Sunday, 27 January 2013

Al Qaida is imperialism’s offspring


First published Saturday, 26 January 2013 00:00

Al Qaida is imperialism’s offspring

Mali - commandos plan an attack with US Special Forces Photo by: ussocom_ru
By Tom Castle
Representative of both French and British imperialism have begun to talk of prolonged military operations in North Africa, lasting a decade or more. Although the US wishes to limit its own commitment of troops to the adventure the sentiments were echoed by departing Secretary of State Clinton.

The imperialists claim that their protracted intervention is necessary to struggle against Al Qaida-linked terrorist groups that cannot just be defeated in a pitched battle.
The reality is that Western powers are simply pursuing their own strategic political and commercial interests. The ‘scramble for Africa’ in the latter part of the 19th century began under a cloak of humanitarian intervention. Imperialist ambitions are essentially the same now as then.
The current intervention in Mali has prompted comparisons with Afghanistan. This alone ought to give pause for thought as Western powers are winding down their military presence in Afghanistan - having been completely unable to defeat an insurgency consisting of rebels, tribal militants, Taliban and remnants of Al Qaida.
Afghanistan is also important because it highlights who created the forces that constitute Al Qaida and continues to nurture them.
In the 1980s the US formed an alliance with ‘mujahedin’ rebel forces that it funded to fight against the government of Afghanistan. The latter was receiving armed support from the Soviet Union.
The CIA organised what was called ‘Operation Cyclone’ to channel hundreds of millions of US Dollars to arm these rebels and train their leading personnel, including Osama bin Laden. The US was full aware of their reactionary ideology and terrorist activities. The world has been reaping this cyclone ever since.
US motivation for forming such alliances is straightforward – it opposes regimes which take some independent stand and deviate, however timidly or inconsistently, from the policies favoured by the US.
In Afghanistan the government’s transgression was to call on Soviet military support to fight the insurgents. In organising the overthrow of the Kabul government US imperialism was willing to ally with the most reactionary and sectarian forces.
In effect, the US created Al Qaida as a fighting force in order to attack a regime which was not wholly subservient to it.
This has been a repeated pattern of US-led interventions in the three decades since.
Despite vociferous clams to the contrary, Al Qaida forces were virtually unknown in Iraq. In fact the evidently false claim was made that Saddam Hussein, a secular bourgeois nationalist, was in league with the Al Qaida sectarians – when the latter actually regarded him as an apostate whom they had a duty to murder.
Effectively the reality in 2003 was the US was allied with Al Qaida, not Saddam Hussein. And, in the process of the US overthrowing him it provided a whole new space in and around Iraq for the terrorists to operate.
Saddam Hussein’s crime was his refusal to come to heel in the face of Western sanctions, creating a potential example that could not to be tolerated.
When in 2011 Western powers overthrew Gaddafi’s regime in Libya, the most hardened fighters among the ground forces that followed up NATO’s airstrikes were Al Qaida-linked forces. Gaddafi attempted to militarily crush them in their strongholds in the east of the country around Benghazi, an area the CIA had long identified as being the main recruiting ground for international terrorist forces.
These Libyan fighters are now channelling support into the fight to overthrow the Syrian regime, where a similar process is currently underway and the ties between Al Qaida and the Western powers are even closer.
There is lots of public hand-wringing in Washington about arming these forces to overthrow Bashar al Assad, although it should be noted much less so in London and Paris. But Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with whom the West is closely allied, are arming the sectarian terrorists who carry out atrocities against the supporters of the government.
The Syrian regime is being targeted by the West because of its opposition to Israel and its material support for the Palestinian armed resistance. The level of US engagement reflects its reluctance to commit resources as it ‘pivots’ towards Asia and curbing China’s rise.
Now it is also claimed that all the militants in northern Mali and southern Algeria are Al Qaida. On the contrary, there is the age-old independence struggle of the Tuareg people. Some also fought alongside Gaddafiagainst the Western-backed Al Qaida combatants, who are now among the militias terrorising the population of Libya, especially black Africans.
More plausibly, it is claimed that Gaddafi’s well-armed allies have lost some of their weaponry to the ultra-sectarian militias. That may be so. But without the Tuareg resistance, the West’s policy of using the Al Qaida forces as its ground troops in Libya would have resulted in all the sophisticated armaments sold to Gaddafi falling into sectarian hands.
It is the West that has introduced chaos in to Mali and the surrounding countries, including encouraging a proliferation of 'Islamist' militias.
This is all a repeating pattern. The claim that all forces in Muslim countries that deviate from imperialism’s policies are Al Qaida or its allies is a monstrous lie. It was directed towards the secularist nationalist regimes in Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere. It is now being applied to similar forces of Tuareg resistance, including the MNLA.
It is imperialism which has unleashed Al Qaida and has repeatedly found it a convenient ally in its struggle to overthrow regimes which even partially interfere with imperial interests. Al Qaida’s grotesque and bloodthirsty methods dovetail with those of imperialism. Unable to command mass support and with an ideology that is both anti-nationalist and anti-communist, Al Qaida represents no fundamental threat to US strategic interests.
Allying with the Soviet Union, holding out against sanctions or arming the Palestinians is regarded as intolerable.
Consciously and unconsciously the Western powers are the prime movers behind the growth of Al Qaida.

