Archive | October 6th, 2012

Dismantling the NHS

NOVANEWS

 

Our sick children deserve better!
 

The gradual dismantling of the NHS has been amply illustrated by hundreds and thousands of examples, not just in Lalkar and Proletarian but also by many other journals, activists and organisations across the country, and even across the political spectrum.
Deleterious effect of cost-cutting

One of the latest examples has been delivered in a report from the foundation trust regulator, Monitor, which found that “One in three NHS foundation trusts are predicting a deterioration in their finances over the next year with small general hospitals and those with large private finance initiatives warning of the greatest problems …

The reports said specifically that the four-hour waiting time in A&E and the 18-week target from GP referral to hospital treatment ‘may come under increasing pressure’.” For patients with heart disease or cancer, which are Britain’s biggest killers, even an 18-week wait to be seen by an appropriate specialist can already mean the difference between life and death. (‘NHS waiting times may increase at one in three flagship hospitals’ by Rebecca Smith, Telegraph, 23 August 2012)

The point, however, is not merely that we should recognise the problem, although even arriving at that recognition has been a great journey for some. No, the point is to understand what needs to be done in order to deliver a top-quality health service to everyone, no matter where they live, that is comprehensive, easily accessible and free.

The first thing to realise is that health care does not exist in a bubble untouched by the rest of life. Britain is a bourgeois democracy, which means that all the important rights and decisions are in the hands of the capitalist ruling class and its loyal servants. Every sphere of our lives is run according to capitalist norms, which dictate that everything is a commodity produced for sale, and that the sole reason for all production is the realisation of maximum profit for the bourgeoisie.

This mentality pervades in every area of society, whether it be the stock market or the supermarket, the primary school or the local hospital. The real worth (ie, our need or use for a thing) of everything comes a miserable second when balanced against the need of our ruling class to extract the maximum profit.

As privatisation accelerates within the NHS, and the profit motive takes the place of the service ethos, we are seeing the increasing polarisation of skills and services at fewer and fewer locations in order to cut down on costs in equipment, staff and real estate. Smaller hospitals and clinics have closed in their thousands over the last few years, to be replaced by one or two larger hospitals in a given area. The promise, especially under the previous Labour governments from 1997 onwards, was that these would constitute ‘super-hospitals’, paid for by the PFI scheme.

The reality of PFI, however, has long come back to bite the simple souls who believed the sugary promises of the Labour party in power. The new hospitals, mostly scaled down from the original ‘super’ plans, have turned out to be financial millstones as the associated costs involved with the PFI con trick (see Lalkar, March 2012) have caused brand new wards to be mothballed because it costs too much to use them, while even not using them at all incurs a large cost that cannot be escaped.

The NHS is in crisis, and those who manage this vital service are now forced to do so using no other logic than that of capitalism, with the result that services that have already been sub-contracted to breaking point are being contracted further still.

Proposed closure of gold standard children’s heart unit in Leeds

It was announced in November 2009 that a national review of all 11 (yes there are only 11!) children’s heart centres could lead to closures and mergers as ‘experts’ waxed lyrical about the merits to patients of fewer, bigger units. Rumour and leak followed rumour and leak, and the children’s heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) was said to be definitely in the frame for closure.

Local MPs and councillors from all the bourgeois parties rushed out press statements and selflessly threw themselves in front of ‘news’ cameras and suitably sombre-looking TV interviewers. Local unions held meetings, and even Leeds United football club players were mobilised for support, along with many hundreds of thousands of people across Yorkshire, who were attending meetings and signing petitions against a closure that will definitely cost young lives if it goes ahead.

As a result, the decision to close has now been referred to the Secretary of State for Health. So isn’t all that activity a good thing? The problem is that, even if the Leeds campaign succeeds in saving this particular centre for the time being, the constantly pressing demands of capitalism will ensure that this is the exception that proves the rule.

The reader may feel at this point that we are being very harsh on people who worked hard to save a unit with a very good (gold standard, apparently) record and highly-trained staff, and we have to say that it is right that people should want to defend the NHS. What we object to, however, is seeing our union and community ‘leaders’ allow the whole campaign to be hijacked by the political lickspittles of the bourgeoisie, whose demands are causing the whole problem in the first place.

In the main, these bandwagon-jumpers consist of local Labour party politicians and assorted hangers on, plus a handful of Tory and LibDem councillors and MPs. Hilary Benn, for example, battled valiantly against the closure by putting down an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons, which was dutifully signed by some Yorkshire MPs, and he has spoken at rallies in the city to tell the masses of his efforts on their behalf (neglecting to mention that an EDM isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, naturally).

Conservative Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew said told one recent rally: “We’re here to show our support for all the families and the staff at the unit who are clearly wanting to make their voices heard … Everybody is determined to do what they can. People have actually taken the day off work to come here today, which shows how committed they are.”

As fine an example of empty rhetoric as one could wish for. But committed to what Mr Andrew? Where the campaign ‘leaders’ are concerned, it would seem that they are primarily committed to the needs of capitalism, since their best ‘arguments’ run along the lines of accepting in principle the needs for swingeing cuts, and merely asking for them to be effected elsewhere.

For example, the director of the ‘Children’s Heart Surgery Fund’, Sharon Cheng, while pointing out that the campaign had run for a full 18 months and that 600,000 local people had signed the petitions opposing the removal of children’s heart surgery from Leeds, said: “We understand why larger, fewer centres would make sense, but you have to put them where the population is.”

Does Ms Cheng really understand why fewer units would make sense? We don’t think she ever explained to those hundreds of thousands opposing this closure that she and her charity ‘understood’ why fewer and bigger was better. Isn’t this, in fact, simply asking the government to close someone else’s unit instead?!

If we look at where the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire people will have to take their critically-ill children if the closure goes ahead, we see that the three nearest centres after Leeds are Liverpool, Newcastle and Birmingham. Ms Cheng doesn’t say which of those units she thinks should take the bullet in order to save the unit at LGI. But any argument that can be put for not having to take very ill children to Newcastle, Birmingham or Newcastle – and there are many good arguments – can be just as easily put by parents in those localities against bringing their children to Leeds.

Moreover, the same arguments can be made by many people within LGI’s current orbit in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. It was for financial reasons that children’s heart surgery was pulled into Leeds and away from the rest of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, and it is for financial reasons that it is now being proposed to concentrate this vital service in even more distant locations! It is, after all, most important that money should be saved on patient care because of the urgent need of PFI financiers, drug companies and private service providers to enhance their profits at NHS expense!

Professor Sir Roger Boyle, former clinical director for heart disease and strokes, and advisor to the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, said in the Yorkshire Evening Post that “pooling surgical expertise means the clinical community can work together, develop new techniques and deliver improved care to keep more children with complex heart conditions alive”. But does it really make sense to anyone that, in this age of digital communication, we cannot develop new techniques in heart surgery without having all the surgeons working in the same place?

Healthcare under socialism

In 2010 a delegation from our party visited University Hospital in Pyongyang, capital of north Korea. While at the hospital, we watched a heart operation being carried out many miles away. We sat in a room with professors and top heart surgeons who were linked by computer with the surgeon carrying out the operation, able to see his incisions from many angles and talking to him all the time. They all had copies of the patient’s notes and they all took part in a successful operation.

Afterwards, they explained to us that it is stupid to haul a patient across the country before operating when time is often of the essence in heart surgery. This way, the patient got the best service possible and the knowledge was shared, as not only we in Pyongyang had been watching and listening, but many other surgeons in other hospitals around the country had been participating too.

And what of Cuba? This small, besieged Caribbean island has a wealth of trained doctors and health workers. So much so that they can and do send teams of them all over the world to help others. They do not say ‘We have a splendid unit here in Havana, so if the various patients from disaster zones around the world could just make their way here we will treat them.’ No; they go to the patients! And, in spite of this, the cost of providing health care of the highest standard in Cuba and north Korea is a fraction of the cost of NHS provision – solely because there are no capitalist vultures to feed.

So why is it that the DPRK and Cuba can treat people where they are, but here in capitalist Britain we can only offer help if those who are ill can travel miles first? It is not the commitment or expertise of the doctors and other health workers; the difference is the political system, and the fact that in Cuba and the DPRK, the managers and/or committees who look after the affairs of hospitals and medical units have the same commitment to the patients as the doctors, nurses and all other staff.

