Archive for the Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia Category

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

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Chinese FM slams Philippine president’s comments on territorial disputes [Xinhua]

Posted in Anti-China propaganda exposure, China, Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia, Germany, Nazism, New York Times lie, South China Sea, World War II on February 8, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

BEIJING, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) — The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday slammed Philippine President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III over his remarks comparing the Philippines’ status in territorial disputes in the South China Sea to Czechoslovakia before World War II.

“Such a comparison is ridiculously inconceivable and unreasonable. The Chinese side is shocked and dissatisfied,” said ministry spokesman Hong Lei at a regular press briefing.

China always steadily maintains international justice and has made huge sacrifices and indelible historical contributions for the victory of the world’s anti-Fascist war, he added.

According to reports, Aquino, in an interview with the New York Times, compared the Philippines to former Czechoslovakia and urged for more global support.

“The disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea were caused by the Philippines’ illegal occupation of some islands belonging to China’s Nansha Islands. The facts are clear,” Hong said.

He noted that the two countries also have disputes over ocean demarcation, and that China always firmly opposes the Philippines’ illegal occupation of its islands.

The spokesman reiterated the firm resolution of the Chinese government in safeguarding its territorial sovereignty and ocean rights and interests, and called on relevant countries to solve the disputes through direct negotiation and consultation.

“We hope the Philippine side will correct its mistakes and work with us to jointly maintain the peace and stability of the region,” Hong said.

Article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-02/07/c_133098153.htm

***

Also see “Philippine President Aquino compares China to Nazi Germany” [World Socialist Website] – https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/02/06/phil-f06.html

Braying for war against Syria [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Afghanistan, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Corporate Media Critique, Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia, Economic crisis & decline, Fascism, Iran, Iraq, Media smear campaign, Nazism, Obama, Psychological warfare, Russia, Syria on May 2, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

30 April 2013

In preparation for a US war against Syria, Washington’s political establishment and the corporate media are steadily escalating a campaign of lies and propaganda about the alleged use of chemical weapons.

The propaganda about Syrian chemical warfare is completely unsubstantiated and based on assertions that have about as much credibility as the propaganda used by the Nazi regime in Germany to portray its invasions of Poland and Czechoslovakia as acts of self-defense and humanitarianism.

Typical is an editorial in the Financial Times, the voice of the City of London’s financial oligarchy. After first acknowledging that “there is no firm proof” that any chemical weapons have been employed by Syrian government forces, the editorial goes on to affirm that “if, as close observers of the Syrian conflict believe, the claims are true, then only concerted action now can hope to prevent atrocities in the future such as that of Halabja, where in 1988 the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq gassed to death 5,000 of its rebellious Kurdish citizens.”

The conclusion is preposterous. Having admitted there is no proof that the Syrian military used even the small amount of Sarin gas that the Obama administration mentioned in a highly conditional claim last week, the newspaper asserts that “only concerted action”, i.e., direct military intervention, can forestall genocidal atrocities.

Who are these “close observers”? The editorial doesn’t say, but one can be certain they consist of the collection of oil interests, Syrian exile politicians and Western militarists that are demanding armed intervention on whatever pretext and as soon as possible. These elements and the pack of liars in the US and British media who echo them will say anything to further a stampede to war.

“Close observers” with any knowledge of the situation in Syria and a shred of honesty will acknowledge that the allegations that the Syrian regime used small amounts of sarin gas to kill a few dozen people on the outskirts of Aleppo—where a number of the victims were Syrian army soldiers—make no sense whatsoever.

As experts on chemical warfare have pointed out, the only purpose of using such weapons is to inflict mass casualties. Given threats by the Obama administration and other Western powers to intervene in the event of a chemical attack, it would be both pointless and contrary to the Syrian regime’s interests to employ such arms in the way that is being alleged.

On the other hand, the collection of Islamists and Al Qaeda-linked militants who are functioning as the West’s proxy army in the war for regime-change have every interest in conducting such an attack and then blaming it on Damascus in order to provoke Western intervention. In point of fact, the so-called rebels have bragged about having obtained chemical weapons capabilities and being prepared to use them. Last December, they posted a video on YouTube showing their chemical stockpiles and the testing of poison gas on rabbits.

Underlying the attempt to fashion a pretext for intervention out of lies about chemical weapons is the frustration in Washington, London and other Western capitals over the failure of the so-called rebels to make any strategic advance in their sectarian-based civil war to bring down the Assad regime. In recent weeks, Syrian government forces have inflicted a series of reverses on the opposition forces.

