Tag Archives: Western Imperialism

The worldwide persecution of refugees

By Bill Van Auken
May 14, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Boat filled with refugees from Libya. Image from: crossedcrocodiles.wordpress.com

From Europe, to Asia, to the Americas, the world is witnessing growing numbers of refugees and a corresponding wave of state repression and violence directed at denying them their fundamental democratic rights.

The European Union this week has moved on two tracks to confront the flow of refugees from northern Africa, which has led to the drowning deaths just this year of nearly 2,000 of those seeking to make the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean.

The first is a scheme unveiled Wednesday to parcel out between the EU member states a combined quota of 20,000 refugees over the course of two years. The number is pathetic in relation to the estimated half a million refugees believed to be gathered in North Africa in their flight to Europe, not to mention the 170,000 refugees who made the crossing last year alone.

Nonetheless, the proposal has triggered a sharp crisis within the EU, with the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark opting out of the refugee quotas. The very proposal provoked denunciations from Britain’s Tory government. The quota system acts, in the words of Home Secretary Theresa May, as a “pull factor,” encouraging people to attempt the Mediterranean crossing. Instead, she indicated, the migrants must be forcibly pushed back to Africa.

The quota scheme notwithstanding, the EU as a whole is concentrating on strengthening Fortress Europe and even preparing to carry out military action to halt the flow of refugees.

As the British daily Guardian revealed Wednesday, the EU has drawn up a 19-page strategy paper that calls for the use of naval, air and even ground forces to stop refugees from leaving Libya. Envisioned are not only a naval blockade, but air strikes against boats and boatyards involved in smuggling migrants across the Mediterranean, along with the potential deployment of special operations troops on Libyan soil.

The document acknowledges that such operations pose “a high risk of collateral damage, including the loss of life.”

It should be lost on no one that the imperialist powers of Europe are threatening to use military force in response to a crisis that they and their American ally created, aided and abetted by the “left” champions of “human rights imperialism.”

The flow of refugees is driven by the decimation of entire societies at the hands of the US and its allies, first in Iraq and Afghanistan through direct invasion and occupation, then in Libya through the US-NATO bombing campaign and support for an Islamist-led proxy ground force in the war to overthrow and murder Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. Simultaneously with the Libyan intervention, the US and its Western European allies backed a proxy Islamist-led war for regime change in Syria, seeking the overthrow of the Assad government, an ally of Russia and Iran. These wars have produced millions of refugees, including large numbers of African migrant workers trying to flee the bloody chaos created by imperialism in Libya.

Amnesty International issued a report this week documenting that refugees trapped in Libya are confronting “widespread abuses by armed groups, smugglers, traffickers and organized criminal groups in Libya as well as systematic exploitation, lawlessness and armed conflicts.” The country’s social infrastructure has collapsed and it is being fought over by rival militias and two competing governments. Migrants in detention centers face torture, sexual assault, beatings, slave labor and summary killings. These are the conditions to which the European powers want to drive the refugees back.

Unfolding simultaneously with the tragic fate of the refugees in the Mediterranean, is a similar crisis in Asia, with an estimated 8,000 refugees stranded aboard small boats in the Andaman Sea and Malacca Straits. Most of them are members of the Muslim Rohingya minority fleeing persecution in Burma (Myanmar) and Bangladeshis escaping the impoverished conditions in their country.

The governments of Malaysia and Indonesia have been forcing these boats back to sea—a policy pioneered in the region by Australia. Many of the refugees have been on the water since March and face the threat of death by hunger and disease.

Finally, in the United States, whose government routinely postures as the champion of “human rights” to justify its endless military interventions abroad, the Obama administration has put forward a new immigration policy that is worthy of a dictatorship.

Faced with a court order to shut down massive new detention camps that it created to imprison child and family refugees fleeing north from the rampant violence in Central America, the administration has declared that its response will be to separate the mothers from their children. The mothers would remain imprisoned under this policy, while their children would be handed over to foster homes.

As in the flow of refugees from North Africa, Central Americans have been forced to flee their home countries by the murderous conditions created by decades of US imperialist interventions, from the “dirty wars” of the 1970s and 1980s through to the “drug war” violence that followed. The end result is that these countries now have the highest homicide rates in the world, and those turning up on the US border are literally fleeing for their lives.

As elsewhere, the response of the US authorities to this crisis of their own making is one of inhuman and illegal repression. In setting up its massive new detention centers—run for profit by private prison corporations—the Obama administration violated a previous court settlement that mandated standards of care and treatment of child migrants, barring their confinement to such centers.

The issue has come to the courts once again because of the protests, including hunger strikes, by mothers imprisoned with their children in these illegal and abusive camps. Treating refugees seeking asylum like criminals and locking up traumatized children is Obama’s method for dissuading other Central Americans from attempting to reach the US. Also crafted as a deterrent is the militarization of much of the US border, forcing migrants into ever more hostile territory, where many die. These deaths, like those in the Mediterranean, are meant to “send a message.”

The roots of both the surge of refugees and the repressive policies being unleashed against them lies in the global crisis of capitalism and the increasing turn by the major imperialist powers to militarism. At the same time, the assault on refugees is inseparable from the attack that is unfolding in every country against the democratic rights and social conditions of the working class as a whole.

A fight against the ruling class and its policies of war and counterrevolution is not possible without a defense of immigrants and refugees. This entails a relentless fight against the attempts of the ruling establishment in every country to scapegoat these most oppressed layers of the working class for the destruction of jobs and wages, and to pursue a policy of divide and conquer by whipping up anti-immigrant chauvinism.

The Socialist Equality Party and the International Committee of the Fourth International unconditionally defend the right of workers from every part of the world to live and work in whatever country they choose, with full democratic rights and without fear of police repression and deportation.

The defense of the rights of refugees and of the working class as a whole means a struggle to unite workers of every country in a common struggle to overturn the capitalist system, abolish the nation-state system and establish the foundations of a socialist world economy, rationally organized on the basis of social need, not private profit.

 

 

Harper visits Iraq to laud Canada’s role in Mideast war

By Roger Jordan
May 6, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Stephen-HarperIn a previously unannounced trip, Prime Minister Stephen Harper last weekend visited Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) Special Forces troops based in northern Iraq and air force personnel in Kuwait.

Harper used the trip to promote Canada’s expanding role in the new US-led war in the Middle East and his government’s push to dramatically expand the powers of the national-security apparatus at home—falsely portraying both as necessary responses to Islamic terrorism.

In separate meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and Masoud Barzani, the president of the autonomous Kurdish region, Harper reaffirmed the Conservative government’s commitment to continued military action in the country and in neighbouring Syria.

Harper sought to cast the military intervention as a humanitarian mission aimed at protecting the civilian population from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He announced modest sums of aid, totaling some $160 million, to assist reconstruction in Iraq and help several other Middle Eastern countries deal with the massive influx of Syrian refugees.

