May 31, 2009

Pakistan’s Swat Civilians decimated by the Obama-Holbrooke Af-Pak War, By Andrew Taylor

The results of the US dictated total war campaign in NW Pakistan are beginning to come to international attention. Red Cross officials have made their first visit into the war-torn Swat Valley of Pakistan since the USA inspired fighting began between the Pakistan Military and Taliban Resistance. They have reported that civilians in the northwestern region of the country are in dire need of assistance.

There is no domestic running water, no power and precious little food in the area according to the team leader of The International Committee of the Red Cross. Telephone lines are knocked out and the traumatised population is effectively excommunicated from the outside world.

Only skeletal personnel remain in the hospitals and an immediate and comprehensive humanitarian response is needed, the Red Cross said in a statement.

Pakistan’s Military 'expects' to finish off its five-week total war campaign in the North West within days, driving Taliban fighters from Swat and adjacent districts. The Military are now in control of Swat’s largest city, Mingora. According to the North West Frontier Province government,the fighting has forced 2.8 million people to flee their homes.

The Obama Administration's special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, will this week inspect the refugee camps in the northwest . According to the New York Times, Holbrooke's team, which includes US Military and State Dept apparatchiks, departs Mon for the blighted region.

It is ironic that Holbrooke, the architect of the diktat for War in the region, should now arrive in the guise of some kind of rich American benefactor to spread the special US brand of folksy noblesse oblige about among the halt, the lame, the mad and the recently blinded, but such are the comforting folkways of US imperialist adventures.

Settlers, leftists clash near West Bank village of Safa, By Haaretz Service

Clashes erupted on Saturday between settlers and left-wing activists who were trying to help Palestinians with agricultural work near the village of Safa in the West Bank.

Activists from the Jewish-Arab rights group Ta'ayush arrived at the village, which is located near the settlement of Bat Ayin, and were attacked by 15 to 20 masked settlers, according to one of the activists.

Activist Mairav Zonszein told Haaretz that the settlers assaulted the activists and pelted them with stones, breaking one of their cameras, and flipping over one of their cars, breaking the windshield.

Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Border Police armed with batons arrived and forcefully removed the demonstrators from the scene, according to Zonszein. Border Police then declared the area a closed military zone. No injuries were reported.

Zonszein added that five activists were arrested under the closed military zone order, which she stressed had been enforced only on Israeli and Palestinian activists and not on settlers. Two Palestinians were also arrested, according to Army Radio.

The area around Bat Ayin and Safa has been the site of previous clashes between settlers, left-wing activists and Palestinians. In April, at least 17 people were wounded during altercations between dozens of settlers Palestinians after a 13-year-old boy from Bat Ayin was murdered by an axe-wielding Palestinian.

Afghan Poets mirror feelings of Afghans caught in conflict

Reuters Blogs
By Hanan Habibzai

“We voted for the kingdom of Hamid Karzai to have a peaceful life, Instead we got death."

Intellectuals and poets have a commanding presence in Afghan society. It is the poets who often mirror the feelings of ordinary people, revealing much about the mindset of Afghans in the face of occupation and civil war.

Now, it is the smell of fresh blood rather than the delights of Afghanistan’s mountains and fields that occupies the poets. As an Afghan, when I read their works, I am shocked by the state of my country, and see in that state the failures of my government and the international community.

When Barack Obama won the U.S. presidential election last year, many Afghans, intellectuals included, believed the end of the Bush era meant a let-up in their suffering.

But after the U.S. bombardments on the western province of Farah on May 4/5, the latest of many in which scores of civilians have been killed, most have lost faith.

Local elders say the strikes took 147 lives. If true, that makes the strikes the bloodiest since the war began in 2001, though the U.S. military accuse civilians of inflating the numbers.

But focusing on the numbers misses the point. The situation has devastated Afghans, and perhaps removed the last shred of faith they may have had in the coalition forces. Farah resident Hamidullah says: “We got it wrong. Americans came to kill us. We thought that they were here to make our future better. But no, they kill children, women, elders and any type of villager as if they are all Taliban.”

Another local, Khan Wali, who lost his sister-in-law and another female relative in the air strike, says: “The American military is trying to prove itself as a hero back in America by killing innocents.”

One Afghan poet, 28-year-old Samiullah Taroon, was born just after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and grew up between decades of war. Once famous for pretty verse about valleys in the Kunar region, he has now, like his fellow artists, turned to war and oppression, both foreign and domestic, for his subject matter:

We have heard these anecdotes

That control will be again in the hands of the killer

Some will be chanting the slogans of death

And some will be chanting the slogans of life

The white and sacred pages of the history

Remind one of some people

In white clothes, they are the snakes in the sleeves

They capture Kabul and they capture Baghdad.

Taroon says the government is a puppet of foreign powers, and in thrall to warlords and corruption:

A fraud with the name of reconstruction

Takes power and gold from me

As a popular poet, reciting his poetry at rallies where thousands gather, he is a threat to those in power, and those who want it. Taroon says he is being followed by an Afghan intelligence agency, which opened a file on him last year, and fears for his life.

So what does the government or the Taliban have to fear from a poet? In Afghanistan, poetry is often recited or sung, and is hugely accessible to ordinary people, despite high illiteracy. Poetry contests are attended by thousands.

Poetry has for centuries reflected traditions, history and the mood of the moment in Afghanistan.

At the Battle of Maiwand in 1880, legend has it that a young girl named Malalai inspired Afghan fighters to defeat the British army. When the soldiers grew disheartened and the British looked like winning, Malalai, tending wounded troops, recited poetry:

Young love, if you do not fall in the battle of Maiwand,

By God, someone is saving you as a symbol of shame!

The Afghans turned the tables and drove the British all the way back to Kandahar. True or not, many Afghans believe the tale.

Pashtun poets have a long history of protest. According to Afghan historian Habibullah Rafi, 19th-century editor Alama Mahmood Tarzi infuriated the British with protest poems that were read throughout the Pashtu speaking world.

When the Russians arrived in 1979, the poetry once again changed with the fortunes of the people. Ishaq Nangyal’s poems, written during the 80s and 90s, are a good example of the resilience shown by Afghans towards their oppressors, be they foreign invaders or religious extremists:

Even if my head is cut down from my body

If my heart is taken out of my cage with the hands

For the honour of the country I accept all these

I am an Afghan, I fulfil my intentions.

When international forces defeated the Taliban in 2001, many poets reflected hopes that they would finally bring peace and prosperity after years of suffering under the Soviet-backed communist government, the Mujahadeen and the Taliban.

But the suffering of ordinary Afghans continued: poverty grew, corruption grew and the government’s actions began to wear down its people. The poets became angry and directed their anger at the coalition forces.

Following a U.S. military air strike last summer in the Shindand district of the Herat province, 47-year-old Nader Jan lost his faith. “We voted for the kingdom of Hamid Karzai to have a peaceful life,” he says. “Instead we got death. I saw how Nawabad village came under American attack and more than 100 civilians died, 70 of them children and women. Are the children also fighting against America? No. I ask, what did they do wrong?”

A veteran Afghan poet, Pir Muhammad Karwan, mourns a bride and groom killed at a wedding party that was bombed.

Here the girls with the language of bangles

Brought the songs of wedding to the ceremony

With the rockets of America

The songs of the hearts were holed

(Hanan Habibzai is an Afghan writer who has reported from his country for Reuters and the BBC, and has recently moved to London. Any opinions expressed in this blog are his own.)

PM Netanyahu won't freeze Settlement Construction for natural growth Jun. 1, 2009, Herb Keinon , THE JERUSALEM POST

The Jerusalem Post

Israel will not freeze settlement construction for natural growth, despite intense pressure from the Obama administration to do so, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has indicated that he will remove illegal settlement outposts, he is determined, the Post has learned, to continue building for natural growth in settlements beyond the security barrier.

In Netanyahu's view, it is further understood that there is no reason housing units cannot be built inside the major settlement blocs for people who want to move there, as well as for natural growth.

In light of unequivocal comments made over the last week by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for an end to all settlement construction, including for natural growth, as well as US and Israeli officials' failure to reach an agreement on this issue in London last week, there is a great deal of frustration over the matter in the Prime Minister's Office.

However, there is also a sense that Netanyahu simply cannot agree to the US demands.

Despite the failure of the London talks to resolve the issue, dialogue on the matter is continuing, with Defense Minister Ehud Barak expected to discuss the matter Monday in New York with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, and then later in the week with US Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Adviser James Jones.

Representing the left flank of the Netanyahu government, Barak has made it clear that he, too, feels it is illogical and impossible to completely stop all construction in the settlements.

Israel has made clear to the Americans that while it will build for natural growth, it will do so in a way that will not impinge on the Palestinians - meaning that the construction will be within the designated boundaries of the settlements; there will be no expropriation of new land and no construction of any new settlements...

Late-term abortion doctor shot dead inside US church (excerpt)

By: Damien Pearse
Sunday 31 May, 2009

A doctor who was one of the few in the US to continue carrying out late-term abortions was shot dead in a church today.

George Tiller, 67, who had been picketed, bombed and shot in the arms in previous incidents, was killed at his church in Kansas, according to police sources.
Tiller was a controversial man, whose clinic has been the site of protests for two decades. He was shot and wounded by a protester in 1993 and someone placed a bomb on the roof of the clinic in 1986, seriously damaging the building.

Police spokesman Gordon Bassham would not confirm the victim's identity but said a 67-year-old "high-profile individual in the community" was shot and killed. He was shot at 10am in the lobby of Reformation Lutheran church in Wichita, police and city officials said.

According to the reports a white man carrying a handgun shot the doctor and then fled in a blue Ford Taurus.

"It's an unfortunate incident to happen on a Sunday morning," Wichita police ¬captain Brent Allred told reporters. "These things should not occur at any time."

The FBI and state police were called in to help search for the gunman, whose licence plate was registered to a home in a suburb of Kansas City, 200 miles away.
The shooting came just two weeks after Barack Obama sought "common ground" over the divisive abortion debate in a ¬controversial speech at one of America's leading Catholic universities.