Together with the drive for direct Western intervention has come an escalation of terrorist attacks, the hallmark of the Al Qaeda-connected elements that form the core of the US-backed “rebels.” A car bomb was detonated in Damascus Monday in an attempt to kill Syria’s prime minister, Wael al-Halqi. While he emerged unhurt, the blast claimed the lives of a number of Syrian civilians, adding to the hundreds already killed in such attacks.

The New York Times on Saturday carried a front-page article finally acknowledging the ugly truth that it and the rest of the corporate media have attempted to hide in their coverage of Syria’s civil war. “Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of,” the newspaper reported. The article depicted the Al Nusra front, which is formally aligned with Al Qaeda, as exercising dominance and setting up Islamic courts in areas that have been seized from the government.

Even more ominously, it was reported Monday that anti-regime elements fired two surface-to-air missiles at a Russian passenger jet carrying 200 people, mostly tourists, from Egypt to Moscow.

The reversals for the so-called rebels are no doubt bound up with the revulsion for these elements felt by large sections of the Syrian population, which has been dragged against its will into a sectarian civil war. Many who oppose the Assad regime are even more hostile to elements like Al Nusra and the prospect of a Western military intervention in their country.

The cynicism of US politicians backing such an intervention is obscene. Out of one side of their mouths they demand that Washington arm the “rebels,” i.e., a force dominated by Islamist militias, and call for military retaliation against the Assad regime for the nonexistent use of chemical weapons against them. Out of the other, they warn that Syria could, without an American invasion, become a “failed state” and leave Al Qaeda—the very force they want to arm—in control, with access to these same chemical weapons.

The incoherence of these mutually contradictory pretexts underscores the contempt of the ruling establishment for the American people and the fact that the drive to war against Syria has nothing to do with any of the professed concerns about the well-being of the Syrian people or the threat of terrorism.

One of the most vocal proponents of US intervention, Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, nearly gave the game away in a Sunday television interview when he declared that if the US did not intervene militarily in Syria, “we’re going to start a war with Iran because Iran’s going to take our inaction in Syria as meaning we’re not serious about their nuclear weapons program.”

The reality is that the intervention in Syria is part of the preparation of a far more dangerous war against Iran. Underlying this war drive is the attempt by American capitalism to offset its deepening economic decline by using its residual military power to gain control of the vast energy resources of the Middle East and Central Asia.

The cutthroats braying for war against Syria out of supposed concern over the use of chemical weapons have already killed a million Iraqis and hundreds of thousands of Afghans to this end, and they are prepared to slaughter millions more people.

Bill Van Auken

Article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/04/30/pers-a30.html

Also see: “Washington fabricates chemical weapons pretext for war against Syria” By Bill Van Auken, 27 April 2013: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/04/27/syri-a27.html

and

“US pledges to arm Syrian opposition as new terror bombing hits Damascus” By Alex Lantier, 1 May 2013: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/05/01/syri-m01.html

Anti-communist propaganda crushed — Review of Anne Applebaum’s “Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956” [Ericwalberg.com / Globalresearch.ca]

Posted in Anti-communism, CIA, Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia, GDR / East Germany, Hungary, Nazism, Poland, Stalin, US imperialism, USA, USSR on February 18, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Eric Walberg

Feb. 17, 2013

[Excerpted]

The period following WWII in eastern Europe is considered to be a black one, best forgotten. All the pre-war governments had been quasi-fascist dictatorships which either succumbed to the Nazi onslaught (Poland) or actively cooperated with the Germans (Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria). The Soviet liberation was greeted with trepidation by many – with good reason for the many collaborators. Within a few years of liberation, eastern Europe was ruled by austere regimes headed by little Stalins.

As in France and Italy, women who consorted with the Germans were treated with contempt. There was a rash of rape as millions of Soviet soldiers filled the vacuum left before the post-war occupation structures were established. The Soviet soldiers had been motivated by an intense hatred of the Nazis, and their revenge was worse than that of the American, British etc soldiers, none of whom at lost their loved ones and homes or had faced invasion of their homelands. The chaos did considerable damage to post-war relations and soured the prospect of building socialism to many who otherwise would have given the new order that was imposed on them a chance. ‘Imposed’ is certainly the operational word, as the Soviets gave security and policing to their local communist allies.

As in all wars, there were no winners (except those lucky soldiers who emerged unscathed with lots of booty). The east European communists had been decimated by Stalin’s pre-war purges. The liberal and rightwing forces were persecuted. War does not discriminate between good and bad property. As in all upheavals, farsighted bad guys step forward, play along on the winning side, and reap their rewards.

Given this deadly scenario and the subsequent Cold War, it is surprising just how much positive resulted from the Soviet occupation of eastern Europe, and despite author Anne Applebaum’s unremitting anti-communism (her “Gulag” won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003), it keeps peaking through her Iron Curtain.

