“It’s a proxy war by outside forces and the world must stand up against it.”
The opening paragraph of Stop the War’s latest email to members in Bristol ploughs a familiar furrow:
Yesterday’s vote in parliament is welcome. MPs reflected the majority view in the country and rejected the government’s plans to join an attack on Syria. It represented the victory of mass anti-war opinion over the interests of the UK elite that has been enthusiastically participating in US-led wars over the last decade and more.
There can be no doubt that the hundreds of demonstrations, protests, rallies and pickets of the last twelve years have been central to bringing the war makers low and making it impossible for Cameron to join in another catastrophic attack.
But we need to resist such mutual congratulation over the alleged effectiveness of ten years of rudderless protest and remind ourselves of a few salient facts.
1. The vote at Westminster was indeed a breathtaking upset for British imperialism, reflecting as it did the panic and disarray of our masters faced with a choice between drinking poison (plunging into another Iraq or Afghanistan) or dying of thirst (seeing US hegemony crumble).
It is the severity of the crisis and the steadfastness of Syria and the axis of resistance that combined to divide and weaken imperialism, not the feeble nonentities at the helm of the anti-war movement.
2. Open war against Syria is most likely still on the agenda anyway. Labour complains that war against Syria is being prepared “in a rush”, just as it used to complain that the cuts were happening “too fast”. Slacken the timetable a little and the objections melt away.
Labour complains only that the UN inspectors need more time, with the unstated corollary that an adverse report would legitimise missile strikes. All Miliband’s posturing amounts to is the demand for a bigger fig leaf to cover this criminal enterprise.
3. Under imperialism, though any given war may not itself be inevitable, war in general most certainly is, and the more urgently so as the capitalist crisis deepens.
Workers don’t need to be hearing right now that parliamentary democracy has proved itself a reliable bulwark against militarism. Least of all do they need to be hearing that Labour (or Labour ‘lefts’, or an anti-war movement dominated by social democracy) is going to deliver “peace in our time”.
4. We congratulate the government and people of Syria whose steadfast resistance to imperialist subversion has weakened and divided their enemies.
And we affirm again that it is by giving consistent support to the resistance forces and organising workers behind a campaign of practical non-cooperation with imperialist war crimes that a serious anti-war movement can and must be built.
Analysis: Forget the jubilee (Proletarian)
Leaflet: Forget the jubilee, join the revolution!
Video: Join the struggle!
Leaflet: Time to face it, capitalism must go
Leaflet: Who stole our future?
Manifesto: We want freedom!
Stop the hypocrisy: no room for democracy or political debate at Stop the War’s annual back-slapping smugfest
Saturday 3 March saw the first AGM of the Stop the War Coalition (StW) since its leaders had rescinded the affiliation of the CPGB-ML (let’s just call it what it was, an expulsion) by email on 23 September 2011 with the following message:
“I regret to inform you that Stop the War Coalition’s officers group today decided to reject the affiliation of the CPGB-ML. We have therefore refunded your recent card payment for the affiliation fee. This decision has been taken due to the fact that the CPGB-ML has been publicly attacking Stop the War Coalition in its publications. Kind Regards, Stop the War.”
Our party has been affiliated to StW ever since we formed seven years ago, so the rejection of our annual affiliation payment was a particularly shabby and undemocratic way of excluding us. But given that the leadership of StW is an unprincipled lash-up of social democrats, Trotskyists and revisionists, such underhand methods are par for the course.
Of course, we replied to this email, stating that there were no grounds for expulsion and that the self-appointed ‘officers group’ had no power to expel us either. Our reply was ignored.
The ‘attacks’ that the leadership claims were made by us on StW were real enough, but they were political criticisms of the leadership of StW, and at no time has anyone pointed out to us where it is written in Stop the War’s aims and objectives that such criticism is not allowed. As to the substance of the criticism, we did no more than our duty to the movement in pointing out that StW leaders had supported Nato’s propaganda war against the Libyan people and their government, and thus aided a criminal and unprovoked assault against a sovereign nation.
Aiding and abetting the destruction of Libya
At a time when the imperialist powers were finalising their plans for the barbarous attack on Libya, and throwing every possible support to their unpopular puppets in the ‘Transitional National Council’; at a time when the imperialist media was spewing forth wall-to-wall saturation propaganda aimed at demonising the Libyan government and preparing the populations of Britain, France and the US for another ‘righteous’, ‘humanitarian’ war, the leadership of StW sprang into action and called a demonstration in London.
Quite right, one might think. Just the kind of thing a good anti-war movement should be doing. Except that StW convened its demonstration not outside Parliament, Downing Street or some other office of the warmongers, but outside the Libyan embassy, against the Libyan government and in support of imperialism’s TNC stooges in Benghazi.
The fact that StW’s leaders are claiming in retrospect to have been ‘even-handed’ and only interested in convincing ‘our government’ not to bomb Libya is made a mockery of by that action. At the very moment that imperialism was trying to justify a war of brigandage, the leadership of StW helped things along by presenting the British people with an ‘across the board’ condemnation of the intended victim!
Whether or not all those who made this decision and carried it out had the intention of serving the imperialist cause is immaterial. In politics, where the lives of hundreds of thousands of people can hang in the balance, only the result of an action is relevant – and the result of the StW demonstration (the only demonstration that the coalition called in regard to Libya, even after the bombs were raining down on the Libyan people) was to support imperialism’s stated reasons for its dirty war and thus undermine opposition to the war among the British people. And that, whether intentional or not, makes the leaders of the coalition guilty of pro-imperialism.
This political characterisation of StW’s actions is an accurate one, and it must be made and understood if such a deadly mistake is to be corrected rather than repeated.
However belatedly, the mistake could still be corrected if StW was to clearly denounce not only the Nato imperialist puppet-masters, who have planned and directed the whole criminal destruction of Libya, but also their mercenary gangster puppets, who are currently rampaging through the country, lynching and ethnically cleansing black people in an orgy of racist violence, as well as targeting all those known to be loyal to the old government.
It might be too late to mobilise the British people to stop Britain’s forces taking part in the rape of Libya, but it is not too late to pull Britain out of the unholy alliance propping up the unpopular TNC. Nor is it too late to give support to the real representatives of the Libyan people – the Green fighters who are currently regrouping to defend their countrymen and resist the fascistic forces unleashed by Nato.
Aiding and abetting the war against Syria
Meanwhile, equally crucially, the anti-war movement must not allow the same mistake to be made in relation to imperialism’s next intended victim – Syria.
And yet, despite all the costly lessons that Libya could and should have taught StW’s leaders, we are once again seeing that, just as the British people are being bombarded with wall-to-wall propaganda lies that are aimed at demonising the Syrian government and justifying a full-scale war against the country, StW leaders are lining up … to denounce the Syrian government!
At last weekend’s annual conference, despite paying lip-service to the principle that the Syrian people should be free to determine their own future without outside interference, the self-styled ‘officers group’ members took it in turns to emphasise how much they personally deplored the ‘brutality’ of the ‘dictator’ Assad, who was ‘murdering his own people’ etc.
It’s a nasty trick: on the one hand pretend to care about the fate of Syrian people, while on the other you make sure that imperialism’s lies are reinforced, thus giving a helping hand to the imperialist cause of destroying Syria as an independent nation.
The duplicity is quite subtle too. How many people in the hall spotted the incongruity between the position that ‘Syrians should be free to determine their own future’ and ‘We cannot possibly give any support to Assad’? For the great unspoken truth of the day was that the majority of Syrian people are firmly behind their government (a broad, secular, anti-imperialist, national-unity coalition, by the way, not a ‘family dictatorship’ or an ‘Alawite dynasty’).
They wish their leaders to continue with its policies of independent economic and political development; with its policy of support for Palestinian self-determination and opposition to Israeli war crimes and occupation. Indeed, many of the valid criticisms that Syrians have of their government concern recent compromises that have been made with western finance capital at the expense of ordinary people. What the vast majority of Syrians don’t want is a West-imposed coalition of free-market flunkies and religious fundamentalists.
So if Syrians support the Assad government, should we not support their right to support that government? And should we not support the Syrian government’s right to defend itself against attack by imperialist-created militias? Under the pretext of ‘allowing Syrians to chose’, StW’s leaders are in fact telling all those on the left who might think of publicly backing the Syrian government that they must keep their support to themselves.
And when ‘leftists’ like John Rees, who has used his Islam Channel TV show to give airtime to known MI5 agents such as the spokesman from the ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ in order that they can denounce the ‘human rights abuses’ of the Damascus government, are agreeing with Cameron and Hague that the Syrian government is an evil dictatorship hated by ordinary Syrians, who is to blame the majority of British people if they are left with the impression that there is no fundamental reason to object to Nato’s stated aim of ‘regime change’ in Syria?
No right of reply in StW’s ‘democratic’ ‘broad front’
With such critical political questions in need of serious consideration and debate, it was no wonder that the bureaucrats in charge of StW’s annual conference had come up with two new ways to keep dissent at bay. First, only those sent as official delegates from affiliated organisations or local branches were allowed to speak, while other StW members attending had only observer status. Straight away, this put our comrades at a disadvantage, since, of course, the CPGB-ML was not allowed to send any delegates or propose any motions.
Despite this, at the very start of the day’s business, comrades from the CPGB-ML raised a point of order and objected to the party’s unconstitutional expulsion from the coalition, arguing that we should have the right to hear any charges against us and put our case to the meeting before such an expulsion could be accepted as valid. In the chair, however, that oh-so-mild-mannered and liberal darling of ‘left’ Labour Jeremy Corbyn was having none of it.
He refused our comrades the right to be heard, or even to question this decision, and so began the first shouting match of the day. Pretty? No, but with little other choice open to us than that of meekly accepting the chair’s ruling, anyone who cares to think about it from our standpoint (having been both illegally expelled and denied the right to question that expulsion) might accept that they may well have done something similar.