The president has attempted to defuse one of the most emotive issues in US public life by arguing that while abortion should remain legal, the government should do all it can to limit unwanted pregnancies.

DPRK Korean nuclear test, The Guardian, (Communist Party of Australia)

DPRK Korean nuclear test
(Cartoon by Steve Bell of The Guardian)

Blogger's Comment on the N Korean Crisis:

These Statements add more context to the discussion. How did the N Korean situation come to its present crisis? As the CPA has stated, after 50 long years the US has never officially ended the war against the socialist state, the USA has regularly held war exercises in concert with its S. Korean proxy state ; the US has refused to sign a peace treaty with N Korea and has failed to honour its commitments from the six-party and other talks to deliver food and help develop viable non-nuclear energy. N Korea, a poor and isolated nation, has responded in a destabilizing reactive manner that may well not get it any further ahead in the long siege. But no moralizing from Washington DC is credible, simply because all of America's actions toward N Korea over long years and up to this time have been immoral, antagonistic and stupid .

Issue # 1412 27 May 2009
The Guardian, Communist Party of Australia

“The North Korean nuclear test is a result of existing tensions on the Korean peninsula, and the fact that the DPRK feels itself to be under threat,” Communist Party of Australia General Secretary Dr Hannnah Middleton said.
“The danger from Monday’s nuclear test is that it may lead those who were never really committed to nuclear disarmament to use it as an excuse not to proceed down a path that is essential for the physical survival of civilisation and human beings.
This must not be allowed to happen.

“The test increases tensions in the region and could derail the current moves towards nuclear disarmament, possibly initiating further nuclear weapons proliferation.”

The war in Korea has never officially ended; the US has refused to sign a peace treaty with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), more than 50 years after military conflict ceased.

The US still maintains military bases in South Korea and has not abandoned its hostile and aggressive stand towards the DPRK. Each year, the US and South Korea practice war games which to the DPRK look like plans for invasion – one such invasion war game was held earlier this year. There is also the very threatening US military build-up in Asia.

The DPRK has repeatedly called for the normalisation of relations and lifting of sanctions. The US has failed to meet past commitments, coming from the six-party and other talks for the delivery of food and development of non-nuclear energy.

“The dynamics of this must be fundamentally changed,” said Dr Middleton. “The US must take measures such as the signing of a peace agreement and cast iron assurances that it will not attack or interfere with North Korea.

“The North Korean nuclear tests are not the way forward. Nuclear weapons are not the way forward. They provide no defence but create appalling danger for the survival of human civilisation and the planet.”

US Defence Secretary campaigns for " real sanctions that bring real pain" to N Korea

[UNITED STATES DEFENCE SECRETARY ROBERT]GATES said the North's nuclear program does not "at this point" represent a direct military threat to the United States and he does not plan a buildup of American troops in the region. But the North's efforts pose the potential for an arms race in Asia that could spread beyond the region, he said.

He did not give specifics on how the U.S. might respond to North Korea, but called for tougher sanctions on the reclusive communist regime.

Call for sanctions causing 'real pain'

"For there to be a peaceful solution requires multilateral efforts and a willingness to impose real sanctions that bring real pain," he said.

"The policy of the United States has not changed. Our goal is complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and we will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state," Gates said.

U.S. satellite photos have revealed vehicle activity at two sites in North Korea, suggesting the regime may be preparing to launch a long-range rocket, U.S. defence officials told Agence France-Presse...

Chavez: My Next Gift For Obama Will Be Lenin Book

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez says he has a new book for President Barack Obama: "What is to be Done?" by communist Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Soviet state.
Chavez says he'll "give it to Obama at the next meeting."
"What is to be Done?" is Lenin's political treatise on the role of intellectuals and the proletariat in promoting revolution, written more than a decade before he led the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in 1917.

Chavez gave Obama a copy of "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent" by Eduardo Galeano at an April summit.
The book jumped the next day to the No. 2 seller on
Chavez spoke Friday on a marathon, anniversary edition of his "Hello President" television show.

Afghanistan, Another Untold Story, by Michael Parenti

(posted in 2009)

Barack Obama is on record as advocating a military escalation in Afghanistan. Before sinking any deeper into that quagmire, we might do well to learn something about recent Afghani history and the role played by the United States.

Less than a month after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, US leaders began an all-out aerial assault upon Afghanistan, the country purportedly harboring Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist organization. More than twenty years earlier, in 1980, the United States intervened to stop a Soviet “invasion” of that country. Even some leading progressive writers, who normally take a more critical view of US policy abroad, treated the US intervention against the Soviet-supported government as “a good thing.” The actual story is not such a good thing.

Some Real History

Since feudal times the landholding system in Afghanistan had remained unchanged, with more than 75 percent of the land owned by big landlords who comprised only 3 percent of the rural population. In the mid-1960s, democratic revolutionary elements coalesced to form the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In 1973, the king was deposed, but the government that replaced him proved to be autocratic, mismanaged, and unpopular. It in turn was forced out in 1978 after a massive demonstration in front of the presidential palace, and after factions of the army intervened on the side of the demonstrators.

The military officers who took charge invited the PDP to form a new government under the leadership of Noor Mohammed Taraki, a poet and novelist. This is how a Marxist-led coalition of national democratic forces came into office. “It was a totally indigenous happening. Not even the CIA blamed the USSR for it,” writes John Ryan, a retired professor at the University of Winnipeg, who was conducting an agricultural research project in Afghanistan at about that time.

The Taraki government proceeded to legalize labor unions, and set up a minimum wage, a progressive income tax, a literacy campaign, and programs that gave ordinary people greater access to health care, housing, and public sanitation. Fledgling peasant cooperatives were started and price reductions on some key foods were imposed.

The government also continued a campaign begun by the king to emancipate women from their age-old tribal bondage. It provided public education for girls and for the children of various tribes.
A report in the San Francisco Chronicle (17 November 2001) noted that under the Taraki regime Kabul had been “a cosmopolitan city. Artists and hippies flocked to the capital. Women studied agriculture, engineering and business at the city’s university. Afghan women held government jobs—-in the 1980s, there were seven female members of parliament. Women drove cars, traveled and went on dates. Fifty percent of university students were women.”

The Taraki government moved to eradicate the cultivation of opium poppy. Until then Afghanistan had been producing more than 70 percent of the opium needed for the world’s heroin supply. The government also abolished all debts owed by farmers, and began developing a major land reform program. Ryan believes that it was a “genuinely popular government and people looked forward to the future with great hope.”

But serious opposition arose from several quarters. The feudal landlords opposed the land reform program that infringed on their holdings. And tribesmen and fundamentalist mullahs vehemently opposed the government’s dedication to gender equality and the education of women and children.

Because of its egalitarian and collectivist economic policies the Taraki government also incurred the opposition of the US national security state. Almost immediately after the PDP coalition came to power, the CIA, assisted by Saudi and Pakistani military, launched a large scale intervention into Afghanistan on the side of the ousted feudal lords, reactionary tribal chieftains, mullahs, and opium traffickers.

A top official within the Taraki government was Hafizulla Amin, believed by many to have been recruited by the CIA during the several years he spent in the United States as a student. In September 1979, Amin seized state power in an armed coup. He executed Taraki, halted the reforms, and murdered, jailed, or exiled thousands of Taraki supporters as he moved toward establishing a fundamentalist Islamic state. But within two months, he was overthrown by PDP remnants including elements within the military.

It should be noted that all this happened before the Soviet military intervention. National security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski publicly admitted--months before Soviet troops entered the country--that the Carter administration was providing huge sums to Muslim extremists to subvert the reformist government. Part of that effort involved brutal attacks by the CIA-backed mujahideen against schools and teachers in rural areas.

In late 1979, the seriously besieged PDP government asked Moscow to send a contingent of troops to help ward off the mujahideen (Islamic guerrilla fighters) and foreign mercenaries, all recruited, financed, and well-armed by the CIA. The Soviets already had been sending aid for projects in mining, education, agriculture, and public health. Deploying troops represented a commitment of a more serious and politically dangerous sort. It took repeated requests from Kabul before Moscow agreed to intervene militarily.

Jihad and Taliban, CIA Style

The Soviet intervention was a golden opportunity for the CIA to transform the tribal resistance into a holy war, an Islamic jihad to expel the godless communists from Afghanistan. Over the years the United States and Saudi Arabia expended about $40 billion on the war in Afghanistan. The CIA and its allies recruited, supplied, and trained almost 100,000 radical mujahideen from forty Muslim countries including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, and Afghanistan itself. Among those who answered the call was Saudi-born millionaire right-winger Osama bin Laden and his cohorts.

After a long and unsuccessful war, the Soviets evacuated the country in February 1989. It is generally thought that the PDP Marxist government collapsed immediately after the Soviet departure. Actually, it retained enough popular support to fight on for another three years, outlasting the Soviet Union itself by a year.

Upon taking over Afghanistan, the mujahideen fell to fighting among themselves. They ravaged the cities, terrorized civilian populations, looted, staged mass executions, closed schools, raped thousands of women and girls, and reduced half of Kabul to rubble. In 2001 Amnesty International reported that the mujahideen used sexual assault as “a method of intimidating vanquished populations and rewarding soldiers.’”

Ruling the country gangster-style and looking for lucrative sources of income, the tribes ordered farmers to plant opium poppy. The Pakistani ISI, a close junior partner to the CIA, set up hundreds of heroin laboratories across Afghanistan. Within two years of the CIA’s arrival, the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland became the biggest producer of heroin in the world.

Largely created and funded by the CIA, the mujahideen mercenaries now took on a life of their own. Hundreds of them returned home to Algeria, Chechnya, Kosovo, and Kashmir to carry on terrorist attacks in Allah’s name against the purveyors of secular “corruption.”

In Afghanistan itself, by 1995 an extremist strain of Sunni Islam called the Taliban---heavily funded and advised by the ISI and the CIA and with the support of Islamic political parties in Pakistan---fought its way to power, taking over most of the country, luring many tribal chiefs into its fold with threats and bribes.

