Engraving of Lenin busy studying

Economic & Philosophic Science Review

Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested.--- V. I. Lenin

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No 1207 4th November 2003

Splits, confusion, and prejudices rampant as the US/Zionist warmongering conspiracy sinks deeper into trouble while no possible end is in sight to the crisis causes of "terrorism". West right to fear the instability of the scuttled Soviet workers state. Despite to doubts, history will learn to go forward again on a sounder socialist basis, however banal that is considered. And Jewishness will continue to put itself in the front line of anti-imperialist hatred because of the crucial role which that specific monopoly-capitalist influential freemasonry is playing within the broader conglomeration of American imperialist power-interests. And even if anti-US feelings stray into prejudice, their growth is worth having if it means more revolutionary resistance to American domination worldwide.

Imperialism's sick and degenerate "war on terrorism" camp is losing the propaganda battle with the rest of the bourgeois "free" world as its blitzkrieg on Iraq and Afghanistan turns into a political and military disaster.

Inevitably as a result, the most aggressive war circles are splitting apart as never before, and beginning to blame each other in advance of the entire neo-colonial "pre-emptive" programme being declared a debacle and withdrawn from.

But the unsolved global capitalist economic crisis, which persuaded the most imperialist bourgeois lobbies to opt for a warmongering "solution", has still not gone away, and this renewed challenge to the very acceptability off the anarchic "free market" as any kind of sane basis for modern civilisation, is unavoidably stirring all the old enmities of class-ridden capitalist society towards fever pitch, right round the world.

The vicious American "anti-terror" onslaught on the Middle East, plus further threats to half the planet, which is now breeding new "terrorist" resistance of a guerrilla-war type at an ever-faster rate, may yet wipe out or terrorise all further opposition to the colonisation of Iraq and Afghanistan, but only at an ever mounting international cost, and only to a chorus of ever deepening disagreement within the broad imperialist camp itself.

Financially, this insanity is further bankrupting the American imperialist state, which was already facing insoluble debt and slump problems anyway.

Politically, the vicious all-round threats inseparable from any go-it-alone warmongering policy can only put renewed inter-imperialist war, World War III, — further onto the agenda because profound differences in the aims and interests of all the rival imperialist powers, as economic crisis tightens its stranglehold, can only relentlessly sharpen.

As a result of all this, history is inching towards its most spectacular class-war REVOLUTIONARY explosion of all time.

Tragically, the entire fake-'left' continues to go round in ever decreasing "left-reformist" sectarian circles, refusing to face up to the more and more glaringly obvious conclusion that for all its faults, the proletarian dictatorship of the Soviet and other workers states is the only possible historical mechanism which HAS routed imperialist warmongering in the past and which, shorn of the Stalinist Revisionist nonsense of "peaceful coexistence" and "peaceful roads to socialism" which destroyed it, WILL rout imperialist warmongering in the future.

Interestingly, it is fears for the safety of the capitalist counter-revolution in Russia which have given the bourgeois world one of its worst new current scares.

With the Western imperialist system now convulsing in its most dangerous and shameful crisis ever, where else would bourgeois angst anticipate the most frightening trouble of all for capitalism than in Russia, the home of the world's first revolutionary workers state which becomes more proud of Soviet achievements with every passing year since Stalinist Revisionist brainrot let the dictatorship of the proletariat self-liquidate.

Nothing too revolutionary has happened yet to show that the Bonapartist regime of ex-KGB officer Putin might be pushed towards restoration of Soviet state power; and it continues to balance between nostalgia for the old way of life and the new economic power of the financial oligarchy.

But parts of the capitalist press are clearly terrified of what they can possibly see happening in the long term, — aware as they are of the worsening insolubility of the international capitalist crisis:

The United States expressed concern over the arrest, saying that it could raise doubts for foreign investors. Alexander Vershbow, the American Ambassador in Moscow, told the Interfax news agency: "Recent events provoked questions about whether or not Russian legislation is being applied selectively."

News of Mr Khodorkovsky's detention reverberated through Russia's political and business elite. One banker said that it could precipitate a market crash on a par with the country's financial crisis of August 1998.

The Kremlin denies ordering a long-running inquiry into the business affairs of Yukos, but political analysts said that a clique of security and defence officials surrounding Mr Putin most likely demanded the billionaire's detention.

"Chekists" loyal to the President — many of them former security agents who take their name from the Soviet secret police — are known to be locked in a battle for control of the presidential administration. Their opponents are Russia's oligarchs, the half-dozen men who made millions in the chaos of the Soviet collapse of 1991 and then used that wealth to buy and maintain a government that would protect their new fortunes.

This coterie of officials consolidated their stranglehold on political as well as economic power in 1995-96, when they struck a deal with the political elite to keep President Yeltsin in power for another term, after his ratings plummeted to single figures.

Mr Putin came to power in 2000 on a specific pledge to push the super-rich oligarchs out of power. Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky, powerful tycoons both now in exile, were swiftly sidelined.

Mr Khodorkovsky has shown increasing political ambitions, funding two parties that will lock horns with a pro-Kremlin bloc in parliamentary elections in December and hinting that he may run for the presidency in 2008.

The investigation into Yukos became widely known in July with the arrest of Mr Lebedev on charges of theft of state property connected to the privatisation of a fertiliser company. Another shareholder has since been charged with tax evasion. Prosecutors say that several employees are being investigated.

The investigation assumed an overtly political character last week, when prosecutors raided the offices of a public relations agency hired by Yabloko, a political party that received funding from Yukos. It reached a climax on Saturday when police boarded Mr Khodorkovsky's aircraft.

"It's clear this came from the very top," Andrei Piontkovsky, the independent analyst, said. "Putin has finally chosen sides and thrown in his lot with the Chekists."

The faces of Stalin, Lenin, Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the KGB, and Ivan the Terrible now confront Muscovites on their daily journey to work. 50 Russian heroes, including Tsar Peter the Great, adorn an electoral poster for United Russia, the political party that is crucial to President Vladimir Putin's campaign to get re-elected.

A key definition thus far comes, naturally, from President Putin himself. He said last month: "I've been hearing allegations [about the rollback of democracy] for four years now, since I became president of the Russian Federation. If by democracy one means the dissolution of the state, then we do not need such democracy.

I don't think that there are people in the world who want democracy that would lead to chaos."

Years of chaos in the 90s have neutered Russia; the population is falling by 1 million a year. Nearly a third of people have only enough money for food.

The poorest earn less than £9 a month, the richest, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, arrested at gunpoint on a Siberian runway last Saturday, is worth £6.5bn.

Nobody needs more poverty or "chaos" or a further "dissolution of the state". Yet, thus far, many analysts agree that democratic reform has taken a back seat to Mr Putin's pursuit of absolute power.

