Attention!! If you can see this message it means you are viewing the web with an old browser (web viewing programme such as NETSCAPE 4.x or earlier) or a handheld or mobile phone type reader. That means you will see only a basic version of the pages — the content should be perfectly readable but will have a basic layout. For a printable version you can click on a link to download. A better webpage layout will be shown in modern browsers(eg Opera7, InternetExplorer6, Safari or Mozilla). If you are not limited by small memory in older computers, you can download these programmes from the Internet. Installation is usually quite simple and usually safe from viruses.

Engraving of Lenin busy studying

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

Skip Navigation(?)

Back issue

No 1359 11th November 2009

Worsening defeat of imperialism’s “war on terror” blitzings in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan exposing more and more the fraud of “democracy” with which it justifies its tyrannical fascist domination of the planet. US imperialism’s bullying to save its “topdog” skin as economic disaster unravels faces ever greater challenges from rising rebellion and desperate trade war imperialist rivals all heading for Third World War. Only revolution can end this degenerate chaos.

The unravelling of Washington’s (and London’s) neo-colonialist fascist onslaught on the Middle East is beginning to look like not just defeat but a complete rout.

Afghanistan is now widely being openly compared to Vietnam in the capitalist media for the impact it is having on the collapse in morale, both in the imperialist military forces and among “popular” support domestically in America and Britain, as the relentless flow of coffins and stretchers goes on and increases.

The debilitating impact is underlined by the staggering, unprecedented mass gunning down on a Texas military base which far from being a “maverick bad apple” incident, or an “Islamist plot”, is first and foremost a complete expression of the alienated contradictions and despair tearing the confidence of American capitalist society to shreds.

It is clear the war is finding its way into the heart of imperialism.

Far from suppressing the Third World revolt which explodes in such incidents, the demented deliberate hysteria of a “war on terror” blitzkrieging onslaught on the world’s masses (including routine civilian “collateral damage” massacres of multiple women and children) is stimulating ever more hostility and hatred at its barbaric tyranny, including among its very own people.

And such outbursts will continue to erupt for as long as imperialism exists and as long as it imposes its terrorising rule on the billions of the planet to keep them permanently under the jackboot of the near-slave exploitation that feeds the great consumerist wealth of the West and the rapacious, uncontrollable greed of the ruling class (far greater than just monstrous bonuses).

The bourgeoisie, led by its presidential figurehead Barack Obama, has once again thrown up its hands in moralising dismay with the pretence that such incidents come out of the blue, caused by unstable personalities or “twisted logic” and are “incomprehensible”.

It guaranteed the fake-“left” will be trailing along behind, exactly as they did over 9/11, disowning all such desperation and hatred, and writing it off as “counter-productive” or the “wrong struggle” or simply as “criminal”.

But for the millions throughout the Middle East on the receiving end of ten years of “war on terror” blitzing, torture, massacring mayhem, and four centuries of imperialist colonialism before, which has left their countries in heaps of festering wreckage, and relatives, compatriots, workmates and friends arbitrarily and suddenly shot, blown to fragments, “droned”, B52ed, or simply driven into poverty and total despair, there is nothing illogical in such desperate self-destructive attacks into the heart of the Empire.

Are the Gazans, just subject to the most intensive and horrifying white-phosphorus massacring attacks in a long history of constantly repeated racist Nazi butchery, sustained for weeks at a time, blowing their homes and lives to shreds (such as they are in the cramped Gazan concrete hellhole they have been forced into for 60 years), supposed to sympathise???

All the more when it is the blind-eyed President Obama, who lifted not a finger to stop the four weeks of horror from happening in January under cover of “constitutional niceties”(!!) and is good friends with the Zionists, continuing the massive funds and arm supplies that alone have allowed its artificial occupation pretence of a “state” to have any existence at all instead of collapsing immediately.

It is as futile to “condemn” the gunning down as it was futile to condemn 9/11, or Beslan, or the London bombings, or the Bali nightclub etc etc. Worse, it is a complete capitulation to imperialism’s Goebbels scapegoating agenda which is set on to escalating universal warmongering as a diversion and an excuse for the catastrophic collapse facing the world because, and only because, of capitalism itself and its internal unsolvable contradictions.

Marxism does not encourage random terrorism either, but only because in the end it is not going to change the world and end capitalism, and because the religious and sometimes backward ideologies that mainly carry it, fall short of the scientific revolutionary grasp needed to lead the proletarian and working class masses.

But what it does say is that until the world revolutionary struggle is taken up again and the greed ridden thuggery of capitalism finally toppled forever, there will be, and can be, no end to the constantly regenerated hatred and sacrificing bitterness of tens of millions of the downtrodden from Palestine to Pakistan.

And what it does say is that such events are a major signal to the world of just how much it has changed and how much unstoppable ferment of discontent is building ever greater pressure against Western monopoly capitalist oppression.

This is incipiently, if incoherently, the process of revolution building up.

It is being accelerated by the disastrous “war on terror” reaction imposed by Washington (and sidekick London) with reluctant support from the rest of imperialism.

A decade long “shock and awe” strategy to cow the world and re-establish sliding US monopoly imperialist domination control in the face of this resentment and hostility, is failing totally.

Stalemate disaster and the humiliation of Iraq has already brought down the Blair government and left its protagonist universally hated, while the George W Bush presidency is the most despised in the 230 years of the American Union.

It has nothing to do with the particular individual foibles, barroom braggart unpleasantness or slimy slickness of individuals, who are no worse than any other on-the-make self-regarding sleazeball opportunists who climb the greasy pole of bourgeois politics.

It has everything to do with the historic period of collapse and decay of an entire class system, monopoly imperialist capitalism which has reached the limits of pushing humanity’s development forwards after eight centuries of its own rise and one-time revolutionary overturning of the feudal stultification that went before.

From motivating force and generator of enterprise etc it has turned into its opposite, capable of bringing only destruction, alienation, slump and war.

The blitzing and destruction of various Third World scapegoats selected, if not at random, then only because they were suitably demonisable and easy to “fix-up” as targets, has been a major plank of US imperialist strategy to maintain its top dog position in the world by riding out the onrush of the greatest economic disaster in all history, which the inner circles the ruling class have been completely aware of for decades (unlike the fake-“lefts” of all shades still busy trying to catch up with their basic Marxism after years of mocking or simply failing to understand the EPSR’s revolutionary warnings (and sometimes even now incredibly still deriding them as “just catastrophism”).)

It goes hand in hand with the desperate turn of the ruling class domestically to ever more steadily stepped-up state surveillance, and police and intelligence agency intimidation and torture, and the sick revival of minority scapegoating (of Muslims etc), and now even the overt and deliberate boosting of degenerate racist Nazi throwback ideology, and backward British supremacist nationalism from the BNP and EDL etc, always deliberately kept on the back-burner but now being pushed consciously into the media limelight by establishment circles.

