Archive | June 2nd, 2011

What Bibi Didn’t Say in Congress Speech

NOVANEWS

 

Netanyahu speech to the American congress

“I intend to speak the unvarnished truth because now more than ever what we need is peace” Netanyahu said before he twisted the truth in his speech to the American Congress.

“Demographic changes … this is may be the most concrete point Netanyahu has come to mention in his whole speech and could very well be the name of the Israeli next game of forestalling any possible agreements in the Mideast talks”

by Dr. Ashraf Ezzat

Something about Netanyahu’s eloquent speech lately to a joint meeting of Congress, which has been interrupted by 29 standing ovations, sounded familiar to me. I don’t mean Netanyahu’s words but the response of his high caliber audience; it seems as if I have seen it before.

As an Egyptian who is not so keen on following much of the American congressional sessions, if any, still this extraordinary joint session of the American Congress with all that public display of candid acquiescence to everything Bibi said, or even thought, reminded me of the similarly eloquent speeches Mubarak used to deliver at the Egyptian parliament for well over 30 years of sordid dictatorship.

And also as an Egyptian I could attest to the fact that the televised sessions of the former president speeches to the Egyptian parliament members ranked high, not on the most viewed political videos but on the funniest ones.

For 30 long years Mubarak has been ranting about his relentless efforts to build a strong democracy where freedoms and the rule of law would be respected where in fact he was sincerely engaged in doing the exact opposite. But still his full house audience of apparently attentive parliamentarians kept on showing their frantic applause and repeated standing ovations to every one of his deceiving talks.

Of course Mubarak has been lying all along and he knew it and may be enjoyed it too, but what about those flocks of parliamentarians and politicians, how could we explain their attitude? Were they lied to, intimated or just hypnotized by the power of the presidential office?

The post- Mubarak probes proved beyond any reasonable doubt that 90% of those then incumbent high statesmen knew for a fact that Mubarak was the scum of the earth and they cheered for him only in gratitude for letting them keep their jobs and for the slim chance they would join in for a tiny slice of the ripped off cake. Oh yes, and the remaining 10% were just plain fools who just happened to hop in for the ride.

Shared values and interests

Haredi, ultra-Orthodox Jews

Going over Bibi’s landmark speech to the congress and trying to recapitulate the main points he stressed in his long speech, the first thing that strikes me as enigmatic and hard to grasp is his assertion that the relation between Israel, or the so called the Jewish state, and the United States is so strong because it is rooted in shared values and interests.

And every time I listen to this assertion, which usually pops up whenever Israel needs another big favor of Uncle Sam, being a foreigner I wonder, what on earth those shared values and interests might be. Are they so exclusively Israeli-American that no other nation on planet earth could hope to subscribe to?

In his speech, the Israeli Prime minister set out by stressing his country’s stand as a democratic “friend of America” in the Middle East, but largely ruled out touching on the issues that are important to Palestinians and their history.

In the warm arms of the US Congress, he somehow managed to get away with alleging that Jewish settlers – living in illegal settlements – in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are not occupiers, that the West Bank (using the biblical designation, Judea and Samaria) is not occupied territory, that a united Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel and that Israel should be recognized as “a Jewish state”.

Netanyahu reiterated the same old Israeli-Zionist jazz we have been listening to for years, boasting about the Jew’s historical and spiritual claims to the land.

But were all the senators and congressmen attending the speech aware that modern historians andarcheologists had refuted the Biblical narrative of ancient Israelites and their stories of exodus, conquest and a magnificent unified kingdom. In other words, most of the ancient Israelite Biblical history is now more close to being a mere myth than a historical fact that cannot, or better yet shouldn’t be counted upon as historical evidence.

Were they aware, when Netanyahu spoke of giving up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland, that the Palestinians are more likely to be the true descendants of the ancestral Israelites than those Ashkenazi and Haredi – orthodox- Jews who are in fact immigrants, who fled Eastern and Western Europe following the horrors of the WWII, and whose ancestors just happened to adhere or convert to Judaism centuries ago?

When Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress that Israel is prepared to make “painful compromises” for peace with the Palestinians, including the handover of land they seek for a state, had it crossed the minds of his esteemed audience that the land Mr. Netanyahu was most kind and generously willing to hand over is not Jewish land in the first place under any international law, no matter how biased or manipulated it could get.

Repeating a message he has delivered consistently during his visit to Washington, Netanyahu said “Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967 narrow lines because they don’t take into account certain demographic changes that have taken place on the ground over the last 44 years.

Demographic threat, in other words Palestinian Arabs

“Demographic changes” … this is may be the most concrete point Netanyahu has come to mention in his whole speech and could very well be the name of the Israeli next game of forestalling any possible agreements in the Mideast talks.

In 1996, Israel’s population was 5.7 million people; today, that number is 7.75 million. Today, there are 1.59 million Palestinian Arabs in Israel, compared to 1.03 million in 1996.

In my opinion, while the historical, spiritual and political Zionist claims to the disputed land of Palestine are liable to be questioned, doubted or even refuted by professional academics and scholars, demographic changes remain the one robust reality on the ground that defy neglect or negating.

Over the last 6 decades Israel has not only succeeded in actualizing the Zionist’s dream of establishing a statehood for the Jews from all over the world, or the invention of the Jewish people, as the prestigious historian, Shlomo Sand put it, but also managed to turn it into a demographic reality.

while he was getting his, God knows how many, enthusiastic applause and standing ovation for branding Hamas as the Palestinian version of al Qaeda Netanyahu was thrilled the Zionist-controlled main stream media had managed, throughout the last decade, to downplay the world wide accusations pointing the finger at Mossad and its covert role in 9/11 and his own statements of how good it was for Israel.

Avigdor Lieberman

Advising or rather, patronizing Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO leader to break his pact with Hamas, Netanyahu somehow disregarded the fact that he himself had made a political bond with Yisrael Beiteinu, the right-Zionist party that advocates kicking out, or to put it mildly, the transfer of 1948 Palestinian Arabs out of East Jerusalem and the West Bank and moreover appointed its leader, Avigdor Lieberman as his deputy and foreign minister who has been called by western and Israeli media as “neo-fascist, a certified gangster and anti-Arab virulent racist”

It doesn’t make much sense for Netanyahu to order Abbas to break up with Hamas while his coalition government is currently harboring hard-line extremists from both Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas parties who are deemed not only as anti-Arabs but whose highest spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef publicly advocates that Arabs should perish and be wiped off the face of the earth- a virulent hatred that Netanyahu usually dismisses while focusing on the long time israeli propaganda of ” we want peace, but unfortunately there is no one to talk to from the other side”. A pretext that Tel Aviv is bound to fully exploit after the late Palestinian reconciliation deal.

And as Netanyahu was keen to draw the attention to the Israeli demographic reality he never mentioned how a society deeply rooted in modern and civilized American values spoke of the Arabs and Palestinians in particular.

“If Obama wants to know who the true unacceptable partners for peace are, all he has to do is get an English transcript of discussions from the Israeli Knesset (parliament) and read how members from the political right call Arabs “animals” and make all manner of racist slurs against Palestinians” says Aljazeera opinion writer,Lamis Andoni.

And if the world cares to find out who is the intransigent party that is persistently hindering all the declared peace talks and the secret ones as well, all we have to do is to examine the “Palestine papers” leaked by aljazeera that revealed tons of documents exposing generous and extremely painful concessions offered by the Palestinian authority which had been turned down by the Israeli side in the most degrading and humiliating manner.

Over the last 20 years, and as the demographic changes Bibi mentioned has been in the making more kindergartens and primary schools were increasingly in demand. And with the ultra-orthodox Shas party running almost 30% of those primary schools one can imagine the kind of hate speech that is being indoctrinated to Israel kids. As a matter of fact the anti-Arab rhetoric in those primary schools has been so obvious and huge it became a rich material for the Israeli popular comic TV shows.

And since Comedy has to be based on truth, those shows are regarded as a funny way of being serious about Israel’s controversial policies and practices.

 


YouTube – Veterans Today -Arabs in the Israeli TV comic shows

In his memorable speech to the congress and as he took the stage Netanyahu kept a long legacy of depicting Israel as the utopia of the Middle East alive.

 

Israeli Demographic changes manifested by non-stop new settelments

As he was elaborating on the long list of values Israel shared with the United States Netanyahu refrained from depicting the other side of Israel with a whole set of its other genuine values, such as segregation, blockade, covert operations and military expansion, that Israel cared to share only with its Mossad and Zionist ideologues.

Touching on any of those unpleasant issues could have carried the risk of tarnishing the glittering utopian image of Israel he was sketching before a joint assembly of American statesmen 90% of whom knew who Netanyahu really was and what he stood for and the remaining 10% just happened to be invited for the free Zionist ride on the Israeli-American campaign to block the UN vote aiming to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state due next September where Israel and America will yet to stand  isolated once more against the will of the free world, but what does it matter, after all that what friends who share the same values and interests, are for.

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Palestinian-American Zionist, Vietnam Veteran Confuses American Holidays

NOVANEWS

 

YOU HAVE HANANIA WE HAVE CHRIS KHAMIS ?

 

Chris Khamis

Chris Khamis Ray Hanania

 

 

Palestinian-American Zionist Ray Hanania, the racist, homophobic, Jerusalem Post columnist, failed comedian, and ADC board member who describes Palestinian resistance groups as “terrorists” and refers to Arabs as “raghead fags” confuses Memorial Day with Veterans Day.  In his typically juvenile, silly style he writes:

“This has been the worst Memorial Day of any I can remember. Yes, we have had rain on this holiday remembrance of the veterans who have served our country, but there was always a day of hot sun tucked in between the thunderstorms…It was Memorial Day, damn it and I was going to enjoy my barbecue!”

Beginning after the civil war, Decoration Day was established to commemorate Union soldiers who died in the American civil war.  Today the former Decoration Day is Memorial Day, a United States federal holiday remembering those who died in any of America’s wars.  Veterans Day, on the other hand, was first established at the end of World War I as Armistice Day, and later expanded to remember all veterans of war who served the US Military.  Although it technically includes veterans who may have not have died in battle but have since passed naturally, it is largely considered a day to remember those veterans who are still alive.

