 

It has been reported that one of the review’s recommendations will be for MI5 to be given greater control over Prevent, with teachers and faith leaders accused of being “too soft on suspected radicals”. 

In line with the views of its supporters, it is likely that Muslim community groups and civil society organisations will be lined up by the Government and the media as scapegoats, to take the fall for any of Prevent’s perceived limitations. Substantive questions over the programme’s suspect methodologies, negative impacts and core failings are likely to be framed as such groups either being under the sway of radicals or simply not believing in the strategy hard enough. 

No questions are likely to be asked about why so many prominent groups are opposed to Prevent. Consistent fears of Islamophobia will likely be swept aside. The multitude of Muslim and faith groups, academics, civil society organisations, activists, special rapporteurs to the UN, parliamentarians, national unions and human rights bodies – all of whom have opposed Prevent – will be framed not just as wrong, but as extremist and as directly responsible for its limitations. 

After months of speculation, it looks likely that the Prevent review will significantly strengthen the programme as a means of hitting back against its many critics. Whether this further entrenches the controversial strategy in British civil society, or unites more opposition against it, is yet to be seen. 

Dr Richard McNeil-Willson is a research fellow in critical extremism and counter-extremism at the European University Institute

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9/11 horror triggered new wave of US terrorism and war

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/09/2021 - 1:48pm in

Western leaders often declare that the world changed forever on 9/11. The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington caused incredible shock and killed around 3000 people. But what 9/11 represented more than anything was the violence the US had inflicted worldwide for decades coming home.

The US response was to launch further conflicts as part of a “war on terror”. Alongside this came a frenzy about the supposed threat from “Islamic terrorism” that created a new wave of racism against Muslims and Arabs.

Twenty years on, the lead-up to the anniversary was marked by a further humiliation for US imperialism. As it retreated from Afghanistan, the government it had installed disintegrated.

This symbolised the failure, as well as the bloody cost, of the wars the US launched after 9/11. The Australian government was an enthusiastic backer as the only country apart from the UK to send troops as part of the invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq.

As the dominant global military power after 1945 the US took upon itself the right to rain destruction on any country that stood in its way. In Vietnam it killed three million people, including through indiscriminate “carpet bombing”. In 1991, when it invaded Iraq for the first time, it killed over 100,000 civilians and military conscripts. Then it bombed the country virtually every day for the next 12 years. US sanctions on basic medicines killed more than half a million children.

The US fuelled other wars through funding armed groups to destabilise governments it disliked, including the death squads unleashed on central America like the Nicaraguan Contras.

Academic Chalmers Johnson described the 9/11 attacks as “blowback” from the history of US intervention globally. Osama Bin Laden, who staged the attacks, had begun his career with the Afghan mujahideen fighting the Russians—another operation the US funded.

In 2001, Al Qaeda struck at symbols of American power, in New York’s financial centre and the Pentagon building. The US wanted revenge.

Its first target was Afghanistan, where it accused the Taliban of harbouring Bin Laden and his network. The Taliban were toppled after 72 days. Around 1000 civilians were killed by US bombs and up to 20,000 died from displacement and starvation.

US President George W Bush moved quickly to launch another war against Iraq. His officials had discussed invading Iraq in the days following 9/11, debating how to link Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein to the terrorist attacks. Millions saw through the lies that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction”, with an enormous worldwide anti-war movement.

A new American century?

The Bush administration saw 9/11 as an opportunity to cement US global dominance for decades to come. Key figures including Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were part of a gang of Republican Party figures associated with the think-tank Project for a New American Century. They argued that the US needed to use its military power more aggressively to ensure it could never be rivalled by a potential competitor.

This was echoed in the Bush administration’s National Security Strategy document which endorsed unilateral US military action in order to “dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in the hopes of surpassing, or equalling, the power of the United States”.

It was a response to growing US weaknesses. After the Second World War the US economically dominated the world, with half of global manufacturing. Today it has declined in relative terms, commanding about a quarter of global production and rapidly losing ground to China.

But the US gamble on using its military strength to bolster its position has backfired disastrously.

The US strategy showed the continuation of imperialism in the 21st century.

The classical Marxist theory of imperialism, produced to explain the First World War by Nikolai Bukharin, showed how the major powers divided the world between themselves, to advance the interests of the large capitalist firms within each state. It was an outgrowth of capitalist competition for control of markets and raw materials.

Imperialism is not simply a system where the largest states dominate weaker states, but one of competition between the major powers. This remains true today, with the US focused on maintaining its dominant position against China and Russia, as well as attempting to push allied powers in Europe and Asia to work alongside it.