The Taliban promised to end the factional fighting and banditry that was the mujahideen trademark. Suspected murderers and spies were executed monthly in the sports stadium, and those accused of thievery had the offending hand sliced off. The Taliban condemned forms of “immorality” that included premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality. They also outlawed all music, theater, libraries, literature, secular education, and much scientific research.

The Taliban unleashed a religious reign of terror, imposing an even stricter interpretation of Muslim law than used by most of the Kabul clergy. All men were required to wear untrimmed beards and women had to wear the burqa which covered them from head to toe, including their faces. Persons who were slow to comply were dealt swift and severe punishment by the Ministry of Virtue. A woman who fled an abusive home or charged spousal abuse would herself be severely whipped by the theocratic authorities. Women were outlawed from social life, deprived of most forms of medical care, barred from all levels of education, and any opportunity to work outside the home. Women who were deemed “immoral” were stoned to death or buried alive.

None of this was of much concern to leaders in Washington who got along famously with the Taliban. As recently as 1999, the US government was paying the entire annual salary of every single Taliban government official (SF Chronicle, 10/2/2001). Not until October 2001, when President George W. Bush had to rally public opinion behind his bombing campaign in Afghanistan did he denounce the Taliban’s oppression of women. His wife, Laura Bush, emerged overnight as a full-blown feminist to deliver a public address detailing some of the abuses committed against Afghan women.

If anything positive can be said about the Taliban, it is that they did put a stop to much of the looting, raping, and random killings that the mujahideen had practiced on a regular basis. In 2000 Taliban authorities also eradicated the cultivation of opium poppy throughout the areas under their control, an effort judged by the United Nations International Drug Control Program to have been nearly totally successful. With the Taliban overthrown and a Western-selected mujahideen government reinstalled in Kabul by December 2001, opium poppy production in Afghanistan increased dramatically.

The years of war that have followed have taken tens of thousands of Afghani lives. Along with those killed by Cruise missiles, Stealth bombers, Tomahawks, daisy cutters, and land mines are those who continue to die of hunger, cold, lack of shelter, and lack of water.

The Holy Crusade for Oil and Gas

While claiming to be fighting terrorism, US leaders have found other compelling but less advertised reasons for plunging deeper into Afghanistan. The Central Asian region is rich in oil and gas reserves. A decade before 9/11, Time magazine (18 March 1991) reported that US policy elites were contemplating a military presence in Central Asia. The discovery of vast oil and gas reserves in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan provided the lure, while the dissolution of the USSR removed the one major barrier against pursuing an aggressive interventionist policy in that part of the world.

US oil companies acquired the rights to some 75 percent of these new reserves. A major problem was how to transport the oil and gas from the landlocked region. US officials opposed using the Russian pipeline or the most direct route across Iran to the Persian Gulf. Instead, they and the corporate oil contractors explored a number of alternative pipeline routes, across Azerbaijan and Turkey to the Mediterranean or across China to the Pacific.

The route favored by Unocal, a US based oil company, crossed Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. The intensive negotiations that Unocal entered into with the Taliban regime remained unresolved by 1998, as an Argentine company placed a competing bid for the pipeline. Bush’s war against the Taliban rekindled UNOCAL’s hopes for getting a major piece of the action.

Interestingly enough, neither the Clinton nor Bush administrations ever placed Afghanistan on the official State Department list of states charged with sponsoring terrorism, despite the acknowledged presence of Osama bin Laden as a guest of the Taliban government. Such a “rogue state” designation would have made it impossible for a US oil or construction company to enter an agreement with Kabul for a pipeline to the Central Asian oil and gas fields.

In sum, well in advance of the 9/11 attacks the US government had made preparations to move against the Taliban and create a compliant regime in Kabul and a direct US military presence in Central Asia. The 9/11 attacks provided the perfect impetus, stampeding US public opinion and reluctant allies into supporting military intervention.

One might agree with John Ryan who argued that if Washington had left the Marxist Taraki government alone back in 1979, “there would have been no army of mujahideen, no Soviet intervention, no war that destroyed Afghanistan, no Osama bin Laden, and no September 11 tragedy.” But it would be asking too much for Washington to leave unmolested a progressive leftist government that was organizing the social capital around collective public needs rather than private accumulation.

US intervention in Afghanistan has proven not much different from US intervention in Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, and elsewhere. It had the same intent of preventing egalitarian social change, and the same effect of overthrowing an economically reformist government. In all these instances, the intervention brought retrograde elements into ascendance, left the economy in ruins, and pitilessly laid waste to many innocent lives.

The war against Afghanistan, a battered impoverished country, continues to be portrayed in US official circles as a gallant crusade against terrorism. If it ever was that, it also has been a means to other things: destroying a leftist revolutionary social order, gaining profitable control of one of the last vast untapped reserves of the earth’s dwindling fossil fuel supply, and planting US bases and US military power into still another region of the world.

In the face of all this Obama’s call for “change” rings hollow.

Copyright © 2008 Michael Parenti. All rights reserved.

May 30, 2009

Fidel Castro: Reality Will Overpower Obama’s “Sincere Intentions”

Fidel Castro: Reality Will Overpower Obama’s “Sincere Intentions”

HAVANA – Fidel Castro said he believes that President Barack Obama truly wants to improve relations between the United States and Cuba, but that the U.S. political reality will make that impossible.

The former leader commented in an article recounting his meeting on Tuesday with three members of a U.S. congressional delegation.

Castro said that when one of the lawmakers, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), told him Obama would need help from Cuba to end the five-decade chill in U.S.-Cuban ties, he replied by observing “that the objective realities” of the United States are “stronger than Obama’s sincere intentions.”

Castro, who formally stepped down as head of state early last year due to health reasons, also told Rush that Cuba has not been the aggressor between the two nations nor posed any threat to the United States.

Both Fidel Castro and his successor, younger brother Raul, said during the visit by the seven members of the Congressional Black Caucus that Havana is willing to enter into a dialogue with Washington, while insisting that that has been the communist-ruled island’s position for the past 50 years.

Fidel, 82, described as “wonderful” his almost two-hour meeting with Rush and California Democrats Barbara Lee and Laura Richardson.

“I didn’t try to meet with all of them because I don’t have enough space for all seven ... I asked (Lee) to visit me with two other lawmakers designated by the group. That way I could meet with her once again,” Castro said of his first meeting with U.S. public officials since he underwent surgery for a serious gastro-intestinal ailment in July 2006 and delegated power to his brother.

Castro praised Lee – the Black Caucus chairwoman and leader of the congressional delegation – and her colleagues and said he told them about “his experiences during two years and seven months of hospital confinement,” as well as his current activities.

“I explained what I had learned during that time of obligatory reclusion, above all my keen interest in what’s happening in the world and especially the United States,” Castro wrote.

He added that “the three came across as sincere, proud of their work, their organization, their struggle and their country. It’s apparent that they know Obama and showed their trust, confidence and sympathy toward him.”

The lawmakers who met with Castro said he appeared to be in good health.

“Very healthy, very energetic, very clear thinking,” was how Lee described Fidel at a press conference in Washington after the delegation got back from Cuba.

“We believe it is time to open dialogue and discussion with Cuba,” she told reporters. “Cubans do want dialogue. They do want talks. They do want normal relations.”

The legislators’ trip to Cuba came as the U.S. press reported that Obama plans to lift restrictions on Cuban-Americans’ travel and remittances to the communist-ruled island, in what could be a first step toward better ties with Havana.

Obama, however, has made it clear that he has no plans to immediately end the economic embargo that Washington imposed on Cuba in 1962. EFE

BOOKREVIEW: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine — Ilan Pappe, 2007

Frontline Vol 2. Issue 9. March 2009

The main purpose of this compelling book by dissident Israeli historian Ilan Pappe is to call into question the foundation myths of the State of Israel. According to mainstream and popular Israeli historiography “in 1948 Israel was able to establish itself as an independent nation-state on part of [then British-administered] Palestine because early Zionists has succeeded in ‘settling an empty land’ and ‘making the desert bloom’”.

In fact, Pappe points out, pre-1948 Palestine was far from being an empty land and had been populated for centuries by Arab communities in hundreds of small villages, peacefully subsisting largely on the basis of farming and agriculture in an environment that was far from desert. As Pappe demonstrates in sometimes harrowing detail, what happened in 1948 and thereafter fully deserves the epithet “Nakba” – “catastrophe” – given to it by the Palestinians. As part of a pre-meditated plan, the Zionist founders of the modern State of Israel – led by David Ben-Gurion – systematically expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, robbing them of their personal possessions, and forcing them at gunpoint to leave their homes before reducing them to rubble.

The view that Israel was born out of a David and Goliath like struggle between fragile Zionist forces and the hostile armies of surrounding Arab countries is dispelled, and in its place Pappe outlines the story of largely defenceless and unarmed Palestinian civilians terrorised by the well-armed Zionist military and ruthless paramilitary groups

In many cases, such as the village of Deir Yassin, the forced expulsions were accompanied by atrocities not unlike those vented on the Jews of Europe by the Nazis just a few years earlier: “As they burst into the village, the Jewish soldiers sprayed the houses with machine-gun fire, killing many of the inhabitants. The remaining villagers were then gathered in one place and murdered in cold blood, their bodies abused while a number of the women were raped and then killed”. Deir Yassin’s fate was to be shared by countless other villages, either at the hands of the Hagana – the official Israeli forces – or at the hands of “underground” terrorist groups such as the Irgun or the Stern Gang.

Throughout the book, Pappe uses the concept of “ethnic cleansing” to capture the essence of what led up to the declaration of the State of Israel, where “ethnic cleansing” is understood to involve the forced expulsion of a group from a territory “as a result of religious or ethnic discrimination, political, strategic or ideological considerations, or a combination of these”. And indeed, the language used by the Israeli perpetrators of the mass expulsion of the indigenous Palestinian population is often overtly racist. Pappe quotes one member of the Hagana describing the Bedouin tribes in the Baysan area as “farunkel” (the Yiddish word for “pus”) and the Zu’bis clan as “cholera” (Hebrew colloquial for scum). A high official in the Israeli Ministry of Interior, Israel Koening, is quoted as calling the Palestinians in Galilee a “cancer in the state’s body”, while an Israeli Chief of Staff, Raphael Eitan, describes them as “cockroaches”. The racism is not confined to remarks made by individuals, but sits at the very heart of the Zionist project: Ben-Gurion himself wrote of the “cleansing of Palestine” as his prime objective, and the word “tihur” – “cleansing” – appeared in every order the Zionist High Command passed down to military units on the ground. Other words used by the Zionist leaders to describe their objectives – “nikkuy”, “bi’ur” – have similar meanings.

