Posts Tagged ‘Imperialism’
Workers Liberty (the paper of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty) has just made a carefully weighed assessment of the horrendous Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Since the latest round of Israeli air bombardments of Gaza began on 8 July, around 200 Palestinians have died.
77% of have been civilians according to UN estimates. Many have been children
On 14 July, Israel ran a ground-troop operation in Gaza, and said it would expand its list of targets for bombing to include civilian institutions with suspected links to Hamas, the Islamist party which governs Gaza. Given that Hamas’s political infrastructure is substantially enmeshed with the frail Gazan state, this could include almost any target Israel chooses. Also on 14 July, Israel began a leaflet-dropping campaign instructing residents of northern Gaza to evacuate as it was preparing to widen its bombing campaign. Hamas has instructed Gazans to stay put.
On Tuesday morning 15 July, Israel announced that it had accepted a ceasefire proposal from Egypt, but Hamas hesitated, and later that day Israel was bombing again.
Gaza’s economy, always sore beset by Israeli restrictions, managed to grow nearly 15 per cent in 2011 and 7 per cent in 2012. Hamas was also boosted by the Palestinian “unity government” announced on 2 June this year, which allowed it to hope that public-sector workers in Gaza would be paid by the Palestinian Authority.
However, since a military-dominated government took over in Egypt in July 2013, ousting Muslim Brotherhood president Morsi, Egypt has shut down many of Gaza’s routes to the outside world, and unemployment in Gaza has risen. The Palestinian Authority has stalled on paying wages: public sector workers in Gaza struck over that on 26 June.
Hamas wants to put pressure on Egypt and Israel to ease their grip on Gaza. Right-wing Israeli prime minister Netanyahu wants to keep Hamas off balance, and is under pressure from a growing far right in Israel.
The current conflict grew after three Israeli teenagers, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftal Frenkel, went missing on 12 June in the West Bank. Israeli forces raided thousands of homes in the West Bank, arresting 570 Palestinians and killing several (5 by one report, 10 by another) in the process. The teenagers were found dead near the Palestinian town of Hebron on 30 June.
Far-right Jewish nationalists abducted and murdered 16-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khdeir on 2 July. Hamas began a barrage of rocket fire, and has now launched nearly 1,000 rockets at Israeli towns. It has also threatened to attack Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. So far, no Israelis have been killed. Israel responded by bombing Gaza.
No state, Israeli nationalists claim, should tolerate rocket barrages, however poorly aimed and ineffective, against its civilian population. That is the rational kernel to the Israeli case. But Israel’s actions go well beyond self-defence. Aerial bombardments of a densely-populated area, with an impoverished and essentially captive population, by one of the best-armed states in the world against are so disproportionate as to undermine the self-defence argument.
The Palestinians, too, have the right to defend themselves. Hamas rockets do not provide that defence.
Israel’s bombardments cannot be abstracted from Israel’s longstanding oppression of the Palestinians. Likewise, Hamas’s rockets are aimed at civilians and must be considered in the context of the social and political project of Hamas. Hamas is a clerical-fascist political party, which, despite the recent concessions to bourgeois diplomacy of some of its leaders, states its hostility to the Israeli-Jewish people even existing in historic Palestine.
Israel’s war on Hamas cannot possibly have a progressive outcome. While Israel continues settlement building in the West Bank; while it keeps the population of Gaza under semi-permanent siege; discriminates against Arabs within its own borders; and operates a regime of walls and checkpoints, it creates the conditions in which Hamas grows.
The only way out is peace. And, for peace, Israel holds all the cards. Ending the siege of Gaza, dismantling West Bank settlements, ensuring equality for Israeli-Arabs, and allowing the Palestinians their right to set up a genuinely independent state in contiguous territory alongside Israel would allow peace — and security for Israel’s people.
