Category Archives: National Liberation / Self-Determination

Counter-Questions on Syria

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By Stephen Gowans
September 1, 2013

The US state is above international law, according to US president Barack Obama. In an address announcing that he was referring to the US Congress the decision to take military action against Syria, Obama declared that the United States needs to violate international law in order to enforce “the international system” and “international rules.” The international “system” and “rules” Obama referred to, which he apparently intended his audience to construe as “international law,” is not, in fact, international law, but rules Obama himself has unilaterally drawn up, and through rhetorical sleight of hand, attempted to pass off as international law. Yet, the very act Obama proposes—waging war on Syria without UN Security Council authorization, and to punish an act that, if there were hard evidence that it actually happened, would not be unlawful—is a flagrant violation of the authentic international system Obama deceptively claims he wishes to uphold. Obama has arrogated onto himself the powers and responsibilities of world ruler. He sets the rules, decides when they’re broken, and metes out the punishment.

The US president justified his self-elevation to the post of world emperor on moral grounds, arguing that the United States must punish heinous acts (though only those, real or imagined, of countries that are not US satellites; the heinous acts of satellite countries are allowed to continue with impunity, and often, US assistance.) In his statement, he asked:

• What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?
• What’s the purpose of the international system that we’ve built if a prohibition on the use of chemical weapons that has been agreed to by the governments of 98 percent of the world’s people…is not enforced?
• If we won’t enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules? To governments who would choose to build nuclear arms? To terrorists who would spread biological weapons? To armies who carry out genocide?

Laying aside the realities that: there is no hard evidence that the Syrian president was behind the heinous act and that it seems more likely that the opposition, Washington’s ally, was; that appointing to himself the moral duty to punish the perpetrator is rather rich coming from the leader of a country that has authored multiple heinous acts around the globe—and on an infinitely grander scale; that the agreement of other governments not to use chemical weapons has no relevance to what goes on within Syria, which has not signed onto international conventions against the weapons’ use (and neither have US allies Egypt and Israel); we might put these counter-questions to ourselves:

• What message will we, the world’s 99 percent, send if a president can autocratically appoint to himself the right bomb other countries without justification and without legitimate authority, and pay no price?
• What’s the purpose of the international system if a prohibition on the unlawful use of force that has been agreed to by the governments of 100 percent of the world’s people (the UN Charter) is ignored with impunity?
• If we, the 99 percent, won’t enforce accountability in the face of this act of aggression against Syria, which is to be carried out in brazen defiance of the international system, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules? To a country that threatens non-nuclear countries with nuclear arms (as the United States does, reserving the right of first-strike against any country)? To a government which terrorizes civilians through bombing raids, “shock and awe” and drone attacks? To states that carry out genocide through sanctions of mass destruction (as the United States did in Iraq)?

Not only is Washington willing to brush aside international law when the UN Charter gets in the way of its foreign policy interests, it is also willing to toss evidence, reason and logic aside when they threaten its pretexts for war. Apropos of this, see counter-hegemonist Amal Saad-Ghorayeb’s 10 simple guidelines for ensuring methodological rigor, as inspired by US officials, here.

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Hezbollah Is Launching An Offensive That Will Profoundly Change The Syrian War

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The following article below was originally published by Business Insider:

By Michael Kelley
June 3, 2013

Lebanon’s Hezbollah militants hold flags as they walk towards the cemetery where their fellow fighters were buried during a ceremony conducted one day after Hezbollah’s Martyr’s Day, in the Beirut’s suburbs, November 12, 2010. (REUTERS/Jamal Saidi)

Thousands of Lebanese Hezbollah militants are amassing around the northern Syrian city of Aleppo in preparation for an assault on the city, Loveday Morris of The Washington Post reports.

The deployment demonstrates the group’s complete commitment to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and may profoundly affect the 26-month conflict.

“The Aleppo battle has started on a very small scale; we’ve only just entered the game,” a senior Hezbollah commander told The Post. “We are going to go after strongholds where they think they are safe. They are going to fall like dominoes.”

The commander had been overseeing five units in Qusair, a town near the Syria-Lebanon on border where Hezbollah has been spearheading a regime offensive to retake the town for the last three weeks.

The increased presence of the militant group, in addition to the arrival of sophisticated military technology such as Iranian surveillance drones and Russian anti-mortar systems, has helped solidify recent gains made by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Hezbollah’s preparations to attack Aleppo, which is nowhere near the Lebanon-Syria border, significantly raises the stakes in the war.

“A deployment so deep into Syria and in such a crucial place would be a clear indication that Hezbollah’s role in Syria was never limited to defensive aims but is geared toward helping Assad score major victories,” Emile Hokayem, a Middle East-based analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told the Post.