Reviewing the trip, Harper commented, “Most importantly, I got to convey my personal thanks to Canadian troops for helping protect our own citizens as well as innocent children, women and men in the region from the barbaric actions of ISIS.”

In reality, the war is a dirty imperialist enterprise, which arises out of the series of wars the US has mounted since 2003 to maintain strategic dominance over the world’s most important oil-exporting region . While ISIS has served as the pretext for the return of US and other western troops to Iraq, the ultimate goal of Washington and its Mideast allies, like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, is the replacement of the Assad regime in Damascus, which is closely allied with Iran and Russia, by one more pliant to US interests.

In line with its fulsome support for US imperialist aggression around the globe, Canada has committed 69 Special Forces troops to training and advising Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, and six CF-18 fighter jets, two surveillance aircraft, and a refuel-plane, supported by some 600 CAF personnel, to assist coalition bombing missions.

In late March, the government extended Canada’s military mission in the Middle East until April 2016 and authorized the CAF to join bombing runs in Syria, making Canada the only one of the US’s western allies to attack Syria. Bombing Syria is a flagrant violation of international law and tantamount to a declaration of war on Syria’s government.

To date, CAF planes have flown more than 800 sorties over Iraq and Syria, with well over 500 of these CF-18 bombing missions.

Initially, the claim was made that ground troops in Iraq were engaged in a “non-combat” mission, and that they would merely be training and advising Kurdish militiamen behind the front lines. But within months, it was revealed that Canadian troops were making regular trips to the front to direct attacks against ISIS positions and call in air strikes by coalition aircraft. In January, the Canadian military acknowledged that around 20 percent of the time, the Special Forces troops are at the front.

This issue emerged during Harper’s trip due to the death in March of Sergeant Andrew Doiron as a result of a mix-up with Kurdish forces. Doiron and a group of Canadian soldiers were allegedly mistaken for ISIS fighters by a frontline Kurdish post, resulting in his fatal shooting.

With investigations still ongoing, Harper attempted to downplay the significance of the incident, while covering up the true character of the Canadian army’s operations in the region. “Look, this was a terrible tragedy. We will get the facts, but let it not obscure, frankly, the respect I think we should have for the Kurdish fighters in this area,” said Harper.

The Canadian prime minister’s unwillingness to apportion blame for the incident is part of ongoing attempts to smooth over tensions between Canadian and Kurdish forces, which, in the immediate aftermath of the fatal shooting, offered differing accounts of the circumstances surrounding it.

Canada’s involvement in the latest Mideast war is being driven by economic as well as geopolitical considerations. In recent years, Iraq has emerged as a major trading partner for Canada, with bilateral trade in 2012 totaling more than $4 billion, making it one of Canada’s largest trade partners in the Middle East. Moreover, Iraq is viewed as offering major growth opportunities for Canadian oil and infrastructure companies.

In recognition of this, the Conservative government last year named Iraq one of Canada’s “development partners.” This designation allows Baghdad to receive additional financial aid and other support from the Canadian government.

The Kurdish region is one of the most lucrative parts of the country for Canadian investment. Several oil companies and other businesses have operations there, and the Harper government opened a trade office in the regional capital, Irbil, last year. The office is responsible for expanding Canadian investment throughout Iraq, and was promoted by the government at the time as necessary because the Iraqi economy was one of the fastest growing in the world.

While in Irbil, Harper took time to visit the Irbil office of Melwood Geometrix, a Montreal-based company that specializes in making prefabricated concrete.

Media commentators noted the campaign-style character of this and many of Harper’s other appearances in Iraq and Kuwait. His meeting with the local Melwood Geometrix manager took place in front of running cameras, and after a greeting, Harper was handed a Montreal Canadiens hockey jersey.

During his stop in Kuwait, Harper cultivated the image of a wartime prime minister with appeals to Canadian nationalism and militarism. An article on the IPolitics website described the scene when Harper addressed air force personnel in Kuwait as follows, “In front of him, dressed in combat fatigues, stood the pilots and support crews deployed there for the Canadian mission against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Behind him were two CF18s parked at diagonal angles, and between them was a large Canadian flag.”

Although it remains unclear if the Conservatives will call an early election, it is beyond question that whether the vote takes place this spring or next October, they will mount an extreme rightwing campaign, whipping up bellicose Canadian nationalism and appealing to anti-Muslim sentiment.

Harper has already served notice that he intends to portray the opposition parties as “soft” on terrorism, because they have not fully endorsed the CAF combat mission in the Middle East and said that if elected to office, they will amend Bill C-51, the Conservatives’ legislation giving sweeping new powers to the national security apparatus. These new powers include authorizing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to break virtually any law in disrupting what it deems threats to Canada’s national and economic security or territorial integrity, and giving state agencies unfettered access to all government information on individuals named in national security investigations.

Whilst on his whirlwind Middle East tour, Harper went out of the way to put in a plug for Bill C-51. Said Harper, “We’re working to give our security agencies the whole range of modern tools necessary to identify terrorists and to thwart their plans, including greater ability to stem the recruitment and the flow of home-grown fighters.”

Within hours of Harper leaving the Middle East, a lengthy exposé appeared in the Montreal daily La presse that sheds light on the true, neo-colonial character of the Canadian military’s ever-growing list of foreign interventions. La presse revealed that over a two-month period between December 2010 and January 2011, CAF military police physically abused and psychologically tortured 40 Afghan detainees in an attempt to coerce information from them. Heavily-armed military police repeatedly invaded the cells where the detainees were being held, forced them to the ground and against walls, and otherwise threatened and abused them in an effort to terrorize them. After a complaint was made, the military authorities were compelled to investigate but hushed up the entire affair, with no one involved subject to any disciplinary action whatsoever.

 

The author also recommends:

Canada hikes military spending
[2 May 2015]

Winning a Nuclear War

The Prize: Extinction

By Bo Filter
May 4, 2015
Dissident Voice

 

littleboy_DVDon’t expect the concept of extinction or omnicide to roll off the lips of nuclear warriors. Their brains focus on the win-ability of nuclear war to the exclusion of all other possibilities. Let’s take a minute to examine the myopic mindset of nuclear strategists and what we should be doing about it.

The story of nuclear weapons begins with the dropping of an atomic bomb named Little Boy on the city of Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. Since then, many authors have written and exposed this event as being more about starting a new war with our ally Russia than about ending WWII, more about continuing war so that the vast fortunes made by the US arms industry from WWII could continue indefinitely into the future.

Ever since Little Boy, the US has threatened Russia with nuclear bombs, and even had Russia ringed with nuclear weapons by 1951.1 Today the US is parading its nuclear arsenal in Ukraine along the Russian border in an unimaginable display of blatant aggression. Note that Russia is not posturing the same way by having Russian troops lined along the border of Canada or Mexico. The US claim that Russian aggression forces them to Russia’s doorstep with nuclear weapons is patently false. The Russian army remains in Russia, while the US military and its many mercenary armies are not only in Ukraine but run rampant across the planet.