Applebaum focuses on Poland, Hungary and East Germany, clearly because they experienced uprisings following Stalin’s death in 1953 (sparked by liberal reforms that spun out of control instigated by – of all people – NKVD chief Lavrenti Beria). They are very different cultures and their post-war experiences are very different, despite following a scenario written in Moscow, including both the good (social welfare and anti-capitalism) and the bad (‘red terror’ and dogmatic imitation of Stalinism).

She drew on dozens of personal interviews of east Europeans who were either key figures in the period of ‘high Stalinism’ as she calls it or simply people who lived their lives, worked and supported (or didn’t) the regime they lived under, and now in their waning years, were glad to reflect on what happened, how they functioned. Appelbaum’s husband is Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, and her treatment of Poland is particularly detailed.

Yes, people were persecuted unjustly, though it was mostly leading political figures who suffered, or people who refused to read the writing on the wall and spoke out (heroically or foolishly, a judgment call) during the wave of purges which began in the late 1940s…

…What comes through in the interviews is just how positive the whole post-war period was for the majority of the people, how the communist program gave great opportunities to the vast majority in education, work and health care. How despite the ‘high Stalin’ show trials and inanities of the period, such as the slavish naming of a new socialist town Sztalinvaros in Hungary, a then-young worker on a woman’s brigade now remembers trudging through the mud and living in damp barracks “with immense nostalgia”, though she later became somewhat disillusioned as an activist. (She protested – and was chastised for it – against the campaign to convince workers to go into debt to buy ‘Peace Bonds’ which she saw as just a hidden tax.)

Just as the communists created myths and enshrined them in their history books at the time, the victors in the Cold War are now writing their own version of history. Yes, Warsaw’s wedding cake Palace of Culture, a ‘gift’ from Stalin, and nearby dreary apartment blocks, spoiled the skyline. But the communists also had the old city in Warsaw meticulously reconstructed.

And how to explain Alexander Dymschitz, head of the cultural division of the Soviet Military Administration in post-war Berlin, who insisted that artists get the coveted “first” ration card, a larger piece of bread and more meat and vegetables? Asked why, Dymschitsz declared, “It is possible that there is a Gorki among you. Should his immortal books remain unwritten, only because he goes hungry?”

The whole socialist ‘experiment’ in eastern Europe lasted only four short decades, and considering the animosity of the West (and many locals), was a remarkable success in raising economic and cultural standards. Applebaum sneers at the trials of “wreckers” and saboteurs, but from day one, the US and its by-then subservient client states in western Europe repressed their own communists, and the CIA waged an undeclared war on the socialist bloc, parachuting in émigrés to blow up bridges, wreck equipment and even spread crop diseases.

Applebaum’s meticulous research stopped when it comes to any of this, though there is lots of documentation. For example, the CIA funded Ukrainian fascist leader Mykola Lebed (a Nazi collaborator and murderer of Jews and Poles) from 1949–91 to carry out black ops against the Soviet Union from his front organization Prolog in New York. According to CIA director Allen Dulles, he was “of inestimable value to this Agency and its operations”.

The most spectacular instance of US subversion in the Cold War was the 1980s CIA plan to sabotage the economy of the Soviet Union. A KGB turncoat gained access to Russian purchase orders and the CIA slipped in the flawed software, which triggered “the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space”. The KGB never practised this kind of black ops, despite hysterical propaganda to the contrary.

Neither does Applebaum admit the real state of opinion in eastern Europe about this whole period. An October 2010 poll in Berlin among former East Germans revealed that 57% defend the overall record of the former East Germany and 49% agreed that “the GDR had more good sides than bad sides. There were some problems, but life was good there.” Only 30% of Ukrainians approve of the change to democracy (vs 72% in 1991), 60% of Bulgarians believe the old system was better. The disastrous effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union on life expectancy, especially of men, which fell from 64 to 58, is well known.

Compare this with the 60% of Americans in 2010 who said they feel the country is on the wrong track (albeit down from 89% in 2008 during the closing days of Bush II rule).

Iron Curtain also ignores the devastating effect of the collapse of the socialist bloc had on the world at large. By unleashing the free market from the 1980s on, inequality between the richest and poorest nations increased from 88:1 (1970) to 267:1 (2000). The US was henceforth able to invade countries everywhere at will, as indeed it has done, killing millions of innocent people and patriots now dismissed as the ‘enemy’. But this is of no concern to Applebaum from her comfortable perch in Thatcherite London at the Legatum Institute, nor of her staunchly anti-communist hubbie in Warsaw. Nor of other rewriters, financed by the likes of Soros’s Open Institutes.