The hope for the future of both the Israeli and Palestinian people lies in the political potential of the Palestinian labour, women’s, and LGBT movements, and the potential of the labour movement and internationalist, anti-war left inside Israel. Those movements can provide an alternative politics for Israeli and Palestinians that cut across the nationalism and chauvinism of both sides.
That potential can be glimpsed in the demonstrations which have taken place in Israel, on 3 July and 13 July. On 3 July, thousands demonstrated in Tel Aviv demanding an end to the atmosphere of incitement and vengeance following the deaths of the Israeli teenagers. On 13 July, hundreds of anti-war activists, many from the Israeli political left, demanded an end to the bombing, and faced violent reprisals from far-right nationalists.
As Yacov Ben Efrat, wrote in the left-wing Israeli magazine Challenge following the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2010:
“Solidarity between Jewish and Arab workers is the only way to overcome the cycle of bloodshed. The supreme interest of the workers on both sides of the conflict is to build a political and social alternative, egalitarian and humane, against a right-wing Zionist chauvinism and an Islamic fundamentalism that are leading both peoples into catastrophe”.
This editorial would seem to be the right framework for any serious left-wing discussion of the issues this catastrophe raises.
Update (hat-tip JV)
This is essential and very depressing reading, With the Oslo dream shattered, Israel must do the creative thinking. (Haaratz)
The Palestinians do not recognize the Jews’ right to a state, so Israel must take steps on its own to improve the atmosphere.
Reports this morning indicate an accelerating fight in the Ukraine.
Ukraine crisis: Casualties in Sloviansk gun battles
Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian armed men have traded gunfire in a battle for control of the eastern town of Sloviansk, the interior minister says.
At least one Ukrainian officer was killed and both sides suffered casualties, Arsen Avakov said.
Pro-Russian forces took over the town on Saturday, prompting Kiev to launch an “anti-terror operation”.
Kiev and Western powers accuse Moscow of inciting the trouble. The Kremlin denies the charge.
Le Monde puts this in the context of a “general offensive”,
Le gouvernement ukrainien, confronté à des insurrections armées prorusses coordonnées dans l’Est, a lancé dimanche 13 avril une opération « antiterroriste »de reconquête à hauts risques.
The Ukrainian government, faced with armed pro-Russian and co-ordinated insurgencies in the East, has launched a highly risky “anti-terrorist” operation of reconquest on Sunday, April the 13th.
So how will those who stand ‘for’ the Ukraine react?
Will they ‘choose’ sides and back the “anti-terrorist operation”?
This is the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty position on the Ukraine.
Russia: hands off Ukraine! Keep Russian troops out!
Western governments: cancel Ukraine’s debts!
The labour movement should back Ukraine’s left in its efforts to create “third pole” against both Russian imperialism and the Ukrainian oligarchs.
This is Socialist Resistance’s line,
A defeat for Russian imperialism in Ukraine is both a victory for that mass movement and the Russian working class. Socialists in imperialist countries should see their primary responsibility as establishing links and building support for those groups in Ukrainian and Russian society which are opposing the oligarchs and organising a real movement against them. That is rather different from helping Putin hold on to power by annexing his own imperialist “buffer zone”.
Others are less decided.
This is the Left Unity Party’s view,
Left Unity statement on Ukraine
Left Unity has issued a statement on the situation in Ukraine, saying that there should be “no foreign intervention in Ukraine – whether political, economic or military”.
The acting officers of the new left wing party are calling for “democracy and equality for all the people of Ukraine”, condemning the different forms of nationalism, corruption and neoliberalism, and the drive to war.
Against nationalism, corruption, privatisation and war
The continuing political and economic crisis in Ukraine is taking a dangerous military turn.
Left Unity takes the position that there can only be a political solution to this crisis and that neither foreign military intervention nor foreign political and economic intervention provide the answers to Ukraine’s complex problems.
But does this also mean ‘backing’ the ‘anti-terrorist’ offensive?
We simply ask.
MacShane Against Western Interventions.