Having seen to it that most of the meeting had no idea what the fuss was about, the chair took a vote of the assembled delegates, who came down overwhelmingly in favour of giving us no chance to question our expulsion, or, equally importantly, to question the reasons for that expulsion. We were, however, given an assurance that we would be able to put our case when the subject was raised under proposition 16 on the agenda. This motion had been put forward by a hostile organisation, the CPGB Weekly Worker, but it did call for the reinstatement of our affiliation, so we accepted the assurance and retired from the fray.
The second, procedural manoeuvre was then sprung on the conference as a fait accompli, presented by Corbyn as a way to “get through the agenda”: only one person would be allowed to speak for or against each motion (and this despite the fact that delegates had been encouraged to put their names down on a list if there was a motion they wanted to speak to).
In practice, what this meant was that a whole lot of uncontroversial and very similar motions went through on the nod, with each speaker in favour making the same points and no-one speaking against them, while those motions that were controversial were rushed through with no debate allowed: the mover got their allocated four minutes, the leadership opposed and a vote was taken, with no further discussion and not even a right of reply against any slanderous or spurious argument the leadership might have chosen to put forward.
Seeing where this was leading, one comrade, during the break, sought a guarantee from the chair that a. proposition 16 would definitely be taken and not ‘accidentally’ fall off the agenda, and that b. our comrades would be guaranteed the right to put their own case for four minutes, rather than having to rely on the mover of the motion. The guarantee on the first point was given but only a commitment to “bear that in mind” was given on the second point.
Given the open manoeuvring to make sure that the reasons for our expulsion were not discussed, it was clear that there was no hope of a ‘peaceful’ settlement, despite the fact that another comrade had approached the Arrangements Committee and been promised that her name would be at the top of the list for speaking to proposition 16.
Early in the afternoon, during a ‘general discussion’ on organisation, one of our comrades did manage to force her way onto the list of speakers, and used her three minutes at the microphone to remind delegates of the need to work actively inside the trade unions in order to mobilise workers in relevant industries to organise collective action that could stop the imperialist war machine.
Every one of us has a duty to do what we can to prevent our country taking part in illegal wars of aggression, said our comrade. Individually we might be weak, but together we do have the power to change things. If British workers refused en masse to produce weapons, to serve in the forces, to transport the materials or to write or broadcast the propaganda needed to wage these wars, then the British ruling class would be forced to pull out of them, she reminded the delegates – and this speech was received with great applause.
The comrade also reminded those present that this most effective type of anti-war action (as opposed to the ‘keeping people busy’ activity such as petitions and lobbies of MPs favoured by StW’s leaders) was already official coalition policy, since CPGB-ML motions on active non-cooperation had been overwhelmingly adopted by conference at the last two annual conferences, but had never yet been implemented. [link here]
Finally, right at the end of the day, and with the assembly much depleted, came proposition 16. The CPGB Weekly Worker mover naturally focused on explaining why she thought her party’s front organisation Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI) should be allowed to affiliate. She also spent considerable time pointing out her organisation’s disagreements with ours, which was just as well, since we would have hated anyone to think that we held many of the Trotskyist positions she put forward.
Once her four minutes were up, it was over to Lindsey German to oppose the motion. In her contribution she made reference to the last email that she had sent us following our positive reply to a letter the StW office sent us asking us to affiliate. Judging by her response, that affiliation reminder email was sent in error. The email we received from her on 27 February, just five days before the AGM, read as follows:
“Thank you for your request for affiliation. As you are aware, the officers felt that your reported recent characterisation of some of them, including our chair Jeremy Corbyn, as ‘pro-imperialists’ or ‘traitors’ was unacceptable from an affiliated organisation. We understand that sometimes debate on issues becomes heated, but feel that we could only consider affiliating you if there were assurances that you would not make such remarks in the future. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you wish to discuss this further. Best wishes, Lindsey German.”
From the podium, German again insisted that the problem was one of ‘unacceptable language’. But the idea that dear St Jeremy is so thin skinned that he needs cushioning from our upsetting accusations is ludicrous in the extreme. This is a man who tells us that he is a socialist, but who has no qualms about getting his pay cheque from serving a party that is drenched in the blood of innocents.
The Labour party that Corbyn is so loyal to has never yet refused to give full support to one of British imperialism’s wars, whether in or out of government. Indeed, the last Labour government was exceptionally active in galvanising support for Nato’s aggressive wars of destruction against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq. To remain loyal to such a party is hardly a vocation for the thin-skinned.
Ms German’s performance over, Saint Jeremy moved to the vote, whereupon our comrades once more objected in a very noisy and animated fashion, and it was during this justified uproar that the honourable StW chairman proposed and took a vote denying us the right to speak in our own defence. And he was shamefully supported in this action by George Galloway, who had apparently forgotten that even the Labour party gave him a hearing before kicking him out!
Thus it was that the ‘democrats’ who make up the leadership of StW, who cannot refrain from condemning real anti-imperialist fighters like Colonel Gaddafi and President Assad at any and every opportunity on the grounds that these ‘dictators’ are alleged not to let their people have any say in their country’s affairs, showed that they are not averse to practicing a bit of dictatorship themselves when it serves their agenda.
Meanwhile, whatever the bureaucratic manoeuvrings of Corbyn and co, the struggle against imperialism goes on. While the Trotskyists, revisionists and social democrats that pass as the great and the good of StW drag the coalition further into the gutter, shedding ever-more members as they go, our party will continue to act as a pole of attraction for all those who are serious about destroying British monopoly capitalism’s choke-hold on workers all over the globe, and we will continue to hold out the hand of internationalist solidarity to all those in struggle against British imperialism.
The video below is taken from a meeting of anti-war activists in Birmingham and shows Comrade Harpal Brar talking about the role of the Labour party in stifling the anti-war movement’s ability to actually stop war.
By attempting to unconstitutionally rescind CPGB-ML’s affiliation to the Stop the War coalition, StW ‘leaders’ are behaving in a criminally sectarian and cowardly manner.
Cowardly, because the Labour party, Counterfire and CPB leaders who dominate our coalition’s executive seek, by unconstitutionally expelling the CPGB-ML, to silence criticism and avoid having their failed policies on Libya in particular, and lack of consistent anti-imperialism more generally, scrutinised and overturned.
They seek to avoid answering to the coalition’s membership and having the truth behind these failures exposed: that their cosy relations with ‘left Labour’ (German-Benn, Murray-Corbyn, etc) and their personal political stock-in-trade are more dear to them than the stated aims of the StW coalition they purport to uphold.
That is why, at the crucial moment, rather than leading British workers to oppose Nato’s genocide in Libya, their personally cherished ideas and relations led StW to parrot the predatory propaganda of British imperialism, which was hell-bent on waging war upon Libya and the devastating this beautiful, historic, cultured and formerly most prosperous sovereign African nation – all in pursuit of Nato’s strategy of capital aggrandisement, regional and world domination.
All of which begs the question: can an anti-war movement be effectively led by members and supporters of a party that condones and conducts those wars?
Libya – a betrayal
Throughout the Libyan crisis, the conduct of the Stop the War Coalition was shameful, bringing us nothing but ignominy in the eyes of the world’s oppressed and struggling masses.
Prior to Nato’s bombardment, when US/British/French intervention was a little less blatant (very much in the vein of its current plot against Syria), conducted via MI6, CIA and other covert operatives, and through the funding of motley feudal and criminal elements, StW organised a demonstration. But this ‘anti-war’ demonstration was not against imperialism and its mercenaries in Benghazi, but against the Gaddafi government!
Owen Jones wrote on the StW website: “Let’s be clear. Other than a few nutters, we all want Gaddafi overthrown, dead or alive. In both his anti-western and pro-western incarnations, his record is that of a brutal and unquestionably slightly unhinged dictator. I will not caricature supporters of the bombing campaign as frothing-at-the-mouth neocons.”
Andrew Murray, wrote in the Morning Star, while Nato’s blitzkrieg was underway, that “it is wrong to assert that the rebellion based in Benghazi was some sort of pro-imperialist plot from the outset”.
Is that so?
CPGB-ML, a member of the Stop the War Coalition since its inception, did not fall for this pro-imperialist whitewash, and on 11 March 2011 we issued a leaflet calling for the defence of Libya and its government. This was a principled and coherent anti-imperialist stance, which has stood the test of time. We are proud to have promoted it, among British workers and activists – including those of the StW coalition – as part of our activity to oppose illegal and genocidal Nato wars, in Libya and elsewhere.
The text of our March 2011 ‘Hands off Libya! victory to Gaddafi!’ statement is freely available.
Further, in August 2011, we issued a leaflet calling on workers to “support the resistance” and “denounce StW treachery”.
It contained the following – remarkably restrained – criticism of StW’s position:
“Some people and organisations, such as Stop the War, have been bamboozled by the non-stop and ubiquitous Goebbelsian propaganda that has spewed forth from the imperialist media ever since Gaddafi’s regime was put in place into believing that he is some kind of a monster who must be overthrown at all costs. In view of his record in defending the interests of the Libyan people, such an approach is absurd.
“Stop the War, dominated as it is by organisations that devote themselves to spreading illusions in social democracy (ie, futile hopes that solutions for the working class and oppressed people are to be found within capitalism), still finds itself cheerleading for Gaddafi’s opponents: their only reason for opposing imperialist military intervention is that it may be harmful to the cause of imperialism’s local agents in Libya!
“Down with social-democratic treachery; down with imperialism!”
John Rees and the ‘Don’t Mention the War’ campaign
With the lack of political will to defend Libya from imperialist attack, there was a corresponding dearth of activity on the ground. What happened to ‘our’ alleged ability to mobilise 2-million-strong marches, like the one held in February 2003 before the invasion of Iraq, which is so often cited and trumpeted? This kind of capitulation before the Nato juggernaut has made us an increasing irrelevance to British workers.
As tomahawk cruise missiles, bunker busters, white phosphorous and depleted uranium rained down on Libya, pulverising Tripoli and Sirte, targeting all progressive Libyans, and in particular Col Muammar Gaddafi – whose infant grandchildren were among the early victims of Nato’s dark forces – John Rees apparently felt no shame, declaring (in a similar vein to Liam Fox and William Hague) on a YouTube interview that “nobody is going to shed a tear for the fall of this brutal dictator [Gaddafi]”.
