Archive for the Belgium Category

French, European imperialists escalate Islamophobia [Workers World]

Posted in Afghanistan, Anti-Arab / Antisemitism, Anti-Islam hysteria, Belgium, CIA, Economic crisis & decline, Fascism, France, Genocide, Germany, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Iraq, Obama, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Spain, Syria, Torture, Turkey, U.K., Ukraine, US "War on Terror", US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, Yemen on January 26, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Fred Goldstein January 19, 2015

French, U.S. and British imperialism and their partners, each in their own way and for their own aims, are determined to escalate wars abroad and repression at home.

The French ruling class has imposed an undeclared state of siege on its own Muslim population and has used troops in North and West Africa to repress rebellions protesting the publication of Islamophobic cartoons in the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

French President Francois Hollande, of the misnamed “Socialist Party,” has declared that France is “at war,” echoing a previous statement by Prime Minister Manuel Valls. France has deployed 122,000 heavily armed troops and police throughout the country and has declared a “high alert.” Soldiers and police with heavy weapons patrol the streets, train stations and other public places. Raids have been carried out and dozens of people arrested.

In neighboring Belgium, the authorities deployed 300 troops to Antwerp and Brussels, carried out sweeps and shot two people dead in a raid in the town of Verviers. In Germany, Interior Ministry spokesperson Tobias Plate spoke of an “abstract high danger” as the authorities deployed 250 police in pre-dawn raids. The racist frenzy in France led to the stabbing death in a village outside Avignon of a Moroccan man, Mohamed El Makouli, by an Islamophobic neighbor.

Imperialists step up international aggression

The European imperialists are doubling down on their attacks abroad as well. The French government is flying Mirage jets over Iraq in a joint operation with the U.S. Instead of addressing the crushing poverty and racism suffered by the millions of French youth and workers of African or Middle Eastern ancestry, the answer of the regime is to deploy troops and step up surveillance in the oppressed communities and at airports.

Instead of pulling back from war on Muslim people in Iraq, Syria and North and West Africa, the Hollande regime is pressing ahead with the policies that led to the attacks against the unspeakable racism and chauvinism expressed by the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo.

Hollande and his fellow imperialists organized a mass march in Paris on Jan. 11 allegedly for “free speech,” which defended and celebrated the magazine that insulted the religion of nearly 2 billion oppressed people worldwide. In fact, you do not have to be religious at all to be revolted by the arrogant, insensitive depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in sexual poses and other objectionable images.

Hollande is partly motivated by the fact that his popularity in France was at a dismally low point before the crisis. And he is struggling to fend off challenges from the fascist National Front Party, led by Marine le Pen, who got a quarter of the vote in the 2014 election for the European Parliament. It is characteristic of social democrats such as Hollande that the way they fight the right is to move to the right themselves and occupy the political territory of the National Front.

President Obama and his administration have been trying to bob and weave through the crisis. The Obama administration stayed away from the Paris demonstration. Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in Paris just blocks away at a conference, stayed away from the march.

Washington is universally hated by Muslims

This is for purely imperialist purposes. Washington is the most universally hated power by Muslims — from the Middle East to Pakistan, to Afghanistan to Yemen and Somalia, and other parts of the world — for its wars of aggression, its drone strikes, its torture policies, its massacres of civilians, its prisons from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo, and more.

The recent exposure of the CIA torturers in the Senate Intelligence Committee report is filled with graphic descriptions of U.S. torture. These have been read around the world. Washington is trying to placate Muslim public opinion and has even banned references to “Islamic extremism.” In addition to the fact that the neocons and militarists in Washington despise French imperialism and do not want to increase its prestige, they certainly did not want to be identified with defense of the insult to the Prophet Muhammad at a time when they are escalating their attacks on Muslims in Iraq and Syria and at home.

Washington and the Pentagon have no intention of pulling back on their aggression. Obama held a joint press conference on Jan. 16 with his junior partner, British Prime Minister David Cameron, to announce common measures to “fight terrorism.” Cameron announced new cooperation in the war in Iraq and in Ukraine, among other gestures of imperialist subordination.

But Washington intends to keep leadership of the imperialist assault against the oppressed. While in Paris during the march, Eric Holder announced that the administration will host a summit in Washington on Feb. 18 on preventing violent extremism.

Washington recently announced a new deployment of 1,000 U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. They will be used to train carefully vetted, Pentagon-approved Syrian counterrevolutionaries in order to build up a 5,000-person force to continue the war against Syria and the Islamic State.

