The events of the past four years have amply confirmed the analysis that the ICC advanced in 2001 about the nature and political impact of the terrorist attacks on September 11th.
The Bourgeoisie Knew About the Attacks in Advance
As readers will recall, four years ago in these pages, we compared the terrible events of 9/11 to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and pointed out that “there is considerable evidence that the bourgeoisie was not taken by surprise by the attacks in either case and that the bourgeoisie cynically welcomed the massive death toll in both cases for purposes of political expediency in order to implement its imperialist war aims, and other long range political objectives” (Internationalism 120). We argued that, while the bourgeoisie might not have known the exact targets of the attacks that came on 9/11 or that the results would be so catastrophic, they had ample knowledge that such attacks were coming and permitted them to ocurr in order to mobilize the population for war, to overcome the vestiges of what the bourgeoisie calls the “Vietnam syndrome” – the unwillingness of the population, particularly the working class, to rally behind the state for full scale imperialist war.
At the time our critics accused of us of falling prey to conspiracy theory and paranoia. However, our analysis has been confirmed by the data revealed in countless books, journalistic articles, and investigation commissions, etc. in the last few years.The latest revelation is that the CIA knew that Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 attacks, was in the US, was being trained as a pilot, and was preparing a terrorist attack, but decided not to inform the FBI. Furthermore, this information was subsequently given to investigators for the highly acclaimed 9/11 Commission, but was suppressed by the Commission and was never made public until quite recently. However critical the Commission’s report was of the “intelligence community,” this particular item was too damaging to be allowed to see the light of day. And as recently as mid-September, the New York Times reported that despite the government’s protestations that no one could have ever imagined that terrorists would hijack planes and turn them into missiles, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had been informed in 1998 that al Qaeda planned to hijack American jetliners and crash them into American landmark buildings and structures.
Our alleged conspiracy theories and paranoia notwithstanding, there is no longer any factual dispute that the American capitalist state was aware in advance that attacks were coming, knew who the specific leaders were, and was aware that they were in the US. For the bourgeoisie and their media, the debate is about how such terrible errors, poor judgments, lack of communications, incompetence, etc. could occur. For us, as revolutionary Marxists, the question has been to understand the political purposes behind the government’s policy to permit the attacks to occur. We have seen clearly that these attacks were used to attempt to mobilize the population for war, to make possible an unprecedented strengthening of the repressive apparatus of the state, and to provide pretext for the launching of imperialist war in Afghanistan and Iraq, which are more dictated by the needs of maintaining American hegemony than combating terrorism.
The Historic Course Remains towards Decisive Class Confrontations
As we anticipated in 2001, the patriotic fever whipped up by ruling class in the aftermath of 9/11 quickly subsided and doomed the bourgeoisie’s expectations that it had finally overcome its dreaded “Vietnam syndrome” that had hampered its imperialist designs since the 1960s. For a moment the bourgeoisie did indeed seem to have cause to celebrate in 2001. All the flag waving and propaganda campaigns gave them momentary hope that they would be able to mobilize the working class for sustained imperialist war. However, this has proven an illusory accomplishment, as opposition to the war in Iraq continues to grow.
As we pointed out in the National Situation Report (Internationalism 135), “the war in Iraq has revealed that any illusions the bourgeoisie had surmounted what they referred to as the “Vietnam Syndrome” – a term they used to refer to the unwillingness of the working class, and the population at large to permit itself to be mobilized for war and to accept the death and mutilation of working class youth in the service of the imperialist appetites of American capital – were completely groundless. As we have noted previously, on the historical level, the proletariat, internationally and in the US, remains undefeated, and the bourgeoisie cannot mobilize the population to accept on a prolonged basis the sacrifice, economic, political, and physical (in terms of lives), that long scale imperialist war requires. Furthermore, the ideological justification for imperialist war in this period manufactured after the 9/11 attacks and clumsily manipulated by the Bush administration, has been totally discredited, and consequently presents the bourgeoisie with grave problems in its efforts to mobilize the population to accept future wars. Despite Bush’s claims that his re-election constitutes a popular ratification of his Iraq policies, it is abundantly clear that Bush’s electoral triumph is a pyrrhic victory. All the bourgeoisie’s own data demonstrates that the majority of the population thinks that the war in Iraq is not worth the cost to fight it, in terms of the lives lost or the money expended. The various explanations for the war in Iraq – the purported link between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks, between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, or the imminent threat posed by alleged weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Iraq – were all revealed as lies.”
The problem for the bourgeoisie is not that the Bush administration has waged war in Iraq – the bourgeoisie was and is united on the necessity for this invasion, not because of the greed for oil or to fight terrorism, but to serve the far more significant geo-political strategic goal of preventing the rise of any rivals in Europe or Asia and reasserting US hegemony. The real problem for the bourgeoisie is that the administration’s bungling of the war has frittered away the ideological gains of 9/11 and has made it more difficult to launch future military interventions that will be necessary for US imperialism.
This problem is compounded by the fact that the bourgeoisie, both here in the US and throughout the world, is now confronted by two generations of undefeated workers – the generation of ’68 and their children, who have now grown to young adulthood. While the official bourgeois “anti-war movement” lies largely dormant between its annual huge mobilizations and hence is not really a “movement” but an event organizer, we have begun to see signs of members of the working class taking actions against the war effort – including protests by mothers and spouses of soldiers, and spontaneously organized protests by working class parents demanding that military recruiters not be permitted to recruit cannon fodder in high schools across the nation.
Four years after 9/11, the fact that the bourgeoisie knew in advance about terrorist attacks and permitted them to occur is an established fact and despite the patriotic campaigns of of the post-9/11 period it is still abundantly clear the proletariat is not defeated and continues to resist being mobilized behind the war ideology of the capitalist class.