"The state is him," says Liliya Shevtsova, senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The first to feel this was the media. The head of the NTV channel, whose explicit coverage of the Moscow theatre siege enraged the Kremlin, was sacked. Months later, the only remaining independent TV station, TVS, was closed. Neither was particularly outspoken against the Kremlin; it was just feared that they might be.

To clear Mr Putin's path in the parliamentary and presidential elections in December and March, in which the pro-presidential candidates are expected to sweep the board, a heavy-handed law on electoral coverage was introduced.

In two important elections in Russia in the last month, in Chechnya and St Petersburg, Mr Putin's brand of democracy took another ugly turn.

Professor Oksana Goman Goludvina, from the Academy of State Service, said the Kremlin had "complete control over both chambers of parliament and practically all the political parties".

At the same time, Mr Putin's former employer, the successor to the KGB, the FSB, is fast becoming the most powerful institution in the country. A decree signed by the Kremlin in March handed it control of two massive agencies, the border patrol and the government eavesdropping service.

The presence of Russia's dedicated, nationalistic secret services is expanding across government. The Kremlin hardliners thought to be behind Mr Khodorkovsky's arrest, Viktor Ivanov and Igor Sechin, are former KGB officers. According to some independent studies, a quarter of officials at all levels of Russian government are former military or security service officers.

Ms Shevtsova said: "These people are not the old KGB, they are a renovated KGB attuned to the markets."

Mr Putin's actions since he became president have formidably strengthened his grip on power, but to what end? His high poll rating of 80% has not given him the confidence to reform, say analysts.

Prof Goman Goludvina said: "The most visible reform — the centralisation of power around the president, with none of the checks and balances of the Yeltsin rule — happened without a clear political and economic project, and did not bring a serious positive change for the country".

As Mr Putin's motorcade speeds through the traffic jams of a Moscow rush hour tonight, past that poster promoting him through the nation's greatest and grisliest leaders, the question will continue to arise: does he want this much power for anything other than its own sake?


MoscowTimes — Editorial, October 27

"One wonders what [the Russian president] Vladimir Putin is thinking. The country's richest man is captured ... as if he were a dangerous criminal on the run, and the president says nothing. It is inconceivable that his friends ... sent men in masks to storm Mikhail Khodorkovsky's plane and drag him away without Mr Putin's prior approval ... The storming of his plane's ... sole purpose was as a blatant show of force by [anti-capitalist elements within the security services] fighting for control in the Kremlin... It is time for Mr Putin to take responsibility for what is happening in this country."

Vremya Novostei — Editorial, Russia, October 27

"The arrest of Mr Khodorkovsky, one of the few real cult figures in Russian business, means the authorities has decided to cross the Rubicon in their relations with business and society. It is nothing to do with accusations of guilt ... [or] the political ambitions of the oil magnate. It is something different; the authorities no longer intend to negotiate with anyone and even in the case of major and influential personalities they will forcefully remove them from the game.

"The crude mistakes of the authorities have thrown the country back years and undermined any trust in its declaration about never revising privatisation. Only a clear and unambiguous stance from Mr Putin can reverse the situation. Its absence will create an irreversible worsening of the economic climate and turn Russia into a hostile country for the development of business."

Vedomosti Editorial, Russia.October 27

"There were three commonplace responses regarding the arrest... Talk of trust being undermined, of a broken dialogue with the authorities and a call for the president to explain whose side he is on. But the whole situation reaffirms that words are not important. The president has already shown his position, not verbally, but in the traditional manner of [KGB precursor] the NKVD ... The response to such moves has to be more action. Selling Russian shares and moving to other countries is a reasonable response [by the rich] if they consider personal safety and the future of their children... The only deficit is that Russia loses people and money for its future."

Gerard Dupuy, Liberation, France, October 27

"With each passing day, Russia resembles how it used to be in the old days. Autocratic rule, common to both tsarism and Stalinism, is now surfacing under Mr Putin. He has tampered with electoral laws and chipped away at press freedoms and now he has set his sights on a once elusive source of power: the oligarchs.

"The oligarchs' fortunes, so vast and so quickly amassed, were obviously acquired outside the law ... [But] their very existence showed that power did not rest only with the Kremlin ... That was too much for Mr Putin."

Independent Editorial, October 27

"[The arrest] looks politically motivated - not least because Mr Putin struck a public deal with the oligarchs that the source of their money would not be investigated if they stayed out of politics. Mr Khodorkovsky only recently began funding parties opposed to Mr Putin's United Russia party... Just as the economy was starting to attract substantial amounts of foreign investment, on the basis of a robust legal system and a stable polity, this is precisely the kind of sharp practice that will deter outside investors."

All the more tragic that the fight for a new and balanced understanding of Soviet workers state history, — the good, the bad, and the ugly, — still fails to gain much enthusiastic support, held back by a mixture of still frightened anti-communism, still hopelessly backward-looking Stalinist nostalgia, and still pathetic cynicism about the worth of any theoretical struggle over the problem.

The EPSR's weekly record over 24 years of interpreting world developments may well be criticised for lack of depth at times, due to a variety of limitations; but apart from a long-ingrained class-emotional expectation about the indestructibility of the Soviet workers state (universally shared), plus comparable wishful-thinking impatience for imperialist economic collapse, the accumulated EPSR supporters' understanding has been second to none.

And dire warnings about the potential catastrophe of Gorbachevism were routinely published from 1985 onwards when he led the bureaucracy.

By the nature of things, that understanding will always need massively taking forward in all directions; and enlightenment is always eagerly sought.

But the "banality" of one point in EPSR 1206 can only be changed by a mass statistical explanation of EVERYTHING.

In specific concrete terms, for example, the worlds first workers state proved its point against the degenerate imperialist system by flourishing for 70 years before becoming so confused by Revisionist feeblemindedness that capitalist counter-revolution conned its way back in. That all came to pass because of endlessly detailed histories of a vast number of component parts to that tragedy, — Stalin's triumph as the preserver of the workers state in spite of all his defects and mistakes; Trotsky's idealist intellectualism which projected unrealistic fantasies onto the problem of the proletarian dictatorship's theoretically inadequate leadership and consequent arbitrary violence; the original backward godfearing unsophistication of the vast Soviet proletarian masses; the astonishing technologically advanced media propaganda of late imperialism; the incredible explosion of pop culture affluence of the staggering post-1945 credit-created imperialist boom, penetrating the whole planet's youth; the amazing amount of time the West was given to effect this propaganda triumph because of its own 'neverending' boom and because of the stifling paralysis of Stalinism's "peaceful coexistence" complacent delusions; etc; etc; etc; etc; etc; etc; etc.

It needs a book. Someone should find the time to write it. Meanwhile, the struggle to keep a weekly publication ahead of world developments is a good EPSR achievement.

And explaining that the immaturity of civilisation sums up the never-ending regret contained in "Why was such an astonishing world-historic achievement (the greatest in civilisation by far) of triumphantly building the world's first workers state (over 70 years) allowed to die?" also serves a purpose, despite its banality.

