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Economic and 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 1294 June 6th 2006

Imperialism’s gruesome family massacre in Haditha, not the maverick “terror” resistance of Al-Zarqawi, is the real barbarism in Iraq – and it is imperialism which is the source and cause of all such mayhem everywhere. It is the Haditha events which will drive forwards further rebellion and revolt and not Zarqawi’s capture that will end them. But the growing world revolt against imperialism’s torturing oppression will add to the crisis pressures of a terminally out of time system driving it ever further towards World War Three as a solution. Only revolution can stop the destruction and transform the world for the building of a rational future. Leninism must develop.

The desperate triumphalism of the Bush/Blair warmongers over their “elimination” of maverick Al-Qaida figure Mohamed al-Zarqawi in Iraq is likely to prove short lived, however much of a minor coup the colonialist occupation and its latest laughably “democratic” stooge government has pulled off in taking out various elements of some of the anti-American forces.

If anything it is likely that continuing revolt after the imperialist’s military “success” will teach deeper running lessons to the world population, that it is not the supposed “evil minds” of any such figures as Zarqawi which is driving the hatred of the anti-imperialist insurgency through some bizarre and inexplicable fanaticism.

Instead it is a profound material reality of much deeper general hostility of the entire Arab (or rather Arab, Iranian and further flung Middle Eastern) world to imperialism’s long and degenerate rule and tyranny, which is throwing insurgency and resistance to the surface.

Even the bourgeois press reports – (and Blair as well) – were immediately circumspect, pointing out that the event was surrounded by a continuing upsurge against the occupying forces, and refraining from any temptation to exaggerate the significance of the gain.

As some of them pointed out, the capture of Saddam Hussein, supposedly a body blow to the anti-American Iraqi resistance, had little impact in quelling the hostility.

Just the opposite. The resistance in Iraq and increasingly Afghanistan continues to be a total quagmire for imperialism – and increasingly it is clear that the 800 year long capitalist order is facing a historical watershed in its long tyrannical rule of the planet. While the domination of Iraq and Afghanistan are not the major part of imperialist control on the planet, the failure to control them is clearly a significant historical defeat of the entire world capitalist order.

Bourgeois press accounts of the disastrous occupations just grow relentlessly more pessimistic:

The US said yesterday it had sent combat troop reinforcements into Iraq, dashing hopes of a substantial withdrawal, as American commanders scrambled to contain a wave of violence and help the new Iraqi government assert control.

About 1,500 soldiers from a reserve force based in Kuwait were deployed in Anbar province, an insurgent stronghold stretching from Baghdad to the Syrian border. The deployment was described officially as “short-term”. Military officials quoted anonymously yesterday said it should last no more than four months, but it was a blow to the Bush administration’s hopes of bringing troops home after the formation of the new government in Baghdad. There were about 130,000 US troops in Iraq before the deployment and that figure is unlikely to change for several months, military officials said.

...the bloodshed nationwide showed no sign of abating yesterday when bomb attacks killed at least 46 people, wounding dozens more.

A car bomb exploded at a market in Husseiniyah, a Shia neighbourhood north of Baghdad, killing 25, and 12 more were killed when a car packed with explosives detonated at a car sales centre in Hillah, 60 miles south of the capital. A bomb left in a plastic bag in a Baghdad bakery blew up, killing nine.

The new Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, held talks yesterday in an attempt to forge an agreement on who should serve as defence and interior ministers in his government. More than a week since the government took office and nearly six months since elections, Iraqi parties cannot agree on the two crucial portfolios.

Mr Maliki faces huge challenges. He demanded “answers” from US commanders on civilian deaths at the hands of their troops, after news emerged that an official report would find that American marines killed 24 civilians in cold blood in the town of Haditha last November.

Alarmed by the increasing turmoil in Basra, he is set to head south today in a bid to wrest Iraq’s increasingly restive second city from the clutches of warring Shia factions and oil smuggling gangs.

“We must restore security in Basra and if any defy peaceful solutions then force will be the solution,” he told Reuters. “There’s no way we can leave Basra, the gateway to Iraq, our imports and exports, at the mercy of criminal, terrorist gangs. We will use force against these gangs.”

Officials said they hoped Mr Maliki’s visit would help calm tensions. Predominantly Shia Basra has largely escaped the violence of more mixed cities such as Baghdad. But the last year has seen a rapid deterioration in security as competing Shia factions vie for control and influence.

The main rivals are the armed Badr organisation, which is close to the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, led by militant Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and the smaller Fadhila party, whose power base is in Basra. They blame each other for corruption and organised crime and for controlling militias which have infiltrated police units.

The rivalry worsened earlier this month when the governor of Basra province, a member of Fadhila, demanded the dismissal of the city’s police chief. Basra residents, meanwhile, criticise the British forces there for allowing the city to slip steadily out of control. Mr Maliki said: “I will go tomorrow with a delegation from the government and from the parliament. We will spare nothing to find a solution.”

Iraq has taken more troops to occupy than to invade. About 100,000 US soldiers and marines (alongside 26,000 British troops) entered in March 2001; neo-cons in Washington who pushed for the war assumed most would be home by the end of 2001. More than three years on, there are 130,000 US and 7,200 British troops in the country, and the insurgency shows no sign of waning after December’s elections and last week’s new government. However, the US is down from a peak of 150,000 troops in January last year.

Something has gone alarmingly wrong in Afghanistan, previously touted as the Bush administration’s one quasi- successful venture in nation-building. Afghanistan’s rising carnage still has not reached Iraq-like levels, but the trend is running in decidedly the wrong direction.

...The warning signs go well beyond this week’s deadly outbreak of anti- American rioting in Kabul. The past few months have also seen a stronger than expected Taliban military revival (with open help from supporters in Pakistan), a lengthening list of Afghan civilians accidentally killed in American military operations, a badly flawed U.S.-backed opium eradication program, and rising public disenchantment with Washington and its leading Afghan ally, President Hamid Karzai.