By contrast, those in charge of British hospitals, whether they want to or not, have to keep looking for services they can cut and cash that can be saved to try to keep the whole thing going against all the odds. Ms Cheng was right about one thing: children’s heart surgery (and every other medical service) should be where the people are – but that doesn’t mean saving a unit in Leeds at the expense of others elsewhere.

Only when all the campaigns join up and start fighting for the whole of the NHS rather than merely for the bits on their own doorstep will they achieve anything. In addition, we must stop allowing the agents of the bourgeoisie in the working class – the Labour party, and other apologists for capitalism – to take the lead in campaigns to save our services, since they are bound to lead us down blind alleys of pointless activity and diversionary ‘busywork’ that has no concrete effect at all other than to waste our time and leave us feeling demoralised and impotent.

World capitalism is experiencing its deepest crisis ever. Deeper than the one that led to the all-out destruction of the great depression and the second world war. The good times that the welfare state delivered for a majority of workers in Britain were all too brief, and they are over now. There is no way ‘back’ to the post WW2 days. Ultimately, if we want to secure a decent, universal health service for ourselves and our children, we need to tie the fight for the NHS to the struggle for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of socialism.

If the capitalists cannot provide a decent level of care to everyone in Britain, our comrades in the socialist countries have proved that we are quite capable of removing such useless parasites from power and providing one for ourselves.

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Israeli court denies responsibility for the murder of Rachel Corrie

NOVANEWS 
Israel blames the victims for the crimes of the IDF

 

It will have come as no surprise to Proletarian readers when, on 28 August 2012, an Israeli judge ruled that the zionist state bore no responsibility for the death of Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old American student who was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer nine years ago. Justice for Rachel’s murder was never very likely to be found in the court of the aggressor, but it is to the Corrie family’s credit that they pushed for the case to be heard, thus forcing Israel into a very public cover-up of one of its many war crimes.Rachel Corrie was one of a number of volunteers who, as part of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was working in Gaza to protect Palestinian crops and homes from being illegally destroyed by Israeli occupying forces. Having been in Gaza for two months, Rachel had already been involved in various other actions, during which she and fellow ISM activists had used their international status (ie, the fact that an American life is worth more in the eyes of the ‘international’ community than a Palestinian one) to act as human shields against Israeli bulldozers.

On 16 March 2003, Rachel was standing with seven other ISM activists in hi-vis jackets. They were blocking the path of two Israeli army (IDF) bulldozers in an attempt to prevent homes from being demolished. Rachel, wearing a fluorescent orange jacket and shouting through a megaphone, stood between one of the two bulldozers and the house of the Nasarallah family. As the bulldozer approached, all the eye-witness accounts testify that she was in full view of the driver at all times, and that as it drew nearer she scrambled onto higher ground to maintain full visual contact with him.

However, despite his clear view of her and her clear statement of the fact that she was there to prevent an illegal act of aggression and occupation, the soldier driving the bulldozer continued towards Rachel until he had knocked her down and pulled her under the heavy vehicle. He went on to drive over her body twice, thus fracturing her skull, breaking her ribs and crushing her lungs.

Verdict

After a trial that lasted more than two years, the final verdict read out by Judge Gershon in Haifa court described the deliberate murder of Rachel Corrie as merely a “regrettable action”. The judge then went on to lay the blame for this ‘action’ on the victim herself, stating that “she chose to put herself in danger … she could have easily distanced herself from the danger like any reasonable person would”. (Quoted in ‘Court rules Israel is not at fault in death of American activist’, New York Times, 29 August 2012)

Judge Gershon continued to paint black as white and white as black by claiming that the soldiers’ mission on the day of Rachel’s murder “was not, in any way, to destroy homes” but to clear away brush and explosives “to prevent acts of hatred and terror”.

The reality, however, is that Israel has been systematically destroying Palestinian homes since its creation in 1948. The zionist state was born amidst an orgy of destruction of homes and villages, as three quarters of a million Palestinians were brutally forced off their land to make way for the new jewish inhabitants.

Just before her death, Rachel expressed her horror at the continuing destruction of Palestinian homes in an email to her family. In the two-and-a-half years since the beginning of the second Intifada (uprising), over 600 homes had been completely destroyed and many more had been partially destroyed. This illegal demolition continues to this day throughout the occupied territories, where more than 27,000 Palestinian structures have been destroyed since 1967. (See ICHAD.org)

Unsurprisingly, none of this was admitted to in the verdict. The blame was laid squarely at the foot of the victim, while the IDF was exonerated of all wrongdoing. In response to the verdict, the Corrie family are intending to appeal the decision and continue their fight for truth. This determination can be seen to stem from the strength of conviction Rachel herself showed. In an email sent not long before her death she wrote to her mother the following words, which turned out to be only too prescient:

When I come back from Palestine, I probably will have nightmares and constantly feel guilty for not being here, but I can channel that into more work. Coming here is one of the better things I’ve ever done. So when I sound crazy, or if the Israeli military should break with their racist tendency not to injure white people, please pin the reason squarely on the fact that I am in the midst of a genocide which I am also indirectly supporting, and for which my government is largely responsible.

In recognition of the responsibility that the US bears for the ongoing genocide in Palestine, the first case that the Corrie family brought was actually against the US company Caterpillar Inc. The Corries accused Caterpillar of supplying bulldozers to Israel in the full knowledge that they were being used for illegal demolitions in the occupied territories – a clear violation of international law. Since the US courts are as rigged as the Israeli ones, the lawsuit was dismissed on the grounds that it “intruded upon US foreign policy”.

The dismissal of the case exposes the other part of the responsibility the US bears. Indeed, there is no crime committed by Israel for which Anglo-American imperialism does not bear ultimate responsibility, since it was British imperialism that created the state of Israel and it is US imperialism, with support from its British partner-in-crime, that continues to give military, financial and diplomatic support to the zionist state, enabling it to commit any and every crime in its role of middle-eastern gendarme for US imperialism.

Fight for justice continues

When she was killed, Yasser Arafat told Craig Corrie: “Rachel is your daughter, but she is also the daughter of all Palestinians. She is ours too now.”

Ever since Rachel’s death she has become a symbol of the struggle of the Palestinians against the might of Israel. She is just one of thousands of victims who have been martyred in the struggle for a free Palestine. However, she is one of the few non-Arabs to have been murdered by the zionist state in the occupied territories, and, as a US citizen, her death has brought much more attention on Israel’s activities there.

In continuing to seek justice for their daughter, the Corries are making themselves a thorn in the side of both the US and the Israeli governments. Leaving their staid life in middle America, they continue to travel across the US and the Middle East, raising awareness not only of what the Israeli state did to their daughter, but also what it continues to do to the Palestinians.

In meetings across Israel in the week building up to the verdict, Craig Corrie carried with him a picture. It was not a picture of Rachel, but of the Palestinian girl, then 6, whose family’s house Rachel had been protecting. When asked about the picture he replied: “I think this one in some ways is more hopeful … she deserves a future that we all want for our children.”

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Marikana massacre: a turning point in South Africa

NOVANEWS

 

The South African proletariat fights for its place in the sun.
 

The death in South Africa of 34 platinum miners at the hands of the police, and the injury of another 78, has forced to the surface a growing contradiction – that between the completion of the national-democratic revolution and the continuing neo-colonial activity of monopoly capitalism.

Concretely, it is the contradiction between (a) the road of national independence and development, down which it has been the historical task of the ANC to lead the masses, and (b) the intensifying superexploitation of those same masses by multinationals like the London-listed Lonmin, who loot the country’s mineral resources and expatriate the lion’s share of the profits to the metropolitan centres of imperialism.

In neighbouring Zimbabwe, progress towards completing the national-democratic phase of the struggle was greatly accelerated when the period of concessions to the IMF was superseded by the most ambitious land redistribution within a capitalist economy witnessed since the French revolution. In the teeth of an international campaign of severe economic sanctions and slander against the leadership of Comrade Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF, the settler monopoly on the best of the country’s land was broken for good.

Yet in South Africa, whose mass struggle to overcome apartheid inspired the whole continent (and beyond), the national-democratic struggle has effectively stalled. The liberation agenda laid down in theFreedom Charter in 1955 insists that the land and all the mineral wealth stored therein should belong to the people, yet South Africa remains a playground for the multinationals, and now, tragically, a killing ground for workers too.

Tragedy at Marikana

Marikana, where the massacre unfolded, is in the Bojanala district of the North West province, home of the richest platinum deposits in the world. The mine owners at Marikana, Lonmin, are just one of a number of huge multinationals making vast profits on the back of exploited labour and looted resources.