Many Americans confuse the two holidays, but you would expect someone who “served his country” during the Vietnam war (we don’t know much about his role in the killing of 2 Million Vietnamese , but back in the 70s he was likely calling Vietnamese resistance fighters “terrorists” and Vietnamese civilians “gooks”), describes himself as a “media and political analyst”, and continues to falsely claim he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize would at least know the distinction between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

At one point in the article Ray writes:

“It was the first real holiday of the impending summer and I wans’t about to change my annual backyard hejira. (Look it up. It may be an Arab Muslim word, but it has meaning pal.)”

This was another attempt at humor, but with a new twist.  Not only is Ray still pretending he knows a few Arabic words, but he now wants us to believe he’s familiar with events in Arab or Islamic history.  He’s not, but this time we’re not correcting his embarrassing language or history mistakes.  If he can’t distinguish between two modern American holidays, one of which is dedicated to a group he belongs to, we should probably postpone Arabic language and Arab history for another day.

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Hussein Ibish Endorses Netanyahu’s Racist Demands

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Hussein Ibish, the Senior Fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, the Washington public relations outfit of the Israeli-sponsored, Western-funded , American-supervised collaborationist Palestinian (illusory) Authority in occupied Ramallah is calling on Palestinians to convert to Zionism in order to achieve “peace.”  Salam Fayad‘s Washington concierge who spends most of his time and energy trying to to undermine Palestinian rights with a particular focus on the right of return is now endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu‘s call for Palestinians to adopt the racist, Zionist project:

Netanyahu’s demand is an additional and quite recent complication to an already tangled knot, but it has sunk so deeply into the Israeli and pro-Israel consciousness that some sort of language to satisfy it may ultimately have to be found. Reciprocal recognition of the Jewish right of self-determination in Israel and the Palestinian right of self-determination in Palestine might well prove a requisite final flourish on a peace agreement.

This might make sense for a cigar-smoking, anti-”extremist”, anti-”radical”, Washingtonian “realist” who wants nothing to do with any Palestinian, and hobnobs almost exclusively with racist, Zionist groups like AIPAC and J-Street, but in the real world the idea that the only way to bring the conflict in Palestine to an end is by the indigenous people’s adoption of the racist, colonial project is absurd and immoral.  For Ibish, in order to maintain his designation as a “reasonable, respectable commentator”, as defined by Washington,  not even the most extreme, Likudnik version of Zionist colonialism and its demands are outside the realm of reason or serious consideration.


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WHY TRAITOR HAWWASH SPOKE MOST SHAMEFULLY AGAINST PRO-PALESTINIAN’ RESOLUTION?

NOVANEWS

Traitor Kamel Hawwash

SHOAH


What is the PSC executive afraid of? ‘

The question is whether or not to build a fighting mass movement in support of Palestine.

In an entirely unexpected turn of events, the CPGB-ML’s resolution was vociferously opposed by the Executive Committee of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign at its AGM on 22 January 2011. Since a resolution containing many of the same points had been passed virtually unanimously at the Stop the War conference last autumn, this came as rather a surprise to the comrade who moved the motion.

The arguments posed against the resolution went like this:

– The list of actions is ‘too prescriptive’; we can’t agree to it.

This was a clearly disingenuous excuse. Most of the other resolutions that were passed without dissentalso had lists of actions attached, related to the specific spheres of action each resolution was dealing with (ie, boycott and divestment, trade-union work, student work, etc). In fact, resolutions are by their natureprescriptive. That doesn’t mean the movers expect the actions suggested in it to be carried out exclusively.

Quite clearly, in this case, the idea here was to be complementary to other work being done by the PSC. Equally clearly, this argument is just a cover – perhaps for reasons that the opposers didn’t feel comfortable sharing with the rest of the members.

– We can’t put resources into campaigning/fundraising for the Gaza protestors; it’s a diversion from what we do.

This is a shocking stance, especially considering that it was PSC who called the demo at which these young people were arrested. It also contradicts the ambition, constantly put forward by the PSC leadership, that we should be in the business of building a mass movement.

A big campaign to have the Gaza prisoners’ sentences overturned would be a fantastic way to draw attention to the British state’s role in supporting Israel. Not to mention highlighting islamophobia, bringing many more young people and muslims towards the PSC and generally highlighting the issue that people have been criminalised for merely objecting to war crimes!

– We can’t promise to support all those arrested for opposing Israel’s war crimes (including the Gaza protestors); we don’t know who they might be.

The clear implication here was that some of the people being targeted for their principled stand, whether direct-action activists or newly politicised young muslims, might somehow be ‘asking for it’!

– We can’t ask workers to refuse to cooperate with war crimes in the current climate, when they’re worried about losing their jobs.

Once more, a fairly shocking stance, with not much further comment needed, except to say that you could make the same argument about concentration camp guards! Either it’s a crime or it isn’t. Either we’re against the British state assisting in Israel’s crimes or we’re not.

The fact is that we can’t force anyone to do anything they don’t want to – but surely we should be doing everything within our power to take the arguments to British workers and to help them to make informed decisions? Why is it ok to campaign amongst union members as individuals around the boycott demands, but not to try to mobilise to take concrete action to prevent war crimes collectively?

It’s also worth bearing the student example in mind. Two years ago, students were occupying their universities in support of the people of Gaza. The confidence and experience they gained in these actions no doubt contributed to the militancy we’re seeing today in the anti-fees movement and occupations.

Far from making working people nervous, encouraging them to use their power to stop crimes against Palestinians might actually help them to get more militant in using their power against the current cuts in benefits, pensions, wages and public services!

What’s really going on?

It’s clear the above arguments don’t add up, so we have to ask ourselves, just what is it that the PSC national executive is really afraid of? If we really want to build a mass movement in support of Palestine, why would we be afraid to try to mobilise broad sections of the working class or muslim communities? And why are we avoiding the question of real, concrete solidarity with Palestine?

Jeremy Corbyn MP’s closing statement, in which he blethered on about Early Day Motions in Parliament, was a joke. Anyone who knows anything about how the House of Commons works can tell you that EDMs aren’t even relevant within its walls, never mind outside of them; they don’t even get debated!

We were sad to see that not only outgoing Secretary Betty Hunter, but also PSC’s deputy chair Kamel Hawwash spoke most shamefully against the resolution, causing much confusion amongst those present, who clearly wondered what could be the reason for such vociferous opposition to something so seemingly innocuous, and so obviously fundamental to our work as actively opposing Israel’s war crimes.

We were also sad at the way the whole debate was handled. It was clear from the inconsistency and illogicality of the opposing arguments that the reasons being put forward in such a hysterical fashion weren’t the actual reasons for the executive opposing the resolution. Several speakers said that “while there were many good things in the motion, it was impossible to support it all because of ”.

But if that was truly the case, why not contact the movers of the resolution about changing it, so as to let the good stuff through? Why not put forward amendments that we would all have had time to read and think about before the conference? Why wait and hijack everybody with an unexpected and baffling ‘controversy’ that many present were simply unable to unravel in the time available?

One possible answer is that the executive is afraid of attracting too much negative attention from the state if it openly supports either the Gaza protestors or the various direct-action anti-war-crimes activists, despite the fact that well publicised campaigns along these lines could do much to broaden the appeal of PSC and to extend the reach of our solidarity message (all of which could make a direct difference to Palestinians).

Another possibility is that the executive is afraid to upset the cosy relationship it has built with various Labour party and trade-union officials by raising the question of direct participation in war crimes by British workers – and their power to withhold that participation – within the unions, many of which spend their time trying to squash the notion of collective power, substituting instead the idea of individual pleas to the better judgement of managers and employers.

This fits with the current PSC strategy of spending much time and resources on ‘lobbying’ to ‘change the minds’ of MPs and MEPs, who are then allocated ‘good’ or ‘bad’ status according to whether or not they’re happy to sign up to one of the aforementioned Early Day Motions or similar. Instead of mobilising the real power of the British people from the street and demanding that the British state withdraw its support from Israel, many in the PSC leadership would like us to confine ourselves to going cap in hand to parliamentarians and asking them to be nicer.

And if nasty MPs, like those unreasonable employers who say no to trade unionists, decline to sign up to a ‘please be nicer to the poor Palestinians’ request? Well, we tried. Come back next year!

On a more optimistic note, despite the bullocking from the Executive Committee and their trade-union and Labour party friends, around a third of those present voted in favour of the resolution, and many members went away determined to discuss the issue in their branches. We hope they will make the arguments in favour there and come back determined to change the organisation’s policy next year.

No cooperation with war crimes: step up the campaign

In the last year, many important developments have taken place, which on the one hand make the work of actively opposing Israel’s war crimes more urgent, and on the other have created an atmosphere that is more receptive to our message.

In this context, conference notes the passing at the Stop the War conference of a motion calling on the coalition to “take the line of non-cooperation into as many arenas as possible”. This resolution included a detailed programme of activities that could take this work forward, some of which the PSC has already been taking the lead in.

Conference notes the attack on those condemning war crimes that was embodied in the draconian sentences handed down to the Gaza protestors. Conference further notes that these sentences were aimed not only at discouraging muslim youth from political activism, but also at dividing the anti-war and Palestine solidarity movements along racial lines, and branding Palestine solidarity as a ‘muslim’, rather than a human rights or anti-imperialist issue.

Conference condemns the murder by Israeli commandos of ten solidarity activists (nine at the time and one who died later) aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May, despite the fact that the UN had called for the ships to be allowed to pass. Conference notes the UN’s recent findings that these murders were illegal – another war crime to add to the many being committed daily against the Palestinian people.

Conference commends the excellent work done by PSC in getting an enhanced boycott motion passed at the TUC following the flotilla attack, and notes that the acceptance of much stronger language than previously used reflects the sea change in the attitude of many ordinary British workers towards Israel.

Conference further notes that in the atmosphere of international outrage that followed the flotilla murders, even Israeli-friendly politicians such as Cameron and Hague were forced to make statements condemning both the murders and the siege on Gaza.

Conference reaffirms its support for all those who have taken the lead in active non-cooperation over the past year, in particular for the EDO Decommissioners, for the Gaza protestors, and for the many British participants in siege-busting missions by land and sea to Gaza.

Conference notes that the landmark acquittal in the case of the Decommissioners can only facilitate more actions of this kind, since it not only sets a legal precedent, but is a reflection of the general sense of disgust against Israeli war crimes.

Conference reaffirms its belief that the majority of people in Britain are opposed to British imperialism’s support for the criminal Israeli state, and considers that the time is ripe to make active non-cooperation a central theme of our work. Conference therefore calls on the incoming steering committee to work with Stop the War and any other organisations that are willing in taking the line of non-cooperation into as many arenas as possible, including:

1.    Putting on a fundraising concert to draw attention to the Gaza prisoners’ plight and to raise money towards a campaign to overturn their convictions.