Continuous aggressive nuclear posturing by the US over the years was memorialized in a military strategy called Escalation Dominance, wherein, rungs on a ladder of aggression escalate violence incrementally up the ladder until full domination is achieved. The principle of this stratagem was Dean Acheson, who laid out this plan in a now declassified top secret National Security Council Memorandum: NSCM-68, which was then received by President Harry S. Truman on April 14, 1950. It originated in the bowels of a secret meeting between the State Department and the Council on Foreign Relations in 1939 explicitly detailing the role of a US empire as a replacement for the British Empire.2

The Council was set up in 1921 as a bridgehead to bring America’s emerging power under the umbrella of the British throne. This had already been partially accomplished by modeling the Ivy League colleges after Cambridge. Imperial-minded professors were given free range to preach the gospel of privilege for an elite few. As Britain fell from the top position of colonial power, the aristocracy, although now in the back seat, remained in the lead limousine of a new arising phenomenon called globalization—turning the world into a singular vast colony for elite domination.

The Council produces an influential magazine called Foreign Affairs. Council director Isaiah Bowen wrote in 1942 that the US must secure areas “strategically necessary for world control.” Foreign Affairs editor Edwin Gay wrote, “When I think of the British Empire as our inheritance, I think simply of the natural right of succession.” America was on track to take over the world, country after country, in domino fashion. British imperialism reaching around the globe using American muscle would be distasteful to the American people, who thought they had escaped British influence through their revolution, so the creeping dominoes of world control had to be blamed on some other targeted enemy, still ally at the time, Russia.

Professors Michio Kaku and Daniel Axelrod summarized the new state of affairs:

The advent of atomic warfare gave a new twist to the plans to assume the mantle of the British Empire: just as the British used the battleship as an ultimate weapon of intervention, the US would use the atomic bomb. According to the Council’s study groups, naval superiority, which protected and expanded British investments around the world, would be replaced by atomic superiority. Gunboat Diplomacy would be replaced by Atomic Diplomacy. Pax Britannia would give way to Pax Americana.3

A US new world order was rising out of the crumbling British, French, and German colonial empires. Financial barons from Wall Street were eager to be the architects of this new world order. About 100 senior bankers and lawyers jelled into what was called the “old boys’ network or “national security establishment.”4 Like aristocracies of old, their enemy was any populist sharing of power. The people of America were to be left out, while the US Constitution was to be ignored or used only in limited cases to shore up the old boys grip on power.

The aristocracies of old Europe were now to be demoted to puppet dictators. For example, exiled White Russians and members of the Tsarist aristocracy who fled Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution would be allowed to set up a puppet government for Wall Street. Russia had to be dismembered to expose its vast resources to the new world order, the new internationalists.

Back home, Constitutionally-minded Republicans and Democrats were not keen on American expansionism, as imperialism emanating from any country is anathema to a global plurality of democracies. Non-interventionist Congressmen wanted the US to remain isolated, sovereign, and independent, leaving other countries to fend for themselves, choosing their own respective sovereign destinies in the spirit of freedom. This friction came to a head when a fistfight broke out in a Senate chamber between internationalist Dean Acheson and his arch-enemy, Senator Ken Wherry from Nebraska.

Acheson was an impeccable member of the Eastern Establishment, growing up as a member of the upper class. His father became an Anglican minister then bishop of Connecticut after serving as a British Army Officer. His family was steeped in the traditions and mores of British colonialism. His mother grew up in a wealthy banking family with business interests in England and Canada. As part of the old-boy network, he attended colleges like Groton and Yale, “where it was considered the birthright and perhaps even the duty of his social class to intervene in the affairs of other nations.”5

Acheson saw most Americans as his social inferior, including the low-class haberdasher from Missouri, President Truman. Acheson hated the right-wing Republican isolationists who opposed the interventionist policies of the Council. In his typical condescending manner, he called the isolationists “sub-humans” and “apes,”6 unenlightened by his own troglodytic tendencies of greed and selfish acquisitiveness through ruthless means.

Like Acheson, the Dulles brothers, John Foster and Allen, were sons of a well-to-do clergyman. As boys, they tagged along with their grandfather to conferences around the world that introduced them to international power politics. They, too, attended exclusive schools like Princeton, which were modeled after aristocrat-controlled Cambridge University in England. John Foster traveled extensively during WWII, making intimate friends with members of the British Colonial Office.

Lord Cranbourne argued that Britain could no longer run its Empire alone, and that US elites should join and help lead a new bigger British world empire. America supposedly had escaped the grip of the British Empire, only to have the likes of John Foster Dulles aspire to yoke Americans right back into the ranks of British servitude. No wonder there was a fistfight in the Senate chamber.

The Dulles brothers father, Allen Macy Dulles, reared his boys to embrace missionary Christianity. The world was to be led by a new imperial ministry and their weapon of choice for global domination was nuclear Escalation Dominance. Students at Groton even coined a name for it, muscular Christianity. The age-old “divine right of kings” seems to have changed only in faces and names. The new theological kings declare “onward Christian soldiers” with nuclear weapons at their side and an image of Armageddon as doable. President Reagan puzzled over the possibility of Armageddon, uncertain whether or not God was commanding him to destroy earth or to leave it in the hands of God.

Psychopathology in Aristocracy

Aristocrats commonly suffer from profound delusional thinking and Severe Narcissistic Personality. They live a seeming fairytale life style, floating above the normal mundane chores of life, like having to cook or clean, never having to wash dishes, clothes or toilets. Being raised like veal, as in a confined ideological world, lends itself to psychological anemia and disconnected thinking from reality, thus, setting the stage for delusional thinking. The unusual degree of pampering in their upbringing includes coaching them to believe that their station in life is above the masses, even elevated in some theocratic families to the status of demigod, born of and “chosen” by God to lead lower classes. By self-pronouncing, without question, that their power is derived by God, they need not defer to the people themselves. The masses are, in effect, irrelevant and completely disposable. History is rife with examples of the aristocracy amusing themselves with killing lower people, like in the Roman coliseums. Disconnection from reality causes some elites to become perplexed by the distaste of the masses being subjected to the cruelties of servitude.

In the nuclear age, profound consequences follow from a toxic brew of distorted, disconnected, and arrogant thinking. From secret minutes of the National Security Council, Allen Dulles repeatedly bewailed the ignorance of the American people, “who draw an ‘artificial’ distinction between nuclear and conventional weapons and cannot realize that atomic bombs should be treated like bullets.”7 By losing touch with the fire power difference of bullet that kills one person versus an atomic bomb, like Little Boy, that fell on Hiroshima and indiscriminately killed 100,000 plus civilians reveals a callous disrespect for life almost too incomprehensible to imagine.

