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The Cause of National Liberation, Democracy and Social Liberation in the Time of US-led "War on Terror"

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
General Consultant
International League of Peoples’ Struggle

January 18, 2004


Warmest greetings of solidarity!

I am pleased and feel honored that you have invited me to contribute a paper to your workshop on the No. 1 concern of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), which is the cause for national liberation, democracy and social liberation.

The resolution on this concern approved by the First International Assembly in 2001 is excellent and is worth reviewing for the purpose of reaffirming, further developing or updating certain points. But my task now is to concentrate on discussing the developments that affect this cause in the time of the US-led "war on terror."

Such developments involve two contradictory trends: US imperialism is undertaking unprecedentedly vicious acts against the cause of national liberation, democracy and social liberation and the peoples are rising more resolutely and militantly than ever before in order to bring the cause forward against the tremendous odds posed by imperialism, war and plunder.

US Policy of Terror and Plunder

Since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks supposedly by the Al Qaeda, a group whose leaders were previously close to the US, the Bush regime has been whipping up hysteria about terrorism, proclaiming the doctrine of pre-emptive war, justifying state terrorism in the US and abroad and launching wars of aggression.

Under the banner of endless "war on terror", the US has adopted the USA Patriot Act and has pushed other countries to adopt similar laws and follow the US example of "terrorist" listing. It has misrepresented as terrorist certain countries or governments assertive of national independence, national liberation movements and a number of anti-imperialist leaders.

In quick succession, the US launched wars of aggression against Afghanistan in late 2001 and against Iraq in early 2003. It proclaimed Southeast Asia as "the second front" in the "war on "terror" in order to justify its military intervention particularly in the Philippines. It identified and threatened North Korea, Iraq and Iran as the "axis of evil" and eleven countries as "terrorist-harboring".

The war of aggression against Afghanistan did not yield Osama bin Laden but allowed the US to further penetrate the Caucasus and former Soviet Central Asia (especially Uzbekistan and Tajikistan), take over Afghanistan, establish US military bases, tighten US control over oil and gas from the Caspian sea and Central Asian regions and pave the way for a planned pipeline to the Arabian sea coast and the Indian Ocean. The US also increased its influence over Pakistan and India and its interference in Nepal against the armed revolutionary movement for national liberation and democracy.

The war of aggression against Iraq did not uncover any Iraqi weapon of mass destruction, nuclear, biological or chemical but allowed the US to gain complete control over the second largest oil resources in the world, tighten control over OPEC and the entire global oil business, keep the US dollar as the currency of oil transactions, establish US military bases in Iraq for controlling the entire Middle East and keep the Israel Zionists riding roughshod over the Palestinian people.

In attending to what it called the "second front’ in Southeast Asia, the US focused on the Philippines by sending US military troops to south-western Mindanao and other parts of the Philippines. The announced objective was to go after the Abu Sayyaf (a terror group organized by the CIA in 1992). The rabid puppet defense secretary Angelo Reyes boasted that the full force of the US would be subsequently turned against the New People’s Army led by the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The US has a plan to establish military bases and facilities in Mindanao in order to tighten its control over the oil and other resources of Southeast Asia as well as over the sea and air trade routes for more than 50 per cent of the world’s goods. To advance its plan, the US has hyped the Abu Sayyaf gang as a huge "terrorist" force beyond its tiny proportions and, with the help of Generals Reyes and Corpus, deployed intelligence and demolition experts to engage in terrorist bombings, killing and maiming civilians in various cities and towns of Mindanao.

The US expects to build US military bases in the Philippines that would become part of the arc of US military bases extending from Japan, Korea and Taiwan as the first line of defense against China as the putative adversary, with the US military bases in Australia and the Pacific serving as the second layer of defense. At the same time, along with its newly established bases in Afghanistan and Central Asia, the US has China nearly encircled with military bases to its west, south and east.

However, the US is still engaged mainly in a policy of engagement vis a vis China. It calculates that by further tightening its control over the oil sources and supply routes it can keep China in tow. It makes threats against North Korea but stays short of what is unacceptable to both China and North Korea and even to Japan and South Korea, both of which are not eager to suffer the costs of war with their neighbors for the benefit of the US.

Since 9/11, the wars of aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq have appeared to be lucrative and to promise bigger rewards for the US imperialists in the near future. Thus, the neoconservatives are thriving around the Bush presidency. Their "project for a new American century" is for the US to use its position as sole superpower and its high-tech weapons of mass destruction to destroy or discourage any potential or upcoming rival and keep the entirety of humanity under the terms of Pax Americana.