It is all part of plans for deliberate civil-war union-busting onslaught on jobs, working conditions, pensions and social provision (attacking the Post Office e.g.) which the crisis has forcing the ruling class to attempt from the Thatcherite period onwards, in order to drive the working class back to penury so that it can speed up and intensify exploitation and avoid losing disastrously in the now savage cutthroat battle for survival which faces all the major imperialist powers and their banks and corporations as markets collapse.

Mass protest and upheaval everywhere is inevitable the ruling class knows and it is putting in place all the class divisive and rebellion smashing machinery it can muster (of which the BNP is only a part and a last-ditch one at that), to impose ever more openly its always vicious dictatorship rule, whatever the fascist stink, because it knows the “parliamentary democracy” game is up, exposed as a giant fraud and lie used simply to cover the reality that all the big decisions are taken by the ruling class behind the scenes for its ruthless exploitation purposes.

Parliament simply provides a useful front for pushing through what the big capital and capitalist state requires, and in richer countries to provide reformist sops, when they can be afforded, to head off working class anger, with the MPs well rewarded for their acquiescence, all under the pretence that this was “a majority will”.

The hapless Gordon Brown replacement for Blair, slyly and hastily slid into place without an election (because the parliamentary racket itself is now so discredited and despised across the board, that it was too risky for the ruling class to take chances (and its Tory main party alternative still unelectable anyway)) is treated with even greater ridicule and contempt.

He is no more “incompetent” than any of the rest (though just as opportunist) but trapped by the unfolding of a giant historical collapse of a class rule heading into a deadly Maelström of economic and political failure more inescapable than anything Edgar Alan Poe ever had nightmares about.

And despite billions of dollars spent manipulating the American election, tapping just about every single-issue reformist illusion created over decades of deluded “democratic way” politics, from the standard “Apple Pie” slices of soft-focus wholesome family image building (the cute little White House dog being one particularly vomit-inducing instance of completely irrelevant emotion-bending schmaltz diversion, just after the Gaza horrors) to the long developed feminist and black nationalist mobilisation of illusions that “things would be different if only women, or if black people had a chance”, the Obama presidency is now in disarray too, already sliding rapidly in popularity after just one year in power.

Real events are proving Marxist understanding that this giant presidential fraud is a straight continuation of Washington’s Bushite fascism, supporting coups in Honduras, escalating the civilian blitzing war in Afghanistan, bailing out the rich with in-your-face bonuses and greed supported by working class taxes and the imposition of massive cuts in services and jobs domestically.

Behind all that it continues to wind up everything for the next scapegoating war escalation, most probably first of all on Iran through the barbarian Zionist intrusion into the Middle East which can only be a constantly belligerent knife in the entire region for its own colonialist survival, while serving imperialism’s bullying purposes at the same time.

Obama-ism has done nothing but pander to this Nazi fascist Jewish occupation, flying out specially in the middle of his election campaign to “reassure” the Jerusalem government of his willingness to continue supporting its completely artificial existence on stolen land, and rapidly backing away from the few tepid liberal promises to “bring peace to the region” while keeping Zionism “under control” in its non-stop land seizures and extensions.

Those relentlessly continue, demonstrating that the deluded two-state solution being revived is an even deader horse to flog now than for the last three decades of opportunist compromise and class-collaborating capitulation under Arafat etc.

This time Iran is a lead candidate for scapegoat (with Sudan, Zimbabwe, Libya, Cuba, North Korea etc).

Small wonder the dogged resistance on the ground in Palestine and from Hezbollah in Lebanon, which showed the entire region that Zionism can be beaten in 2006, is getting ready again:

Hezbollah is rapidly rearming in preparation for a new conflict with Israel, fearing that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government will attack Lebanon again prior to any assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Last week, Israeli commandos seized a ship in the Mediterranean loaded with almost 400 tonnes of rockets and small arms – which Israel claimed was being sent from Iran to its Hezbollah allies. In dramatic further evidence of growing tensions, the Observer has learned that Hezbollah fighters have been busy reinforcing fixed defence positions north of the Litani river.

Having lost many of its bunkers in the south, Hezbollah is preparing a new strategy to defend villages there.

Although the organisation denied last week that the weapons were intended for its use, senior commanders have done little to disguise the scale of rearmament. “Sure, we are rearming, we have even said that we have far more rockets and missiles than we did in 2006,” said a Hezbollah commander, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel began after an ill-advised operation by to kidnap two Israeli soldiers, prompting a massive Israeli response that lasted 34 days and killed more than 1,000 people.

“We had to blow up or leave some of our bunkers and fighting positions, but we still have plenty of capabilities in the south. We expect the Israelis to come soon, if not this winter, then they will wait until spring, when the ground isn’t too soft for their tanks.”

It was expected that the ceasefire would neutralise Hezbollah military efforts along the Lebanon-Israel border, as a newly bolstered United Nations peacekeeping force and the Lebanese army took up positions. Instead, based on dozens of interviews and multiple trips into the country’s south, it is clear that Hezbollah believes it would face different challenges.

It has been forced to abandon the line of deeply entrenched static positions on the border with Israel and withdraw most of its men and weaponry to clusters of Shia villages.

“It’s clear that Hezbollah no longer controls the border, due to the presence of Unifil [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] troops,” said Andrew Exum, a military expert on Hezbollah at the Centre for New American Security. “They appear to be hardening the villages for this next round of fighting, while pushing their fixed positions north away from Unifil to protect the approaches to Beirut and the Bekaa Valley.”

Israel and the United States have long assumed that any military action against Iran’s nuclear programme would draw a muscular response from its close allies in Hezbollah. According to Israeli military and intelligence analysts, any move against Iran would require a move first against Hezbollah’s capability to disrupt life in northern Israel with its rockets.

Tel Aviv seems unlikely to commit the same mistakes it did in 2006, when the plan was for air strikes to disrupt and confuse Hezbollah’s military command, while minimising the use of ground troops. Israeli military sources have said that they are preparing for a potential new conflict.

Well they, and the Iranians, might prepare for further attack. Brown and Bush have stood together at hysterical international press conferences deliberately making the same warmongering noises about Iran as were lyingly used in the run-up to the “WMD threatening us all in 45 minutes” hysterical onslaught on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

To begin with, what is the basis for the completely arrogant demands that Iran should prove constantly in the teeth of each and every wild accusation from bullying Western “inspections” that it is not doing what it says?

Why should it be answerable to anyone let alone the hypocritical demands of Washington, which was not only the first in the world to get such weapons and has constantly built up and modernised stockpiles ever since into thousands and thousands of deadly warheads, but is also the only country to have used them in anger, and contemplated their use on numerous occasions since.

There is no more solid evidence for a “weapons programme” than there was for WMD in Iraq.

But even if Iran (quite rationally) wanted to choose such weaponry for its own defence, why should it not do so just like any other state on the face of the planet??

