Category Archives: France

Constitutional referendum, presidential elections to be held in Zimbabwe

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The following analysis below was originally published by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. To understand more of the history of the ZANU-PF and its ongoing revolutionary shaping of Zimbabwe, then I’d highly recommend everyone in reading “New Democracy & ZANU-PF: Zimbabwe’s Revolutionary Path,” which was published by Return to the Source

Constitutional referendum, presidential elections to be held in Zimbabwe

January 27, 2013

Zimbabwe’s two major political parties agreed to a new draft constitution Jan. 17. After nearly two years of deliberation, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), reached an agreement that may replace the country’s current constitution and pave the way for a presidential election later this year. This draft proposal will go before the Zimbabwean people for approval in a nationwide referendum later this year.

Following the agreement, President Robert Mugabe, of ZANU-PF, called for peaceful presidential elections as early as March 2013. Fearing defeat, the unpopular MDC immediately came out against holding elections.

Most analysts believe that Mugabe and his party, ZANU-PF, will handily defeat Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC at the polls. An August 2012 survey by Freedom House, a pro-imperialist Western think-tank, found that more than 31% of people support ZANU-PF compared to the 20% who support MDC in the upcoming elections. The study found that the MDC had lost 18% support since 2010 while ZANU-PF had gained 17% support in the same period. Even Zimbabwe Vigil, a pro-MDC firm based in Britain, predicted in September 2012 that ZANU-PF would win the upcoming elections because of corruption in the MDC.

The draft constitution comes amid the profound revolutionary changes taking place in Zimbabwe. White colonists, never more than 4.3% of the population, ruled Zimbabwe for many decades. Then Zimbabweans waged a 15-year liberation war against white minority rule that led to negotiations and ended Ian Smith’s racist regime in 1980. This victory established African majority rule and most whites left the country. Still, wealthy whites continued controlling most of Zimbabwe’s good farmland and resources. Former colonial power Britain claimed to support land reform and resettlement, but failed to fund it. Britain ignored their agreements with Zimbabwe’s government and stirred up trouble.

After a series of austerity measures forced upon Zimbabwe by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the people of Zimbabwe began occupying large farms and taking control of their own resources in 2000. President Mugabe and ZANU-PF supported these farm occupations through the Fast Track Land Reform Program. The reform redistributed 7 million hectares of Zimbabwe’s land to more than a million small farmers. Many large landowners were dispossessed and their land given to the rightful owners.

The land reform drastically changed ownership and power relations in Zimbabwe. The U.S. and Britain responded with economic sanctions, sending Zimbabwe down a destructive path of hyperinflation and economic turmoil. In the 2008 presidential election, Britain and the U.S. tried to use Zimbabwe’s economic crisis to violently destabilize the country and oust Mugabe, trying to replace him with the puppets of the MDC.

Although the MDC won a plurality of the votes in the first round of the 2008 presidential election, they withdrew from the runoff in an attempt to delegitimize the democratic process. In the runoff, Mugabe defeated the MDC candidate Tsvangirai in a landslide. Mugabe nearly doubled his absolute vote total from the first round of elections – 1.1 million in the first round to 2.2 million in the runoff. Shortly after the election, Mugabe and ZANU-PF formed a power-sharing government with the MDC that included Tsvangirai as prime minister.

Land reform is not the only area of Zimbabwe’s economy experiencing serious progressive change. In 2012, the Zimbabwean government began enforcing the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Bill, which requires at least 50% black local ownership of all businesses and companies. This policy is extremely popular among the Zimbabwean people, who see it as means of exercising their right to control over their own resources. By November 2012, Zimbabwe had indigenized 120 major mining companies and created 400 Employee Share Ownership Trusts to better redistribute the nation’s wealth to the people.

In spite of the continued sanctions and economic warfare from the U.S. and Britain, Zimbabwe’s economy continues to recover and has grown at a remarkable rate since 2009. According to Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti, the country saw 8.1% growth in 2010 and 9.3% growth in 2011. Agricultural production experienced growth from the land reform as well, with tobacco production expanding from 2008′s record low of 105 million pounds to 330 million pounds in 2012. As Zimbabwe recovers, more black Zimbabweans will share in their nation’s wealth than in the 33 years since the end of white minority rule, leading to a more balanced, collective economy.

As Zimbabwe approaches its 2013 elections, the danger of imperialist meddling in southern Africa runs high. Wikileaks revealed in August last year that Tsvangirai, of the MDC, had used his 2009 visit to U.S. President Barack Obama to lobby for greater sanctions on Zimbabwe in order to bring down Mugabe and ZANU-PF. Banks and corporations in the U.S. and Britain have a vested commercial interest in seeing an end to ZANU-PF’s progressive, national democratic policies and anti-imperialism. True to form, the MDC showed their loyalty to their foreign masters by unveiling the Jobs, Upliftment, Investment, Capital and Environment Plan on Nov. 29 of 2012. This scheme proposes to reverse ZANU-PF’s indigenization policy, facilitating U.S. and British corporate domination.

It’s no surprise that the people of Zimbabwe have turned against the MDC, given the party’s allegiance to Britain and the U.S., at the expense of the people. However, the US, Britain, France and other Western European powers are waging a campaign to re-colonize Africa, most recently seen in the U.S.-backed French military intervention in Mali.

Military interventions by imperialist powers in Somalia, Ivory Coast, Libya, Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and now Mali demonstrate the willingness of the U.S. and Western Europe to use military force against governments or people that resist their dominance.

Progressive activists, organizers and revolutionaries in the U.S. must resolutely oppose any attempt by Western powers to intervene in Zimbabwe, especially with elections on the horizon. People in the U.S. should support the right of the Zimbabwean people to determine their own destiny, as expressed through the policies of ZANU-PF, and they should fight moves for the re-colonization of Africa.

Once derided, Gaddafi’s warnings about jihadists now used to justify Mali intervention

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By Stephen Gowans
December 20, 2013

In today’s New York Times, Steven Erlanger justifies the French intervention in Mali on these grounds:

• It responds to “a direct request from a legitimate government.”
• It combats “the spread of radical Islamists, some of them foreign jihadists, strongly connected to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.”

Erlanger uses the word “legitimate” to describe Mali’s government. “Democratic” carries more weight, but the description doesn’t fit. Mali is governed by a military dictatorship, a truth one suspects Erlanger would prefer not to draw attention to. Being every bit a salesman, Erlanger presses “legitimate” into use as an inferior, though still high-sounding, surrogate for “democratic”. A military operation to help a legitimate government must be legitimate, right?

Wrong. How can a French military operation in a North African country be legitimate, when not too long ago France undertook what was then called a legitimate intervention in another North African country, Libya, with the opposite aims:

• Not to support, but to topple a legitimate government;
• Not to stop the spread of radical Islam, but to help radical Islamists, some of them foreign jihadists, strongly connected to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, overthrow a legitimate government?

