The agenda is clear
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The agenda is clear

Despite economic stagnation, the US's military spending in West Asia has not dipped. This is because it wants to control the resource-rich region. Sitaram Yechury writes.

columns Updated: Sep 13, 2012 13:50 IST

Today is the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US that claimed 3,000 lives. The strike was heralded by a series of 25 strikes in Iraq that killed more than 58 people and wounded over 250. Ironically, it was US President Barack Obama who once stated: "al Qaeda in Iraq didn't exist before our invasion."

According to Rand, in the year before the Iraq war (March 2002-03), there were only 13 terror attacks and 14 terrorism-related deaths in Iraq. In the year after the US invasion (March 2003-04), there were 225 terrorist attacks and 1,074 deaths.

Following 9/11, the US launched its global war against terrorism. Among many Draconian laws, it established the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) that publishes annual reports on terrorism. The 2011 report warns of "the persistent threat terrorism poses". This despite the fact that in 2011, not a single US civilian was killed in any terror attack by any banned outfit. Clearly, the threat of terrorism continues to be used by the US as its justification for military interventions abroad, particularly in oil-rich West Asia.

Far from making the world a better place to live in, the US's war against terrorism has promoted a sharp escalation of terror strikes. This reconfirms that the State terrorism sponsored by the US and terrorist attacks by various fundamentalist groups feed each other at the expense of innocent people. According to NCTC, between 2000 and 2006, the number of terrorist attacks increased from 1,151 to 6,660. Ironically, while Obama declared withdrawal from Iraq, he tripled the US's troops in Afghanistan between 2008 and 2011. According to NCTC, during these three years, there was a 130% increase in terrorist attacks. Rand data shows that in the year before the US invasion of Afghanistan, there were only three terrorist attacks in the country, resulting in eight deaths. By 2008, there were 450 terrorist attacks and 1,228 deaths. The US-led Nato war in Afghanistan is also impacting Pakistan where thousands are victims of terrorist attacks. We can only share the agony of our brethren across the border with the unqualified opposition to all forms of terror.

During this period, Rand data shows, there was over 650% increase in terrorism-related deaths in Pakistan. Likewise, between 2000 and 2006, the number of terrorist attacks in all of West and South Asia rose from 404 to 5,738.

Analysing the global data on terrorism, Danios, the 2011 Brass Crescent award winner, writes: "It is difficult to deny the co-relation between the US-led war on terror and the rise of terrorism worldwide… the steep rise in terrorism - a direct result of US action - is used to justify further such action." This is endorsed by Faisal Shahzad, the alleged 2010 'Times Square bomber' who testified during his trial, "Until the hour, the US stops the occupation of Muslim lands and stops killing the Muslims, we will be attacking - and I plead guilty to that." According to NCTC data, more than two-thirds of global terrorism-related deaths are in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As Obama promises relief in his re-election campaign to the people suffering from economic recession, there is no reduction in US military expenditures. Instead of spending on welfare, according to the 2012 Sipri (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) yearbook, US military spending in 2011 was $ 711 billion - 41% of what the world spent on defence. Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz estimates that the combined costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan surpass $6 trillion. Today, the US has 702 military installations throughout the world in 132 countries. It possesses nearly 10,000 active and operational nuclear warheads, 2,000 of these are on hair-trigger alert.

The enlargement of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) became a vital component of the 'project for the new American century', aimed at establishing global hegemony. Adopting its strategic doctrine of pre-emptive strike, the then US President George W Bush declared that "we fight our enemies abroad instead of waiting for them to arrive in our country. We seek to shape the world, not merely be shaped by it".

Such shaping of the world means military interventions to control vital economic resources. This is the crux of the US's intervention in West Asia. The Caspian Sea basin is estimated to hold large reserves of oil and gas, enough to supply the US's energy needs of 30 years and is worth $4 trillion. Pipelines that have been built from the Caucasus and Central Asia need to be protected to supply to the world through the Arabian Sea and rake in billions as profits.

The US admits that "Afghanistan's significance from an energy standpoint stems from its geographic position as a potential transit route for oil and national gas exports from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea."

This also explains the increasing US involvement along with its Nato allies in the Arab world. They have succeeded in a regime change in Libya and now seek to influence and control the new regimes that have emerged in many of these countries after the Arab Spring. The current strife and conflicts in Syria are also part of this larger strategy to control the region and, hence, its rich resources. A repartitioning of the spheres of influence that were carved out after the defeat of the Ottoman empire by the 'Sykesk-Piko' agreement appears to be underway.

Ironically, all these efforts to establish global hegemony of the US seek legitimacy behind the slogan of 'war against terror'. And, innocent civilians pay with their lives.

Sitaram Yechury is CPI(M) Politburo member and Rajya Sabha MP

The views expressed by the author are personal

First Published: Sep 10, 2012 22:56 IST