What is most irritating in Iron Curtain, apart from its cliched Churchillian title, is its assumption that all readers will accept that the term ‘totalitarian’ applies – uniquely – to the socialist bloc, that “totalitarian education would eliminate dissent; that civic institutions, once destroyed, could not be rebuilt; that history, once rewritten, would be forgotten.” A 1956 US National Intelligence Estimate made just months before the collapse of the Hungarian communist order, predicted gloomily (and a tad enviously) that over time dissidence in eastern Europe would be worn down “by the gradual increase in the number of Communist-indoctrinated youth”.

The alert reader, unburdened by “Intelligence”, will find many such glaring hints that ‘totalitarian’ really has much more to do with the West, with its seductive materialist ‘me’ culture, fashioning people oblivious to the welfare of their society. Post-WWII western Europe was promised apple pie in the sky, and got it thanks to the Marshall Plan aimed at winning the new Cold War. Once the socialist bloc was no longer, the apple pie disappeared, as we see in the collapse of living standards across Europe (the US as well), there being no competition anymore to the real totalitarian system, where protests are easily absorbed.

Not so the dictatorships of eastern Europe, which were brittle, far from totalitarian. The spontaneous re-emergence of unsanctioned institutions in Hungary after the death of Stalin is particularly impressive. The “totalitarian personalities” that Applebaum conceives of are rather found every day in Walmart queues or on 4th of July celebrations.

While young Poles, Germans and Hungarians were at the forefront of their new socialist orders, they were also – just as in the West – at the forefront of rebellion against what many saw as the stifling status quo. For the most part, Polish bikiniarze or Hungarian jampecek, the counterparts of American rockers and British teddy boys, hadn’t experienced the horrors of the war, had little sense of the 1930s as a period of communist ferment, and found western mass consumer culture much more appealing than the modest socialist one stressing personal responsibility and solidarity with the victims of imperialism around the world…

…When the baby boom hit especially Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, it resulted in an explosion of creative energy, and a delayed unraveling of the by-then tattered ‘high Stalinism’ there, but once again context intervened. In retrospect, if the Prague Spring had been allowed to blossom, Czechoslovakia would have been quickly absorbed by the West, and the Cold War eastern dominoes would have fallen much sooner.

But 1968 was the high point of European social democracy, and who knows what might have resulted from a melding of the two systems at that time? That the fall came in 1990 at the height of neoliberalism meant that capitalism at its totalitarian worst called all the shots, and there is little to crow about by the 99% of us – East or West. Alas, this is far from the minds of the neoliberal victors as they churn out their history books.

Full article link: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-iron-curtain-the-crushing-of-eastern-europe-1944-1956/5318851

The Western Welfare State: Its Rise and Demise and the Soviet Bloc [The James Petras Website]

Posted in Anti-communism, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Italy, NATO, Stalin, Trade unions, USSR, Vietnam on July 13, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

07.04.2012 :: Analysis

Introduction: One of the most striking socio-economic features of the past two decades is the reversal of the previous half-century of welfare legislation in Europe and North America. Unprecedented cuts in social services, severance pay, public employment, pensions, health programs, educational stipends, vacation time, and job security are matched by increases in tuition, regressive taxation, and the age of retirement as well as increased inequalities, job insecurity and workplace speed-up.

The demise of the ‘welfare state’ demolishes the idea put forth by orthodox economists, who argued that the ‘maturation’ of capitalism, its ‘advanced state’, high technology and sophisticated services, would be accompanied by greater welfare and higher income/standard of living. While it is true that ‘services and technology’ have multiplied, the economic sector has become even more polarized, between low paid retail clerks and super rich stock brokers and financiers. The computerization of the economy has led to electronic bookkeeping, cost controls and the rapid movements of speculative funds in search of maximum profit while at the same time ushering in brutal budgetary reductions for social programs.

The ‘Great Reversal’ appears to be a long-term, large-scale process centered in the dominant capitalist countries of Western Europe and North America and in the former Communist states of Eastern Europe. It behooves us to examine the systemic causes that transcend the particular idiosyncrasies of each nation.

The Origins of the Great Reversal

There are two lines of inquiry which need to be elucidated in order to come to terms with the demise of the welfare state and the massive decline of living standards. One line of analysis examines the profound change in the international environment: We have moved from a competitive bi-polar system, based on a rivalry between the collectivist – welfare states of the Eastern bloc and the capitalist states of Europe and North America to an international system monopolized by competing capitalist states.

A second line of inquiry directs us to examine the changes in the internal social relations of the capitalist states: namely the shift from intense class struggles to long-term class collaboration, as the organizing principle in the relation between labor and capital.