He further advised the quisling ‘Transitional National Council’ (in reality a front for Trans-National Corporations) to gain credibility by “telling the major powers where to get off” – ie, to adopt his own tactic of dressing up an imperialist campaign in ‘anti-imperialist’ colours. No doubt this would have been convenient for Rees, but the heartless clerics had another agenda.
During the bombing campaign, StW leadership belatedly declared its half-hearted opposition to the imperialist bombing campaign – not because they disagreed with Nato’s aims, but because it believed their methods were not effective enough. Bombing, they said, “would merely serve to bolster Gaddafi’s position, and thus undermine the cause of the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime” – which principle aim of imperialism in Libya, ‘Stop the War’ leaders continued to cherish and support.
We published a statement on 8 September, pointing out that with ‘anti-war friends’ like these, the Libyan people might well ask, ‘Who needs enemies?’
StW leaders – as the 2012 national conference agenda attests – barely make reference to their betrayal of Libya, as despite some mild queasiness and reservations they remain broadly in support of Gaddafi’s lynching.
Nor is the struggle in Libya – like the struggle in Iraq – over. Resistance is regrouping, even after the wholesale slaughter of the flower of Libya’s anti-imperialist leadership. The Green flag has been raised in Bani Walid, Tripoli, Sirte and elsewhere – long after Hilary Clinton stopped cackling with glee over the gruesome imagery of Gaddafi’s murder.
For while the feudal thugs of Nato’s TNC run amok in Libya, committing mass violations of its citizens’ rights, including (among other things) kidnapping, raping and murdering Libyan women, and lynching anyone with black skin, while helping Nato bandits to help themselves to Libya’s oil and financial wealth, there can be no peace.
Let us all reflect – if there was previously any room for doubt – that these are not the actions of a popular-democratic revolution, but the pogroms of a decaying, imperialist-backed feudal movement attempting to divide and destroy the unity and progressive sentiment built over 40 years among the formerly free Libyan people. Their gains can only be temporary; their ultimate defeat is certain.
Genocide and ethnic cleansing have been perpetrated, a nation stolen, its resources subsumed into the coffers of imperialist finance capital. The issue for us to address is that all the criticism from our ‘anti-war’ group was directed, not against Obama, Cameron, Clegg, Miliband, Balls, or the hosts of retainers without whom the war could not have been waged, but against its victims.
A ‘broad’ movement – the cry was ‘Unity’!
StW leaders frequently call for unity. It is interesting to compare their words with their deeds. Their response to CPGB-ML criticism of their anti-Libya propaganda was not reason or even attempted justification, but sectarian bureaucracy.
On 23 September, the CPGB-ML received an email from the Stop the War Coalition informing us of a decision by the “officers group” to “reject the affiliation” of our party. We were told that this was on the basis that the CPGB-ML had been “publicly attacking Stop the War Coalition” in its publications.
We again brought the debate back to the real issues, in our October statement.
Lindsey German sent a follow-up email clarifying that “the officers” felt that our “reported recent characterisation of some of them, including our chair Jeremy Corbyn, as ‘pro imperialists’ or ‘traitors’ was unacceptable from an affiliated organisation. We understand that sometimes debate on issues becomes heated, but feel that we could only consider affiliating you if there were assurances that you would not make such remarks in the future.”
But when did StW declare its ‘officers group’ to be above criticism – on pain of expulsion? In what statute or officers group meeting minute is this ruling secreted away? We are certainly not aware of it. And how is the policy of a broad coalition to be corrected, if it errs, without criticism?
John Rees, speaking at StW’s 2010 AGM, which had just passed the CPGB-ML’s ‘No cooperation with war crimes’ resolution thundered:
“I personally support the call for victory to the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan – but I also know that the strength of our campaign comes from its breadth … And if this slogan puts off our affiliates – like the Quakers – then I am against it, and oppose the resolution.” (From memory)
Here is a fine thing. Counterfire leader John Rees opposing his own fervently held beliefs to hold a broad coalition together – for how can we have an anti-war movement without Quakers? (Incidentally, no Quaker we have ever spoken to – and we have spoken to a surprising number, although admittedly not at StW meetings – disagrees with the idea that an oppressed nation or people has the right to defend itself.)
Consistent anti-imperialism is just too far ahead of the curve, you see. Obviously, Rees is well up for the fight against British imperialism, but you know, these Quakers just aren’t gonna go for it, so – regrettably – the deal’s off. His speech, delivered to a carefully managed but highly spirited conference, was just enough to (narrowly) defeat the motion.
The choice: oppose Nato or compromise with imperialism
The real choice, of course, is not ‘Quakers or communists’, but whether the aim of StW can be reconciled with the class interests of the capitalists who wage these wars. If we are serious about actually stopping war, the CPGB-ML believes that we must oppose the capitalist imperialist system that on a daily and weekly basis engenders war – and campaign to raise British workers’ awareness of the actions of their own ruling class at home and abroad. This inevitably involves confronting groups and cliques that directly or indirectly support social democracy with the contradictions in their own political position.
Logically, that includes challenging the social-democratic ‘leaders’ of left Labour who talk of their opposition to war while in practice make their careers out of sitting in the parties of war and asking workers to support those parties at every juncture. We cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.
Learning lessons for the future – defend Syria!
All this is not simply an academic exercise in point scoring. There are very real practical consequences for our work next week, next month and next year, which make it of vital importance that the coalition should learn lessons and correct its stance.
Since the fall of Libya, all Stop the War’s national efforts have been directed at pointing out the threat of war against Iran. And while that threat is very real, and must certainly be mobilised against, such activity cannot be allowed to act as a cover for ignoring the much more imminent threat against that other sovereign anti-imperialist nation in the Middle East: Syria.
As well as carving out an independent economic path free from the diktat of the IMF and World Bank, Syria is home to the headquarters of many Palestinian resistance movements, and a firm supporter of Lebanon’s anti-imperialist resistance movement, Hizbollah. Millions of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees have made their homes there, and the country is Iran’s strongest regional ally, as well as being an implacable foe of Israel. Although described by western media as a ‘dictator’, President Bashar al-Assad is actually the leader of a broad-based coalition government of national unity, which comprises many political parties, including communists. All of which makes the country a prime target for imperialism’s guns.
The aggressive war being prepared by Nato and its regional stooges against Syria is using all the same tricks that were applied in the case of Libya. Nato is funding, training and arming disparate opposition and terrorist groups and parachuting in covert special forces to give them vital support, while Nato’s leaders push through UN resolutions about ‘democracy’ and the ‘safety of the people’ and, of course, orchestrate a hysterical media campaign of lies and disinformation.
And while some people do seem to have learned a lesson from the carnage in Libya, the Stop the War leadership does not yet seem to be among their number. Yet again, the coalition’s leaders are failing to take a consistently anti-imperialist and anti-war position; yet again, they are failing to stand up against the media lies and declare themselves to be on the side of the Syrian masses against Nato imperialism.
Instead of standing firmly against war on Syria, Stop the War leaders prefer not to talk about it. The recent picket for Iran and Syria didn’t feature a single speaker for Syria on the platform, and its recent emails refer to Syria only in passing.
Instead of standing up to imperialist propaganda, the Stop the War website carries articles referring to “Bashar al-Assad’s killing machine” while John Rees uses his television show to consistently denounce the legitimate government and legitimise Nato’s stooges, including the MI6-backed ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’. Once more, Stop the War’s ‘opposition’ to Nato seems to be based more on tactical grounds than on any real ideological difference.
Let no-one be under any illusion: not only is a beautiful, cultured, independent country and its people under threat, but the illegal war already being waged by covert forces in Syria is a stepping-stone to even bloodier war against Iran, and from there to war against China and Russia. In a very real sense, Syria today stands in the same place as did the Spanish republic in 1936. British workers and progressive people need to stand side by side with the Syrian masses, demanding: Hands off Syria! Victory to Assad!
And above all, we must start to use our collective power to prevent the British ruling class from taking part in this criminal and barbaric conflagration.
CPGB-ML’s work on Libya and Syria:
Arab spring, Libya and Stop the War (Dec 2011)
Gaddafi tribute in London (Oct 2011)
Libya, a media war (Oct 2011)
PAIGC on Libya and Gaddafi (Sep 2011)
Eyewitness report-back from Libya (June 2011)
Imperialism’s interest in Syria (May 2011)
Libya, Syria and the Middle East (Reply to questions, May 2011)
Libya, Syria discussion (May 2011)
From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 1 October
Under the tender care of US imperialism, Haiti is having a hard time recovering from the January 2010 earthquake that destroyed much of the country.
So little has been done to alleviate the conditions in which the people are having to live that a major cholera epidemic has broken out in a rural area north of Port au Prince. The cause is thought to have been contamination of the Aritbonite river by a seepage of sewage from an encampment of UN ‘peacekeepers’.
No fewer than 420,000 people have been infected, of whom at least 6,000 have died so far. Yet it is not particularly expensive to provide clean water and/or cholera inoculations. It would seem, however, that much of the ‘aid’ to Haiti goes in providing ‘peacekeepers’ to restrain the anger of the population rather than to addressing the causes of that anger!
From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 1 October
With effect from 3 September, the EU, which buys most of Syria’s oil, has brought in a ban on importing that oil with a view to crippling Syria’s economy and bringing about the downfall of the Syrian government of Bashar Assad.
Syria produces only about 400,000 barrels of oil a day, less than 1 percent of global production, and exports about 150,000 barrels a day, 95 percent of it to Europe. The exports provide about 25 percent of Syria’s income, which is already under pressure from the IMF. By denying the government this income, the imperialists are hoping to frustrate the attempts of the Syrian government to meet the demands of the Syrian people with such popular measures as fuel subsidies.
The US government is openly planning for the future of Syria after what they hope will be the certain downfall of Assad. While other imperialist countries have withdrawn their embassies from Damascus, the US in all its arrogance has left its ambassador, Robert Ford, in place, with a view to his liaising with opponents of the Syrian government.