In addition, the lust for power adds an aggravating element of addiction to the toxic mix of disassociation, as exemplified by Dulles. Pursuit of power can become so engrossing and self-absorbing as to preclude the outside world, disconnecting critical brain functions from life and consequences of intended actions, not unlike a drug addict, totally obsessed with a perceived need to rob and kill to acquire money for the next fix. Keep in mind too, that not all members of the very rich become psychopaths.

John Kenneth Galbraith grew up among the elite but didn’t lose his sanity. He often lamented, however, the fact of being hopelessly outnumbered by the others in the Council “who felt it was natural, proper, and even Christian to apply force against other nations.”8 Having self-declared demigod status, “Thou shalt not kill” was meant only for the lower-class masses. Being the indispensible exception, as part of the white mans’ burden, the son’s of theologians all too often become entrenched in the perceived higher missionary work of eradicating the world of nonbelievers.

Military Psychopathology

Adding another dimension to the toxic stew is the love of war, love of mass murder, which is so prevalent in military circles. John Hersey’s book: The War Lovers tells the story of how the fascination with annihilation drives men to obsess over death, like a moth flirting forward to test a candle’s flame.

Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark warned:

The pitiful mentality and ethic that can tirelessly banter, threaten, and toy with omnicide cannot be permitted to wield such power… The obvious joy that men like Teller, Kaysen, LeMay, Rostow, Kissinger, Haig, Brzezinski, Allen, and Reagan reflect in wielding such power provides a clear warning of our peril.9

We certainly can add the names of Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, Netanyahu, and a slew of neoconservatives. While working in a Top Secret war room, I personally witnessed officers planning wars of untold destruction. If necrophilia exudes a tone, then the prevailing mood in that war room was necrophilia. The clear warning is that we have allowed civilization to drift into the hands of necrophiliacs.

General Patton said that war is the “cataclysmic ecstasy of violence.” Nazi torturers described an almost orgasmic fascination with killing—almost a feeling of omnipotence. One psychopath described to Dr. Helen Caldicott how, as a boy, he experienced feelings of ecstasy by piercing the belly of a frog with a stick and watching it squirm and burn to death as he roasted it over a fire.10

atombomb_DVThese individuals are disconnected from humanity and reality, lost in pleasure seeking and intoxication with power, the power to destroy. The ultimate climax would be to destroy all life, creating a planetary-wide necropolis, as exemplified by the sinking of the gods into the sea, as the final climax in Wagner’s opera, Twilight of the Gods, which fascinated and held captive the mind of Adolf Hitler.

The general public finds it difficult to relate to this whole discussion of torture, narcissistic demigods, and necrophiliacs because the masses do not suffer the drama of these disturbed personalities. It takes one to know one, or you have to study psychopathology. Psychopaths flock together in the high echelons of power, out of view of the general populace. Therefore, the general public, out of ignorance, fails to conceive of remedies that could address such a strange disconnection from reality.

Keep in mind that psychopathology in war is not exclusive to other countries. As part of NATO, Canada plays a junior role in US gang murders around the planet. Nuclear threats to Russia and Iran are ongoing. This puts the Prime Minister’s office right in the thick of things, even escalating tensions in neighboring countries. Stephen Harper now claims that his administration can escape unharmed from bombing Syria and Libya, because (a) the US has world courts in a head lock, unable to prosecute him for war crimes, and (b) that victim countries cannot fight back because they lack the missiles required to shoot down Canadian fighter-bombers flying at high altitudes.

Of course, bombing little weak countries evokes mass casualties, mass murder. So Harper is claiming, in effect, that he can get away with a bloodbath scot-free. Does this evoke from you an image of a national hero personally bearing arms in a fight to stop a foreign invading army of Canada, or does it solicit more of an image of an emasculated leader who hides his cowardice behind the apron of a western gang murder force called NATO? Since none of the civilians he will have killed will never have had the right to be tried for any crime, should he not personally go there to accuse, convict, condemn, then slay all these people with his own two hands in a spectacular showing of imperial just cause? You be the judge.

NATO consistently makes a patently false claim that bombing countries is done in order to free them. These countries are left in ruble. Churches, schools, hospitals, drinking water and food supplies are all destroyed in what NATO calls their responsibility to protect, the pretext they use to self-invite their bombing campaigns.

The real reason is stated behind closed doors, far away from the evening television news. The real goal is to further imperialism, to clear the land of all obstacles so that western corporations can access and take all the resources for free. Dead people don’t complain or resist the taking of their lands. Psychopaths drive these wars of conquest.

These bombings constitute wars of aggression, what the UN now defines as the most egregious human behavior ever imagined. Yet, this is the current state of world affairs. For the record, US war-planners created and exploded the first atomic weapons over Japan in 1945. Their descendants have gone on to use tactical nuclear weapons in eight countries. No other country has used atomic or nuclear weapons on another country.11

The use of nuclear weapons has become so routine, that killing and poisoning the landscape of other countries has become part of an American nuclear culture. Imbued into the political landscape, nuclear weapons are never discussed in Congress, in Parliament, or the nightly news as weapons of mass destruction.

In fact, they are now claimed to be conventional weapons, you know, like rocks and spears. War-planners claim they are defensive weapons. Logically, this means that any number of them could be exploded over North-American soil to stop an incoming invasion. Can you imagine nuclear bombs going off all over the country in the name of protecting the land? I can’t. It’s just another example of disconnected, ignorant, and arrogant thinking.

Final Analysis: Sanity as a Path to Recovery

The most fundamental war facing humanity is the conflict between psychopathology and sanity. If we intend to survive, we need to begin a new mode of thinking. If we don’t we will continue to drift toward unparalleled catastrophe as Einstein warned us. We need to start educating ourselves about the causes and cures of wars. This new endeavor could be called warology. To some degree, each of you needs to become a warologist.

bombchange_DV

You need to understand that the role of Escalation Dominance in nuclear power politics, as carefully researched and explained by professors Kaku and Axlerod, is a move towards a state of total global domination and servitude. Seeking absolute power over other human beings is seeking the power of gods, the ultimate folly of an egocentric narcissistic personality, a self-anointed demigod that finds little room for other people on this earth except in the service of the narcissist’s pleasures.

Nuclear-war planners live in a world of make-believe, where they disconnect themselves from reality. They have to pretend that a god gives them the right to make and use hideous weapons of mass destruction. They have to pretend that the bomb dropped on Hiroshima did not produce mass destruction and ought not be of any more concern than a bullet. They have to pretend that evaporating people is part of a new normal. They have to pretend that shooting off nuclear weapons all over the world would be a permissible defensive posture. They have to pretend that by disallowing any media discussion of the use of nuclear weapons renders such weapons automatically safe for use. They have to pretend that nuclear weapons are not offensive weapons, which involves war crimes of the highest dimension.