A recent report from the Bench Marks Foundation found that miners in Marikana lived in appalling conditions and suffered high levels of fatalities, a state of affairs it attributed in part to the company’s heavy reliance upon cheap and badly-trained contract labour. The strikers at Marikana include casual workers brought in from outside the area. Multinationals like Lonmin deliberately adopt such tactics in an effort to divide the workforce and place obstacles in the path of efforts to unionise.

South Africa and, indeed, the world was stunned by the scenes on 16 August when police fired on striking workers at the mine. To many, the events were reminiscent of the old apartheid regime, and outrage further increased at the news that a number of the dead had been shot in the back, undermining the police’s claims to have acted only in self-defence.

Immediately following the killings, the striking workers were visited by President Jacob Zuma, who abandoned a visit to Mozambique where he was attending a regional summit and who promised to set up an inquiry into the affair. Many of the workers declared that they would not go back to work without the substantial pay increase they had been demanding. They also made stinging criticisms not just of the police and their employer but of Zuma and his government. Despite 18 years of ANC government, South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies on earth, and there is now rising anger at government corruption.

Within days of the massacre, South African police prosecutors outrageously announced that 270 strikers arrested at Marikana would be charged with the murder of their 34 colleagues, even though there is no dispute that they were killed by the police, under a legal doctrine known as ‘common purpose’. This discredited doctrine was frequently used in the waning days of apartheid to charge members of protesting crowds or mass movements with serious offences committed by a few individuals, or occurring in the midst of popular protest.

Many in the South African government strongly protested this legal move. Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said that the decision had “induced a sense of shock, panic and confusion within the members of the community and the general South African public”, and demanded an explanation from prosecutors.

This pressure forced the National Prosecuting Authority to climb down, stating that it would await the outcome of further investigations into the shootings. But, ominously, it did not rule out bringing murder charges at a later date.

Despite this, the release on bail of the arrested miners was subject to further delays and the City Pressnewspaper also reported that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) was looking into allegations that the arrested miners had been abused by police while in custody. In all, 194 cases of assault and attempted murder had been opened and the IPID have launched investigations into alleged brutality at five police stations.

Rising militancy in South Africa’s mines

The dispute between the striking miners and Lonmin, the world’s third-largest platinum producer, began 10 weeks before the police shootings, while in the lead-up to the massacre ten further people, including shop stewards from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and two policemen, were also killed, allegedly at the hands of some striking miners and/or their supporters.

Cosatu, the main trade-union federation linked to the ANC, maintains that the union which led the strike at Marikana, AMCU, has been acting as a pawn in a game to try and undermine the collective bargaining power of the NUM, and has wantonly precipitated violence, with tragic consequences. Others suggest that the NUM itself has transformed from an earlier membership of poorly-paid coal-face miners to a membership of predominantly better-off white-collar workers, and has neglected the task of organising the lower depths of the proletariat.

All that is clear at present is that it is the failure to deal with the question of land, and the failure to nationalise the mineral resources that lie beneath it, that has trapped the ANC government into first using lethal force against the workers and then, albeit briefly, collectively charging hundreds of workers with the crime of murder.

Whatever the motivations of AMCU’s leaders, it is clear that, in the face of the failure of the ANC-affiliated NUM to adequately defend the interests of mineworkers and stand up for their rights, the new union is gathering support throughout the industry, as workers’ anger at their conditions grows.

Meanwhile, Lonmin has been forced to make substantial concessions to the Marikana miners, finally conceding a 22 percent pay rise, along with a one-off bonus equivalent to around £149. As a result, some 75 percent of the Marikana workers returned to work on 20 September.

However, the magnificent example of the Marikana strike, capped as it was with success in achieving a significant pay rise, is adding impetus to other major strikes in the mining areas, which continue to attract state repression. A further two people have been killed – one run down by a police vehicle and the other shot with a rubber bullet – since the mass shooting at Marikana.

A group of workers at Anglo-American Platinum, the industry leader with about 45 percent of global supply, also bypassed their unions in August, putting forward a broad range of demands, including on pay, and these workers have now gone on strike too. Ben Martin reported that: “Anglo American Platinum, which is majority owned by London-listed Anglo American, said less than 20 percent of workers had turned up at its Rustenburg mines.” (‘Anglo-American shares slip as unrest continues’, Daily Telegraph, 22 September 2012)

At the Gold Fields mine near Johannesburg, another 15,000 miners have downed tools. Miners at Royal Bafonkeng Platinum, a black-owned, mid-tier company, are also demanding pay increases and mounting pickets to block others from going to work.

Emma Rowley of the Daily Telegraph cites one Loane Sharpe, a labour analyst at Adcorp Holdings, who told Bloomberg “The lesson that workers have learnt is that violence and intimidation lead employers to capitulate … It sets a very dangerous precedent.” In other words, the South African working class has been learning the lesson that you don’t get anything just by asking nicely and saying please. It ill behoves people who like to think of themselves as progressive to be joining with local South African bourgeois and imperialist multinationals alike to condemn the miners for ‘violence and intimidation’.

The ANC and its allies in the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the trade-union federation Cosatu now face a major challenge to make good on their promises to deliver economic as well as political freedom. The wildfire spread of strikes across the mining industry has made it clear that the masses are now on the move and are not to be fobbed off.

Let the ANC hearken to the voices of many within its own organisation who call for the mines to be nationalised, the land to be redistributed and the national-democratic struggle taken forward. Only by moving along this road, a road already embarked upon by Zimbabwe, will today’s ANC prove itself worthy of the continuing mass support its revolutionary history has previously secured.

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Iran stands tall

NOVANEWS

 

Broad-based international support is strengthening Iran’s hand against the warmongers.
As the crisis of overproduction continues to put fire under the feet of imperialism, the most brazen threats of criminal aggression against sovereign Iran are multiplying, with Washington and its subalterns struggling to maintain a stranglehold on the Middle East. Whilst harder imperialist heads may waver, conscious of the disasters to which such aggression must lead, the implacable crisis of monopoly capitalism keeps driving them on, even as those behind cry “forward” and those before cry “back”.

With the US nerving itself up for an open attack upon both Syria and Iran, tensions between imperialists are boiling up to the surface. Senior White House officials squabble over how ‘tough’ a line to take against Iran with the presidential election just round the corner. Now that Republican contender Mitt Romney is chasing electoral advantage by portraying Obama as being soft on Iran, the administration is keen to brief journalists on the president’s plans to clamp down further on Iran’s oil revenue, plant new anti-missile systems in the Persian Gulf and conduct provocative new war games in the region.

Also jogging Obama’s arm are the zionists, with Israeli prime minister Netanyahu darkly hinting at an imminent unilateral airstrike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, and Obama rattling the sabre harder, supposedly to dissuade Tel Aviv from going it alone.

The common portrayal of Israeli hotheads versus White House caution always needs a big pinch of salt: zionism is a tool of US imperialist aggression, not the other way around. All the same, the air of panic and mutual recrimination afflicting the ruling circles cannot be ignored when Netanyahu blurts out: “The world tells Israel: ‘Wait. There’s still time.’ And I say: ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’ Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”

The dogs of war are straining at the leash.

The latest ‘dodgy dossier’

The UN body tasked with snooping on Iran’s nuclear activities, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), issued a new report in September. This latest ‘dodgy dossier’ to be served up as a pretext for further sanctions and threats of war yet again contains zero evidence of the supposed Iranian nuclear weapons programme that Washington and Tel Aviv pretend to fear.

The report is unremarkable in its data, reporting merely that Iran’s stocks of uranium enriched to 20 percent and centrifuge tally have both grown. Tehran has long since explained that enriched uranium is essential in the production of the medical isotopes upon which as many as 900,000 people depend, many of whom suffer from cancer. However, having added not a shred of evidence of a purported Iranian nuclear weapons programme, the report concludes with the glorious non sequitur that the IAEA is “unable to provide credible assurance” that Iran is not engaged in illicit nuclear-related activities!

But how can such a negative ever be conclusively proved? This is the same dirty game imperialism played with Iraq as a prelude to its genocidal assault on that sovereign country in 2003, and will fool only those who want to be fooled.

Non-Aligned Movement

The timing of the IAEA report was possibly aimed at distracting attention from Iran’s high-profile role at the sixteenth summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which took place in Tehran in the last week of August. If so, it fell flat, especially as the summit’s proceedings were opened by the Iranian foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, reaffirming NAM’s commitment to the goal of decommissioning all the world’s nuclear arsenals by 2025! Let Israel take note.