Afghans have long been renowned for their hostility toward foreign troops on their territory, as the 20th-century Russians and the 19th-century British learned the hard way. Until now, they have made a conspicuous exception for the 21st-century Americans, who helped them shake off Taliban misrule and then promised their poor and war-shattered country an international rebuilding effort.

More than four years later, Afghanistan’s patience is running out. America’s military presence is seen as narrowly focused on Washington’s own agenda of hunting down Qaeda fighters, and indifferent to Afghan civilian casualties and Afghanistan’s own security needs.

Militia commanders still rule many areas. Some provincial cities and villages are back under the control of the same corrupt officials the Taliban won cheers for chasing out a decade ago. Farmers have fallen victim to a poppy-eradication program unaccompanied by realistic plans for alternative economic development.

...Most Afghans do not want to go back to the horrors of the recent past. Washington needs to re-enlist their support by demonstrating that it cares not just about Afghanistan’s strategic geography, but also about a decent future for its people.

But the rampaging tyranny of capitalism is a million miles from “enlisting the support” of any of the billions of the Third World.

Events which will have much deeper impact are the exposures of rampaging US army revenge massacres of innocent civilians, like that of two dozen women and children which has just come to light in Haditha, Iraq (despite foul lying imperialist cover-up for months on end).

These further confirmations of the monstrous arrogant strutting Nazi reality of the western occupation – as opposed to its Goebbels fraud Big Lies about “bringing peace, d’mocracy and freed’m” – will only intensify the deep running hatreds of the world’s billions for the entire decadent imperialist order.

After centuries of suffering the exploitation and tyranny of imperialist rule they know well that the arbitrary and crazed bloodbath “reprisals” are not just the action of “criminal” or temporarily deranged “bad apples” in the US forces which are “trying to do their best against wild and evil people” but are the normality for the entire panicking imperialist system.

As noted in bourgeois press pieces, the gruesome and systematic “wasting” of youngsters and mothers, pursued into their homes before being gunned down in the town of Haditha, is not some exceptional breakdown in discipline (as bourgeois apologists immediately rushed to excuse it), nor particularly the result of “wrong’uns” getting out of control, but the day-to-day reality of imperialism’s occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq (and much else of the Third World from Colombia to west Africa, to Indonesia and the Philippines).

The whole capitalist supremacy in the world has always been filled with “bad apples”, carrying out monstrous crimes from the genocidal destruction of the Maories, the Aborigines and assorted Native American tribes onwards. The 20th century Amritsar machine-gunning of hundreds of innocents by the British in India (and other massacres), the vicious Mai-Lai village slaughter in Vietnam and now “turkey-shoot” arbitrary gunning-downs and blitzings of civilians (some captured on video) are absolutely normal for imperialist colonialism, domination, invasion and occupation, and their attempted re-establishment in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Capitalism’s forces have always recruited heavily among lumpen and de-classed elements, using the brutalised demobilised First World War soldiery for its Black & Tan rampaging and killing to suppress Irish liberation hopes for example – with its fair share of civilian massacre incidents – and building its fascist Second World War Nazi aggression from petty bourgeois, lumpen and backward countryside elements.

And then it has always deliberately created a brutalised and brutal atmosphere in its military and “intelligence” interventions, deliberately leading such terrorising. Almost every terror method in the world, from chemical bombing to kidnappings to blowing up houses, as well as ten dozen types of torture, imprisonment and execution were devised and elaborated first of all by imperialism (and much of that by the British Empire and subsequently the post-war CIA–School of the Americas–US military).

This is not a system suffering from the odd “bad apple” but an entire stinking barrelful of rot.

It is about to get a hundred times more foetid.

Murder, assassination, intrigue, invasion, coups and terrorism have been the daily tools of imperialist world control since the capitalist system began its piratical expansion across the planet, and especially so in the post-war CIA organised decades of US Empire domination.

But as it faces total demise from the greatest catastrophic economic and political crisis in all of history, the festering stink of terrorising ruling class Nazi panic is going to get in the nostrils of the entire planet as imperialism pushes its Third World War “solution” onto everyone, with the huge inter-imperialist tensions that lie at the heart of the contradiction of imperialist capitalism ultimately re-emerging as all out global war.

Wilful terrorising is part and parcel of normal imperialist rule (dictatorship of the bourgeoisie) and is being stepped-up deliberately in the turn to warmongering and fascistisation throughout the capitalist system as it heads once more for a war “solution” to its problems, the only way out (as the ruling class senses it) of terminal contradictions for its entire order.

Numerous crude and bloody incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan (and against many other insurgencies like monarchist atrocities against the Nepalese revolution – armed and trained by British and US aid in complete hypocritical defiance of its normal anti-communist “human rights” posturing) are increasingly echoed domestically in all the metropolitan capitalist countries in events like the barbarous and racist police raids on “suspected terrorists” in London for example, carried out with crude and provocative viciousness against local neighbours as much as “suspects”, and all without any justification, simply being part of part of keeping the “war on terror” hysteria on the boil, as even some parts of the capitalist press have noted:

...A man was shot in what seems like a misconceived and violent raid. His brother, and a next-door family, were terrified by gun-toting police. And a hole was blown in the already frayed trust between the Muslim community and law-enforcement officials.

If that doesn’t qualify on Blair’s horror scale as terrible, perhaps the cumulative impact of the anti-terrorism legislation his governments have instituted might. According to the Islamic Human Rights Commission, since 9/11 some 950 people, the majority of them Muslims, have been arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000. Of these only 148 were charged and only 27 convicted of terrorism, defined so broadly now that a question mark hangs over some of these cases.

Many thousands more have been stopped under the increased stop-and-search powers that anti-terror laws have given police. In 2003-2004 they were up by almost a third. Last year British Transport police statistics revealed that Asians were five times more likely to be stopped than whites. In the month following the London bombings, they had apprehended 2,390 Asian people. None was subsequently charged.