Washington is also behind the counterrevolutionary government of Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine, which is planning a new offensive to try to recapture the east from anti-fascist forces of resistance to a U.S.-Europe takeover.

Rise of Islamophobia

The background on the rise of Islamophobia is the growing economic crisis that is engulfing Europe. Islamophobia has become the battle cry of the ultra-right and fascist forces in Europe, just as racism, sexism and homophobia make up the battle cry of right-wing extremists and fascists in the U.S.

Fascist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic parties exist in France, Germany, Britain, Belgium, Sweden, Greece and other countries in Europe. Prior to the most recent publication of cartoons defaming the Prophet Muhammad, there were demonstrations throughout Europe demanding crackdowns on immigration and immigrants.

In recent days specific Islamophobic demonstrations have taken place in Germany and France. It is an illusion that Islamophobia can be stopped by a government ban of right-wing demonstrations.

The social soil for political reaction exists in France, for example, where the official unemployment rate is 10 percent and youth unemployment is 20 percent. At the same time, unemployment rates have reached 40 percent in the oppressed neighborhoods.

French capitalism, and European capitalism in general, has been unable to lift itself out of the global capitalist crisis which began in 2007. There has been no recovery for the European working class. Unemployment in the eurozone, as in France, is above 10 percent, and youth unemployment is double that. In some countries such as Greece and Spain unemployment is between 15 and 20 percent.

This is part of a general crisis of overproduction that has plagued the global profit system and which is intensifying every month. Right now the right wing has seized the advantage and is feeding on the discontent of the masses to garner support for divisive, racist ideology. This is aggravated by the inability of the capitalist governments to turn the economic situation around.

Persistent and growing unemployment should be a signal for a revival of the working-class movement. It is high time for the communists and progressive, anti-racist, anti-imperialist and pro-working class forces to unite to defend the Muslim population and push back the fascists.

Copyright © 2015 Workers.org

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/01/19/french-european-imperialists-escalate-islamophobia/

US torture report exposes European powers’ involvement in CIA crimes [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Albania, Austria, Belgium, CIA, Croatia, Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, George W. Bush, Germany, Greece, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Iceland, Italy, Libya, National Security Agency / NSA, NATO, NSA, Poland, Police State, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Torture, Turkey, U.K., U.K. War Crimes, Ukraine, US "War on Terror", US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on December 14, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Alex Lantier
12 December 2014

The publication of the US Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture has exposed the European powers’ complicity in ghastly crimes of US intelligence. Even though European states’ complicity in CIA torture and rendition operations has been documented for nearly a decade, no European officials have been held accountable.

In 2005, the Council of Europe tasked former Swiss prosecutor Dick Marty with preparing a report on secret CIA prisons in Europe. He released two reports, in 2006 and 2007, documenting the complicity of dozens of European states in setting up facilities for illegal CIA rendition and torture. The states involved included Britain, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Albania.

The existence of approximately 1,000 CIA flights and of secret prisons in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Bucharest (Romania), Antavilas (Lithuania), and Stare Kiejkuty (Poland) has since been confirmed.

Nonetheless, after the US Senate recognized CIA use of the grisliest forms of torture — including murder, sexual assault, sleep deprivation and forcing inmates to stand on broken limbs —officials across Europe reacted by insisting that they should enjoy immunity.

Top officials of the Polish government, which is appealing a July ruling against it over its role in CIA torture by the European Court on Human Rights, denounced the report. “Certain secrets should stay that way,” said Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak.

Polish prosecutors have been investigating the case for six years, including a two-year investigation of former Polish intelligence chief Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, without bringing any charges. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks, was waterboarded as soon as he arrived at Stare Kiejkuty. One medical officer there noted: “We are basically doing a series of near-drownings.”

Other detainees at Stare Kiejkuty, which housed Saudi, Algerian and Yemeni detainees, were subjected to mock executions with a power drill while standing hooded and naked.
Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski lamely claimed that CIA officials did not explain how they planned to use their secret prisons in Poland. “It was a question as we saw it only of creating secret sites,” he said, adding that he closed down the facility in 2003 because “the Americans’ secret activities began to worry” Polish authorities.
Lithuanian officials confirmed that the black site named “detention center Violet” by the US Senate report appears to be the Lithuanian detention center near the capital, Vilnius, identified in a 2009-2010 parliamentary investigation. Lawmaker Arvydas Anusauskas told Reuters, “The US Senate report, to me, makes a convincing case that prisoners were indeed held at the Lithuanian site.”

Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi detainee now kept at Guantanamo Bay, has stated that he was kept and tortured at the site. Washington paid the Lithuanian government $1 million to “show appreciation” for operating the prison, according to the US Senate report, though the funds were reportedly paid out through “complex mechanisms.”

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius has asked Washington to confirm whether or not the CIA tortured prisoners at its secret prisons in Lithuania.

British Prime Minister David Cameron dismissed the issue of torture and Britain’s role in rendition flights to countries including Libya, saying that it had been “dealt with from a British perspective.” He told the public to trust British intelligence to police itself, as official investigations had “produced a series of questions that the intelligence and security community will look at … I’m satisfied that our system is dealing with all of these issues.”

In fact, the CIA torture report has revealed the advanced state of collapse of democratic forms of rule not only in the United States, but also in Europe. What has emerged across Europe since the September 11 attacks is the framework of a police state far more technically powerful than even the most ruthless dictatorships of twentieth-century Europe. The methods deployed as part of the “war on terror” will also be used against opposition in the working class to unpopular policies of austerity and war.

European governments participate in the digital spying on telecommunications and Internet activities of the European population, carried out by the US National Security Agency and its local counterparts, as revealed by Edward Snowden. They also are planning joint repression of social protests, based on talks between German federal police, France’s Gendarmerie, and other security forces with the European Commission.

“During my investigation, people called me a traitor and said I was making things up,” Marty told the Tribune de Genève. “The Europeans disappointed me. Germany, the United Kingdom, and many others blocked the establishment of the truth. In fact, most European countries actively participated in a system that legitimated large-scale state crimes.”

“I think we must recall, and it is very important, that this operation, this anti-terrorist policy, was decided and carried out under the aegis of NATO,” Marty told Swiss television channel RTS.

“The United States invoked Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which says that if one member of the alliance is attacked militarily [e.g., as Washington claimed, on September 11], all NATO members are required to come to its aid,” Marty said. Once this was accepted, he added, “there were a whole series of secret accords between the United States and European powers. And all the European countries pledged to grant total immunity to CIA agents, which is manifestly illegal.”

The European powers’ participation in the CIA torture program underscores the utter hypocrisy of the humanitarian pretensions used to justify operations ranging from NATO wars in Syria and Libya to this February’s NATO-backed, fascist-led putsch in Ukraine.

The ferocious opposition of the European ruling elites to attempts to bring this criminality to light is the clearest indication that the democratic rights of the population cannot be secured by appeals to any section of the state. The defense of the population’s democratic and social rights is a question of the revolutionary mobilization of the working class in an international struggle against European capitalism.

Article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/12/12/euto-d12.html

The Iraqi resistance is justified, prosecute the criminals [Workers World]

Posted in Belgium, DU Depleted Uranium weapons, Genocide, George W. Bush, Iran, Iraq, Pentagon, Sanctions as weapon of war, Tony Blair, U.K., U.K. War Crimes, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on March 31, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By John Catalinotto on March 25, 2014

Workers World newspaper publishes below the statement of the Spanish Campaign Against the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq (CEOSI), which summarizes the damages to Iraq caused by aggressive war and occupation on the occasion of the 11th anniversary of the U.S.-British invasion on March 19, 2003, and raises demands for prosecution of the responsible war criminals and for reparations for the victims. WW notes that CEOSI is one of the organizers of the April 16-17 commission set for Brussels, Belgium, to make legal demands on the war criminals, mostly from the U.S. and Britain, whose crimes caused so much death and destruction in Iraq.

The illegal war and occupation of Iraq, launched by the international coalition led by the U.S. and Britain, have claimed the lives of nearly two million Iraqis; it has left five million refugees inside and outside Iraqi borders, made more than one million widows and five million orphans [1]. The occupying forces have often used weapons banned by International Conventions, such as depleted uranium ammunition, agent orange and white phosphorus [2]. The planners and the executors of what the international law defines as a crime against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity remain unpunished.

After the Iraqi national resistance forced the U.S. military to withdraw its troops, tens of thousands of advisors, contractors — especially North Americans — and security personnel remain in the country to protect the interests of the United States. Foreign elements have not abandoned their goal of controlling the economic resources of the country, since they face a government unable to guarantee its population’s most basic services.

In addition, various foreign and regional powers, such as the pro-Iranian forces, are fighting each other to gain influence and dominate Iraq using their militias against the Iraqi people.