In other words, the Mali operation is the very antithesis of the Libyan one. Yet, according to state officials in France, the United States and Britain and their jingoist Western mass media cheerleaders, both interventions are legitimate. Where the Mali intervention protects a legitimate government, the Libyan intervention toppled one. Where the Mali operation opposes radical Islamists, the Libyan operation aided them.

It can’t possibly be true that Western governments are against radical Islamists as a matter of principle, when the principal financial and ideological backer of militant Sunni Islamism, Saudi Arabia, is a treasured ally. Nor can it be true when Western powers backed radical Islamists against:

• The leftist Afghan government in the 1980s,
• Yugoslavia’s social democracy in the 1990s,
• Gaddafi’s economic nationalism in Libya,
• Assad’s secular nationalist government in Syria.

It can’t be true that Western powers are against despots, dictators, and absolutist monarchs, when they’ve backed so many of them in the past, and continue to back them in the present, from the potentates of the Gulf Cooperation Council to the military regime in Mali.

Neither are Western powers committed to backing struggles against tyrannies as struggles against tyrannies. On countless occasions, they’ve either stood idly by as tyrannies repressed democratic rebellions, or energetically aided their autocratic allies’ efforts to crush opposition. For a recent example, we need only turn to the crackdown on the rebellion in absolutist Bahrain, assisted by the same countries which supplied arms to misnamed “democrats” in Libya and equip the Muslim Brothers and foreign jihadists in Syria. Washington has done nothing to stop the crackdown in Bahrain, let alone vigorously protested it. The British, for their part, invited the offending tyrant to the royal wedding of Kate and William.

Erlanger notes that the Mali intervention “has been popular” and that it commands the support of three quarters of the French, according to one poll. This is a nod to the prowess of Erlanger’s cohorts in the trade of shaping public opinion, and the superficial attention most people pay to foreign affairs. It’s also an attempt to prop up his argument that the intervention is legitimate. After all, a military operation supported by a solid majority can hardly be a base affair, corrupted by hypocrisy and crass commercial interests, can it? And if you should happen to be against the French helping an ally defend itself against jihadists, Erlanger’s letting you know you’re on the wrong side of public opinion.

“The French people are ready to support a military operation as long as the objectives are clear and seem legitimate,” a French analyst told the Times’ reporter. Well, no, the French people are willing to support a military operation so long as no one calls upon them to risk their lives and pay higher taxes, what “support for war” used to mean. No longer. Today, support means feeling good about France and nothing more.

The French will continue to feel good about themselves so long as there are few French fatalities in Mali and so long as the connection between covering the costs of the war and higher taxes, is obscured. Payment must be deferred, and then concealed, preferably in tax hikes on the poor and middle class to cover (wink-wink) skyrocketing social welfare expenditures.

So here we are. Gaddafi was sneered at when he said that the rebellion that erupted against him in Benghazi was the work of radical Islamists, some of them foreign jihadists, strongly connected to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. He was just as contemptuously dismissed when he warned, “if he fell, chaos and holy war would overtake North Africa.” Now that chaos and holy war threaten to overtake a Western client, Gaddafi’s words are being treated with new respect. In death, the man once ridiculed as a buffoon has become a sage.

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By Design: French Mali Invasion Spills into Algeria

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By Tony Cartalucci
January 17, 2013

Exactly as predicted, the ongoing French “intervention” in the North African nation of Mali has spilled into Algeria – the next most likely objective of Western geopolitical interests in the region since the successful destabilization of Libya in 2011.

In last week’s “France Displays Unhinged Hypocrisy as Bombs Fall on Mali” report, it was stated specifically that:

“As far back as August of 2011, Bruce Riedel out of the corporate-financier funded think-tank, the Brookings Institution, wrote “Algeria will be next to fall,” where he gleefully predicted success in Libya would embolden radical elements in Algeria, in particular AQIM. Between extremist violence and the prospect of French airstrikes, Riedel hoped to see the fall of the Algerian government. Ironically Riedel noted:

Algeria has expressed particular concern that the unrest in Libya could lead to the development of a major safe haven and sanctuary for al-Qaeda and other extremist jihadis.

And thanks to NATO, that is exactly what Libya has become – a Western sponsored sanctuary for Al-Qaeda. AQIM’s headway in northern Mali and now French involvement will see the conflict inevitably spill over into Algeria. It should be noted that Riedel is a co-author of “Which Path to Persia?” which openly conspires to arm yet another US State Department-listed terrorist organization (list as #28), the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) to wreak havoc across Iran and help collapse the government there – illustrating a pattern of using clearly terroristic organizations, even those listed as so by the US State Department, to carry out US foreign policy.”

Now, it is reported that “Al Qaeda-linked” terrorists have seized American hostages in Algeria in what is being described by the Western press as “spill over” from France’s Mali operations.

The Washington Post, in their article, “Al-Qaida-linked militants seize BP complex in Algeria, take hostages in revenge for Mali,” claims:

“As Algerian army helicopters clattered overhead deep in the Sahara desert, Islamist militants hunkered down for the night in a natural gas complex they had assaulted Wednesday morning, killing two people and taking dozens of foreigners hostage in what could be the first spillover from France’s intervention in Mali.”

The Wall Street Journal, in its article, “Militants Grab U.S. Hostages in Algeria,” reports that:

“Militants with possible links to al Qaeda seized about 40 foreign hostages, including several Americans, at a natural-gas field in Algeria, posing a new level of threat to nations trying to blunt the growing influence of Islamist extremists in Africa.As security officials in the U.S. and Europe assessed options to reach the captives from distant bases, Algerian security forces failed in an attempt late Wednesday to storm the facility.”

The WSJ also added:

“Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. would take “necessary and proper steps” in the hostage situation, and didn’t rule out military action. He said the Algeria attack could represent a spillover from Mali.”

And it is military action, both covert and incrementally more overt, that will see the West’s extremist proxies and the West’s faux efforts to stem them, increasingly creep over the Mali-Algerian border, as the old imperial maps of Europe are redrawn right before our eyes.

Image: The French Empire at its height right before the World Wars. The regions that are now Libya, Algeria, Mali, and the Ivory Coast all face reconquest by the French and Anglo-Americans, with French troops literally occupying the region and playing a pivotal role in installing Western-friendly client regimes. Also notice Syria too, was a French holding – now under attack by US-British-French funded, armed, and backed terrorists – the same terrorists allegedly being fought in Mali and now Algeria.

Meanwhile, these very same terrorist forces continue to receive funding, arms, covert military support, and diplomatic recognition in Syria, by NATO, and specifically the US and France who are both claiming to fight the “Free Syrian Army’s” ideological and very literal allies in North Africa.