RED ARMY SMASHED FASCISM: The 70th Anniversary of the Nazi defeat at Stalingrad


Originally published Friday, 25 January 2013 14:14

The 70th Anniversary of the Nazi defeat at Stalingrad

Soviet soldier waving the Red Banner over the central plaza of Stalingrad in 1943 Photo: German Federal Archives Georgii Zelma
By Jane West
The battle fought across the Volga River in Stalingrad from summer 1942 until 2nd February 1943, which cost the lives of an estimated half a million Soviet solders was one of the greatest and most decisive class struggles in history. It broke the back of Hitler’s Eastern army and ensured Nazi defeat in the Second World War.
Together with the events of 7th November 1917, the victory in Stalingrad on 2nd February 1943, constituted the two most decisive events in the first half of the 20th century. Not only did this battle ensure the defeat of German fascism, and the victory of the USSR, but the successful revolution in China in 1949 could only have happened given this victory.
In short the battle of Stalingrad was a decisive hinge of history.
Its consequences – in the victory and survival of the USSR – continued until 1989-91 saw the Soviet bureaucracy deliver the victory Hitler had failed to achieve in re-establishing capitalism in the Soviet Union – and indeed destroying the USSR itself. The Russian working class is still paying the price of that defeat. It led to the worst decline in life expectancy ever seen in peacetime in an economically developed economy and an absolute decline in the population of Russia..
But in 1943, the victory in Stalingrad, and the immense sacrifice by the Soviet population that achieved it, ensured the end of Hitler’s imperial ambitions for German Nazi domination of both Western Europe and Russia. Its genocidal racist ideology that created the death camps and the murder of millions of Jews, alongside gypsies, gay people, communists and socialists, was smashed.
The incredible resistance put up by the soldiers of the Red Army and the people of the Soviet Union not only defeated Hitler in the East but, in breaking the back of the military capacity of the German Reich, ensured its defeat in Western Europe was just a matter of time.
The immediate consequence of that Soviet victory – the driving back of imperialism from the whole of Eastern Europe – laid the basis for a new rise of the anti-colonial struggle, of which the high points were the Chinese revolution and the defeat of the US in Vietnam, and included the end of the British colonial empire in India and Africa. It also created the conditions for the wringing of concessions out of capital in Western Europe in the form of the ‘welfare state’.
This reality is, of course, scarcely noted in the West, where the revisionist histories of the Cold War and American ascendancy have minimised or even airbrushed out entirely the role of the Soviet Union in defeating Hitler. Instead the conventional wisdom is that the West was saved by the timely intervention of the US and, rather than the heroic Red Army soldier freezing on the banks of the Volga, the victory is put down to the GIs rolling through France.
In fact, by the time of the D-Day invasions on 6th June 1944, Hitler was already defeated and the long-delayed decision to launch the invasion was primarily to prevent the westward advance of the victorious Red Army.
Churchill and Roosevelt had ignored Russian pleas for the opening of a Second Front in the West, which Stalin made continuously from the launch of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 through to the defeat at Stalingrad in 1943. Instead the US and Britain, on the particular insistence of Churchill, concentrated on securing Britain and France’s colonial interests in North Africa and Southern Europe. Hitler was already in headlong retreat before the advancing Soviet troops when D-Day was launched.
Moreover the scale of sacrifice involved between the US and Britain on one side and the USSR on the other simply does not bear comparison.
The personal courage of those who participated in D-Day is undoubted and equivalent to those of the individual Soviet soldiers. While every single one of the estimated 4,414 British and US lives lost in the D-Day landings was a sacrifice no less than any other death, nonetheless in sheer scale it should be noted that the USSR lost nearly this many people every single day during the 164 days of the battle on the Volga.
However, even the crushing victory in the battle of Stalingrad could not have been won by the USSR, indeed the fight would not even have taken place there, if the German army had not already been turned suffered its first defeat in the war at the gates of Moscow in December 1941-January 1942.
Two factors made the victory at Moscow possible.
Firstly was the rapid industrialisation of the USSR in the 1930s, which, despite Stalinist distortions, had only been possible because of the revolution of 1917 and the resulting state control of economic development. This meant that by 1939, total Soviet industrial production was second only to that of the United States and equal to that of Germany.
However, the centre of Soviet industrial strength lay in the west of Russia, right in the path of the Nazi invasion. As the German armies advanced through Western Russia, by an amazing feat of organisation, these factories were moved, brick by brick, to the east of the Urals, and re-assembled for production within weeks.
The second factor was the determined struggle of the Chinese people against Japan. Bogging it down in protracted resistance, meant Japan’s intention to break its neutrality pact with the USSR and launch an invasion to support Barbarossa from the east was not possible. The removal of this threat allowed the USSR to move its Siberian divisions from the Eastern front to the defence of Moscow precisely when the initial defeats by the advancing German Panzer ‘Blitzkrieg’ made the city’s fall seem likely.
If it was the victory of the USSR in the Second World War that made possible the Chinese revolution of 1949, it was the Chinese people’s resistance to Japanese invasion that made possible a Soviet victory by preventing the USSR being invaded not only from the west but from the east.
This struggle of the Chinese people against Japanese imperialism in the second Sino-Japanese war also involved the most incredible level of sacrifice. The Japanese occupation of Nanjing alone resulted in the massacre of 300,000 people.
In the Second World War, the Russian dead numbered 27 million, 14 per cent of the entire population. In absolute numbers only China approached this with up to 30 million dead, but this was a much lower proportion of China’s population.
By way of comparison, the accepted figure is that around 185,000 US soldiers lost their lives in the European theatre of WWII, with a total loss of lives, including in the Pacific, of 418,000 (0.32 per cent of the population). British lives lost totalled an estimated 451,000, just less than 1 per cent of the population of the time.
The historical debt owed by humanity to the defenders of Stalingrad is therefore almost impossible to over-estimate.
Recently it was put eloquently by Brad Delong, Professor of Economics at Berkeley, who is by no means a socialist or fan of the former Soviet Union. His blog commented of Stalingrad:
‘We are the heirs to their accomplishments. We are their debtors. And we cannot repay what we owe to them. We can only remember it.
‘But how many NATO leaders or European Union presidents and prime ministers have ever taken the time to visit the battle site, and perhaps lay a wreath to those whose sacrifice saved their civilization?’
‘May there never be another such battle. May we never need another one.’
Eternal glory to the victors of Stalingrad!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