According to one report, “In coordination with Turkey, the United States has been exploring how to deal with the possibility of a civil war among Syria’s alawite, druse, christian and sunni sects.” (‘US is quietly getting ready for Syria without Assad’ by Helen Cooper, New York Times, 19 September 2011)
Imperialism is desperate to overthrow the Syrian regime because of its alignment with Iran and Hizbollah, as well as its influence in Lebanon among those who battle for national independence and safeguarding their national sovereignty from imperialist interference.
While claiming, as in the case of Libya, to be intervening to prevent the regime from ‘killing its own people’, it is perfectly clear that US imperialism knows perfectly well that the overthrow of the Assad government poses a serious risk of unleashing a sectarian civil war in which tens of thousands will die and further tens, if not hundreds, of thousands will be forced into exile. Certainly the christian minority in Syria – about 10 percent of the population – is extremely fearful of the consequences of Assad’s possible overthrow.
Here’s the complete article written by Fidel Castro, and published in two parts by Granma, 26 and 27 September 2011.
I am halting the tasks which have been totally occupying my time recently to dedicate some words to the singular opportunity presented to political science by the 60th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The annual event demands a singular effort on the part of those holding the highest political responsibilities in many countries. For them, it constitutes a difficult test; for the aficionados of this art, more than a few given that it vitally affects everyone, it is hard to resist the temptation to observe the interminable but instructive spectacle.
In the first place, there exists an infinity of thorny issues and conflicts of interest. For a large number of participants, it is necessary to take a position on events which constitute flagrant violations of principles. For example: what position to adopt on the NATO genocide in Libya? Do some persons wish to place on record that under their leadership the government of their country supported the monstrous crime perpetrated by the United States and its NATO allies, whose sophisticated fighter planes, piloted or non-piloted, executed more than 20,000 attack missions on a small Third World state of barely six million inhabitants, alleging the same reasons as those previously used to attack and invade Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan and which are now threatening to do so in Syria or any other country in the world?
Was it not precisely the government of the UN host state which ordered the butchery in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the mercenary Bay of Pigs attack on Cuba, the invasion of the Dominican Republic, the “dirty war” in Nicaragua, the occupation of Grenada and Panama by the U.S. military forces and the massacre of Panamanians in El Chorillo? Who promoted the military coups and genocide in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, which resulted in tens of thousands of dead and disappeared? I am not talking about things which happened 500 years ago, when the Spaniards initiated genocide in the Americas, or 200 years ago, when the yankees exterminated native Indians in the United States or enslaved Africans, in spite of “all men are created equal,” as stated in the Declaration of Philadelphia. I am talking about acts that have taken place in recent decades and which are taking place today.
These acts must be recalled and reiterated when an event of the importance and prominence of the meeting underway in the United Nations takes place, and where the political integrity and ethics of governments is put to the test.
Many of them represent small and poor countries in need of support and international cooperation, technology, markets and credits, which the developed capitalist powers have manipulated as they please.
Despite the shameless monopoly of the news media and the fascist methods used by the United States and its allies to confuse and deceive world opinion, the resistance of the peoples is growing, and this can be appreciated in the debates taking place in the United Nations.
More than a few Third World leaders, in spite of the obstacles and contradictions indicated, have expressed their ideas with courage. The very voices emanating from the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean no longer contain the servile and embarrassing accent of the OAS, which characterized pronouncements of heads of state in past decades. Two of them have addressed this forum; both of them, Bolivarian President Hugo Chávez, a mix of the races which comprise the people of Venezuela, and Evo Morales, of pure millenary indigenous origin, stated their ideas in the meeting, one in a message and the other directly, in response to the speech of the yankee President.
Telesur broadcast the three speeches. Thanks to the network, in the night of Tuesday the 20th we heard President Chávez’ message, read carefully by Walter Martínez during his “Dossier” program. As head of state of the UN host nation, Obama gave his speech on Wednesday morning and Evo gave his during the early hours of the afternoon of the same day. For the sake of brevity I will take essential paragraphs from each text.
Chávez was unable to attend the United Nations Summit in person, after 12 years of untiring struggle without resting for a single day, which placed his life at risk and affected his health, and who is now fighting selflessly for his full recovery. However, his message could not but approach the most decisive issue of the historical meeting. I transcribe it virtually in full:
“I address these words to the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization […] to confirm, on this day and in this forum, Venezuela’s total support of Palestinian statehood: the right of Palestine to become a free, sovereign and independent country. It is an act of historical justice to a people who have carried within themselves, always, all the pain and suffering of the world.
“The great French philosopher Gilles Deleuze […] states with the tone of truth: ‘The Palestinian cause is above all the compound of injustices which this people has endured and continues to endure.’ And it is also, I dare to add, a constant and unyielding will of resistance which is already written in the heroic memory of the human condition. […] Mahmoud Darwish, the infinite voice of the potential Palestine, speaks to us from the sentiment of the awareness of this love: ‘We do not need the memory/because Mount Carmel is within us/ and the grass of Galilee is on our eyelids/ Don’t say: let us run to my country like the river! / Don’t say it! / Because we are in the flesh of our country/ and she is in us.’
“Against those who fallaciously maintain that what has happened to the Palestinian people is not genocide, Deleuze argues with implacable lucidity, ‘In all cases there is an attempt to act as if the Palestinian people not only should not exist, but have never existed. It is, in other words, the degree zero of genocide: to decree that a people do not exist; to deny them the right to existence.’”
“[…] the resolution of the conflict in the Middle East must of necessity move through doing justice to the Palestinian people; this is the only way of winning the peace.
“It pains and angers us that those who suffered one of the worst genocides in history have become the hangmen of the Palestinian people; it pains and angers us that the inheritance of the Holocaust is the Nakba. And it angers us, bluntly, that Zionism continues to utilize the accusation of anti-semitism against those who oppose its outrages and its crimes. Israel has exploited and is exploiting, blatantly and vilely, the memory of the victims. And it is doing so to act, with total impunity, against Palestine. In passing, it is worth noting that anti-Semitism is a Western, European misfortune, in which Arabs do not participate. Let us not forget, moreover, that it is the Palestinian Semite people who are suffering the ethnic cleansing being practiced by the colonial Israeli state.”
“[…] It is one thing to reject anti-Semitism, and it is a very different thing to passively accept that Zionist barbarity is imposing an apartheid regime upon the Palestinian people. From an ethical point of view, whoever rejects the former, has to condemn the latter.”
“[…] Zionism, as a view of the world, is absolutely racist. In their terrifying cynicism, the words of Golda Meir are irrefutable evidence of that: ‘How are we going to return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to. There is no such thing as Palestinians. It was not, as is thought, that a people called Palestinian existed, that considers itself as Palestinian, and that we arrived, threw them out and took their country from them. They did not exist.’”
“Read and reread the document historically known as the Balfour Declaration of 1917: the British government assumed the legal authority of promising the Jews a national home in Palestine, deliberately ignoring the presence and will of its inhabitants. It should be noted that for centuries, Christians and Muslims lived together in peace in the Holy Land, until Zionism began to claim it as its entire and exclusive property.”
“At the end of World War II, the tragedy of the Palestinian people was exacerbated, consummated by their expulsion from their territory and, at the same time, from history. In 1947, the ominous and illegal United Nations Resolution 181 recommended the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state and a zone under international control (Jerusalem and Bethlehem).
[…] 56% of the territory was granted to Zionism for the constitution of its state. In fact, this resolution was in violation of international law and flagrantly ignored the will of the large Arab majorities: the right to self-determination of the peoples became a dead letter.”
“[…] as opposed to what Israel and the United States would have the world believe via the communication transnationals, what took place and is still taking place in Palestine, let us say it with [Edward] Said, is not a religious conflict: it is a political conflict, of a colonial and imperialist stamp; it is not a millenary but a contemporary conflict; it is not a conflict that was born in the Middle East but in Europe.
“What was and what continues to be the crux of the conflict? The discussion and consideration of Israel’s security, but not in any way that of Palestine. This can be confirmed by recent history: suffice it to recall the latest genocidal episode unleashed by Israel with Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.
“The security of Palestine cannot be reduced to the simple recognition of limited self-government and police control in its enclaves of the West Bank of the Jordan Rover and in the Gaza Strip, leaving aside not only the creation of the Palestine state based on pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, the rights of its nationals and their self-determination as a people, but also compensation and the consequent return to the homeland of 50% of the Palestinian population dispersed throughout the entire world, as established in Resolution 194.
“It is incredible that a country (Israel), which owes its existence to a General Assembly resolution, can be so disdainful of resolutions emanating from the United Nations, denounced Father Miguel D’Escoto, calling for an end to the massacre of the people of Gaza at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009.”
“It is impossible to ignore the crisis of the United Nations. Before this same General Assembly in 2005 we sustained that the United Nations model had been exhausted. The fact that the debate on the Palestinian question has been postponed and that it is being overtly sabotaged, is yet another confirmation of this.
“For a number of days now Washington has been stating that it will veto in the Security Council what will be the majority resolution of the General Assembly: the recognition of Palestine as a full member of the UN. Together with the sister nations which comprise the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), in the statement of recognition of Palestinian statehood, we have already deplored the fact that such a just aspiration could be blockaded in this way. As we know, the empire, in this and in other cases, is trying to impose a double standard on the world stage: it is the yankee double standard which violates international law in Libya, but allows Israel to do what it wants, thus making itself the principal accomplice of Palestinian genocide at the hands of Zionist barbarity. Let us recall some words of Said, which hit the nail on the head: ‘Due to Israeli interests in the United States, the policy of this country in terms of the Middle East is, therefore, Israeli-centric.’”
“I want to end with the voice of Mahmoud Darwish in his memorable poem:
‘On this earth there is something worth living for: on this earth is the lady of the earth, the mother of beginnings/the mother of ends. She was called Palestine. She is still called Palestine. / Lady: I deserve to live, because you are my lady, I deserve to live.’”
“She will continue to be called Palestine: Palestine will live and will win! Long life to free, sovereign and independent Palestine!
“Hugo Chávez Frías.
“President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”
When the meeting began the following morning, his words were already present in the hearts and minds of those assembled there.