2.    Giving full backing, including maximum possible publicity, to all those groups or individuals, whether affiliated to PSC or not, who, like the EDO Decommissioners and the Raytheon activists, are targeted by the state for refusing to cooperate with, or for actively attempting to prevent the many crimes of the occupation, including: the frequent bombings and shootings of civilians; the destruction of Palestinian homes, farms, schools, hospitals, mosques and churches; the crippling siege of Gaza; the building of the apartheid wall, and the seizure of ever more land in Jerusalem and the West Bank for jewish-only settlement construction.

3.    Building on our existing campaign inside the unions to draw attention to Israeli war crimes, and the complicity of the British government and corporations in those crimes, with the aim of passing in each of them, and then at the TUC, motions condemning those crimes and calling on workers to refuse to cooperate in their commission, whether it be by making or moving munitions or other equipment, writing or broadcasting propaganda, or helping in any other way to smooth the path of Israel’s war machine.

4.    Building on the excellent PSC campaign to draw attention to pro-Israeli propaganda in Panorama and working with such groups as Media Lens (see, for example, their recent alert drawing attention to the media’s total bypassing of evidence revealing Israel’s starvation policy in Gaza) and others to draw in as many members and supporters as possible to an ongoing campaign to hold the media to account for their pivotal role in apologising for, covering up and normalising Israeli war crimes.

5.    Continuing and increasing the work already done to make Britain a place where Israeli war criminals can get no peace, through the campaign on universal jurisdiction, through holding protests, through citizens’ arrests and through all other available channels, including using local, national and international courts to file charges and draw attention to the crimes of Israeli military, government and corporate leaders – and those in Britain who back them politically or financially.

 

Source: www.cpgb-ml.org

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Crisis is bringing Britain to its knees as an imperial power

NOVANEWS 


It’s an ill wind …

 

 

When the world has been in the deadly grip of western imperialism for well over 100 years, and the tentacles of the system have spread into every corner of the globe, one can see how correct Lenin was when, in his 1916 pamphlet Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, he described imperialism as parasitic, decadent, and moribund. It is a power rotting from the inside and bound to collapse.

Although, like the Phantom of the Opera, imperialism has been keeping itself alive by sucking the blood of the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America, exacting heavy tribute in the form of interest on debt, dividends on investment and unequal exchange, still the inexorable process of decay from within has been silently progressing throughout all these decades.

One hundred years ago, writers on economics, were already noting that Britain was on its way to becoming a rentier state, ie, a parasitic state living off income derived from investments and lending, rather than on production. At a time when Britain could still lay claim to being the ‘workshop of the world’, Schulze Gaevernitz noted that:

Great Britain is gradually becoming transformed from an industrial into a creditor state. Notwithstanding the absolute increase in industrial output and the export of manufactured goods, there is an increase in the relative importance of income from interest and dividends, issues of securities, commissions and speculation in the whole of the national economy. ”[1]

Even he would have been astonished to see what has happened to British manufacturing since those days. By 1960, manufacturing had fallen to a paltry 35 percent of GDP. By 1999, it had reached 19 percent. And today, it stands at … 13 percent.

What is the fate of the working class in this parasitic economy?

Lenin wrote: “Hobson gives the following economic appraisal of the prospect of the partitioning of China: ‘The greater part of western Europe might then assume the appearance and character already exhibited by tracts of country in the South of England, in the Riviera and in the tourist-ridden or residential parts of Italy and Switzerland, little clusters of wealthy aristocrats drawing dividends and pensions from the Far East, with a somewhat larger group of professional retainers and tradesmen and a larger body of personal servants and workers in the transport trade and in the final stages of production of the more perishable goods; all the main arterial industries would have disappeared, the staple foods and manufactures flowing in as tribute from Asia and Africa …’ ” [2]

In other words, the working class becomes parasitic to a certain extent, albeit the pickings it receives are a great deal smaller than what goes to the masters and are unevenly distributed, so that large numbers can barely subsist on what is provided to them.

Since the UK is a rentier state par excellence, and to an incomparably greater extent even than was the case 100 years ago, its survival as such depends on its ability to be able to collect its dues.

The world has become divided into a handful of usurer states and a vast majority of debtor states. ‘At the top of the list of foreign investments,’ says Schulze-Gaevernitz, ‘are those placed in politically dependent or allied countries: Great Britain grants loans to Egypt, Japan, China and South America. Her navy plays here the part of bailiff in case of necessity. Great Britain’s political power protects her from the indignation of her debtors.’ ” (Op cit)

The world economic crisis, however, has dealt a severe blow to the very basis of the UK’s parasitic existence. What the crisis did, first and foremost, was reduce the capital of the rentiers, insofar as millions of debtors proved to be uncreditworthy and, one way or another, defaulted on their debts. This happens periodically, as capitalism inexorably makes the poor too poor to buy everything that the capitalists need to sell them, even on credit.

To make good the losses, at least in part, billions of pounds were transferred from the public purse into the banks, the investment vehicles of the imperialist financial oligarchy, while the squeeze is being put on the working class masses to make good the shortfall from their meagre resources. But precisely because their resources are meagre, however hard they are squeezed, they can yield very little, except over time.

As a result, everything that is paid for from the public purse, including even services that mainly benefit the bourgeoisie, has ceased to be affordable. Cutting welfare, as well as education and health services, to the bone is not enough – cuts also have to be made to the state apparatus: the armed services, the propaganda services, the police, the Inland Revenue, etc.

But how can British investments be safeguarded if the armed services are cut back? This is a question that is causing considerable consternation in ruling circles; a consternation that is reflected in the bourgeois press.

Military spending cuts

In October, the government published its Strategic Defence and Security Review, in which it announced it was to cut military personnel by 10 percent, reducing army numbers from 96,000 to 89,000; the navy from 35,000 to 30,000 and the RAF from 44,000 to 39,000 – an overall reduction of 17,000 service personnel. In addition, it will scrap 40 percent of artillery and tanks and cut 25,000 civilian jobs in the defence ministry.

This includes the immediate scrapping of the UK’s only aircraft carrier, the Ark Royal, along with the entire fleet of Harrier jump jets. It will be 10 years before the UK has another aircraft carrier back in service, and even those ordered might have been cancelled but for the fact that it would cost more to cancel the contracts than to go ahead with them at this stage. Due to be completed in 2020, at least one of the two carriers now being built will be sold off after just three years in service.

In addition, the government has put off the decision regarding replacing its Trident submarines until 2016. It is quite likely that the whole idea will be abandoned as unaffordable.

In all, the cuts to the military that were announced in October amounted to some £3.2bn, ie, 8 percent of the UK’s current £40bn annual military budget – although it will be noted that this is a great deal less than the 10-20 percent that the government originally planned to cut.

For all the innocents currently being bamboozled into thinking that getting a Labour government back in at the next election would improve matters, let them take note that the oh-so-left-wing Ed Miliband is also wringing his hands at the size of the military cutbacks, saying that Cameron’s revised defence policy is “simply not credible as a blueprint for our future defence needs” (of course, he means ‘offence’ needs). In other words, Miliband would devote more public expenditure to the military and therefore less to providing essential services to working people. Please take note!

As it happens, the military cutbacks announced in October are but the tip of the iceberg, and it is now becoming apparent that, under what is called Planning Round 2011 (PR11), there are further cuts in the pipeline, to be effected as soon as Britain withdraws from Afghanistan.

According to the Daily Telegraph, “the financial crisis engulfing the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is now regarded as so severe that, following Britain’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2015, the size of the Army will be reduced to ‘circa 80,000’, according to one senior defence source.

This would make the Army the smallest since the reign of George IV, when troop numbers were drawn down after the end of the Napoleonic wars. ” (‘Army facing huge cuts after withdrawal from Afghanistan’ by Sean Rayment, 20 February 2011)

The same newspaper detailed some of the hardware that will quite probably be scrapped:

While the Navy suffered the worst cuts out of all three services in SDSR it could face losing another Type 23 frigate, a Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker or supply ship.

Operations in Afghanistan could come under threat if the fleet of Reaper and Predator unmanned drones that spy and attack insurgents are chopped. The move would save an estimated £100m.

Another candidate for cuts is the new armoured reconnaissance vehicle to replace the ageing Scimitar light tanks. An estimated £100m this year and £500m in four years would be saved if the MoD cancelled the Future Rapid Effects System Scout project. ” (‘Armed forces face further cuts’ by James Kirkup, 6 March 2011)

The net effect of all this is that the UK will no longer be in a position to mount any independent campaign like the Falklands war, but will be reduced to no more than a sidekick of other imperialist military powers. In fact, so bad are the equipment losses that Britain would, according to certain military bigwigs, be disadvantaged in war against Libya for the very good reason that, over the past few years, Britain has supplied Libya with sophisticated military equipment that Britain itself can no longer counter, especially since the recent scrapping of the £4bn fleet of Nimrod MRA4 reconnaissance aircraft (spy planes), which had never flown.

The Daily Telegraph reported that “A former Nimrod pilot, still serving in the RAF, said the aircraft would have been ‘perfect’ for monitoring the situation [in Libya] from a safe distance using its electro-optical sensor. Its electronic intelligence and secure radio systems would have been ‘invaluable in minimising risk’ … ” But it was not to be! (‘British forces would struggle to mount even a small scale military intervention as the cupboard for resources was “threadbare”, senior officers have said’ by Thomas Harding, 26 February 2011)

There is apparently an ‘unfunded black hole’ of orders for military equipment due to be paid for in the next few years that have not been budgeted for. The amount involved is said to be in the region of £38bn (almost equal to the whole of a single year’s ‘defence’ budget). Much of the deficit is no doubt owed to the US armaments industry, which is unlikely to prove in the slightest bit understanding about cancelled orders or late payment!

At least one order is with Lockheed for three new F35B jump jet fighter aircraft, which will be useless until Britain’s new aircraft carriers are ready, and even then will be poor value, as the new carriers work with conventional aircraft that are both cheaper and more militarily effective. The cost that has to be paid for these white elephants is £389m – it remains to be seen if our US allies will be amenable to modifying the order.

So desperate is the government to effect cuts that there is a major element of disorder in its military retreat. For instance, among the military personnel fingered for redundancy are some 100 student pilots in the RAF, some of them only a few hours away from becoming fully qualified, and whose training up to the present is said to have cost an estimated £300m.