The main proposition informing this essay is that the emergence of the welfare state was a historical outcome of a period when there were high levels of competition between collectivist welfarism and capitalism and when class-struggle oriented trade unions and social movements had ascendancy over class-collaborationist organizations.

Clearly the two processes are inter-related: As the collectivist states implemented greater welfare provisions for their citizens, trade unions and social movements in the West had social incentives and positive examples to motivate their members and challenge capitalists to match the welfare legislation in the collectivist bloc.

The Origins and Development of the Western Welfare State

Immediately following the defeat of fascist-capitalist regimes with the defeat of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and its political allies in Eastern Europe embarked on a massive program of reconstruction, recovery, economic growth and the consolidation of power, based on far-reaching socio-economic welfare reforms. The great fear among Western capitalist regimes was that the working class in the West would “follow” the Soviet example or, at a minimum, support parties and actions which would undermine capitalist recovery. Given the political discredit of many Western capitalists because of their collaboration with the Nazis or their belated, weak opposition to the fascist version of capitalism, they could not resort to the highly repressive methods of the past. Instead, the Western capitalist classes applied a two-fold strategy to counter the Soviet collectivist-welfare reforms: Selective repression of the domestic Communist and radical Left and welfare concessions to secure the loyalty of the Social and Christian Democratic trade unions and parties.

With economic recovery and post-war growth, the political, ideological and economic competition intensified: The Soviet bloc introduced wide-ranging reforms, including full employment, guaranteed job security, universal health care, free higher education, one month paid vacation leave, full pay pensions, free summer camps and vacation resorts for worker families and prolonged paid maternity leave. They emphasized the importance of social welfare over individual consumption. The capitalist West was under pressure to approximate the welfare offerings from the East, while expanding individual consumption based on cheap credit and installment payments made possible by their more advanced economies. From the mid 1940’s to the mid 1970’s the West competed with the Soviet bloc with two goals in mind: To retain workers loyalties in the West while isolating the militant sectors of the trade unions and to entice the workers of the East with promises of comparable welfare programs and greater individual consumption.

Despite the advances in social welfare programs, East and West, there were major worker protests in East Europe: These focused on national independence, authoritarian paternalistic tutelage of trade unions and insufficient access to private consumer goods. In the West, there were major worker-student upheavals in France and Italy demanding an end of capitalist dominance in the workplace and social life. Popular opposition to imperialist wars (Indo-China, Algeria, etc.), the authoritarian features of the capitalist state (racism) and the concentration of wealth was widespread.

In other words, the new struggles in the East and West were premised on the consolidation of the welfare state and the expansion of popular political and social power over the state and productive process.

The continuing competition between collectivist and capitalist welfare systems ensured that there would be no roll-back of the reforms thus far achieved. However, the defeats of the popular rebellions of the sixties and seventies ensured that no further advances in social welfare would take place. More importantly a social ‘deadlock’ developed between the ruling classes and the workers in both blocs leading to stagnation of the economies, bureaucratization of the trade unions and demands by the capitalist classes for a dynamic, new leadership, capable of challenging the collectivist bloc and systematically dismantling the welfare state.

The Process of Reversal: From Reagan-Thatcher to Gorbachev

The great illusion, which gripped the masses of the collectivist-welfare bloc, was the notion that the Western promise of mass consumerism could be combined with the advanced welfare programs that they had long taken for granted. The political signals from the West however were moving in the opposite direction. With the ascendancy of President Ronald Reagan in the US and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain, the capitalists regained full control over the social agenda, dealing mortal blows to what remained of trade union militancy and launching a full scale arms race with the Soviet Union in order to bankrupt its economy. In addition, ‘welfarism’ in the East was thoroughly undermined by an emerging class of upwardly mobile, educated elites who teamed up with kleptocrats, neo-liberals, budding gangsters and anyone else who professed ‘Western values’. They received political and material support from Western foundations, Western intelligence agencies, the Vatican (especially in Poland), European Social Democratic parties and the US AFL-CIO while, on the fringes, an ideological veneer was provided by the self-described ‘anti-Stalinist’ leftists in the West…

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“From Munich to Tripoli: Appeasement Aids Aggression” by Yoichi Shimatsu [4th Media]

Posted in Austria, China, Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia, Diplomat, Fascism, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Korean War, Morocco, NATO, Nazism, Nigeria, Qatar, Sarkozy, Spain, Turkey, U.K., UNSC, US imperialism, USA, USSR, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yugoslavia - former FRY on October 2, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Coco Chanel famously said: “My friends, there are no friends.” The French fashion designer, a Nazi collaborator during the wartime occupation, would have found a comfortable fit in with the “Friends of Libya” in New York. The meeting, a sequel to an earlier summit in Sarkozy’s Paris, is aimed at expanding international support for the NATO-installed National Transitional authority in Tripoli. The well-attired diplomats and cologne-drenched corporate executives at the New York conference, now as in Coco Chanel’s lifetime, are doing what they do best: appeasement of aggression.