This modern age of mass super-sophisticated communications, propaganda, and travel is scarred as no other has been by deep cynicism and philosophical scepticism, particularly noted in generations of Trotskyite and fake-'left' defeatism and opportunism which was inevitably and properly rejected by any real solidarity with the Soviet workers state. But the historical conditioning of that class-based faith also expressed itself in a powerful and abiding sentimentality, now surviving to generally negative effect in Museum Stalinism. To the sad emotion of regrets at the Soviet Union's demise, the full Marxist Leninist book, not yet written, is the best answer. But pointing out that history has always frequently moved via one step forward and then two steps back can't do any harm. The changeovers from slave society to feudalism, and from feudalism to capitalism were vastly different processes from the replacement of global monopoly capitalist states by workers states; but the pattern of history, which saw many false starts and then many regressions in the changeovers, is actually a good point to make to bourgeois cynics who triumph that "communism is dead", and to philosophical sceptics who think that correct theoretical understanding won't change anything.

Meanwhile, back at the propaganda battle on the front line of the international class struggle currently being fought, the sneer of "anti-semiticism" is working overtime to blunt exposure of the imperialist system's rottenness. Capitalist press reaction is torn between fond pro-Hitler memories and an awareness that Zionist aggression is now a major imperialist ally and trump card for crucial Middle East smiting:

A European commission opinion poll that claims 60% of Europeans see Israel as the greatest threat to world peace has drawn outraged denunciations of anti-semitism,

The poll surveyed 7,500 people in 15 EU countries who said Israel was a bigger threat to world peace than Iran, North Korea and the United States.

The public in the Netherlands, Austria and Luxembourg were the most fearful.

Israel's diaspora affairs minister, the former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, said the poll was further evidence of why Europe is not to be trusted to play a role in the peace process.

"The fact that the majority of Europeans sees Israel as the main danger... is additional proof that behind the 'political' criticism of Israel stands pure anti-semitism. The EU, which shows sensitivity on human rights issues, would do well to stop the rampant brainwashing against and demonising of Israel before Europe deteriorates again to dark sections of its past."

But a former head of Israel's foreign ministry, Alon Liel, said Israelis would be wise to consider why Europeans might think that way. "Do they hate us or are they truly frightened? Our natural predilection is to pull out of the drawer our usual weapon of self-defence the weapon of anti-semitism — but this is probably the wrong place to do so."


The Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, is bowing out of office in his own inimitable style: railing against Jews.

In his last full day of 22 years in power, Asia's longest-serving elected leader said yesterday that the Jews deserved sympathy for their past suffering, but should "never think they are the chosen people", because their struggle was about territory, not religion.

Jews had no right to seize Palestinian land just because they were forced to flee persecution in Europe, he said.

"They have taken land belonging to the Muslims. Suppose apart of Britain or apart of America was taken away and given to the Jews as Israel. Do you think the Americans are going to sit quietly and say 'Welcome' and all that? They won't."

The comments were the latest in a fortnight-long offensive which began at an Islamic leaders' summit when Dr Mahathir, 77, said in a speech which also criticised Muslims that Jews "[ruled] the world by proxy" and got "others to fight and die for them".

The remarks were praised by his audience but condemned around the world, and in Malaysia, where analysts said he should have differentiated between Jews and political Zionists.

But there is no difference. The infinitesimal number of Jews who don't believe "Israel" (i.e. colonially occupied Palestine) has a right to exist don't come into it.

Jews are either shamefaced "liberals" who demand "peace" and offer a derisory "two-state sharing" to the conquered Arabs on just over 20% of THEIR land of Palestine;

or else they are rampant Zionist NAZIS who want to blitzkrieg their way to TOTAL annexation of the land of the Palestinian nation, and genocidally cleanse the Arabs off the remaining 22% of their homeland which ALL Jews have supported as far as the first 78% of Palestine is concerned.

And the Jewishness has EVERYTHING to do with this, and is inseparable from it.

The Jews are NOT a race. They are a religious freemasonry.

And "secular" Jews may not believe in a deity but they undoubtedly cling to the freemasonry and its remarkable history of individual triumphs and mass tragedies.

No one is born Jewish just as no one is born Catholic. Both are learned.

And, in adulthood, it is possible to stop being Jewish just as it is possible to stop being Catholic.

But it is the Jewish freemasonry which has flourished so brilliantly in the era of monopoly capitalism, far far beyond all previous triumphs for any of its adherents.

And American imperialism is its greatest stronghold.

And although being capitalist is what creates the historical objectionability of American monopoly bourgeois circles and their now murderously dominant influence over the planet, the detailed connections and interests of those ruling groups, often conflicting with each other (see below), an important concern for detailed anti-imperialist struggle.

National and freemasonry allegiances have to be differentiated. British and French imperialism have easily the longest, fullest, and most savage record of colonial barbarism by far among today's major imperialist powers, but it is American imperialism which is now the great tyranny threatening ALL civilisation, and not just its colonies.

And while it is the capitalist-system behaviour which creates the warmongering crisis menacing mankind, a stigma shared by all the imperialist powers, — it is the conglomerate power of the AMERICAN clannishness which is the specific danger.

The Jewish freemasonry within that "national" tribalness stands out equally prominently.

The post-1945 implantation of American colonial-stooge power right in the heart of the Arab oil-rich Middle East was NOT an accident. Earlier imperialist "racial" insanity had not only picked on Jews as scapegoats to divert the masses with violence, envy, and provocations when capitalist anarchy had suffered yet another humiliating and damaging economic collapse from "overproduction" greed and inequality.

The Kurds have never been offered their own state in spite of also being endlessly butchered by imperialist history, even though they still have all their own traditional Kurdish territory, and only require an act of United Nations statehood to set them "free".

The Basque nation has likewise been ignored for self-determination rights, despite being the most ancient culture and language in the whole of Europe, and despite needing no genocidal expulsion of any other nation in order to claim their own state territory.

And although they have suffered 800 years of British imperialist tyranny, the post-1945 'New World Order' enlightenment did not bother to offer the Irish the reunification of their barbarically-partitioned homeland by dying and degenerate colonialism.

And the Roma Gipsies in East Europe got nothing either, even though they have endlessly suffered from imperialist cruelty, including the tyrannies of Hitler's concentration camps.

But for the Jews there was created the most monstrous tyranny ON THEIR BEHALF, — the colonisation and genocidal cleansing of the Arab Palestinian nation from their homeland in order to place some crucial Middle East real estate into the hands of American imperialism's powerful Jewish freemasonry for their safekeeping as a "national home" for their particular religious bigotry.

Their capitalism makes them part of the modern world's revolutionary-crisis catastrophe of warmongering monopoly imperialist aggressiveness, certainly.

