Talking Points on Terrorism and the War in Afghanistan

BY:CPUSA Organizing Department| November 21, 2001

First should always be expressions of sorrow and outrage about, and condemnation of, the horrific terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Go into detail, if possible, about people one knows who were killed, injured, or affected in some way.

Stop the Bombing!
In Afghanistan, US carpet-bombing, missile attacks, and cluster bombs are killing thousands of civilians. This ‘collateral damage’ violates international law and creates more innocent victims. International aid agencies estimate that if US bombing continues, 7.5 million Afghans are likely to die from starvation or exposure in the immediate future, including children, who make up more than half of the population of Afghanistan. How can this possibly end terrorism or bring to justice those responsible for the horrific killing of thousands in the US? The bombing must stop immediately so that tons of food aid can be delivered by UN and other relief agencies before the worst winter weather.

Don’t risk the lives of our youth
US policy puts at risk the lives of our young people in the military, most of whom are the sons and daughters of workers, the poor, and the racially and nationally oppressed. The rugged terrain and weather conditions in Afghanistan means that there are likely to be heavy casualties among American ground forces.

Don’t use the tragedy to legislate against workers and poor
Congress passed a bill granting billions to the airline industry, but refused to pass one with provisions to help laid-off airline workers. The threat of terrorism is being used to ram through legislation to benefit corporations at the expense of the vast majority of people in our country. This includes efforts to pass fast track authority for the president, giving him carte blanche to negotiate the Free Trade Agreement on the Americas (FTAA) and new WTO provisions even more detrimental to poor and working people of our country and the world.

Don’t risk a world war
Can the campaign against terrorism justify the risks of a wider war-even a nuclear war? Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said he would not rule out the use of nuclear weapons in Afghanistan. This war is being carried out in an extremely volatile region. India and Pakistan-both possessing nuclear weapons-are in conflict over Kashmir. Other nations with a direct stake in this war, namely Russia, China, and Israel, also possess nuclear weapons.
Many people in the 57 Muslim states view this war as targeted against them. This increases the risk of a wider war.

Defend the Bill of Rights and our Civil Liberties
Hundreds of people are being held in secrecy for questioning about the attacks? We are told this war is, among other things, to ‘defend freedom.’ Yet our civil liberties, guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, are being rapidly eroded by implementation of the newest anti-terrorism laws.

Why not peaceful solutions?
Shouldn’t President Bush have negotiated with the Taliban when they agreed to turn over Osama bin Laden if the US presented evidence of his guilt?
Horror, shock, and sympathy sounded all over the world following Sept. 11th; there was universal agreement that such terrorism is a scourge against humankind and must end. This provides unprecedented possibilities for accomplishing that goal if handled by the UN and the World Court.

Don’t violate International Law
The US bombing of Afghanistan violates all norms of international law. The UN Charter requires that all peaceful means be exhausted before resort to war, and that military action must be decided upon by the Security Council. The Bush Administration tried unsuccessfully three times to get UN Security Council approval for the bombing. This led US representative John Negroponte to present the Security Council with a statement that the US was invoking article 51 of the Charter, which allows nations the right of self-defense. However, Article 51 refers to self-defense against attacks by nations and provides that after the initial defense is undertaken, the state in question must take the matter before the Security Council.
Why not use worldwide investigative agencies and international courts to bring the perpetrators of to justice?
Why did the US not agree when Sudan offered to extradite bin Laden instead of giving tacit approval for his departure to Afghanistan? He had already been named as a co-conspirator in the earlier World Trade Center bombing. (Washington Post, Oct. 31, 2001)

Don’t use the ‘war on terrorism’ to destroy the ABM treaty.
The Bush administration is relentlessly pushing ballistic missile defense, which would violate the ABM Treaty and unleash a new nuclear arms race. These programs will bring additional billions in profit to military/aerospace industries, drain the paychecks of US workers, and destroy social programs and infrastructure rebuilding.

Why did the CIA train and support bin Laden?
Why did the CIA, working through the Pakistan intelligence service, train tens of thousands of mujahedeen in Afghanistan, providing them with the stinger missiles now being used against US forces? Why did the US provide financial backing to the Taliban as recently as last spring?

Why do they hate us? Why would ‘they’ want to terrorize us?
They don’t. Most people around the world make a distinction between the people and the foreign policies of the US Reporters in Pakistan, when asked about the ‘anti-American’ mood in that country, have emphasized that the demonstrations were against US government polices, not against Americans.
Terrorism never benefits the just struggles of working people, the poor, dispossessed and oppressed of the world.

Change US foreign policy
There are over 1.3 billion people living on less than $1 a day. Two-thirds of humanity lives in poverty. The chasm between the rich few and the billions of poor is rapidly widening. Much suffering can be attributed to US policies, which promote ‘free-trade,’ privatization, and globalization on behalf of the giant transnational corporations and banks.
The ‘war against terrorism’ would be greatly aided if the US: 1) adhered to UN Security resolutions on the rights of Palestinians and stopped supplying massive aid to Israel; 2) agreed to the establishment of the International Criminal Court (which it has opposed thus far), and; 3) ratified the Terrorist Bombing Convention now languishing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Other changes must include that the US:
o Abide by the UN Charter and seek to solve international problems through that body;
o Adhere to international treaties-including the ABM treaty;
o Sign and implement the Kyoto treaty on global warming;
o No fast track authority to the president, no to FTAA, NAFTA and the WTO;
o Return to UN jurisdiction over economic problems, instead of continuing to hand them over to the World Bank, IMF and WTO, dominated by the US and other wealthy nations. Implement the Declaration and Plan of Action for a New International Economic Order (NIEO), the best alternative to the current corporate globalization running roughshod over the world.
o Stop acting on behalf of the corporations and banks. Afghanistan which is strategically located near Central Asia possesses the second largest oil and gas reserves on our planet, and is the prime route for a major pipeline. Permanent military bases in the region are one goal of the US in Afghanistan.
o Reduce military spending and devote the trillions saved to provide for the needs of Americans and people around the world.


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