The Bolivarian leader has never been an enemy of the Jewish people. A man of particular sensitivity, he profoundly detests the brutal crimes committed by the Nazis against children, women and men, young and old alike in the concentration camps where Gypsies were also victims of atrocious crimes and an extermination attempt, which no one, however, remembers or mentions. Thousands of Russians likewise perished in those camps, as an inferior race within the Nazi racial framework.
When Chávez returned to his country from Cuba, the evening of Thursday, September 22, he spoke indignantly of Barack Obama’s speech at the United Nations. Very rarely have I heard him speak with such vehemence about the leader whom he has treated with the utmost respect, given his history as a victim of racial discrimination in the United States. He never considered Obama capable of behaving as George Bush had and appreciatively preserved the memory of the words they had exchanged when they met in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Yesterday we were listening to an assortment of speeches, the day before yesterday as well, there in the United Nations, precise speeches such as that of President Dilma Rousseff; a speech of great moral value such as that of President Evo Morales; a speech which we could describe as a monument to cynicism, the speech of President Obama which his own face betrayed, his own face was a poem; a man calling for peace, just imagine. Obama calling for peace. With what moral authority? An historic monument to cynicism, the speech of President Obama.
“We were listening to precise speeches, clarifying ones, that of President Lugo, that of the President of Argentina, taking valiant positions before the world.”
When the New York meeting began on the morning of Wednesday, September 21 – after the comments by the President of Brazil opening the discussion and the introduction de rigueur – the President of the United States took the podium and began his speech.
He began, “Over nearly seven decades, even as the United Nations helped avert a third world war, we still live in a world scarred by conflict and plagued by poverty. Even as we proclaim our love for peace and our hatred of war, there are still convulsions in our world that endanger us all.”
It is not clear at what point the UN may have prevented the outbreak of a World War III.
“I took office at a time of two wars for the United States. Moreover, the violent extremists who drew us into war in the first place – Osama bin Laden, and his al Qaeda organization – remained at large. Today, we have set a new direction.
At the end of this year, America’s military operation in Iraq will be over. We will have a normal relationship with a sovereign nation that is a member of the community of nations. That equal partnership will be strengthened by our support for Iraq – for its government and Security Forces; for its people and their aspirations.”
What country is Obama really talking about?
“As we end the war in Iraq, the United States and our coalition partners have begun a transition in Afghanistan. Between now and 2014, an increasingly capable Afghan government and security forces will step forward to take responsibility for the future of their country. As they do, we are drawing down our own forces, while building an enduring partnership with the Afghan people. So let there be no doubt: The tide of war is receding.
“When I took office, roughly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this year, that number will be cut in half, and it will continue to decline. This is critical for the sovereignty of Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s also critical to the strength of the United States as we build our nation at home. Ten years ago, there was an open wound and twisted steel, a broken heart in the center of this city. Today, as a new tower is rising at Ground Zero, it symbolizes New York’s renewal, even as al Qaeda is under more pressure than ever before. Its leadership has been degraded. And Osama bin Laden, a man who murdered thousands of people from dozens of countries, will never endanger the peace of the world again.”
Who was Bin Laden’s ally? Who trained him and armed him to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan? It wasn’t the socialists, or revolutionaries from anyplace in the world.
“So, yes, this has been a difficult decade. But today, we stand at a crossroads of history with the chance to move decisively in the direction of peace. To do so, we must return to the wisdom of those who created this institution. The United Nations’ Founding Charter calls upon us, ‘to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.’”
Who has military bases all over the world? Who is the largest exporter of weapons? Who has thousands of spy satellites? Who invests more than one billion dollars a year in military spending.
“This year has been a time of extraordinary transformation. More nations have stepped forward to maintain international peace and security. And more individuals are claiming their universal right to live in freedom and dignity.”
He then cites the situations in South Sudan and Ivory Coast. He doesn’t say that in the first instance, U.S. transnationals have descended upon the oil reserves of this new country, whose president in this very UN General Assembly said that it was a valuable, but finite, resource which he plans to use rationally and optimally.
Nor did Obama indicate that peace was established in the Ivory Coast with the support of colonialist soldiers from an eminent member of the bellicose NATO alliance which has just dropped thousands of bombs on Libya.
A bit later he mentions Tunisia and takes credit for the popular movement which overthrew the government in that country, which was an ally of imperialism.
Even more astonishingly, Obama fails to acknowledge that the Untied States was responsible for the installation of the tyrannical, corrupt government in Egypt of Hosni Mubarak who, absconding with the principles of Nasser, allied himself with the imperialists, stole billions from his country and tyrannized his valiant people.
“One year ago,” Obama said, “Egypt had known one President for nearly 30 years. But for 18 days, the eyes of the world were glued to Tahrir Square, where Egyptians from all walks of life — men and women, young and old, Muslim and Christian — demanded their universal rights. We saw in those protesters the moral force of non-violence that has lit the world from Delhi to Warsaw, from Selma to South Africa — and we knew that change had come to Egypt and to the Arab world.
“Day after day, in the face of bullets and bombs, the Libyan people refused to give back that freedom. And when they were threatened by the kind of mass atrocity that often went unchallenged in the last century, the United Nations lived up to its charter. The Security Council authorized all necessary measures to prevent a massacre. The Arab League called for this effort; Arab nations joined a NATO-led coalition that halted Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks.
“Yesterday, the leaders of a new Libya took their rightful place beside us, and this week, the United States is reopening our embassy in Tripoli.
“This is how the international community is supposed to work — nations standing together for the sake of peace and security, and individuals claiming their rights.
“All of us have a responsibility to support the new Libya — the new Libyan government as they confront the challenge of turning this moment of promise into a just and lasting peace for all Libyans.
“The Qaddafi regime is over. Gbagbo, Ben Ali, Mubarak are no longer in power. Osama bin Laden is gone, and the idea that change could only come through violence has been buried with him.”
Notice the poetic language with which Obama dispatches the subject of Bin Laden, despite whatever the responsibility this one-time ally might have been, shot in the face before his wife and children, his body thrown into the ocean from an aircraft carrier, ignoring the customs and religious traditions of more than a billion believers, as well as elementary principles recognized by all legal systems. These are not methods which are, or will ever be, conducive to peace
“Something is happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way that they will be. The humiliating grip of corruption and tyranny is being pried open. Dictators are on notice. Technology is putting power into the hands of the people. The youth are delivering a powerful rebuke to dictatorship, and rejecting the lie that some races, some peoples, some religions, some ethnicities do not desire democracy.
“The promise written down on paper – ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’ – is closer at hand. The measure of our success must be whether people can live in sustained freedom, dignity, and security. And the United Nations and its member states must do their part to support those basic aspirations. And we have more work to do.”
He immediately takes up another Islamic country where, as is well known, his intelligence services along with those of Israel, systematically assassinate the most outstanding scientists involved in military technology.
Next he threatens Syria, where U.S. belligerency could lead to a massacre even more frightening than that of Libya.
“As we meet here today, men and women and children are being tortured, detained and murdered by the Syrian regime. Thousands have been killed, many during the holy time of Ramadan. Thousands more have poured across Syria’s borders.
“The Syrian people have shown dignity and courage in their pursuit of justice — protesting peacefully, standing silently in the streets, dying for the same values that this institution is supposed to stand for. And the question for us is clear: Will we stand with the Syrian people, or with their oppressors? The United States has imposed strong sanctions on Syria’s leaders. We supported a transfer of power that is responsive to the Syrian people. And many of our allies have joined in this effort. But for the sake of Syria — and the peace and security of the world — we must speak with one voice. There’s no excuse for inaction. Now is the time for the United Nations Security Council to sanction the Syrian regime, and to stand with the Syrian people.”
Has, by chance, any country been exempted from the belligerent threats of this illustrious defender of international security and peace? Who granted the United States such prerogatives?
“Throughout the region, we will have to respond to the calls for change. In Yemen, men, women and children gather by the thousands in towns and city squares every day with the hope that their determination and spilled blood will prevail over a corrupt system. America supports those aspirations. We must work with Yemen’s neighbors and our partners around the world to seek a path that allows for a peaceful transition of power from President Saleh, and a movement to free and fair elections as soon as possible.
“In Bahrain, steps have been taken toward reform and accountability. We’re pleased with that, but more is required. America is a close friend of Bahrain, and we will continue to call on the government and the main opposition bloc — the Wifaq — to pursue a meaningful dialogue that brings peaceful change that is responsive to the people. We believe the patriotism that binds Bahrainis together must be more powerful than the sectarian forces that would tear them apart. It will be hard, but it is possible.”
He does not mention at all that one of the region’s largest military bases is located there and that U.S. transnationals control and access at will the vast oil and gas reserves of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
“We believe that each nation must chart its own course to fulfil the aspirations of its people, and America does not expect to agree with every party or person who expresses themselves politically. But we will always stand up for the universal rights that were embraced by this Assembly. Those rights depend on elections that are free and fair; on governance that is transparent and accountable; respect for the rights of women and minorities; justice that is equal and fair. That is what our people deserve. Those are the elements of peace that can last.
“Moreover, the United States will continue to support those nations that transition to democracy — with greater trade and investment — so that freedom is followed by opportunity. We will pursue a deeper engagement with governments, but also with civil society — students and entrepreneurs, political parties and the press.
“We have banned those who abuse human rights from traveling to our country. And we’ve sanctioned those who trample on human rights abroad. And we will always serve as a voice for those who’ve been silenced.”
After this extended lecture, the eminent Nobel Prize winner delves into the thorny issue of his alliance with Israel which, of course, is not among the privileged owners of advanced systems of nuclear weapons and the means to reach distant targets. He knows perfectly well how arbitrary and unpopular this policy is.
“I know, particularly this week, that for many in this hall, there’s one issue that stands as a test for these principles and a test for American foreign policy, and that is the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. One year ago, I stood at this podium and I called for an independent Palestine. I believed then, and I believe now, that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that a genuine peace can only be realized between the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves. One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences. Faced with this stalemate, I put forward a new basis for negotiations in May of this year. That basis is clear. It’s well known to all of us here. Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state. Now, I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. I assure you, so am I. But the question isn’t the goal that we seek - the question is how do we reach that goal.”