In reality, Al Qaeda is allowing the US and France to intervene and interfere in Algeria, after attempts in 2011 to trigger political subversion was soundly defeated by the Algerian government. Al Qaeda is essentially both a casus belli and mercenary force, deployed by the West against targeted nations. It is clear that French operations seek to trigger armed conflict in Algeria as well as a possible Western military intervention there as well, with the Mali conflict serving only as a pretense.

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The Tragedy-Cum-Farce in Algeria

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What If David Cameron was Lying? How Would We Know?

By Afshin Rattansi
January 19, 2013

The end of the Gaddafi regime in Libya was celebrated with breath-taking idiocy by European leaders and a genuflecting corporate media. Fifteen months later, the media is reporting on neighbouring Algeria, the largest country in Africa – and one where a hostage-rescue mission has ended in carnage.

Either the UK Prime Minister David Cameron is telling the truth and wasn’t even notified by French-proxy President Bouteflika of Algeria or he is lying when it comes to what happened at the heavily fortified BP-Statoil plant near Tigantourine, deep in the Sahara desert. If Cameron is telling the truth, then why should it seem so insolent for a sovereign leader to react to mission-critical information on the ground and initiate an attack? Would Obama, Hollande or Cameron inform Algiers if they had received a call from their special forces on the ground on an imminent attack on the hostages? Algeria isn’t really a sovereign country and there might as well never have been the Battle of Algiers, what with the appalling redistribution of wealth accruing from the energy sector and all the foreign private and state actors on the ground.

But what if Cameron was lying – how would we know? And why are journalists so unquestioning when they receive information from their political leaders? How many years has it been since Iraq when UK journalists were supposed to get the hang of the idea that those in power don’t always tell the truth? Today, Libya is a catastrophe with no corporate journalists to cover it. Meanwhile, NATO’s attempts at destroying Assad’s secular government by funding Al Qaeda has led only to strengthening Wahabism. No wonder it’s difficult to work out what is going on if individual journalists take power at face value.

More pertinently, the whole tragedy-cum-farce at the Ain Amenas energy facility is a grim reminder of how pointless and misguided is NATO in their trans-global attempts at securing energy resources and playing off different sides. This isn’t the nineteenth century any more.

NATO weapons were poured in before French and British premiers could proudly declare victory in Libya – that energy rich land on the Mediterranean with some of the sweetest oil in the world. Britain, in particular, chose to back exactly the kind of people that cheered the September 11th 2001 attacks on Washington and New York. Why did they do this? To a large part, because government drew on an entire echelon of academic and intelligence analysts who have completely misunderstood the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

While U.S. President Bill Clinton sowed the seeds of the economic destruction of the United States with the abolition of Glass–Steagall, a concurrent suicidal foreign policy was well underway. In its own hemisphere, the U.S. made useless attempts at supressing Latin and Central American rage against U.S. power as the tide turned against American death squads, assassinations and terrorism.

There was continuing massive American support for that terrorist entity in the heart of the Middle East – Israel. The Zionists rewarded the U.S. in return by backing Salafists who despised everything the United States ever stood for.

And, all the way, Europe with its absurd EU institutions and crazy European currency, followed U.S. policy because of assumptions about the future of capitalism, markets and a neoliberal version of what Enlightenment thinking was actually about. Like levers, each intricately pulled to reach this outcome, we have a conjunction of Europe on its knees trying to clamber out of economic catastrophe and a new guerrilla warfare that even Che Guevara might never have imagined.

The faintly ridiculous anti-Marxist trend of identity politics without attendant superstructural contexts of class has reached a stage long predicted by its detractors. We have the sighs of the oppressed amplified around the world and only those powers who negotiate with it can progress – take a look at BRICS GDP figures. China’s come out today so expect earnest downplaying from Western media.

NATO as an organisation might as well be a Wahabi Loya Jurga in the Hindu Kush for all it has done to spread the toxic views of Osama bin Laden and his “evil-doers”. Meanwhile, the world’s next superpowers negotiate with multivariate parties, gaining an economic foothold here, a strategic partnership there.

As France’s Francois Hollande tries desperately to cling on to Uranium resources in pan-national, Tuareg West Africa to manufacture ever more nuclear weapons, it should be obvious that his mission will end in failure. As late as 11 December 2012, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon was saying that the UN Security Council should not approve any UN financial support for war in Mali. The Chapter VII UN resolution 2085 talks about an “Africa-led” force to foster peace – though EU corporate media say French airstrikes are covered by that resolution. But, in any case, weren’t the UK SAS, France’s GIGN and U.S. Deltas already on the ground in Mali? There are now European ground troops. And there will be asymmetric warfare in civilian areas of European cities in the years to come.

A quarter of a millennium before the creation of the United States, Sunni Ali, made Gao (today in Mali) the capital of the Songhay Empire. It is currently enduring airstrikes from French Rafale planes using ordnance that costs unimaginable multiples of the average wage in Uranium-rich Mali. Ali was succeeded by Askia Muhammad the Great and the 16th-century Moroccan explorer Leo Africanus said of Africa’s Songhay Empire that “more profit [was] made from the book trade than from any other line of business.” NATO leaders could do worse than read a few books before they sacrifice everything for access to Uranium to proliferate nuclear weapons of mass destruction. And while they’re about it, they can stop funding “Al Qaeda”.

AFSHIN RATTANSI is the author of “The London Novels: The Dream of the Decade” and runs Alternate Reality Productions Ltd. One of its commissions is Double Standards, a political satire show for Press TV, broadcast every Saturday at 2230 GMT. Shows can be accessed via www.doublestandardstv.com. He can be reached via afshinrattansi@hotmail.com

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Workers’ Party of Belgium opposes imperialist intervention in Mali

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The following statement below was circulated by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization

Against the Belgian participation in the military intervention of France in Mali

The Belgian government has decided to participate in the military intervention of France in Mali, contributing two C-130 transport planes, two helicopters and 75 soldiers. The Western military force is avowedly aimed at stopping the advance of Islamist rebel groups in the North of the country, at the demand of Mali’s government and with the support, provided only after the start of the intervention, of the UN Security Council.

With the military intervention of France, French President François Hollande plays ‘cavalier seul’. By his act of war, he undermines a peace initiative the UN elaborated with several African countries. The fact that Mali has recently become a hornets’ nest is largely due to the consequences of the NATO war in Lybia and of decades of Western political meddling in the country’s affairs. In Mali’s complex situation, the only chance for peace, stability and development to succeed is by extremely cautious initiatives that have a large base of support and are principally African.

France’s intervention is of course not devoid of self-interest. As the former colonial power, France continues to have huge economic interests in the region. Mali possesses gold mines and petroleum, while also uranium is extracted in the region, which is used for part of the French nuclear industry.

Just like with the deadly NATO bombing on Lybia two years ago, Belgium has been very quick to offer its participation to the French military intervention. And this without any democratic debate about its objectives, consequences or cost. In a period of painful austerity measures and cuts in the social budgets, any increase in the Defense budget is simply cynical.