A problem is likely to arise because there will be nobody available to replace pilots killed by the Afghan resistance. As the Daily Telegraph put it: “There are fears that the sackings will lead to a shortage of helicopter and transport pilots on the front line in Afghanistan”. (‘Quarter of RAF trainee pilots to be sacked in defence spending cuts’ by Thomas Harding, 14 February 2011)

And, despite Cameron’s attempts to allay the fears of his US ally (and British troops on the ground) that the cuts won’t affect operations in Afghanistan, the loss of the Harrier jump jet will deprive British operations of air cover and is bound to make the occupation troops more vulnerable.

In spite of all the cuts, Britain will still be the country with the fourth highest military expenditure in the world (after the US, Russia and China). It would seem, however, that in the modern world, fourth place gets you nowhere.

Reduced tax revenue

The British government’s struggles to hang on in the premier league are not helped by the fact that tax revenues, despite tax increases, are on the decline. The main reason for this is the impoverishment of the working-class masses, who are suffering mounting unemployment and lowering wages, all of which, incidentally, adds to the cost of welfare, even though welfare is being savagely cut!

Meanwhile, the bourgeoisie is, as ever, doing everything it can to dodge its share of the tax bill, with several British ‘household names’ removing their official residences abroad and setting up schemes which make it appear that profits made on sales of goods manufactured or sold in the UK have in fact been ‘earned’ abroad, in countries like Switzerland, where very low rates of corporation tax prevail.

An organisation called UK Uncut, formed to protest against the government’s public-sector cuts, says that widespread tax avoidance schemes by corporations and the wealthy cost the exchequer up to £25bn per year. Household names they have exposed as multi-million-pound tax dodgers include Vodafone, British Home Stores, Boots, Cadbury, Arcadia, Walkers Snacks and Johnny Walker.

Vodafone, for instance, failed to pay £7bn it owed to the Inland Revenue. After long-drawn out negotiations, the Revenue agreed to accept £1bn in settlement (although only after Mr Dave Hartnett, the HMRC chief, put his foot down with his underlings)! On learning of this little concession to a rich company, Nick Cohen of The Observer wrote:

Once, ‘only the little people pay taxes’ was the slogan of convicted fraudsters. Now, it sounds uncomfortably close to becoming the mission statement of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs. ” (‘How Vodafone made tax dodging respectable’, 14 November 2010)

Why are we not surprised to learn from Daniel Martin of thismoney.co.uk that “The agreement between HMRC and Vodafone came after negotiations – between revenue officers and John Connors, Vodafone’s head of tax. Until 2007, Mr Connors was a senior official at HMRC, where he worked closely with Mr Hartnett.

So degenerate have the British imperialists become that they are no longer even willing to pay the forces on which they rely to collect their debts, much less to fork out for the services the working masses need in order to survive to serve another day.

All of which is proving the truth of Mao Zedong’s well-known aphorism that imperialism is a paper tiger. He was specifically talking about US imperialism, but his remarks ring just as true for British imperialism:

Now US imperialism is quite powerful, but in reality it isn’t. It is very weak politically because it is divorced from the masses of the people and is disliked by everybody and by the American people too. In appearance it is very powerful but in reality it is nothing to be afraid of, it is a paper tiger. Outwardly a tiger, it is made of paper, unable to withstand the wind and the rain. I believe the United States is nothing but a paper tiger …

When we say US imperialism is a paper tiger, we are speaking in terms of strategy. Regarding it as a whole, we must despise it. But regarding each part, we must take it seriously. It has claws and fangs. We have to destroy it piecemeal … If we deal with it step by step and in earnest, we will certainly succeed in the end.

Strategically, we must utterly despise US imperialism. Tactically, we must take it seriously. In struggling against it, we must take each battle, each encounter, seriously. At present, the United States is powerful, but when looked at in a broader perspective, as a whole and from a long-term viewpoint, it has no popular support, its policies are disliked by the people, because it oppresses and exploits them. For this reason, the tiger is doomed.

(‘US imperialism is a paper tiger’ by Mao Zedong, 14 July 1956, Selected Works, Vol 5)

Endnotes:

[1] Gerhardt Schulze Gaevernitz, Britischer imperialismus und Freihandel zu Beginn des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts, Leipzig: Duncker, 1906, quoted approvingly in V I Lenin, Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism, 1917

[2] John A Hobson, Imperialism, a Study, London: Cosimo, 1902, quoted in V I Lenin, ibid

 

Posted in UKComments Off on Crisis is bringing Britain to its knees as an imperial power

Review: The Promise

NOVANEWS

Channel 4’s recent drama broke new ground on mainstream TV by portraying some of the brutality that has characterised the state since its foundation and shattering its claims to be a democracy.

Written and directed by Peter Kosminsky for Channel 4, The Promise is a four-part drama series that tells the story of the creation of the state of Israel in Palestine, 1948. Set mainly in Haifa, events are seen through the eyes of two British protagonists – Len, a sergeant in the British army of occupation in 1947/48, and his granddaughter Erin, who visits Israel 60 years later during her gap year at the invitation of a friend.

Reading her grandfather Len’s diary six decades after the events it describes, 18-year-old Erin learns about some of the momentous events that led to the Palestinian Nakba (‘catastrophe’) at the same time as her travels in modern-day Israel/Palestine are opening her eyes to the legacy of that time.

Originally inspired by the letter of a Mandate-era British soldier, the drama has been meticulously researched. Seventy former servicemen contributed their stories in order to give a detailed picture of the way ordinary British soldiers in Palestine lived and thought during the years immediately preceding the partition and ethnic cleansing of the country.

There are excellent performances throughout the seven-and-a-half hour drama, particularly from the two leads, Christian Cooke and Claire Foy, and the authentic atmosphere is immeasurably boosted by an excellent supporting cast of Palestinian and Israeli actors and by being shot on location in Israel itself.

We see the enormous sympathy that most soldiers initially had for the jews following the atrocities of World War Two, and we see how the zionists played on that sympathy to foster support for a jewish state in Palestine.

Setting up social clubs in which ordinary soldiers mixed with jewish girls was one tool used by the zionists to great effect – both as a means of spreading sympathy for zionism and also as a way to gather information on the movements of British forces. Len’s love affair with a jewish girl who turns out to be a militant Irgun fighter is one of many relationships that is shown to help zionist paramilitaries in their mission to speed up the process of ejecting the British army from Palestine.

Len’s ultimate disillusionment with both his lover, who he sees taking part in the massacre of unarmed Palestinian villagers, as well as with his British army superiors, who seem unconcerned with the imminent slaughter of Palestinian Arabs about to take place, leads him to desert, fighting briefly on the side of the largely unarmed Palestinians who are being killed and driven out of their homes under the noses of the departing British forces.

The depiction of modern-day Israel is similarly well drawn. We see the jarring contrast between the first-world lifestyle of those in westernised Israeli cities, complete with designer shopping malls and hedonistic nightlife, and the Palestinians living in the run-down Arabic towns and villages under occupation. The sadistic and all-embracing nature of the occupation on the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank, and the apartheid nature of the state of Israel for those Palestinians who remain within Israel’s borders are both shown.

The militarisation of what initially appears to be a very pleasant society is clearly revealed as Erin gradually comes to realise that every Israeli she meets is or has been in the army. Indeed, it transpires that the apparently ‘liberal’ father of the family she’s staying with was formerly a general. He is keen to present Israel as a democracy and to brush over the fascistic nature of its military state, but his liberalism doesn’t extend to accepting a Palestinian as a guest in his own home, or to wishing to spare his children from the brutalising experience of playing their part in the occupation.

As a drama, The Promise works well, in particular in relation to the 1947/48 characters. The love story between Len and Clara, her ultimate betrayal, Len’s friendship with local Palestinian Mohammed’s family and his overriding sense of failure when he is unable to save their young son Hassan from a zionist sniper are all movingly and convincingly portrayed.

Erin is a less likable but equally convincing character, and viewers are drawn into her quest to hunt down the family that her grandfather befriended. Her journey across Palestine, from Haifa to Nablus to Gaza, gives an insight into the still ongoing process of colonisation and expropriation as she comes face to face with those who now live in the homes that formerly belonged to Mohammed and his relations.

As a piece of history, The Promise is less satisfying. The drawback of Kosminsky’s style of research – ie, based solely on asking people about their experiences – makes for a wealth of interesting detail, but does little to explain the real historical context or forces at work.

Thus, the ‘background’ to the creation of the state of Israel is given as the Nazi holocaust – and while this may well have been the subjective experience of many people who lived through the events, one does not have to look that far to find that it is in fact a piece of imperial myth-making – as well as being one of the main planks of zionist self-justification.

Jewish immigration into Palestine became British imperial policy as far back as the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which stated that “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object … ” This policy can be explained not by a desire to give jews a ‘homeland’ where they could be free from persecution, but by the desire to implant a population that would help them maintain control of the middle-eastern oil that had just then become central to the military and industrial workings of the British empire. As British colonial governor Sir Ronald Storrs wrote of the zionist project: “It will form for England a little loyal jewish Ulster in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism.”

Before the Nazi holocaust, zionism was a marginal ideology amongst jews worldwide, despite the persecution many jewish communities suffered all over Europe. Indeed, the very idea that jewish people constitute a ‘nation’ is one that progressives have always disputed, and working-class jews in the early decades of the 20th century were much more likely to be drawn to socialism and communism than to zionism.

Peter Kosminsky’s own background is a reflection of this. His father, a second-generation immigrant from Romania to Britain, worked as a tailor in London and is described by his son as a communist. Kosminsky himself, despite identifying with his jewish cultural background, had never been to Israel before shootingThe Promise, and felt no particular affinity for the country when he was there.

The suffering of the jews during the Nazi rampage was used as a justification for bringing the zionist project to fulfilment, but why it was that the jews should be ‘compensated’ for their sufferings in Europe by being given Palestinian land was quietly glossed over. The local population were either dismissed as ‘Arabs’ who could be easily moved to some other Arab country, or their existence was denied altogether, as epitomised by the widely-used phrase “A land without people for a people without land.”

The father of modern zionism, Theodore Herzl, was himself under no illusion about what kind of mission he was on. In his 1896 work The Jewish State, he wrote: “For Europe we shall serve there as part of the fortified wall against Asia, and function as the vanguard of civilisation against the barbarians. As a neutral state we shall keep our ties with all the European nations, who will guarantee our existence there.” That is, that in return for being allowed to establish Israel in Palestine, the zionists would promise to serve imperialist interests in the region.