Anti-terror legislation is unpopular enough in our communities, where it is seen as an instrument of oppression. Far too many incidents have taken place for the government to pass Forest Gate off as a well-meaning botch-up.

Remember the ricin plot? Yes, the one where an al-Qaida cell allegedly planned to smear the toxin on door handles in a callous act of mass murder. The case slipped off the radar in 2005 after one of the longest criminal trials in British legal history. After political exploitation of the arrests and frenzied headlines about a north London chemical factory, no ricin was found.

Only one man, Kamel Bourgass, was convicted of “terrorism” after handwritten recipes for ricin were found in his possession, which he claimed was intended for use in his native Algeria. It also emerged that Mohammad Meguerba, the man who had informed on Bourgass, had probably been tortured by the Algerian authorities.

With all the signs suggesting police won’t recover any chemical bombs from Forest Gate, the shooting is also likely to go down as a failure of intelligence.

Which prompts the question of why law-enforcement officials are making so many errors. An obvious answer lies in the decline in standards that has accompanied the anti-terror legislation. So latitudinous are the laws - and so enticing the prospect of bagging a terrorist - that they have never had it so easy to stop and arrest and detain and charge individuals. We should not be surprised if police and prosecuting authorities have jettisoned normal safeguards.

The theatrical nature of recent anti-terror raids - the swoop on Forest Gate, involving 250 police, was similar to the 2003 raid on London’s Finsbury Park mosque, which also involved a helicopter and a battering ram - suggest that a show is being put on for the public.

Fear is what keeps people onside in Blair’s war on terror, and few things provoke more alarm than special forces in chemical suits descending on a city street. It might help sell an increasingly abhorrent war, but Blair should not forget that this type of policing comes at a high price: the alienation it engenders not only acts as a recruiting sergeant for anti-state violence, it also lays the foundations of internal civil unrest.

Faisal Bodi is news editor at the Islam Channel.

As this piece points out, the bourgeoisie knows very well it will face massive revolutionary upheavals, which every capitalist war crisis has brought in its wake (most notably the history shattering Bolshevik revolution which called a halt to the trench slaughter in 1917) as the poor and working masses finally reached the point of complete disillusionment.

The cunning of the historically seasoned ruling class knows that its huge fraud of “parliamentary democracy” which has hidden its direct rule for so long behind the Big Lie of “voting to change things” is more rejected by the mass of workers and poor than ever in history, even in the advanced capitalist countries where the class collaborating illusions and corruption of old style trade-unionism and Labourism had put down the deepest roots fed by imperialist super-profits and shallow glitzy consumerism.

But decades of sellouts and sleaze have taught workers deep lessons about the realities of reformism – (just spin and trickery) – and oncoming slump crisis will turn the current nearly universal rejection of parliament and “elections” from passive hostility into active spontaneous rebellion, as soon as the often already difficult and speeded-up work life of the majority turns into real desperation.

The only option for the ruling class will be direct dictatorial rule, already being prepared for by “legally” tearing up centuries-old “human rights and freedoms” across the board, using the foul and treacherous stooge Labour reformist tradition to do it, in its closet Mosleyite fascist degeneration of the warmongering Blairites.

But even as the fascistisation deepens, the defeats and setbacks for imperialism’s war plans are creating more and more widespread doubts and exposures of the Goebbels lies and justifications, even among the essentially anti-communist petty bourgeois liberals:

The United States’ reported use of secret CIA-run prisons for terrorism suspects amounts to a policy of “disappearances”, human rights watchdog Amnesty International said today in its annual report.

In a sometimes scathing assessment of Washington’s rights record, the London-based group also raised serious concerns about detainees held without trial in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Washington had failed to bring to account those potentially guilty of war crimes or crimes against humanity, it added.

Britain also faced condemnation, with Amnesty saying the government had “continued to erode fundamental human rights” through new anti-terrorism laws and the possible use of evidence obtained through the torture of suspects in other countries.

...The latest document considers widespread reports that the CIA has run a network of secret detention centres in countries including Afghanistan, Poland and Romania, transporting suspects via unlisted ‘rendition’ flights.

“Such facilities were alleged to detain individuals incommunicado outside the protection of the law in circumstances amounting to ‘disappearances’,” Amnesty noted, saying it had spoken to three Yemeni detainees held in secret locations for up to 18 months.

“Their cases suggested that such detentions were not confined to a small number of ‘high value’ detainees as previously suspected.”

Amnesty also warned of increasing evidence of torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and the US-run prison in Guantanamo Bay, which the rights group has repeatedly demanded be closed.

“Despite evidence that the US government had sanctioned interrogation techniques constituting torture or ill-treatment, and ‘disappearances’, there was a failure to hold officials at the highest levels accountable, including individuals who may have been guilty of war crimes or crimes against humanity,” Amnesty said.

In an almost equally lengthy entry for Britain, Amnesty condemned the Prevention of Terrorism Act passed by Tony Blair’s government last year, saying it “allowed for violations of a wide range of human rights” such as control orders against terrorism suspects.

“The imposition of ‘control orders’ was tantamount to the executive charging, trying and sentencing a person without the fair trial guarantees required in criminal cases,” Amnesty noted.

It also raised concerns at the death last July of Jean Charles de Menezes, the young Brazilian electrician shot dead by police at Stockwell Underground station in south London after being mistaken for a suicide bomber.

“Evidence emerged giving rise to suspicion of an early attempt at a cover-up by the police,” Amnesty said.

There were also harsh words for the US and Britain over the actions of their troops and allies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Both the US-led Multinational Force (MNF) and Iraqi security forces committed grave human rights violations, including torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary detention without charge or trial, and excessive use of force resulting in civilian deaths,” Amnesty said, while noting that insurgents were “responsible for grave human rights abuses”.