The Belgian government is not clear about the duration of its military intervention in Mali. Defense Minister Pieter De Crem only informed the Belgian taxpayers that it could be of a « very short, short, or medium » duration. As a first evaluation will be made only at the end of February, the mission will take at least six weeks. That is, as a starter, because this period may be prolonged several times yet, as was the case with the Belgian military mission in Afghanistan. In the meantime, for how many deads, wounded and refugees in Mali the Belgian government of Di Rupo (PS) will be responsible ?

The Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB) is opposed to any imperialist intervention in Mali, as elsewhere.

Against Left Opportunism: Syria & Anti-Imperialism

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The following article below was originally published by the Return to the Source news blog: 

By Vince Sherman
December 10, 2012

The time has come for the left in the United States to make a choice.

Either it can continue to play into the hands of Western imperialism through its bizarre, undying support for the Syrian rebellion, or it can break decisively from opportunism and consistently uphold Syria’s right to self-determination by supporting President Bashar al-Assad.

NATO’s ruthless assault on Libya proved that all of the Western polemics in the world could not conjure a workers revolution into existence that opposed both Colonel Muammar Qaddafi and NATO. It proved that the call to support the rebellion while also condemning Western aggression was worse than taking no position at all. Liberals and opportunists in the US spent more time criticizing Qaddafi than they did organizing actual resistance to the horrific actions of their own government in Libya, and ultimately they supported the Obama administration’s so-called “humanitarian intervention,” if not in words than certainly in deeds.

With President Barack Obama winning a second term handily over Mitt Romney, the administration no longer has the disincentive towards war with Syria and Iran that it did a little over a month ago. Xinhua and RT challenge the narrative put forward by the Western media about the progress of the Syrian rebellion, arguing that they are essentially locked in a stalemate on the ground coupled with a worsening international situation. CNN, on the other hand, runs stories titled “Syria endgame in sight: ‘We welcome this fight’” that claim a rebel victory is within reach.

Washington tipped its hand last week in revealing the purpose of the propaganda war: Accusing a supposedly desperate Assad of planning to use chemical weapons. Imminent victory for the rebellion is an important component of the pro-war narrative because it gives Assad, by all accounts a rational world leader, a motive for planning a patently irrational action. While the US is in a less advantageous position internationally to launch an assault on Syria than they were ten years ago with Iraq, the possibility of invasion has never been greater.

This is the larger context of the US left’s positions, and it’s shocking how little hue and cry there is over imminent war with Syria. Takis Fotopoulos, the famed Greek left-libertarian political philosopher behind the “inclusive democracy” concept, perfectly describes the phenomenon of leftist support, explicit or tacit, for the criminal attacks on countries like Libya and Syria. In the Winter/Spring 2011 issue of The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, he wrote of the “degenerate left” in the United States. We will quote him at some length:

The world mass media controlled by the transnational and Zionist elites, crucially assisted this time by the “alternative” world media (from Aljazeera — which has become the unofficial channel of the “revolutionaries” and the transnational elite — to the Iranian Press TV), have played a very important role in creating the illusion of a monolithic “world against the tyrant”, which was not created during all the previous criminal wars of the transnational elite (see Section 4).

This has had very important implications as regards the stand of the Left (statist, libertarian, Green, etc.), who have mostly sided with the “revolutionaries”, if not with the criminal campaign itself! Furthermore, it has not just been the reformist Left who have sided with the new criminal campaign, as they have done in the past. This time, a very significant part of the anti-systemic Left have also indirectly been in favour of this war, through their support for the so-called “revolutionaries” in Libya. This has created (or perhaps revealed) a new kind of degenerate “Left” who, instead of demystifying the systemic propaganda, as used to be their traditional role, have directly or indirectly been supporting it, justifying the conclusion I derived ten years ago about the end of the traditional antisystemic movements. (1)

We are eager to read Fotopoulos’ new book, Redesigning the Middle East: The Arab “Revolutions”, Counter-Revolution in Iran and Regime Change, which promises to explore this concept further.

The point is, by not putting forth a consistent, unified, principled anti-imperialist position on the Libyan or Syrian question, the left aids and abets Western imperialism. One cannot call the US left’s willingness to hitch its wagon onto any protest movement, regardless of its composition or political context, anything but the most degenerate form of opportunism. Just as in Libya, the Syrian rebellion today has generally worked with the West and its puppet states towards the overthrow of a nationalist, anti-imperialist government since the beginning. Thanks to news services like RT, even Western leftists have had access to this information from day-one, and yet they cannot be bothered to sacrifice some vague notion of “principle” and support Assad and Syrian self-determination. As we will see, this opportunism has run the gamut from outright support to more insidious forms.

Like Libya, Syria Reveals Opportunism in the US Left

A cruise-missile leftist blog called The North Star raised the ire of a number of leftist groups in the US when they posted an article entitled “Lybia and Syria: When Anti-Imperialism Goes Wrong.” The piece took left-opportunism to a new level by openly calling on leftists to support the demand by the Syrian opposition for Western imperialist intervention. In subsequent pieces, the author, Pham Binh, heavily criticized the Cliffite-Trotskyite International Socialist Organization (ISO) for “quietly [abandoning] its support for the Libyan revolution once the going got tough and NATO’s F-16s got going.” (2) For Binh, the ISO’s clumsy and ham-handed justification for supporting the Libyan rebels but not the NATO intervention of 2011 was “the anti-imperialism of fools,” but not because they supported the invasion. Rather, Binh criticizes the ISO for not actively supporting the NATO airstrikes to bring down Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s government, claiming that leftists should support the ‘Arab spring’ – itself a completely empty term employed by the West to blur the line between popular uprisings, like those in Egypt and Tunisia, and the imperialist-instigated plots against Libya and Syria – “no matter what side the U.S. government eventually decides to back.” (2)

This bizarre episode of explicit opportunist support for imperialism provoked many strong responses from other left groups around the world. Directly responding to both The North Star and the ISO’s own left-opportunist view of the Syrian question, Mazda Majidi of the Party for Socialism & Liberation (PSL) wrote a fantastic piece for Liberation News entitled “When justifying imperialist intervention “goes wrong” Cruise-missile socialists.

At Return to the Source, we see no reason to reinvent the wheel, and we unite with the criticisms of Binh’s piece levied by Majidi and the PSL. We encourage any and all Marxist-Leninists interested in this debate to read the aforementioned article.

Unlike Libya, however, the question of the Syrian ‘rebellion’ is still at the forefront of the struggle against imperialism. anti-imperialists must resolutely struggle against the possibility of a Western military invasion of Syrian and rigorously combat the left-opportunist elements – like the ISO and The North Star – which seek to give cover to an invasion.