French war on Mali spreads to Algeria

SOURCE: Workers World: French war on Mali spreads to Algeria


French war on Mali spreads to Algeria

By  on January 21, 2013 » WORKERS WORLD
French soldiers in Bamako, the capital of Mali, on Jan. 14.
French soldiers in Bamako, the capital of Mali, on Jan. 14.
The war that French imperialism has escalated in its former West African colony of Mali has now spread to neighboring Algeria. There, some 82 people have been reported killed after an attempted seizure of hostages at a natural gas field. Imperialist governments are lining up for a long intervention in Africa.
Earlier, President Francois Hollande had deployed some 2,000 troops to carry out France’s intervention in Mali, with another 500 military personnel on the way. French air strikes have continued in the north and central regions of this vast country. U.S., British, German and Dutch imperialism back Hollande’s effort to use a sectional conflict between the Tuareg people in the north and the central government in Bamako as a pretext for French and NATO intervention.
The NATO-member states have pledged transport planes, military advisers and intelligence coordination for the French operations.
Despite a French news ban, some reports have come through of atrocities by the French intervention forces and the Malian troops accompanying them. Reprisals are ongoing against the Tuareg, Arab and Fulani ethnic groups in the north and other parts of the country. French planes have bombarded Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal in the north. In Mopti in the central region, there are reports of arrests, interrogations and the torture of civilians. (Observer, U.K., Jan. 19)
On Jan. 20, French planes bombed Diabaly. The town of 35,000 had been taken by opposition groups after the French intervention, and French-led forces have yet to retake it. The Jan. 19 Observer published reports from people in the Fulani ethnic group in Mopti describing atrocities committed by the Malian army against their people.
One said: “[T]he soldiers can tell from our dress that we come from the north. Because of that the army suspects us — if we look like Fulani and don’t have an identity card, they kill us. But many people are born in small villages and it’s very difficult to have identification.”
French jets bombed the town of Konna under the pretext of rooting out “Islamic terrorist” groups. Malian Justice Minister Malick Coulibaly acknowledged that his government’s armed forces also carried out abuses both before and after the French intervention.
After much outside pressure, the Malian government had formally requested that the Hollande administration enter the country. In an effort to build a case for foreign involvement, the Bamako regime also invited the International Criminal Court based in The Hague, Netherlands, to investigate alleged abuses by its opponents.
These opponents include a Tuareg separatist group, the Movement for the National Liberation of Azawad, which has a long history of struggle in Mali’s north. The imperialist media lump this Tuareg secular group with the groups Ansar Dine, Al-Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb, and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa. The last have a religious ideology and are accused by the imperialists of maintaining links with the broader Al-Qaeda organization in the region.
Early in 2012, these groups killed Malian troops in attacks on the town of Aguelhok. Following these attacks, Capt. Amadou Sanogo led a military coup on March 22. Sonogo, like other Malian officers, was trained in the U.S. by the Pentagon. These events also brought about the appointments of interim President Dioncounda Traore and former Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra. Diarra holds a U.S. passport and has represented Microsoft in Africa.
The Malian interim government has cited the clashes in Aguelhok and alleged abuses by its opponents in Gao and Timbuktu as justification for requesting an ICC investigation. The African Union has in the past heavily criticized the ICC for its exclusive targeting of African government leaders, such as President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of the Republic of Sudan.
Regional governments in West Africa held a summit meeting in Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast, on Jan. 19. France has been pressuring the Economic Community of West African States to supply up to 5,500 troops to back up the French military invasion.
Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Guinea, Benin and other states have pledged to deploy troops. Forces from Senegal and Nigeria are already reported to have arrived in the capital of Bamako.
But opposition to the intervention in Mali is also growing throughout the region. A demonstration was held outside the French Embassy in Cairo on Jan. 19. The Egyptian government has openly spoken out against the French military actions.
In Mauritania, opposition is widespread, from political parties ranging from the Islamic community to the left, which has criticized the French Socialist Party under Hollande for its actions in Mali.
The Algerian media have expressed strong criticism of France and published reports of anti-intervention demonstrations.
Impact spreads to Algeria
Meanwhile, in neighboring Algeria on Jan. 16, a group called “Signatories in Blood,” headed by Algerian national Mokhtar Bel-Mokhtar, seized hundreds of Algerian workers and some foreign nationals as hostages at a facility in the In Amenas gas field, owned and operated jointly by British Petroleum, Statoil of Norway and the Algerian government.
The hostage-takers’ political demands, in exchange for the release of the captives, were that France cease its military operations in Mali and that Algeria forbid Paris the use of its air space for the war. They also wanted the U.S. to release several people imprisoned in connection with the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, as well as Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani national. Dr. Siddiqui is serving an 86-year sentence in a maximum security prison in the U.S. despite broad appeals within Pakistan for her repatriation.
Two assaults on the gas field facility by Algerian Special Forces left 82 dead, including dozens of Algerian workers and some foreign nationals, along with some 30 Signatories in Blood combatants, according to reports on Jan. 21. Deaths among foreign nationals have included at least seven from Britain, one from the U.S. and a Romanian. Many others are still unaccounted for.
Algeria has been under tremendous political pressure from the U.S. to become directly involved in the war against Mali. There was intense criticism inside the country over the Algerian government’s decision to allow the French military to fly over Algerian air space. Algeria is also a former French colony, where the people waged a successful war of national liberation between 1954 and 1962 to win independence.
Before retiring as U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Algeria in an effort to get the oil and natural gas supplier to enter the war in Mali. The Algerian government has been reluctant to get involved and has had strained relations with the authorities in Mali, including the military.
The French government seized upon the hostage-taking at In Amenas as a further pretext for its intervention, calling it “an act of war” and saying its Mali intervention will continue as long as necessary. British Prime Minister David Cameron likewise called for international efforts to wage war against Al-Qaeda in Africa.
U.S. Africa Command head Gen. Carter L. Ham has claimed that Mali represents one of the largest areas in the world where Al-Qaeda has a base of operations. In a December address at George Washington University, Ham asserted that groups designated as U.S. enemies are increasing their coordination in West and North Africa. (Times of Malta, Jan. 20)
Such statements from a high-ranking Pentagon official portend greater U.S. military intervention in Africa. The anti-war and social justice movements inside the U.S. must rise to the occasion and provide the leading force to oppose this renewed imperialist push to exploit alleged terrorist threats as a pretext to seizing Africa’s resources.

Imperialism opens gates of hell in North Africa

The News Line: Editorial - http://www.wrp.org.uk/news/8304Imperialism opens gates of hell in North AfricaTORY prime minister David Cameron has promised that British imperialism is prepared to wage a war lasting decades throughout Africa and the Middle East – regardless of the cost in money or human life.