But their Jewishness is infinitely more crucial to where this timebomb was laid; on what extremist basis, ready to fight to the death from belief in it; with what finances, supplied by whom, and with what bottomless pockets; and intimately integrated into which required imperialist power RULING circles necessary for the sort of Big Nation support without which this deliberate permanent colonial provocation against the entire Arab and Muslim Middle East could not have been carried out.

And on all these selfsame Jew/US notes,which small ultra-aggressive "nation" is alone allowed to flout the international non-proliferation nuclear treaty????

The blind prejudices lurking in the cupboard belong not to "anti-semitic racism" but to the political dilettantism and muddleheadedness of those who prefer opportunist point-scoring to being willing to spell out a socially uncomfortable political reality.

Identifying the growing fears about Jewish-Zionist bigoted aggression's role — (in American imperialist pre-emptive blitzkrieg threats to take the ludicrous "war on terrorism" to all corners of the Earth on a mass scale, following up the more piecemeal pioneering raids carried out all over the place by the USA's Zionist colony) with the Jew-baiting history of fascist anti-semitism, is just more deliberate pointscoring and confusion-mongering.

Hitler condemned the "Jewish plague" of international finance capital in order to RESCUE the imperialist system from a revolution-ridden capitalist slump by artificially whipping up a new world war which the whole planet could enthusiastically take part in "with good conscience" after World War One had proved such a disaster for the very survival of the modern world-system of imperialist rivalry. Including this influential freemasonry's role today within the broadest targetting of American imperialist domination's most lethally dangerous tendencies, is essential for mobilising all possible anti-imperialist forces — (e.g. Arab Palestinian nationalism; pan-Arab nationalism; universal Muslim fundamentalism; growing Western awareness of Middle East injustice which is not scared off by sneers of "anti-semitism" from naming Jewish Zionism as now a key major player in the key physical disposition and in the propagandistic essence of self-righteous imperialist warmongering; etc; etc; etc;) which could help turn Third World spontaneous resistance against all western-world domineering bigotry of the "chosen people", "masterrace" kind, towards the rebirth of world socialist revolution to end all capitalism's colonising-bullying injustices once and for all.

But whether the self-righteous imperialist blitzkrieging comes from Zionists, Hitlerism, or the many purely American ruling-class freemasonries, the world's revolutionary interest must remain focused on the warmongers' DEFEAT.

And the fake-'left' notion that Bush can be jeered on his UK visit but that anti-American hatred should be avoided at all costs, is just the most ludicrous political correctness ever heard of.

It is PRECISELY the consciousness to hate American cultural, economic, political, and military domination that first begins to unite the world's proletarian masses towards a huge international revolutionary movement.

Obviously, as the anti-imperialist revolution begins acquiring Marxist Leninist understanding, earthily spontaneous prejudice can take more of a back seat.

But to expect to start off a global class war against the tyranny of monopoly bourgeois rule, — which is largely governed and sustained by US imperialist nationalism, — but NOT allow spontaneous HATRED of specifically American colonial domination (or British, or Zionist, or whatever), is to demonstrate just a dilettante posturing at socialist revolution, but no serious materialist acceptance of its warts-and-all reality, — (epitomised by the dictatorship of the proletariat occasionally falling into arbitrary and vindictive hands, — the original nightmare of all Trot-type naff idealism).

On the way towards ultimate imperialist defeat, splits in the warmongers ranks as things start to go badly are always a welcome sign that this is indeed the era of insoluble imperialist crisis.

Only when the old ruling system becomes virtually paralysed, and can rule the planet successfully no more, can a truly international revolutionary movement be expected to start to make an appearance.

And although there is still a long, long, long way to go, — the back-biting rifts within imperialism's global warmongering "coalition" still make very helpful reading (especially as revealed by capitalism itself) for spreading global revolutionary consciousness:

In Baghdad, the Bush administration acts as though it is astonished by the postwar carnage. Its feigned shock is a consequence of Washington's intelligence wars. In fact, not only was it warned of the coming struggle and its nature — ignoring a $5m state department report on The Future of Iraq — but Bush himself signed another document in which that predictive infornnation is contained.

In advance of the war, Bush (to be precise, Dick Cheney, the de facto prime minister to the distant monarch) viewed the CIA, the state department and other intelligence agencies not simply as uncooperative, but even disloyal, as their analysts continued to sift through information to determine what exactly might be true.

So those facts had to be suppressed, and those creating contrary evidence had to be marginalised, intimidated or have their reputations tarnished.

Twice, in the run-up to the war, Vice-president Cheney veered his motorcade to the Center for Intelligence in Langley, Virginia, where he personally tried to coerce CIA desk-level analysts to fit their work to specification.

If the CIA would not serve, it would be trampled. At the Pentagon, Rumsfeld formed the Office of Special Plans, a parallel counter-CIA under the direction of the neo-conservative deputy secretary of defence, Paul Wolfowitz, to "stovepipe" its own version of intelligence directly to the White House. Its reports were not to be mingled or shared with the CIA or state department intelligence for fear of corruption by scepticism. Instead, the Pentagon's handpicked future leader of Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress, replaced the CIA as the reliable source of information, little of which turned out to be true — though his deceit was consistent with his record. Chalabi was regarded at the CIA as a mountebank after he had lured the agency to support his "invasion" of Iraq in 1995, a tragicomic episode, but one which hardly discouraged his neo-conservative sponsors.

Early last year, before Hans Blix, chief of the UN team to monitor Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, embarked on his mission Wolfowitz ordered a report from the CIA to show that Blix had been soft on Iraq in the past and thus to undermine him before he even began his work. When the CIA reached an opposite conclusion, Wolfowitz was described by a former state department official in the Washington Post as having "hit the ceiling". Then, according to former assistant secretary of state James Rubin, when Blix met with Cheney at the White House, the vice-president told him what would happen if his efforts on WMDs did not support Bush policy: "We will not hesitate to discredit you." Blix's brush with Cheney was no different from the administration's treatment of the CIA.

Having already decided upon its course in Iraq, the Bush administration demanded the fabrication of evidence to fit into an imminent threat. Then, fulfilling the driven logic of the Bush doctrine, preemptive action could be taken. Policy a priori dictated intelligence á5 la carte.

In Bush's Washington, politics is the extension of war by other means. Rather than seeking to reform any abuse of intelligence, the Bush administration, through the Republican dominated senate intelligence committee, is producing a report that will accuse the CIA of giving faulty information.

While the CIA is being cast as a scapegoat, FBI agents are meanwhile interviewing senior officials about a potential criminal conspiracy behind the public identification of a covert CIA operative who, not coincidentally, happens to be the wife of the former US ambassador Joseph Wilson, author of the report on the false Niger yellowcake uranium claims (originating in the Cheney's office). Wilson's irrefutable documentation was carefully shelved at the time in order to put 16 false words about Saddam Hussein's nuclear threat in the mouth of George Bush in his state of the union address.