Under the headline, “L’interventionnisme militaire occidental est un échec permanent” Denis MacShane former European Minister under Tony Blair attacks Western interventions. (Le Monde 10.12.2013).
MacShane begins by citing Kipling on the ‘White Man’s burden and reflects that President Hollande is now taking on this weight with his intervention in the Central African Republic.
While wishing him success he notes that,
Depuis l’expédition de Suez en 1956, aucune intervention militaire menée par les forces européennes en dehors de l’Europe n’a obtenu les résultats espérés. Dans tous les pays où elles ont établi une présence, elles laissent derrière elles plus de problèmes que de solutions.
From the Suez Expedition in 1956 onwards no European military intervention – outside Europe itself – has achieved the aims set for it. In every country in which it has established a presence it has left behind it more problems than solutions.
MacShane covers the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, and reflects that “Le droit d’ingérence et la doctrine de l’intervention sont des concepts qui remontent à l’ère de Francis Fukayama et sa thèse sur la fin de l’histoire.”, the doctrine of the need to interfere and to intervene (Note, called humanitarian intervention in English) are concepts which belong to the time of Francis Fukayma, and his theory of the End of History. Bernard Kouchner in Paris, Michael Ignatieff at Harvard and Tony Blair argued that this was necessary when countries ignored United Nations norms.
He asserts that interventions failed in Sudan and Rwanda, though worked in Kosovo.
Because of the latter, and the intervention in Sierra Leone, Blair backed the invasion of Iraq.
MacShane observes that far from being just the decision of Bush and Blair 419 left’ MPs in the British Parliament voted for that war.
“Dix ans plus tard, je préfère dire comme Benjamin Franklin que « la pire des paix vaut mieux que n’importe quelle guerre ».
Ten years later I’d rather say, like Benjamin Franklin that “the worst peace is better than any war whatsoever.”
The balance sheet of wars in Afghanistan, the Arab world and in Africa is completely negative. Libya in particular is a disaster, with militias and Salafist warlords in control.
The attitude of the British Labour Party, under Ed Miliband, towards these expeditions, has also changed. They refused to support Prime Minister Cameron, and the French Socialist-led Government, to meddle in the Syrian civil war.
The disgraced former Minister then quotes Churchill, “« Jaw jaw is better than war war »
Sometimes such interventions are justified, as in Sierra Leone.
But while every country should back its army, rare are the occasions when history justifies armed interventions.
MacShane Parliamentary Record.
- Voted very strongly for the Iraq war.
- Voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war.
Wikipedia says of MacShane, “Denis MacShane (born Denis Matyjaszek; 21 May 1948) is a former British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Rotherham from 1994 until his resignation in 2012. He served in the Labour Government as Minister for Europe from 2002 until 2005.
On 2 November 2012, he was suspended from the Labour Party after the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee found that he had submitted 19 false invoices “plainly intended to deceive” the parliamentary expenses authority. Later that day he announced his intention to resign as MP for Rotherham. On 9 October 2013, MacShane was removed from the Privy Council and stripped of the right to use the title of The Right Honourable. On 18 November 2013 he pleaded guilty to false accounting at the Old Bailey, by submitting false receipts for £12 900.
Imperium. Perry Anderson. Critical Thoughts. New Left Review. No82 (New Series) 2013.
“American capitalism has resoundingly re-asserted its primacy in all fields – economic, political, military and cultural – with an unprecedented eight-year boom.”
Perry Anderson. Renewals. 2000.
“(New Left Review’s Relaunch)…scandalised many by demanding from the left a lucid registration of defeat ‘No collective agency able to match the power of capital is yet on the horizon’ Anderson noted……These judgements stand.”
Susan Watkins. Shifting Sands. 2010.
“In contrast to the economic structure, the political structure cannot be expanded indefinitely, because it is not based upon the productivity of man, which is indeed, unlimited. Of all forms of government and organisations of people, the nation-state is least suited for unlimited growth because the genuine consent at its base cannot be stretched indefinitely.”