The summit marked the beginning of a three-year period during which Tehran will hold the rotating presidency. Iran is also seeking to raise the profile of NAM between summits by pushing for the establishment of a temporary secretariat. It is a grave embarrassment for Washington to see Iran’s international leadership role so significantly enhanced at the very moment when the sanctions were supposed to have isolated the country for good.

The NAM as presently constituted is a remarkably broad international forum, representing almost two thirds of the world’s countries. It comprises 120 member states and 17 observer countries, making it the biggest such forum outside of the UN itself. And, unlike the UN, an organisation which habitually acts as a simple rubber stamp for imperialist interests (except where China and Russia are able to jam on the brakes at the Security Council), the NAM does not exclude views which are not to the West’s liking.

As Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei noted, “The views that were expressed by some heads of state and delegations present in the Tehran Summit, especially criticism of the United Nations and the Security Council structures, as well as the international dictatorship ruling the world, lacked precedence in similar international meetings.”

Worse still for imperialism, the secretary general of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, was in Tehran to hear these home truths in person. Whilst the imperialist media denounced his trip, the prestige of the occasion obliged this Washington flunkey to attend. After all, over half of the UN’s membership belong to the NAM, and 29 heads of state or government were present, including those of India, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Zimbabwe and north Korea.

Whilst Iran may be seen from Washington’s warped viewpoint as a pariah state, this is clearly not a view shared by most of the world, where the country’s efforts to carve a path for itself without doffing the cap to Uncle Sam excite a good deal of sympathy. Iran’s presidency of the NAM underlines the country’s growing influence.

The summit gave unanimous support for Iran’s nuclear energy programme, criticising the US-led attempt to cripple the country by means of economic sanctions. Any wavering delegates may perhaps have been helped to make up their minds by the sight at the entrance to the conference hall of a pile of burnt-out cars, which had belonged to nuclear scientists assassinated (reputedly by Israeli agents) with car bombs.

Sadly, the summit stumbled when the question of Syria arose, failing to support Assad against the West-backed terrorist rebellion. The recently-elected Egyptian president, Morsi, shamefully spoke in support of the rebellion, babbling that “Our solidarity with the struggle of the Syrian people against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy is an ethical duty, as it is a political and strategic necessity.”

For this treachery to the Arab world, Morsi was rewarded a few days later when the US proposed to forgive $1bn in Egyptian debt repayments.

Axis of resistance

A week later, Iran hosted another important meeting, the Third International Conference of Islamic Resistance, with the liberation of Palestine as its key focus. Over 600 representatives from 11 countries came to Isfahan, including Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. The meeting included representatives from Hizbollah, Amal, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The Washington Post reported that speakers remembered that “resistance was key to the victory against Israel in Lebanon in 2006 and the 22-day siege of Gaza in 2008-09. Their Iranian hosts made clear they believe it is Syria’s turn to resist the global threat they see now facing Damascus as ‘punishment for its support for Palestine.’ … ‘Al-Qaeda, along with the US, Israel and Arab reactionaries, all intend to overthrow’ Assad’s government, Ali-Akbar Velayati, senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told the conference. ‘It is because Syria is the golden link of the resistance chain against Israel.’” (‘Iran hosts Islamic resistance festival’ by Najmeh Bozorgmehr, 5 September 2012)

In the same spirit of solidarity, another supposedly ‘isolated’ nation, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, recently signed an agreement with Iran to collaborate in science and technology, in particular biotechnology, engineering, sustainable development and the environment. The two countries are also organising student exchanges.

Commenting on the agreement, Khamenei explained that “The Islamic Republic of Iran and north Korea have common enemies, because the arrogant powers do not accept independent states.”

Russia and China frustrate the warmongers

Fresh opposition to imperialist aggression against both Iran and Syria is also coming from Russia and China. Meeting with Iranian officials, China’s vice foreign minister, Zhang Zhijun, praised Iran’s efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis diplomatically, adding pointedly that “certain countries” were planning to prolong their presence in the region.

Meanwhile, Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov denounced Washington’s unilateral imposition of sanctions way beyond anything signed up to at the UN. These punitive measures, approved by US Congress on 1 August but lacking any legal authority outside the USA, claim the right to meddle with the operations of banks, insurance companies and transporters that assist Iran in selling her oil on the world market.

And it should be added that it is not only anti-imperialist states like Iran who will fight such illegal restraints upon trade. As the competition between rival imperialist trade blocs intensifies, such economic wrecking activity will be as little welcome to imperialist ‘friends’ as it will to anti-imperialist enemies. One has only to look at the scalded reaction when British-based Standard Chartered Bank suffered a massive hit from the markets after having been denounced by a US regulator for allegedly laundering money for Iran.

Ryabkov threw down a marker, declaring “We cannot agree to the exterritorial use of US law, and this is what is actually happening in this very case. We consider such methods a gross violation of fundamental principles of international law.” He went on to warn the US and Israel about the “disastrous” consequences that would flow from an attack on Iran. (‘Attacking Iran would be “disastrous” Russia warns’, Russia Today, 6 September 2012)

Iran prepares to defend herself 

Strengthened by the international support she is receiving, Iran is maintaining her national defences and standing firm. Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi, of Tehran’s Institute for North American and European Studies, recently told Russia Today: “If the Americans try to intervene on behalf of Israel, then I believe we will have a major conflict in the Persian Gulf region. Oil tankers, oil installations, gas installations, all of this would probably be destroyed. The Persian Gulf is a small gulf, and the Iranians have very long borders. So the Iranians are prepared to defend themselves, and I think the Americans know this.”

The head of Iran’s navy, Admiral Sayyari, recently announced that it will be sending ships to patrol the international waters off the US coast, in addition to those it has already sent to the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. This forward posture is clearly designed as a measured response to the build-up of the USA’s naval presence in and around the Strait of Hormuz.

The US Fifth Fleet is anchored off Bahrain, on the southern shore of the strait. Two thirds of all seaborne oil passes through the strait, which Iran reserves the right to shut down should this prove necessary. Sayyari made Iran’s position plain: “We will not allow anyone to trespass our country’s waters. There is no need for anyone else to establish security in our region.”

Solidarity

British workers suffering under the lash of unemployment, pensions and benefits cuts and privatisation of health and education need to understand that their enemy is the same as the enemy of the Iranian and Syrian people: imperialism. We will strengthen our hand against exploitation in this country when we learn to link arms with our brothers and sisters in Iran and Syria and fight together against our common enemy.

If we refuse to cooperate with the criminal wars waged in our name by our exploiters, we have collectively the power to stop these wars. Now let us learn to use it.

Victory to Iran and Syria!

No cooperation with war crimes!

Death to imperialism!

Posted in IranComments Off on Iran stands tall

Afghan resistance advancing to victory

NOVANEWS

 

Imperialists call on ‘Guardian Angels’ to release them from Afghan hell.
Recent weeks have seen an intensification of the resistance in Afghanistan that has astounded western onlookers in its scope and audacity.

Green on blue

Having infiltrated the ranks of the comprador police and army, resistance forces have unleashed a barrage of attacks from behind enemy lines, taking the occupation powers by surprise and completely destroying the confidence of the imperialist armies to operate jointly with their groomed cannon-fodder pawns. So common have attacks on the occupation by what are supposed to be the Nato armies’ ‘Afghan allies’ that a new phrase has been coined to describe the phenomenon: ‘green on blue’ (green being Afghan National Army and blue being the Nato armies).

This veritable state of siege led, in late September, to a number of high-profile announcements by high-ranking British, American and Australian army command and government bigwigs, in which they cancelled almost all joint operations with the Afghan army and police. Not only has this destroyed the ability of the occupiers to respond to resistance operations outside of their heavily-fortified bases, but it has also ignited fierce mistrust and suspicion between the imperialist and Afghan puppet armies.

And the icing on the paranoia cake has been the deployment by Nato of undercover ‘guardian angels’, who are tasked with watching everyone and summarily executing any Afghan soldier who they believe might be about to turn a gun on occupation forces. Successfully sowing such deep division amongst one’s enemies is the sublime masterstroke of a resistance movement that has reached an exceptional level of maturity and skill.