In Afghanistan, US forces “continued to arbitrarily detain hundreds of people beyond the reach of the courts and their own families”.

More generally, almost five years after the Taliban regime was ousted, “the (Afghan) government and its international partners remained incapable of providing security to the people”.

This is a dangerous time for freedom in Britain. The country’s most powerful politicians have joined its irresponsible press in a shameful attack on the idea of human rights. Tony Blair says that the nation needs to re-examine what he calls the “philosophy” behind the Human Rights Act so as to change the balance it strikes between individual freedom and the community’s security. David Cameron says a Tory government would reform that act or repeal it entirely. The rightwing press goes still further: the Telegraph calls for Britain to renounce the European Convention on Human Rights that Britain sponsored (it was signed in London) in 1950.

The immediate cause of Blair’s turning against human rights appears to be his government’s embarrassment at having botched the prosecution of the Afghan hijackers and lost track of aliens released from jail. But the two provisions he most wants to “balance” away have a more pervasive impact: a ruling that forbids deporting aliens to countries where they are likely to be tortured and killed; and the provisions the House of Lords relied on in its 2005 Belmarsh decision condemning the government’s policy of indefinite detention of suspected terrorists without trial.

People accused of crimes or terrorism may have rights, Blair says, including the right not to be imprisoned indefinitely without trial and the right not to be sent where they will be killed. But the British public has rights, too, and a new balance must be struck between the two sets of rights. The balancing metaphor is dangerous because it suggests no principled basis for deciding how much torture we should facilitate, or for how many years we should jail people without trial. It leaves that decision up to politicians who are anxious to pander to the tabloids.

The metaphor is deeply misleading because it assumes that we should decide which human rights to recognise through a kind of cost-benefit analysis, the way we might decide what speed limits to adopt. It suggests that the test should be the benefit to the British public, as Blair declared in his “Let’s talk” speech, when he said that “the demands of the majority of the law-abiding community have to take precedence”. This amazing statement undermines the whole point of recognising human rights; it is tantamount to declaring that there are no such things.

...some injuries to individuals are so grave that they cannot be justified by declaring that that is what the public wants. A civilised society recognises rights precisely to protect individuals from these grave harms.

It might well be in the public interest to lock up people who the police think dangerous even though they have committed no crime, or to censor people whose opinions are offensive or unwelcome, or to torture people who we believe have information about impending crimes. But we do not do that, at least in ordinary legal practice, because we insist that people have a right to a fair trial and free speech and not to be tortured.

Of course it is terrible when deluded terrorists or criminals on probation kill innocent people. But the increased risk that each of us runs is marginal when we insist on enforcing human rights rather than abandoning them just because they have proved inconvenient...It is dangerous gibberish to say that the public has a right to as much security as it can have; no one has a right to security purchased through injustice.

...It is sad that Blair’s political weakness has tempted him to rubbish ideals of which he and the country should be proud.

Ronald Dworkin is Bentham professor of law at University College London; his book Is Democracy Possible Here? is published later this year

The genteel protests of the liberals, hankering after the democratic mirages of the past, will not stop the slide to war however. Only the revolutionary ending of this degenerate mayhem will do that, to make space finally for the rational and peaceful planned socialist development of humanity by throwing off the stultifying domination of big money and the profit motive.

Until then the terror imposition by the ruling class dictatorship can only be stepped up as the teetering capitalist world economy and culture finally hits the buffers of unsolvable “over-production”, the inevitable endpoint of its production and accumulation for profit system, exactly as witnessed three times in the modern imperialist epoch of globalised monopoly domination, first in the Franco-German war and then the giant first and second world wars.

Such “catastrophist” perspectives will surely be mocked as “far-fetched” or “not in my lifetime” by the more complacent, smug and comfortable petty bourgeois influences and the corrupted anti-communism and non-revolutionary Trotskyite and revisionist traditions which have doomed the working class already to decades of wasted time and opportunities chasing around the lies and illusions of reformism and non-existent “peaceful roads to socialism”, and endlessly laying them open to the counter-revolutionary machinations of truthless imperialist exploitation (not least finally liquidating the titanic workers state achievement of the Soviet Union in a pointless and devastating capitulation to “market forces”).

But the eruptions of the 1914-18 holocaust emerged from a “blue sky” of reformism and “democratic progress” with young men who had been punting on the Thames, or horse riding in the Black Forest one minute, plunged up to their necks in mud and blood the next.

Only the Bolsheviks consistently warned and prepared for what was coming (as far as anyone could grasp it) and only the Bolsheviks kept their understanding sound in the deadly and horrifying turmoil of inter-imperialist conflict.

Marxist understanding of the enormous contradictions that the profiteering system must relentlessly accumulate and of the huge pressure building inside world human society as the unevenness of the accumulates ever greater antagonisms, has never been successfully challenged; despite the efforts of thousands of paid lackey professors and “analysts” to discredit the profound grasp of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels and others who have added to the body of scientific Marxism, its truths (see economic quotes page 6) continue to be proven over and over again in practice, not least in the regular eruptions of slump and war.

The latest and most enormous brewing crisis of the capitalist system has been signalled economically in regular devastation like the 1990s currency collapse in the Far East and the bankruptcies imposed various South America countries, the Enron, and other bankruptcies, the scares of leveraged debt trading, and currently by the sudden lurches and overnight panics on Stock Exchanges at the slightest hint of difficulties; with the ever expanding and completely unsustainable American economic deficit; with the insane bursts of commodity price increases; with the steadily rising price of gold (the solid reference point for exchange value as Marx explained, and the “investment of last resort” in times of disaster); and with growing and continuing trade war tensions.

And it is equally signalled by the hugely growing disparities in wealth and the slashing of living standards via the plundering of pension funds, the endlessly rise in property prices (so that most young people can no longer even dream of having a house) and most recently by the Brownite New Labourite threats to further slash wages in the public sector etc.