He then launches into a long lecture explaining and justifying the inexplicable and unjustifiable.
“Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations — if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians — not us –- who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem. Ultimately, peace depends upon compromise among people who must live together long after our speeches are over, long after our votes have been tallied.
“There’s no question that the Palestinians have seen that vision delayed for too long. It is precisely because we believe so strongly in the aspirations of the Palestinian people that America has invested so much time and so much effort in the building of a Palestinian state, and the negotiations that can deliver a Palestinian state. But understand this as well: America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. “The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth…
“Each side has legitimate aspirations — and that’s part of what makes peace so hard. And the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in the other’s shoes; each side can see the world through the other’s eyes. That’s what we should be encouraging. That’s what we should be promoting.”
In the meantime, the Palestinians remain exiled in their own land, their homes are destroyed by monstrous machines and a hateful wall, much higher than the one in Berlin, separates some Palestinians from others. The least Obama could have done was acknowledge that Israel’s own citizens are tired of the squandering of resources invested in the military, denying them peace and access to the basic means of life. Like the Palestinians, they are suffering the consequences of policies imposed by the United States and the most bellicose, reactionary sectors of the Zionist state.
“Even as we confront these challenges of conflict and revolution, we must also recognize – we must also remind ourselves – that peace is not just the absence of war. True peace depends on creating the opportunity that makes life worth living. And to do that, we must confront the common enemies of humanity: nuclear weapons and poverty, ignorance and disease.”
Who understands this gibberish from the President of the United States before the General Assembly?
He immediately thereafter presents an unintelligible philosophy:
“To lift the specter of mass destruction, we must come together to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Over the last two years, we’ve begun to walk down that path. Since our Nuclear Security Summit in Washington nearly 50 nations have taken steps to secure nuclear materials from terrorists and smugglers.”
Is there greater terrorism than the aggressive, bellicose policy of a country with an arsenal of nuclear weapons which could destroy human life on the planet several times over?
“America will continue to work for a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons and the production of fissile material needed to make them,” Obama continued promising us, “and so we have begun to move in the right direction.
“And the United States is committed to meeting our obligations. But even as we meet our obligations, we’ve strengthened the treaties and institutions that help stop the spread of these weapons. And to do so, we must continue to hold accountable those nations that flout them. … The Iranian government cannot demonstrate that its program is peaceful.”
He’s back to the upbraiding. This time, Iran is not alone, the Democratic Republic of Korea is included.
“North Korea has yet to take concrete steps towards abandoning its weapons and continues belligerent action against the South. There’s a future of greater opportunity for the people of these nations if their governments meet their international obligations. But if they continue down a path that is outside international law, they must be met with greater pressure and isolation. That is what our commitment to peace and security demands.”
I will continue tomorrow.
Fidel Castro Ruz
September 25, 2011
Translated by Granma International
If our Nobel Prize winner is deceiving himself – something that has yet to be established – that perhaps explains the incredible contradictions in his reasoning and the confusion sowed among his listeners.
There is not a drop of morality, not even of politics, in his attempt to justify his announced decision to veto any resolution approved supporting the recognition of Palestine as an independent state and a member of the United Nations. Even politicians who in no way share socialist ideas and lead parties which were closely allied with Augusto Pinochet support Palestine’s right to full membership in the UN.
Barrack Obama’s words on the main topic of discussion today in the organization’s General Assembly can only be applauded by NATO, with its artillery, missiles and bombings.
The rest of his speech consisted of empty words, lacking moral authority and making no sense. Let us observe, for example, how just how vacuous they were. In a starving world, plundered by transnational corporations and the consumerism of developed capitalist countries, Obama proclaimed, “To stop disease that spreads across borders, we must strengthen our system of public health. We will continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We will focus on the health of mothers and of children. And we must come together to prevent, and detect, and fight every kind of biological danger - whether it’s a pandemic like H1N1, or a terrorist threat, or a treatable disease
“To preserve our planet, we must not put off action that climate change demands. We have to tap the power of science to save those resources that are scarce. And together, we must continue our work to build on the progress made in Copenhagen and Cancun, so that all the major economies here today follow through on the commitments that were made. Together, we must work to transform the energy that powers our economies, and support others as they move down that path. That is what our commitment to the next generation demands. And to make sure our societies reach their potential, we must allow our citizens to reach theirs.”
Everyone knows that the United States did not sign the Kyoto Protocol and has sabotaged all efforts to protect humanity from the terrible consequences of climate change, despite being the country which consumes a considerable, disproportionate part of the world’s oil and natural resources.
Let us make a record of the idyllic words with which he attempted to beguile the state leaders assembled there, “I know there’s no straight line to that progress, no single path to success. We come from different cultures, and carry with us different histories. But let us never forget that even as we gather here as heads of different governments, we represent citizens who share the same basic aspirations – to live with dignity and freedom; to get an education and pursue opportunity; to love our families, and love and worship our God; to live in the kind of peace that makes life worth living. It is the nature of our imperfect world that we are forced to learn these lessons over and over again.
“… Because those who came before us believed that peace is preferable to war, and freedom is preferable to suppression, and prosperity is preferable to poverty. That’s the message that comes not from capitals, but from citizens, from our people. And when the cornerstone of this very building was put in place, President Truman came here to New York and said, “The United Nations is essentially an expression of the moral nature of man’s aspirations.” The moral nature of man’s aspirations. As we live in a world that is changing at a breathtaking pace, that’s a lesson that we must never forget.
“Peace is hard, but we know that it is possible. So, together, let us be resolved to see that it is defined by our hopes and not by our fears. Together, let us make peace, but a peace, most importantly, that will last.
“Thank you very much.”
Listening to this until the very end is worthy of more than gratitude; it merits a medal.
As I have already indicated, early in the afternoon, it befell the President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Evo Morales Ayma, to take the floor and immediately address the essential issues.
“…There is a clear difference over the culture of life and the culture of death. There is a clear difference over the truth in the face of falsehoods, a profound difference over peace as opposed to war.
“… I believe it is going to be difficult to understand each other with economic policies which concentrate capital in the hands of a few. The facts show that 1% of the world’s population holds 50% of the wealth. If such profound differences exist, how can poverty be reduced? And if we do not eliminate poverty, how can we guarantee a lasting peace?
“I remember perfectly well how as a child whenever there was a rebellion of the people against the capitalist system, against the economic model based on the permanent plunder of our natural resources, the union leaders, the political leaders of the left were accused of being communists and arrested. The popular movements were attacked militarily: arrests, exile, massacres, persecution, incarceration, accused of being communists, socialists, Maoists, Marxist-Leninists. But now, they have other tools, they make accusations of drug trafficking and terrorism.
“… they plan interventions whenever a president, a government, a people are not pro-capitalist or pro-imperialist.
“… A lasting peace is spoken of. How can there be lasting peace with U.S. military bases? How can there be lasting peace with military interventions?
“Of what use is the United Nations if a group of nations here decides on interventions, massacres?
“If we want this organization, the United Nations, to have the authority to have its resolutions respected, well, we have to begin thinking about re-founding the United Nations…
“Every year the United Nations – practically 100% of the countries, with the exception of the United States and Israel – decides to lift the blockade, end the economic blockade of Cuba. And who respects this? Of course, the Security Council is never going to respect this United Nations resolution… I cannot understand how, in an organization including all of the world’s nations, resolutions are not respected. What is the United Nations?
“I would like to tell you that Bolivia is not turning its back on the recognition of Palestine in the United Nations. Our position is that Bolivia welcomes Palestine to the United Nations.
“You all know, dear listeners, that I come from the Indigenous Campesino Movement and when our families talk about a company, we assume that that company has a lot of money, holds a lot of money, they’re millionaires. We can’t understand how a company could ask the state to lend it money for its investments.
“That’s why I say that these international financial entities are the ones who do business through private companies, but who has to pay for it? Of course, it is the people, the states.
“… Bolivia has a historic demand, of Chile, to return to the sea, to retake sovereign access to the Pacific, with sovereignty. Therefore Bolivia has made the decision to resort to international tribunals, to demand useful, sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean.
“Resolution 37/10 of the UN General Assembly, November 15, 1982, establishes that ‘recourse to judicial settlement of legal disputes, particularly
Referral to the International Court of Justice, should not be considered an unfriendly act between States.’
“Bolivia is protected by law and by right has recourse to an International Court because its confinement is the result of an unjust war, an invasion. Demanding a solution in the international arena represents for Bolivia the reparation of a historic injustice.
“Bolivia is a peaceful state which favors dialogue with neighboring countries, and for that reason maintains open channels of bilateral negotiation with Chile, without renouncing its right to have recourse to an International Court…”
“The peoples are not responsible for the maritime confinement of Bolivia, those responsible are the oligarchies, the transnationals which, as always, appropriate the peoples’ natural resources.
“The 1904 Treaty did not contribute to peace or friendship; it caused Bolivia’s lack of access to a sovereign port for more than one century.”
“…in the region of the Americas another movement of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean is being organized, I would say a new OAS without the United States, in order to liberate ourselves from certain impositions, fortunately, with the little experience that we have acquired in UNASUR. [... ] If there is a conflict between countries, we no longer need [...] persons coming from above and outside to impose order.”
“I also want to take advantage of this opportunity to address a central issue: combating drug trafficking. Combating drug trafficking is being utilized by U.S. imperialism for purely political ends. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Bolivia was not combating drug trafficking, it was controlling drug trafficking for political ends. If there was a labor leader, or an anti-imperialist political leader, that’s why the DEA was there: to implicate him or her. We saved many leaders, many politicians from that kind of dirty work by the empire to implicate us in drug trafficking. They are still attempting to do just that.”
“In recent weeks certain media from the United States were saying that the presidential plane had been detained in the United States due to traces of cocaine. How untrue! They are trying to confuse the population, trying to promote a dirty campaign against the government, even against the state. However, what is the United States doing? Decertifying Bolivia and Venezuela. What moral authority does the United States have to certify or decertify countries in South America or in Latin America, when the United States is the world’s prime consumer of drugs, the prime producer of marijuana in the world? [... ] What authority does it have to certify or decertify? It is another means of frightening or intimidating countries, trying to teach countries a lesson. However, Bolivia is, very responsibly, fighting drug trafficking.