In terms of honesty, logic, and consistency, The North Star gets high marks. Polemic-trading between The North Star and the ISO should not blur the fact that both of these groups view the so-called ‘Syrian rebellion’ in the same way: a genuine popular people’s movement against the so-called “Assad dictatorship.” This is crucial to understanding the common tie between the ISO and The North Star, which is left-opportunism and social imperialism. Majidi notes this in the PSL’s response, saying that ”[they] accept all the same premises: that the Libyan government had no significant base of support and that the revolt was a popular “revolution” with an “understandable” desire for foreign help.” (4)

However, The North Star accepts the logical conclusion of its support for the so-called ‘Syrian rebellion’, while the ISO fallaciously tries to have their cake and eat it too. In perhaps the most bizarre piece put forward by the ISO, author Paul D’Amato presents its position “to support the revolutions in Libya and Syria against dictatorial regimes, while at the same time opposing intervention by the U.S. and its imperialist allies.” He follows up these mutually contradictory positions by saying that “some of us who haven’t lost our heads,” (!) presumably the ISO, “still consider imperialism to be the greatest enemy of both the revolutions of the Arab Spring and national self-determination in the Middle East.” (5)

D’Amato’s seems uncomfortable for the duration of the article as he attempts to distinguish the stance of the ISO from The North Star. The reason for D’Amato’s discomfort is that Binh’s piece on The North Star is just a more honest and logical presentation of the ISO’s own horrendous position: tactical support for imperialism.

It becomes evident in D’Amato’s piece, along with two follow-up pieces further articulating the ISO’s left-opportunist position, that the ISO supports an imaginary ‘rebellion’ in Syria. Lee Sustar of the ISO blatantly denies facts now acknowledged by the Western media in his August 16, 2012 screed entitled “What is the future of the Syrian revolution?”  We quote Sustar at some length to give the reader a sense of scale for the ISO’s delusion:

SocialistWorker.org has been among publications on the left that have supported the Syrian revolution while criticizing leading elements of the Syrian National Council (SNC) for their attempts to make alliances with imperialism. Key members of the SNC have called for stepped-up intervention by Western powers, such as military action to establish safe havens for refugees on Syrian territory or the imposition of a no-fly zone to neutralize Assad’s air power.

But for Rees and some others on the left, that’s enough to write off not only the SNC and the Free Syrian Army (FSA), but also the Local Coordinating Councils (LCCs) that have organized heroic mass resistance for more than a year and half despite the most savage repression–mass arrests, torture, artillery attacks on civilian areas, massacres and, now, aerial bombardment.

Is it really the case that one of the most inspiring, self-organized revolutionary movements in recent decades has degenerated into a pliable tool of the West? Are we looking at a repeat of Libya, where NATO air strikes played the decisive role in turning the tide in the civil war? Are ultra-sectarian Islamist forces–backed by the Saudis and Qataris–becoming a dominant force?

The answer is no. While imperialist forces are angling to install a post-Assad leadership to their liking–a preferably a military strongman, as Reuters reported–the revolutionary movement has continued to develop in response to the struggle in Syria itself.

Moreover, there are well-documented divisions within the SNC and the FSA–and criticisms of both from grassroots Syrian revolutionary forces on the ground in the LCCs. And does it make any sense to equate an SNC leader who calls for a no-fly zone and meets with State Department officials with a farmer who distributes AK-47s smuggled in from Turkey in order to defend a village from Syrian army tanks?

Notice how Sustar actually avoids answering the serious indictments of the so-called ‘Syrian rebellion’ that he himself brings up via rhetorical questions. All he can muster is some flaccid claim that “the revolutionary movement has continued to develop in response to the struggle in Syria itself,” (?) and that “there are well-documented divisions within the SNC and the [Free Syrian Army].” (6)

Of course there are divisions in the ‘rebellion’! There were the same divisions in Libya between the comparador bourgeois elite and the Islamist elements connected to al-Qaeda. This isn’t the point, though. The point is that both of these interests, which have comfortably coalesced in Syria as they did in Libya, are the unquestionable leading forces for the ‘rebellion’. US officials, who are now openly collaborating with al-Qaeda to bring down the Syrian government, now admit that the radical Islamist network “has advanced beyond isolated pockets of activity in Syria and now is building a network of well-organized cells.” (7) With several hundred militants operating in Syria, the Associated Press writes that US officials “fear the terrorists could be on the verge of establishing an Iraq-like foothold that would be hard to defeat if rebels oust President Bashar Assad,” a peculiar concern for the US to hold if the ISO’s ‘local coordinating committees’ were in the driver’s seat separate from al-Qaeda and Islamists. (8) In trying to downplay their numbers, Sustar neglects the stark reality that Islamists “are using their experience in coordinating small units of fighters in Afghanistan to win new followers,” allowing them to take control of many so-called ‘independent’ groups of ‘rebels’ that the ISO claims to support. (9)

Even the US government acknowledges divisions in the rebellion. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks in late October that withdrew support for the Syrian National Council (SNC1) reflects Washington’s growing alarm at the presence of al-Qaeda militants on the ground, who have little to no loyalty to the Syrian exile elite. Independent scholar Stephen Gowans explains this phenomenon in a November 2, 2012 article:

Uprisings aimed at overthrowing governments are often divided between militants who do the heavy lifting on the ground and politicians who lead the fight in the political sphere. Outside powers scheme to anoint an acceptable politician as a leader-in-waiting to step into the void if and when the current government is toppled. The leader must be both acceptable to his or her foreign backers and to the militants on the ground. (8)

Gowans goes on to explain that the strong presence of exiled Muslim Brotherhood members – consistent opponents of Assad’s secular Ba’athist government in Syria – prevented the SNC1 from gaining the loyalty of the rebels on the ground. Indeed, the Obama administration and the faux-socialist Hollande government in France have gone back to the drawing board in supporting the rise of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC2), which hopes to garner the loyalty of the various sectarian elements in the Syrian rebellion.

Rest assured, though, Washington’s hesitance to commit to the SNC1 has nothing to do with minimizing a “revolutionary alternative” or the ‘local coordinating committees’ within the Syrian rebellion, as the ISO might claim. Gowans further explains that the impetus to the new SNC2′s formation “is to marginalize the influence of the Jihadists, many though not all of whom have spilled into Syria from other countries, bent on overturning a secular regime led by a president whose Alawi faith they revile as heretical. If the Jihadists can be sidelined, Washington may be able to funnel arms to “acceptable” militant groups, without fear of their being used later against US targets.” (8) Secular, “anti-imperialist” rebel groups are not a substantial factor in Washington’s calculus for intervention, despite what the ISO would have its members believe, because the truly anti-imperialist groups in Syria, like the two communist parties, critically support the Assad government.