Speaking on Sunday about the seizure of the Algerian gas plant by Islamist militants connected to al-Qaeda, Cameron stated: ‘This is a global threat and it will require a global response. It will require a response that is about years, even decades, rather than months.’

His promise of decades of war and misery for the people of the world was echoed by his Foreign Secretary William Hague, who pledged British troops would be sent into Mali as part of an ‘EU training mission’ in support of French imperialism’s military adventure.

Hague also made the admission that the destruction being wrought in the region is a ‘spin-off’ from the war conducted by the British and French, along with their Gulf feudalist and jihadist allies, to overthrow the government of Libya and murder its leader Colonel Gadaffi.

This is no ‘spin-off’, it is a direct result of the war that he and Cameron were responsible for launching.

Nor can they claim to have been ignorant of the consequences of their brutal campaign to oust the secular regime of Gadaffi. The Colonel himself warned the world directly of what would happen if imperialism was successful.

In an interview given in Tripoli just before his murder he correctly predicted that if his regime was overthrown then North Africa would erupt and the ‘gates of hell’ would be opened.

He said: ‘Bin Laden’s people would come to impose ransoms by land and sea. We will go back to the time of Redbeard, of pirates, of Ottomans imposing ransom.’

Gadaffi’s prediction has come true with a vengeance.

Imperialism, in its desperate lust to gain mastery over the oil and mineral wealth of the region, has unleashed hell on the population.

Those jihadist forces that were its allies in the war against Libya are now being proclaimed the enemy against whom decades of war must be fought.

While they are demonised as murderous animals in North Africa, these same jihadists are being armed and supported as loyal allies in the war to overthrow the secular regime of President Assad in Syria.

Should the imperialists succeed in their aim of seizing Syria as a prelude to invading Iran, then the whole of the Middle East and North Africa will not just be destabilized but will go up in flames – flames that will engulf entire continents and millions of people.

In its death agony imperialism is thrashing around the world in an orgy of destruction that has only one aim – to steal the resources of the world and hang the consequences even if this means decades of destruction.

At the same time as they are promising decades of war across the globe Cameron, Hague and the coalition government are promising an equally barbaric war against workers, youth and the middle class at home.

The violence visited upon the people of North Africa is being matched with the violence of smashing the welfare state and creating destitution, poverty and homelessness here in Britain.

The working class face the same enemy as the people of the world – British imperialism and its servants in the coalition government.

Cameron and Hague must be indicted as war criminals over Libya and as plain criminals for their attacks on workers at home.

The only way they can be brought to justice and prevented from repeating the crimes they have committed against the Libyan people, against the Syrians and at the same time stopped from heaping misery on workers at home, is to kick them out through a general strike and replace them with a workers government that will make them answer for their crimes.
 

No to Britain’s Intervention in Mali

Source: Workers Weekly Internet Edition Year 2013 Volume 43 Number 2


No to Britain’s Intervention in Mali


On January 14, the government announced that it was contributing “logistical military assistance” for the recent armed intervention launched by France in the West African country of Mali.

It has subsequently become clear that this support was offered rapidly and with enthusiasm rather than being requested by the French government. The government of France, for its part, claimed that it had received a request for assistance from the government of Mali. According to Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds, the situation in Mali, in which a civil war has been raging throughout the last year, “is a serious concern for the UK”. He maintained that “it would not be in our interests to allow a terrorist haven to develop in Northern Mali. As a responsible member of the Security Council, we must support the region in limiting the danger of instability in that part of Africa, threatening UK interests.” Other NATO members including Canada, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and the US have also pledged various forms of military support for France, whose actions have been approved by the UN.

It might be asked what interests the British government could have in Mali, a former French colony and one of the poorest countries in the world? Historically Mali has been beset by severe economic and political problems, many of them a consequence of the legacy it has inherited from French colonial rule, as well as those created by the bi-polar division of the world and exacerbated by neo-liberal globalisation. There have been several rebellions against the central government in recent years but the country has become much more unstable as a result of NATO intervention in Libya and the subsequent regime change in that country. In the past year the northern part of Mali has fallen under the control of a diverse coalition of armed groups, including those with legitimate demands that have declared the territory “independent” on behalf of the Tourareg, and other marginalized people, as well as those that have been designated “terrorist’ by the big powers, such as the self-styled Al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). As has been pointed out by many commentators, the AQIM has strong connections with those who have been supported by Britain and NATO to effect regime change in Libya.

The unstable situation in Mali, including a temporary military coup, drought and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people has been discussed by the UN for several months and culminated in three separate Security Council resolutions, the most recent adopted in December 2012. The UN Security Council dominated by the big powers declared that the situation in Mali constituted “a threat to international peace and security”, and therefore proposed military intervention. The last UN Security Council resolution (UNSC 2085) specifically authorised the deployment not of French troops but of an African-led stabilisation force, the International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), tasked with “recovering the areas in the north under the control of terrorist, extremist and armed groups and in reducing the threat posed by terrorist groups”. Efforts to bring stability to Mali had, until recently, been mainly in the hands of regional bodies and countries including the members of the African Union (AU) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Although they had not been successful, prior to French intervention, peace talks between the government of Mali and rebel forces were scheduled for 21 January 2013.

In recent days the unstable situation in Mali and throughout the region, as well as previous and current external intervention by the big powers, have created the conditions for further instability and according to reports the loss of many lives at the Tigantourine gas facility in eastern Algeria. Indeed some commentators were predicting that NATO-led intervention in Mali was merely a prelude to intervention in Algeria. It is reported that the supporters of AQIM have also been involved in the events in eastern Algeria and a pretext has been created for further foreign intervention throughout the region. The President of France was quick to claim that the events in Algeria provided further justification for the intervention in Mali, while there was enthusiastic support for the government's action in Parliament and a general consensus that further intervention might well be necessary throughout the Sahara-Sahel region, which one leading politician referred to as the "soft underbelly" of Europe.