And that is precisely what Israel has done and continues to do – and precisely why its armed forces have been given imperialist protection (first by Britain, then by the US with British support) as they have massacred, bombed, invaded, occupied, ethnically cleansed and generally broken every rule of international and humanitarian law for six long decades.

By showing the situation only as it appears through the eyes of a lowly sergeant, the series neatly sidesteps the question of Britain’s long-term role and motivation in Palestine and the wider Middle East, leaving a general impression of an army that was playing the ‘difficult’ role of policeman between two opposing sides – the same impression that was carefully fostered in official British propaganda at the time, and the same story British imperialists have used to cover many of their manoeuvrings before and since, from India to Ireland and Iraq.

This missing of the big picture from the early story cannot but have its knock-on effect into the present-day narrative. Like her grandfather, Erin is shown as a disinterested bystander caught up in events outside her control – one who has divided sympathies and is frustrated by the injustices she sees, but who ultimately has no real connection with the events being played out before her.

The racism of Israeli society is an anathema to Erin’s sensibilities and we are invited to sympathise with her frustration, but she seems profoundly oblivious to the fact that she herself expects to – and does – remain largely immune when she challenges Israeli soldiers. Her outspoken ‘bravery’ comes easily, since she never has any thought that she might seriously suffer for it as a Palestinian would. Nor does she ever seem to wonder why this should be so.

Of course, those from the West and Israel who truly take the stand of the Palestinian people (such as Rachel Corrie) can’t necessarily expect to receive such kid glove treatment, and have even paid with their lives, but Erin herself clearly has no idea of any of this. The overriding impression that is left from the various scenes where Erin flies to the defence of Palestinians is that the Palestinian people themselves are objects of pity or charity in need of ‘rescuing’ by more forceful/clued-up outsiders.

The idea that Israel’s racist, colonialist society still serves British imperialism – that it continues to be fostered, supported and given financial, military and diplomatic support in order that British oil monopolies can carry on dominating and plundering the region – is never explored. And nor, therefore, is the connection between the privileged life that Erin unthinkingly takes to be her own birthright and the oppression of those whom she is rightly angered at seeing the Israelis mistreating.

Petty-bourgeois pacifism permeates Erin’s thought processes and directs the audience’s sympathies too. The acts of the occupying army and those of a ‘suicide bomber’ are equally to be condemned, and the myth that present-day acts of demolition and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians are ‘reprisals’ for such acts of ‘terrorism’ is left unchallenged.

The Palestinians are overwhelmingly depicted as victims with whom we can and should sympathise – so long as they don’t take it into their heads to fight back. The only member of the resistance with whom we are invited to sympathise is a former soldier who has renounced violence as ‘futile’. Despite having seen the massive Israeli armoury ranged against them, Erin’s main concern when she sneaks through a tunnel into Gaza is that the people she is travelling with might be carrying weapons into the Strip!

Despite these weaknesses, however, The Promise is a rare and brave attempt to show at least a part of the reality of a situation that has been so far ignored by British mainstream dramatists. Kosminsky has produced a thought-provoking and intelligent drama that will no doubt inspire many to look again at their prejudices regarding Palestine and Israel, having been given some small insights into a history of Palestinian dispossession and oppression of which most British people are still quite unaware.

It remains for a truly anti-imperialist director to show the story of Palestine in its full context, with the Palestinians and their resistance (rather than the Israelis and their myths) in centre stage.

 

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Yemen: President Saleh shoots down his own people

NOVANEWS

But that’s OK – he’s a good friend!

 

 

In Yemen, rage against the dictatorial government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been going on for years because of the dire poverty to which the masses of the people have been subjected in what was a country with sufficient oil and gas production to have produced a reasonable standard of living, although supplies are now running out..

Yemen in turmoil

Whereas the resistance in Tunisia and Egypt flared up very suddenly, in Yemen it has been simmering away for nearly 20 years. With a third of the population suffering from malnutrition and 40 percent unemployment, it is hardly surprising that the country has been in a state of ferment for so long, and that President Saleh has only been able to overcome people’s resistance by use of brute force and with the financial, intelligence and military backing of the US and Saudi Arabia.

Only 18 months ago the US was involved in bombing raids in northern Yemen. The pretext was that it was pursuing Al Qaeda ‘terrorists’ operating in the area, but in fact it was helping the Yemeni government suppress the agitation of the anti-imperialist Islamist separatist movement of the shia Zaydi Houthis in Sa’ada province (which has nothing to do with Al Qaeda, a sunni movement that has currently declared jihad against the Houthi rebels).

There is also a progressive secessionist movement in the south, including Aden, on the part of those belonging to the part of the country that was until 22 May 1990 a separate state and at the time embraced socialist policies.

It is not surprising that with the uprising throughout the Arab world against tyrannical US puppet regimes, Yemen too should find itself facing even fiercer resistance than was already the case, and, true to form, President Saleh resorted to violence in the hope of overcoming it.

Although generally tucked away discreetly in the inside pages of broadsheets, there are plenty of reports detailing the vicious nature of Saleh’s reponse to even peaceful demonstrations in different parts of the country – the capital, Sana’a, Aden in the south, Al Baida in central Yemen and the western port city of Al Hudaida, to name but a few.

Not only have demonstrators been shot at with live bullets (causing many deaths and countless injuries) but they have also been subjected to a type of tear gas that attacks the nervous system and which, without the administration of the antidote (which has not been made available), causes permanent injury.

This gas is said to have been supplied to the Yemeni regime by the US, and reports of a five-ton shipment of the gas bombs used on the demonstrators state that they arrived in Yemen in the second half of 2010. Yemeni TV footage has shown demonstrators affected by the gas paralysed and shaking uncontrollably. Medical sources have claimed to see markings on the gas canisters showing it is made in the US.

No substitute for Saleh

It is notable, however, that despite the high level of violence against unarmed demonstrators, the US puppet master has shown no sign at the time of writing of calling for Saleh to resign in the way that it did for Ben Ali and Mubarak Much less have resolutions been presented to the UN Security Council, or no-fly zones imposed.

The reason for this seems clear: President Saleh is a toady of imperialism, who, as it happens, will be harder to replace than his Egyptian and Tunisian counterparts. In Yemen it appears that there is no obvious candidate to take Saleh’s place. If he is unable through wheeling and dealing to control the population in the interests of imperalism, then it is probable that nobody else stands even a fighting chance.

Thomas Krajeski, US ambassador to Yemen from 2004 to 2007, had this to say: “For better or worse, he’s it. Ali Abdullah Saleh is our main conduit to everything we are trying to do in Yemen.”

A recent AFP report stated that Krajeski “said that when he was ambassador to Yemen, the embassy did a report every year on who would replace Saleh if he were to suddenly disappear. When they got to the conclusion, he said, ‘we came up empty’. He said there were people who the embassy thought would make good presidents, but ‘they just didn’t have the support to get there’. ” (‘Yemen protests have US worried about ally’s future’, AFP, 2 March 2011)

Concessions and resignations

In the hope of reducing the ferocity of the protests, Saleh promised to raise the salaries of government employees and to provide 60,000 job opportunities for graduates. However, Yemeni government finances are in such a parlous state that everybody knows these promises would be impossible to implement, even if Saleh actually wanted to do so.

Similar promises were made in 2005 after fuel riots, but they were never implemented. As it is, the crowds of demonstrators in Yemen’s various cities are determined to keep up their protests until Saleh goes, along with all his henchmen.

Saleh’s chances of hanging on to power seem to be receding fast, as his supporters are beginning to abandon him in droves. In mid-March, high-profile military leaders began to come out in support of the demonstrators, including Major General Abdul Malek Al-Seyani, a former Minister of Defence, Major General Al-Gaifi and 26 other officers, while on 12 March, while inspecting his forces in Sana’a, Brigadier General Yahya Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, was greeted by over 300 of his soldiers chanting “the people want the president to go”.

A week later, following a bloodbath in Sana’a on 18 March when 53 unarmed demonstrators were killed by sniper fire, Yemen’s ambassador to Lebanon resigned, as did the ambassador to the UN. Other prominent ministers and diplomats soon followed suit, including the respective ministers of tourism and endowment, a former minister of culture and Yemen’s ambassador to Switzerland.

After mass resignations, Saleh’s ruling political party, the General People’s Congress, has been forced to dissolve. More military thugs, including NW zone commander Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar, eastern zone commander Mohammed Ali Mohsen, and the commander of the 301st armoured division, Hameed Al-Qushaibi, resigned on 21 March. The ambassadors to Jordan and Syria defected.

By this time, half the government had resigned and Saleh, having declared a state of emergency on 18 March, dissolved the government on the 20th.

If these henchmen of reaction have suddenly decided to jump ship, it is an indication that the protest movement has obviously become irresistible. Dr Abdullah al Faqih has commented that “This is just more manoeuvring to keep the powerful in power, they are going out of the front door and in at the back.” (Armiesofliberation.com, 21 March 2011)

These people are belatedly preparing themselves for being recruited into an alternative government for Yemen, which US imperialism will be hoping will somehow manage to keep the country under its control.

If the Arab protest movements are to be extinguished, however, whether in Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt or Tunisia, etc, significant concessions will need to be made by imperialism to the popular masses. At the very least there would have to be democratisation, but, more importantly, economic issues will have to be addressed. Measures will have to be taken to protect people from hunger and to provide employment – and in the political sphere, at very least, a Palestinian state will have to be conceded.

If these demands are not met, it will be only a matter of time before the masses return to the fray.

 

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Yemen: President Saleh shoots down his own people

Hands off Libya!

NOVANEWS

Under cover of supporting a ‘people’s revolution’ and ‘protecting civilians’ in Libya, imperialist forces are attempting to grab the oil, destroy the political independence and wipe out the economic gains of the most advanced country in Africa.

On Saturday 19 March 2011, exactly eight years after the illegal war on Iraq was launched, combined imperialist forces, with Britain, France and the United States in the lead, openly launched a savage war against the oil-rich, north African muslim state of Libya.

Barbaric bombardment

That night, Britain and the United States attacked Libya with 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles, launched from ships and submarines, hitting both military and civilian targets. Separately, French forces carried out four air strikes on ground forces, killing young conscripts and civilians alike.