None of this has yet reached the point of outright slump collapse, and the complexities of the most globalised imperialist economy of all time make it impossible to predict exact moments when the economic storm will break wide open.

But the preparation for Third World War, (promising destruction and chaos even greater than the nearly 100 million dead of the Second World War, in its turn bigger and more widespread than the 1914-18 “War to end all Wars”) is already grotesquely apparent in the “warm-up” skirmishes of the Serbian Nato blitzing, and the Iraq and Afghanistan continuations,

These are not the routine extension of imperialist plundering – a “war for oil” as the shallow and impressionistic revisionist and Trotskyists paint it (and which implies essentially a strengthening of imperialist influence and control) – but the first steps towards World War Three, imperialism’s desperately weakened response to the intractable and unstoppable crisis it knows is coming and to which its only answer is total warmongering destruction.

Just as before in history there is no room for all the huge accumulation of capital in the world to continue plundering the world for profit. There have to be losers, and the aim of the Empire is to make sure it is everyone else.

Iraq is first and foremost a warning to the whole world that warmongering is on the agenda, (as the imperialists see it) both to roll back the growing spirit of rebellion on the planet and to give a warning shot to all imperialist rivals that the US Empire is prepared for the utmost ruthlessness and destruction against any of the challenges with desperate crisis collapse must bring eventually, including the point when its creditors finally demand back the value of the now utterly unrepayable and ever accumulating US deficit.

But the “shock and awe” has not come off. Instead the continuing quicksand mess of resistance and the disgusting western occupation brutality and torture which the resistance has stretched out over three years, has escalated the already growing worldwide resistance 1000 fold, breeding 100 insurgents and “terrorists” for every one there was before.

This is not simply an anti-occupation “freedom” struggle confined to Iraq, or run-of-the-mill morale struggle against oppression as the limited horizons of the fake-”left” perspectives put it, but the heart of a worldwide ferment which will can only ultimately coalesce into the greatest revolutionary challenge to capitalism in all history.

At the heart of the rebellion in the Middle East and a critical element is the genocidally oppressed Palestinian nation, which continues to mature and develop its struggle despite – and because of – half a century of the most monstrous treatment by the Jewish-Zionist fascist occupation of its homeland, now stepped up to unprecedented Nazi collective punishment ferocity (supported by the funding and lies of the west), because the west’s democratic fraud has backfired badly.

Election of the militancy of Hamas and its rejection of the foul grovelling Arafatite compromising of the two state solution and its entirely correct refusal to “recognise” the monstrous fascist theft of its land embodied in the giant colonialist lie of “an Israeli state” has driven the imperialists and Zionist into the slow starvation method of massacre:

Western leaders are frustrating democratic elections in Palestine by withholding aid, and using collective punishment, an economic siege and starvation as political weapons in their efforts to get the Hamas government to accept their terms of business with Israel.

Never in the long struggle for freedom in apartheid South Africa was there a situation as dramatic as in Palestine today: even though children were killed for resisting a second-class education; the liberation movement’s leaders were locked up for decades on Robben Island; new leaders were assassinated; church leaders were poisoned; house demolitions and forced removals were frequent; and western governments told South Africans who their leaders should be, and what their policies should be.

The African National Congress confronted the military, economic and social power of white rule with a small guerrilla army, the mass support of the people and a moral authority that won it a following among millions around the world. Many now forget that the abhorrent apartheid system was treated as normal in the powerhouses of the world: entrenched interests meant the western media produced a sanitised version of its suffering and injustice.

Today western moral authority in the Middle East is gone, as much because of years of double standards in Palestine as because of the current disastrous war on Iraq. There is no excuse for not knowing the truth about what is now happening to the Palestinians. And the most recent diplomatic moves by the Quartet - the US, the EU, the UN and Russia - to alleviate suffering, while keeping up the ban on dealing with the Palestinians’ elected leaders, are totally inadequate.

Some plain speaking on the current crisis, and on what will happen without serious political intervention, shows why. The root problem is the intensifying Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. Despite the international court of justice ruling it illegal, Israel’s 390-mile wall snakes on through the West Bank, taking another 10% of the land and providing for the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements. Nearly 50,000 Palestinians are to be left in limbo on the Israeli side of the wall; 65,000 will face a daily commute through 11 transit points. Towns such as Qalqilya and Jayyous, formerly prosperous, with fertile hinterlands and good water supplies, are virtually encircled, with their farms and greenhouses on the Israeli side.

Meanwhile, Israel is withholding $50m a month in customs duties and tax owed to the Palestinians, and energy supplies have been cut off. Palestinian civil servants, teachers, doctors and security forces have not been paid for over two months. The potential for civil war between factions of armed, increasingly desperate men is so obvious that Palestinians are not alone in thinking that the US actually wants such self-destruction.

The Palestinians are having sanctions imposed on them for their political choice. But it is Israel, creating new facts on the ground to prevent the emergence of a viable Palestinian state, that should be facing UN sanctions. The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, should use his last months in office to call for sanctions to bring about the implementation of the ICJ ruling on the Israeli wall, the closure of West Bank settlements and the release of Palestinian political prisoners. And those who care for freedom, peace and justice must build a global Palestine solidarity movement to match the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s.

Ronnie Kasrils was head of intelligence in the African National Congress’s armed wing and is now South Africa’s intelligence minister; he is writing in a personal capacity. Victoria Brittain is co-author with Moazzam Begg of Enemy Combatant

Israel is 58 years old today. Israelis have already celebrated with barbecues and parties. And so they should, for they’ve pulled off an amazing stunt: the creation of a state for one people on the land of another - and at their massive expense - without incurring effective sanction. Some of those not celebrating, the Arab citizens of Israel, were also there, demonstrating to remind the world that Israel displaced 250,000 to take their land without compensation. Millions more Palestinians will demonstrate today in the refugee camps of Gaza, the West Bank and neighbouring Arab states against their expulsion by Israel. The world, however, is not listening, any more than it did in 1948, when most of Palestine’s inhabitants were expelled to make way for Jewish immigrants.