The present generation of appeasers is following the textbook of surrender written by Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier, the “statesmen” who sanctioned Adolf Hitler’s takeover of Czechoslovakia in late September 1938. The prime ministers of Britain and France were latecomers in recognizing the Nazi re-division of the world and therefore had no claim to the war booty. Instead of sharing the fascist loot, they had to satisfy their constituents with scraps from the Fuhrer’s table – mainly face-saving photo opportunities to show that their diplomatic mission was a “success.” History surely repeats itself with the Libyan debacle.

* Peace on the Cheap *

“Peace in our time” was, of course, a fraud, which certainly did not fool Hitler, who came away from Munich convinced that the Western democracies were ready to yield all of the capitals of Eastern Europe along with Vienna and Prague. The appeasement epidemic soon infected Stalin’s Moscow with the signing of the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement in 1939, a compromise that lulled the Soviet Union into a surprise attack.

Since the Munich dictat, the roles have changed. Today, it is Russia and China going hat in hand to the British-French-American victory celebration. Contemporary appeasement arises from the same source as the sell-out at Munich: amorality, the failure to adhere to higher principles. Individuals or countries lacking a coherent social ethos and personal code of conduct, tempered in real-world struggle, easily fall prey to the notion that “might makes right”. Instead of standing up to threats, they kneel to the powerful as if before a demigod.

* World Body in Shame *

Governments are prone to appeasement because their diplomats and bureaucrats are amoral, being mere functionaries who operate under rules and not principles. The United Nations, as a hierarchy of governments and a diplomat’s club, has a longer record of betraying the principle of self-determination than even its discredited predecessor, the League of Nations. Instead of defending sovereignty, the UN more often than not has been a violator, as it was in the Korean conflict, Vietnam War, partition of Yugoslavia and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The two Security Council resolutions to “protect civilians” in Libya provided pseudo-legitimate cover for a foreign invasion by the special forces units from the French, British, Qatari and Jordanian armies bolstered by jihadist recruits from across the Middle East, Turkey and Afghanistan. The logic behind “protection of civilians” is similar to Hitler’s pretext for seizing Czechoslovakia, which was to “save” its German-speaking minority. The one big difference between then and now is that Chamberlain and Daladier did not have the power of veto.

The Libyan rebels, it should be recalled, rejected the UN offer to send a peacekeeping mission to Benghazi. Their objective from the start was to establish an Islamist Emirate in the Magreb under sharia law, arguably more repressive than Taliban rule. The jihadists have already slaughtered many more civilians, especially blacks, than the UN could have ever rescued.

The current suggestion to impose a U.N. operation inside Libya is, on a practical level, nonsense. The Libyan state holds more than $160 billion in foreign assets has no foreign debt and can raise adequate funds for reconstruction from forward contracts on oil delivery. In contrast, the UN is a pauper agency with a $5 billion annual budget and a chronic debt. It is Libya that can afford to finance the United Nations, not vice versa. In addition, the risk potential for a UN presence in Tripoli is massive, considering the ominous parallels with its mission in Iraq and, more recently, Nigeria, were its personnel were mass-murdered by truck bombs. How many more human lives do the appeasers intend to throw away?

* Guernica, Again *

It is no wonder, then, that the ruling council treats reluctant recognition from Moscow and Beijing with unconcealed contempt. Pretoria and Caracas, in contrast, are shown the uneasy degree of respect accorded to adamant enemies. Global power relations are based on fear not friendship. Coco Chanel and Machiavelli were right about that.

Real men and women fight not for compromises but for their political beliefs and personal convictions. The spineless diplomacy demonstrated at Munich, and more recently in Paris and New York, achieves nothing. The only realistic choice is to fight aggression, even if it means certain defeat. The shining example for moral courage handed down to us from the 1930s came with the Spanish Civil War, when a brave population without the support of a prostrate League of Nations stood up to the combined military might of Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, Franco’s legions and his Moroccan auxiliaries. The fascist horde invaded Spain in defiance of a League arms embargo, which was enforced only against the republican side, as was the case in the one-sided U.N. sanctions against Libya.

