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Issue #1591      May 1, 2013

Culture & Life

Bombs in Boston

Amidst the seemingly endless repeats on television of the scene of the bombs going off at the finish line of the Boston marathon, one important aspect of the case has received relatively scant attention: why did the Islamist Chechnya terrorists from the USA attack civilians in the USA?

After all, support for the Chechnya terrorists in the past has most readily come from the USA and US client states like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Now a US Congressional Committee is trying to ascertain why the US Intelligence services apparently chose to ignore warnings from their Russian counterparts that these people posed a threat to the USA itself.

Arrogant overconfidence perhaps? Or the smug belief on the part of US agencies that the nationalist/Islamist terrorist gangs in Chechnya were firmly on the American side (they were certainly on the anti-Russian side). During the Second World War, the Islamist fundamentalists of Chechnya aligned themselves with the Nazi invaders of the Soviet Union, eagerly attacking Soviet troops with a barbarity much admired by their Nazi mentors.

Or is the notion that the Boston bombings had anything to do with Chechnya itself just another smokescreen? Could the youthful bombers have been a pair of indoctrinated patsies, who acted in the belief they were striking a blow for Chechnya’s independence when in reality they were tools in a bigger plot? It certainly would not be the first time such a thing has happened, but the question then would be, what purpose could have been served by bombing the Boston marathon?

One scenario suggests itself at once. The US ruling class is at present engaged in a full-frontal assault on democratic rights in “the land of the free” (and has been for some time now). But curtailing democratic rights, and beefing up the powers of the security forces, is easier to achieve under conditions of fear, when people think the country is under attack or threat of attack.

The terror attack of 9/11 was followed not just by an escalation of war by the US in central Asia and the Middle East, but by a simultaneous assault on and curtailment of democratic rights and protections within the USA itself. Capitalism in the US was able to get away with anti-democratic and anti-people laws and actions that would never have been countenanced in normal peacetime conditions.

Similarly, amidst the upsurge in patriotism and while the crowds are still joyously celebrating the neutralising of the Boston bombers with chants of “USA! USA!”, US authorities are already planning ways to make outdoor gatherings “more secure”, more under the control of the police and more exposed to surveillance by cameras equipped with facial recognition software, to keep a very watchful eye on “potential terrorists” (but not, of course we are assured) on legitimate political or trade union activists going about their lawful business.

The so-called “War on Terror” has proven to be an invaluable aid to US imperialism, providing it with a “legitimate” reason to interfere in or even commit aggression against smaller countries without the inconvenience of having to have proof or even genuine evidence to support such actions.

The tactic is not new of course. The USA has used it at least as long ago as the Spanish American War. Hitler used it to justify his invasion of Poland, and the USA (again) fabricated an attack on their naval forces in the Gulf of Tonkin to justify a massive escalation of the war in Vietnam. In more recent years however, we have seen an increasing trend to dispense with the need for an excuse for military action, in favour of simply “intervening”, most recently in Mali. Clearly, where imperialism’s profitable resources like oil and gas, diamonds and minerals are concerned, no excuses are needed for waging war.

The fly in US imperialism’s ointment, however, is that it prefers to present itself to the American people as the champion of democratic rights, the world’s glowing example of democracy in action, the living proof that government of the people, by the people and for the people actually works. The fact that anything up to half the eligible electors in the US are so turned off by the country’s warped system of democracy that they don’t even bother to vote does not stop US leaders from parading around as arbiters of democracy all over the world.

If the image of the USA as leader of the democratic nations were to be exposed as a figment of US presidential speechwriters’ imaginations, the country would suffer a profound shock. It might even do something rash like turning to the Left. And imperialism cannot have that!

The comfortable myths that sustain the people of the US in the face of ever-present poverty, rampant crime and drug abuse, absence of accessible health care, and pervading ignorance about the world they live in, are sustained by an army of spin-doctors and propagandists backed by the most all-pervasive media control ever devised.

This propaganda monolith is designed to keep the bulk of the American people from even noticing the constant reminders that their country is in trouble: the fact that large numbers of the country’s citizens survive on food-stamps, have nowhere to live, will never have a job because there are none for them to have, and – particularly if they have the misfortune to be black – will probably find themselves in prison.

That is, if they are not shot dead first, for the violence that so many Americans are perversely proud of is in fact proof that the country is to a large extent unfit even to be regarded as civilised.

And I haven’t even touched on religious fundamentalism, the bastard child of ignorance and racism, which influences the thinking of so many Americans. But whoever planted the Boston marathon bombs, one thing is certain: US imperialism will endeavour to use the bombings to stampede the US people into giving up more of their democratic rights in the name of “security”.   

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