“In the same U.S. report; that is to say, of the Department of State of the United States acknowledges a net reduction of coca cultivation; that the interdiction has improved.
“But, where is the market? The market is the origin of drug trafficking and the market is here. And who decertifies the United States because it has not reduced the market?
“This morning, President Calderón of Mexico said that the drug market is still growing and asked why there is no responsibility taken for eradicating the market. [... ] Let’s fight under a shared co-responsibility. [... ] In Bolivia, we’re not afraid, and we have to end secret banking if we want to make a frontal assault on drug trafficking.”
“… One of the crises, on the margins of the crisis of capitalism, is the food crisis. [... ] We have a little experience in Bolivia: giving credits with zero interest to rice, corn, wheat and soy producers, and they can also pay their debts with their products, such as food; or accessible credits to encourage production. However, the international banks never take small producers into account, never take associations, cooperatives into account and these can make a very good contribution if they are given the opportunity. [... ] We have to end commerce which is based on competitiveness.
“In a competition, who wins? The most powerful, the one with the most advantages, always the transnationals, and who are the small producers, who are these families who wish to rise up through their own efforts? [... ] Within a policy of competition we are certainly not going to solve the issue of poverty.
“But, finally, to end this speech, I want to state that the crisis of capitalism is already unpayable. [... ] The economic crisis of capitalism is not circumstantial, but structural and what are the capitalist or imperialist countries doing? Seeking any pretext for intervening in a country in order to recoup its natural resources.
“This morning, the President of the United States said that Iraq has been liberated and that they are going to govern themselves. The Iraqis are going to be able to govern themselves, but in whose hands is the Iraqis’ oil now?
“They welcomed it, they said that autocracy in Libya was over, now it’s a democracy; it can be a democracy, but in whose hands is Libya’s oil going to be now? [... ] the bombardments were not the fault of Gaddafi, the fault of certain rebels, but because of seeking Libya’s oil.”
“…Therefore, they want to overcome it, their crisis, the crisis of capitalism, they want to rectify it by recouping our natural resources, on the basis of our oil, on the basis of our gas, our natural resources.
“… we have an enormous responsibility: defending the rights of Mother Earth.”
“…the best way of defending human rights today is by defending the rights of Mother Earth [...] here we have an enormous responsibility in approving the rights of Mother Earth. Just over 60 years ago the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was approved. Just over 60 years ago it was recognized in the United Nations that human beings have their rights as well. After political rights, economic rights, the rights of the indigenous peoples, now we have the enormous responsibility of how to defend the rights of Mother Earth.
“We are also convinced that infinite growth on a finite planet is unsustainable and impossible, the limits on growth are the degeneration of the Earth’s ecosystems. [... ] We are calling for [...] a new decalogue of social demands: in financial systems, over natural resources, over basic services, over production, over dignity and sovereignty and, on this basis, to begin to re-found the United Nations, so that the United Nations becomes the highest body for solving issues of peace, issues of poverty, issues of the dignity and sovereignty of the peoples of the world.”
“We hope that this experience as a President might serve for something for all of us, as I also have come to learn from many of you in order to continue working for the equality and dignity of the Bolivian people.”
“Thank you very much indeed.”
After the essential concepts of Evo Morales, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, who was granted speaking rights two days ago, set out the dramatic sufferings of the inhabitants of Palestine: “…the crass historical injustice perpetrated against our people, for whom it was deemed convenient to establish the state of Palestine in just 22% of the territory of Palestine and, above all, the Palestinian territory which Israel occupied in 1967. Taking that historic step, which was applauded by the states of the world, allowed an excessive acquiescence in order to achieve a historical contemporization, which would allow peace to be attained in the land of peace.”
“[... ] Our people will continue popular, peaceful resistance to the Israeli occupation, its settlements and its policy of apartheid, as well as the construction of the racist wall of annexation [... ] armed with dreams, courage, hope and mottoes in the face of tanks, teargas, bulldozers and bullets.”
“… we want to extend a hand to the Israeli government and people for the establishment of peace, and I say to you: let us build together, in an urgent way, a future for our sons and daughters in which they can enjoy peace, security and prosperity. [... ] Let us build relations of cooperation based on parity, equity and friendship between two neighboring states, Palestine and Israel, instead of policies of occupation, settlements, war and the elimination of the other.”
Almost half a century has passed since that brutal occupation promoted and supported by the United States. However, barely a day passes without the wall rising, monstrous mechanical equipment destroying Palestinian homes and some young or even adolescent Palestinian falling injured or dead.
What profound truths were contained in Evo’s words!
Fidel Castro Ruz
September 26, 2011
Translated by Granma International
Looking out for western business and investor rights: why the West approves military interventions to topple one Arab government and prop up another
Via What’s Left
By Stephen Gowans
In a previous article I pointed to three factors to explain the West’s decision to intervene militarily in Libya to prevent the government there from putting down an armed rebellion while it tacitly approves the Gulf Cooperation Council’s military intervention in Bahrain to put down a peaceful rebellion there. The double-standard, I argued, reflects dramatic differences between Libya and Bahrain in their relationship with the United States and its dominant investor and corporate class.
Bahrain is the home of the US Fifth Fleet, has long-standing warm relations with Washington, and strongly caters to western corporate and investor interests. Since the Khalifa regime supports US corporate profit-making and military interests, and a new regime might not do the same to the same degree, Washington is prepared to allow Saudi and other GCC troops and tanks to assist Bahraini authorities in violently quelling a peaceful rebellion.
Libya, I pointed out, doesn’t provide bases for the US or other western militaries, hasn’t had long-standing warm relations with Washington, and isn’t particularly accommodating of western corporate and investor interests. From a neo-colonialist standpoint, western powers could do better in Libya.
Some readers objected, arguing that in recent years Libya has sought to open itself to western corporations and investors and has struck a number of deals with western oil companies. It cannot be concluded, they continued, that the West’s decision to intervene military in Libya was motivated by western profit-making considerations, for Libya is already catering to western business interests.
To be sure, Libya has opened itself to the West, but doing deals with western corporations is not the same as engineering a wholesale subordination of domestic interests to those of foreign bankers and corporations — typically, what corporate-and investor-oriented western governments look for in third-world ‘partners’. For the wealthy scouring the globe for investment opportunities and corporations seeking export markets, an opening door in Libya doesn’t necessarily mean that Libya’s business climate is fully conducive to maximising profits.
That Libya allows some western corporations to operate in the country doesn’t guarantee that investments are safe from expropriation, that performance requirements aren’t imposed on foreign investments, that repatriation of profits isn’t controlled, that taxes aren’t high, or that there is a commitment to labor market ‘flexibility’. In short, the Gaddafi government may, in recent years, have sought to expand western access to investment opportunities in Libya, but that alone doesn’t mean that the conditions of access were regarded by corporations and investors as being as desirable as they could be, or as desirable, for example, as those provided by the government of Bahrain, or a desirable as those a future government might provide.
The Heritage Foundation provides a guide to how accommodating countries are to the profit-making interests of US corporations and investors. Every year the foundation publishes an Index of Economic Freedom, which ranks countries on how open they are to exports and foreign investment, how low their taxes are, how committed they are to protecting property rights, and so on; in short, how strongly a country favors foreign businesses and investors over its own people.
Significantly, governments that are perennially targets of US government regime change efforts rank at or near the bottom of the index. This year’s list identifies the following 10 countries as the least economically free (ie, least accommodating to foreign businesses), in order, from worst to slightly better:
- North Korea
- Democratic Republic of Congo
Seven of the bottom 10 (North Korea, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Venezuela, Myanmar, Libya and Iran) are the targets of open regime change operations by the United States and its allies, carried out ostensibly because the targeted countries are not protecting human rights, threaten regional stability, or in the case of Libya, because the government is said to be attacking its own people.
That these countries happen to be considered the least accommodating of foreign business profit-making points to an ulterior motive on the part of western governments to bring about regime change, and to use human-rights and humanitarian rhetoric as a cover for pursuing the economic interests of western corporate and investor elites.
Significantly, not one country in the top 10 is a target of western regime change efforts. If regime change were linked to human-rights concerns and not unfavorable investment and export conditions, we might expect to find regime change targets scattered throughout the rankings, rather than bunched up at the bottom.
One counter-explanation is that economically free countries tend to respect human rights, which is why the worst offenders on both counts are found at the bottom of the list. However, this couldn’t possibly be true, for the United States, which has an atrocious human rights record (Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, torture and rendition of prisoners, arrest and detention without charge, extrajudicial assassination, weakening of Miranda rights, spying on its own citizens, restrictions on travel to Cuba, and so on) ranks as the ninth freest country in the world in economic terms, and Saudi Arabia, the least free country in terms of political and civil liberties and perhaps the most contemptuous of human rights, ranks in the top half.
Bahrain, as it turns out, is ranked number 10 of 179 countries on the Heritage Foundation list, next to the United States. Regionally, Bahrain is top ranked in North Africa and West Asia, while Libya, ranked 173 over all countries, falls dead last in regional rankings.
Bahrain’s higher ranking is based on an array of government policies aimed to please foreign businesses. Property ownership is secure and expropriation is unlikely, whereas in Libya foreign companies are vulnerable to expropriation. Bahrain welcomes foreign investment and allows new businesses to be 100 percent foreign owned and controlled, while Libya screens foreign investment, imposes performance requirements on foreign investors that domestic investors are not required to meet, and demands that Libyans have a 35 percent stake in foreign companies that operate in the country. And while Bahrain imposes no restrictions on repatriation of profits, Libya does.
On trade, Bahrain imposes few restrictions on imports, while Libya maintains a variety of tariff and non-tariff barriers to help local firms develop. With the exception of oil companies, businesses that operate in Bahrain pay no corporate tax, while businesses in Libya are subject to a tax rate as high as 40 percent. Personal income tax is extremely low in Bahrain, but can reach as high as 90 percent in Libya. And while Bahrain provides businesses maximum flexibility in dealing with employees, even allowing them to pay desperation-level wages, Libya demands that businesses meet minimum standards on pay and working conditions.