The US has written the rules of the global economic order since 1945 and wants to maintain this framework, allowing it to dominate the global economy.

US imperialism’s defeat

Invading Iraq was meant to give it control of the country’s vast oil reserves. It was to be the first of a series of military adventures. In early 2002 George Bush listed an “axis of evil” in the US’s sights, including Iran and North Korea.

Toppling Iraq’s Saddam Hussein proved easy. But disastrous mismanagement combined with a popular resistance movement eventually humbled the superpower.

Almost immediately, there was armed resistance to the US occupation. The city of Fallujah was one of the first to rise up, after US troops shot 13 people at a protest in April 2003. The US laid siege to the city, sealing at least 30,000 civilians inside as they bombed medical clinics and unleashed illegal white phosphorus explosives.

The US regained control of the country only through encouraging vicious sectarian divisions between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds. Up to a million Iraqis died in the violence that resulted.

But it failed to secure the pliant puppet regime it wanted. The result strengthened Iran, a long-term US adversary, which gained significant influence over the new Iraqi government.

The sectarian system the US left led to the rise of Islamic State, which briefly overran large areas of the country.

US imperialism has been left far weaker. Its failures in Iraq and Afghanistan have exposed the limits of its military power. The wars cost it $6.4 trillion with little to show for it.

Meanwhile the Chinese economy continued to grow through the global economic crisis after 2008 while the US hit the skids. China has also handled the COVID crisis far better than the US, where 650,000 have died.

Yet a weakened US, increasingly desperate to maintain its position, is only more dangerous. Its military power still outpaces that of any other country.

US President Joe Biden has continued Donald Trump’s confrontational approach towards China, declaring, “We are in a competition to win the 21st century, and the starting gun has gone off.” He has moved to strengthen military alliances with its neighbours, including Japan, India and South Korea. Naval patrols around the disputed areas of the South China Sea are increasing.

The US military is repositioning its forces to face China. Biden explicitly defended the decision to quit Afghanistan as necessary “to focus on the challenges that are in front of us” with an “increasingly assertive China”.

As it did over the past 20 years, the Australian government is urging on the conflict, talking up the prospect of war and pursuing its own arms build-up. It wants an expanded alliance with the US to lock the superpower into aggressive military action in our region.

This is only increasing the prospect of a major conflict between two nuclear-armed states. Just as the left did over Afghanistan and Iraq, we need to oppose this new drive to war and the racism and xenophobia that comes with it.

Twenty years of Islamophobia and the “war on terror”

In the aftermath of 9/11, world leaders were quick to blame “Islamic terrorism”. Islam as a whole was depicted as a “backward” or “violent” religion and all Muslims treated as suspect.

This served to justify the wars in the Middle East. Instead of recognising terrorism as a result of US policies that had devastated the region, Western leaders claimed they were the result of an evil ideology opposed to “Western values”.

Then Prime Minister John Howard accused the Muslim community in Australia of failing to “integrate” and claimed that “extremism” among Muslims was “not a problem that we have ever faced with other immigrant communities”. The Liberals claimed refugees arriving by boat, mostly from the Middle East, could be terrorists, using this to justify racism and anti-refugee policies.

Howard admitted that most Muslims had nothing to do with terrorism. But he continued to tar them all by claiming terrorism was a product of Islam and demanding that Muslim leaders do more to prevent it.

In late 2005 this led to the shocking racist riot at Cronulla beach, where Lebanese Australians were physically attacked by a racist mob. John Howard’s responded by claiming there was no “underlying racism” in Australia.

The Islamophobia has never stopped. After the emergence of Islamic State in 2014, Tony Abbott launched another scare campaign about terrorism and youth “radicalisation”. Scott Morrison has done the same, declaring after a mentally ill man stabbed one person to death in 2018 that, “The greatest threat to our way of life is radical, violent, extremist Islam.” There have been continual anti-terror raids, sometimes involving hundreds of police.

All this has been accompanied by a tidal wave of media reporting designed to terrify people.

Individual racist attacks have become common. A study in 2004 showed two-thirds of Muslims had experienced abuse or violence on the street since 9/11. Surveys have consistently fond that around 40 per cent of people admit to negative feelings about Muslims.

Islamophobia will be a lasting legacy of our rulers’ response to 9/11. We need to keep fighting the racism and insist that working class people unite against the government and bosses who pose the real threat to our living standards and lives.

By James Supple

The post 9/11 horror triggered new wave of US terrorism and war appeared first on Solidarity Online.

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