In this first night of attacks, 64 people were killed and 150 others were wounded. Within the first three days of bombing, most of Libya’s civilian air and sea ports had been destroyed, fuel tanks had been hit, roads, bridges and a heart clinic had been destroyed, and part of the compound where Colonel Gaddafi normally resides was destroyed in a blatant attempt to assassinate the Libyan leader.

Even the British media, craven and bellicose as it is in its support for an unprovoked war of aggression against a sovereign state, could not entirely obscure the grim toll already exacted on the civilian population in just the first few hours of the bombardment. Reporting the first night’s air and missile attacks, the Guardian wrote:

Residents had gone to bed expecting trouble after a series of explosions to the east, probably at a radar station in nearby Tajoura. It was there, according to her distraught uncle, Muhammad Salem, that three-month-old Siam al-Tabib was killed and her mother injured, though whether by a bomb or a rocket he did not know.

Her remains were buried under a pitifully small concrete mound covered with three carnations and a scrap of green cloth at the beach cemetery at Shatt al-Hinshir …

‘These were ordinary people, asleep in their homes, not soldiers,’ one man shouted. ‘Where is democracy when they are killing children?’ cried another, gesturing at the infant’s fresh grave. ‘The people who did this are the terrorists, shedding the blood of innocent muslims.’” (‘Muammar Gaddafi calls on Libyans to resist “colonialists”‘, 21 March 2011)

Desperately trying to mangle its words, the Financial Times reported from the same funeral:

But there was no compelling reason not to believe the testimony of relatives, who were nonetheless obviously being used to bolster the regime’s case that the air strikes, directed at military installations, had inflicted a terrifying human cost.” (‘Fury erupts at “martyrs” burial’, 21 March 2011)

The Independent reported on the fate of some young Libyan conscripts, defenceless as French jets attacked them in the open desert outside Benghazi:

The bodies lay strewn, dismembered and burnt. Some of the faces expressed the horrors of the last moments, others lay peaceful, in repose. Around them were the remains of the tanks and artillery of Muammar Gaddafi’s army, destroyed in an hour of pulverising and relentless air strikes … They were caught; vulnerable; in the open; and what was left afterwards resembled a ghastly montage in miniature of the carnage on the road to Basra when American and British warplanes bombed Iraqi forces fleeing from Kuwait.” (‘We needed foreign help – but now Libyans must end all this in Tripoli’, 21 March 2011)

This onslaught occurred just two days after the United Nations Security Council, by 10 votes to nil, with five abstentions, namely Russia, China, Brazil, India and Germany, had passed Resolution 1973, authorising member states to use “all necessary measures“, the customary code words for military action, supposedly to “help protect civilians“.

The resolution, although it certainly amounts to gross interference in Libya’s internal affairs, and despite the fact that even a small child ought to be able to realise that its sole purpose is to provide a legalistic fig leaf for a massive imperialist onslaught on a small third-world nation, nauseatingly couched itself in humanitarian tones, claiming that a ‘no fly zone’ would constitute a “decisive step for the cessation of hostilities in Libya” (emphasis added).

It hypocritically reaffirmed “its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya“. It talked about “facilitating dialogue to lead to the political reforms necessary to find a peaceful and sustainable solution“. And the resolution affirmed that it was “excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory“.

Preparations for regime change

Yet, despite all these sanctimonious words, the leaders of France, Britain and the United States, Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama, Hillary Clinton, William Hague, Liam Fox and others, war criminals to a man and woman, have made no secret of the fact that their aim is so-called ‘regime change’. “Gaddafi must go” has been their mantra since the first demonstrations were reported in Libya in February.

Despite a public dressing-down from their own military top brass, Prime Minister Cameron, as well as both his foreign and defence secretaries, have all dropped totally unsubtle hints that they are aiming to kill the Libyan head of state. In any case, actions speak louder than words, and, as noted above, Gaddafi’s customary residence was among the first targets of attack.

Following the passing of the UN resolution, Sarkozy summoned a meeting in Paris of selected imperialist leaders and their stooges. The first bombs and missiles were raining down on Libya just hours after the assembled leaders had enjoyed their dinner. Indeed, a smirking Sarkozy emerged from the summit to announce that French forces were already in action.

It is therefore a myth, fit only for the mentally weak or those claiming naivety to the point of cynicism, to imagine that this immense imperialist crusade was assembled in some 48 hours subsequent to the UN Security Council supinely passing Resolution 1973. Targets are not identified and pinpointed; battleships and submarines are not moved to the Mediterranean in a matter of hours.

Clearly, this war against Libya, part of the ongoing attempt to topple any and all governments in the region that take some sort of independent position vis-à-vis imperialism – the latest example being the attempts to destabilise Syria, stir up conflict and provide a pretext for external intervention – has been months, if not years, in the making.

British imperialism has been arming and training Libyan terrorist groups, of an Islamic fundamentalist disposition, since at least the early 1980s, whilst the US CIA has concentrated its backing on a rag-tag mob of supporters of the feudal monarchy that Colonel Gaddafi and other progressive young army officers overthrew on 1 September 1969.

And whilst, as we have seen, the UN resolution specifically excludes ‘boots on the ground’, Britain’s counter-insurgency SAS regiment has been covertly operating in the east of Libya for at least weeks, if not months and years, as testified by the farcical arrest, worthy of a scene from Dad’s Army, of an SAS group by the very bandits they had gone to assist.

The foreign ministry of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) summed up the succession of events well, when it stated: “It (‘the US … in collusion with some western countries’) openly interfered in the internal affairs of Libya, sparking off a civil war, and then cooked up a deceptive resolution by abusing the authority of the UN Security Council. It finally perpetrated indiscriminate armed intervention in the country, going beyond the limits of the resolution.” (‘DPRK foreign ministry spokesman denounces US military attack on Libya’, Korean Central News Agency [KCNA], 22 March 2011)

Specifically, it should be noted that this war has been in preparation for much if not all of the time that the imperialists have been professing their supposed friendship with Libya: whilst Gaddafi was being received with pomp in western capitals; and whilst a succession of top western political leaders made their way to Tripoli to embrace him in his tent, where they were joined by oil barons and financiers, eyeing lucrative concessions and preaching the virtues of privatisation and structural adjustment.

And whilst western capitalists secured themselves lucrative contracts in Libya, the cash-strapped West also solicited and begged for as much Libyan cash and investment, the fruits of Libya’s abundant oil resources, the biggest in Africa, and the hard work of its people, as they could grab. All this has now been blatantly stolen in the form of sanctions and the freezing of Libyan assets.

As soon as the crisis arose, the veteran Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro warned clearly that the imperialists were intent on war:

What is absolutely evident to me is that the government of the United States is totally unconcerned about peace in Libya and will not hesitate to give Nato the order to invade that rich country, possibly in a matter of hours or a few days.” (‘Nato’s plan is to occupy Libya’, Reflections of Comrade Fidel, 21 February 2011)

The Libyan example

So why, considering the apparently friendly relations between Gaddafi and the imperialists over recent years, has his country been subjected to such a savage onslaught? Why is Libya treated so very differently to Bahrain, Yemen and above all the zionist state of Israel?

The answer to these questions lies in a review of the history of, and basic facts about, Libya; history and facts that are at complete variance with the Goebbelsian propaganda with which we have been bombarded – propaganda that has seduced even some progressive people.

Before Colonel Gaddafi came to power in 1969, Libya was an absolute monarchy, ruled by one King Idris. Idris had been placed on his throne by British imperialism and remained a British puppet until his overthrow. Desperately backward, the country was officially the poorest in the world, society was tribal, social customs were archaic, women were oppressed, illiteracy was around 95 percent and disease was rife.

Unlike the situation in many other Arab and African countries, Gaddafi and his supporters resolved that their country’s newly discovered oil wealth should be used to benefit the Libyan people and not foreign imperialists. Accordingly, the oil industry was nationalised, and the US and British military bases were expelled from the country.

Although he has always been philosophically opposed to Marxism, and was influenced more by Islamic precepts and traditional tribal views somewhat akin to primitive communism, Gaddafi proclaimed Libya to be a socialist country. Indeed, many of the reforms introduced in Libya were, broadly speaking, of a socialist character. Most of the economy was brought under state control, people were allocated rent-free housing, free education and health care were introduced, and women’s equality was proclaimed and to a very considerable extent enforced.

Efforts were made to diversify the economy, in particular with massive engineering projects designed to pipe the country’s vast subterranean water reserves from deep in the Sahara to where they could be used to promote agricultural development, with a view to reducing over time the country’s need to import most of its food.

As a result of such policies, life expectancy at birth reached 73 years, and a per capita income of US$16,600 was achieved by 2008, both according to United Nations’ indicators, meaning that, in terms of the masses’ living standards, Libya had become the richest and most prosperous state in the whole of Africa. According to the UN’s Human Development Report for 2009, prepared by taking the average life span, educational level and per capita income into account, Libya belongs to the ‘high human development’ countries, achieving 52nd position amongst the 179 countries surveyed.

But Libya did not just use its oil wealth for its own benefit. From the early 1970s, Libya gave huge assistance to national-liberation movements fighting imperialism and various puppet regimes, not only in Palestine, southern Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa, but also in Ireland and throughout the world.

Despite its small population, still today just around six-and-a-half million, there is not a corner of the world that has not benefited from Libya’s active anti-imperialist solidarity at some point over the last four decades. The victories of the ANC and the Irish republican movement, and of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, for example, are all inseparable from the generous support rendered by Libya.

Concessions to imperialism

Significant changes did occur, however, in Libyan policies over the last decade or so. These resulted primarily from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist countries of central and eastern Europe due to revisionist betrayal.

Like many other progressive states in the third world, Libya had been allied to the Soviet Union and had benefited from its political, diplomatic, economic, technical and military support. With the Soviet Union no longer around, some adjustments in policy were inevitable. Moreover, Gaddafi appeared to believe that a policy of making concessions to the West and offering them benefits could spare his country the cruel fate of Iraq.

Accordingly, Libya abandoned or reduced its support to a number of liberation and progressive movements. It accepted responsibility for the explosion of a US aircraft over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, for which the country had been placed under crippling sanctions, even though it is well known that Libya had nothing to do with this incident, and paid billions in supposed compensation. Moreover, it agreed to hand over two of its citizens for a blatantly rigged trial, one of whom was sentenced to serve a term of life imprisonment in a Scottish jail – although Libya was subsequently able to win his repatriation on humanitarian grounds.