Strikes behind enemy lines have hit at almost every part of the Nato occupation force. In late August, five Australian soldiers died within hours of one another, three as a result of green-on-blue attacks. The New York Times reported:

Soldiers were killed on Wednesday night when an Afghan soldier turned his gun on them in Oruzgan Province … The attack happened at a fuel depot when a member of the Afghan National Army shot the Australians and then fled the base, coalition officials said. The international force command said that the motive was unclear and that it was investigating.” (i)

In fact, the command knows all too well the motivation of the Afghan resistance, but obviously needs more time to cook up some story to feed to the media presstitutes and to the bereaved parents of these squandered children. Australian prime minister Julia Gillard did her best to put on a brave face, putting forward the usual ‘coalition’ hogwash that “we cannot allow even the most grievous of losses to change our strategy”, but she was soon forced to announce the early withdrawal of Australian troops from Afghanistan, formerly scheduled for complete withdrawal by the end of 2013, with Gillard admitting: “This is a very big toll … our single worst day in Afghanistan.”

Such an admission is further proof, if more were needed, that imperialism is well and truly beaten in Afghanistan. The invaders have utterly failed, despite all their overwhelming fire power, drones, massacres, incursions, ‘surges’ and bribes, to prevent the forces of national liberation pressing on to complete victory. The latest losses for Nato have brought all manner of problems to the occupying armies and make the job of ‘policing’ (colonising) Afghanistan impossible.

Following the cessation of joint operations, journalist Matthew Rosenberg commented thus:

After years of tightly intertwining its forces with Afghan troops, the American-led military coalition has sharply curtailed ground-level operations with the Afghan army and police forces, potentially undercutting the training mission that is the heart of the western exit strategy.

The new limits, which were issued Sunday and require a general’s approval for any joint work at the small-unit level, were prompted by a spike in attacks on international troops by Afghan soldiers and police over the past six weeks …

Coalition officers said the order to curtail direct cooperation covers all work done with Afghan forces below the level of a battalion. An American battalion has about 700 to 800 troops, though some are larger or smaller, and is designed to be the smallest unit that can fight independent of a higher command.

But in Afghanistan, where the Taliban blend easily and often strike in small groups, most of the combat goes on far below the battalion level, with small squads of about 10 men or platoons of about 15 to 40 soldiers or Marines …” (ii)

Rosenberg, who was accused by Pakistani newspaper The Nation of being a US spy, has written several articles documenting Nato’s losses during the latest resistance offensive. In an article for the New York Times on 17 September he wrote:

Afghan security forces killed six service members from the American-led military coalition in a pair of attacks in southern Afghanistan this weekend, pushing the number of international troops killed by Afghan forces in a single year past 50 for the first time …

The coalition’s ambition to leave behind a stable Afghanistan that can fend off the Taliban hinges on readying the country’s army and police for the task. Yet the spread of insider attacks has left coalition forces increasingly mistrustful of the Afghan forces they are training and fighting alongside. It also offered a window to the increasing resentment that many Afghans feel toward the massive foreign military presence here …

A day earlier, two British soldiers were killed in Helmand Province. The coalition said the attacker was a member of the Afghan Local Police, a village militia force that was created and is largely being trained by allied Special Forces to augment the Afghan army and police …

One factor driving Afghan resentment toward the coalition is the increasing number of civilian deaths after more than a decade of war. Afghan officials said the latest civilian deaths came before dawn on Sunday during coalition airstrikes on the slopes of a remote, forested valley in the eastern province of Laghman. The coalition said it was investigating.

Gulzar Sangarwal, the deputy chairman of Laghman’s provincial council, said villagers in the Noorlam Sahib Valley told him that nine women who had gone into the forest to collect firewood were killed. Another seven were wounded, he said.

The coalition said that the airstrikes were called into the valley around 2.00am during a firefight between its forces and insurgents that had been spotted moving through the area and that its reporting did not indicate that any civilians were killed. 

According to Maj Lori Hodge of the Air Force, the coalition forces spotted about 45 insurgents who were ‘engaged with precision munitions and direct fire’ – that is, airstrikes and gunfire. She could not say how many insurgents were killed.” (iii)

By the evening of the 17 September, the US military confirmed that it had indeed killed eight Afghan women who had gone into the woods in the early hours to collect firewood for their homes.

Attack on Prince Harry

After getting caught with his trousers down in Las Vegas, that pride of Britain Prince Harry very nearly got his arse fried in an audacious attack upon Camp Bastion in Helmand, where the pampered prince ‘serves’ as a helicopter pilot.

The slight difference between Harry and the other pilots, of course, is that Harry is accompanied by his own small army to protect him from any inconvenient attacks by insurgents that might interfere with his next Sun photoshoot or cameo for a Ross Kemp propaganda video. The Camp Bastion attack saw Harry very quickly spirited to safety whilst the poor subjects who do all the fighting for this ginger-headed twerp came under sustained rocket and mortar fire that left two US marines dead.

On the anniversary of the 11 September attacks, an Afghan resistance spokesman warned that they would do everything in their power to kill Harry. Alissa Rubin reported:

In further remarks about the prince that appeared in jihadist media, Mr Mujahid urged the British to spend the money used to send Harry to Afghanistan on the poor.

‘The objective behind his coming is to deceive his people more, and in Afghanistan, to give something of a morale boost to the defeated soldiers of his country so they continue until the date of their fleeing to Britain, which couldn’t do anything despite the presence of thousands of its soldiers,” he said. ‘So what can it do through one soft prince?’” (iv)

Withdrawal

In a desperate bid to cover over the deteriorating situation inside Afghanistan, defence secretary Philip Hammond attempted to keep parliament in the dark about the plans to call a halt on joint operations. A piece in the Financial Times recorded his evasiveness:

Philip Hammond has come under fire for failing to tell MPs or voters about the decision by Nato to scale back its joint patrols with Afghan forces.

During a hostile Commons debate, the defence secretary was criticised by MPs from both Labour and his own Conservative party for not being clear about Nato strategy in Afghanistan.

The decision to scale back joint operations was taken on Sunday, but Mr Hammond did not mention it during a debate on Monday or in subsequent media interviews.

John Baron, the Conservative MP, forced Mr Hammond into the Commons to explain how and why the strategy had changed.

Mr Baron told MPs: ‘At the very least there is confusion with regard to this issue … The announcement adds to the uncertainty as to whether Afghan forces will have the ability to keep an undefeated Taliban at bay once Nato forces have left.’” (v)

After the debacle at Camp Bastion and the escalating attacks on troops, Mr Hammond must be praying for an end to the Afghan nightmare. In a month that has seen a remarkable offensive by the Taliban and the final withdrawal of the 33,000 ‘surge’ troops sent in by Obama with great fanfare two years ago, perhaps it is fitting to leave the last words to Mohammad Naim Lalai Amirzai, a parliamentarian in Kandahar:

“We were not happy about the arrival of the surge troops and we are not sad that they left … as the American surge ends, the Taliban surge will begin.” (vi)

endnotes

 Five soldiers die in Afghanistan’ by Richard A Oppel Jr and Matt Siegel, New York Times, 31 August 2012

ii Coalition sharply reduces joint operations with Afghan troops ’, New York Times, 19 September 2012

iii  Karzai denounces coalition over airstrikes 

iv  Afghan insurgents attack base where Prince Harry serves’ by Alissa J Rubin, New York Times, 15 September 2012

 Hammond under fire for Afghan ommission ’ by Kiran Stacey and Hannah Kuchler, 18 September 2012

vi  Troop surge in Afghanistan ends with mixed results ’ by Rod Nordland, New York Times, 21 September 2012

Posted in AfghanistanComments Off on Afghan resistance advancing to victory

Terrorist atrocities mount in Syria

NOVANEWS

 

Faced with the determined stance of the Syrian masses and their leadership, and the

principled position of Iran, Russia and China, imperialism has dusted off its filthy

manual of proxy war.

Last month, the CPGB-ML summarised the situation in Syria as follows:

Despite the money, arms and mercenary thugs being provided to Syrian terror groups, and even while under imminent threat of an all-out external air war, the progressive government in Damascus is still managing to deal very effectively with the Nato-organised insurgency on its soil.” (Leaflet: ‘No cooperation with war crimes in Syria! Join the axis of resistance’14 September 2012)

In this situation, the imperialist-backed terrorist opposition is resorting to ever more desperate tactics and brutal atrocities, but in the face of the steadfast resistance of the Syrian people, led by the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party and President Bashar al-Assad, and the country’s powerful defences, alongside the resolute opposition of Iran, Russia and China, imperialism at present does not dare to launch an all-out war of external intervention.

All these factors have contributed to the stance so far adopted by the veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, who has succeeded Kofi Annan as the United Nations envoy for Syria.