To “stop nuclear proliferation”? But the Zionist occupation and its over 200 warhead arsenal – which has every chance of being used “preemptively” aggressively – is not only not equally challenged, but kept secret and never even mentioned???

Why are the stooge imperialist countries like India and Pakistan left out of the constant demands for intrusive and patronising dismantling?? Why are the much greater arsenals of the West not equally to be removed??

The source of all the warmongering in the Middle East for 60 years has been the Zionist intrusion, an endless belligerent provocation that cannot stop itself, by the very logic of its thieving, land-grabbing implantation, from constantly expanding its “safety zones” ever further, smiting and blitzing country after country with wars, raids and massacres.

Most of all it has subjected the most persecuted people on the planet, the Palestinians, with endless “punishments” for the temerity of continuing to exist on the few scraps of land still temporarily left to them (under constant oppressive control, blockade and near concentration camp conditions, in Gaza especially) – which grow ever more brutal to the point of deliberate genocide violence to which Obama so readily turned a blind eye in January.

Even the lapdog tool of imperialism, the UN, which normally plays the American tune throughout the world has had to come out in disgust at the sheer depravity of the massacring invasion to accuse the Zionists of war-crimes,

(Typically, like so much Western liberalism and fake-“left” pacifism, it pretends there is some kind of balance between the benighted and deprived Palestinian masses, doggedly hanging on the edge of survival in Gaza’s crowded concrete hellhole and the Zionist state with the biggest and most sophisticated military per head of population in the entire world, heavily subsidised and armed to the teeth with the latest armoured tanks, warplanes and superfast guns etc.

Even calling the onslaught a “conflict” or a “war” is a deliberate Goebbels misnomer by the UN and the various anti-communist liberal agencies like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch etc, implying some kind of balance of demands.

Bone-burning white phosphorus, destruction of schools, hospitals and protected compounds, multi-dart anti-personnel shells etc cannot be compared for an instant with the home made rockets used in a desperate show of resistance and fightback by the militant elements in Gaza.

Is the Second World War partisan resistance of France, Norway, the Soviet Union and the Jewish Warsaw ghetto uprising – which were as indiscriminate as any – also to be treated as war crimes.?

Were the bamboo-spike booby traps etc used by the Vietcong against the industrial scale napalm bombing, B52 high-altitude high-explosive carpet bombing, helicopter gunships and so forth of the most powerful industrial power in the world to be considered “war crimes”? Or were they the only means of resistance possible by a people facing extermination?

The true terror on the planet is the hundreds of tyrannical blitzings, coups, assassinations, and wars, done directly, or by CIA inspired proxies and gangster stooges like General Pinochet in Chile or Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, or the Papa and Baby Docs in Haiti and dozens of others, constantly for the last two centuries. That was true terror as only imperialism is capable.

The Iran “nuclear” scare is giant Goebbels wind up designed to get the world ready for more and greater blitzing.

Such provocations will continue despite the ever more glaring exposure of the “freedom and democracy” lie which is used constantly as justification.

The various “explanations” for invading Iraq, Afghanistan and increasingly arrogant Pentagon “drone-hit” intervention in Pakistan, to “remove evil doers” and “give the people a chance to live in a ‘free democratic society with complete security’” are one of the major victims of the defeats bogging imperialism down.

Exposure of the corrupt Karzai election is one facet and so too the almost hidden mess left by years of torturing occupation in Iraq, after deliberate fostering of local cultural antagonisms, casual civilian blitzing and institutionalised bullying brutal thuggery (by the “our boys” military which is constantly lauded and praised in the capitalist media, with every returning coffin solemnly and sombrely filmed, ever shed tear caught in full high definition TV – unlike the plight of the tens of thousands of bereaved families slaughtered on the plains of Afghanistan or the streets of Baghdad). Only the odd capitalist press piece emerges from “left” liberals like George Monbiot or some Iraqis themselves:

...the case brought to the high court in London by Khuder al-Sweady and other Iraqis (was) seeking a public inquiry into the events of May 2004, when, they claim, they or their relatives were taken to a British army camp and tortured or killed.

The judges published their findings on Friday and ordered a proper inquiry. It is the most damning judgement on official collusion and concealment written since Labour came to power.

The claimants say that after a battle at a checkpoint in southern Iraq, some of the survivors, including farmers cowering in nearby fields, were taken by the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment to Camp Abu Naji. Witnesses say that up to 20 prisoners were jumped on while their hands were bound, hit with rocks, had their eyes gouged out and their genitals crushed and mutilated and were then hanged or shot. They claim that the corpses were then handed to their families as battlefield casualties.

The royal military police were supposed to have investigated these claims, but as a recent report on their methods by Greater Manchester police shows, they messed it up with panache, appointing unqualified detectives, losing evidence and failing to interview witnesses. The military police concluded that no one had done anything wrong, that 20 Iraqi corpses and nine live captives were brought to the camp and all were released without further injury. The Ministry of Defence has stuck to that line like a holy creed.

Reading the high court judgement, you have to pinch yourself and remember that this isn’t Kenya under Daniel arap Moi, but good old Blighty, where the police are impartial, the civil service disinterested and a minister’s word is his bond. In a civilised country, at least half a dozen senior officials would now be charged with perjury, the secretary of state for defence would be facing impeachment hearings and a number of soldiers would be on trial for torture and murder. But in the United Kingdom, where we see only what we choose, the judgement sinks without a ripple.

[...}The judges found that civil servants working for the Treasury solicitor had repeatedly lied to the court, claiming that there were no further documents to disclose that might have cast light on the case. They found that the defence secretary, Bob Ainsworth, “consistently and repeatedly failed to comply” with the obligation to disclose the documents the claimants were seeking. He also slapped a public interest immunity certificate on some of the evidence, preventing it being revealed to the court. It turns out that he signed this certificate “on a partly false basis”, seeking to suppress facts that were already in the public domain. This abuse, the judges say, has caused the PII process “potentially very serious damage”. Ainsworth’s lack of candour about the evidence meant that he had wasted “the whole of the cost of these proceedings”.

But the judges were harshest about the Royal Military Police. They found that “the RMP investigation in 2004-5 was not thorough and proficient”. It was blocked for five weeks, its procedures were risible, and none of the nine surviving captives was interviewed. Worse was the quality of the evidence presented to the court by Colonel Dudley Giles, who is the deputy head of the military police and was the secretary of state’s principal witness.

Giles, they found, “was overall a most unsatisfactory witness”. The excuse he gave for not disclosing key evidence was “wholly without foundation”; “we are all firmly of the view that he lacked the necessary objectivity, proficiency and reliability”. They suggested that if ever he was presented as a witness for similar purposes again, the court “should approach his evidence with the greatest caution.”

Most important was what the judges found in some of the documents they eventually prised from the grubby hands of the state. They were, the court found, “consistent with the contention that more than nine live detainees” had been taken to the camp. As only nine came out alive, these papers support the claimants’ contention that prisoners were killed there. No wonder the government pretended that the documents didn’t exist.