Although France is leading the current military intervention in Mali, the British government has been preparing for possible intervention for some months and last September even appointed a Special Representative for the Sahel. Much is being made of the need to bring stability to “fragile states”, counter "terrorism" and re-establish democracy but in fact Britain and the other big powers have designs on the entire Sahel region stretching throughout North and West Africa which is rich in oil, gas and mineral reserves. It is a region has its own strategic importance in the new scramble for Africa between the big powers, which has already been so evident in the conflicts in Libya, DR Congo and elsewhere. Great efforts are being made to establish a justification for further intervention in Africa under the auspices of the UN. There should therefore be no illusions about what a new "war against terror" nor “humanitarian intervention” in Mali or elsewhere in the region means. In this context, those who pose as the friends of Africa have demonstrated time and again that they are its greatest enemies.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Red Flag Manuscript (China): The Decline of Western Market Fundamentalism

Red Flag Manuscript: 
The Decline of Western Market Fundamentalism 

Written by NNL, AEF, AT 

[Editor's Note: Qiushi Online republished an article from Red Flag Manuscript on Western Market Fundamentalism. The article claimed that the recent global financial crisis has proven that Capitalism is approaching its end; that the Wall Street oligarchs and the U.S. government launched an unprecedented disaster affecting everyone on the planet; and that the world is turning to Marxism for a solution. The author, Yu Zurao, is a guest researcher at the World Socialism Research Center, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The following is a translation of the article.] [1] 

Since the 1970s, Neo-liberalism has replaced Keynesianism as the mainstream economic theory for the West's ideology and economic policies. It gradually became a tool in the hands of the U.S. government to push its hegemony on the rest of the world, to carry out peaceful revolution in Socialist countries, and to implement neo-colonialism in developing countries. In modern economic history, no economic school has had such a big impact on the international political and economic environment as Neo-liberalism. However, the global economic turmoil that started in September 2008 swept away Neo-liberalism's power and prestige. This global financial and economic crisis heralded the bankruptcy of Neo-liberalism. Looking at this recession that has caused such a major catastrophe, scholars, politicians, and even the general public around the entire world are reflecting on the situation and trying to find new solutions.

  I. Capitalism's Comprehensive Crisis: Wall Street Oligarchs and the U.S. Government Launched an Unprecedented Disaster Affecting Everyone on the Planet

 In August 2008, Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. This symbolized the start of the most severe recession since the 1930s. The crisis started with the broken financing of credit in banks, but quickly spread to the real economy. At the peak of the recession, 140,000 companies and 140 banks in the U.S. declared bankruptcy, U.S. industrial production decreased by 46.2 percent, and the Western world's industrial production decreased by 37.2 percent. The recession caused severe damage to the Western countries' economies: their bubble economy burst, the stock market collapsed, and their assets decreased in value dramatically. According to the Asian Development Bank's report on March 9, 2009, in 2008, global financial assets lost over US$50 billion in value, the equivalent to the total GDP for the entire world for one whole year. For the past five years, the average U.S. household's net worth has dropped 36 percent, from US$102,900 to US$66,800. About 11 million households became insolvent (e.g. the mortgage was higher than the market value of the house). According to the Federal Reserve's statistics, the recession has wiped out American's wealth accumulated over the past 20 years. The number of unemployed has increased dramatically.

The International Labor Organization's report showed that about 50 million jobs have disappeared since the recession started in 2008. By the end of 2011, 196 million people throughout the world had lost their jobs. The number is estimated to have risen to 202 million by the end of 2012; the global unemployment rate is expected to reach 6.1%. The employment rate in developed countries is not expected to recover to its pre-recession level of 2008 until the end of 2016. For one period, the unemployment rate in the U.S. climbed to nearly 10 percent and later settled at around 8 percent. Unemployment in the European Union (E.U) reached 24.7 million in the first quarter of 2012, adding 193,000 from the previous quarter and 2.1 million from the previous year. The austerity policy that the E.U. adopted caused a further deterioration in the employment situation in Europe: a large number of unemployed people joined the ranks of those below the poverty level. The recession exacerbated the polarization of the rich and the poor. The previously wealthy society showed signs of getting poor.

With the bursting of the economic bubble, homeowners' assets have shrunk dramatically and the middle class faces a harder time. Some media have said that the middle class is disappearing. Those with mid to low incomes were hurt the most. According to Mexico's El Universal Online's report on January 24, 2012, the most recent census data in the U.S. showed that the recession has left 46 million Americans living below the poverty line, creating a new high for the past 52 years. The U.S. Congressional Budget Office's report on October 25, 2011, claimed that, from 1979 to 2007, the after tax income for the richest one percent of families increased 275 percent, but only 18 percent for the poorest 20 percent of families. In 2010, the U.S. poverty rate climbed to 15.1 percent. In 2009, the number of people who lived on food stamps in the U.S. reached 32.2 million. The recession did not just hurt the working class in the developed countries; the people in developing countries were hurt even worse.

After the recession, the U.S. and the European countries used economic and administrative means to transfer the crisis to developing countries, compounding the catastrophe. The crisis has lasted for five years. Each government has tried to rescue its own economy, but they have not yet fully recovered, and unemployment rates are staying high, governments' spending is greater than their incomes (and thus governments stay in deep debt), bailout initiatives are like drinking poison to quench thirst, and social conflicts are exacerbated. Thus, the West is full of "uncertainty."

  II. In the West, It Has Been a Trend for People to Reflect on the Recession, Criticize Neo-liberalism and the Washington "Consensus," Challenge U.S. Hegemony, and Denounce Financial Monopoly Capitalism.

 A. On September 17, 2011, the "Occupy Wall Street" movement started in the U.S. It demonstrated a change in the dissatisfaction that the lower class public in the West had with Capitalism and the government's policies that bragged about freedom, democracy, and human rights. That dissatisfaction changed from a simple discussion to an organized political movement. This movement claimed, "We are the 99 percent and we will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent." [2] It was characterized by its extreme political position, directly targeting the Wall Street financial oligarchs, the U.S. government, and the neo-liberal economic policies that the government adopted.

Though the "Occupy Wall Street" movement didn't have an efficient organization or a political agenda, it did not stop there. None of the inherent conflicts in Capitalism that led to this political movement were solved. The crisis is not over yet.