For those unfamiliar with the foundation of the State of Israel, there are some surprises. If these days Israel is the main client state of the US in the Middle East, it apparently wasn’t always so. According to Pappe, the main furnisher of military hardware to the Zionist forces in 1948 was the Soviet Union, a transaction that the Israeli Communist Party was apparently instrumental in arranging. Moreover, in 1949 the US State Department attempted to pressure Israel into repatriating Palestinian refugees, and at one point the US administration withheld a loan from Israel and even threatened it with sanctions.

As an Israeli himself, Pappe is able to describe at first hand the phenomenon of “Nakba Denial” in contemporary Israel. Theme parks and forests of European trees now cover the ruins of scores of villages where thriving Palestinian communities lived and worked for centuries, and as far as modern Israel is concerned the Nakba and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine cannot even be acknowledged to have happened, so that there simply is no ‘refugee issue” and no “Palestinian right of return”.

The book’s indictment of Israel is all the more powerful for being the work of an author who is himself Jewish and an Israeli citizen. When Pappe wrote the book he was a senior lecturer in political science at Haifa University, but having found life in Israel increasingly difficult, now teaches at the University of Exeter in the UK. The final words of the book – “the risk of even more devastating conflict and bloodshed has never been so acute” – have already been borne out by Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009. Pappe’s book is an essential read for anyone trying to understand the politics and history of the Middle East.

Frontline. An independent Marxist review from Scotland.

Book review by Peter Symon, Socialism Betrayed Behind the collapse of the Soviet Union, by Roger Keeran and Thomas Kenny

The Guardian June 23, 2004
Communist Party of Australia

Socialism Betrayed:
Behind the collapse of the Soviet Union
by Roger Keeran and Thomas Kenny

This is yet another analysis of what will undoubtedly continue
to be a topic of discussion for many years to come. The authors
hope their book will contribute to the discussion of the
"reckless ways" that wrecked the world's first socialist

They quote Fidel Castro: "Socialism did not die from natural
causes: it was a suicide". But was it suicide or was it murder?

Before coming to this question again something about the book.

Socialism Betrayed traces the many circumstances and
deviations that undoubtedly contributed to the final overthrow of
socialism and the dismemberment of the Soviet Union into many
supposedly independent republics.

It identifies many contributors to this "greatest tragedy of the
20th century" from Stalin, Krushchev, Brezhnev, through to
Chernenko and Gorbachev. This is not to suggest equal blame by
any means. No-one can suggest that those that preceded Gorbachev
had a mission to destroy socialism although they also contributed
by numerous and various errors to the final outcome.

The only General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet
Union to come through with good marks in the period since the
death of Stalin is Yuri Andropov.
He unfortunately only lived for
about 15 months after his election to the top position before
dying of a kidney complaint. He did not have time to put the
Soviet Union on a path that would have corrected many of the
errors made by his predecessors but his program gave great
promise that the party and government would return to the task of
building an improved socialism.

Declared support

Gorbachev was elected General Secretary of the Communist Party of
the Soviet Union in 1985. At first he declared his support for
the policies that had been outlined by Andropov but by the end of
two years there was a sharp turn towards the mistaken polices of
Krushchev and those put forward by Bukharin in the early years of
the Soviet Union.

The authors say that Krushchev's ideas "consistently leaned
toward social democracy, sowed the seeds of later problems, and
created a precedent for Gorbachev's even more extreme views and

The book traces the many economic, social and political policies
initiated by Gorbachev that finally led to the victory of
counter-revolution, the dismantling of socialism and the
restoration of a crude, savage and brutal criminal capitalism on
most of the territory of what made up the Soviet Union.

Socialism Betrayed gives many references and policy
statements that are invaluable in tracing the pattern of

We are again introduced to "perestroika" and what it really
meant, to Gorbachev's supposed "new thinking", his promotion of a
bourgeois form of democracy, his actual promotion of national
conflicts within the Soviet Union and the dishonest promotion of
cooperative ownership which in practice was a hidden form by
which capitalist ownership was consolidated.

In foreign policy Gorbachev advanced a policy of unprincipled
compromise with US imperialism and systematically brought an end
to the assistance that the Soviet Union had given for many years
to other socialist countries and to the national liberation
movements of third world countries.

Soviet troops were withdrawn by Gorbachev from Afghanistan to
appease the US. We all know now what tragedies have overtaken
that country following this act of betrayal. An unprincipled deal
was made with US president Reagan over the question of nuclear
weapons and the Soviet army was seriously weakened while the US
imperialists gave nothing in exchange.

By your side

At the time of the first Gulf War Gorbachev is reported to have
remarked to James Baker the Secretary of State at the time: "I
want to emphasise that we would like to be by your side in any

Of course, Gorbachev did not act alone. During the period in
which he stated his adherence to the policies of Andropov,
Gorbachev brought his own men into the leadership of the CPSU
Shevardnadze, Yeltsin, Aganbegyan (an economist), Yakovlev (an
ideologist) and many others
. All played considerable parts in the
Gorbachev betrayal.

While there are numerous references to ideology in the book,
there is little explanation of how the policies implemented by
Gorbachev deviated from the fundamental principles of Marxism-
Leninism and this I think is a weakness of the analysis. The
policies adopted are well set-out and reflect the deviations from
dialectical and historical materialism the philosophy of

Different interpretations

The authors set out a number of different interpretations about
the events that led to the break-up of the Soviet Union some
by writers who are pro-Soviet and others who are anti-Soviet.

The authors write: "in some writers, a stress on Gorbachev leads
to seeing in his actions a longstanding, preconceived plan. The
weight of evidence, however, seems to point more toward a shallow
leader who acted rashly, impulsively, and contradictorily."

"Gorbachev's policies may not have been inevitable but they were
no accident either." But is it correct to also say that "possibly
Gorbachev himself lacked an awareness of the full implications of
what he was doing"?

This returns us to the question � was it suicide or was it

There are a number of remarks in the book that call for a
comprehensive follow-up:

* What are we to make of an assessment made by one of Gorbachev's
closest supporters that "Gorbachev had only contempt for the
CPSU" and, when it was suggested by supporters that he should
resign his position as General Secretary he remarked: "they try
to persuade me to abandon the general secretary post. But
remember: that mangy dog can't be let off the leash. If I do
that, the whole enormous thing will be against me."

* Gorbachev had kept in touch with leading figures of the Czech
counter-revolution from his student days.

* Yakovlev, Gorbachev's principle ideologist who was put in
charge of the Soviet media by Gorbachev had spent a number of
years in the West, "more than any other Politburo official". In
1983, Gorbachev visited Canada and spent a week with Yakovlev
before he became General Secretary. Was it to lay the plans of
what subsequently happened?

Can do business

Although it is not mentioned in this book it is timely to recall
the remark of Margaret Thatcher when Gorbachev visited London
(before becoming General Secretary). He had a meeting with the
then Prime Minister of England and Thatcher said publicly that
"he (Gorbachev) is a man we can do business with". Did Margaret
Thatcher know something that others did not, even at that time?

It should also be recalled that the counter-revolutions in
eastern European socialist countries coincided with visits to
those countries by Gorbachev. He was also in China at the time of
the Tienanmen Square uprising.

Were Gorbachev's visits the signal for these counter-
revolutionary events which were undoubtedly helped by the
intelligence organisations of the imperialist countries?

Let it be recalled that Shevardnadze made the remark that his
greatest achievement was the dismantling of the German Democratic
Republic and east Germany's incorporation into capitalist west

A final question

And a final question that the book raised in my mind,
remembering that the long-term objective of imperialism was
always to defeat the Soviet Union and strangle socialism.

This could not be done militarily because the Soviet Union had
become too strong militarily. It could not be done economically
because the socialist system had become deeply entrenched in the
life of the Soviet people and the country was also endowed with
rich resources. It could not be done merely by propaganda
although millions of dollars were spent by Radio Free Europe and
other agencies to subvert the thinking of the Soviet people. None
of these options were feasible.

But if people were found who could work their way into the top
leadership of the CPSU and proceed to sabotage socialism from
that position, even while proclaiming that their aim was to build
a "better socialism", the job could perhaps be done from this
vantage point.

If the scenario that Gorbachev had become an arch-enemy of
socialism even in his youth is made the starting point, many of
the policies and the personal behaviour of Gorbachev fall into

Given the experience and capacity of Western intelligence
agencies in bringing down governments it would stretch credulity
to breaking point to think that they would not have been advising
Gorbachev (and others) on a regular basis throughout his years as
General Secretary. His and their actions were played out using
the many objective circumstances, the policy weaknesses and
growing dissident forces that previous regimes had unleashed.

In these circumstances Gorbachev becomes not a misguided,
confused and weak personality that he is sometimes painted but
the most successful Machiavelli of all time.

The people of the former Soviet Union assessed him well. From
initial enthusiastic support they quickly came to reject and then
condemn his leadership. When he stood for election to the
position of president in 2000 he received a less than one percent

In recent times, Gorbachev has been paraded at public forums
throughout the Western world appearing at some with Norman
Swarzkoff the commanding general of the US forces who invaded
Iraq during the first Gulf War. More recently he attended the
funeral of Ronald Reagan. Nice company to keep, indeed! Gorbachev
had returned to his spiritual home.

* * *

Socialism Betrayed, International Publishers, New York,
pp 230, available from SPA Books, $18 plus $2.50 p&p.

this poem by anglo-american poet W H Auden is dedicated to Ariel Sharon:

The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach,
The Ogre cannot master Speech.
About a subjugated plain,
Among its desperate and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.