...Friday’s judgement relates to one of several cases of alleged British war crimes in Iraq. Just one – that of the hotel receptionist Baha Mousa, who was beaten to death by British soldiers – has so far resulted in a conviction. Thanks to an apparently botched investigation and an army cover-up, only one soldier has been convicted of any crime in relation to his killing, and that was merely inhumane treatment, for which he was jailed for one year.

It is tragic that Iraq hits the headlines only if there is a major explosion with hundreds killed and injured. Yesterday’s carnage in Baghdad is the second of its kind in two months, and yet another horrific reminder that the Iraqi people are still paying with their blood for the US-led invasion and occupation of their country.

Afghanistan has displaced Iraq in the news. This has given the impression that the situation in Iraq has improved markedly and that the country is making progress on all fronts. Back in June, amid much fanfare, the US forces were “withdrawn” from the Iraqi cities to various US bases around the country.

There is no doubt that the situation has improved for US forces, while British troops were airlifted from the fires of Iraq to be thrown into the flames of Afghanistan. The US plan for Iraq has so far succeeded in reducing its own casualties by pushing more of the Iraqi forces into the battle against the “insurgency” – better known in Iraq as the “honourable patriotic resistance” to distinguish it from the hated al-Qaida-style terrorists attacks.

But try to tell Iraqis who are not part of the ruling circles that their situation has improved since the occupation and they will remind you not only of the countless dead and injured but also of the million-plus orphans and widows, the 2 million who fled the country, and the 2 million internal refugees, most of whom live in dreadful squalor.

They will tell you about the sewage covering the streets of many towns and cities, the lack of clean water, fuel and electricity, and the ever deteriorating health and education services. They will tell you about the more than 50% unemployment, the kidnapping of children, the fear of women to move freely, and the rapid rise in drug abuse and prostitution. They will describe the horrific methods of torture inflicted on the tens of thousands of prisoners in Iraqi and American jails. They will remind you that if a “world-famous patriot” such as Muntadhar al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at President Bush, was tortured by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s own guards and forces, what chance ordinary citizens?

Iraqis will also instantly refer you to the corrupt rulers who came to Iraq “on the backs of US tanks”. They will tell you of the division of ministries and senior posts among the various sectarian and ethnically identified political allies of the US. Indeed, corruption has reached such levels that the minister of trade and his brothers have been accused of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars by the “Integrity Committee”, while the deputy transport minister was caught receiving $100,000 as the “first instalment” of another huge bribe.

While Iraq and its people continue to suffer, with most of the western media ignoring their plight, President Obama is still pursuing President Bush’s goal in Iraq – to have a government in Baghdad that is closely allied to the US. This is incompatible with bringing about a stable, peaceful and democratic Iraq. What US strategists have yet to learn is that the Iraqi people will not freely accept a pro-US regime in Baghdad and that the “exit strategy” will inevitably result in long-term occupation, and bring only more bloodshed and destruction.

Why are the Iraqi people expected to elect a disparate collection of corrupt and sectarian pro-US politicians? The only realistic exit strategy must start with the right of the Iraqi people to self determination, free of American intervention.

Both pieces remain wedded to the idea that this is an “abuse” of democracy, perhaps the fault of the Labourites, (implying that some other bunch of MP shysters might do differently).

But all this (and it is only the tip of the iceberg of daily oppression and depravity) is the very nature of “democracy” which is manipulated by the ruling class in a thousand ways in even the most sophisticated countries, with a Tweedledum opposition, which will never really do anything for the working class and runs capitalism, being part of the game. Monbiot’s objection amounts to no more than that it is no longer a good enough pretence.

But capitalism cannot afford the old reformist concessions. Especially in its degeneration rapidly into slump conditions it is showing ever more the real fascist dictatorial face, which is always under the surface of all capitalist rule.

Driven back by defeat, the corrupt and degeneracy is especially glaring in Iraq or Afghanistan:

A former senior United Nations diplomat in Kabul has launched a scathing attack on the UN’s handling of Afghanistan’s disputed elections, claiming that almost one in three of the votes cast for president Hamid Karzai were fraudulent.

Writing in today’s Washington Post, Peter Galbraith, the former deputy head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, singled out his former boss Kai Eide for criticism, saying that he had deliberately downplayed the level of cheating in an election where in one region “10 times as many votes were recorded as voters actually cast”.

Galbraith, who was sacked last week after his disagreements with Eide about how to deal with electoral fraud became public, said the extraordinary level of fraud in the August vote “has handed the Taliban its greatest strategic victory in eight years of fighting the United States and its Afghan partners”.

The election was a “foreseeable train wreck”, he said, with Eide – the Norwegian diplomat in charge of the UN mission – standing idle as Afghan election authorities and ministers loyal to the president avoided taking steps that could have reduced massive fraud.

The extraordinary intervention could torpedo what many diplomats in Kabul suspect is an attempt by Eide and the US to minimise further controversy over fraud allegations and move quickly to declare Karzai the re-elected president of Afghanistan.

Opposition politicians, including Abdullah Abdullah, the second-placed candidate, who wants to see a run-off vote, have seized on remarks made by Galbraith since he was sacked by Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, last Wednesday.

Yesterday Abdullah accused Eide of “giving a green card for fraud to determine the outcome of the election”.

A war of words between Galbraith and the UN – which has attempted to characterise the row as a “personality dispute” – has been gradually escalating since he was sacked last week.

In a letter to Ban, which was leaked to the New York Times, Galbraith made a number of devastating allegations against Eide, including the claim that the Norwegian diplomat ordered him not to hand over to election officials information that showed turnout had been tiny in the south, where the Taliban intimidation campaign against voters was most effective.

He also said Eide told him to stop lobbying for the elimination of “ghost polling stations” – voting centres in areas of the country that were too dangerous to actually open, but which nonetheless received ballot papers that could be filled out by corrupt officials.

Galbraith also claimed Eide prevented him from trying to stop the Independent Election Commission from abandoning its own safeguards, which would have excluded fraudulent ballots from the count.

For a couple of days last month at a cavernous warehouse in the bleak industrial zone of western Kabul, diplomats, UN officials and election monitors gathered to watch hundreds of ballot boxes being opened and turned out on to the floor.

The colleagues from Kabul’s western missions rolled their eyes at each other as they witnessed not a chaotic assortment of marked and folded voting forms tumble out, but entire blocks of ballot papers that had not even been torn off from their book stubs. Others contained surprisingly uniform numbers of ballots all signed in the same hand and with the same pen, and overwhelmingly in favour of a single candidate.

One box did not contain any ballot papers at all; just a results slip with the final vote score showing a massive win for Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president many believe was all too aware of attempts to steal the country’s second ever democratic attempt to choose a leader.

Everyone present could see a huge amount of cheating had taken place on 20 August, albeit rather ineptly. “Some of us joked with each other whether the Afghans, after all the billions that have gone in to trying to create a functioning government, also need to be taught how to rig an election properly,” said one of the officials present, deeply cynical after weeks of revelations about Afghanistan’s disastrous election.