The political process and the regime imposed are part of the U.S.-British occupation of Iraq. The policy of the regime led by Nuri al-Maliki is based on revenge, totalitarianism and sectarian division; it’s a regime that promotes and encourages acts of terrorism against civilians to prevent Iraq from regaining its sovereignty after decades of sanctions, war and occupation. According to the most conservative data, the death toll caused by the violence in the past year is around 8,000 [3]. To this number at least 169 executions carried out without the standard legal guarantees must be added. Iraq ranks third in the use of death penalty after China and Iran. [4]

At the beginning of 2011, the different peaceful protests that began to struggle [and] fight against the occupation — involving trade unions, students, human rights activists, etc.,— unified their efforts in what was called the February 25th Movement [5] and reached a national level.

This peaceful resistance was suppressed by the state and intentionally ignored by the mainstream media, which largely led to its disappearance. However, this long journey of struggle and growing popular discontent has been the root of the popular revolution that we are witnessing today in Iraq.

Since late 2012, these demonstrations and popular and peaceful sit-ins have resumed in some western provinces; they have been spread to the south and have reached the capital, Baghdad. [6] Despite the government nonstop attempts to put an end to the protests, they have continued till now, especially in central and west Iraqi provinces, where people have been suffering persecution and the regime’s sectarian policies. There are many reasons for the people to take [to] the streets: corruption, sectarianism, unemployment, lack of access to basic services, illegal arrests, etc., which derive from the foreign occupation and from a class rule that triggers hatred, division, power struggles and the plundering of the national resources. In 2011, the reasons for the popular revolution were crystal clear in the mottos demanding the withdrawal of the U.S. troops and the removal of the regime.

For more than two months now, the Maliki government has been waging a war against the Iraqi people in several provinces in an attempt to end the popular revolution. Although the protests have been totally peaceful, Maliki has accused the population of these (majority Sunni) areas of being part of or supporting the terrorist organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. [7] Without any hesitation, the government continues bombing the civilians, while receiving military aid from the U.S., Russia and Iran. The bombing has caused numerous deaths and new waves of refugees. [8] In response to the government attacks, the population has organized itself into military councils to protect its territory and fight for what all Iraqis — from north to south — have demanded since the beginning of the occupation: prosperity, unity and national sovereignty. [9]

In these critical times to Iraq, CEOSI would like to express its full support for the Iraqi popular revolution — armed and peaceful — and we state that the military councils have been created for self-defense due to the total absence of legal protection and contempt for the law in Iraq; a situation where sectarian and partisan militias run the country and the government, far from ensuring the safety of citizens, exercises state terrorism, so that

We demand:

1. That the aspirations of the Iraqi people’s revolution are acknowledged, as well as the Iraqi right to decide about their own destiny, without any interference after more than 25 years of wars, sanctions, and a new war and illegal occupation.

2. That the International Criminal Court fulfills its legal obligation to investigate and prosecute every single individual or group responsible for committing the war crimes, the crimes against peace and the crimes against humanity that were committed in Iraq from 2003 onwards.

The international body of justice must ensure that the top military, civil and political leaders, from all those countries that led, supported or carried out the invasion and occupation of Iraq, are accountable for their lies and for the policies that led them to commit these crimes against Iraq and its people. In this regard, the Iraq Commission in the framework of the 18th Congress of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers there will be held in Brussels on April 16 and 17. The aim of this commission is to analyze and to implement legal measures that will prevent the criminals from going unpunished.

The International Criminal Court must comply with international law, establish war compensations and require them to be paid, both to civilian victims and to the Iraqi state, whose sovereignty and independence have been abused by acts contrary to the international law currently in force.

The United Nations must take an active and supportive role to aid those national courts that can take legal procedures against those accountable for the crimes committed against a sovereign nation. At this moment, in which the Spanish government has led the way to at least a minimum application of the Law of Universal Jurisdiction, an active defense of justice is particularly important…

Excerpted; full article (w/footnotes) link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/03/25/iraqi-resistance-justified-prosecute-criminals/

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Articles copyright 1995-2014 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

“WWI Centenary marked by European political squabbling” – Warmongering nations glorifying historic mass slaughter [Xinhua]

Posted in Afghanistan, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Turkey, U.K., U.K. War Crimes on February 24, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

BEIJING, Feb. 16 (Xinhuanet) — The centenary marking of the outbreak of World War One, which claimed more than nine million lives, begins in July this year. What should be a unifying moment of remembrance for the millions who died has instead succumbed to political squabbling [sic] as the key participants in that conflict argue about how the war should be remembered. CCTV’s Jack Barton has this report from the historic battlefields of Flanders.

A First World War museum in Flanders, Belgium where more than two million soldiers and civilians were killed or wounded. It touches on key battles, but attempts to look deeper.