A Political Lesson from a Scottish Comrade, by Andrew Taylor

I recently received an email from a Scottish comrade, a public school teacher in Glasgow. He was initially supportive of Barack obama but in light of the past 5 months actions by the White House urges Americans to take a political lesson from the Election of New Labour's Tony Blair (which came after a long right-wing winter of 2 Margaret Thatcher and 1 John Major government) Neil writes:

"Lots on the left here in the UK in the late nineties/early 2000's said, "Give New Labour more time..." - they took us to war; made the poor poorer; are replacing nuclear weapons with our tax money; upped the ante from Thatcherism to Neo-liberalism and robbed our public services; allowed bankers to rob our savings and take our homes from us and presided over the tax robbery the Members of Parliament have carried out. Millions dead, millions in poverty. The lesson there is not to stand back "giving them more time" - but to question every move/ protest every wrong doing"

Commander's Intent: Lt. General Stanley McChrystal May 12 2009 by Marc Ambinder

FUNNY THING ABOUT THE NEW COMMANDER OF US FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal: for a brief period of time, his name was left out of the Pentagon phone books. That's because, of course, he was general officer of a series of units whom the Pentagon stubbornly refuses to admit the existence of, even though popular culture and selective leaks have them quite famous and much admired. Since 9/11, the activities of the Joint Special Operations Command have been hidden, and appropriately so, from the perspective of the government. The Bush Administration declassified the existence of one elite unit, "Grey Fox," for the benefit of Bob Woodward's book about the war in Afghanistan. A few commanders of Delta Force, the Army's top counterterrorist/direct action unit, have written books about the failure to capture Osama Bin Laden. McChrystal and theater commander David Petreaus developed a close friendship over the past several years, and Petraeus came to view McChrystal as a kindred spirit who saw the war and its progression as he did. An insurgency expert recently retired from the military told me that McChystal shared what Petraeus's "commander's intent" -- the ability to decipher and implement the strategy as the commander in chief intended. The outgoing commander, McKiernan simply did not inspire Petraeus's confidence. And here we are.

Pentagon officials were reluctant to talk about McChrystal's most recent position but they did not discourage reporters from assuming that his work in special operations meant that the U.S. strategy will rely quite heavily on the capabilities of special operations forces trained in counterinsurgency techniques.

Andrew Exum, a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq, wrote yesterday on his pseudonymous blog, Abu Muqawama, that " I do know that many policy-makers and journalists think that McChrystal's work as the head of the super-secret Joint Special Operations Command was the untold success story of the Surge and the greater war on terror campaigns."

Woodward hinted at some of these missions in his latest book and made a public spectacle out of his refusal to provide details. (Basically, these units used sophisticated biometric identification and advances in signal intelligence technology to track hundreds of militants, and then killed them. The scope of the Pentagon's insurgency biometric program is much larger than has been reported; my sense is that hundreds of U.S. intelligence collectors used data collected from secret cameras and scanners set up throughout the high insurgency areas.)

Sy Hersh is the Howard Zinn to Woodward's conventional historian these days, and Hersh is reportedly working a book that would expose a lot about these Pentagon special missions units in the first few years after 9/11. He has reported in the New Yorker that these units were given the authority to track and kill terrorists with minimal oversight, and that special interrogation task forces organized under a program called "Copper Green" were given a green light to use harsh, unapproved interrogation methods against detainees. The Copper Green program might be the Pentagon' equivalent to the CIA's "GST" umbrella, the covert series of rendition, collection and interrogation programs that are being widely debated in Congress right now. Hersh calls McChrystal the leader of[these "executive assassination" unit and promises to reveal more in the future. One can accept the basic truth of Hersh's allegation -- that Delta Force and Seal Team Six killed lots of insurgents under a broad classified authority granted to them by the Bush administration -- without thinking that the actions were somehow wrong or suspect. On the other hand, if the authority was granted illegally, if the targets were not terrorists... well, then JSOC will have a problem. We will see.

Even though the activities of the JSOC units are as controversial -- if not more so -- than what the CIA or NSA is alleged to have done under the banner of fighting terrorism, there have been few investigations into the conduct, and few calls to investigate. That's because, in part, Congress doesn't know a lot about JSOC's missions and since 2001 has shown them quite a bit of deference. Congressional investigations into detainee policy and Defense Department practices have focused largely on the activities of policy makers and regular units.

McChrystal must be confirmed by the Senate, and some senators have expressed an interest before in learning more about the JSOC's recent history. Knowing how savvy the Defense Secretary is, it's hard to imagine that McChrystal would have gotten the appointment if he'd been mixed up in potential misconduct or extra-legal behavior that Congress could uncover. The only public blight on McChrystal's record is his role in the cover-up of Army Ranger Pat Tillman's death. Congress will be interested to hear him speak about this -- it's hard to get the JSOC commander to testify in public, which was why McChrystal has not spoken about the affair in public -- but his confirmation will probably not be jeopardized by this incident alone.

Obama’s New Commander In Afghanistan Was Cheney’s Chief Assassin

Obama’s appointment of General Stanley McChrystal reflects a grave new military escalation of his Afghanistan war.

“The Deltas are psychos…You have to be a certified psychopath to join the Delta Force…”, a US Army colonel from Fort Bragg once told me back in the 1980s. Now President Obama has elevated the most notorious of the psychopaths, General Stanley McChrystal, to head the US and NATO military command in Afghanistan.

McChrystal’s rise to leadership is marked by his central role in directing special operations teams engaged in extrajudicial assassinations, systematic torture, bombing of civilian communities and search and destroy missions. He is the very embodiment of the brutality and gore that accompanies military-driven empire building. Between September 2003 and August 2008, McChrystal directed the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations (JSO) Command which operates special teams in overseas assassinations.

The point of the ‘Special Operations’ teams (SOT) is that they do not distinguish between civilian and military oppositions, between activists and their sympathizers and the armed resistance. The SOT specialize in establishing death squads and recruiting and training paramilitary forces to terrorize communities, neighborhoods and social movements opposing US client regimes. The SOT’s ‘counter-terrorism’ is terrorism in reverse, focusing on socio-political groups between US proxies and the armed resistance. McChrystal’s SOT targeted local and national insurgent leaders in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan through commando raids and air strikes. During the last 5 years of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld period the SOT were deeply implicated in the torture of political prisoners and suspects.

McChrystal was a special favorite of Rumsfeld and Cheney because he was in charge of the ‘direct action’ forces of the ‘Special Missions Units. ‘Direct Action’ operative are the death-squads and torturers and their only engagement with the local population is to terrorize, and not to propagandize. They engage in ‘propaganda of the dead’, assassinating local leaders to ‘teach’ the locals to obey and submit to the occupation. Obama’s appointment of McChrystal as head reflects a grave new military escalation of his Afghanistan war in the face of the advance of the resistance throughout the country.

The deteriorating position of the US is manifest in the tightening circle around all the roads leading in and out of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul as well as the expansion of Taliban control and influence throughout the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Obama’s inability to recruit new NATO reinforcements means that the White House’s only chance to advance its military driven empire is to escalate the number of US troops and to increase the kill ratio among any and all suspected civilians in territories controlled by the Afghan armed resistance.

The White House and the Pentagon claim that the appointment of McChrystal was due to the ‘complexities’ of the situation on the ground and the need for a ‘change in strategy’. ‘Complexity’ is a euphemism for the increased mass opposition to the US, complicating traditional carpet ‘bombing and military sweep’ operations. The new strategy practiced by McChrystal involves large scale, long term ’special operations’ to devastate and kill the local social networks and community leaders, which provide the support system for the armed resistance.

Obama’s decision to prevent the release of scores of photographs documenting the torture of prisoners by US troops and ‘interrogators’ (especially under command of the ‘Special Forces’), is directly related to his appointment of McChrystal whose ‘SOT’ forces were highly implicated in widespread torture in Iraq. Equally important, under McChrystal’s command the DELTA, SEAL and Special Operations Teams will have a bigger role in the new ‘counter-insurgency strategy’. Obama’s claim that the publication of these photographs will adversely affect the ‘troops’ has a particular meaning: The graphic exposure of McChrystal’s modus operendi for the past 5 years under President Bush will undermine his effectiveness in carrying out the same operations under Obama.

Obama’s decision to re-start the secret ‘military tribunals’ of foreign political prisoners, held at the Guantanamo prison camp, is not merely a replay of the Bush-Cheney policies, which Obama had condemned and vowed to eliminate during his presidential campaign, but part of his larger policy of militarization and coincides with his approval of the major secret police surveillance operations conducted against US citizens.

Putting McChrystal in charge of the expanded Afghanistan-Pakistan military operations means putting a notorious practitioner of military terrorism - the torture and assassination of opponents to US policy - at the center of US foreign policy. Obama’s quantitative and qualitative expansion of the US war in South Asia means massive numbers of refugees fleeing the destruction of their farms, homes and villages; tens of thousands of civilian deaths, and eradication of entire communities. All of this will be committed by the Obama Administraton in the quest to ‘empty the lake (displace entire populations) to catch the fish (armed insurgents and activists)’.

Obama’s restoration of all of the most notorious Bush Era policies and the appointment of Bush’s most brutal commander is based on his total embrace of the ideology of military-driven empire building. Once one believes (as Obama does) that US power and expansion are based on military conquests and counter-insurgency, all other ideological, diplomatic, moral and economic considerations will be subordinated to militarism. By focusing all resources on successful military conquest, scant attention is paid to the costs borne by the people targeted for conquest or to the US treasury and domestic American economy. This has been clear from the start: In the midst of a major recession/depression with millions of Americans losing their employment and homes, President Obama increased the military budget by 4% - taking it beyond $800 billion dollars.

Obama’s embrace of militarism is obvious from his decision to expand the Afghan war despite NATO’s refusal to commit any more combat troops. It is obvious in his appointment of the most hard-line and notorious Special Forces General from the Bush-Cheney era to head the military command in subduing Afghanistan and the frontier areas of Pakistan.

It is just as George Orwell described in Animal Farm: The Democratic Pigs are now pursuing the same brutal, military policies of their predecessors, the Republican Porkers, only now it is in the name of the people and peace. Orwell might paraphrase the policy of President Barack Obama, as ‘Bigger and bloodier wars equal peace and justice’.