 B. In the West, many scholars, officials, and politicians in the Neo-liberalism school, after facing the recession and reality, and after reflecting deeply, were moved to criticize Neo-liberalism. A well-renowned Professor of Economics, Iwao Nakatani, looked back at the economic theory that he had learned and taught and said that he was really naïve to have believed in the value of Capitalist globalization and the market supremacy that he once promoted. He believed that if the Japanese could have a free economy like the U.S. had and become a society in which the market mechanism could fully function, the Japanese would be as rich and happy as the Americans. When he worked on government policies, he advocated having Japan adopt the U.S. economic system, policies, and structure. The recession destroyed that illusion. He finally arrived at the clear understanding that U.S.-style Capitalism is dying. He started opposing the adoption of the U.S.-style structure that abandons those who are weak.

 Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was in charge of the financial system through four administrations. He aggressively pushed Neo-liberalist monetary policies and was one of the culprits that created the recession. He admitted at a Congressional hearing on October 23, 2008, that he didn't monitor the financial institutions closely enough when he was in charge of the Federal Reserve, which resulted in too much financial liberalization. He thought that was a "mistake." He also thought that the current risk management model was moving in a wrong direction and his faith in the policy of loosening control had been "shaken." International financial predator George Soros's criticism of market fundamentalism is exactly on point. He said that what happened was the result of the market fundamentalist theory of opening markets and letting markets adjust themselves. He believed that the crisis was not caused by external factors or by a natural disaster, but by the [Capitalist] system itself.

 C. In the past few years, an important change occurred in Western ideology. Criticism of Neo-liberalism has evolved into criticism of the current Capitalist system. In the 1980s and 1990s, the world praised the Capitalist system and demonized the Socialist system. At the turn of the new century, however, the U.S., the number one Capitalist empire, failed to meet the world's expectations.

The financial crisis let people see what "the emperor's new clothes" [or, the illusion of Capitalism] really is. The crisis itself has ruthlessly laid bare many of the illusions about Capitalism. The "U.S. model" that many elites worshiped has lost its appeal and been discredited. Sharan Burrow, Secretary-General of the International Trade Union Confederation, believes that the Capitalism of the 20th century is out of date and does not fit the 21st century.

World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab raised the issue of "outdated and crumbling models." He said that Capitalism, in its current form, is no longer suitable for the world around us. [3] IMF Chief Economist Kenneth Rogoff cited many problems with modern Capitalism and pointed out that the current Capitalism is, in essence, transitory in nature.

The U.S.-U.K. model that leads the world will be replaced by other models. The recession also exposed the corruption and fallacy inherent in the Western political system. On the surface, Western "democracy" is "by ballot," but in reality it is "by money." The U.S. economist Robert Reich supported the "Occupy Wall Street" movement and called for building a clean democratic system that would not allow money to corrupt it. He believes that when income and wealth are concentrated in the hands of only a few people, a very few wealthy people will have enough money to control that democracy and will inevitably destroy that democracy.

 D. The huge financial catastrophe that the U.S. oligarchs, politicians, and media caused completely laid bare the illusions about U.S. society and its system, model, and direction. Lies will never become the truth no matter how many times people repeat them. Professor Meghnad Desai at the London School of Economics and Political Science pointed out that Capitalism has entered its final stage and the used-to-be-vibrant Capitalism is moving to the East.

However, the West's recession is also an uneasy thing for the East. He said that many countries leaned towards adopting Capitalist policies when they were planning their path to future prosperity; but that path is more dangerous than any other. He thinks Capitalism might be the worst economic system for Asian countries. Former German Prime Minister Schmidt is an old friend of the Chinese people and the promoter and practitioner of a "Social Market Economy."

When former World Bank President Zoellick and other U.S. people threw out the "top-level design" reform plan with the ultimate goal of crumbling China's state economy and implementing total privatization, Schmidt made a profound statement: "State-owned enterprises are the lifeblood of the Chinese people. They should reject privatization."

 E. Western academia has not only directly challenged Neo-liberalism, but students in the top schools have also rebelled against the Neo-liberalist economists. On November 2, 2011, students at Harvard University held a strike, which shocked academia not only in the U.S. but all over the world. Students refused to take a class offered by Harvard "star professor" Gregory Mankiw, a master of Neo-liberalism. Mankiw's book Principles of Economics was translated into over 20 languages and sold over a million copies worldwide. He once served as Chairman of the President's Council of Economic

Advisers during George W. Bush's administration. The striking students said they were expressing their dissatisfaction with the deep-rooted prejudices in this introductory economics course. They echoed the "Occupy Wall Street" movement and left the university to join the "Occupy Boston" demonstration. The demonstrators also went into Harvard Yard and displayed a red banner, "We hope the university will serve the 99 percent!" The students on strike believed that a true and reasonable study of economics should include criticism of both the strengths and weaknesses of each economic theory, but Mankiw's class offered almost no other alternative in the study of economics.

F. The world economic crisis led to the decay of Neo-liberalism and to the ideology crisis in the West. Given these circumstances, the West has been paying more attention to Marx's writings and theories after its previous chilly political reception. Now "Marxism fever" in the West can no longer be ignored. One can see a strong contrast between the decay of Neo-liberalism and the popularity of Marxism. Today, Marxism has become a main character in Western political life.

 In the West, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, there was a wave of anti-Marxism. Marxism was denounced, criticized, and treated coldly. At that time, Fukuyama claimed that the change in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe represented the end of history, which meant that, with Capitalism, human society had reached its best stage and Capitalism was irreplaceable. Fukuyama said, "What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government." [4]

However, facing the brutal reality of the recent financial crisis, he had to admit that this crisis exposed the instability of the Capitalist system, that U.S.-style Capitalism has fallen off the altar, that this crisis is the end of the U.S.'s ability to take the economic leadership in global affairs, and that the U.S. is no longer the only authority for social policy innovation. "Marxism fever" swept through the West as the global recession expanded. After the Great Depression in 1930s, countries adopted two different approaches: The Soviet Union focused on industrialization, modernization, and the enhancement of people's material and cultural lives to expand domestic demands and to fully seize the opportunity of the Western recession to bring in advanced equipment, technologies, and talented people.