Hannah Arendt. The Origins of Totalitarianism. (1)
The “unprecedented” American boom ended in Autumn 2008. But despite the absence of what Anderson has called an “answer to the prolonged slow-down of the advanced capitalist economies that set in forty years ago” America remains, post Soviet Collapse, the uncontested, hegemonic, global authority. (2) American power reaches outwards across the globe. This is not just grounded on the attraction of its economic strength, cultural appeal, or technological advances. An active exercise of domination is at work.
Within this received wisdom on the left, the Special Issue of New Left Review, Imperium, sets out to present the “outlook and continuity of objectives” of the “administration of empire, the thinking behind this rule. It also aims to “asses” this vast field, centring on what is decidedly not a “poverty of strategic theory.”
To former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, writing in 1997, U.S policy goals must be “to perpetuate America’s own dominate position for at least generation and preferably longer still; and to create a geopolitical framework” that can evolve into “shared responsibility for peaceful global management.” (3) By contrast, for Anderson, in 2002 the US’s objectives unfurling before the rather less peaceable invasion of Iraq, were described as part of a “structural shift in the balance between force and consent within the operation of American hegemony…” (4)
The present study is only the latest, then, of Anderson’s efforts to understand the leading role of America in what David Harvey has labelled the “new imperialism” and the global dominance of neo-liberalism. Following indications signalled by Robert Brenner he looks further into history to explain the particular form that the American state has taken. Imperium begins by stating, “Since the Second World War, the external order of American power has been largely insulated from the internal political system.” The focus is therefore on the “narrow foreign-policy elite, and a “distinctive ideological vocabulary” of “grand strategy.” (5)
Imperium concludes with, and starts from, the following historical narrative, “In the course of four decades of unremitting struggle, a military and political order was constructed that transformed what had once been a merely hemispheric hegemony into a global empire, remoulding the form of the US state itself” (Page 110 Imperium) Included in the Special Issue is a study of the above American “literature of grand strategy”, Consilium. We discover (to no particular surprise) that it is soldered around the idea that the “hegemony of the United States continues to serve both the particular interests of the nation and the universal interest of mankind” (Consilium Page 163)
These were the long years of the global fight against the Soviet Union. For Anderson the USA, he concedes, graciously or not, “was indeed an electoral democracy, did confront a socio-political system that was not” (Page 33 Imperium). During those decades the country has witnessed domestic opposition to “imperial force”. This, volatile, “constraint”, the limited “public tolerance” of foreign expeditions (we immediately think of the aftermath of Vietnam) has played a role. It continues to shape the decisions of the Obama administration. (Page 108. Imperium)
But behind this is there is, as he has commented on the second Obama Presidential victory an “all-capitalist ideological universe – a mental firmament in which the sanctity of private property and superiority of private enterprise are truths taken for granted by all forces in the political arena.” The Democrat President cannot ignore the culture that feeds Obama’s Republican opponents. One feature stands out, a domestic “nationalism peculiar to the United States as the capitalist superpower in the struggle with communism, intensely more hyperbolic than that of any Western society.” (6)
Outside this native soil there is little alive that is capable of offering a serious political challenge to policies dictated by the “new regime of accumulation” and the “liberal-capitalist order”. Gloomily in 2002 he talked of ‘resistance’ as “chaff in the wind.” In 2007 Anderson had a brief flicker of hope in “spectacular demonstrations of popular will” the World Social Forums in the first half of the last decade, and a “patchwork of resistance”. But they could not halt, “a further drift to the right” as a “new Concert of powers has increasingly solidified.” (7) Read the rest of this entry »
The people of Bangladesh have launched mass protests. Many have been held to demand the death sentence for the Islamists convicted of war crimes during the 1971 War of National Liberation.
The Pakistani army tried to crush the Bangla people with a cruelty that resembled the Nazis’ on the Eastern Front,
“…… we were told to kill the hindus and Kafirs (non-believer in God). One day in June, we cordoned a village and were ordered to kill the Kafirs in that area. We found all the village women reciting from the Holy Quran, and the men holding special congregational prayers seeking God’s mercy. But they were unlucky. Our commanding officer ordered us not to waste any time.”