Libya’s oil industry was again opened to foreign investment as were other sectors of the economy, with an extensive privatisation programme, while a number of social programmes were rolled back, leading to wealth disparity and an increase in unemployment, especially among the youth. Under pressure from the West, Libya also abandoned its nuclear energy programme.

However, despite all these concessions, and the appearance of friendly relations with the West, Libya didnot become a client state of imperialism, but maintained an essentially progressive orientation.

Although opened to investment, overall ownership and control of the oil industry remained in Libyan hands. In the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Libya consistently stood with Iran, Algeria, Venezuela and Ecuador to defend the rights of the producing countries. The Libyan people continued to enjoy a standard of living unique in Africa.

On the world stage, Libya continued to follow an anti-imperialist foreign policy in a number of highly important respects. Gaddafi championed African unity and poured literally billions of dollars into development projects in almost every country of the continent. And Libya stood at the forefront of attempts to consolidate anti-imperialist unity between the countries of Africa and Latin America. Among heads of state, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega and Bolivia’s Evo Morales remained among Gaddafi’s closest friends and allies.

Hence, we can see that, on both sides, Libya’s rapprochement with imperialism was strategically on a par with the famous example cited by Lenin of the type of agreement reached by the infant Soviet state with various imperialist powers in his 20 August 1918 ‘Letter to American workers’: “The French monarchist and I shook hands, although we knew that each of us would willingly hang his ‘partner’.” (Collected Works, Volume 28)

Imperialist double standards and hypocrisy

It is the fact that Libya under Colonel Gaddafi has remained a fundamentally anti-imperialist state that dictates the completely different response to events, or alleged events, there and events in other parts of the region, such as Bahrain, Yemen or Gaza.

In Bahrain, peaceful protestors have been shot down in the street. The military have attacked hospitals. Injured patients have been further brutalised in their beds. Both patients and doctors have been taken away, not to be seen again. Women medics have been threatened with rape. But the response has been for Saudi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) troops to invade the country to prop up the king’s tottering rule and defend him from his people. Top EU foreign policy adviser Robert Cooper has defended the repression, saying “accidents happen”. (‘Bahrain protest crackdown defended by European Union envoy’,Guardian, 24 March 2011)

In the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, more than 50 people were killed in just one incident on 18 March, when peaceful demonstrators were fired on shortly after Friday prayers. Both Yemen and Bahrain provide bases for US naval fleets and the Yemeni president was revealed on WikiLeaks as giving his blessing to the US killing as many of his citizens as they liked in drone attacks.

Meanwhile, on 22 March, at least eight people were killed and dozens injured in Gaza on the second consecutive day of Israeli air strikes on the beleaguered territory. Needless to say, the Arab feudals and compradors have been as silent and useless in the face of this latest zionist aggression as they have been throughout the more than six decades since the Israeli state was carved out of the Arab homeland. During recent days, in particular, they have been too busy shooting down their own defenceless populations whilst obsequiously begging the imperialists to slaughter the Libyan people.

Alongside the UN Security Council resolution, the imperialists have made much of their supposed support from the Arab League. This has been driven by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman.

These six statelets are all absolute monarchies. Every one of them is bound and beholden to imperialism by a thousand and one threads. Every one of them has been terrified and shaken by the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. Every one of them is repressing, and in at least three instances to date (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman) slaughtering their own people. Yet it is these grotesque kings, sheikhs, emirs and sultans, as these feudal relics are variously and vaingloriously called, who have dutifully lined up to beg their imperialist masters to bomb and strafe the Libyan masses into the delights of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’.

Some people in the anti-war movement have professed themselves perplexed by this apparent contradiction. But there is actually no contradiction at all. The imperialists and their stooges have a one-point programme in the region – to drown the peoples’ revolutions in blood, be it the revolutionary upsurge of the Bahraini masses to overthrow their monarchical dictator and American servant, or the struggle of the Libyan people, led by Colonel Gaddafi, to defend their revolutionary gains.

Dirty role of Stop the War

Faced with the third all-out onslaught on a sovereign muslim nation within a decade, the response of the anti-war movement in Britain has been nothing less than a disgrace. The Stop the War Coalition, which has so loved to boast of their million-plus march on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, has been reduced to mobilising dozens. And the reason is simple: they have been on the wrong side.

When the counter-revolutionary uprising had commenced in Libya; when the imperialists had already begun their war preparations, and had been called out for so doing by Fidel Castro; when sanctions had been clamped on Libya, described by the US government as the largest sanctions regime in history, Stop the War was busy calling for protests – against the Libyan government!

Dominated by the Trotskyites of the Counterfire group, recently decamped from decades at the top of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP), and ably assisted by their little helpers in the revisionist Communist Party of Britain (CPB), these opportunists have been congenitally incapable of distinguishing between a revolution and a counter-revolution throughout their political lives, both their own and that of their political trend, so why on earth should they start now?

Even with the launch of all-out war on Libya making their previous position untenable, if they are not to completely abdicate their place in the anti-war movement, the coalition leadership’s efforts have been perfunctory and derisory. And about half of those feeble efforts are still going into denouncing Colonel Gaddafi and the Libyan people’s brave resistance to aggression, which he is leading.

For example, a spokesperson for Stop the War was quoted in the Guardian of 19 March as follows:

“Air attacks on Libya will not help end the civil war but will escalate it and could be the prelude to a much wider war. They will not help bring the downfall of Gaddafi. He is already portraying the UN’s decision as an act of western colonisation and himself as the defender of Libyan sovereignty. Air strikes by the US and Britain will strengthen, not weaken, his position.”

Not to be outdone, Ms Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and a prominent member of the CPB, piped up: “CND urges political solutions including increased sanctions”. (‘Stop the War Coalition say airstrikes by UK and US will strengthen, not weaken Muammar Gaddafi’s position’)

Leaving aside the fact that at the moment it is hard to see exactly how sanctions on Libya actually could be increased any further, Ms Hudson, we must presume, has somehow managed to forget that the ‘political solution’ of sanctions claimed the lives of half a million Iraqi children. Or perhaps, like former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, she considers that “a price worth paying”?

On Stop the War’s website, in an article by one Owen Jones, somewhat bizarrely entitled ‘Case against bombing Libya’, we find the following:

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 neo-cons.” (stopwar.org.uk)

Well, if we all “want Gaddafi overthrown, dead or alive“, why on earth should we be opposed to ‘no-fly zones’, why on earth should we be opposed to bombing? And why on earth should these pro-imperialist hysterics be expected to mobilise anyone to come out on to the streets to oppose imperialism, save from the most utter disgust?!

Whilst the imperialists can always count on the social democrats, revisionists and Trotskyites to do their dirty work as the ‘enemy within’, they can also always count on the courageous, determined and resolute resistance of the oppressed and risen masses. As even the Guardian was forced to note:

Libya’s strength may well lie in its ability to wage a people’s war, drawing on a powerful narrative of resistance to foreign enemies. The most popular and resonant slogan of this crisis is Gaddafi’s determination to fight ‘street by street, alley by alley, house by house’. If he does, it will show up the limits of the ‘crusader’ coalition’s air power and raise difficult questions about whether action on the ground can be avoided if he is to be defeated.” (‘Muammar Gaddafi calls on Libyans to resist “colonialists”‘, 21 March 2011)

The CPGBML, and all genuine anti-imperialists, have no hesitation in taking their side.

 

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Bahrain: Saudi mercenaries cannot stop the revolution

NOVANEWS

Foreign intervention in the Arab world is consistently on the side of counter-revolution.

The images of wave after wave of demonstrators in the Bahraini capital Manama hurling themselves at the serried ranks of armed riot police on 13 March, their courage undiminished by the spectacular brutality dished out at close quarters by these hired thugs of the US-backed Khalifa regime, served notice to the world that this Arab revolution is not to be faced down by any amount of armed force, however sophisticated the weaponry with which the repressive forces have been so liberally supplied by the US (in 2008) and the UK (in 2010).

The long-predicted response of these vile kleptocrats – calling in the aid of over a thousand Saudi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) mercenaries and their tanks – will fare no better, serving only to deepen the anger of the people of Bahrain and spread the revolt right back into Saudi Arabia itself.

The desperation of the monarchy was already on stark display a month earlier. On 14 February, police killed one protester and injured another 25. Three days later, the police invaded the Pearl Roundabout, where many thousands of demonstrators had established a peaceful tent city to protest against unemployment, hunger and political repression.

Without warning, the police opened fire on the sleeping protesters. In the space of a few short days, at least six died and hundreds more suffered horrific injuries, with police in some cases preventing ambulances from ferrying the wounded to hospital. Doctors reported that many had been wounded by shotgun blasts. One of the young men killed had 200 birdshot pellets in his chest and arms, and others were black and blue from beatings with police clubs or from the impact of rubber bullets.

Others had their skulls cracked. Yet this accelerating brutality, rather than subduing the wildfire spread of Arab revolt, in fact served to fan its flames. The massacre on 17 February ratcheted tension up yet further, sending alarm bells jangling in Washington.

It has been the prolonged suppression of Arab national-economic and political development across the Middle East and North Africa by imperialism, a suppression carried out by local stooge regimes on behalf of the West, that has for so long prepared the combustible materials currently igniting in social revolt.

Now the threatened loss of that network of comprador rule, a network laboriously stitched together by US imperialism when its prestige in the world was far higher than it is today, marks a sickening downward lurch in the spiral of imperialist crisis. With the failure of its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan compounding its economic woes, the US is desperate to claw back some advantage from the turmoil in the Arab world.

One sign of this desperation is the frenzied effort to capitalise on the civil war in Libya, where imperialists are hoping to bury the truth of that country’s anti-imperialism beneath an ignorant flood of anti-Gaddafi hysteria whilst hurrying to secure access to the mineral wealth of the eastern region. Having initially suffered a set-back when their proxy forces in Libya were fought back, the imperialists are now brazenly attempting to seize and occupy the entire country by means of outright aggression.

Imperialism is by no means assured of a victory in Libya. Nor would any move against Iran at this juncture, however much such an attack might gratify the king of Bahrain (see [link href=”http://www.cpgb-ml.org/index.php?secName=proletarian&subName=display&art=672″] WikiLeaks [/link]), serve to extricate it from the deepening crisis of its own making.

And it is a certainty that imperialist agents are doing their damnedest to worm their way into the revolutions gripping the Arab world and steer them away from the path of national democracy and anti-imperialism.