By James Petras
Posted May 18, 2009.

Impunity for CIA Torturers : The Debate Intensifies

Translated mardi 12 mai 2009, par Claire Scammell

Obama, who had assured agents that they would not be brought to trial despite disclosures of their use of torture, has been forced to concede the possibility of an inquiry.

By opening the door to a possible inquiry into those responsible for the use of torture, Barack Obama has reopened the debate - after having maintained that there would not be any legal action against CIA agents, who were acting in “good faith”.

Obama had received, at the time, an enthusiastic welcome in Langley, home of the CIA headquarters. It was under pressure from those who had contributed so much to his election that the president had to find a way to respond to the split in opinion over the impunity granted to political sponsors of torturers.

The results of polls have been contradictory ; early last week 70% of citizens polled, shocked by the confidential documents made public by the president, were in favour of immediate legal action against the intolerable acts. Yesterday, a new poll by the Washington Post and ABC News showed a split in opinion over the use of torture on terrorists but also approval from more than 70% for the policies delivered by Obama in his first one hundred days in office.

On the other hand, the wind has turned for those who, in a way never seen before, rallied opinion in favour of a young black candidate ; today, nobody is talking about the colour of his skin. Nineteen humanitarian associations (backed by the multimillionaire George Soros), the internet site Move On (five million subscribers), which played a decisive role in the democratic candidate’s battle for presidency, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU 500,000 members) are proposing a petition calling for the immediate trial of those responsible for the use of torture.

The ACLU has, moreover, announced that it has won the right to publish several dozen photos, taken inside CIA prisons, which prove the systematic use of torture inside the walls of the Abu Ghraib prison. The photos will be published on May the 28th but the press are already evoking the damning content.

It has been heard, from a Senate committee inquiry, that the CIA torturers had started their training immediately after the attacks of 11th September 2001; before the texts which legalised illegality were written. It was also a question of creating, through the use of torture, links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein in order to find another justification for a war started by the biggest lie of the century, that of the existence of weapons of mass destruction.

Author of legal texts, the judge Jay Bybee, who today sits on the Federal Court of Appeal, is the subject of a call for impeachment lodged at the Senate by the Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold. The debate has been drawn out across the two chambers where the majority of Republicans, including John McCain, oppose putting the Bush team under the spotlight. The former vice president, Dick Cheney, who is being questioned, appeared on television to defend the methods “which allowed the CIA to defend the security of the United States”. This is an issue that the CIA, having become more cautious, has indicated it could not assess.

One of the members of the presidential team, the Admiral Dennis Blair, head of national intelligence, has taken a stand against the proceedings, whereas in January, he stated before the Senate that he condemned torture and that it did not yield reliable intelligence.

The White House itself is split. Hoping to conjure up a storm which would risk putting the spotlight on the defence secretary Robert Gates, who held the same post in the Bush administration, Barack Obama has chosen to off-load the responsibility onto the Attorney General, Eric Holder – an advocate for abandoning all investigation – who will have to judge if there is need to open an inquiry, and onto Congress, where a bipartite truth-commission could decide whether there is need to open proceedings which couldn’t fail to put the spotlight on George Bush. This is just the beginning.

May 29, 2009

Joint Statement of Communist and Workers Parties of Europe, 18 March 2009

18 March 2009

The Czech EU presidency in the midst of a capitalist economic crisis,has taken the initiative to organize a series of events to bring anticommunists and now attempt to equate communism and Nazism, to rewrite history and manipulate people's minds, especially the generation of youth, with a view to the future rather than the past.

The intention expressed in the EU (in countries where the Communist Party has already been outlawed),is to characterize communism and class struggle as crimes, it not only seeks to attack the Communists, nor is it limited only to countries in the EU.

Anticommunist hysteria that erupted a few years ago with the "Memorandum" on the need for international condemnation of crimes of totalitarian communist regimes "in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, hysteria which continues today, militates against the working class and other popular sectors.

They want to beat the leading forces of the popular movement and its anti-fighting plans and attempt to make the workers pay for the global crisis. They want to eliminate the struggle against the system operator and negate the possibility of a just society, as expressed by the ideology and the struggle of the communists. They want to beat the forces of resistance and counter them based on the popular anti-communist hysteria, lies and persecution. They have announced new attacks against Socialist Cuba and the peoples who are resisting imperialism.

We condemn these actions by the EU presidency and call on the peoples of Europe to react strongly and unreservedly condemned.

The Parties

* Communist Party of Belarus
* Workers' Party of Belgium
* New Communist Party of Britain
* Party of Bulgarian Communists
* AKEL, Cyprus
* Communist Party in Denmark
* Communist Party of Estonia
* Communist Party of Finland
* Communist Party of Greece
* Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party
* Communist Party of Ireland
* Workers' Party of Ireland
* Party of the Italian Communists
* Socialist Party of Latvia
* Communist Party of Luxembourg
* New Communist Party of the Netherlands (NCPN)
* Communist Party of Norway
* Communist Party of Poland
* Portuguese Communist Party
* Communist Party of Soviet Union
* Communist Party of the Russian Federation
* Communist Workers Party of Russia-Party of Communists of Russia (RKRP-RPC)
* New Communist Party of Serbia
* Communist Party of Peoples of Spain
* Communist Party of Sweden
* Communist Party of Turkey
* Communist Party of Ukraine
* Union of Communists of Ukraine

*** Many thanks to the CP of Peoples of Spain for the Spanish translation

Statement by Farman Ali, Secretary LPP Pukhtoon Khawa (Labour Party of Pakistan) excerpt

Source: Labor Party of Pakistan

"Until the Afghanistan situation is better, and NATO forces leave Afghanistan, the Pakistan situation will not be better. Afghanistan is on the borders. The Taliban takes inspiration from there. They are linked with the Afghan Taliban. They help each other. American imperialist are not interested in peace in this area. They are escalating the war. They are pressurizing the Pakistani government to take more military actions against the Taliban. But Taliban are not affected, it is the people of the area that are hit badly. We are paying the price of the new liberal agenda. We must oppose the both."

Communist Party USA Statement on North Korean Nuclear Test

Andrew Taylor's Note:

I publish this Statement in order to educate my readers on the current line of the cpusa. I do not endorse it and in my Op-Ed below provide my reasons for principled dissent from this political line. I do not agree that "The general direction of the Obama administration's foreign policy is at odds with that of any administration in the past 30 years, if not longer". If that were so why are 2 million Pakistanis currently displaced in an Obama-ordered Pakistani Civil War? Why is Obama sending 30,000 additional US troops to secure the occupation of Afghanistan? I do not agree that "the movement for peace and against imperialism is that much more difficult" because of N Korea. The primary locus of world imperialism was and is American imperialism with its reckless domestic war-mongering and aggressive, inhuman foreign war-making.

_____________ ________________________ ____________________
By Communist Party USA
Original source:

The Communist Party USA is shocked and appalled at North Korea's recent nuclear test, as well as its subsequent test firing of at least two missiles.

We see these acts as incredibly provocative and irresponsible. Unfortunately, they are not a surprising departure from the way the DPRK leadership has handled itself in recent years. Even North Korea's most important ally, China, was horrified by, and condemned, the tests.

Of course, North Korea is right to say that it has been, and still is, the victim of imperialist aggression, specifically from the US. It is true that the United States has never made reparations for the destruction of the Korean War, has repeatedly threatened North Korea, and encroached upon its right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to peacefully use nuclear power.

In addition, the United States has helped to isolate North Korea from the rest of the world, encroaching upon its sovereign rights and hindering its economic development, and therefore providing the basis for the problems afflicting the region.

It was the United States that fought the Korean War, and partitioned the nation into two separate states. The line of demarcation between north and south is one of the most militarized in the world. Currently, tens of thousands of US troops remain in South Korea, and the US routinely practices joint military drills with south Korea, simulating a ground invasion of the North.

Nonetheless, we are resolutely opposed to the use or development of any nuclear weapons by any nation.

Nuclear weapons threaten the very existence of humanity itself. The tests heighten tensions in the region: The sections of Japan's leadership that want to see Japan change its “peace constitution” so that Japan can maintain a standing army have seized upon these provocative tests to push forward the changes they want.

Further, the results of the tests are in direct contradiction to the stated aims of battling imperialism. The general direction of the Obama administration's foreign policy is at odds with that of any administration in the past 30 years, if not longer. While Obama has to navigate the political realities of the US, his administration has sought to reduce the nuclear threat, as well as the threat that the US poses to other, oppressed nations. Consequently, powerful sections of the U.S. ruling class have made their aim to derail the Obama administration altogether.

The fight for progressive forces is to make sure that Obama, and the social strata that are part of the Obama movement – the working class, women and the racially and nationally oppressed especially – meets success.

The ultra-right has already seized upon North Korea's nuclear tests to attack Obama, Obama has been forced to respond sharply, and the movement for peace and against imperialism is that much more difficult. We believe peace is possible in today’s world, but this nuclear test, on the contrary, strengthens the ultra-right and imperialism, not the cause of peace.

The Communist Party USA, along with North Korea's neighbors, including socialist China and Vietnam, and many other progressive forces around the world, condemn these tests and urge the North Korean leadership to abandon its policy of brinkmanship.

Further, we urge all parties, including the United States and Japan, to exercise restraint in response. As we have always said, the main way to solve the nuclear issue, as well as the problems of Northeast Asia more generally, is through good-faith dialogue, through the six-party talks or some other mechanism, and not through military saber-rattling and brinkmanship from any quarters.

The Giant and Jack, or, The USA lectures N. Korea about Nuclear Arms

It embarrassed me to read mainstream western Statements on the N Korean missile tests. I include the CPUSA Statement in the mainstream reactions.

For long years, N Korea has called for a replacement of the Cold War truce with a peace treaty that would permit a normalisation of relations with the USA. Washington has refused to sign any such peace treaty, and so remains technically at war with North Korea for the past 60 years.