The Western approach was to adopt Keynesian theories on monetary policies, military expansion, and the New Deal to get the economy out of danger. When it came to the 1970s, due to economic stagnation, Keynesianism was replaced by Neo-liberalism. However, it didn't last long. Entering the 21st century, the global financial crisis destroyed Neo-liberalism's reputation. This crisis made people start looking at "the century's great man," Karl Marx.

 Another characteristic of "Marxist fever" is that it spread widely to many countries, from Europe to America to Asia and from financial empires to developing countries. It has also affected people from every social strata, from scholars to politicians, from entrepreneurs to managers, from young students to ordinary workers, and from clerks at churches to ordinary people.

 The emergence of "Marxist fever" has not been organized but, rather, has been a purely spontaneous development. Had there been no global recession and had Neo-liberalism not decayed, "Marxist fever" would not have spread so quickly in the West. The revival of Marxist thought shows the inevitable trend of the development of world history. However, we must also be clear: the emergence of "Marxist fever" does not mean that Neo-liberalism and its leading scholars will give up their position.

The struggle [between Marxism and Neo-liberalism and other Capitalist theories] will be long-term, with many ups and downs.

  Endnote: [1] Qiushi Online, "The Decline of Western Market Fundamentalism," December 25, 2012. http://www.qstheory.cn/zywz/201212/t20121225_201858.htm. [2] Occupy Wall Street Online. http://occupywallst.org/. [3] Xinhua, "Capitalism in current form no longer fits world: WEF's Schwab," January 18, 2012. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-01/18/c_122603698.htm. [4] "The End of History?" by Francis Fukuyama. http://www.wesjones.com/eoh.htm. Last Updated ( Monday, 21 January 2013 )

China's economy speeds up


Tuesday, 22 January 2013 10:07

China's economy speeds up

China's economy speeds up  © Global Times
The following article [by John Ross] analyses the economic policies underpinning the slowdown and then the accelerated growth of China's economy in 2012. Since the article was published on china.org.cn on 1 January, the release of new economic data confirms the article. They show that China's GDP expanded by 7.9 per cent year on year in the fourth quarter of 2012, accelerating from 7.4 per cent in the third quarter, and resulting in 2012 full-year growth of 7.8 per cent.
China's economy in 2012 was "a tale of two halves": In the first six months slowdown, even a feeling of developing crisis; in the second half recovery and accelerating growth. The story therefore had a happy ending. But it is worth noting what went wrong in the first half, and how it was corrected in the second, as this contains lessons for the future.
The initial problem in early 2012 was simple. China's economic policy makers underestimated the problems in the developed economies. China's official prediction of 10 percent export increase in 2012 could not be achieved without significant growth in developed markets. This did not materialize – the US economy grew slowly while Japan and the EU's fell into a new decline. Consequently, as is now officially stated, 2012's export target will not be achieved.
This itself was not an extremely serious error. It is impossible in economics, due to the enormous number of variables involved, to make precisely accurate predictions, only orders of magnitude can be accurately predicted. The undershoot in export growth in 2012 will not be enormous. To compensate for international demand being weaker than predicted China required a domestic economic stimulus. It was here that a much more serious problem initially arose.
Early in 2012 the World Bank produced a report arguing that China's state should "get out" of the economy – something clearly going against a new state stimulus program. Supporters of such neo-liberal policies in China, for example Lang Xianping, launched a campaign arguing that a stimulus program was futile and that China faced terrible economic depression. Western authors such as Nouriel Roubini advanced less extreme versions of the same analysis.
Such "the state must get out of the economy" neo-liberal policies have produced economic disaster where they have been pursued in countries as diverse as Europe, Latin America and Russia. I warned in this column in March that such policies would damage China's economy.
By summer 2012 the damaging consequences of state failure to intervene were clear. In May annual fixed asset investment growth fell to 20.1 percent, the lowest level for a decade. In August the yearly increase in industrial production declined to 8.9 percent, from 11.4 percent in January. In the same month industrial company profit fell 6.2 percent year on year. A sense of malaise, even elements of crisis, was evident during the first half of the year under the impact of policies which reflected neo-liberal opposition to state intervention.
Fortunately from mid-year policy changed, creating the happy economic ending to the year. In late May PremierWen Jiabao announced growth must receive more support. An infrastructure investment program that grew to US$157 billion was launched. Theoretical support to the new stimulus was given by former World Bank Chief Economist and Vice President Lin Yifu – who specifically stressed an investment based stimulus package was preferable to a consumer based one.
These policies meant the state "getting back" into the economy – not in the sense of trying to administer it, but in that of setting the overall investment level. Such policies are familiar in either Chinese economic analysis stemming from Deng Xiaoping or Western ones coming from accurate reading of Keynes. Premier Wen Jiabao also turned the economic tables, explicitly justifying not only the 2012 stimulus but the earlier one inresponse to the 2008 financial crisis.
The stimulus package launched in mid-2012 was rightly of a much smaller scale than 2008's. In 2008 the world economy plunged downwards in the greatest economic decline since 1929. A huge stimulus was necessary to guard against downturn on such a scale – particularly under conditions where not only was there severe existing global recession but also further downside risks. The 2008 scale of stimulus, US$586 billion, was to guarantee China's economy was not dragged into global downturn.
But in 2012 there was stagnation, not sharp decline, in the advanced economies. China's required stimulus was therefore much smaller – a program on 2008's scale would have been highly undesirable in overheating the economy in these different circumstances. The announced infrastructure stimulus in 2012 was approximately one third of 2008's. But the state was "stepping into" the economy on an appropriate scale.
The correctness of these policies was shown rapidly. By November the investment decline had reversed – the annual increase in fixed asset investment rising to 20.7 percent. The same month year on year industrial production accelerated to 10.1 percent. Industrial company profits began to grow – rising to a 20.5 percent yearly increase in October and 22.8 percent in November. Profits growth in October and November was so strong that it turned the 1.8 percent yearly decline in January-September into a 3.0 percent increase in January-November. While GDP growth for the 4th quarter 2012 will not be available until later it would be highly astonishing, given these trends, if it were not higher than the 3rd quarter of 2012's 7.4 percent.
What are the conclusions, and what are 2013's perspectives? It showed, as always, the disastrous consequences of neo-liberal opposition to appropriate state intervention in the economy. A moderate problem facing China, lower than anticipated growth in developed economies, and consequently somewhat slower than anticipated export growth, became a significant crisis due to opposition to appropriate state intervention. However once policies were corrected, and appropriate investment stimulus policy measures adopted, all the advantages of China's economic structure came into play. Within a few months China's economy was recovering with an impetus that is strong enough that it will clearly continue into 2013.
China's difference to Western economies is that once the appropriate economic policy response is decided it has structures to deliver it. The Chinese state has sufficient levers that it can set an overall investment level in the way that Deng Xiaoping or Keynes considered necessary. This created rapid economic recovery in the second half of 2012. In contrast the Western economies have no structures to set the overall investment level. The latter remains purely in private hands – something Keynes explicitly warned would create crisis.
In the Western economies, to attempt to reverse the decline in fixed investment which is the core of the Great Recession, governments are reduced to running huge, ultimately unsustainable, budget deficits or flooding the economy with money – symbolized by the various quantitative easing programs in the US and hyperexpansionary monetary policies now followed by the European Central Bank and Japan's central bank. These have failed both to reverse the investment decline in developed economies while threatening other states in the global economy with inflation and currency fluctuations due to this excessive monetary expansion. China's policies ensure its own investment does not decline, thereby generating economic growth, while not pumping excessive monetary stimulus into the global economy.
Provided the policies which brought China's economy success in the second half of 2012 are continued, its economy's prospects for 2013 are clear. China's economy in the 2nd half of 2012 was on an upward trajectory shown clearly by upward shifts in profitability. As this was still growing it will clearly continue into the first half of 2013. Projections of accelerated growth for the first half of 2013, compared to 2012, therefore appear well founded.
During the course of 2013 external conditions will have to be reviewed to see if the existing domestic stimulus is sufficient – theoretically the domestic stimulus could be reduced if export conditions significantly improve, or it could be accelerated further if external conditions deteriorate. But 2013's basic dynamic is that China will grow much more rapidly than other major economies, due to its structural strength and its much superior mechanisms for dealing with economic downturns which 2012 again demonstrated.