Contrary to the expectations of many, and doubtless an inordinate amount of imperialist pressure, on the day that two terrorist bombs hit government facilities in Damascus, and on the eve of his first visit there in his current capacity, Brahimi pointedly refused to join the reactionary chorus demanding the ouster of President Assad. He told Al Jazeera: “It is too early to speak about who should go and who should stay. Mr Assad is there and is the president of the present government.”

He also said he opposed any form of foreign military intervention in Syria, saying that when force becomes involved in diplomacy, “it means failure”. (Quoted in ‘Rebels bomb heavily guarded Damascus neighbourhood’ by David D Kirkpatrick and Rick Gladstone, New York Times, 2 September 2012)

Terrorist crimes becoming impossible to deny

For her part, Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has warned that the pro-imperialist rebels would not be immune from prosecution under international law for the atrocities they are committing. Going decidedly off message so far as the Nato imperialists and their local stooges are concerned, even allowing for her ‘even-handed’ rebukes to the Damascus government, the veteran South African anti-apartheid lawyer spoke out as videos from the city of Aleppo showed a mass execution of bound and blindfolded Syrian government soldiers, as well as the subsequent abuse of their bodies.

The New York Times reported: “One of the videos … showed at least 20 corpses lying in a crooked row on a bloodstained street curb. The victims wore fatigues but no shoes. Several appeared to have been shot in the head. 

In that video and another that captured the same scene, different rebel groups appear to take responsibility for the killings … If confirmed, the executions were likely to add to growing concerns about the conduct of the militias fighting to topple the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and particularly their treatment of prisoners.

In a brutal episode in late July, a group of rebel fighters was seen in a video executing several captives – members of an Aleppo family accused of being enforcers for the government – with a spray of gunfire. In recent days, other videos have captured summary executions by the rebels.

Condemning the “undoubted climb in human rights violations” by the terrorists, Pillay warned: “Opposition forces should be under no illusion that they will be immune from prosecution.”

It is not as though the terrorists and their devoted supporters make any great attempt to disguise their bestial nature. If anything, they revel in it. A video posted online by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a tiny group of notorious MI6 assets, who despite being based in the UK are perennially cited in the media as a supposedly reliable source on the alleged misdeeds of the Syrian government, lauded the above-cited atrocity in these terms:

‘Assad’s dogs’, the man says, panning the camera across the scene of bodies contorted in anguish or slumped in a foetal position. ‘God is great.’” (‘UN warns Syrian rebels over atrocities’ by Kareem Fahim,New York Times, 11 September 2012)

Another report in the same newspaper described, albeit practically in passing, how the terrorists had attacked a hospital:

In the city of Homs … fighters seeking Mr Assad’s ouster claimed that they had captured a national hospital. Rebels provided video showing a lengthy tunnel they had dug to plant explosives underneath a hospital, an explosion that sent an enormous cloud of smoke up over the city and crouching fighters moving toward the building as many shots rang out. Another activist described the same events independently.” (‘Syrian minister assails Egyptian and Turkish leaders’ by David D Kirkpatrick, New York Times, 4 September 2011)

And this house organ of the US bourgeoisie, whose grandiloquent motto has long been “all the news that’s fit to print”, gave even shorter shrift to the threats made to attack commercial aircraft and civilian airports, using the shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles that the terrorists have now acquired from their external patrons:

At the same time, the sightings have raised concerns about the spread of the weapons, which can also be used against commercial airliners.” (‘Syrian rebels say they have captured military post’ by Kareem Fahim,New York Times, 2 September 2012)

Needless to say, all these actual and threatened atrocities, such as the cold-blooded killing of prisoners, the blowing up of hospitals, and attacking civil aircraft, are expressly forbidden by the rules of war established in international law.

But they come straight out of the imperialist handbook of counter-insurgency and proxy war, designed to topple progressive governments, in particular as developed and refined in the imperialist wars waged against Nicaragua and Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Fighting for theocracy not democracy

It is also increasingly clear that the terrorists are not fighting for the greater democratisation of Syrian society, but rather to impose a reactionary sunni theocracy in the service of imperialism – something that would pose a mortal threat to the mosaic of ethnic and religious communities that collectively make up Syrian society and who have hitherto largely lived in harmony with one another.

In a 4 September report, David D Kirkpatrick noted:

If the fighters seeking to oust Mr Assad sometimes portray their battle as a struggle for democracy, the sunni muslim children of the Zaatari camp tell a much uglier story of sectarian revenge. Asked for their own views of the grown-up battle that drove them from their homes, child after child brought up their hatred of the Alawites and a thirst for revenge. Children as young as 10 or 11 vowed never to play with Syrian Alawite children or even pledged to kill them.

Parroting older relatives – some of whom openly egged them on – the youngsters offered a disturbing premonition of the road ahead for Syria.

Reporting the professed views of a 13-year-old girl, Kirkpatrick continued: “She hates the Alawites, she said, but not exclusively. She also hates Hassan Nasrallah – the leader of the Iranian-backed Lebanese shiite militia Hizbollah, which supports the Assad government – as well as China and Russia.” (‘Syrian children offer glimpse of a future of reprisals’, New York Times)

Inevitably, such reactionary communalism is largely fuelled from outside the country. Even the co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières, normally a pin-up organisation for imperialist ‘humanitarian intervention’, was forced to concede this recently:

In Paris, a French doctor who just returned from a two-week medical mission to a rebel-controlled hospital in the battleground of Aleppo said he was surprised by the number of militants from outside Syria who had joined the fight in the goal of establishing an Islamist government …

The doctor, Jacques Bérès, 71, a surgeon who is known for missions to war zones and who is a co-founder of the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders, said in an interview with Reuters that he had treated about 40 patients a day, and that 60 percent were rebel fighters, half of whom were from outside Syria.

‘It’s really something strange to see,’ he said, according to Reuters. ‘They are directly saying that they aren’t interested in Bashar al-Assad’s fall, but are thinking about how to take power afterward and set up an Islamic state with shariah law to become part of the world emirate’.” (‘Syria criticises France’s support of rebels’ by David D Kirkpatrick, New York Times, 10 September 2012)

Such ‘useful idiots’ are but the frontline stooges for imperialism’s war against the Syrian people.

Hands off Syria!

Victory to the Syrian masses led by the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party!

Victory to President Assad!

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Terrorist atrocities mount in Syria

The Fed’s “QE Infinity”: Money Galore… What Is It All About ?

NOVANEWS
Global Research

QE3, the Federal Reserve’s third round of quantitative easing, is so open-ended that it is being called QE Infinity.

Doubts about its effectiveness are surfacing even on Wall Street. The Financial Times reports:

Among the trading rooms and floors of Connecticut and Mayfair [in London], supposedly sophisticated money managers are raising big questions about QE3 — and whether, this time around, the Fed is not risking more than it can deliver.

Which raises the question, what is it intended to deliver? As suggested in an earlier article here, QE3 is not likely to reduce unemployment, put money in the pockets of consumers, reflate the money supply, or significantly lower interest rates for homeowners, as alleged. It will not achieve those things because it consists of no more than an asset swap on bank balance sheets. It will not get dollars to businesses or consumers on Main Street.

So what is the real purpose of this exercise? Catherine Austin Fitts recently posted a revealing article on that enigma. She says the true goal of QE Infinity is to unwind the toxic mortgage debacle, in a way that won’t bankrupt pensioners or start another war:

The challenge for Ben Bernanke and the Fed governors since the 2008 bailouts has been how to deal with the backlog of fraud – not just fraudulent mortgages and fraudulent mortgage securities but the derivatives piled on top and the politics of who owns them, such as sovereign nations with nuclear arsenals, and how they feel about taking massive losses on AAA paper purchased in good faith.

On one hand, you could let them all default. The problem is the criminal liabilities would drive the global and national leadership into factionalism that could turn violent, not to mention what such defaults would do to liquidity in the financial system. Then there is the fact that a great deal of the fraudulent paper has been purchased by pension funds. So the mark down would hit the retirement savings of the people who have now also lost their homes or equity in their homes. The politics of this in an election year are terrifying for the Administration to contemplate.

How can the Fed make the investors whole without wreaking havoc on the economy? Using its QE tool, it can quietly buy up toxic mortgage-backed securities (MBS) with money created on a computer screen.

Good for the Investors and Wall Street,

But What about the Homeowners and Main Street?

The investors will get their money back, the banks will reap their unearned profits, and Fannie and Freddie will get bailed out and wound down. But what about the homeowners? They too bought in good faith, and now they are either underwater or are losing or have lost their homes. Will they too get a break? Fitts says we’ll have to watch and see. Perhaps there was a secret agreement to share in the spoils. If so, we should see a wave of write-downs and write-offs aimed at relieving the beleaguered homeowners.