Confession of a Pakistani Soldier. Bangladeshi Genocide Archive.
Official estimates say more than three million people were killed in the 1971 war.
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in Bangladesh in protest over sentences handed out in relation to alleged war crimes during the 1971 war of independence.
It took decades for a tribunal to be set up to look at the atrocities committed at that time, and the first verdicts came this year, including the conviction of a senior leader of Bangladesh’s biggest Islamic party.
A former leader from Jamaat-e-Islami was sentenced to death in absentia. Another leader, Abdul Kader Mullah, was given a life sentence last week.
Some protesters feel the sentences have been too lenient, or that the process has been flawed.
Meanwhile, supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami held separate protests calling for Mullah’s release.
Some in Bangladesh say that public protests could put unnecessary pressure on judges presiding over the tribunal.
Nick Cohen, comments,
“Do I hear you say that Bangladesh is far away and the genocide was long ago?
Not so far away. Not so long ago. And the agonies of Bangladeshi liberals are nothing in comparison to the contradictions of their British counterparts.
The conflict between the Shahbag and Jamaat has already reached London. On 9 February, local supporters of the uprising demonstrated in Altab Ali Park, a rare patch of green space off the Whitechapel Road in London’s East End. They were met by Jamaatis. “They attacked our men with stones,” one of the protest’s organisers told me. “There were old people and women and children there, but they still attacked us.”
The redoubtable organiser is undeterred. She and her fellow activists are going back to the park tomorrow for another demonstration. Her friends are worried, however. They asked me not to name her after unknown assailants murdered Ahmed Rajib Haider Shuvo, one of the leaders of the Dhaka rallies, on Friday.”
Cohen continues, that the Jamaat is not challenged in the East End, indeed it is accepted as part of the Establihsment.,
The scoundrel left led the way down this murky alley, as it leads the way into so many dark places. Ken Livingstone and George Galloway have backed the Jamaat-dominated East London mosque, and Islamic Forum Europe, the Jamaat front organisation that now controls local politics in Tower Hamlets.
The Jamaat still have a fight on their hands, as,
The British-Asian feminist Gita Sahgal launched the Centre for Secular Space last week to combat such indulgence of theocratic obscurantism. She told me that Jamaat perverts traditional faith and she should know. Not only did she name alleged Jamaat war criminals living in Britain for Channel 4 in the 1990s, she is also Jawaharlal Nehru’s great niece and a distant relative of the Indira Gandhi who sent the army into Bangladesh. I admire Sahgal and Quilliam hugely, but they are mistrusted, even hated by orthodox leftwingers. The feeling is reciprocated in spades and perhaps you can see why.
Now what Cohen calls the “scoundrel left” is very quiet about their relations with the Jamaat genociders at the moment.
But a taste of what they think of Bangladesh can be got from Bob Pitt and his ‘Islamophbia Watch’
This is how Islamophobia Watch greeted in 2010 the decision in Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League to restore the secular state.
Under the heading “Bangladesh set to become again a secular state”, left-wing blogger Andrew Coates has enthusiastically hailed what he claims is a decision by the government of Bangladesh to restore the secular foundations of the country’s constitution.
He bases his post on reports that the Supreme Court in Dhaka has upheld a ruling that the government can reverse amendments made to the constitution in the period following the military coup of 1975. Coates approvingly quotes law minister Shafique Ahmed as saying: “In the light of the verdict, the secular constitution of 1972 already stands to have been revived. Now we don’t have any bar to return to the four state principles of democracy, nationalism, secularism and socialism as had been heralded in the 1972 statute of the state.
It is the same government that then set up the War Crimes Tribunal.
We wonder what Pitt and his friends think of the Jamaat thugs attacking Bangladeshis protesting at the genocide in London.