“We have stories here in the museum from the German side, from the British side and Australians as well as Belgians and not only soldiers, but civilians to show what war really did to people.” Peter Slosse, Ypres, Department of Tourism said. The Flemish government wants commemorations surrounding this year’s World War One centenary to include a signed agreement by all the conflict’s protagonists that war is morally wrong.

“Which of course is something that the British and the French government had great difficulty with since with troops in Mali, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan.” Pieter Lagrou, Professor of History of Brussels Free University said.

And some Germany officials believed that Britain’s intention to inject a trimphiant tone into official event could even harm the relations between the two countries.

“That is a big moment of national pride and celebration, once more Britain had been on the right side, on the winning side beating evil dictatorships in Europe and saving Europeans from themselves. In Germany for quite obvious reasons there is little reason for national celebrations[,]” Pieter Lagrou, Professor of History of Brussels Free University said.

The centenary starts on July 28.

When the official commemorations begin there will be many who come to remember the battles, but there will also be those who come to remember and honor the soldiers as well as the civilians who died in what was supposed to be the war to end all wars.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected at commemoration ceremonies from France to Gallipoli in Turkey. People like Australian John Reid whose great grandfather died trying to carry a wounded soldier to safety.

“I think it’s remembering all the people who fought here and died here and the horror of it all and the fact that people like my great grandfather’s wife Nora May could never make it out here to see the grave or lay flowers.” John Reid, Grandson of Anzac Soldier said.

Like many John hopes that by the start of the centenary the commemorations will be able to strike a unifying and respectful tone of remembrance, free of political squabbling.

(Source: CNTV.cn)
Editor: Lu Hui

Original article title: WWI Centenary marked by political squabbling

Article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/video/2014-02/16/c_133119244.htm

Leaked documents tell what NSA spy programs do [Workers World]

Posted in Anti-China propaganda exposure, Austria, Belgium, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, China-bashing, Germany, Iran, Israel, Mexico, National Security Agency / NSA, Netherlands, NSA, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on February 16, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Chris Fry on February 14, 2014

Revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency spy programs have appeared in German and Dutch magazines. The articles’ source appears to be former NSA contractor and now whistleblower Edward Snowden.

On Dec. 29, the German magazine Der Spiegel published a lengthy article titled “Documents Reveal Top NSA Hacking Unit.” The article describes a secret NSA computer hacking unit called the Office of Tailored Access Operations. A former head of TAO wrote a document urging her bosses at the NSA to “support Computer Network Attacks as an integrated part of military operations.”

To do this, she wrote, TAO needs to acquire “pervasive, persistent access on the global network.” The Der Spiegel article states that “the NSA hackers have been given a government mandate for their work.”

Some of the NSA’s TAO operations have included:

Operation WHITETAMALE — the Mexican Government Secretariat of Public Security was penetrated. Its email accounts were downloaded, and then the entire network, including employee addresses and video surveillance records.

Operation STUXNET — jointly developed by U.S. and Israeli agents, a computer “worm” was created to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program.

XKEYSCORE spying tool — a program designed to “fish” computer “crash” reports to Microsoft to gain access to those computers and intercept all of its Internet traffic.

QUANTUMTHEORY — a “toolbox” of computer “malware” programs, which are designed to not only monitor but also misdirect target computer systems. One of these programs — QUANTUMINSERT — was used, according to the article, “to attack the computers of employees at partly government-held Belgian telecommunications company Belgacom.” The same programs were used to attack the OPEC computer network in Vienna, which meant that the U.S. “gained unhindered access to valuable economic data using these tools.”

The article also describes how the NSA’s TAO has its own covert servers, known by the codename FOXACID. Targeted users are directed to fake websites on these servers, from which malware is transferred onto their computers.

SEA-ME-WE-4 — an operation designed to penetrate the largely underwater computer cable system. As the article states, with the help of a “website masquerade operation,” the agency was able to “gain access to the consortium’s management website and collected Layer 2 network information that shows the circuit mapping for significant portions of the network.”

– Sharpening the tools of oppression –

Not satisfied with installing malware to remotely monitor and attack computers and networks, the NSA actually intercepts ordered computers before they are delivered, opens them up, installs both hardware and software, closes them up and resumes delivery. They call this “interdiction.” The NSA considers this among “the most productive operations” that allow TAO to obtain access to networks “around the world.”

A Dutch magazine published an article in November exposing another NSA program used to download information from cell phones — the Apple iPhones are said to be particularly vulnerable to this. Contact lists and other private information are being fed into the NSA databases.