The public is not trained to directly change the egomaniac delusions of the demigods, but it must not fall prey to collusion by accepting another set of delusional beliefs:

— that we are completely innocent and therefore free of all responsibility;
— that we are helpless;
— that our voices won’t count even if we do express ourselves;
— that public opinion is 100% ignored by the politicians;
— that any effort we put forward must show immediate results and rewards;
— that we can control nuclear war once it breaks out;

— that since an all-out nuclear war has not yet happened, it never will, so we can relax and ignore the problem.

You would likely scrub this last belief if you informed yourself of the many near misses we’ve had. For instance, in a single 18 month period, failsafe mechanisms malfunctioned 151 times, and there were 32 broken arrow accidents between 1950-1980 alone.12

Sanity must come to power. To be sane, we have to live in the real world, not fantasyland. Pretending that nuclear weapons are legitimate, legal, defensive weapons is insane. War-planners are insane, but what about the rest of us? Are we absolutely innocent? We must own our part.

We allow nuclear posturing to go on as if nothing has changed with the splitting of the atom. We look the other way. We, too, pretend that nuclear weapons are legal by virtue of our silence.

A thick blanket of nothingness hangs over the land: no media debate, too little rational-fear, too little rational-anger, considering the massive number of deaths thus far. If our collective-psyche is too numb to register fear, anger, and remedial action, then we need to question our own sanity. Is censoring a public debate in the media sufficient to make us numb and unwittingly insane? Well, we better start talking about it.

Sanity requires rational thought, rational discussion, and remedial action. Any one of the following: making, storing, transporting, using, or threatening to use nuclear weapons is an international war crime, yet collectively, we have not created the proper courts to enforce war crime statutes.

Independent war crimes tribunals already have been conducted, showing the world how proper legal proceedings are done, like the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal and the International Tribunal on U.S./NATO War Crimes Against Yugoslavia. We, the people of the world, need to get behind the findings of these tribunals and push. This will take precious time that we can hardly spare. Meanwhile, the people of the world have a right to vote on the question of extinction, exactly where an all-out nuclear war is leading.

What to do right now

Would it not be logical for everyone in the world who has a computer to contact the White House with a clear message that nuclear war is not an option? Please don’t pretend that stopping nuclear war is the job of someone else, someone out there in fairyland.

We should not need to be told that having and raising children with a long bloodline loses all of its meaning and value when extinction arrives. Surely, a fight for the survival of posterity is something worth waging. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: “No nation or individual, can be permitted to possess the power to destroy the world.”

The good news is that public opinion does have a dramatic effect on governments. Professors Kaku and Axlerod give ample examples of where, when, and how public opinion pulled nuclear policy makers back from triggering nuclear war.

Contact the White House. Keep contacting the President from time to time. Don’t expect a response, but they do count votes, pro and con, to every subject people raise and praise or complain about.

If you need to be energized, borrow a little psychological power from the movie, Network. You first have to get mad as hell. Get off your chairs, but I don’t want you to go to the window and shout out, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more.”

Instead, I want you to go to your computers and type “The White House” into your web search window. When you get on site, click on “Contact US.” Find the blue box that says, “Submit comments online.” Click on it. Fill out the required information. In the comment window, I want you to type just three words, “No Nuclear War.” That’s it. Hit the send button.

If you then spread this message through social media, millions of people could flood the White House with a message too large in number for the President to ignore. This gives the President ammunition to show to the Pentagon warriors who are itching to conduct nuclear war. Be proud of yourselves. Tell your children and friends that you are at work on the right side of history.

  1. Caldicott, Dr. Helen. Missile Envy: The Arms Race and Nuclear War. 1984. William Morrow and Company, Inc. New York, 69. [↩]
  2. Kaku, Michio and Axlerod, Daniel. To Win a Nuclear War: The Pentagon’s Secret War Plans. 1987. Black Rose Books, Montreal-New York, 63. [↩]
  3. Kaku & Axelrod, 64. [↩]
  4. Kaku & Axelrod, 39. [↩]
  5. Kaku & Axelrod, 67. [↩]
  6. Kaku & Axelrod, 69. [↩]
  7. Kaku & Axelrod, 314. [↩]
  8. Kaku & Axelrod, 161. [↩]
  9. Kaku & Axelrod, viii. [↩]
  10. Caldicott, 296-297. [↩]
  11. Eight countries attacked with tactical nuclear weapons—one country with atomic bombs—all sponsored by the US government: Egypt by Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War; Iraq in 1991 US attack called Desert Storm; Yugoslavia during 1999 US continuous bombing raid of 78 days and nights; after 9/11: Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Africa, Libya, Syria. [↩]
  12. Caldicott, 17, 44. [↩]

Bo Filter is a social scientist, speaker, and author of The Cause of Wars and Aggression: Book 1. Read other articles by Bo.

UN Peacekeepers: Defenders of Law or Felons?

By Valery Kulikov
May 4, 2015
New Eastern Outlook

 

543522222The recent scandal involving the sexual abuse of African children carried out by members of a UN peacekeeping mission, despite numerous efforts of this international organization to play it down, will not be ignored. And the international community must finally recall what was the original purpose of the UN as established by allied powers after the Second World War in the name of peace and security for all people on the planet.

According to a series of publications by Bruxelles2France InfoGuardian and a number of other media outlets, a number of French and Georgian soldiers that were employed in the UN peacekeeping operation “Sangaris” in Central Africa, are responsible of child sexual abuse.

It should be recalled that an armed conflict between the government of the Central African Republic and Muslim rebels, many of which took part in the civil war of 2004-2007, resulted in the French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announcing that France would deploy a thousand soldiers in CAR to carry out a UN peacekeeping mission. On December 9, 2013 the United States decided to take part in this operation, while the Georgian parliament also agreed to send its soldiers to CAR a year later, on February 22, 2014. By June 2014 the number of Georgian Armed Forces in the Central African Republic reached 140 members.

According to the French news agency France Info, French and Georgian soldiers were raping children aged 8 to 15 years in the area near M’Poko airport and were subjecting them to  sexual exploitation.

Some of the incidents that occurred between December 2013 and June 2014 in a refugee camp at M’Poko airport were depicted in a special UN closed report that was titled “Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces.” In particular, the document contains witnesses of local boys that were subjected to sexual exploitation, including rape and homosexual relations in exchange for food and water. The majority of the victims were orphans, increasing their vulnerability. In the summer of 2014 this report was handed over to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, however no action was taken to investigate the factual findings.

In these circumstances and in order to stop systematic child rape in CAR, one of the staff members of the Geneva Branch of the United Nations Anders Kompass had given those documents to French authorities on his on initiative, in hopes that they would take effective measures to investigate the described incidents and punish those responsible. However, the highest ranks of the United Nations didn’t seem willing to “wash their dirty linen in public”, instead they are now planning to sack the “snitch” for an “unauthorized disclosure of proprietary information.”