Today, the NATO jets that pound Sirte are the equivalent of the Hilter’s Condor bombers, which leveled the beleaguered Spanish Basque town of Guernica. Then the League failed to challenge the fascist assault on Spain, while now the UN takes a step further into the moral quagmire by backing the NATO proxy regime. The fall of Madrid to the fascists had horrifying consequences for the republicans and the International Brigades. Yet the blood of innocents and fighters spilled on Spanish soil provided the moral rationale and inspiration for the crucial victories at Stalingrad and Midway.

* Struggle On *

The moral grounds for resisting the fascist offensive were not given by the Comintern commissars or church prelates; leadership of the spirit came the writers and commentators who conveyed the words of the Spanish people to the world. Millions were moved to action by the slogan “They shall not pass”, voiced over the radio by the female communist leader Dolores Ibarruri, better known as La Pasionaria. Her comrade-in-arms Louis Aragon, a French poet and intellectual, emerged from Surrealism, a cultural movement that advocated total resistance [sic] to bourgeois hypocrisy[.] Ernest Hemingway, the journalist and novelist whose his democratic instincts were based on the ideals tested by America’s own Civil War, helped to raise the Lincoln Brigade of valiant American volunteers.

Whenever the amoral embrace the immoral, it is then up to the intellectuals and artists to summon ordinary people to find in themselves the courage to fight on. What the diplomats and corporate chieftains in their bestial stupor can never understand is this paradox of history: [w]ith triumph, the aggressors seal their defeat; but for the people, from the ashes of defeat arises victory. The battle of Libya, by no means over yet, is just the beginning of the third world war. As far as morality goes, it is the acid test for each of us.

Yoichi Shimatsu is Editor at Large for April Media.

Edited by Zuo Shou

Article link: http://en.m4.cn/2011/09/20/from-munich-to-tripoli-appeasement-aids-aggression/

“The Ghost of Goebbels: Historical Revisionism and World War II” by Wayne Madsen [Strategic Culture Foundation]

Posted in Belarus, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia, Fascism, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Nazism, Poland, Russia, Stalin, U.K., Ukraine, US imperialism, USA, USSR, Wall Street, Wayne Madsen Report, World War II, Yugoslavia - former FRY on August 11, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

26.01.2011

An expected outgrowth of the world’s steady descent into total and extreme capitalist control is the increasing tendency by some historians and their accomplices in the media to re-invent certain aspects of history.

Although the history of the Middle East and colonialism have been favorite playgrounds for the historical revisionists, it is World War II and the role played by the Soviet Union in the war that has attracted the attention of most of the alterers of history, both professional and amateur. As we recall the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the 70th anniversary of which we now remember, it is important to note that the “revisionism” of the events of that day began with chief Nazi German propagandist Joseph Goebbels and the disappearance of historical facts “down the memory hole,” as George Orwell put it in 1984, is carried on to this day by Goebbels’s ideological heirs who are mainly funded by the barons of Wall Street through various tax-free right-wing “think tanks” and research institutes in the West.

Although the revisionists claim that the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact and its secret protocol to divide eastern Europe into respective German and Soviet spheres of influence somehow made Soviet leader Joseph Stalin a “partner” of Hitler, little attention is paid to secret German-British talks in 1939 that would have divided the world into German and British spheres of influence while making common cause against the Soviet Union.

Goebbels’s ideological heirs would have everyone believe that Stalin and German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler were on the same ideological plane and were conniving to jointly conquer the world. This revisionist account is meant to mask the goals of the Western industrialists at the time. Many of the world’s wealthiest capitalists, including the German-descent British royal family, wanted Hitler to stamp out Soviet Communism and had no problem with the Nazis’ “long march East.”

The pandering of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to Hitler at the 1939 Munich Conference, which saw the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, was seen in the eyes of many British and American industrial barons as the remnants of Czechoslovakia being safe from Soviet Russia. That same mind-set would exist as Nazi troops invaded Poland, the Baltic states, Yugoslavia, and then, the USSR, itself. Not until December 7, 1941, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, would the western industrial barons decide it was time to support the war effort against the Axix Powers, albeit reluctantly.

Certainly, Britain was not alone in its secret campaign to align with the Nazis against the Soviet Union. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, who enraged many capitalists and Republicans by establishing diplomatic relations with the USSR after he took office in 1933, found himself almost ousted in a coup d’etat in 1933 arranged by Wall Street robber barons intent on declaring a state of national emergency and placing Roosevelt under virtual house arrest. The plot was discovered by retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler and communicated to the U.S. Congress where details of the plot remained secret until 1970. Among the chief coup plotters was Prescott Bush, the father and grandfather, respectively, of two later U.S. presidents. Prescott Bush was a chief Wall Street banker for German Nazi-owned businesses in the years leading up to and following the outbreak of World War II.