When it comes to responsibility for the degradation of intelligence in developing rationales for the war, Bush is energetically trying not to get the bottom of anything. While he has asserted the White House is cooperating with the investigation into the felony of outing Mrs Wilson, his spokesman has assiduously drawn a fine line between the legal and the political. After all, though Karl Rove — the president's political strategist and senior adviser, indispensable to his re-election campaign — unquestionably called a journalist to prod him that Mrs. Wilson was "fair game", his summoning of the furies upon her apparently occurred after her name was already put into the public arena by two other unnamed "senior administration officials".

Rove is not considered to have committed a firing offence so long as he has merely behaved unethically. What Bush is not doing — not demanding that his staff sign affidavits swearing their innocence, or asking his vice-president pointblank what he knows — is glaringly obvious. Damaging national security must be secondary to political necessity. "It's important to recognise," Wilson remarked to me, "that the person who decided to make a political point or that his political agenda was more important than a national security asset is still there in place."

Now, postwar, the intelligence wars, if anything, have got more intense. Blame shifting by the administration is the order of the day. The Republican senate intelligence committee report will point the finger at the CIA, but circumspectly not review how Bush used intelligence. The Democrats, in the senate minority, forced to act like a fringe group, held unofficial hearings this week with prominent former CIA agents: rock-ribbed Republicans who all voted for and even contributed money to Bush, but expressed their amazed anger at the assault being waged on the permanent national security apparatus by the Republican president whose father's name adorns the building where they worked. One of them compressed his disillusionment into the single most resonant word an intelligence agent can muster: "betrayal".


DONALD RUMSFELD has seen his stock plunge on Capitol Hill after a series of evasive performances left senators complaining that he was not being straight with them about postwar Iraq.

Mr Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, is among a handful of key Bush officials who have alienated allies and power-brokers in Congress as fallout from the Iraq war takes its toll around Washington.

His recently revealed memo, in which he questioned whether the US was winning the war on terrorism, and said that it faced a "long, hard slog" in Iraq, infuriated senators who claimed he had given them a rosier and less honest version in private briefings.

John McCain, a war hero and an Arizona senator, said the disparity between Washington's version of progress in Iraq and the reality on the ground had for the first time reminded him of Vietnam.

Mr Rumsfeld's failure to discipline, or even distance himself from the inflammatory comments of General William Boykin, who preached anti-Islamic sermons to evangelical Christian gatherings while in uniform, has also enraged senior Republicans.

John Warner, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, complained on the floor of the Senate, annoyed that Mr Rumsfeld had not replied to a letter from him demanding an inquiry.

For a Defence Secretary to fall out with the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, especially when they are from the same party, spells political disaster for the Administration.

Belatedly, Mr Rumsfeld invited Mr Warner to the Pentagon for lunch, where the pair agreed to a fragile truce.

Mr Rumsfeld's confrontational agenda of military reform had irked many generals and senators before his idiosyncratic performances at the Pentagon podium during the Afghanistan war elevated him to cult status. His decline since he was initially lauded for his seemingly decisive Iraq war plan has been just as steep.

The sourness with Mr Rumsfeld among Republicans also extends to his testy barbs directed at Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's National Security Adviser, after she announced that the White House would be playing more of a day-to-day role in Iraq policy.

Mr Rumsfeld's intervention wrecked efforts by the White House to get on the front foot over Iraq.

George Tenet, the CIA director; is also trying the patience of senators who have given him until noon today to handover Iraq-related documents for which they have been waiting five months.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is preparing a hostile report into the performance of the intelligence community in the run-up to the Iraq war. Pat Roberts, the Republican committee chairman, has accused the CIA of making "serious errors" in its collection and analysis of intelligence. He added that the committee's inquiry was being held up because the CIA was withholding vital information.

As a fantasy example of the crucial role that defeat and splits will play in the imperialist crisis, helping to create the conditions for the system's own revolutionary overthrow, the EPSR has frequently half-seriously speculated that part of World War III and the final confused degradation and humiliation of the ludicrous "free world" capitalist mythology might be the supposedly "all-powerful and invincible" American Empire actually falling to blows among themselves as things go wrong, — the CIA actually shooting it out with the State Department, the Pentagon taking over the White House, that sort of thing.

Once again, there are signs that real life might yet outdo the wildest fictions.

Another favourite guess has been for serious war to break out WITHIN the US-Zionist
tyranny that has put Palestine to the sword for the past 56 years but is now finding the heroic resistance more uncontrollable than ever, causing even a growing Jewish chorus to plead for a halt to the smiting on the West Bank and Gaza and a return to the 78% colonisation-annexation and be content with that before yet more genocidal violence drives the Palestinians to fullscale revolutionary strategies for recapturing the whole of Palestine.

On the anniversary of the Jewish freemasonry assassinating its own "Israeli prime minister" Rabin, the split in the Zionist camp is widening faster than ever, rising to astonishing levels as the bourgeois press report it:

Israel's army chief has exposed deep divisions between the military and Ariel Sharon by branding the government's hardline treatment of Palestinian civilians counter-productive and saying that the policy intensifies hatred and strengthens the "terror organisations'.

Lieutenant-General Moshe Ya'alon also told Israeli journalists in an off-the-record briefing that the army was opposed to the route of the "security fence" through the West Bank. The government also contributed to the fall of the former Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, by offering only "stingy" support for his attempts to end the conflict, he said.

Gen Ya'alon had apparently hoped his anonymous criticisms would strengthen the army's voice, which has been subordinated to the views of the intelligence services in shaping policy. But the comments were so devastating that he was swiftly revealed as the source.

The statements — which close associate characterised to the Israeli press as warning that the country was "on the verge of a catastrophe" — will also reinforce a growing perception among the public that Mr Sharon is unable to deliver the peace with security he promised when he came to office nearly three years ago.

The criticism is made all the more searing because Gen Ya'alon is not known for being soft on the Palestinians. As deputy chief of staff, he called the latest conflict the second stage of Israel's independence war.

The general warned that the continued curfews, reoccupation of towns and severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinians, combined with the economic crisis they have caused, were increasing the threat to Israel's security.

" In our tactical decisions, we are operating contrary to our strategic interest;" Gen Ya'alon said. "It increases hatred for Israel and strengthens the terror organisations."

Earlier this week, army commanders in the West Bank toId the military administsation in the occupied territorie that Palestinians had reached new depths of despair, which was fuelling a hatred for Israeli that had little to do with the propaganda so often blamed by the government.

"There is no hope, no expectations for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, nor in Bethlehem and Jericho," said Gen Ya'alon.

The commanders learned that the situation was strengthening Hamas, a view the Israeli intelligence services agreed with.

Mr Sharon and Mr Mofaz were reportedly furious at the general's statements and initially demanded that he retract them or resign. But the political establishment apparently decided it would be better to deride Gen Ya'alon.

Anonymous sources in the prime minister's office were quoted in the Israeli press complaining.