The USA maintains 10,000 nuclear warheads and performs regular extensive tests with the most hi-tech weaponry in the world. Moreover the USA has launched aggressive predatory war after war, as well as multiple actions of nuclear blackmail, campaigns of economic destabilization illegal covert actions and coup d'etat.

Yet the US military imperial machine in Washington is seen by the "reasonable men" of the bourgeoisie as the "responsible" power while North Korea is portrayed as a wicked rogue state for only testing their very elementary, small arsenal. And apparently because US imperialism has a new leader the international community is no longer to focus on the continuing objective character of the USA as the centre of .

I ask those who make this counsel why 2 Million Pakistanis are fleeing displaced and homeless at Obama's Command? Is this not imperialism? Is the new heightened war in Afghanistan not an imperialist "WAr of Choice" launched by Obama? Is the maintenance of 50,000 troops of occupation in Iraq not an imperialist policy? Is the failure to bring a formal Inquiry into the Bush-Cheney administration not a political calculation that sends a message of collusion and timidity regarding fascism and war-crimes? Other "irrelevant" issues such as the USA's winking/cooperating in the maintenance of Israel's 200+ Nuclear Missiles are seen as "distractions" from the threat at hand according to the Ruling Class and their mouthpieces."Distractions" as in: "don't distract us, we're screwing N. Korea"...

Washington’s repeated threats of economic and military aggression have given N Korea a basic life and death choice: Acquire Arms you can use as a leverage with the Imperialists, or be decimated.

A Whimsy about the Capitalist Crisis, by Andrew Taylor

Friday, May 29, 2009

thinks the present economic crisis could be thought of by the analogy of a near-fatal bowel blockage...will the patient have a benign polyp or a malign mass? Will bowel function and credit start loosening up ?...I mean, after all, currencies of nations are either 'soft' or 'hard'...

Legendary Haitian Political Leader Father Gerard Jean-Juste passes away

MIAMI - Legendary activist, Father Gerard Jean-Juste passed away at Jackson Memorial Hospital (Miami) at approximately 5:00 p.m. Wednesday (May 27) from complications of a prolonged illness.

Father Jean-Juste was the executive director of Miami's Haitian Refugee Center and a fierce advocate for the rights of Haitian refugees, often in opposition to U.S. policies towards Haiti.

After his return to Haiti, following the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship, Jean-Juste became a outspoken advocate for Haiti's poor and downtrodden masses. He organized an ongoing program to feed the poor, including hundreds of children. Over a decade later, that program continues to play a vital role in the lives of many.

A leading supporter of President Jean Bertrand Aristide and Haitian democracy, he braved two coup d'etats while continuing his work under both the Cedras military junta and later the Latortue regime. Father Jean-Juste became a symbol of the struggle for Haitian democracy, when he was beaten and jailed in 2004 on trumped charges by the Latortue dictatorship. He was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International and was released only after an international campaign for his freedom.

While imprisoned, Father Jean-Juste first became ill and was diagnosed with leukemia.
Over the past four years, while battling this disease, he has remained active in his parish, travelled internationally proclaiming Haiti's cause and fighting for social justice...

May 28, 2009

A New Road for the Communist Party of Great Britain (April 1977), with a 2009 Introduction by: Andrew Taylor

by Alex Callinicos, from International Socialism (1st series), No.97, April 1977, pp.12-15.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
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Note by Andrew Taylor:

During the 1970s and 80s a number of the European and international communist parties attempted to strike out on a new 3rd Way which was neither for Socialist Revolution and Worker's power - nor for the mere reformism of Social-Democracy. Italian Communist Party (PCI) The Spanish Communist Party (PCE), the Movement for Socialism (Venezuela), The Japanese Communist Party, The Mexican Communist Party and Communist Party of Australia were all more or less involved in this intellectual and political re-alignment of the Left away from Leninism. The Communist Party of Great Britain eventually adopted not only a eurocommunist but a liquidationist answer to The Communist Party!

In some cases, Eurocommunists showed audacacity in trying to break from turgid orthodoxies that had little applicability to national circumstances, but perhaps on the down-side they tended to show a lack of courage in definitively breaking with their Communist past and with Marxism-Leninism due to a fear of losing old members and supporters, many of whom remained unreconstructed Bolsheviks.

Eurocommunists always claimed to be distinct - not only from Soviet Socialism, but also from Social Democracy -yet, in practice, they have always been very similar to the social-democrat policies.So I would argue that Eurocommunism does not have a solid,or real separate identity - and cannot be regarded as an integral movement in its own right.

In this 1977 essay Alex Callincos a theorist of the Trotskysist Socialist Worker's Party offers a provocative and informative commentary on the early days of The British Party's Eurocommunism.

I hope this re-posting of Alex Callinicos reflection on the CPGB's "The British Road to Socialism" will provoke thinking and constructive debate on the line and role of the Marxist Left today. I am not a Trotskyist, but I think the questions posed in this essay have merit for broad discussion in the Left of 2009...

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The Communist Party is at present discussing the new draft of its programme, The British Road to Socialism, published in February this year. The debate on the new draft, which follow on from that started by John Gollan’s article Socialist Democracy – Some Problems (Marxism Today, January 1976), will continue until the CP’s national congress in November. In the meantime, according to the Foreword to the draft,

‘As well as amendments from party organisations, submitted in accordance with party rules, the executive committee will welcome the views of others in the labour and progressive movement.’

The following article by Alex Callinicos is a contribution to this debate within the Communist Party.

THE NEW draft of The British Road to Socialism is a strategy:

... based on our actual political and social conditions, historical traditions, degree of working-class organisation, and the new world setting. Every socialist revolution is unique in major respects. [1]

This statement is undeniably true. Every revolutionary party must gear its strategy to the realities of the society in which it operates. Otherwise it will be irrelevant.

The new British Road attempts to spell out the Communist Party’s answers to the main problems of the British situation. The draft looks at the present phase of world capitalism and the particular from of the crisis in Britain. It looks at the situation inside the labour movement and tries to locate the forces for change. It outlines a strategy for the introduction of socialism. It defines the role of the revolutionary party in this process. We will examine these proposals in turn.

1. State Monopoly Capitalism

THE CENTRE of the draft’s analysis is the notion of state monopoly capitalism. The CP argues that the economies of Western capitalism are today dominated by huge monopolistic firms whose activities interlink with the state so that the latter is increasingly the instrument of the monopolies.

These monopolies are largely multinational in scope so they are outside the control of the individusl national states:

The major monopolies are now multi-national, investing and operating all over the world. For them, patriotism does not exist. Britain is outstanding in the extent to which it is dominated by the multinational firms. (134-6)

This domination has meant a continuous export of capital, the consequent backwardness of the British economy and a threat to national control of the whole economy.

Multinational firms certainly have a big impact in Britain and they do have some of the consequences described. But what this analysis does not explain is the fact that we are living through a world crisis of capitalism. This crisis affects the system as a whole – the strong capitals like West Germany as much as the weak ones like Britain. [2] For Marx, these crises arose from the contradictions of the system as a whole and the ‘real barrier of capitalist production is capital itself.’ [3] Thus the only solution was the overthrow of the capitalist system.

The only contradiction of capitalism discussed in this draft is that caused by wage-restraint, which reduces the market for the goods produced by capitalist industry. This analysis of capitalism adds up to a reformist solution to the crisis. It implies that the problems of British capitalism can be dealt with if only control of investment were taken out of the hands of the multinationals so that capital instead of being exported, were used to expand British industry, and if the market for the goods produced by British firms were widened by the abadonment of wage restraint.

This analysis lies at the foundation of the overall strategy for socialism which rests on the idea that opposition to the monopolies can unite a broad spectrum of social groups, including sections of the capitalist class. The task of the day is to ‘rally all those seeking a way out of the crisis, and unite them in a broad alliance for democracy and social change’ (457-8). This ‘broad democratic alliance’ will start with the working class, but:

There objective basis for an alliance between many of these sections of the capitalist class (small employers – AC) and the working class against the common enemy – the big capitalists. (613-15)

The main task, the draft argues, is to unite the mass of the people to wrest power from the hands of the monopolies. The focus of the current struggle is not socialism, but democracy.

2. A New Kind of Labour Government.

THE AUTHORS of the new British Road would report that the struggle for democracy would be merely the starting point for the struggle for socialism:

The winning of political power by the working class and its allies will not be a single act, but a process of struggle, in which the next important stage is the winning of a Labour Government which will carry out a left policy to tackle the crisis and bring about far-reaching democratic changes in society, opening up the road to socialism. (26-30)

The CP’s strategy is centred on winning this ‘new kind of Labour Government’. This will emerge as a result of a battle between left and right inside the Labour Party. The CP see some role for the ‘mass struggle’ in pushing the Labour Party leftwards and in helping the government fight big business, but they do not see the need for independent mass action by rank-and file workers. There is no discussion of the role played by the prominent ‘lefts’ in the Labour Party or the Trade Unions under the present Labour Government in selling the Social Contract.

The economic programme of this new Labour Government reflects the draft’s analysis of the crisis. All the measures – state control of investment, nationalisation of the banks, insurance companies and oil firms, selective import controls, price controls and increased public spending – are based on the assumption that the British crisis can solved in isolation from the world crisis.

The other aspect of the programme is a set of measures aimed at democratising the British state – proportional representation, the abolition of the House of Lords, devolution, repeal of the 1971 Immigration Act, workers’ participation in nationalised firms and full trade union and democratic rights’ for soldiers and policemen’ (1258).

3. The State and Revolution.

IT IS here that the British Road runs slap bang into the problem facing their strategy, and indeed any strategy, for socialism: would not capitalist resistance to a left government lead either to a violent reactionary overthrow of the government or to the armed seizure of power by the working class?

The Communist Party thinks not. The draft argues that things have changed since 1917, and the authors have ‘confidence that socialism can be achieved in our coutry without civil war’ (1096-8). This is because of Britain’s ‘democratic traditions’:

The nature of the British constitution, under which Parliament has supreme authority, gives a left government the democratic right and the means, backed by the mass struggle of the people, to carry through drastic and necessary reforms in the state apparatus to correspond to the political change in the country expressed in the electoral verdict of the people. (1460-4)

These arguments have been used before. A tragic example was that of the Chilean CP just before the armed forces overthrew the Allende government on September 11 1973.