In this regard, one must note that in the past the United Nations has been caught trying to conceal incidents of pedophilia numerous times, including sexual exploitation of children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo and Bosnia, along with concealing incidents involving sexual harassment in Haiti, Burundi and Liberia.

Recently, some serious accusations against the UN were made by James Wasserstrom, a former US diplomat that was fired from the UN once he expressed his suspicions about the corruption among senior officials of the former UN mission in Kosovo. In particular, this former diplomat stressed the fact that instead of punishing Anders Kompass, this international organization must have taken all possible measures to prevent such abuse in the future, along with punishing all responsible figures in a timely manner. A responsible official of the Swedish Foreign Ministry Anders Ronquist, has also raised his voice in the defense of Anders Kompassstating that those incidents must never again occur in the future. There’s little doubt that those crimes along with the UN’s attempts to hide them do not erode the credibility of this international organization.

But the fact is that this credibility has already been jeopardized by numerous cases of unjustified use of force initiated by certain UN members to achieve their own geopolitical goals. Once the UN became a political servant of Washington, it has started serving US military contractors that hungry for even more bloodshed all across the globe. This policy has already led to the death and suffering of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and other countries of the Middle East, along with Africa and the former Yugoslavia.

If there’s going to be no change in the policies and actions of the United Nations officials now, it is possible that this organization may suffer the sorry fate of its predecessor – the League of Nations, that was just as unable to prevent conflicts and global threats to humanity on the basis of respect to international laws.

Valery Kulikov, political analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Canada hikes military spending

By Keith Jones
May 2, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Canada’s Conservative government announced a major increase in military spending in last week’s federal budget.

Starting in 2017, base military spending will be increased by three percent, rather than the current two percent. This will result in an additional $11.8 billion in Canadian Armed Forces’ expenditures over a decade. As the increases are compounded, the military budget in 2026 will be a whopping $2.3 billion higher than hitherto budgeted.

Last week’s budget also announced $390 million in additional military spending in the current fiscal year, which began April 1. This is above and beyond the $18.941 billion in expenditures outlined in the spending estimates the Conservative government presented to parliament in early March.

Of this $390 million, fully $360 million is to fund the extension and expansion of Canada’s role in the new US-led war in the Middle East. At the end of March, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the Canadian Armed Forces’ intervention in Iraq is being extended for a further 12 months, till April 2016, and that Canadian war planes will now bomb targets in Syria as well as Iraq.

According to Defence Minister Jason Kenney, by April 2016, Canada will have spent $520 million on waging war in Iraq and Syria.

The budget also gave the Canadian Armed Forces $7.1 million in additional money to fund the deployment of 200 military trainers to the Ukraine, where they will train forces loyal to the pro-western government that was installed in Kiev as a result of the US-engineered, fascist-spearheaded February 2014 coup.

The Conservatives’ latest military spending increases have elicited little comment from the corporate media. But significantly, what comment there has been has taken the government to task for doing too little, too late—that is for not dramatically raising spending so as to quickly reach NATO’s target of military expenditure equivalent to at least two percent of GDP.

The Ottawa Citizen, for example, published an article titled “Federal budget: Despite annual funding boost, defence faces uncertain times.” It cited a series of military analysts complaining that the Conservative increases are back-loaded to 2017 and are insufficient to counteract the cuts the government imposed as part of its drive to balance the budget, while continuing to lower taxes on big business and the rich. What the article conveniently omits is that these cuts were only levelled after the Conservatives, continuing on the trajectory of the Martin Liberal government, had hiked Canada’s military spending to the point that, in 2011, it was in real—i.e. inflation adjusted terms—the highest it had been since the end of the Second World War.

There is little doubt the Harper government views the military spending increases announced in its recent budget as a mere down-payment. On its drawing boards are massive plans for rearmament, including the purchase of a new generation of jet-fighters, most likely the US F-35, and a whole fleet of war ships. But, with an election slated for this October, the government found itself boxed in by the combination of a rapidly deteriorating economic situation—which compelled it to resort to all sorts of accounting tricks and improvised one-time measures to fulfill its long-touted deficit elimination pledge—and popular opposition to the Canadian elite’s aggressive militarist agenda.

Last September, when Harper was questioned by reporters about the discrepancy between his push for NATO to ratchet up pressure on Russia and his soft-peddling of its call for member states to pledge two percent of GDP on military expenditures, the prime minister frankly admitted that the Canadian people would not “understand” such a dramatic hike in military spending.

The opposition parties have said even less than the media about the government’s plans to divert still more resources to the military, even as it ravages public and social services. This silence bespeaks their consent and support.

The entire political elite—from the Conservatives to the trade union-based NDP and the pro-Quebec independence Parti Quebecois and Bloc Quebecois—has supported the reorientation of Canada’s foreign policy since the turn of the century. This reorientation has seen Canada play a leading role in a series of US-led wars and military interventions, including the 1999 NATO war on Yugoslavia, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the 2004 ouster of Haiti’s elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and the 2011 NATO war “for regime” change in Libya.

The role of the NDP, which as late as 2003 still claimed to oppose Canada’s participation in NATO, has been especially significant. Time and again it has given its imprimatur to the attempts of the Canadian elite and its US partners to cloak their predatory actions in claims of humanitarian intervention and the “responsibility to protect.”

The claim that Canada, a major belligerent in both world wars of the last century, was a “peacekeeper” nation was always a fraud. It was part of an effort to promote a “left” Canadian nationalism during the 1950s and 1970s, the better to politically tame the working class. Throughout the Cold War, Canada was a staunch US military ally, a founder-member of NATO and its partner in NORAD. For close to half-a-century, Canada’s military resources were overwhelmingly devoted to planning for World War III with the Soviet Union. Such UN peace-keeping operations Canada led or joined were, it should be added, always mounted with Washington’s approval and support.

That said, Canada’s ruling class is eagerly participating in a resurgence of imperialism. Led by the US, the major capitalist powers have revived war as an instrument of policy, are rearming, and routinely trammel on international law and state sovereignty.

In keeping with Canada’s new aggressive foreign policy, the ruling elite has put paid to the notion of Canada as a “peacekeeper.” The media celebrates Canada’s military prowess in past and current combat, while Harper routinely proclaims Canada a “warrior nation.”

Whilst the Canadian Armed Forces did not wage war for four decades, stretching from the end of the Korean War till its participation in the 1991 Gulf War, it has been almost perpetually at war in this century, in Afghanistan (2001-2011), Libya (2011), and since last fall in Iraq and now Syria.

Furthermore, Canada is deeply involved in all three of the major military-strategic offensives the US is mounting on the world stage.

#It has joined the war against the Islamic State—a war that arises out of the series of wars the US has waged in the Middle East and has the same objective as they did, to secure US hegemony in the world’s most important oil-exporting region.