On the lunatic worldblitzkrieg programme itself, the ridiculous $87 billion new expenditure has got through Congress because the snivelling brown-nosed cowardice which is the essence of ALL "parliamentary democracy" has been too fearful in Washington to commit the ultimate middle class sin of being seen as "not supporting our troops", etc.

But this economy wrecking insanity is obtaining its "legislation" joke at a time when new bourgeois studies are revealing that relative POVERTY, and some absolute poverty, is growing on a mass scale within the American working class itself:

George Bush's America is the wealthiest and most powerful nation the world has ever known, but at home it is being gnawed away from the inside by persistent and rising poverty. The three million Americans who have lost their jobs since Mr Bush took office in January 2001 have yet to find new work in a largely jobless recovery, and they are finding that the safety net they assumed was beneath them has long since unravelled. There is not much left to stop them falling.

Last year alone, another 1.7 million Americans slipped below the poverty line, bringing the total to 34.6 million, one in eight of the population. Over 13 million of them are children. In fact, the US has the worst child poverty rate and the worst life expectancy of all the world's industrialised countries, and the plight of its poor is worsening.

The ranks of the hungry are increasing in step: About 31 million Americans were deemed to be "food insecure" (they literally did not know where their next meal was coming from). Of those, more than nine million were categorised by the US department of agriculture as experiencing real hunger, defined by the US department of agriculture as an "uneasy or painful sensation caused by lack of food, due to lack of resources to obtain food."

That was two years ago, before the recession really began to bite. Partial surveys suggest the problem has deepened considerably since then. In 25 major cities the need for emergency food rose an average of 19% last year.

Another indicator is the demand for food stamps, the government aid programme of last resort. The number of Americans on stamps has risen from 17 million to 22 million since Mr Bush took office.

In Ohio, hunger is an epidemic. Since George Bush won Ohio in the 2000 presidential elections, the state has lost one in six of its manufacturing jobs. Two million of the state's 11 million population resorted to food charities last year, an increase of more than 18% from 2001.

There are more Americans living in poverty now than there were in 1965, but neither party has much to say about it. The Bush Republicans see it as a matter for "faith-based charities"; the status quo before Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s. The trouble is that hard times are drying up donations at the very time private charities are being asked to take on most of the burden.

Democrats, meanwhile, are anxious not to appear as class warriors, and most of the Democratic presidential contenders in this election portray themselves as champions of the middle class, for good reason. Americans who see themselves as middle class are much more likely to vote than those who know they are poor. Mrs Chriss thinks all parties should be abolished. Angela Cooper, also queuing with a young child, complains that families like hers have been forgotten. But then again, she has relatives posted in Iraq and feels she ought to "support our troops" by voting for the president.

"There's resentment down deep but people don't know what to do with it. A lot of people turn inward, rather than outward. You think it would be ripe for an outcry. But it's not, it's all kind of dulled," said Bob Garbo, who runs a regional food distribution centre in this corner of Ohio. "There's a feeling you can't do much about it, that politicians are all bad. Voting rates are down, and politicians are taking advantage of that. Here, only 20% turn out to vote in some counties."

It is hardly surprising the very poor feel they have no one to turn to. A string of local factories have closed in the past two years to relocate to Mexico, a delayed consequence of the North American Free Trade Agreement established by Bill Clinton in 1994. And two years later, it was Clinton, in cooperation with a staunchly Republican Congress, who dismantled much of the welfare system built in the New Deal and the Great Society. Clinton's welfare reform set a time limit on how long the poor and unemployed could draw social security payments. It helped force people back into work with the encouragement of an array of federally funded job training programmes.

It worked well while the economy was booming, cutting the number on welfare from 12 million to five million in a few years. But now there are no jobs. Those who went to work under welfare reform are among the first to be fired, and often find that welfare is no longer available to them. Some have used up their lifetime maximum. Some have accumulated too many assets to qualify, such as a car or a house that they do not want to sell for fear of falling yet further into destitution.

Others have had difficulty dealing with the welfare system's more demanding requirements. A few in the line at Logan said they were struggling without success to extract vital documents from former employers, who have either gone bankrupt or gone abroad.

So, while poverty rates have been rising in the past few years, the number of Americans on welfare has been steadily declining. Another impact of the 1996 welfare reform was that the unemployed were obliged to take service jobs at the minimum wage (now $5.15 per hour) without benefits such as paid holidays or health insurance. On paper they were part of the success of the welfare-to-work project, but the jobs stocking supermarket shelves or cleaning offices usually left them worse off, especially if someone in the family fell sick. In Ohio, according to Lisa Hamler-Podolski, more than 400 of the people in the food lines are the working poor. The harsh impact of welfare reform was initially mitigated by the 90s boom and Clinton-era social programmes to support the working poor and retrain the unemployed. Those programmes are now disappearing under an administration which fundamentally does not believe government should have a direct role in alleviating poverty.

The government still distributes food stamps, but they are worth on average only about $160 (£100) a month, not enough to buy food for a family with no other income. Furthermore, more than 10 million "food insecure" Americans, at risk from hunger, do not apply for them. Often they are unaware they are eligible. Welfare reform pushed them out of a system that they have lost contact with. A study this year by Washington-based think tank the Urban Institute found that 63% of this forgotten category sometimes or often run out of food each month. All these factors explain why, although the current slump in America has not been as deep as the last major recession a decade ago, the food lines this time are longer.

They also explain why hunger remains a largely invisible problem. The Americans in the food lines often do not show up in the statistics and usually do not turn up for elections. "Hunger is a hidden thing," said Lynn Brantley, who runs a food bank in Washington where the very poor live within sight of Congress. "It's something we don't really want to look at. We don't want to admit it."

Talk continues, of course, of economic "recovery", supposedly restoring "boomtime for everybody", etc.

But this grotesque level of inequality inside the USA itself,as well as the even more monstrous and GROWING gap between First World benefits from the global imperialist system and the Third World starvation, suffering, and humiliation,-precisely creating the phenomenon of "terrorism" striking back at anything Western, — — has in fact been SYSTEMATICALLY laid down precisely during long decades of real "boom".

And while some "recovery" is inevitable from the immediate injection of Bush's gargantuan tax cuts for the rich plus the $87 billion new credit creation for the war, — it is already described as a "jobless" recovery, doing nothing for growing world poverty; and the creation of vast new US government debts only exacerbates the existing and insoluble "overproduction" problem worldwide which originally inflicted this "greatest crisis yet" to global capitalism, — a problem which is continuing despite all the stock exchange propaganda:

Sony, the troubled consumer electronics group, is to shed 20,000 jobs worldwide — 13% of its workforce — over the next three years in an attempt to halt its slide in profits and gain ground on its rivals. . .

Sony officials said the $3.1bn (£1.9bn) restructuring plan, announced at a business strategy meeting in Tokyo yesterday, would bring total savings of about $2.8bn a year.