Appalling as it may be, The North Star’s position is simply a more honest rendering of the same opportunist position taken by the ISO. It approaches the Syrian question not from a perspective of dialectical materialism, but from a perspective of craven idealism. The opportunists in the US left cannot view the Syrian rebellion in any terms other than a metaphysical struggle against tyranny. They buy wholesale the reports of retaliatory violence by the Syrian security forces in order to characterize Assad as a tyrant, and in doing so, they confound the central contradiction facing the Syrian people: the contradiction between imperialism and national liberation.

Ironically, Leon Trotsky – the ideological godfather of the ISO – may have put it best in a 1938 interview, when he said, “Truly, one must have an empty head to reduce world antagonisms and military conflicts to the struggle between fascism and democracy. Under all masks one must know how to distinguish exploiters, slave-owners, and robbers!” (9) It’s a testament to the absurdity of the US left’s opportunism that we now say, in this particular moment, D’Amato and Sustar could learn a lot from reading Trotsky!

Perhaps the most confounding question of all for the ISO is this: Where is their coverage of the ‘Libyan revolution’ now? Now that the rebels that were supposedly independent of the West have ascended to power, what happened to the ISO’s enthusiasm and the phrase-mongering about ‘democratic rights’? An ever-defiant ISO published an attempt at summating the lessons of the ‘Libyan revolution’ shortly after the fall of Tripoli. ISO leader Alan Maass, in an article titled, “Who really won in Libya?” writes, “Qaddafi deserved to be overthrown. But the circumstances of his downfall are an advance for imperialism–which means a setback for the struggle to extend democracy and freedom.” (10)

One almost expects to hear a Homer Simpson-esque “Doh!” at the end of the article, as if to say, what a shame that the US compromised the integrity of another revolution! The ISO did nothing but apologize for the crimes of the Libyan rebels – shamefully downplaying and apologizing for the lynching of black African migrants – and ignore the long-standing evidence that the rebellion was instigated and supported by Western imperialist countries from the beginning. And then they act surprised when NATO attacks Libya at the request of those same rebels for whom they pledged support.

If the ISO had published a thoughtful, reflective piece that asked honest, hard questions about the flaws with their line in Libya, they might have earned a little credibility. Instead, they applied their tautological ideology to Syria and doubled-down on their support for the foreign-backed rebellion, whose ties to the West are even more documented than those of the Libyan rebels.

The ISO may be the most peculiar of all the US left sects, but their position was echoed by countless liberal publications and thinkers, including The Nation, ZNet, and the academic Immanuel Wallerstein. Sadly, these groups and individuals have learned nothing from the Libyan experience and continue to support the Syrian rebellion, even in the face of renewed US aggression.

Opportunism in the Western Left

Although opportunism has led many groups in the US left down the path of social imperialism – socialist in word, imperialism in deed – this perverse trend extends far beyond to the US to many of the so-called “left” groups in Western Europe.

SYRIZA, the Greek coalition of ostensibly leftist groups, has enjoyed the support of many on the US left vis-a-vis the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). The so-called “Coalition of the Radical Left” exposed its opportunism to the people of Greece in its continued acceptance of the Eurozone, despite its verbal commitment to opposing austerity. However, SYRIZA has quietly worked with the other conservative parties in Greece to support the Syrian rebels and argue for Greek intervention into the conflict. On September 12, 2012, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras “expressed his concerns about the developments in Syria and the need for Greece to “intervene” in order  for the EU to enhance assistance so Greece can host refugees fleeing the violence in the country.” (11) During the duration of NATO’s attack on Libya, SYRIZA leaders made nary a statement whatsoever and made only a vague reference to the criminal assault in a statement to the Coalition Against NATO/G8 rally on May 20, 2012.

We contrast SYRIZA’s opportunism with the plethora of statements by the KKE against Greek involvement in aggression towards Syria and Iran. (12) KKE consistently upholds proletarian internationalism and is strongly critical of any attempts by its own government to intervene in Syria. SYRIZA, instead, has broken their opportunistic silence during the assault on Libya and crossed the threshold into the territory of social imperialism, calling openly for Greek intervention in Syria.

SYRIZA is but one example of the increasingly prevalent role that so-called “left” parties and movements are playing in supporting imperialism. Much ado was made of France electing a ‘socialist’ President, François Hollande, earlier this year. Playing into the historical trend of social democracy towards supporting imperialism – the major schism in the Second International that Lenin fought against – Hollande has doubled-down on the increasingly hawkish policies of former President Nicholas Sarkozy and supported the Syrian rebels at every juncture. To date, France’s so-called ‘socialist’ government has supported the reactionary terrorist rebellion more prolifically than the United States!

France now delivers money and arms to proxies along the Turkish border that are subsequently funneled to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which has primarily directed the terrorist activity of the rebellion in Syria. (13) The Guardian reports that Hollande’s support has even ”reached Islamist groups who were desperately short of ammunition and who had increasingly turned for help towards al-Qaida aligned jihadist groups in and around Aleppo.” (13) Going further than the United States, Hollande recognized the SNC1 as the legitimate government of Syria and has called for the Syrian opposition to begin forming a “provisional government.” (14)

Of course, every Marxist-Leninist should expect social-democrats like Hollande and SYRIZA to function as part of the capitalist system. However, the vanguard role that a nominally ‘socialist’ government is playing in spearheading imperialist aggression towards Syria is particularly striking in this period. Hollande and SYRIZA are opportunists, but the similarities in their positions on Syria with elements of the left in the US are incredibly disturbing.

Lenin, Syria, and the Struggle Against Opportunism

As Social-Democratic parties across Europe got behind their own bourgeois governments in lockstep during the First World War, Lenin was one of the harshest critics of what he termed “social chauvanism,” which was the placing of national interests above proletarian internationalism through the use of socialist phrases. Indeed, the distinguishing feature of the Bolsheviks was their consistent opposition to the First World War and the imperialist crimes of their own government.

Reading Lenin’s attacks on social chauvanism in 2012 will draw obvious analogies to SYRIZA, Hollande, and opportunist elements of the US left in the mind of astute readers. We will quote from his 1915 essay, Social Chauvanist Policy Behind a Cover of International Phrases at some length:

To influence the workers, the bourgeois must assume the guise of socialists, Social-Democrats, internationalists, and the like, for otherwise they can exert no influence. The Rabocheye Utro group disguise themselves; they apply plenty of paint and powder, prettify themselves, cast sheep eyes all around, and go the limit! They are ready to sign the Zimmerwald Manifesto a hundred times (a slap in the face for those Zimmerwaldists who signed the Manifesto without combating its timidity or making reservations!) or any other resolution on the imperialist nature of the war, or take any oath of allegiance to “internationalism” and “revolutionism” (“liberation of the country” in the censored press being the equivalent of “revolution” in the underground press), if only—if only they are not prevented from calling upon the workers to participate in the war industries committees, i.e., in practice to participate in the reactionary war of plunder (“a war of defence”).