#Canada has long assisted the US in its effort to transform Ukraine into a western satellite and its drive to expand NATO to Russia’s borders. With the full support of the opposition parties, the Harper government has deployed Canadian warplanes to Eastern Europe and battleships to the Black Sea so as to bolster NATO’s threats against Russia.

#In 2013, Canada signed a secret military agreement with the US integrating Canada into the “Pivot to Asia,” Washington’s drive to strategically encircle and isolate China. It is also participating in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), through which Washington aims to establish a vast US-led economic bloc at China’s expense.

Canada’s Communication Security Establishment (CSE), it should be added, is one of the key partners of the US National Security Agency. The CSE is an integral part of both components of the NSA’s global operations: spying on the world’s governments and citizens, and assisting the Pentagon and CIA in waging war and eliminating “security threats.”

Like the US ruling class, Canada’s is rattled by the decline in the relative economic power of the US, its long-time strategic and economic partner, and the rise of new powers. It calculates it can best defend and assert its own predatory and increasingly significant economic and strategic global interests by supporting US imperialism in its drive to shore up its world position through the deployment of its military might, the one area where the US continues to enjoy massive superiority over all its rivals.

Imperialist aggression abroad goes hand in hand with the Canadian bourgeoisie’s ever-widening assault on the democratic and social rights of the working class at home—the criminalization of strikes, the expansion of the national-security apparatus and the systematic dismantling of public and social services.

Only through the systematic mobilization of the international working class on a socialist program against war, social inequality and in defence of worker and democratic rights can this imperialist resurgence and social counter-revolution be countered, and crisis-ridden capitalism prevented from sucking humanity down the vortex of escalating military conflict leading ultimately to global conflagration.

This author also recommends:

Canada sending troops to Ukraine on two-year training mission
[18 April 2015]

NDP opposes Canada’s role in Mideast war on tactical grounds
[10 April 2015]

Canada deeply implicated in US anti-China “pivot”
[14 April 2015]

 

More details emerge over sacking of Australian journalist for challenging Anzac myth

By Mike Head
April 29, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Scott McIntyre

Further evidence has emerged as to the role played by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the chain of events leading to Sunday’s sacking of Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) sport commentator Scott McIntyre for posting tweets critical of the glorification of the April 25 Anzac Day centenary.

SBS has refused to reinstate McIntyre, who is considering legal action, despite a growing volume of letters and petitions condemning its decision.

McIntyre, who has worked for SBS for 10 years, was dismissed without notice, supposedly for compromising “the integrity of the network” by making five twitter comments on Anzac Day. His tweets, sent at around 5.40 p.m., came amid blanket media coverage to support the official “celebration” of the centenary of the 1915 attack on Turkey’s Gallipoli peninsula by Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) troops as part of an Anglo-French invasion.

The journalist condemned “the cultification of an imperialist invasion of a foreign country.” He also recalled the documented war crimes and other abuses committed by Anzac soldiers during World War I, and denounced the World War II mass murder of Japanese people by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by “this nation and their allies.”

Turnbull swiftly intervened. On his blog, he has revealed that he contacted SBS managing director Michael Ebeid “as soon as I was made aware of the tweets by Mr McIntyre.”

Barely three hours after McIntyre’s posts, Ebeid publicly denounced them as “disrespectful.” Four minutes later, Turnbull himself tweeted that the journalist’s remarks were “offensive,” “inappropriate” and “despicable.”

Ebeid later confirmed that he spoke to Turnbull in the hours leading up to McIntyre’s dismissal on Sunday morning. “There was some contact” between the minister and the SBS boss, a network spokeswoman told the Guardian Australia.

While denying that he had any influence in SBS’s decision to sack the journalist, Turnbull unilaterally declared on his blog that McIntyre “breached” a number of provisions in “the SBS social media protocol” with his “offensive tweets.”

Turnbull insisted that McIntyre’s free speech rights remained intact because he was still entitled to express his political views “as a private citizen.”

The Abbott government’s Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson quickly chimed in, via a column published in the Australian yesterday. As public criticism of SBS’s decision grew, Wilson claimed it was “absurd” to decry McIntyre’s dismissal as censorship. That was because, Wilson claimed, McIntyre was still free to “tweet his bile” and “no one is guaranteed a job.”

This renders free speech meaningless. In effect, you can express your political opinions only if your employer approves. You can speak your mind, but you will find yourself out of work, and potentially blacklisted. The same logic can be applied to silence anyone, including teachers, public servants and corporate sector workers.

On the government’s behalf, Wilson is seeking to redefine freedom of expression precisely along these lines. Last year, in another newspaper column, he wrote: “Voluntary codes associated with employment are one of the most important ways that we regulate the conduct of the individual without laws, and they are fundamentally a good thing.” Supposedly, you “voluntarily” surrender your free speech by undertaking employment.

Other government supporters soon went further, accusing the SBS journalist of aiding terrorism. News Corp commentator Andrew Bolt said McIntyre’s “hate speech” against Australia was “becoming the most dangerous” and “he had to go.”

Appearing on the Australian Broadcasting Corporations “Q & A” television show on Monday night, Monash University historian Carolyn Holbrook, a former policy adviser in the prime minister’s department, declared that McIntyre’s comments would “give fuel to young people who are confused and thinking about becoming jihadists.”

In other words, any criticism of the Australian ruling elite’s involvement in imperialist wars, past or present, cannot be tolerated, and will be demonised as supporting or inciting terrorism.

Monday’s Q & A program underlined the unanimous line-up in the political establishment behind McIntyre’s victimisation. Alongside Abbott government member Arthur Sinodinos, deputy Labor Party leader Tanya Plibersek pointblank refused to oppose his sacking. “I think it is for the SBS management to decide whether he has breached any workplace policies,” she said.

The real concern in ruling circles is the broad anti-war and democratic sentiment that exists, despite all the efforts to drown it out through the government’s half billion dollar campaign to legitimise and glorify World War I.

Protests against McIntyre’s dismissal and demands for his reinstatement have begun to circulate widely on social media. One on-line petition, signed by nearly 2,500 people by this morning, condemns SBS’s actions as a “reprehensible” attack on free speech and commends McIntyre’s “criticism of hyper-nationalism associated with Anzac Day.”

The comments made by petition signers give some indication of the widely felt outrage and concern. One wrote: “Scott’s opinions weren’t offensive. The level of sickening propaganda saturating the media around Anzac Day is what is offensive—and you sacking him is even more offensive.” Another stated: “Debate should be encouraged, especially about war and politicians stirring up nationalism for their own purposes!” One commented: “Scott McIntyre was expressing a view that is well-known and agreed with in the Australian community who are not caught up on the Anzac Juggernaut jingoism.”