The firm will cut production, distribution and service facilities by about 30% and stop making cathode ray tubes (CRTs) for televisions in Japan by the end of the year.

The point of this plan is to be able to achieve an operating profit margin of 10%.

Sony also said it would hive off its financial concerns — Sony Life Insurance, Sony Assurance and Sony Bank — into a holding company by next April.

Sony's announcement came after a disastrous year, and criticism that it has failed to respond to shifts in consumer preferences, leading it to fall behind rivals such as Sharp and Panasonic in Japan, Samsungin South Kom and Dell inthe US.

The changes were prompted by the "Sony Shock" of April, when the firm stunned investors with a quarterly loss of almost $lbn. Sony's profits plummeted by 25% in the July September quarter to Y32.9bn (£I80m) from Y44bn a year earlier following slow sales of its PlayStation 2 video game console and poor box-office performances by its film division. The company's share price has fallen by 89% since its high of y33,900 in March 2000.

"It may appear as though Sony is being sucked into a black hole," Sony's executive deputy president, Ken Kutaragi, told reporters. "But we hope to create a big bang that will lead to new business.'

Meanwhile, in a world where ideas of militant leftwing revolt are beginning to re-spread everywhere, the actual front line of the "war on terrorism" — (in reality a pre-emptive war on the entire Third World BEFORE its masses rise up in global communist revolution at the sick insanity of the whole capitalist system) — reflects this universal hatred of the "freedom" coalition's warmongering by revealing, again through the capitalist press, that its military strategy really hasn't the slightest firm idea of what it is fighting against:

ALMOST as shocking as yesterday's shooting down of the American Chinook helicopter was the gleeful response of the Iraqi villagers who witnessed the scene of carnage in the fields of crops and date palms close to the tranquil Euphrates.

Iyad Issawi, the local blacksmith, told how their initial alarm turned to delight as they realised that dozens of Americans had been killed or injured.

"We were happy. The people were clapping with joy and praising those who carried. out this attack," he said.

Hadi Shehan, a local farmer, said that the Americans would lose many more soldiers if they stayed in Iraq. "I hope that they do. The Americans are the enemy for all. nations. They want to kill innocents and occupy our land."

What is striking to a new comer to Baghdad is the depth of hostility to the Americans, not just among the tiny minority who attack US troops, but also among the millions of ordinary Iraqis who do not It is astonishing how, in the space of six months, the image of the US military has changed from that of welcome liberator to hated occupier.

Driving down to Najaf at the weekend, five policemen at a checkpoint had pulled over our jeep simply so they could tell a journalist their grievances — poor pay, few guns, no flak jackets or vehicles. A banner on a nearby wall commemorated a colleague killed in a recent shoot-out. The Americans should equip them properly and then get out, they said, leaving Iraqis to tackle the lawlessness that has beset their country since Saddam fell.

"They are a foreign army from a foreign country occupying our land," said Ammar Abdul Aziz Hakim, head of the Islamic Information Centre in Najaf and nephew of the moderate ayatollah assassinated in the holy city in August.

"They are trying to run it according to their standards and in a way that's very far from the people's interests. They have a completely different language and society and standards from ours."

On the way back from Najaf we came across an American tank transporter that had just been attacked. Two humvees picked up the survivors and sped off, leaving black smoke billowing skywards from the blazing driver's cabin.

Within minutes a crowd of Iraqis was pouring petrol on the trailer, spreading the fire to ensure the vehicle could never be used again. Passing cars honked in celebration.

"They are nothing but occupiers. They should leave immediately," said an onlooker.

Many Iraqis have a tale to tell of trigger-happy American soldiers, their cultural insensitivities, or their violations of property or persons. Our driver said that he was locked up in a tiny cell with 50 others for 24 hours after being stopped on a Baghdad street just before the night curfew. Our interpreter told of a man shot dead while carrying dates home to his family in his rolled-up shirt An American soldier evidently thought he was carrying explosives.

Iraqis' relief at Saddam's demise has long, worn off. Some even express a faint nostalgia for a regime that at least kept order and provided the basic necessities. "It's like a choice between cancer and death," said Ali, a medical graduate.

There is a massive culture clash between the US troops and the Iraqis with whom they deal. It is hardly surprising that nervous soldiers who are barely out of their teens, may never have been abroad before, and are trained to fight wars not keep the peace should sometimes err. The US-led coalition is belatedly making a huge effort to restore services, respect Iraqi sensitivities and accelerate the transfer of power, but it is caught in a Catch-22 situation.

The more it is attacked, the more it retreats into the fortresses it has constructed from Saddam's old palaces. Its installations in central Baghdad are now cordoned off by miles of concrete walls, razor wire and blockaded streets.

Its civilian administrators are cocooned inside, and simply to attend a press conference at the coalition's headquarters yesterday required five identity checks and three body searches. An inordinate amount of the coalition's stretched resources are devoted simply to self-preservation.

American soldiers venture out only in humvees or Bradley fighting vehicles, and their only contact with Iraqi citizens is from behind the barrels of their guns. The gap between ruler and ruled is as wide as it was in Saddam's day. As one Iraqi put it: "Only the faces and names have changed."

Ali, the medical graduate, likened the American military intervention to an operation to remove a tumour. The trouble, he said, was that it had been performed with an unsterilised instrument and now a severe infection had set in.

SHARP disagreements are emerging between the United States and Britain over the exact nature of the Iraqi resistance, amid warnings that the US is losing the intelligence war against the rebels.

After eight days in which Iraqi fighters have scored a series of major blows to the coalition and its Iraqi allies, intelligence and military officials in Iraq and on both sides of the Atlantic are at odds over whether they are fighting a Saddam-led movement or a series of disparate partisan groups. They are just as divided on finding a way to halt the escalating violence.

The latest violence comes amid increasingly bleak assessments from Washington, where the latest attacks have been compared in the media to Vietnam's 1968 Tet Offensive against US forces and described by Sandy Berger, a former National Security Adviser to President Bill Clinton, as a 'classic guerrilla war'.

The comments follow leaked assessments by both the US proconsul in Iraq, Ambassador Paul Bremer, and US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that war against the resistance was going less well than planned, with the latter describing a 'long, hard slog'.

By last week that long, hard slog had seen attacks on coalition forces and the Iraqis cooperating with them reaching a level of 33 a day — more than twice the level in July. Anti-coalition fighters have ratcheted up the scale of attacks on schools, police and politicians, while assaults on the US-led forces have become more confident and sophisticated.

US and UK officials admit that at the centre of the worsening crisis — which has seen the UN and other aid agencies withdraw international staff from the country following the bombing of the Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad is a continuing failure of hard intelligence on exactly who is behind the resistance.

The urgency of the problem was underlined by comments by a former CIA director last week that unless the coalition forces get a grip on the intelligence-gathering problem — in particular building relationships with ordinary Iraqis — it may be too late.