Such efforts to limit the damage to US hegemonic interests may here and there succeed in blunting for a time the progressive thrust of the social revolt in the Arab world, but that is exactly what they are: a defensive exercise in damage limitation. No amount of huffing and puffing can hide what a massive humiliation the Arab revolt is for imperialism in general, and for Washington, London and Tel Aviv in particular, and what immensely cheering news it is for all of progressive humanity.

Imperialism now finds itself in a position of trying to fight a thousand liberation fires at the same time.

In its efforts to stamp out the fire in Bahrain, imperialism is discovering to its dismay that, here as elsewhere, it is ‘damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t’. That is to say, if it backs the king’s murderous assault upon his own people, it will pour oil on the flames of revolution; if it distances itself from the barbaric repression, it imperils the tottering thrones of all the other feudal relics upon which it relies to safeguard its stranglehold on the mineral wealth of the region and its suppression of Arab national development.

This impossible dilemma is being played out as a struggle between different lines within the ruling class, if we are to believe an account in the Wall Street Journal. According to this report, the White House “watched the developments with alarm, especially reports that Bahraini forces had fired on the crowd from helicopters … the next day … the Bahraini army fired on protesters again. In a call to the king, Mr Obama condemned the violence used against ‘peaceful protesters’, and urged the king to direct his security forces to punish those responsible for the bloodshed.” (‘US wavers on “regime change”’ by Adam Entous and Julian E Barnes, 5 March 2011)

We can discount the notion that Obama’s “alarm” sprang from any humanitarian sentiment. It was triggered rather by the mortal fear that such ham-fisted repression doled out by imperialism’s gendarmes would only spread the revolt wider and deeper, further blackening the name of the puppet-masters in Washington.

Against this White House view, say the journalists, was ranged the hawkish view of Robert Gates at the Pentagon, backed up by Hillary Clinton. “Arab diplomats reacted with alarm to the US condemnation. They believed the administration might be returning to the Egyptian playbook, according to officials and diplomats. Inside the Pentagon, Mr Gates and his team were quick to point out that Bahrain represented a very different situation than Egypt’s. Bahrain has a restive shiite majority that has long felt cut off from the opportunities available to the country’s sunni royal family and social elite. The country is the headquarters of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which patrols the Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and Red Sea. Some at the Pentagon feared that shiite-led Iran might try to hijack the protest movement in Bahrain and back installation of an anti-American government.”

Bahrain indeed has a sizable disadvantaged shia majority, many of whom, side by side with sunni demonstrators, have played a prominent role in the protests, though it should be noted that, aside from the tiny minority of obscenely wealthy parasites who have licence to loot the national exchequer in exchange for handing control of the country’s oil to the monopoly capitalists, there is nobody in the population who would not greatly benefit from the establishment of a government dedicated to the nation’s welfare and independent development, with or without the assistance of Iran.

Need we add that any such government could not but appear as ‘anti-American’ in the eyes of imperialists for whom, by definition, any practical exercise of national independence in the region is a dagger aimed at their heart?

Even before Saudi mercenaries swarmed across the causeway that joins the two countries, it was clear that the Gates/Clinton line was in the ascendant, with a reluctant White House drawn into propping up the butcher king and his joke ‘National Dialogue’, conducted with a gun aimed at the people’s head.

Losing Bahrain to revolution would in itself be enough of a disaster for imperialism, not least as it is the home of the strategically crucial US Fifth Fleet. An even bigger nightmare, though, would be the knock-on effect of such a loss upon Saudi Arabia, Washington’s trusted stooge.

If Saudi Arabia’s invasion and occupation of Bahrain, making war on the people of that country on behalf of the Khalifa monarchy, fails to suppress the revolt in its island neighbour, the House of Saud could rapidly fall prey to the same contagion, thanks to the widespread unemployment, oppression of minorities and political repression afflicting Saudi Arabia itself.

Any who are tempted to water down their opposition to western military intervention in Libya with the caveat that ‘it would be okay if neighbouring countries did it’ should note the odd inconsistency with which the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, every one of them an absolutist monarchy, addresses such matters.

When the king of Bahrain decided to massacre his own subjects, the GCC from the start gave him its unstinting support, darkly hinting at a hidden Iranian hand and declaring grandly that “it will not allow any external interference in the kingdom’s affairs”. However, when the government in Libya was confronted with a civil war egged on by the West, the GCC abandoned its non-interventionist pose without a blush, calling on the Arab League to establish relations with the rebel leadership in Benghazi, supporting the occupation of Libyan airspace (‘no-fly zone’) and telling the UN Security Council to “shoulder its responsibility”.

Nor is the GCC going to be making any complaints about Saudi tanks rolling into Bahrain. Such ‘Arab solutions’ may fool some in the West, but will cut no ice with the revolutionary Arab masses.

With the whole network of comprador states in the Arab world now so badly compromised, the ability of the increasingly isolated and vulnerable House of Saud to come to Uncle Sam’s rescue is ever more in question. Saudi Arabia is even failing to shield its imperialist masters from the effects of rocketing oil prices. Despite pumping out as much oil as is physically possible it still cannot put a dampener on oil prices pushed into the stratosphere by the social explosion to which imperialist economic crisis lit the fuse.

 

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No Shred of Evidence Iran Building Nukes, Ex-Head of IAEA Says

NOVANEWS

 

by Sherwood Ross

 

 

 

The former Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) said in a new published report that he had not seen “a shred of evidence” that Iran was “building nuclear-weapons facilities and using enriched materials.”

Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient who spent 12 years at the IAEA, told investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, “I don’t believe Iran is a clear and present danger. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran.”

El Baradei, who is now a candidate for the presidency of Egypt, added, “The core issue is mutual lack of trust. I believe there will be no solution until the day that the United States and Iran sit down together to discuss the issues and put pressure on each other to find a solution.”

El Baradei’s remarks are contained in an article by Hersh titled “Iran And The Bomb,” published in the June 6thissue of The New Yorker magazine.

Hersh points out that the last two U.S. National Intelligence Estimates (N.I.E.s) on Iranian nuclear progress “have stated that there is no conclusive evidence that Iran has made any effort to build the bomb since 2003.”

An N.I.E. Report supposedly represents the best judgment of the senior offices from all the major American intelligence agencies.

The latest report, which came out this year and remains highly classified, is said by Hersh to reinforce the conclusion of the last N.I.E. Report of 2007, that “Iran halted weaponization in 2003.”

A retired senior intelligence officer, speaking of the latest N.I.E. Report, told Hersh, “The important thing is that nothing substantially new has been learned in the last four years, and none of our efforts—informants, penetrations, planting of sensors—leads to a bomb.”

Hersh revealed that over the past six years, soldiers from the Joint Special Operations Force, working with Iranian intelligence assets, “put in place cutting-edge surveillance techniques” to spy on suspected Iran facilities. These included:

  • Surreptitiously removing street signs and replacing them with signs containing radiation sensors.

  • Removing bricks from buildings suspected of containing nuclear enrichment activities and replacing them “with bricks embedded with radiation-monitoring devices.”

  • Spreading high-powered sensors disguised as stones randomly along roadways where a suspected underground weapon site was under construction.

  • Constant satellite coverage of major suspect areas in Iran.

Going beyond these spy activities, two Iranian nuclear scientists last year were assassinated and Hersh says it is widely believed in Tehran that the killers were either American or Israeli agents.

Hersh quotes W. Patrick Lang, a retired Army intelligence officer and former ranking Defense Intelligence Agency(DIA) analyst on the Middle East as saying that after the disaster in Iraq, “Analysts in the intelligence community are just refusing to sign up this time for a lot of baloney.”

The DIA is the military counterpart of the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA).

Hersh writes that Obama administration officials “have often overstated the available intelligence about Iranian intentions.” He noted that Dennis Ross, a top Obama adviser on the region, told a meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that Iran had “significantly expanded its nuclear program.”

Hersh noted further that last March, Robert Einhorn, the special arms control adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, told the Arms Control Assn. The Iranians “are clearly acquiring all the necessary elements of a nuclear-weapons capability.”

Additionally, Senator Joseph Lieberman, a strong Israel supporter, told Agence France-Presse, “I can’t say much in detail but it’s pretty clear that they’re(Iran) continuing to work seriously on a nuclear-weapons program.”

Hersh recalled that “As Presidential candidates in 2008, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had warned of an Iranian nuclear arsenal, and occasionally spoke as if it were an established fact that Iran had decided to get the bomb.”

But last March, Lieutenant General James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence which creates the N.I.E. Assessments, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran had not decided to re-start its nuclear weapons work. When asked by Committee Chairman Carl Levin, “What is the level of confidence that you have (in that estimate)? Is that a high level?” Clapper replied, “Yes, it is.”

At a round of negotiations in Istanbul five months ago, Iranian officials told Western diplomats that the United States and its allies need to acknowledge Iran’s right to enrich uranium and that they must lift all sanctions against Iran.

Clinton adviser Einhorn has said that because of those sanctions Iran may have lost as much as $60 billion in energy investments and that Iran had also lost business in such industries as shipping, banking, and transportation. “The sanctions bar a wide array of weapons and missile sales to Iran, and make it more difficult for banks and other financial institutions to do business there,” Hersh writes.

However, Hersh says, “The general anxiety about the Iranian regime is firmly grounded” even if there is no hard evidence it is working to build a nuclear weapon. “President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly questioned the Holocaust and expressed a desire to see the state of Israel eliminated, and he has defied the 2006 United Nations resolution calling on Iran to suspend its nuclear-enrichment program.”

He goes on to write that while IAEA inspectors “have expressed frustration with Iran’s level of cooperation and cited an increase in production of uranium…they have been unable to find any evidence that enriched uranium has been diverted to an illicit weapons program.”

One approach to resolving the Iran nuclear issue has been suggested by former ranking American diplomat Thomas Pickering, a retired ambassador who served in Russia, Israel, Jordan and India, and who has been active in the American Iranian Council, devoted to the normalization of relations with Iran.

According to Hersh, Pickering has been involved “in secret, back-channel talks with…some of the key advisers close to Ahmadinejad” and has long sought a meeting with President Obama. Hersh quotes one of Pickering’s colleagues as saying if Obama were to grant a meeting, Pickering would tell him: “Get off your no-enrichment policy, which is getting you nowhere. Stop your covert activities. Give the Iranians a sign that you’re not pursuing regime change. Instead, the Iranians see continued threats, sanctions, and covert operations.”

The website Politico.com reports in its May 31 issue that a senior Administration intelligence official asserted Hersh’s article was nothing more than “a slanted book report.”

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