My family was among those displaced and, though a child, I vividly remember the panic and misery of that flight from our home in Jerusalem on an April morning in 1948, with the scent of spring in the air. Palestine by then had become a raging battleground as Jews fought to seize our land in the wake of the 1947 UN partition resolution. My parents decided to evacuate us temporarily. “We will return,” they insisted, “the world will not let such injustice happen!” They were wrong: the world let it happen and we never returned. Little comfort in knowing that we were among many others, that we did not end up in tents, that conflicts do such things. Our lives, our history and our future had been traduced. In those early days, I would wonder with anguish how the Jewish incomers who took over our house could sleep at night, seeing our belongings, family photos, children’s toys. Subsequently, Israelis made much of the danger they faced from five Arab armies in the 1948-49 war, but in reality their forces were greater than all their opponents’ combined, and the latter ill equipped and poorly trained.

Growing up in Britain, I got no sympathy but rather kept being told about the need to give Jews a state they could feel safe in. But at whose expense was this generosity? We Palestinians had no hand in the Holocaust, nor in persecuting Jews. But we were transformed from a peaceable agrarian people into a nation of beggars under occupation, refugees, exiles and second-class citizens of Israel. Worse still, we are now labelled terrorists, suicide bombers or Islamic extremists. Our crime? We were in the wrong place at the wrong time. And for that we have been repeatedly punished, most recently for electing the “wrong” government, headed by a party the west, not Palestinians, labels as terrorist.

I went to “Palestine” last month to see what 58 years of Israel had done. It was also springtime, but this was a shadow of the land I had known. I found a pathetically fragmented society, clinging to a fading dream of statehood against the odds. Israel’s policies have broken up the Palestinian territories into ghettoes behind barriers and checkpoints. Gaza, supposedly liberated, is a big prison where, according to the World Bank, 75% are under the poverty line and a quarter of children are malnourished. Since January, Israel has kept the cargo crossings into Gaza closed most of the time. Flour ran out last month, and now medicines. The UN has warned of a humanitarian disaster. Now Israel is threatening to cut off fuel because of outstanding Palestinian debts, normally paid from Palestinian tax receipts, which Israel has illegally held back since January. The barrier wall, sealing off whole towns and villages, makes normal life impossible.

The new, democratically elected Palestinian government is paralysed because of Israeli and western sanctions. International aid to the Palestinians, $1bn annually, has been stopped; $70m donated by Arab states is blocked because banks, fearing international sanctions, refuse to transfer the funds. Money has run out for 150,000 public workers and their approximately 1 million dependants. I found deserted supermarkets and shopkeepers in despair. Armed men roam the streets full of anger at their loss of livelihood. Meanwhile, Israel’s assault on the Palestinians continues. Last week the army killed nine and wounded 24. It mounted 38 incursions into Palestinian towns and arrested 61 people, including 11 children.

The Quartet powers have agreed a three-month emergency aid package. Because of the freeze on relations with Hamas, the aid will bypass the government, though how essential services can be run without a central administration is hard to imagine. Arab foreign ministers have warned of a breakdown in law and order if the Palestinian Authority collapses, but to no avail. The world’s silence in the face of this cruelty is astonishing. There is no international outcry against a policy whose transparent objective is to goad the Palestinians into overthrowing the government they elected in favour of one more pliant to Israel’s designs. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan is to draw Israel’s border “unilaterally”, annexing the large West Bank settlement blocs and keeping Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley. The roads connecting it to Israel will bisect Palestinian territory.

What remains, 58% at most, together with the Gaza prison, will form the “Palestinian state”. Olmert will be in Washington soon, no doubt seeking a rubber stamp. The idea is presumably that the Palestinians - dispersed and powerless - will then no longer be in Israel’s way. Anyone who believes this, as the west’s unthinking support for Israel seems to suggest, knows nothing about history or the will of peoples to resist injustice. The Palestinians are no exception.

Dr Ghada Karmi is a research fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter University, and a former consultant to the Palestinian Authority

But the world has been forced to listen; as demonstrated by the growing academic boycott movement against Israel for example, which is a reflection, like the anti-apartheid movement and the anti-Vietnam war movements, of the deeply growing struggle on the ground.

Worried petty bourgeois, with some knowledge of the Middle East, are desperately trying to warn the imperialist system that its turn to such outrageous genocidal barbarism is counter productive, as in this piece for example:

Patients with chronic kidney disease dying for lack of their routine dialysis; 165,000 employees of the Palestine Authority unpaid for two and a half months; women selling jewellery for fuel or food ... the “humanitarian crisis” of the West Bank and Gaza is not a Darfur. And what most shocks Arabs and Muslims is that it stems from a conscious political decision by the world’s only superpower. First, they say, you give us Iraq, now on the brink of civil war. Then this: the starving of a whole people.

The psychological and strategic linkage between Iraq and Palestine is far from new. But its latest, most intense phase began with the US invasion of Iraq - conceived by the Bush administration’s pro-Israeli neoconservatives as the first great step in their region-wide scheme for “regime change” and “democratisation”, whose consummation was to be an Arab-Israeli settlement....But it had always been crystal clear that the more authentic any democracy Arabs or Palestinians did come to enjoy, US-inspired or not, the more their conception of a settlement would collide with the US-Israeli one. The point was swiftly proved, in the wake of Hamas’s assumption of power, when President Bush declared: “We support democracy, but that doesn’t mean we have to support governments elected as a result of democracy.” And his administration set about engineering Palestinian “regime change” in reverse.

Its strategy found more or less willing accomplices - Europeans, Arab governments, the Palestinians themselves. But it was always going to be a perilous one; the more vigorously it was pursued in the face of the opposition that it was bound to encounter, the more likely it was to make of Palestine a crucible of trouble for its own people, the region and the world - very much like the one that other quasi-colonial western intervention had already made of Iraq.