In response to the Socialist Equality Party’s April 27 statement calling for the defence of McIntyre and free speech, a barrister sent us a link to her blog comment, in which she explained that McIntyre’s sacking violated the implied freedom of political communication in the Australian Constitution. She wrote: “There is no foreseeable end to the classes of persons who may, at the stroke of a pen or at the stroke of someone’s whim, be deprived of the freedom of political communication, begging the question ‘Which other class of persons is to be deprived next? Soldiers? Teachers? Nurses? Builders? Shopkeepers? Political advisers?’”

In a letter to SBS management, a daughter of a World War II war veteran wrote: “Shame on you that our young people, your employees, are not given the right to express their views and to protest in the way they know best, through social media, the disgusting displays of militarism that have become the ‘ANZAC’ celebrations in Australia.”

Some journalists have voiced support for McIntyre, including Glenn Greenwald, who helped publish the revelations by US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden of the mass surveillance conducted by Washington and its allies. “Australian TV journalist criticizes violence celebrated by national holiday. Govt minister complains. Journalist is fired,” Greenwald posted on Twitter.

Australian Financial Review journalist Geoff Winestock tweeted: “Ridiculous. Frightening. I also think Anzacs were racist yobs and Anzac Day is a death cult. Sack me, Fairfax.”

McIntyre’s sacking, at the government’s behest, underscores the connection between the drive to war by the US and its partners, including Australia, and the assault on basic democratic rights, designed to silence dissent and working-class opposition.

The journalist’s dismissal comes on top of a similar attack on the democratic rights of the Socialist Equality Party to hold public anti-war meetings on April 26, entitled “Anzac Day, the glorification of militarism and the drive to World War III.” In Sydney, the Labor Party-controlled Burwood Council cancelled the initial booking for the meeting, and the University of Sydney refused to permit the meeting because it would “disrupt” Anzac events taking place on its campus.

The SEP’s meetings only went ahead as a result of an intense struggle to clarify the political issues at stake in the face of the pro-war propaganda barrage unleashed by the government and media establishment.

Doonesbury cartoonist attacked for criticizing Charlie Hebdo

By Patrick Martin
April 27, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Garry Trudeau, the creator of the Doonesbury comic strip, has come under attack from right-wing editorialists and media pundits for publicly criticizing anti-Muslim cartoons appearing in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, calling them a form of hate speech.

Trudeau’s brief remarks were delivered at Long Island University April 10, where he received the George Polk Career Award for his more than four decades of work as a cartoonist, in the course of which he has frequently had to battle censorship of his outspoken liberal views. Only three years ago, 50 newspapers refused to carry his strip during a week when he bitingly attacked Republican politicians who oppose abortion rights even in the case of rape or incest.

The central point made by Trudeau is that Charlie Hebdo was engaged, not in satirizing the powerful, but in vilifying the most oppressed section of the French population, Muslim immigrants, who face the highest levels of unemployment, poverty, police harassment and imprisonment.

Trudeau was of course horrified by the bloody massacre in January at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, when an attack by two Islamist gunmen left 12 people dead, include most of the magazine’s senior cartoonists. He contributed to an online tribute to the murdered cartoonists. His refusal to go along with the retrospective glorification of the content of the cartoons, despite the enormous wave of media propaganda that has followed, is an act of intellectual and moral courage.

For that very reason, his statement has been vilified as an attack on the victims of terrorism, in a series of columns by right-wing pundits, including David Frum of The Atlantic, Cathy Young of Reason magazine, and Ross Douthat of the New York Times.

Frum made the most sweeping attack, citing the killings at Charlie Hebdo, the related attack on a kosher bakery in Paris, and a subsequent attack in Copenhagen, Denmark, and declaring, “For this long record of death and destruction—and for many other deaths as well—Garry Trudeau blamed the people who drew and published the offending cartoons.”

The right-wing pundit claims that Trudeau applied “privilege theory” to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, justifying it because the victims were from the white elite, while the gunmen were from the immigrant Muslim underclass. “To fix the blame for the killing on the murdered journalists, rather than the gunmen, Trudeau invoked the underdog status of the latter,” Frum writes.

He goes on to claim that news organizations in the United States that reported on the anti-Islam cartoons in Charlie Hebdo did not reprint them because they were afraid of terrorist attack, drawing the conclusion, “Violence does work.”

Trudeau offered a different explanation for the non-publication of the anti-Muslim cartoons in an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he addressed the right-wing attack on his Long Island University remarks. US editors did not reprint the cartoons because they were demeaning and racist, he maintained. If similar cartoons had targeted African-Americans, they would be universally denounced and repudiated.

Douthat and Young both cite Frum’s column approvingly in their own shorter diatribes, echoing his claim that Trudeau had based his remarks on an extreme version of identity politics. These criticisms are baseless slanders, as can be easily demonstrated by looking at what Trudeau actually said. The cartoonist cited the example of the great satirists of the French Enlightenment.

“Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful. Great French satirists such as Molière and Daumier always punched up, holding up the self-satisfied and hypocritical to ridicule. Ridiculing the non-privileged is almost never funny—it’s just mean.

“By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech…”

The same issue was raised in a perspective published on the World Socialist Web Site immediately after the attack on Charlie Hebdo. WSWS Chairman David North rejected the claim by British historian Simon Schama that the French magazine was in the tradition of the great satirists of the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, writing:

Schama places Charlie Hebdo in a tradition to which it does not belong. All the great satirists to whom Schama refers were representatives of a democratic Enlightenment who directed their scorn against the powerful and corrupt defenders of aristocratic privilege. In its relentlessly degrading portrayals of Muslims, Charlie Hebdo has mocked the poor and the powerless.

North explained that the orgy of praise for Charlie Hebdo, summed up in the slogan “I am Charlie,” raised at demonstrations in Paris, was an effort to provide an ideological justification for US and French imperialism:

The killing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and editors is being proclaimed an assault on the principles of free speech that are, supposedly, held so dear in Europe and the United States. The attack on Charlie Hebdo is, thus, presented as another outrage by Muslims who cannot tolerate Western “freedoms.” From this the conclusion must be drawn that the “war on terror”—i.e., the imperialist onslaught on the Middle East, Central Asia and North and Central Africa—is an unavoidable necessity.

These efforts are doubly hypocritical, given the onslaught on democratic rights, including freedom of the press, in all the Western countries, especially the United States. The Obama administration has targeted more journalists for surveillance and more whistleblowers for prosecution than any other in US history, singling out those who have played major roles in exposing the crimes of the US government, like Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange.

Trudeau is not an avowed opponent of imperialism, but rather a liberal who apparently supports the Obama administration, albeit with some disappointment. That does not detract from the principled character of his public repudiation of the right-wing efforts to whip up anti-Muslim prejudice.

The author also recommends:

“Free speech” hypocrisy in the aftermath of the attack on Charlie Hebdo
[9 January 2015]