In short, the Bahraini monarchy runs a foreign-investment- and import-friendly regime, while Libya’s economic policies favour local investors and businesses and provide a minimal standard of protection for labor. A government that was more like Bahrain’s, and less like Gaddafi’s, would unquestionably be congenial to foreign business interests.
Some readers contend that western military intervention in Libya is aimed at preventing the slaughter of Libyan civilians. But a stronger case can be made that western military intervention is aimed at regime change, and that, far from protecting civilians, Nato bombing is only setting the stage for a prolonged civil war by weakening loyalist forces and thereby allowing the rebels to contest for power.
There are a number of reasons why the Nato operation in Libya can be seen as a regime change effort, apart from the motivation of replacing the current government with one more congenial to western profit-making interests, as discussed above.
First, the decision of the French government to recognise the rebel opposition as the legitimate government was a declaration that France, at least, is manoeuvring to install a new government in Libya. (1) Indeed, both France and Britain have acknowledged that they are seeking the ouster of Gaddafi. (2)
Second, US secretary of state Hilary Clinton said “Gaddafi’s ouster was the ultimate goal of the UN resolution” (3), and while US president Barack Obama denied this, he did say that the military “campaign will likely continue as long as Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi is in power”. (4) If the intervention’s goal is to protect civilians and not install a new government, how can the aims of France and Britain and the comments of Clinton and Obama be reconciled?
Third, Washington hopes that sanctions “combined with Nato air power, will be enough to turn the tide militarily”. While the UN Security Council resolution authorises the use of military means to protect civilians, it doesn’t authorise the use of military means to aid rebel forces. Yet newspapers on 23 March 2011 were full of stories on how fresh airstrikes were allowing rebel forces to recover lost ground. For example, the Wall Street Journal commented that,
“The hope for the West is that a continuation of military pressure on Col Gaddafi’s forces, even at somewhat lower levels in coming days, combined with continued forward movement by the rebels, will be enough to make the Libyan army either buckle or turn on the Libyan leader. That would produce the outcome the West hopes for – the removal of Col Gaddafi.” (5)
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that “the airstrikes have lifted the rebels back from the brink of defeat in the eastern city of Benghazi and enabled them to rush west along the coast past their farthest gains of the previous peak weeks ago”. (6)
It is clear that the intention of the military intervention, which was authorised when the rebels’ defeat by loyalist forces was imminent, was to weaken the government side to allow the rebels to rally and seize the momentum. This hardly favors a quick resolution of the conflict. The conflict could go on for some time, perhaps taking more lives than would have been lost had the UN sent a fact-finding mission in return for a cease-fire, or had loyalist forces successfully put down the uprising weeks ago.
The potential for the conflict to drag on, fuelled by the aid Nato provides the rebels through its airstrikes, was acknowledged by US secretary of defense Robert Gates. The Pentagon boss said “he couldn’t be sure Nato would have finished its mission by year-end”. (7)
The idea, then, that the UN Security Council authorised military intervention to protect civilians has no substance. Furthermore, the idea that the intervention is protecting civilians, whether that is the real intention of the intervention or not, seems unlikely, since the outcome so far has been to create the conditions for a protracted civil war – one moreover, that will be worsened by civilian deaths caused by Nato bombing on behalf of rebel forces.
If the rebel forces prevail and extend their control to all of Libya, or eventually settle for partition of the country, we can expect the economic policies of the future government to be closer to those of Bahrain, and therefore closer to the profit-making interests of western corporations and investors. In this sense, the UN Security Council, and the military operation it authorises, can be seen as investments in making Libya a more attractive place to do business in.
Finally, it might be pointed out, as Johnstone has, (8) that the Gaddafi government has invested a considerable part of its oil revenues in sub-Saharan Africa, contrary to the usual practice among Arab oil states of shipping the proceeds of their oil sales to New York investment banks, the London stock exchange, and US arms manufacturers. These practices are more conducive to western business interests than Gaddafi’s investments in Africa, and might be expected to become the standard practice in Libya if the rebel movement succeeds in ousting Gaddafi.
1. ‘Why are they making war on Libya?’ by Diana Johnstone, Counterpunch, 24 March 2011
2. ‘Obama bets on limited engagement’ by Jay Solomon and Carol E Lee, Wall Street Journal, 24 March 2011
3. ‘Allies rally against Gadhafi’ by Keith Johnson, Yaroslav Trofimov and Sam Dagher, Wall Street Journal, 19 March 2011
4. ‘Allies strain to mend split’ by Nathan Hodge, Sam Dagher, Stephen Fidler and Stacy Meichtry, Wall Street Journal, 23 March 2011
5. ‘Fresh airstrikes aid rebels’ by Sam Dagher and Stephen Fiddler, Wall Street Journal, 28 March 2011
6. ‘Libyan rebels march toward Qaddafi stronghold’ by David D Kirkpatrick and Kareem Fahim, New York Times, 27 March 2011
7. ‘Fresh airstrikes aid rebels’ by Sam Dagher and Stephen Fiddler, Wall Street Journal, 28 March 2011
8. ‘Why are they making war on Libya?’ by Diana Johnstone, Counterpunch, 24 March 2011
We reproduce below various condolences received from fraternal comrades and parties for our much missed honorary president, Comrade Jack Shapiro.
Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)
Union of Romanian Communists
On behalf of the Central Committee of the Union of Romanian Communists (UCR) I express the profound grief upon the death of a British socialist comrade.
We are by your side and we are certain that you will carry on his never-ending battle till the final victory of socialism in the world.
First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Union of Romanian Communists
Official delegate of the Korean Friendship Association to Romania
All-African People’s Revolutionary Party
Please accept out sincere condolences. We are pleased that we were able to see him speak in full flow. We can best honour him by continuing the struggle. Please pass on our message to your members and his family.
Comrade A, on behalf of the AAPRP
An American comrade
I would like to thank Comrade Vijay for his tribute to Howard Zinn and the comrades of the CPGB-ML for their tribute to both Jack and Michael Shapiro. It is difficult to lose comrades that are truly courageous fighters in the class struggle.
One of the many songs that rose out of the resistance to Apartheid was a song recognised and praised by many South African freedom fighters and activists titled ASIMBONANGA, sung and performed by Johhny Clegg and Savuka. The music of this song is very stirring and I apologise that I cannot produce the music here, but I will share the lyrics in recognition to all our fallen comrades the world over:
(We have not seen him)
Asimbonanga’ um Mandela thina
(We have not seen Mandela…)
(in the place where he is…)
Laph’ ehleli khona
(in the where he is kept)
Oh the sea is cold and the sky is grey
Look across the island into the bay
We are all islands till comes the day
We cross the burning water
A seagull wings across the sea
Broken silence is what I dream
Who has the words to close the distance
Between you and me
(We have not seen him….)
(We have not seen our brother…)
(In the place where he is…)
La wafela khona
(In the place where he died…)
(Repeat above chorus)
(Repeat above chorus)
Hey wena nawe
(Hey you and you as well)
Sizofik a nina la’
(When will we arrive at our true destination?)
To Howard Zinn and the Shapiros we can sing the chorus in recognition of their loyal fight in the class struggle and against revisionism and opportunism.
Another song of resistance to come out of the struggle against Apartheid performed by Johnny Clegg and Savuka that recognised the growing numbers of freedom fighters in this class struggle was titled THIRD WORLD CHILD. I would like to relate this song to all Marxist Leninists and freedom fighters the world over in recognition of your faithful fight in the class struggle and all forms of revisionism and opportunism, which is scourge of the class struggle that must be emphatically exposed and overthrown in order for the socialist struggle to be victorious. If we want to honor all the comrades before us and their sacrifice … then that is our task.
Bits of songs and broken drums
Are all he could recall
So he spoke to me
In a bastard tongue
Carried on the silence of the guns
It’s been a long time
Since they first came
And marched thru’ our village
They taught us to forget our past
And live the future in their image
You should learn to
Speak a little English
Don’t be scared of a suit and tie
Learn to walk in the
Dreams of the foreigner
I am a third world child
The outworld’s dreams
Are the currency
That grip the city streets
I live them out
But I have my own
Hidden somewhere deep
Inside of me
In between my father’s fields
And the citadel of the rule
Lies a no-man’s land which
I must cross to find my stolen jewel
They said I should learn to speak a little bit of English
Maybe practice birth control
Keep away from controversial politics
So to save my third world soul
You should learn to speak a little bit of English
Don’t be scared of a suit and tie
Learn to walk in the dreams of the foreigner
I am a third world child
Wo ilanga lobunzima
Bits of songs and broken drums
Are all he could recall
But the future calls his name out loud
Carried on the violence of the guns
I can speak a little bit of English
I am the seed that has survived
I am the fire that has been woken
I am a third world child
Mao reminds us about the class struggle in very clear and direct terms:
“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”
(’Report on an investigation of the peasant movement in Hunan’, March 1927, Selected Works, Vol I)
Two British comrades
I wish to send condolences to the CPGB-ML and the family of comrade Jack Shapiro.
Jack Shapiro was a sincere communist and revolutionary fighter who came from an ordinary working-class family in London’s East End.He was a great internationalist who defended the Korean and Chinese revolutions. He was a good friend of the DPRK.
Despite his advanced age he continuined to fight tirelessly for the communist cause when many younger than him had become ‘tired’ and dropped out.
We were saddening to learn of his passing.
May I offer to your Central Committee and to the membership of the CPGB-ML my deepest condolences upon the passing away of Comrade Jack Shapiro.
Jack Shapiro’s whole life was devoted to the noble cause of advancing the goals of the working class, towards the promotion of socialism. Comrade Shapiro was a model proletarian revolutionary, a staunch Marxist Leninist to the last. Jack Shapiro was a consistent friend of the Democartic People’s Republic of Korea and of the People’s Republic of China throughout the decades.
May the Beloved memory of Comrade Jack Shaprio live on the hearts and minds of the workers both here in Britain and throughout the world!
GLORY TO JACK SHAPRIO!
WORKERS OF ALL LANDS, UNITE!