'We're at a crossroads,' Stansfield Turner, told the Christian Science Monitor. 'If in the next few weeks we don't persuade the Iraqi on the street that we're going to straighten things out... we won't get that intelligence.'

A mark of that failure, say officials, has been the inability of coalition forces and the intelligence and policing agencies available to them to solve any of the major bombings that began in August.

'The fundamental issue with counterinsurgency warfare is intelligence. Intelligence is what matters and it is 90 per cent of the battle,' Gordon Adams, a former associate director for national security, told the New York Times.

There is endless more such material suggesting that imperialism's World War Three plans are on their way towards their first crucial DEFEATS already.

There is, of course, vastly more of this imperialist crisis to come; but its only possible solution, — world socialist revolution, — is already taking shape. Build Leninism. EPSR supporters.


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World Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles)


Trimble rats on the Good Friday Agreement to hide colonialism's guilt

Trimble announced he was pulling out of his part of the sequencing agreement shortly after it had been officially con firmed that republicans had fully adhered to their commitments and as the British Prime Minister and Irish Taoiseach were poised to confirm the restoration of the power sharing institutions.

Unable to point the finger directly at' republicans, a petulant David Trimble ditched his prepared statement and rounded upon General de Chastelain and the government appointed Independent International Commission on Decommissioning.

Unceremoniously branding de Chastelain as "the joker in the pack" and his report as a failure, Trimble announced that, "as a result of what the IICD has done we probably have less confidence in the process than we had an hour ago.

"Because of that I regret that I am not in a position to make those statements. We are in effect now putting the sequence on hold," Trimble told an astonished press conference. The UUP leader said he would "give republicans, who foolishly imposed obligations of confidentiality on the IICD, the opportunity to repair the damage".

The UUP leader conceded, "there may possibly have been substantial acts of decommissioning" but the report had been inadequate, he claimed.

In other words, the substance was there, the spin was not.

During an afternoon press conference, John de Chastelain announced that the commission had "witnessed a third event in which IRA weapons were put beyond use in accordance with the government's scheme and regula tions".

In his initial statement and during a subsequent question and answer session, the general, while adhering to the confidentiality clause guaranteed by the legislation, went further than usual in his report by describing the range and extent of weaponry that had been put beyond use.

The fact that Sinn Fein had won the argument for elections to be held had been even acknowledged by David Trimble.

Confirmation of the election date was swiftly followed by a groundbreaking statement by Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams, later described by an IRA statement as accurately reflecting their position.

"All of the participants and the two governments have significant contributions to make if the institutions are to be restored and the Good Friday Agreement made to work efficiently and effectively," Adams had said, unaware of the later significance of his observation.

"It isn't just down to republicans. It never was. Making this process work is a collective responsibility," Adams had said. The Dunmurray hotel had been packed with reporters and camera crews to record a hugely significant speech by the republican leader.

" Republicans need to know that the two govemments will honour their commitments. Republicans need to feel confidence in a u nionist leadership working the institutions and the Agreement and joining with us as partners in the task of building a better future for our people," said Adams.

Highlighting the need for a two-way process, Adams acknowledged that unionists also needed to have confidence in republicans.

"Implementation by the two governments and the parties of their commitments under the [Good Friday] Agreement provides the context in which Irish republicans and unionists will as equals pursue their objectives peacefully, thus providing full and final closure of the conflict," said Adams.

"Actions and the lack of actions on the ground speak louder than words and I believe, that everyone — including the two governments and the unionists — can now move forward with confidence.

"As President of Sinn Fein, I have set out a peaceful direction which I trust everyone will follow. Sinn Fein's position is one of total and absolute commitment to exclusively democratic and peaceful means of resolving differences. We are opposed to any use or threat of force for any political purpose," said Adams.

Change is a matter of choice not chance, said Adams, and Sinn Fein is totally committed to establishing an entirely new, democratic and harmonious future with our unionist neighbours.

"We had an agreement," Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams told representatives of the world media pressed cheek by jowl in the small upstairs conference room in Belfast's Sevastopol Street on Wednesday morning, "and all of the people who were actually party to the sequencing of the developments yesterday knew what was happening.

"There are obviously very profound difficulties in the process at this point and we still don't know how they can be resolved in the short term; in the long term all of these matters will have to be resolved," said Adams.

Adams dismissed unionist claims that they had been in some way let down. All parties to the sequencing knew what would be happening, said Adams. If that weren't the case then "why would the two governments come if they had not been totally on board? Why would I have said what I said? Why would the IRA have done what it did?

"In the midst of speculation as to why this broke down, and the focus of the de Chastelain report and the focus on the needs of the Ulster Unionist Party, there's a danger that what was achieved yesterday will be diminished. And I think this is something that at all costs needs to be avoided," said Adams.

"Yesterday's agreement emerged from long discussions between ourselves and the UUP and that development in itself should not be undervalued. That dialogue is in many ways the key to progress," said Adams.

The Sinn Fein President told the media that, despite discussions with the UUP, the party still had no satisfactory explanation as to why the agreed sequence did not go forward. Adams pointed out that the IICD had been established under an agreement that had been endorsed in legislation in both the Irish and British parliaments.

"If the head of the IICD can say that the commission witnessed an event in which IRA weapons were put beyond use in accordance with the governments' scheme and regulations," said Adams, "it is incumbent upon both governments to confirm, promote, validate and uphold that.

"We can all chase our tails from now until kingdom come, asking hypothetical questions like what if the IRA had just said this or that, or if that clause had been lifted and we can all look at the problems within the UUP, but when a commission performs its duty in accordance with the governments' scheme and regulations, I am looking for that actively to be supported and defended by both governments.

"If this is to be sorted out in the short term, it must be sorted within the next few days, and if not then it will have to be put off until after the elections. We'll do our best but there is no clear way that that can be accomplished," said Adams.

"An undefeated republican army has put arms beyond use on three occasions under schemes agreed by the Irish and British Governments and under the supervision of an international decommissioning body. This was a huge step for republicans, unprecedented in Irish history and something that would have been inconceivable up until very recent times.

"Against this background there is absolutely no credibility in the claim by David Trimble that this is not enough to build confidence. This claim takes no account of the enormous difficulty and strain the achievement of such an initiative causes within the wider republican constituency.

"Political confidence cannot be built without the political will to respond to confidence-building measures. What happened yesterday was a failure of political will on the part of David Trimble and the Ulster Unionist Party. This is not about apportioning blame — it is about recognising realities. Too often the Ulster Unionist Party and David Trimble are portrayed not as political agents, acting in their own interests, with their own strategy, but as helpless victims of events outside of themselves. In this scenario it is republicans who have to make all the concessions and to take all the initiatives. But that is not what the Good Friday Agreement is about. It requires the political will and the political commitment of all parties and both governments to bring about change.







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