The idea was to get the Palestinians, through collective punishment, to repudiate the very people they had just elected. Some do blame Hamas. But most of those blame America much more. If anything, sanctions have had the opposite effect from that intended, encouraging people to rally round the new government. Buoyed by its own popularity, on top of its electoral legitimacy, Hamas won’t easily relinquish power - “not without a war”, said Iyyad Sarraj, a Gaza psychologist.

Even if the US did succeed in bringing Hamas down, it would, like the overthrow of Saddam, be a catastrophic kind of success - plunging Palestine, too, into chaos and internecine strife.

It is clear that, with President Mahmoud Abbas’s bombshell proposal for a referendum on the nature of a final peace raising the political stakes and with skirmishes in Gaza raising the military ones, war between Hamas and Fatah is eminently possible. It is far from clear that America’s “side” could win. “If Fatah couldn’t fight Hamas while it was still in power,” said General Ilan Paz, the former head of Israel’s civil administration in the territories, “how could it gain control with Hamas in power and itself disintegrated?”

Furthermore, chaos in the territories would open the way to militants, jihadists and suicide bombers from the rest of the world, just as it did in Iraq. Iran, the non-Arab country that is now the main state patron of Arab radicalism, was quicker than any Arab government to offer money to the new Hamas regime. An intrinsic part of its wider strategic and nuclear ambitions, Palestine now ranks among Iran’s top foreign-policy priorities. Abbas says that Hizbullah and al-Qaida are already active in Gaza. From where, if not from such outsiders, have come the long-range Katyusha missiles that have begun to target southern Israel from Gaza? And if Hamas were driven from office, it would go underground again, resuming with a vengeance the resistance it has suspended.

As for the Arabs, they would be at least as subject to the fallout from Palestine as they are from Iraq’s. Their discredited regimes hardly know what to fear more: the example of a Hamas democratically installed or undemocratically ousted. The first would encourage the ascension of their own Islamists. The civil war liable to result from the second would arouse even more dangerous passions among them. Broadly speaking, Hamas has Arab, especially Islamist, public opinion on its side, and the more the regimes defer to the US in its anti-Hamas campaign, the greater discredit they will fall into.

For Rami Khouri, a leading Beirut columnist, the Palestine cause risks being transformed from a “national” into a “civilisational” one, with “potentially dangerous linkages between events in Palestine-Israel and the rest of the Middle East”.

“Hundreds of thousands of young people will feel duped and betrayed. The wellspring of support for Hamas- and Muslim Brotherhood-style democratic engagement will slowly dry up in favour of more intense armed struggle. They will stop wasting time trying to redress grievances through peaceful, democratic politics or diplomacy ... Bringing down the Hamas-led Palestinian government will bring further radicalisation, resistance and terrorism across the region.” Well aware of this resonance, the Palestinian finance minister, Omar Abdul Razeq, warned: “The entire region will catch fire if the Palestinian people are pushed to a situation where they have nothing to lose.”

Suddenly this month the Bush administration seemed to grasp something of the perils it is courting. And those US-engineered privations of Gaza were too scandalous to ignore. At a meeting of the Quartet (the EU, the US, the UN and Russia), it offered $10m in emergency medical aid. The largesse was paltry and grudging, but at least it seemed to indicate that Washington had given up hope of bringing about immediate “regime change” via economic ruin. Gideon Levy, a pro-Palestinian Israeli commentator, was even moved to say: “Hamas is winning.”

Hardly. For the only substantive way in which it could be said to be doing that would be if the US started drawing the right conclusions from this spectacularly unwelcome result of Arab democratisation - the most important of which is that, were it not for US policies, Hamas would never have won the elections.

But that would require a fundamental, revolutionary change of heart. In the opinion of Mearsheimer and Walt, the extraordinary US attachment to Israel - that moral and strategic “burden” - makes such a change impossible any time soon. So the fear must now be that, long before this could happen, the Middle East’s “dangerous linkages” will assert themselves even more dangerously than before, and that those two ongoing crises - Palestine and Iraq, which the attachment did so much to engender - will be joined, and fused into a single mega-crisis, by a third: when, on its protégé's behalf, the Bush administration goes to war against Iran.

David Hirst reported from the Middle East for the Guardian from 1963 to 2001

It is not simply the Zionist conspiracy that will drive moves to war, but the driving pressures of imperialism’s desperate crisis itself – it cannot for long hold back from yet more warmongering, driven further into it by the now escalating dialectical processes of increasing contradiction and resistance, which can only become more and more intense, as the historical crisis of capitalism deepens and is deepened in turn by the revolt it will engender.

Continuing threats by lead US neocons like Negroponte and John Bolton to bomb Iran as a “solution” to the US’s deepening problems are a better guide to direction imperialism is taking the world than the recent pious and supposedly contrite Blair/Bush declarations about “giving the UN a role in bringing “democratisation and freedom”.

There has never been any other endpoint possible.

Contradictorily, even though war was a “surprise” and a stunning shock in 1914, everyone also sensed it was coming, just as they sense it now against the well demonised Iran, which imperialist propaganda has been relentlessly targeting as a “monster rogue state”.

And if not Iran then Sudan, or Zimbabwe or Myanmar or North Korea or any of the other victims which imperialist propaganda lies constantly victimise with outrageous hypocrisies about “democracy” and “freedom” and “human rights” (shamefully and cravenly backed-up by the so-easily duped “fake-”lefts” who so deeply hate the thought of the working class in power that they buy every slick CIA and western intelligence stunt organised around stooge “democracy” movements - usually conveniently packaged as the “democracy and freedom” party etc in those countries which have the temerity to resist imperialism in some form or other - however limited.)

But the time is long gone when the masses would be cowed by the fascist violence; imperialism is out of time, the greatest obstacle on the planet to the peaceful and rational development that can unlock the giant potential of 6 billion.