In 1936, U.S. ambassador to Berlin, William Dodd, wrote to Roosevelt to warn him that the threat posed to him in 1934 by the Wall Street-Nazi alliance remained as such two years later. Dodd wrote:

“A clique of U.S. industrialists is hell-bent to bring a fascist state to supplant our democratic government and is working closely with the fascist regime in Germany and Italy. I have had plenty of opportunity in my post in Berlin to witness how close some of our American ruling families are to the Nazi regime . . . A prominent executive of one of the largest corporations, told me point blank that he would be ready to take definite action to bring fascism into America if President Roosevelt continued his progressive policies. Certain American industrialists had a great deal to do with bringing fascist regimes into being in both Germany and Italy. They extended aid to help Fascism occupy the seat of power, and they are helping to keep it there. Propagandists for fascist groups try to dismiss the fascist scare.”

The words of Dodd: “propagandists for fascist groups try to dismiss the fascist scare” ring true today. Wall Street of the 1930s and 1940s owned the major media outlets, including the large publishing houses, that gave notoriety to the revisionist commentators and historians of their day. The situation remains much the same today.

There is the distinct danger that soon, the historical revionists will not be content in putting Stalin and Hitler on the same level. With global media in the hands of a select few capitalists, it is forseeable that Stalin will be re-assessed as the reason Hitler had to conquer most of Europe and Hitler will be painted favorably. There are already signs that this historical revisionism is taking place among the right-wing political parties of Europe that are adopting many of the planks of the neo-Nazi movement, including the meme that Hitler had no choice to invade eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to protect the world against Bolshevism. That argument of the capitalists is nothing new but it is one, 70 years after the invasion of the USSR by the Nazis, that should have long ago been discarded into the ash bin of fascist propaganda.

Final Statement

Adopted by the International History Conference Commemorating 70th Anniversary of the Outbreak of 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War (Sevastopol, June 15-17, 2011)

We, the assembled representatives of historical research communities and civil societies of Belarus, Latvia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine participating in the Sevastopol International History Conference commemorating 70th Anniversary of the outbreak of 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War, regard the War and our Victory as one of the most tragic and at the same time heroic pages in the common history of our nations.

We are increasingly alarmed with the current rise of revisionism of the history of World War II in the West and in several post-Soviet republics where incendiary political considerations outweigh commitment to historical accuracy.

We consider it absolutely unacceptable to draw the Great Patriotic War against fascism as a ‘fight of two totalitarian regimes’, to deny the justified and liberating nature of that war for our nations, to depict the Red Army’s liberation mission in 11 European countries as ‘Soviet occupation’.

We state that the concept ascribing ‘mutual responsibility’ for unleashing the war to ‘the Nazi and Soviet regimes’ lacks any historical and moral foundations. As historians, we are aware that the responsibility for that devastating war rests fully with the Western powers. Until now the diplomatic archives in London keep guarding the secrets of the British-German talks held in June 1939 on the division of the world into Great Britain’s and Germany’s spheres of influence, aimed to deter Soviet Union from taking part in shaping the future of Europe.

While Hitler’s military machine was destined to exterminate [the] Soviet Union as a ‘hotbed of Bolshevism’, today…Nazism is sometimes being portrayed as a ‘natural response to the red threat’. This is an [utter] lie contradicting recognized historical facts.

We claim that all civilized nations should officially outlaw any endeavors to justify fascism, Nazi criminals or collaborationists. Any revisions of the Nuremberg Tribunal[‘s] outright statements condemning fascism are totally inadmissible.

The present round of revisionism is supposed to provide an ideological backing for “anti-totalitarian” appeals like the notorious OSCE Parliamentary Assembly resolution adopted on July 3, 2009 calling for a trial over the Soviet Union’s allegedly ‘criminal past’. Such campaigns, provoking territorial claims against Russia and compensation demands for ‘damages caused during Soviet occupation’ trigger imminent and far-reaching dangerous consequences for the European security, still not adequately assessed by the short-sighted instigators of these campaigns and their blind contractors.

A distorted view on the meaning and the results of World War II and Russia’s Great Patriotic War would pave the way for a new division of Europe and the world with catastrophic consequences. This is why we are calling upon the academic community for a fair and unbiased research of the period of 1941-1945 in the name of historical truth and our common future. The sacrifices of millions of Russians in the defeat of Fascism and the devastation wrought in the war must not be perverted for current political narratives. Such actions only serve to cause division within Europe, and prevent the advancement of peace and unity amongst peoples.

Edited by Zuo Shou

Article link: http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2011/06/21/the-ghost-of-goebbels-historical-revisionism-and-world-war-ii.html