A nice idea, but somehow it seems unlikely. The odds are that there was no secret deal. The banks will make out like bandits as they have before. The never-ending backdoor bailout will keep feeding their profit margins, and the banks will keep biting the hands of the taxpayers who feed them.

How can Wall Street be made to play well with others and share in their winnings? In a July 2012 article inThe New York Times titled “Wall Street Is Too Big to Regulate,” Gar Alperovitz observed:

With high-paid lobbyists contesting every proposed regulation, it is increasingly clear that big banks can never be effectively controlled as private businesses. If an enterprise (or five of them) is so large and so concentrated that competition and regulation are impossible, the most market-friendly step is to nationalize its functions. . . .

Nationalization isn’t as difficult as it sounds. We tend to forget that we did, in fact, nationalize General Motors in 2009; the government still owns a controlling share of its stock. We also essentially nationalized the American International Group, one of the largest insurance companies in the world, and the government still owns roughly 60 percent of its stock.

Bailout or Receivership?

Nationalization also isn’t as radical as it sounds. If nationalization is too loaded a word, try “bankruptcy and receivership.” Bankruptcy, receivership and nationalization are what are SUPPOSED to happen when very large banks become insolvent; and if the toxic MBS had been allowed to default, some very large banks would have wound up insolvent.

Nationalization is one of three options the FDIC has when a bank fails. The other two are closure and liquidation, or merger with a healthy bank. Most failures are resolved using the merger option, but for very large banks, nationalization is sometimes considered the best choice for taxpayers. The leading U.S. example was Continental Illinois, the seventh-largest bank in the country when it failed in 1984. The FDIC wiped out existing shareholders, infused capital, took over bad assets, replaced senior management, and owned the bank for about a decade, running it as a commercial enterprise. In 1994, it was sold to a bank that is now part of Bank of America.

Insolvent banks should be put through receivership and bankruptcy before the government takes them over. That would mean making the creditors bear the losses, standing in line and taking whatever money was available, according to seniority. But that would put the losses on the pension funds, the Chinese, and other investors who bought supposedly-triple-A securities in good faith—the result the Fed is evidently trying to avoid.

How to resolve this dilemma? How about combining these two solutions? The money supply is still SHORT by $3.9 trillion from where it was in 2008 before the banking crisis hit, so the Fed has plenty of room to expand the money supply. (The shortfall is in the shadow banking system, which used to be reflected in M3, the part of the money supply the Fed no longer reports. The shadow banking system is composed of non-bank financial institutions that do not accept deposits, including money market funds, repo markets, hedge funds, and structured investment vehicles.)

Rather than a never-ending windfall for the banks, however, these maneuvers need to be made contingent on some serious quid pro quo for the taxpayers. If either the Fed or the banks won’t comply, Congress could nationalize either or both. The Fed is composed of twelve branches, all of which are 100% owned by the banks in their districts; and its programs have consistently been designed to benefit the banks—particularly the large Wall Street banks—rather than Main Street. The Federal Reserve Act that gives the Fed its powers is an act of Congress; and what Congress hath wrought, it can undo.

Only if the banking system is under the control of the people can it be expected to serve the people. AsSeumas Milne observed in a July 2012 article in the UK Guardian:

Only if the largest banks are broken up, the part-nationalised outfits turned into genuine public investment banks, and new socially owned and regional banks encouraged can finance be made to work for society, rather than the other way round. Private sector banking has spectacularly failed – and we need a democratic public solution.

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Hegemony and Propaganda: The Importance of Trivialisation in Cementing Social Control

NOVANEWS
Global Research

Knowledge in modern societies has expanded to the point whereby specialisms and sub-specialisms are the norm. It is just not possible for one person to have in-depth knowledge of every discipline. We must rely on others to convey such knowledge, usually in relatively simplistic terms. Most of us have to take at face value many of the ideas and concepts that we are bombarded with in this age of instant, mass communications and information overload.

People tend to like simplicity. In many instances, not possessing sufficient expertise on matters, they require it. They require easily manageable packages of knowledge, and these packages become taken for granted stocks of ‘common sense’ knowledge that enable them to cope, however faulty or misrepresented that ‘knowledge’ may be.

Politicians and the media also recognise people’s need for simplicity. And here lies the problem, particularly in an increasingly complex and confusing world. In order to rally the masses around certain ideas and to make things ‘simple’ for them, both politicians and the media have to a large extent taken their cue from Edward Bernays, the father of advertising, propaganda and public relations. This is where simplicity morphs into manipulation.

Bernays knew how to manipulate groups of people and get the masses hooked on the products and messages of modern society. We are now all subjected to this type of manipulation each and every day by the incessant bombardment of commercials.

It was the late US academic Rick Roderick who noted the trend towards the banality, simplification and trivialisation that the ad industry excels in is now prolific throughout society. He referred to a rampant phenomenon of important issues and problems being reduced to a fad of some kind through continuous repetition. For example, political debates that are seemingly in deadlock like gay rights and abortion issues, although important, have become almost a pointless debate. The same few points are being thrown around so often that they’ve almost become a fad. This doesn’t mean that the issues themselves aren’t important; it just means that they’ve been reduced to something resembling sound-bite debates.

It can get to the point whereby people simply stop caring about it all. In the face of so many different sides and so many different movements all locked in endless debates, it can be easy for a kind of apathy and inaction to kick in among the wider population.

Indeed, many issues have been reduced to media-friendly slogans. For example, decades of serious writing on feminism were overtaken by the Spice Girls shouting the slogan ‘girl power’ at every available opportunity. A serious issue became used as a commercial ploy to sell music. What did girl power mean? Who cared at the time: just shout it out.

Barak Obama relied on the mantra ‘hope and change’, which means everything and nothing at the same time. While in some cases sound-bite sayings may be making a serious point, they are repeated over and over again to the point where they merely become meaningless, feel-good rhetoric.

And then there are all those TV commercials on English language channels in India, which reduce everything to a lowest common denominator selling point: ‘white is in dark is out’ (why is this phrase pertaining to skin lightening not considered racist in India?), ‘because you’re worth it’ (self esteem reduced to wearing nail varnish or lipstick), ‘its very, very sexy’ (the nature of sexuality reduced to the effects of a deodorant). Complex issues are merely commodity forms and reduced to brand identities for sale in the market place.

Hand in hand with all of this goes ridicule and cynicism, whereby, if serious issues are not banal through sound-bite repetition, they are made the butt of jokes.

Rick Roderick liked to refer to an old TV show in the US to highlight how society encourages ridicule, trivialization and acceptance of how things are (but should not be). ‘Laverne and Shirley’ ran from 1976 to 1983. Roderick stated that Laverne and Shirley work in Milwaukee in a beer factory. It could therefore have been a socialist realist film, but it was a sitcom. They have got two friends who are stupid and ugly (according to Roderick). Basically, their life is no good. But this is a comedy. All the troubles that working class life often involves are just reduced to banality, just the common rubble of triviality and little one-line jokes.

A similar phenomenon can be seen in Britain today via the demonisation and mocking of some of the poorest sections of the British working class by the mainstream media and various social commentators. Regarded as ‘chavs’, they are their lives are stigmatized, ridiculed and trivialised.

Roderick also discusses the notion that John F Kennedy (JFK) was killed in a coup d’état and the US government and that the US has been run secretly ever since. That may or may not be true, but by the time we have had a hundred books and numerous movies on JFK, people tend to switch off, shrug their shoulders and say well it may or may not be the case, but what does it really matter? It’s become banal. For Roderick, this is just another example of how you can take matters of ultimate human importance and turn them into banality.

And that is exactly what is required: banality and sneering that finds its ultimate expression in cynicism, apathy and acceptance of and adherence to the status quo.

Given the major issues affecting us, ranging from nuclear war to ecological meltdown, what we really require is sweeping social and economic reforms and great ideas. But have the great movements and ideas of yesteryear that could provide inspiration for today’s causes been reduced to mediocre banality? Are they just fodder for the market place? Are they to be sneered at and mocked by a population beaten down to regard apathy and cynicism as a normal and overriding part of the human condition?

What better way to control a population than through inducing apathy and banality and encouraging the trivialization of causes, ideas or the plights of certain folk? What better way to control dissent by ridicule of the dissenters, or, if that doesn’t work, in the case of the Indian government, filing sedition charges against 7,000 legitimate anti-nuclear protestors at Kudankulam – simple villagers and fisher-folk.