These pressures will massively “cook” the growing struggle into an enormous transformation – as the Palestinian struggle itself has been transformed and deepened in political grasp, strategic and tactical understanding.

And it is a struggle that will draw in far more than the Arab world – the entire ferment of the Third World to the increasingly exploited western working class.

Revolutionary consciousness is the crucial element. Building Leninism is urgent.

Don Hoskins

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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles).
Irish Republican struggle commemoration

Legendary Volunteer dies on Hunger Strike

On 12 May 1981 at 5.43 pm , just seven days after the death of Bobby Sands, Hunger Striker Francis Hughes died. The south Derry man had endured 59 days on Hunger Strike. His sisters Noreen, Maria and Vera and brother Roger were by his bedside when he passed away.

Paying tribute to Hughes, the ira said he was one of the bravest soldiers of the armed struggle against British rule.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams called on British Premier Margaret Thatcher to accept that her efforts to stare down the Hunger Strike had failed, and for Taoiseach Charles Haughey to end his silence which he said encouraged British intransigence.

Cardinal Tomas O Fiach implored of Thatcher: “How many more Irishmen must go to their graves inside and outside the jail before intransigence gives way to a constructive effort to find a solution? In the United States, Senator Edward Kennedy decried Thatcher’s intransigence whilst Boston City Council renamed the street on which the British consulate is located as Francis Hughes Street.

Speaking to An Phoblacht on the day before his son’s death Francis Hughes’ father told of his last visit to his dying son: “It’s a terrible thing to see a young lad dying but amazingly he was in great spirits. His face was just yellow with eyes sunken. Just the same as a corpse lying there. I said do you see me Francis? He said I see the shape of you

but I can’t see your face. When he had gotten a wee sleep he chatted away and caught my hand and held it tight. I said to him, your not too bad and he said ah now, tomorrow or Wednesday will see the end of it.”

The evening of Francis Hughes’ death saw an upsurge in attacks by the ira with the British army and RUC coming under fire across Belfast. Riots, which had been raging since the death of Bobby

Sands, intensified with nationalist youth across the Six Counties engaging crown forces with bricks and petrol bombs.

In Dublin the most serious rioting since the 1972 burning of the British embassy occurred. Gardai attacked a march going from the gpo to the British embassy in Ballsbridge with an indiscriminate baton charge.

Sinn Fein President Ruairí Ó Brádaigh castigated Taoiseach Charles Haughey on his inaction.

On the same evening in a sickening and deliberate act of murder, 14-year-old Julie Livingston, was killed by a British army plastic bullet in Lenadoon, West Belfast. Francis Hughes’ death was the impetus for an increased use of lethal, plastic bullets and injuries received from them rose dramatically across the Six Counties after 12 May.

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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

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

Bolivia reclaims its gas fields

May 1 will be a day to remember for Bolivia. After centuries in which the country’s rich, natural resources were plundered by Spain, Britain and the US resulting in death and destruction, Bolivia’s newly elected president, Evo Morales, announced his decision to privatise the country’s gas fields, as he promised during his election campaign.

Morales ordered the military to immediately patrol energy fields, and for corporations to begin channelling their sales through the state-owned energy company. He also imposed a deadline of 180 days for companies to renegotiate contracts with the government. Otherwise, they will loose their commercial rights. “The time has come, the awaited day, a historic day in which Bolivia retakes absolute control of our natural resources,” Morales declared. “The looting by the foreign companies has ended.”

“If the negotiations do not go well, we could go to the next step- expropriation”, said Andres Soliz Rada, the energy Minister, adding that the companies would be compensated. But the first step, he said, is an audit of foreign company documents. “It’s time to open the black boxes of the petroleum companies.”

Morales’ decision means the state would be entitled to 82% of production in the biggest fields, up from less than 18% the companies agreed to when they began developing the fields.

As a first step, auditors from oil giant Petróleos de Venezuela, visited three foreign companies in Bolivia and announced that they would be involved in the audits. The Venezuelan company is also providing technical help to Bolivian authorities and is to sign a contract to build a gas separation plant.

The latest developments put the Bolivian government’s small energy auditing firm, Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (ypfb) firmly in the driving seat. In the new scenario Yacimientos would become an equal partner with giants like Repsol YPF SA of Spain and Total of France. Yacimientos also would take a majority stake in three formerly state-owned by now foreign run companies-Chaco, Andina and Transredes.

Jorge Alvarado, president of the Bolivian company said: “YPFB, because of the neo-liberal model, has been reduced to a minimum. It has no economic resources. But we see that there is much interest by foreign companies that want to invest in the country.”

Veiled threats and pressure on Morales to reverse his decisions came almost immediately, with Spanish and Brazilian government officials attacking the move. Spain’s prime minister, Jose Luis Zapatero, said it could affect the amount of assistance Madrid provided to Bolivia. However, Morales’ main concern will be the reaction of the US administration, which may attempt to force Morales to step back.

Despite being rich in natural resources, Bolivia remains the poorest country in the American continent. The Spanish took the country’s silver and gold while massacring the population. British domination damaged the country’s economy and future development even further. Then, at the beginning of the last century, the United States, through international finances advocated by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, imposed the conditions for the development of its economy on the back of Latin American countries.

Even before his election, figures in the US administration such as Condoleezza Rice expressed disapproval of Morales. Now Bolivia could face an unofficial boycott.

“This isn’t like Saudi Arabia, which over the years has developed a know-how to dominate the industry independently,” said Gal Luft, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a consultancy in Washington that studies energy issues. “When you cause problems for foreign investors, you cause problems for those who know how to create and develop the industry.”

The developments in Bolivia represent the latest step by Latin America governments from Venezuela to Ecuador to assert greater control over the energy sector.

In April, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela seized two oil fields operated by the Total group of France, and Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi, of Italy, because they were unwilling to give more control of their operations to Petróleos de Venezuela, the state-run energy company.

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