Only this is action; all the rest is words. Only this is reality; all the rest is phrases. Only this is needed by the police, by the tsarist monarchy, Khvostov and the bourgeoisie. The clever bourgeois in countries that are cleverer are more tolerant of internationalist and socialist phrases if only participation in defence is assured, as is evidenced by comment in the French reactionary press regarding the London Conference of the socialists of the “Triple Entente”. With the socialist gentry, one of these papers said, it’s a kind of tic douloureux, a species of nervous malady which forces people involuntarily to repeat the same gesture, the same muscular movement, the same word. It is for that reason, the paper said, that “our own” socialists cannot speak about anything without repeating the words, “We are internationalists; we stand for social revolution”. This is not dangerous, the bourgeois paper concludes, only a “tic”; what is important to “us” is their stand for the defence of the country.

That is how the clever French and British bourgeois reason. If participation in a war of plunder is defended with phrases about democracy, socialism, etc., is this not to   the advantage of rapacious governments, the imperialist bourgeoisie? Is it not to the master’s advantage to keep a lackey who swears to all and sundry that his master loves them, and has dedicated his life to their welfare? (15)

The particulars have changed, but the general opportunist trend that Lenin observed in Social Democratic parties has re-emerged in 2012. Groups like the ISO and intellectuals like Wallerstein assert that their support for the Libyan or Syrian rebels is a part of some greater move towards ‘democracy’ or ‘revolution’. Central to the ISO’s argument for supporting the Libyan rebels, even after the NATO intervention, was constantly repeating the phrase, “Arab Spring,” and waxing on about how the rebellion in Libya was part of a larger revolutionary movement sweeping away “dictators” in the Arab world.

Reality collided with their idealist phrase-mongering, and the ISO tacitly supported the criminal assault on Libya by ruthlessly demonizing Qaddafi, first and foremost. Today, as opportunist groups on the US left call for the toppling of Assad – whether they take the next logical step and call for outright intervention, like The North Star, or veil it, like the ISO – we are witnessing a similar trend.

Just as Lenin and the Bolsheviks combated social chauvanism through ideological struggle, so too much genuine revolutionaries in the US and Western Europe combat the opportunist elements that functionally support US imperialism. There can be no more mixed messages; no more social democrats playing the role of imperialist cheerleaders. The anti-war left in the US must firmly embrace anti-imperialism and begin building resistance to war with Syria that includes upholding Syria’s right to self-determination.

Victory to Assad and the Syrian people!

Hands Off Syria!

For Return to the Source’s essay on supporting nationalist governments, like that of Assad, please refer back to Marxism & Bourgeois Nationalism.

——

(1) Takis Fotopoulos, The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, Winter/Spring 2011, “The pseudo-revolution in Libya and the Degenerate “Left”,” http://www.inclusivedemocracy.org/journal/vol7/vol7_no1_takis_Libya_part1_pseudo_revolution.html

(2) Pham Binh, The North Star, July 18, 2012 “The Anti-Imperialism of Fools and the Syrian Spring,” http://bit.ly/OZaabI

(3) Reuters, Published on The Guardian (UK), August 20, 2012, “Barack Obama warns Syria over use of chemical or biological weapons,” http://bit.ly/Qj7N3s

(4) Mazda Majidi, Liberation News, July 17, 2012, “When justifying imperialism ‘goes wrong’: Cruise Missile Socialism,” http://bit.ly/LwSIPl

(5) Paul D’Amato, SocialistWorker, July 16, 2012, “Siding with the greatest purveyor of violence,” http://bit.ly/NY0VLe

(6) Lee Sustar, SocialistWorker, August 16, 2012, “What is the future of the Syrian revolution?” http://bit.ly/PmC19d

(7) Associated Press, August 11, 2012, “US officials: Al-Qaeda spreading in Syria,” http://bit.ly/NZqtqW

(8) Stephen Gowans, what’s left, November 2, 2012, “Will Damascus Survive Washington’s Latest Attempt to Impose a Puppet Government on Syria?” http://bit.ly/U5FnSz

(9) Leon Trotsky, “Anti-Imperialist Struggle is Key to Liberation,” September 1938, http://bit.ly/UpGian

(10) Alan Maass, Socialist Worker, “Who Really Won in Libya?” August 23, 2011, http://bit.ly/qJbLQG

(11) Al Yunaniya, September 12, 2012, “SYRIZA leader says Greece should host refugees from Syria,” http://bit.ly/Z2TqcY

(12) Communist Party of Greece, May 31, 2012, “NATO and EU are Preparing for Bloodshed,” http://bit.ly/K3QgM0

(13) Martin Chulov, The Guardian, December 7, 2012, “France funding Syrian rebels in new push to oust Assad,” http://bit.ly/VoCLdr

(14) Julian Borger, The Guardian, August 27, 2012, “François Hollande calls on Syrian rebels to form provisional government,” http://bit.ly/SJyvXW

(15) VI Lenin, December 1915, Social Chauvanist Policy Behind a Cover of International Phrases, http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1915/dec/21.htm

Communist Party of Greece: NATO and the EU are preparing for bloodshed

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The following statement below was originally published by the Communist Party of Greece

June 1, 2012

The Press Office of the CC of the KKE stressed the following in its statement regarding the declarations of F. Hollande concerning Syria:

“The declarations of the newly elected President of France, Francois Hollande, which are now openly oriented to the possibility of military intervention in Syria, are very revealing regarding the new massacre of the peoples being prepared by the EU and NATO in our region.

His references to International Law and the UN are being used as “cover” to impose “the law of the strongest” in the “jungle” of contradictions amongst the imperialist powers and the monopoly groups over the control of the energy resources, their transport routes, and the market shares.

All those, including SYRIZA, who said that with the election of Hollande a new wind was blowing in the EU and sowed illusions that the EU will become “pro-people” have been exposed and must answer for this to the people. Life itself has demonstrated that the imperialist organizations, like NATO and the EU, cannot be “humanized”. They were, are and will be for as long as they exist, instruments for the exploitation of the peoples, like capitalism they have war in their DNA.

The KKE denounces the new imperialist plans against the people of Syria and stresses that only the people of Syria have the right to determine the future of their country without foreign recommendations and interventions.

We demand that all military cooperation with Israel should now come to an end. That the US base at Suda should close and more generally that none of Greece’s territory, ports and airspace should be made available for an imperialist intervention against Syria and Iran, which will lead the people of Greece and the other peoples of the region along dangerous paths.”

Greece and France: Masses reject austerity

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By G. Dunkel
May 12, 2012

KKE protestors atop the famous Athens Acropolis

While the elections in Greece and France had a common thread — rejecting austerity — their impacts will be different.

