Benazir Bhutto’s assassination and subsequent chaos in nuclear-armed Pakistan seriously set back U.S. plans for continuing control of the strategic region, especially of oil’s grand prize, Saudi Arabia. U.S. rulers had hoped that Harvard-educated Bhutto could heal the ruling-class split between her land-holding family’s faction and that of Musharraf’s military and initiate more vigorous attacks on Pakistan-based al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Those who murdered Bhutto — and simultaneously scores of workers — dashed that dream and strengthened the forces of Osama bin Laden, who’s almost certainly hiding in Pakistan. Bin Laden represents the non-royal sector of Saudi capitalists who are using unconventional violence to seize the oil bonanza the princes deny them.
Bhutto’s killers’ uncertain identity further underscores U.S. shakiness in its “ally” Pakistan. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are prime suspects but many blame Pakistan’s pro-Islamist Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) and fault Musharraf himself for not adequately protecting Bhutto. In any event, the killing reflects U.S. imperialism’s tendency to create one crisis by trying to solve another.
All the possible culprits sport a “Made-in-the-U.S.A.” label. Al Qaeda and the Taliban grew out of the U.S-led campaign to arm Islamists against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The ISI became powerful by helping run this operation. And the U.S. has built up Musharraf’s military with gifts totaling $10 billion meant to “combat terror” but diverted to the power-hungry generals’ own purposes.
Fight For Oil Sharpens
The grim Pakistan situation represents but one of the many major challenges U.S. rulers will face in the new year. Iraq remains an unprofitable hellhole, despite claims of the surge’s “success.” With the oil majors still afraid to risk capital and personnel there, Iraqi crude production hovers around 2.4 million barrels a day (mbd), far short of U.S. bosses’ goals. Actually, just before the 2003 invasion, the Establishment’s Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and James A. Baker Institute had issued a report foreseeing a six mbd windfall for Exxon Mobil and the rest.
Now Turkey’s bosses, pursuing their own security needs, are making things even worse for their U.S. “allies”: “Crude futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange soared past $96 per barrel…after Turkish warplanes hit alleged Kurdish rebel sites in northern Iraq….[T]raders fear that the rebels may respond by attacking oil pipelines in northern Iraq. (Energy Intelligence, 12/27/07) U.S. troops won’t leave Iraq anytime soon, as Congressional Democrats keep writing the Pentagon blank checks.
Meanwhile, U.S. rivals are stepping up their military influence in the region. Iran almost simultaneously announced delivery of nuclear fuel from Russia and its purchase of a Russian air defense system. Furthermore, “Iran and Russia are in negotiations to expand military cooperation beyond air defenses, including attack helicopters and jet engines for a fleet of indigenous Iranian fighters. There have also been reports that Iran intends to purchase Russian Sukhoi Su-30 fighters.” (Washington Post, 12/27/07)
China, whose thirst for oil puts it on a collision course with the U.S., is building a naval port for its new oil tanker-shepherding “blue water” navy at Gwadar, Pakistan. Gwadar commands the crucial Strait of Hormuz chokepoint through which virtually all seaborne crude from the Persian Gulf to East Asia must pass.
NEXT PRESIDENT’S MAIN JOB:
MOBILIZE FOR ALL-OUT OIL WAR
Both before and after 9/11, CHALLENGE constantly said that the U.S. would launch a war for control of the greater Middle East and its oil. Before 9/11, reporting on the Hart-Rudman commission that foresaw a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, we specifically said such an attack would precede a U.S. invasion of the Mid-East beginning in Iraq. Now U.S. rulers themselves admit as much. Richard Haass, president of the rulers’ CFR — when asked about the next U.S. president’s main task — said, “The greater Middle East represents the greatest collection of challenges that continue to face the U.S.” (Nikkei News, 12/13/07) Haass charged the next president with militarizing the nation for deadlier wars. “[W]e have to expand the size of the U.S. military….[I]t is quite possible that a lot of uses of military will be manpower-intensive….And it now looks more [like] the current Iraq war is going to be the model of future wars.”
Making Bhutto a martyr for wider conflict, White House hopeful Barack Obama called her “a respected…advocate for the democratic aspirations of the Pakistani people.” Hillary Clinton also glorified Bhutto, “The world is once again reminded of the dangers facing those who pursue democracy.”
But Bhutto was, in fact, no angel. She, like her U.S. backers, stood for nothing more than capitalism’s utterly unprincipled, relentless pursuit of profit (See box below). In the ranks of departed foreign standard-bearers for U.S. imperialism, she joins Saddam Hussein, the Shah of Iran and countless Latin American dictators, from Pinochet to Somoza to Trujillo to Battista.
Obama, Clinton, and the rest of the liberals praising Bhutto are selling political poison. Far better than following them down the road to imperialist world war would be to join and build the revolutionary communist Progressive Labor Party. We have the ultimate goal of eradicating the profit system and its endless wars and establishing workers’ rule in their place.
Bhutto Was Workers’ Deadly Enemy
Benazir Bhutto was no friend of the working class. She belonged to the aristocracy of the Pakistani ruling class in particular and to the worldwide capitalist ruling class in general. Under her premiership the Pakistani state apparatus, one of the world’s most repressive, continued its brutal practices of torturing, killing and “disappearing” workers and those who opposed her rule.
Even her younger brother Murtaza was mowed down by the police, which many (including her niece Fatima) believe Bhutto either engineered or tacitly approved. A member of parliament, he was a vocal critic of his sister’s politics and her corrupt government.
She, her husband, mother and other family members became obscenely rich from laundering money, getting kickbacks, customs inspection fees and outright stealing funds from social programs. Her husband and she accumulated a $1.5 billion fortune while over 80 million Pakistani workers and peasants live on less than $2 a day.