The Bush regime calculates that hysteria whipped up against "terrorism" and actual wars of aggression are the means for stimulating the US economy, particularly the military-industrial complex. It has given the tax cuts to the monopoly bourgeoisie and made cutbacks on social spending. In line with military Keynesianism, it has gone into heavy deficit spending for military operations and acquisition of military equipment.

The problem with using war production for reviving the US economy is that, especially nowadays, the most gilded state contracts for high tech weaponry generate little or no employment. The Bush regime can boast of some increase in growth rates for the second ands third quarters of year 2003. But that means only growth of corporate profits but no growth of employment. Unemployment in the US approaches 6 per cent and should be much bigger if those who have stopped looking for a job are counted. A big portion of the American population has also lost its savings as a result of the bursting of the stockmarket bubble.

The US will continue to be severely afflicted by the crisis of overproduction and the consequent financial crisis. Manufacturing is still on the decline. The trade and budgetary deficits have grown so fast and have enlarged the public debt in an extreme way. The US has no way of recovering soon even only the economic level of 1999, the last year before the protracted slide from 2000 to the present. It becomes more aggressive as it tries to solve its economic and political problems through war production and bellicose adventures.

Major Contradictions in the World

The crisis in the US adversely affects other global centers of capitalism, Japan and the European Union, in a big way because these have invested heavily in the US and are very dependent on the US market for their exports. Their tendency is to look after their own interests, especially because the US has hogged the spoils of the wars of aggression since 1991.

The inter-imperialist contradictions are becoming more conspicuous. The trade war is intensifying because of the global crisis of overproduction in all types of goods and because the US is deliberately undervaluing the US dollar to favor US exports. In the run up to the recent US war of aggression against Iraq, the US failed to take on board France, Germany, Russia and China not only because the US was violating the UN charter but also because the US was hell bent on discarding substantial contracts and concessions previously granted by the Iraqi government to the companies of these countries.

But the overwhelming majority of the people of the world who live and work in the underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America and the retrogressive countries of the former Soviet bloc have been the ones most ruined and impoverished by the ongoing global crisis. The types of goods (mainly raw materials) that these countries produce for the global market are in oversupply. Trade and budgetary deficits have resulted in crushing debt burdens

The neoliberal policy stress of "free market" globalization has victimized mainly the people in the third world and former Soviet bloc countries and has accelerated the concentration and centralization of capital in the imperialist countries, chiefly the US. The shrinkage of the global market has recoiled upon the imperialist countries.

But there is a further round of oppression and exploitation for the people as the imperialists engage in a struggle to redivide the world. These compete to grab economic territory as sources of cheap raw materials and cheap labor, markets, fields of investment, spheres of influence and positions of strength. The US has taken the lead in waging wars of aggression and has even reverted to the old practice of colonial occupation in Iraq.

It is correct to say that the most encompassing contradiction is between the proletariat and people of the whole world on the one hand and the imperialists and the puppet reactionaries on the other hand. In this regard, we mark US imperialism as the No. 1 enemy of the people. But there are four major types of contradictions that must be distinguished and taken into account in analysis and action.

These are the contradictions between the imperialists and the oppressed peoples and nations, between the imperialists and the countries or governments assertive of national independence, among the imperialist powers and between the monopoly bourgeoisie and the proletariat in imperialist countries.

At the moment, the main contradiction is that between the imperialists and the oppressed peoples and nations. The extreme forms of oppression and exploitation are driving the peoples and nations of the underdeveloped third world countries and the retrogressive countries of the former Soviet bloc to resist the unjust violence and cruel impositions of imperialism with revolutionary armed struggle and other forms of struggle.

There are revolutionary armed struggles led by Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties in countries like India, Nepal, Peru, Philippines and Turkey. There are other revolutionary armed struggles in such countries as Colombia, Eelam, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan. All these manifest the high intensity of struggle involving the current main contradiction. The patriotic wars of resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan have a high potential for putting the US in a quagmire and igniting widespread conflagration of armed resistance in the Middle East and Central Asia.

The next major contradiction is that between the imperialists and the countries or governments that are assertive of national independence. This is related to the main contradiction. The imperialists make excessive demands on governments and the political leaders respond by asserting national independence. Such leaders usually invoke bourgeoisie nationalist or socialist motivations.