It was a tawdry end to what had at times been an exciting, even uplifting, election campaign. In the big cities, including Afghanistan’s mountaintop capital Kabul, the western boom town of Herat and even the insurgency-wracked southern city of Kandahar, candidates’ banners had been stretched across the roads. Posters across the country showed the people their would-be presidents, many of whom hosted huge public rallies. But not all the candidates were that active. Karzai, the man who benefited most from staggering levels of fraud, only made five campaign stops, preferring instead to hold private conflabs with warlords and factional leaders.

“I’ve totally given up on this idea that Karzai is some sort of naive innocent surrounded by bad people,” says one disillusioned western diplomat. “Why was he so confident? Why didn’t he leave the palace? I think it was because people came to him and said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ve got it all under control.’”

But it would be wrong just to blame the shamelessness of Karzai’s cronies for this fiasco, a fiasco which has torpedoed western hopes of the election of a legitimate partner to help turn round a failing war. The US and its allies that so dominate Afghanistan also have much to answer for, despite the staggering amount of resources they put into the exercise: $300m just to pay for the election, plus untold millions to pay for the thousands of extra foreign soldiers drafted in to try to secure the election.

“This was all predicted and predictable,” says Ashraf Ghani, the former finance minister who polled fourth place. “The west has no excuse for not seeing what was going to happen.”

...the election fiasco had been years in the making. But at every stage when decisive intervention by Afghanistan’s international paymasters could have made a difference, the UN, the US, the UK and other major players all stood back. “Everyone was just determined to continue the fiction that this is a sovereign government,” says one western diplomat, before going on to explain how it was that the western donors paid millions to Afghan authorities who then, by one account, spent the money on creating as many as 3m fake voting cards.

...applying for multiple voter cards was easy. In deeply conservative parts of the country, where women rarely leave the house without their husband’s consent, there were apparently extraordinarily high levels of interest among women to assert their political rights. In fact, men were turning up to registration offices with long lists of women’s names, claiming they were members of their extended family who could not be expected to come in person for cultural reasons. In Kandahar province some wit registered as Britney Jamilia Spears.

The reports of massive fraud forced the IEC to acknowledge the problem and reassure people that there were enough safeguards in place to ensure the fake cards would never be used. But the problem with the IEC was that it was not independent at all, with most of the top officials appointed by Karzai.

..In the end Galbraith, the only senior international figure to stick his neck out to stop electoral fraud, was fired last month by the UN. “The UN sacked the wrong man. Eide has acted as if he were Karzai’s lawyer, “ says Rufus Philips, an independent US observer of the elections who wrote an analysis of how damaging the effect of fraudulent elections in South Vietnam were on American and local public support for the war there.

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.

The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about America’s war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House.

The ties to Mr. Karzai have created deep divisions within the Obama administration. The critics say the ties complicate America’s increasingly tense relationship with President Hamid Karzai, who has struggled to build sustained popularity among Afghans and has long been portrayed by the Taliban as an American puppet. The C.I.A.’s practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban.

More broadly, some American officials argue that the reliance on Ahmed Wali Karzai, the most powerful figure in a large area of southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, undermines the American push to develop an effective central government that can maintain law and order and eventually allow the United States to withdraw.

“If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves,” said Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the senior American military intelligence official in Afghanistan.

Ahmed Wali Karzai said in an interview that he cooperated with American civilian and military officials, but did not engage in the drug trade and did not receive payments from the C.I.A.

The relationship between Mr. Karzai and the C.I.A. is wide ranging, several American officials said. He helps the C.I.A. operate a paramilitary group, the Kandahar Strike Force, that is used for raids against suspected insurgents and terrorists. On at least one occasion, the strike force has been accused of mounting an unauthorized operation against an official of the Afghan government, the officials said.

Mr. Karzai is also paid for allowing the C.I.A. and American Special Operations troops to rent a large compound outside the city — the former home of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban’s founder. The same compound is also the base of the Kandahar Strike Force. “He’s our landlord,” a senior American official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

At the start of the Afghan war, just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, American officials paid warlords with questionable backgrounds to help topple the Taliban and maintain order with relatively few American troops committed to fight in the country. But as the Taliban has become resurgent and the war has intensified, Americans have increasingly viewed a strong and credible central government as crucial to turning back the Taliban’s advances.

Now, with more American lives on the line, the relationship with Mr. Karzai is setting off anger and frustration among American military officers and other officials in the Obama administration. They say that Mr. Karzai’s suspected role in the drug trade, as well as what they describe as the mafialike way that he lords over southern Afghanistan, makes him a malevolent force.

These military and political officials say the evidence, though largely circumstantial, suggests strongly that Mr. Karzai has enriched himself by helping the illegal trade in poppy and opium to flourish. The assessment of these military and senior officials in the Obama administration dovetails with that of senior officials in the Bush administration.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars in drug money are flowing through the southern region, and nothing happens in southern Afghanistan without the regional leadership knowing about it,” a senior American military officer in Kabul said. Like most of the officials in this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the information.

Compare this Western cover-up to its silence on such feudal throwbacks as Saudi Arabia, or gangster dictatorships like Egypt (routinely used for Western “rendition” torture flight cases including the notorious razor-blade on the testicles etc).

It would be sick enough that wave after wave of capitalism’s recruited soldiers continue to be sent in to die for this degenerate lie and illusion, if there was any substance to the “freedom and democracy” racket outside Afghanistan (which is arrogantly written off as “needing Western standards”!!)

But there never has been any reality to “democracy” anywhere under capitalism except advertising manipulation, shallow (and false) “family image building”, gerrymandered constituencies, lying “representatives”, bribery, big capitalist press bias, hype, trickery and behind the scenes string pulling, most of all in the “Mother of Parliaments” in Britain and the “great constitutional Democracy” in the US.

The soldiers, and even more the local resistance, are being slaughtered only to maintain international monopoly capitalist exploitation and rule.

Where the ruling class cannot afford to keep such trickery in place, there is always the resort to direct intervention, coups, assassinations, military overturns, as seen currently once more in the Honduras coup in Latin America, tacitly approved by Obama’s Washington, and continuously in most Third world countries.

It is endless, the latest revealed again in the resurfacing with even more details of the recent crude colonialist mercenary invasion attempt on newly oil-rich Equitorial Guinea, as lead “Dog of War” Eton-educated establishment figure Simon Mann was released on pardon last week.

It was the anti-colonialist anti-imperialist stubbornness of Zimbabwe’s Mugabe regime which trapped and exposed this “abuse” and arrested the planeload of mercenaries, an arrest for which “democracy” would supposedly be thankful, but that will not stop Harare itself being the target of endless hypocritical posturing about supposed “totalitarian oppression”.

This is the other side of the barefaced hypocritical coin of the Big Lie about bourgeois democracy.