Are we to just ignore this and sit back and be satisfied with a culture that gives more airtime and column inches to a story about Simon Cowell using placentas on his face to keep young than the death of one of the greatest historians of the 20th century, Eric Hobbsbawn? Are we just to sit back and buy shampoo because we bought into the lie that we ‘are worth it’? If that’s the case, it’s not just the 7,000 people legitimately protesting at Kudankulam (http://www.countercurrents.org/ctw300912.htm) and others facing similar threats throughout India who are in trouble – most everyone else is too!

“The hallmark of an intelligent society is its ability to ask questions. If I am in doubt, I have the right to ask questions. A simple act of asking questions is treated as sedition here.” Aruna Roy (Indian political and social activist).

Posted in PoliticsComments Off on Hegemony and Propaganda: The Importance of Trivialisation in Cementing Social Control

Provoking the Enemy: Seeking a Pretext to Wage War on Iran

NOVANEWS
Global Research

Provoking a war and then blaming the enemy for carrying out an act of aggression is no longer part of a hidden agenda, a safely guarded secret as in the case of Pearl Harbor (1941) which was used by the FDR administration as a justification for America’s entry into the Second World War. (Michel Chossudovsky, Provoke an Attack on Iran? “Lets Bring it On… At the End of the Day… We Ought to Take ‘Em Out”, October 03, 2012)

Adding another hostile move to its long list of provocations against Iran, the U.S. government removed the terrorist organization Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO) from its list of foreign terrorist organizations in late September. For Kourosh Ziabari, this decision shows America’s “unconditional support to the sworn enemies of the Iranian nation straight from the shoulder.”

“The decision was made under the pretext that MKO has not carried out any terrorist operation over the past 10 years”, Zaibari notes, although “[s]ince 2010, it has […] assisted Israel’s Mossad to kill four high-ranking Iranian nuclear scientists in a bid to thwart Iran’s scientific progress”. He adds:

In an article published in New Yorker on April 6, 2012, the renowned investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed that how the U.S. government has furtively supported the MKO terrorists. The article entitled “Our Men in Iran?” documented that members of the MKO were trained in communications, cryptography, small-unit tactics and weaponry by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) at a base in Nevada starting in 2005. (Kourosh Ziabari, Delisting the MKO. America: A State Sponsor of Terrorism against Iran, Global Research, September 29, 2012.)

This decision to rehabilitate the MKO comes shortly after Netanyahu’s nuclear Iran scare tactic at the UN, similar to that of Colin Powell about Iraq’s non-existent WMDs in 2003, and Barack Obama’s UN speech where he reiterated that his government “will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Does that include using the newly reprieved terrorists to falsify documents to frame Iran on the nuclear issue? Washington’s Blog reports:

According to U.S. officials, Israel is training and supporting Iranian terrorists who are trying to topple the Iranian government. Those Israeli-funded terrorists have faked documents to falsely indicate that Iran is building a nuclear bomb. (Washington’s Blog, Will Israel Launch a False Flag Against Iran to Start War?Global Research, September 28, 2012)

Fake documents have been used in the past for the same purpose in the form of a mysterious stolen Iranian laptop containing “‘a series of drawings of a missile re-entry vehicle’” which allegedly could accommodate an Iranian produced nuclear weapon.” The drawings were actually depicting “an obsolete North Korean missile system which was decommissioned by Iran in the mid-1990s […] The laptop documents were essential to sustaining America’s position in the UN Security Council.” (Gareth Porter, The Mysterious “Laptop Documents”. Using Fake Intelligence to Justify a Pre-emptive Nuclear War on Iran, Global Research, November 18, 2010)

In March 2012, just as Iran was negotiating visits at Parchin military base with the IAEA, Israeli soldiers were reported to have been “looking for a smoking gun” at Parchin, dressed as Iranian soldiers and driving Iranian military vehicles:

A report published in The Sunday Times on March 25 suggests that “Israel is using a permanent base in Iraqi Kurdistan to launch cross-border intelligence missions in an attempt to find ‘smoking gun’ evidence that Iran is building a nuclear warhead.” (Israeli spies scour Iran in nuclear hunt, The Sunday Times, March 25, 2012)

Western sources told the Times Israel was monitoring “radioactivity and magnitude of explosives tests” and that “special forces used Black Hawk helicopters to carry commandos disguised as members of the Iranian military and using Iranian military vehicles”. The sources believe “Iranians are trying to hide evidence of warhead tests in preparation for a possible IAEA visit”. (Cited in Report: Israeli soldiers scour Iran for nukes, Ynet, March 25, 2012) (Julie Lévesque, FABRICATING A “SMOKING GUN” TO ATTACK IRAN? Israeli Spies Disguised as Iranian Soldiers on Mission Inside Iran, Global Research, March 27, 2012.)

Seeing the unfolding crisis, Russian career diplomat Dmitry Ryurikov declared two years ago:

[T]wo weeks before the last US elections in 2008, Vice President Joe Biden went on record as saying that there were several scenarios for a certain generated crisis, to wit, a war. The Americans will have to tighten their belts. At first they won’t understand why all of that is needed. But they’ll approve everything eventually. Among other places, Biden localized the scenario in the Middle East.

I don’t rule out that the scenario might have included such a thing as a false-flag attack, or, plainly speaking, a provocation…“False-flag attacks” as a war-starting method were time and again used in the 20th Century. (Nadezhda Kevorkova, US may be seeking provocation to launch a war against Iran, Global Research, September 25, 2010.)

More recently joint U.S. and Israeli military exercises were being conducted in the Persian Gulf with underwater drones “making mining more controllable and clandestine”. (American Drones for Covert Underwater Warfare against IranJulie Lévesque, September 28, 2012.)

Still beating the drums of war, the Neocons are calling for the U.S. to provoke Iran:

Recalling the war pretext incidents in US history, including the Lusitania (World War I) Pearl Harbor (World War II) and the Gulf of Tonkin (Vietnam), Patrick Clawson’s “operational recommendation” is to incite an incident which will provoke Iran to firing the first shot, potentially leading us onto the path of World War Three.

“At some point soon, … the window for diplomacy will indeed have closed, and the United States—along with as many international partners as it can mobilize—should move to more forceful action, be it covert or overt, publicly proclaimed or deniable.” (Michel Chossudovsky, Neocon Washington Think Tank: The US should Provoke Iran into “Firing the First Shot”, Global Research, September 26, 2012

All these new developments are pure acts of provocation and clearly indicate the U.S. seeks to trigger a war with Iran as Sarah Flounders explains:

There is growing apprehension that through miscalculation, deliberate provocation or a staged false flag operation, a U.S. war with Iran is imminent.

The dangerous combination of top U.S. officials’ public threats, the Pentagon’s massive military deployment, continued drone flights and industrial sabotage against Iran provides an ominous warning. The corporate media have been more than willing to cheer industrial sabotage, computer viruses and targeted assassinations. War maneuvers with Israel scheduled for mid-January were suddenly postponed Jan. 15 until May or later. (Sara Flounders, Miscalculation, Provocation or a Staged False Flag Op.? Resist U.S. War Threats on Iran, January 21, 2012.)

Will Iran fall into the “provocation” trap laid by the U.S. just like Japan did in World War II? Not unlike the Japanese Empire, Iran has been diplomatically isolated and the series of U.S. sanctions and provocations against the Islamic Republic are reminiscent of Pearl Harbor as Patrick Buchanan explains:

“[T]he attack by the Japanese air force was a carefully laid trap engineered at the highest level in Washington with the coldly premeditated aim of precipitating US entry to World War II.

As Buchanan notes the Japanese “provocation” at Pearl Harbour was preceded by of a series of US provocations against imperial Japan, including severing Tokyo’s oil economy and isolating the country into a diplomatic corner.

“The question was how we should maneuver them [Japan] into firing the first shot…” then US secretary of war Henry Stimson is quoted in records from November 1941. (Finian Cunningham, Pearl Harbor: 70 Years on, Is Iran the New Japan?, December 8, 2011.)

Global Research brings to its readers a list of selected articles on this very serious issue.

For more analysis on this topic, consult our in-depth report IRAN: THE NEXT WAR? and our I-Book WAR PLAN IRAN: Dispelling the Lies, Telling the Truth about Western Aggression in the Persian Gulf.

Posted in IranComments Off on Provoking the Enemy: Seeking a Pretext to Wage War on Iran


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