Clearly the NSA spy program is not simply a case of an expanding government bureaucracy. It is designed to serve the ruthless competitive goals of the largest U.S. banks and corporations. That is, of course, consistent with all the activities of the capitalist government. And it can and almost certainly is used against peoples’ movements around the world.

Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, who wrote the first stories based on materials from Snowden, pointed out in an interview with democracynow.org that while the U.S. government has attacked the Chinese government for conducting electronic spying and placing spyware hardware and software on the computers that it sells, it has not proven these charges. However, the U.S. NSA expanding spyware programs are doing this very thing on a massive scale.

Revelations of the NSA spy programs have generated public outrage. With growing resistance to the capitalist crisis both here and abroad, it is clear that the U.S. is sharpening its tools of repression. This NSA campaign of electronic warfare must be stopped now!

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/02/14/leaked-documents-tell-nsa-spy-programs/

Articles copyright 1995-2014 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

“A Terrible Normality: The Massacres and Aberrations of History” by Michael Parenti [Globalresearch.ca]

Posted in Africa, Belgium, Cambodia, Fascism, Genocide, Germany, Indonesia, Laos, Media cover-up, Nazism, Philippines, Turkey, US imperialism, USA, USSR, Vietnam, Yugoslavia - former FRY on February 3, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Through much of history the abnormal has been the norm.

This is a paradox to which we should attend. Aberrations, so plentiful as to form a terrible normality of their own, descend upon us with frightful consistency.

The number of massacres in history, for instance, are almost more than we can record. There was the New World holocaust, consisting of the extermination of indigenous Native American peoples throughout the western hemisphere, extending over four centuries or more, continuing into recent times in the Amazon region.

There were the centuries of heartless slavery in the Americas and elsewhere, followed by a full century of lynch mob rule and Jim Crow segregation in the United States, and today the numerous killings and incarcerations of Black youth by law enforcement agencies.

Let us not forget the extermination of some 200,000 Filipinos by the U.S. military at the beginning of the twentieth century, the genocidal massacre of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks in 1915, and the mass killings of African peoples by the western colonists, including the 63,000 Herero victims in German Southwest Africa in 1904, and the brutalization and enslavement of millions in the Belgian Congo from the late 1880s until emancipation in 1960—followed by years of neocolonial free-market exploitation and repression in what was Mobutu’s Zaire.

French colonizers killed some 150,000 Algerians. Later on, several million souls perished in Angola and Mozambique along with an estimated five million in the merciless region now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The twentieth century gave us—among other horrors—more than sixteen million lost and twenty million wounded or mutilated in World War I, followed by the estimated 62 million to 78 million killed in World War II, including some 24 million Soviet military personnel and civilians, 5.8 million European Jews, and taken together: several million Serbs, Poles, Roma, homosexuals, and a score of other nationalities.

In the decades after World War II, many, if not most, massacres and wars have been openly or covertly sponsored by the U.S. national security state. This includes the two million or so left dead or missing in Vietnam, along with 250,000 Cambodians, 100,000 Laotians, and 58,000 Americans.

Today in much of Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East there are “smaller” wars, replete with atrocities of all sorts. Central America, Colombia, Rwanda and other places too numerous to list, suffered the massacres and death-squad exterminations of hundreds of thousands, a constancy of violent horrors. In Mexico a “war on drugs” has taken 70,000 lives with 8,000 missing.

There was the slaughter of more than half a million socialistic or democratic nationalist Indonesians by the U.S.-supported Indonesian military in 1965, eventually followed by the extermination of 100,000 East Timorese by that same U.S.-backed military.

Consider the 78-days of NATO’s aerial destruction of Yugoslavia complete with depleted uranium, and the bombings and invasion of Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Western Pakistan, Afghanistan, and now the devastating war of attrition brokered against Syria. And as I write (early 2013), the U.S.-sponsored sanctions against Iran are seeding severe hardship for the civilian population of that country.

All the above amounts to a very incomplete listing of the world’s violent and ugly injustice. A comprehensive inventory would fill volumes. How do we record the countless other life-searing abuses: the many millions who survive wars and massacres but remain forever broken in body and spirit, left to a lifetime of suffering and pitiless privation, refugees without sufficient food or medical supplies or water and sanitation services in countries like Syria, Haiti, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Mali.