With or without its imperialist allies, the US has exacerbated its contradiction with certain countries or governments. It has launched wars of aggression against Iraq and Afghanistan and occupied them. It uses military threats and economic sanctions against such countries as Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Syria and Libya. It also uses a two-edged policy of engagement and containment vis a vis China.

We have seen in history that inter-imperialist contradictions can rise to the level of main contradiction, as in World War I and World War II in the previous century. But at this time, notwithstanding the controversy regarding the US-UK invasion and occupation of Iraq, the imperialist powers are still basically in alliance for the exploitation of the proletariat and people of the world, especially in the semicolonies and dependent countries.

There have been economic threats and counter threats related to steel and bananas. Such lesser imperialist powers as France, Germany and Russia have grievances against the US for taking over oil resources in Iraq, getting the prime contracts and discarding the concessions previously given by the Iraqi government to their companies and contractors. But there are yet no military threats and counter threats among the imperialist powers even as they compete in military production and sales.

How far the Bush regime will use the terrorism scare in order to clinch the 2004 US presidential elections still remains to be seen. An increasing number of people anticipate that Bush will once more invoke the doctrine of preemptive war to attack another country and ride on a new wave of war hysteria to keep his presidential seat. On the other hand, there are expectations that US casualties in Iraq would rise to a level that would prove politically lethal to Bush. As the people blow up the pipelines, the costs of US occupation might become prohibitive to the US.

The contradiction between the monopoly bourgeoisie and the proletariat in imperialist countries is a major contradiction. This is now surfacing and gaining intensity. The economic crisis is worsening to the point that the monopoly bourgeoisie openly uses force against the workers and whips up fascism, racism and war hysteria. The workers respond by resisting their class enemy and waging class struggle in alliance with the unemployed, urban petty bourgeoisie and the youth.

There are general strikes of workers against the monopoly capitalist state and their employers. There are mass protests, joined by organized and spontaneous masses of workers, women, youth and others, against the imperialist states and against their multilateral groupings (e.g. Group of 8, OECD and OSCE), agencies (IMF, World Bank and WTO), military alliances (e.g. NATO and US-Japan Security Treaty) trade agreements (e.g. NAFTA, Mercosur), conferences (e.g. APEC) and fora (e.g. WEF).

Since 9/11 the biggest protest actions have been against the US war of aggression against Iraq. These were joined by tens of millions of people in many cities of imperialist countries within the first quarter of 2003. You can make a good tabulation of the protest mass actions in the US and other imperialist countries as well as on a global scale by visiting the websites of International ANSWER, Not in our Name and United for Peace and Justice.

The present crisis conditions in the world capitalist system drive the imperialists and local reactionaries to escalate oppression and exploitation and to inflict terrible suffering on the people of the world. But they also drive the broad masses of the people to resist. Thus, there is a resurgence of mass struggles for national liberation, democracy and social liberation.

Tasks Related to the Concern

I propose that you consider for inclusion in your list of tasks the following:

  1. Arouse, organize and mobilize the people in various countries, especially the oppressed peoples and nations, for national liberation, democracy and social liberation against imperialism and all reaction.
  2. Fight the imperialist multinational firms and banks, the IMF, World Bank and WTO as tools of neocolonialism and the US-instigated neoliberal policy of imperialist globalization and unbridled plunder.
  3. Stop the imperialists and their puppets from categorizing as "terrorist" revolutionary leaders, national liberation movements and governments assertive of national independence.
  4. Expose and oppose the spread of repression and fascism under "anti-terrorist" laws, military intervention and wars of aggression being unleashed under the pretext of a permanent "war on terror" by the real terrorists, US imperialism and puppet governments.
  5. Condemn the doctrine of preemptive war as barbarism and flagrant violation of the UN charter.
  6. Campaign against the US for perpetuating aggressive bilateral and multilateral military agreements, for stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and establishing more military bases, forward positions and outposts throughout the world.
  7. Fight the unilateral efforts of the US as well as the collective efforts of the imperialist powers to escalate the oppression and exploitation of the people.
  8. Oppose the US policy to step up war production to revive the US economy and to equip US military forces for wars of aggression and grabbing economic territory for plunder.
  9. Engage in all forms of political struggle for national liberation, democracy and social liberation.
  10. Support the national liberation movements.
  11. Expose and oppose the various types of reformists (like those in WSF and other imperialist-funded formations) that seek to undermine and frustrate the people’s revolutionary struggles.
  12. Unite, cooperate and coordinate with all forces that are desirous of a broad anti-imperialist united front. ###

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