There is a constant drumbeat of supposed outrage and “human rights principles” around utterly specious allegations of “election rigging” and “intimidation” scapegoating hysteria against a half dozen “rogue states” (or any country that dares stand up at all to the Western corporate and finance plundering that is the sole content of all the West’s “national interest”).

It is always entirely based on hearsay and drummed-up “witness” accounts dragged out of bribed, ignorant or ambitious petty bourgeois axe-grinding discontents, and never checked or verified but reported straight as “facts”, along with impressionistic breathless “secret filming” which never shows anything very much, bolstered by the unquestioned opinions of the notorious unnamed “Western diplomats” (read MI5 or CIA) that are always used as main sources for “proof”.

The “evidence” is laughable, in contrast to the tide of detail which poured out of Afghanistan or around the red-handed capture and later shaming admissions in the Equitorial Guinea coup, with such leading “democratic” figures as Margaret Thatcher’s own son Mark, caught and prosecuted in court for lending the scheme (or to properly describe it, investing) £300,000 “accidentally” as the bourgeois press managed to report his ludicrous excuse, without even cracking a smile.

But BBC World Service and Voice of America will continue to pour this stuff into Zimbabwe, or about “Syrian backed” candidates in Lebanon, or Myanmar (Burma) to try to produce an escalating atmosphere of hostility and self-righteous petty bourgeois frenzy which the intelligence agencies hope will tip over into violence and outbursts on the ground which can then be reported as “state oppression” when the authorities attempt to restore order.

Let part of the downtrodden masses win some kind of victory by using the election procedure and, against all the odds and heavily-funded Western propaganda and manipulation, actually win demonstrably fairly, such as Hugo Chávez in Venezuela or Morales in Bolivia, and at best there will be a constant stream of lies following about how it is “turning sour” etc – and constant sabotaging, ruling class strikes and violent disruption, or just complete refusal by capitalism to deal with the victors at all, as in Palestine where the resounding victory of Hamas militancy in Gaza, attested as fairly and properly won by the outside “observers”, was completely ignored while the paid stooge figure of Mahmoud Abbas, dirty with American and Zionist money and aid, was paraded as the “leader” of the Palestinians by the West, as if he was not the loser.

It was only months ago, entirely on the basis of substanceless hearsay “results” showing an entirely made-up “victory” for the opposition, that the world was being whipped into a frenzy against the Ahmadinejad presidency in Iran, with Western media attempting to instigate a “popular revolt” because the hard done by reactionary petty-bourgeoisie refused to “accept” the failure of their attempted overthrow of Iran’s anti-imperialism, and the overwhelming vote in favour of the Islamists.

It goes hand in hand with the “nuclear” demonisation for long term revenge by a humiliated Washington still smarting over the anti-“Great Satan” displacement of its chosen Shah and his (fascist) Savak secret police in 1989.

Much of the Islamism Iran may be full of reactionary backwardness but it is still obliged to maintain an anti-Western stance driven by growing and real hatred of imperialism beneath and swinging too close to revolutionary development for the West’s taste.

The now glaring falsity of the West “democracy” lie will not stop this Goebbels onslaught however.

Far from it. Washington - and trailing sidekick the UK - are caught in a desperate trap.

On the one hand the “war on terror” goes from bad to worse in an unravelling defeat that is almost paralysing. Obama sits and “dithers” as parts of the bourgeois press have been describing the presidency’s hesitations about escalating still further the troops in Afghanistan which Pentagon hawks like General McChrystal are urging.

He hesitates not out of principle but sheer collapse of confidence of the ruling class.

On the other it cannot let go and retreat for fear of further losing the capacity to dominate which is the essence of bourgeois exploitation rule of the planet, giving new impetus to the rising Third World challenge, which despite assorted religious and cultural backwardness, is increasingly testing the limits of imperialist control (triggering the neocon New American Century war blitzing re-assertion of power in the first place).

Not just Washington’s authority over the sweatshop and plantation bound billions is being tested but even its topdog dominance over major rivals in capitalism, from the great monopoly blocs of German bossed Europe and Japanese led south-east and eastern Asia, to new challengers like Brazil, restored capitalist Russia, India and even the capitalist economic development of the Chinese workers state.

Apart from China, these are more or less willing participants in suppressing the masses’ rebelliousness, sending troops to do their bit in rampaging mayhem and intimidation (along with the Solidarnosc generated reactionary backwardness now running Poland etc) because such world policing suits the plundering interests of all monopoly capitalism.

But they are simultaneously constant antagonistic competition for market position which is driving the world towards war and bitter conflict.

Always cutthroat, these monopoly rivalries have been pushed to a new level of deadly intensity and viciousness by the economic implosion of the last two years.

Despite the caution of the key rivals not to antagonise the still overwhelming power and military potential of giant US imperialism, whose warheads are aimed in all directions (along with overt political threats too as Bush made clear, to attack any power that looks as it will challenge US military supremacy), the underlying tensions are constantly bubbling to the surface.

The latest contemptuous reversal by US General Motors of last years desperate fire-sale of its European divisions, pulling out at the last minute has left the German bourgeoisie seething as its plan to manipulate the purchase with carefully placed German government subsidies – which in turn had left British imperialism sidelined and facing closures of its car plants – shows both the desperation and abrasive tone which is beginning to characterise international trade relations.

And what is good for General Motors is good for America as the triumphant US bourgeoisie argued after the Second World War. Such trade conflicts and battles for markets are the essence of international tensions which burst their bound in the First and Second World wars to see the great powers slogging it out to dominate colonies, territories and markets, and force the “necessary” destruction of “surplus” capacity onto rivals.

The latest move demonstrates just how the “quantitative easing” is not there to maintain economic conditions for ordinary people, or to salvage the world economic order as Gordon Brown’s crew posture (impossible anyway), but to wipe out the competition.

Apart from giving the fabulous greed of the bankers a class-war boost, the insane trillions spent by the Federal Reserve are intended to stabilise American industry however bankrupt, at the expense of everyone else.

Early signs of this conflict emerged at the beginning of the Iraq war when the French and Germans hesitated over backing the US neocon blitzkrieg plans, to be painted as ”cheese eating surrender monkeys”.

The same abrasive tone re-emerges in the French outburst against the British Tories because of their anti-European hesitations over the Lisbon Treaty to establish greater European bourgeois coordination, economically and politically:

Pierre Lellouche, the French Europe minister who sparked a diplomatic storm by accusing the Tories of adopting an “autistic” approach to Europe, last night attempted to mend bridges with the Conservatives.

Amid Tory fury at his “emotional outburst” in today’s Guardian, the minister said he was prepared to “live with” whatever policy Britain adopts on Europe.

Lellouche rowed back tonight from his highly charged remarks in an interview which astonished political figures on both sides of the Channel.