Think of the millions of women and children around the world and across the centuries who have been trafficked in unspeakable ways, and the millions upon millions trapped in exploitative toil, be they slaves, indentured servants, or underpaid laborers. The number of impoverished is now growing at a faster rate than the world’s population. Add to that, the countless acts of repression, incarceration, torture, and other criminal abuses that beat upon the human spirit throughout the world day by day.

Let us not overlook the ubiquitous corporate corruption and massive financial swindles, the plundering of natural resources and industrial poisoning of whole regions, the forceful dislocation of entire populations, the continuing catastrophes of Chernobyl and Fukushima and other impending disasters awaiting numerous aging nuclear reactors.

The world’s dreadful aberrations are so commonplace and unrelenting that they lose their edge and we become inured to the horror of it all. “Who today remembers the Armenians?” Hitler is quoted as having said while plotting his “final solution” for the Jews. Who today remembers the Iraqis and the death and destruction done to them on a grand scale by the U.S. invasion of their lands? William Blum reminds us that more than half the Iraq population is either dead, wounded, traumatized, imprisoned, displaced, or exiled, while their environment is saturated with depleted uranium (from U.S. weaponry) inflicting horrific birth defects.

What is to be made of all this? First, we must not ascribe these aberrations to happenstance, innocent confusion, and unintended consequences. Nor should we believe the usual rationales about spreading democracy, fighting terrorism, providing humanitarian rescue, protecting U.S. national interests and other such rallying cries promulgated by ruling elites and their mouthpieces.

The repetitious patterns of atrocity and violence are so persistent as to invite the suspicion that they usually serve real interests; they are structural not incidental. All this destruction and slaughter has greatly profited those plutocrats who pursue economic expansion, resource acquisition, territorial dominion, and financial accumulation.

Ruling interests are well served by their superiority in firepower and striking force. Violence is what we are talking about here, not just the wild and wanton type but the persistent and well-organized kind. As a political resource, violence is the instrument of ultimate authority. Violence allows for the conquest of entire lands and the riches they contain, while keeping displaced laborers and other slaves in harness.

The plutocratic rulers find it necessary to misuse or exterminate restive multitudes, to let them starve while the fruits of their land and the sweat of their labor enrich privileged coteries.

Thus we had a profit-driven imperial rule that helped precipitate the great famine in northern China, 1876-1879, resulting in the death of some thirteen million. At about that same time the Madras famine in India took the lives of as many as twelve million while the colonial forces grew ever richer. And thirty years earlier, the great potato famine in Ireland led to about one million deaths, with another desperate million emigrating from their homeland. Nothing accidental about this: while the Irish starved, their English landlords exported shiploads of Irish grain and livestock to England and elsewhere at considerable profit to themselves.

These occurrences must be seen as something more than just historic abnormalities floating aimlessly in time and space, driven only by overweening impulse or happenstance. It is not enough to condemn monstrous events and bad times, we also must try to understand them. They must be contextualized in the larger framework of historical social relations.

The dominant socio-economic system today is free-market capitalism (in all its variations). Along with its unrelenting imperial terrorism, free-market capitalism provides “normal abnormalities” from within its own dynamic, creating scarcity and maldistributed excess, filled with duplication, waste, overproduction, frightening environmental destruction, and varieties of financial crises, bringing swollen rewards to a select few and continual hardship to multitudes.

Economic crises are not exceptional; they are the standing operational mode of the capitalist system. Once again, the irrational is the norm. Consider U.S. free-market history: after the American Revolution, there were the debtor rebellions of the late 1780s, the panic of 1792, the recession of 1809 (lasting several years), the panics of 1819 and 1837, and recessions and crashes through much of the rest of that century. The serious recession of 1893 continued for more than a decade.

After the industrial underemployment of 1900 to 1915 came the agrarian depression of the 1920s—hidden behind what became known to us as “the Jazz Age,” followed by a horrendous crash and the Great Depression of 1929-1942. All through the twentieth century we had wars, recessions, inflation, labor struggles, high unemployment—hardly a year that would be considered “normal” in any pleasant sense. An extended normal period would itself have been an abnormality. The free market is by design inherently unstable in every aspect other than wealth accumulation for the select few.

What we are witnessing is not an irrational output from a basically rational society but the converse: the “rational” (to be expected) output of a fundamentally irrational system. Does this mean these horrors are inescapable? No, they are not made of supernatural forces. They are produced by plutocratic greed and deception.

So, if the aberrant is the norm and the horrific is chronic, then we in our fightback should give less attention to the idiosyncratic and more to the systemic. Wars, massacres and recessions help to increase capital concentration, monopolize markets and natural resources, and destroy labor organizations and popular transformative resistance.