To view the article on china.org.cn see here.

Syria & the global class war

Syria & the global class war


Syria & the global class war

By  on January 20, 2013 » Add the first comment.
Workers World youth perspective
Jobs are disappearing. Homes are ­being foreclosed and families tossed into the streets. Super hurricanes, spawned by climate change, batter cities. Schools are being shut down, and prisons are springing up in their place. Police bullets are taking lives of innocent Black and Brown people. Hunger, homelessness, mass unemployment and racist mass incarceration are becoming “the new normal” in the United States.
At the top of all this are the bankers and bosses. The Wall Street 1% — with their wealth, power and latchkeys to the governments of the world — have no answer to the chaos. Bank bailouts, drone attacks, elections, TV propaganda — none of the capitalists’ usual tricks are working. The chaos and explosions are continuing, because capitalism is at a dead end.
In their desperation, the corporate elites and their governments turn toward a solution they have long utilized: war.
Trillions of dollars are made from militarism. For the capitalists of the world, especially in the U.S., who own all the mechanisms for producing tanks, missiles, drones, fighter planes and other means of destruction, nothing has been more profitable than war.
So in this hour of desperation, as their economic system lurches and grinds its way to a halt, the capitalists bomb and destroy.
First Libya, now Syria
Libya once had the highest standard of living on the African continent. But now the Libyan government that once defied Wall Street and Washington has been destroyed, and the result has led to misery for the Libyan people. Yet, the destruction of Libya did not save capitalism and the crisis continues.
The current focus of imperialism’s wrath is Syria. The U.S.-backed regimes in Saudi Arabia and Turkey are shipping in stockpiles of weapons to a group of “rebels” who slaughter people without pause. These rebels promise that if they are victorious, the Christians and Alawites of Syria will be slaughtered. They have been sent to create death, chaos and destruction.
Numerous videos of atrocities allegedly committed by these Syrian mercenaries have circulated on the internet. They depict killing and torture. One video shows a 10-year-old child being forced to behead a prisoner. These are the so-called “freedom fighters” championed by the capitalist media and funded indirectly by tax dollars from U.S. workers. (rt.com/news, Dec. 11)
Why is Syria a target? Its Baathist government led by Bashar Al-Assad is not a government of Wall Street puppets. Instead it provides health care to the people. It has supported the Palestinian resistance. It allows communists to play leading roles in some levels of the government.
The people of Syria are resisting. Christians, Alawites, Muslims, socialists — people from all sectors of Syrian society are joining together. Community militias are being formed to defeat the U.S.-backed mercenaries who seek to drive the country into ruin. The Syrian people have pushed back these rebels many times, so the imperialists are considering other methods.
U.S. troops are now in Turkey, just across the border from Syria, setting up NATO missile batteries. On Dec. 27, thousands of people took to the streets in Turkey to protest the presence of the NATO missiles. The massive rally was called by the Turkish Communist Party. PressTV quotes one Turkish protester as saying, “Americans are trying to steal all the resources in the Middle East. We, the Turkish people, will do whatever it takes to prevent them.” (Dec. 27)
Some people in the U.S. may feel that Syria and the Middle East are far away and that events going on there have no impact on what happens in the U.S.
But in the U.S., homes are being foreclosed by the same bankers and the government that fund the destruction of homes in Syria. Our schools are being closed by the same forces that fund the Israeli army that kills teachers and school children in Gaza. The drones used to kill people in Pakistan are now being used within U.S. borders to spy on us in a continuing buildup of state repression.
Sam Marcy, the founder of Workers World Party, said workers in the U.S. have no “independent destiny.” The global 1% is the enemy of the people of Syria, the workers and oppressed of the U.S. and all humanity. Just like Syrians are coming together to resist the rebels, and workers in Turkey are taking the streets to protest NATO missiles, workers and youth in the U.S. must stand with Syria.
The chaos unfolding across the world is a life-and-death struggle between the workers and oppressed of the world on one side and their oppressors on the other. In this global class war, which side are you on?