Hours after David Cameron outlined a new Tory approach to Europe, in which he would attempt to win the support of all 27 EU member states to repatriate social and employment laws to Britain, Lellouche accused the Tories of “castrating” Britain’s position in Europe.

William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, was accused of a “bizarre autism” in their discussions. “They have one line and they just repeat one line,” he said. “It is a very bizarre sense of autism.”

Underlying this seemingly arcane spat over European integration are the panicked fears of the European bourgeoisie of being steamrollered by American (and to some extent) Japanese competition as the Slump gathers pace, seeing the vacillations of the feeble British ruling class, unable to decide which way to tip in building alliances (or which tailcoat to ride) and equally panicked by either option, as jeopardising the build up of a sufficiently coherent bloc to take on Washington.

How this pans out remains to be seen and one question raised many times in EPSR discussions is whether the pattern of inter-imperialist conflict turning to world war follows exactly the developments into WW1 and WW2, when the imperialist powers were jostling for top dog position, or whether the monopoly process has gone so far that the very dominance of the American power stymies the war eruption, and the system degenerates in something more akin to a fraying of the edges of Roman Empire swept aside by the “barbarian” onslaught of the coming feudal system which replaced slave society.

But the trade war signals building up would suggest the war pattern is more likely.

Either way, imperialism is bent on a path of blitzkrieg and intimidation abroad and domestic repression.

Whichever the detailed direction of conflict imperialism cannot provide a stable and prosperous world (and has not interest in doing so for the great majority).

Whatever the detail only a revolutionary overturn will pull mankind out of the mess.

However “nice” Brown or Obama might be compared to the reactionary wing of the ruling class, and whatever might be believed about their well meaning intents, or how their hands are stayed by the “pressure of the Bush rejection” etc, they are tools of an imperialist system.

It would take an enormously large dose of “benefit of the doubt” anyway after a century or more of cynical manipulation and reformist misleadership trickery of the working class to believe that such sophisticated operators were at all well-meaning, or anything but completely slick opportunism.

Just the opposite. It is the job of Leninism to warn the working class constantly about the tricks and frauds of parliamentary democracy.

Only a dictatorship of the working class, firmly suppressing the minority capitalist and petty bourgeois interests in order to clear the way for the once downtrodden to build a socialist planned society for the mass of ordinary people (thereby tapping the currently wasted talent and genius of the 95% of the world left in stultifying, alienated poorly educated, exploitation drudgery), to lift culture, industry, economic development, science and technology to previously undreamt of achievement, as was hinted by 70 years of achievements of the Soviet Union and shows in glimmers in China, Cuba etc.

That means suppressing the counter-revolutionary minority which will constantly try to take any such society back to exploitation for the privileged few – exactly as the East European states and the Soviet Union did through such measures as the Stasi workers state police in East Germany or the KGB etc before insanely losing their confidence in the revolutionary path under the influence of the revisionist brain rot that gradually substituted for Leninism from the time of Stalin onwards (see EPSR issues 1190-96 e.g.).

The vacuum left was quickly filled by the endless Western subversion using all the trickery and bribery of Western “democracy” plus some, dressed up as a supposed peoples revolution - in reality the counter-revolutionary opportunism of the sourest petty bourgeois elements like on-the-make opportunist Angela Merkel, – “one of the first across the border in East Berlin” when the Berlin Wall was dismantled by the West in 1989 – and now leading one of the most reactionary capitalist forces on the planet.

The constant brainwashing horror story documentaries pour out and no more than on the weekend’s 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall – eagerly lapped up by the petty bourgeois Trotskyists who hate the hard class war realities of the workers states.

They still pour out the same poisonous slander and anti-communist lies and slanders dreamed up by capitalism, despite the contradictory nonsense it was all proved to be once capitalism was re-installed in 1989, and especially now the slump turns into economic wipeout for the hundreds of thousands of consumerism bedazzled East European petty bourgeois reactionaries who shouted so loud for supposed “freiheit” and now face bankruptcy.

Staggeringly the more poisonous of the Trot anti-communism is still lining up with the Thatchers and Reagons, reactionary historians like Timothy Garton-Ash, and celebrity boneheads like the aptly named U2 lead singer, to “celebrate” the counter-revolution in Berlin etc despite twenty years of degeneration of life Europe for the ordinary workers and exposure of the petty bourgeois dissidents like the fascist minded CIA and Vatican sponsored capitalist restorationist Lech Walesa, so fêted at the weekend striding alongside Merkel.

The Latvian and Polish Nazi-loving Waffen SS worshippers and backward primitives running half the “newly free” countries are so foul that even the Americans have had to step in and warn off the British Tories, now teamed up with them in the European parliament.

Not that Washington has any problem with this Nazi backwardness as such, just finding its throwback lumpen anti-semitism an embarrassment when it has made Zionist fascism once of the main instruments of its world bullying armoury.

That does not stop it also accelerating the deliberately fostered backward racist great nation nationalism of the BNP etc, its bizarre mystical thuggery pumped up and publicised by the Establishment pretence of “a democratic voice for all” (though never for communists).

These are desperate times and the ruling class needs every bit of intimidation and thuggery it can manage.

But it is just part of the foulness of all capitalism, which is the real problem, and the generator of all racism, repression divisiveness and confusion.

All “stop the Nazis” protests are in themselves a fraud and diversion, letting mainstream capitalism itself (and the opportunist fake-“left”s like Ken Livingstone and Peter Hain, who issue such dire warnings but themselves backed the war mongering and blitzing of Blair and Bush) off the hook.

Would the world be a sweeter and more wholesome place without the BNP?

Marginally perhaps. But there would be no difference in the blitzkrieging, scapegoating, torturing brutality of life for the entire Third World, and which soon enough the rich need to impose on even the most advanced countries, already long embarked on the cutback and slump attacks on living standards etc that will push millions here down into the mud as well.

This can only be fought and countered by a working class which takes up and embraces revolutionary science (Marxist Leninism) and leadership to end this degenerate order totally and the chaos and war it is dragging the world back into.

More needs to be said on around the BBC programme with Nick Griffin but will have to wait for the next paper.

But there has never been a better time to fight for such Marxist leadership than now when the reality of the capitalist disintegration and crisis failure has never been more glaring and imminently more deadly even than in the 1930s when slump turned unstoppably into the destruction and killing of tens of millions in the Second World War.

The imperialist order has reached the end of the line of artificially sustained “endless consumer prosperity” which has been built since the end of the Second World War on the constantly expanded credit bubble of US dollar printing, used to bribe and cajole a network of stooges to maintain Western exploitation and supremacy across the world, ripping away the resources and labour of the oppressed billions, with the lion’s share going to the top-dog USA after it had established supremacy in the Second World War.

Every inevitable lurch into depression and slump collapse which, as Marx showed first of all, is a constantly returning and ever worsening consequence of production built around the private accumulation of profit and “surplus”, has been deferred for decades with yet more dollar printing.

But it has only made the inevitable end point that much more catastrophic.