The draft British Road takes into account the danger of this being repeated in-Britain, but argues that this can be avoided if the Tory Party is isolated:

The possibility of a coup, in fact, depends above all on the relation of political forces. Hence the importance of winning the mass political majority, with the working class at its core, ready and willing to use its strength to support the left government. This also emphasises the need to win all democratic forces around the labour movement, so isolating the Tory Party. The more support there is for the left government, the less will be the possibility of creating the political atmosphere of tension and social chaos in which a coup could be launched. (1517-23)

The focus on the need to win all democratic forces’ implies that the workers’ movement should tie its hands in order not to endanger the loyalty of small businessmen to the government. But the argument also avoids the real question – that of the capitalist state.

For Marx and Lenin: ‘...the state is an organ of class rule, an organ for the oppression of one class by another.’ [4] In a parliamentary democratic state like Britain this is achieved through the operation of the state machine as a set of institutions apparently independent of classes and their interests. This can be seen in the structure of the capitalist state. The division of powers between Parliament, the executive and the courts serves drastically to restrict the power of any elected government in the name of the neutrality of the state.

The extent to which Parliament affects the state machine is very small. The number of political appointments any prime minister can make is tiny. The Civil Service is run by a small closed corps of professional administrators. The Army is run by a small group of professional soldiers. The law is run by a small group of professional judges. All of these groups are closely linked by class origins, training and lifestyle to the ruling class. All can, and do, defy the will of an elected government, even a right-wing one like the present Labour government.

The effective independence of the state machine serves to guarantee the political power of the capitalist class. The state functions as an autonomous set of institutions unified by their commitment to the defence of capitalist society. A change of personnel at the top, through the election of a left Labour government, will not change this. Attempts to make more drastic changes, for example, by sacking recalcitrant civil servants or trying to democratise the army will simply serve to strengthen the resistance within the state machine to the government’s policies. The relative autonomy of the capitalist state machine also plays a very important ideological role. As the draft British Road correctly points out, the capitalists’ ideological domination over society plays a vital part in maintaining the system. Because the state machine appears to function autonomously it serves to perpetuate the myth that the state is somehow above classes, representing the interests of society as a whole. This myth underlies the apparently democratic character of the capitalist state.

Not all counter-revolutions are led by brutes like Pinochet or Hitler. Some are carried out in the name of ‘democracy’ and led by men who call themselves ‘socialists’. The most famous case was in Germany in 1919, when the leaders of the German Social Democratic Party presided over the massacre of workers and revolutionaries which eventually opened the door to Hitler.

In the face of a ‘democratic’ counter-revolution of this sort, revolutionaries find themselves dis-armed unless they reject the ideology of the neutral state. But the draft of the British Road bases itself on the notion that the capitalist state can be used in the interests of the working class: ‘Parliament, itself the product of past battles for democracy, can be transformed into the democratic instrument of the will of the vast majority of the people’ (1113-6). It seems that Parliament would continue to be ‘the sovereign body in the land’ under socialism (see 1742-53).

However, Parliament is simply part of the state machine. It provides a veneer of democratic control without giving the mass of the people any real say in the way the country is run [5]. Lenin’s criticism of Kautsky applies to the British CP:

Kautsky has not understood at all the difference between bourgeois parlimentarianism, which combines democracy (not for the people) with bureaucracy (against the people), and proletarian democracy, which will take immediate steps to cut bureaucracy down to the roots, and which will be able to carry these measures through to the end, to the complete abolition of bureaucracy, to the complete introduction of democracy for the people. [6]

There is no reason whatsoever to change the conclusions reached by Marx and Lenin that the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes’ and that the role of a workers’ revolution ‘will be no longer, as before, to transfer the bureaucratic-military machine from one hand to another, but to smash it.’ [7]

In the place of the state machine of the capitalists the workers set up their own state based on the arming of the working class and the formation of organs of proletarian democracy, tike the Paris Commune and the Soviets, through which, by means of their directly elected and recallable delegates, the workers can exercise power. There have been many examples of this since Marx and Lenin drew their conclusions: Germany 1918-19, Barcelona 1936, Hungary 1956, Portugal 1975. The draft British Road rejects this road and sows illusions in the neutrality of the capitalist state. It can only prepare the way for new defeats like Chile.

4. The Role of the Communist Party

MOST OF the above positions are the culmination of a process which has been going on at least since the publication of the first British Road in 1951. There are, however, new developments. The new draft stresses that: ‘Britain’s road to socialism will be different from the Soviet road’ (1089). At the same time the CP is following the lead of the Italian and French Communist Parties and being much more critical of the Russian bureaucracy. They are trying hard to lay the ghost of Stalinism.

This is designed to make it much easier for the CP to collaborate with the Labour lefts, and it is here that an important change has been made. According to the new draft, the function of the Communist Party is not as an independent working-class party but as a pressure group to push the Labour Party left:

The Communist Party does not seek to replace the Labour Party as a federal party of the working class. Rather, we see a much more influential mass Communist Party as crucial to the future of the Labour party itself. (864-6)

In this alliance between the CP and the Labour Lefts the main function of the CP is to be ‘the initiator and inspirer of discussion and debate’ (826). This emerges very clearly from a recent interview with Gordon McLennan, the CP General Secretary:

... the Labour Party, on the whole, insufficiently discusses socialist aims and what socialism would mean for Britain, with the people ... That is why the Labour movement needs a much bigger, more influential and more effective Communist Party now, playing its unique role in the movement ... an organisation that ... above all, in British conditions, fights for understanding of that central concept of marxism, that mass struggle, people and their mass organisations in action, is the crucial factor in determining human and political development. [8]

The role of the Communist Party is no longer to lead the masses in struggle. Its job is now to persuade the Labour lefts that they should lead the masses.

But if this is the role of the CP, then the obvious question is: why bother to have an independent CP? The original reason for founding Communist Parties throughout the world was that it was only possible to win the masses to the revolution if there was a CP which put itself at the head of mass struggles. The Theses on Tactics adopted at the Third Congress of the Comintern in 1921 state:

Communist Parties can only develop in struggle. Even the smallest communist parties should not restrict themselves to mere propoganda and agitation. They must form the spearhead of all proletarian mass organisations, showing the backward vacillating masses, by putting forward practical proposals for struggle, by urging on the struggle for all the daily needs of the proletariat, how the struggle should be waged, and thus exposing to the masses the treacherous character of all non-communist parties. Only by placing themselves at the head of the practical struggles of the proletariat, only by promoting these struggles, can they really win over large masses of the proletariat to the fight for the dictatorship. [9]

People change their ideas in struggle, not just as the result of preaching by socialists. The condition for a revolutionary party to succeed in its’propaganda is that it is, at the same time, the party which is seen by the masses as the most determined fighters in action.

The new draft of the British Road represents the final abandonment of the historic mission of the Communist Party. Some members of the CP see this very clearly:

This draft is not the programme of a revolutionary Communist Party. It is the programme of a sect, a ginger group, not a political party created to lead the working class in the overthrow of capitalism and the building of socialism ... Clearly, if this draft is correct, the decision to form the Communist Party in Britain was wrong. [10]

Conclusion: The Drift to the Right

THE NEW DRAFT crystallises a growing trend within the CP. There is an increasingly influential intellectual right wing which draws its inspiration from the Italian CP.

The leadership of the CP encourages this trend. David Purdy, the most prominent member of the new right, is now a regular contributor to CP publications like Marxism Today. His most original contribution to Marxism has been to advocate CP support for the Social Contract. According to him, wage controls are an embryonic form of the socialist planned economy: The unions’ acceptance of a social contract, at least under a Labour government, represents a new stage in the quest for the regulation of the anarchy of distribution under capitalism. [11]

The task of Communists is to exploit this ‘deformation’ of the capitalist system by trading wage restraint for an ‘alternative economic strategy’, consisting, for example, of ‘social control ... over the scale, timing, location and character of investment’. [12]

This strategy is little different from that argued by some union leaders, such as Alan Fisher. [13] But it is not that far removed from the ideas of the leadership of the British CP. In the new draft we read this coy hint: ‘A government carrying out such a progressive programme (state control of investment, etc. – AC) could be assured that the unions would take this into consideration in forming their wage demands’ (1225-7).

The reason why both the leadership of the CP and the right wing share the view that an incomes policy under capitalism is not necessarily such a bad thing, while having minor disagreements over timing, is that they share a common attitude to working-class struggle. For them, the central arena in the struggle for socialism is the capitalist political system – parliament, general elections, etc. The mass of the workers are a stage army to be marched on and off as and when they are needed. For both wings the idea that socialism is the result of the independent actions of the workers themselves is an anethama.

The growth of these ideas within the Communist Party musi horrify the working-dass militants in its ranks. Many of them do want to see a real fight by rank-and-file workers against the present system...


1. The British Road to Socialism, draft, lines 1084-6. All subsequent references to this document in the text are to line number.

2. See Notes of the Month, in International Socialism 94.

3. K. Marx, Capital, volume III (Moscow 1971), p.250.

4. V.I. Lenin, The State and Revolution, Selected Works (London 1969), pp.267-8.

5. It is, therefore, suprising to learn that Professor Ernest Mandel of the ‘Fourth International’ believes that ‘it is an essentially tactical matter’ ‘whether parliamentary organs are necessary’ in a workers’ state. See E. Mandel, A Political Interview, in New Left Review 100, p.121.

6. Lenin, op.cit., p.343.

7. Marx, quoted by Lenin, op.cit., p.289.

8. G. McLennan, An Interview on the Communist Party and Unity, in Marxism Today, March 1977, pp.68-9.

9. J. Degras, The Communist International 1919-43: Documents, Volume I, p.248.

10. Published in the CP magazine Comment, March 5 1977.

11. D. Purdy, British Capitalism since the War, Part Two, in Marxism Today, October 1976, p.317.

12. D. Purdy in The Leveller, January 1977, p.14.

13. See A. Callinicos, Alan Fisher, NUPE and the New Reformism, in International Socialism 96.