France is the world’s fifth largest economy, with a productive, skilled and highly paid working class. France is a major imperialist power, with colonies in the Caribbean and neocolonies in Africa. It’s had an election among the two remaining candidates for president, a powerful post which some Marxist analysts describe as a “disguised monarchy.”

François Hollande, even though he belongs to a party that calls itself “socialist,” by his training and education in elite finishing schools and his career as a provincial politician with deep ties to Paris, he is a member of the French capitalist establishment in good standing. His economic prescription for France is higher taxes, particularly on the rich, a mild jobs program and a balanced budget by 2017, the end of his term.

Parties to the left of the Socialists called for voting for Hollande as a means of rejecting the incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy’s record of targeting unions, workers and all democratic rights.

Pierre Laurent, secretary general of the French Communist Party, said, “In the concrete conditions of the second round [of the presidential election], the only way to pursue the fight for the Left Front is to assure the most crushing defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy. His program, as we see from his daily declarations of war against unions and our standard of living is far worse than what he has actually accomplished.” (L’Humanité, April 27.)

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the candidate of the Parti du Gauche (Left Party) in the first round, issued a similar statement May 3 in L’Humanité.

The way one French leftist put her voting intentions: “I am going to hold my nose when I vote for Hollande,” who ended up with just under 52 percent of the vote to Sarkozy’s 48 percent.

Parliamentary elections in mid-June will reveal more about changes in popular attitudes. The actual impact on policy is much like an electoral victory of a Democrat over a Republican would be here in the U.S.: different domestic programs, but both serve big capital.

Greek voters rebuff European banks

Greece is in a full-fledged depression, rivaling the Great Depression of the U.S. in the 1930s. By World Bank figures, its economy has been contracting since 2008 — nearly 7 percent in 2011 and about the same in 2010. Unemployment is at 21 percent and youth unemployment is over 50 percent. According to its agreement with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, the Greek government is scheduled to make another $15 billion in budget cuts next month.

The two parties that alternated running the government since the 1970s — New Democracy, a center right party, and Pasok, a party that calls itself “socialist” — had jointly signed on to the agreements to make such drastic cuts in return for a $250 billion bailout. Their support imploded. New Democracy went from 33 percent of the vote in 2009 to less than 19 percent on Sunday; Pasok went from 44 percent of the vote to 13 percent. They do not have enough seats in parliament to form a government without partners, which they will be trying to find in the next few days.

According to the Guardian (May 7), the reaction of the IMF and other bailout providers was silence.

Support for Syriza, a left social democratic party that supports Greece remaining in the European Union, jumped to 17 percent; the Greek Communist Party (KKE), got 8.5 percent of the vote, increasing from 7 percent in 2009. A fascist party and some smaller left parties also improved their results. Seven parties will be represented in the new parliament.

Aleka Papariga, the general secretary of the Greek Communist Party, which calls for Greece leaving the EU and abandoning the euro, addressed the political situation at a huge rally the KKE held in Athens on May 3. She explained why her party would not ally with Syriza and try to form a government

“It is obvious that a coalition with other borrowed votes has one precondition: that the KKE cancel positions based on the solid experience of the past and the bleak capitalist present. In this way we will become very useful to the system, so that the people’s movement can be curtailed and so that this government will have its hands free to compromise with and submit to Brussels, Washington, and above all to carry out the well known U-turns in Greece. …

“We are not going to play this game because we do not want to kill the hopes of the people.” She added that “the conflict with the EU is the only way as is the conflict with the monopolies in Greece.”

The situation in Greece, both political and economic, is very fluid. The anger and desperation of its people are deep and the crisis of capitalism is rapidly ripening.

Source

FARC-EP’s public statement on the retention of French journalist Roméo Langlois

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Comunicado sobre la retención del periodista francés Roméo Langlois


Comunicado de las FARC-EP

La retención en calidad de prisionero de guerra del periodista francés Romeo Langlois por unidades del XV Frente de las FARC-EP pone de presente lo siguiente:

1. Los periodistas que las fuerzas armadas colombianas llevan consigo en sus operaciones militares, no cumplen el propósito imparcial de informar sobre la realidad, sino el de manipular, ésta para que sirva al proyecto de guerra contra el pueblo colombiano.

2. Cabe preguntar cuál sería la actuación de las autoridades colombianas, si un periodista que con sano criterio informativo acompañara unidades guerrilleras, resultara capturado por el Ejército regular tras un combate.

3. La concepción contrainsurgente del Estado colombiano apunta a involucrar de su lado en la guerra a todo el mundo, incluida la prensa. Que una cámara puede jugar el papel de un arma lo corrobora la diaria manipulación mediática que se practica en nuestro país.

4. Las libertades de pensamiento, expresión e información no pueden operar sólo para el beneficio de los dueños del capital y de la tierra. Nuestra página web es atacada y bloqueada permanentemente, nuestras emisoras son molidas a bombas.

5. El régimen colombiano asesina, amenaza, encarcela o destierra a los periodistas nacionales o extranjeros que intentan investigar o informar sobre la versión no oficial del conflicto. Son conocidos y demasiados los casos como para enumerarlos.

6. Romeo Langlois vestía prendas militares del Ejército regular en medio de un combate. Creemos que lo mínimo que puede esperarse para la recuperación de su plena movilidad es la apertura de un amplio debate nacional e internacional sobre la libertad de informar.

7. Es vieja costumbre del Ejército colombiano emprender aventuradas operaciones de rescate con el deliberado propósito de que se pierda la vida de los prisioneros. Considera más cercana la victoria si nos echa la prensa encima.

Secretariado FARC-EP

Montañas de Colombia, Mayo 2012

English translation: 

1. Journalists who follow the Colombian armed forces operations do not meet the purpose of reporting reality fairly, but manipulate it to serve the project of pushing war on the Colombian people.

2. One might ask how the Colombian authorities would act, if a journalist with sound judgement accompanied a guerrilla unit which resulted in their capture by the regular army after a battle.

3. The Colombian government’s counterinsurgency concept aims to recruit everyone to their side, including the press. A camera can play the role of a weapon when it’s corroborated by the daily media manipulation that is practiced in our country.

4. The freedoms of thought, expression and information can not operate solely for the benefit of the owners of capital and land. Our website is attacked and blocked permanently, our communication channels have been ground to a halt.

5. The murderous Colombian regime, threatened, imprisoned or exiled domestic and foreign journalists trying to investigate or report on the draft version of a conflict. Many of these cases are known and there are too many to list.

6. Romeo Langlois wore the military uniform of the regular army in the middle of a fight. We believe that the least we can expect in order to recover full mobility is opening a broad national and international debate about freedom of information.

7. It is a routine custom of the Colombian Army to undertake risky rescue operations with the deliberate intention of losing the lives of prisoners. We’d be closer to a resolution if we keep the press in check.

FARC-EP Secretariat

Mountains of Colombia, May 2012