Now only the demented printing of even more trillions of super-inflationary dollars has stopped complete disintegration for the moment.

But a return is due any time to the total meltdown panic briefly glimpsed last October when major banks imploded and the entire finance system was on the edge of an abyss worse by far than the 1930s Great Depression.

Only Marxism in the EPSR has constantly and consistently warned of such catastrophic failure.

Fascist developments, Slump collapse, war blitzing and the Nazi lies of the “War on terror” are all part of the failure of monopoly capitalism.

They need a revolutionary solution not ineffectual pacifism or “stop the Nazis” campaigns.

Build Leninism

Don Hoskins

Return to top


World Revolutionary Socialist Review

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

Hypocrisy and hysteria surround Lockerbie release

A prolonged furore over the Scottish Government’s decision to release the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, terminally ill Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, has been fuelled by the British Tory press.

Now the media hysteria over Megrahi’s release to his Libyan homeland is being directed into an anti-republican campaign that aims to undermine the work of victims’ groups in Ireland which have campaigned for an independent, international truth commission which would fully investigate the war in the North - and treat all its victims equally.

The British Labour Government has clumsily exposed its standard ‘profits first’ approach to international relations through documents and statements showing trade and oil deals with Libya influenced its position. But Megrahi - sentenced in 2001 to 27 years’ jail for allegedly bombing Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on 21 December 1988, killing 270 people - has always maintained his innocence.

Serious flaws in Megrahi’s 2001 trial and first appeal have raised concerns that his prosecution and conviction were politically motivated and directed by the US and British governments, and the already weak circumstantial evidence he was convicted on has since been further discredited.

Following a three-year, £1.1 million inquiry, which resulted in a still-secret 600-page report, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) ruled on 28 June 2007 that Megrahi “may have suffered a miscarriage of justice”. The SCCRC, which made its decision based on “new evidence we have found and new evidence that was not before the trial court”, referred Megrahi’s case to Scotland’s appeal court.

The second appeal process began in May in Edinburgh. But in order to qualify for either prisoner transfer or compassionate release, Megrahi had to agree to end the appeal process, preventing the reopening of the case or the new evidence being revealed that would expose the stitch-up of Megrahi - and Libya - by the US and British governments.

It is an astounding indictment of British journalism that six years of fairly unremarkable government talks with Libyan officials, during which London changed its position on the question of the inclusion of Megrahi in a comprehensive Prisoner Transfer Agreement between the two states, are the subject of a major scandal - while glaring questions about the bombing and the conviction of Megrahi remain unprobed [except by Private Eye - -ed].

The media also largely ignored the voices of the families of the Lockerbie bombing victims, who expressed dismay that Megrahi’s appeal, which would have uncovered many unanswered questions about the bombing, has been dropped.

The most cynical moment occurred when Megrahi returned to Libya, landing in Tripoli Airport on 20 August. US and British headlines voiced outrage at the “hero’s welcome”. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said it was “deeply distressing” to see thousands of Libyans turn out to welcome a “mass murderer”; British Prime Minster Gordon Brown said the Tripoli scenes were “despicable”.

But at no point reporters or politicians make reference to the fact that Megrahi maintains his innocence - which, of course, regardless of whether this is true or not, changes the entire context of the celebrations. The people of Libya were greeting him not as the man responsible for the Lockerbie bombing but as a freed political prisoner who they believed had been framed by the US and British governments as part of a process of framing Libya as a nation for the attack.

Libya agreed to pay US$2.7bn in compensation to the families of Lockerbie victims in 2002 and formally acknowledged responsibility for the bombing in 2003 so as to have 11 years of crushing UN economic sanctions lifted. But the evidence Megrahi was convicted on in January 2001 was extremely weak, amounting to him having allegedly bought clothes of the same type as found in the suitcase containing the bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103, the allegation that he had worked for Libyan Intelligence and other circumstantial evidence.

Speaking to the BBC on 4 February 2001, Professor of Scottish Law at Edinburgh University Robert Black QC, who designed the trial format for Megrahi’s case, held in a ‘neutral’ third country (the Netherlands), said: “This was a very, very weak circumstantial case. I am absolutely astounded, astonished. I was extremely reluctant to believe that any Scottish judge would convict anyone, even a Libyan, on the basis of such evidence.”

The prosecution’s case, and the judges’ verdict, was based on two key points: that it was Megrahi who bought the clothes which were packed into the suitcase that contained the bomb, and that the suitcase began its journey in Malta rather than either Frankfurt or Heathrow airports.

But Megrahi was never positively identified as the man who purchased the clothing, there was no evidence produced to link Megrahi to the suitcase or the bomb, nor was there any evidence to prove that the suitcase began its journey in Malta, let alone that it was Megrahi who sent the case into the transport system.

He was convicted on the word of Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci, who claimed to have sold him the clothes, then gave conflicting descriptions of Megrahi in 19 different statements over several years and failed to positively identify him in the courtroom.

The judges defended their acceptance of Gauci’s ‘identification’ with this remarkable piece of imaginative reasoning: “There are situations where a careful witness who will not commit himself beyond saying that there is a close resemblance can be regarded as more reliable and convincing in his identification than a witness who maintains that his identification is 100% certain.”

The SCCRC's report contains interviews with 45 witnesses, which further discredits Gauci’s testimony. In the 2007 summary of its main findings, the SCCRC said there is no evidence that Megrahi was even in Malta at the time the clothes were purchased.

Austrian academic Professor Hans Koschler assigned by the UN as one of five observers to the 2000-2001 trial, said at the time a “spectacular miscarriage of justice” had taken place as a result of “considerable political influence on the judges and verdict... from the United States and the United Kingdom”.

For more than a year, the US and British intelligence agencies were convinced, on what they reported was “hard evidence”, that the Lockerbie bombing was carried out by the Syrian-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, in collaboration with the Iranian Government, in retaliation for the July 1988 shooting down of an Iranian passenger aircraft over the Strait of Hormuz by the US navy, which killed 290 pilgrims returning from Mecca. But in October 1990, the US began to claim it was the work of Libya - around about the same time it was building up its military presence in the Persian Gulf in preparation for its first war on Iraq, which was supported by Iran and Syria. Libya was the only Arab country to oppose the invasion and campaigned for a peaceful settlement.

In the wake of Megrahi’s rbr elease from prison, former CIA officer Robert Baer, who participated in the original investigation into the bombing, said:

“The endgame came down to damage limitation because the evidence amassed by [Megrahi’s] appeal is explosive and extremely damning to the system of justice.”

The real scandal in this case is that the 600 pages of new, suppressed evidence about the bombing will not be heard. Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the bombing, and who is a spokesperson for a significant section of victims’ families, welcomed Megrahi’s release from prison, where he said it would have been “an abominable cruelty to force this man to die”, but slammed the fact that Megrahi was forced to drop his appeal, and that the Lockerbie evidence will now remain secret.

17 Sept 2009 An Phoblacht



Return to top