The brutish vagaries of plutocracy are not the product of particular personalities but of systemic interests. President George W. Bush was ridiculed for misusing words, but his empire-building and stripping of government services and regulations revealed a keen devotion to ruling-class interests. Likewise, President Barack Obama is not spineless. He is hypocritical but not confused. He is (by his own description) an erstwhile “liberal Republican,” or as I would put it, a faithful servant of corporate America.

Our various leaders are well informed, not deluded. They come from different regions and different families, and have different personalities, yet they pursue pretty much the same policies on behalf of the same plutocracy.

So it is not enough to denounce atrocities and wars, we also must understand who propagates them and who benefits. We have to ask why violence and deception are constant ingredients.

Unintended consequences and other oddities do arise in worldly affairs but we also must take account of interest-driven rational intentions. More often than not, the aberrations—be they wars, market crashes, famines, individual assassinations or mass killings—take shape because those at the top are pursuing gainful expropriation. Many may suffer and perish but somebody somewhere is benefiting boundlessly.

Knowing your enemies and what they are capable of doing is the first step toward effective opposition. The world becomes less of a horrific puzzlement. We can only resist these global (and local) perpetrators when we see who they are and what they are doing to us and our sacred environment.

Democratic victories, however small and partial they be, must be embraced. But the people must not be satisfied with tinseled favors offered by smooth leaders. We need to strive in every way possible for the revolutionary unraveling, a revolution of organized consciousness striking at the empire’s heart with the full force of democracy, the kind of irresistible upsurge that seems to come from nowhere while carrying everything before it.

Article link: http://www.globalresearch.ca/a-terrible-normality-the-massacres-and-aberrations-of-history/5320619

“Cracks in the capitalist system” – Interview with Luxembourg Communist Party leader [Granma International]

Posted in Belgium, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, France, Russia, USSR on April 22, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Havana. March 22, 2012

Sergio Alejandro Gómez

NOT even where the capitalist system has achieved its highest levels of development has injustice been eliminated, according to the president of the Communist Party of Luxembourg (KPL), Ali Ruckert, in a conversation with Granma.

The tiny country of 500,000 people, which has one of the largest Gross Domestic Products per capita in the world, has not escaped the effects of Europe’s economic and social crisis.

“Poverty is increasing, the government is cutting social programs and raising taxes, affecting the purchasing power of the workers,” said Ruckert.

“Currently, we have more than 20,000 people out of work, 6% of the working age population. But these figures hide the thousands of Luxembourg’s citizens who are working in neighboring countries. With the unions, we have estimated that the real figure is close to 10%.

“Additionally there is consistent pressure on wages and for the lengthening of the work day. Luxembourg has the highest level of productivity in the European Union, but the greatest portion of this income leaves the country. For every euro invested, the capitalists take another as profit.

“Another problem which has been aggravated by the crisis is that the government is allocating the state budget in favor of business owners and to the detriment of social well-being. Subsidies to students, for example, have been drastically reduced.”

This is the situation confronting the party led by Ruckert since 2000, an organization founded in 1921, inspired by the 1917 Russian Revolution, now with a history of more than 90 years.

“Since the crisis began, the party has maintained a dialogue with the workers. One of our principal tasks is disseminating information about the government’s actions and offering an alternative.

“The Social Democratic unions are looking for solutions within the system, but we think that the current crisis can only be overcome if we think beyond capitalism. This is what our discussions with workers address.”

The Communist leader is clear about the short term strategy: attack the system given the measures it is taking against workers and begin to mobilize these forces in opposition to the cuts.

“The members of our party who belong to Social Democratic unions have as their mission getting workers onto the streets to protest the government’s strategy, since at the beginning these organization fully supported the government’s policies.”

This is no easy task, he said, since his is a small party with limited influence. Although over the past few years, this tendency has begun to change. In the 2011 municipal elections, the KPL, for the first time in 20 years, won representation on city councils in Esch-sur-Alzette and Differdange, two of the country’s principal cities.

Ruckert is conscious of his party’s responsibility in this new historic juncture, saying, “Often it is right wing and extreme right-wing forces which benefit from capitalist crises and not the left.

“In Luxembourg, the number of people looking for radical solutions has grown, while at the same time, in neighboring countries like Belgium and France, the right wing has gained strength.

“Moreover, history shows that when the system can’t find a solution to a crisis, it opts for war. This is the greatest danger we face at this time and the challenge we are confronting.

Article link: http://www.granma.cu/ingles/international-i/22mar-Cracks%20in.html