Aleppo is Syria’s largest city and served as the country’s commercial hub before the war.

David Barrett of The Telegraph reports that the metropolitan population, about three million before the war, has grown to about 3.5 million since the opposition seized half the city last July.

Rebels, primarily al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, have been administering city services in areas under their control while a stalemate persists.

Syrian rebels walk through rubble and damaged buildings near the Aleppo’s Umayyad Mosque on February 11, 2013. (REUTERS/Aref Heretani)

The guerrilla fighters of Hezbollah are training and advising the growing irregular militias being deployed by Assad.

At least 50,000 militiamen — known as Jaysh al-Sha‘bia i.e. “People’s Army” — are now fighting for Assad, and Iran aims to increase the force to 100,000 by sending fighters to a secret base in Iran for guerrilla combat training.

Last week Jeffrey White, a defense fellow at The Washington Institute, wrote that “Hezbollah’s all-in commitment is perhaps the single most important development of the war thus far and will profoundly affect its course.”

Israel, which has bombed Syria three times this year amid suspicions of weapons transfers to Hezbollah, is surely watching the developments closely.

One unintended consequence of the Shia group’s assertiveness inside Syria is an unprecedented galvanization of the fractured opposition.


Another immediate implication is increased sectarian tensions in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is one of two major political parties.

“The presence of Hezbollah units around Aleppo will only deepen the divide in Lebanon and confirm, in the eyes of its rivals, Hezbollah’s complete alignment with Assad,” Hokayem told the Post, adding that it’s now plausible that Hezbollah is and will be utilized anywhere in the country.

Right on cue, on Sunday night a security source told al-Arabiya that one person was killed and 21 wounded in Lebanon’s second city of Tripoli when pro- and anti-Assad Alawite and Sunni residents clashed.

Should the US bomb Syria?

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By Stephen Gowans

There is no compelling evidence that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against the rebel forces which seek its overthrow. But even if chemical weapons have been used, a military intervention by the United States, its NATO allies, or its regional proxies, would fail the test of humanitarian intervention. First, it would exacerbate, not reduce, the suffering of Syrians. Second, it would be undertaken for concealed reasons of economic and geostrategic gain, not to protect Syrians from chemical weapons, not for the promotion of multi-party representative democracy, and not to encourage tolerance of dissent, as the promoters of intervention would have us believe.

Moreover, a successful US-led intervention would eliminate a pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist, anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist state committed to secularism, non-sectarianism, and public ownership of the commanding heights of its economy, and would, install, in its place, a US-client regime that would adopt a pro-US foreign policy, abandon the Palestinians, capitulate to Israel, and cater to Western investors and corporations. “Syria,” remarked president Bashar al-Assad, not without substance, “is an independent state working for the interests of its people, rather than making the Syrian people work for the interests of the West.” [1] This orientation would be completely reversed if a US intervention succeeded.

Three reasons the chemical weapons case against the Syrian government is weak at best

1. Britain and Israel claim to have evidence that the Syrian army used chemical agents against armed rebels. The British evidence is based on tissue samples taken from armed rebels who claim to have been gassed by loyalist forces. To concretely make the case that the Syrian army used chemical weapons:

• The tissue samples would have to test positive for chemical agents.
• There could be no possibility the samples were tampered with.
• A direct link between the contaminated tissue and an attack by Syrian forces would need to be established.

Concerning the first point, we have nothing to rely on but the word of British authorities. Should we believe them? Britain has been implicated in attempts to concoct pretexts for military intervention with phony evidence before (see the bogus WMD claims used to justify the war on Iraq and the genocide fear-mongering pressed into service to justify NATO’s 1999 air war on Yugoslavia.)

What’s more, Britain is hardly a neutral party to the conflict in Syria, and therefore has an interest in manufacturing justifications for more open and direct meddling. That’s not to say that the tissue sample didn’t test positive, only that it would be foolhardy to suppose that a country that “sexed up” evidence to justify a war on Iraq can be trusted.

Secondly, “the samples collected by Britain may have been tainted by rebels who want to draw the West into the conflict on their side” [2], a point made by US officials.

Third, “the detection of chemical agents doesn’t necessarily mean they were used in an attack by the Syrian” army. [3] Rebels, for example, may have been accidentally exposed to chemical agents they, themselves, had in their possession.

The key point is that evidence of tissue contamination (if indeed such evidence exists) is not evidence that the Syrian army used chemical agents, since there are multiple possible ways in which the tissue could have become contaminated.

2. Once US president Barack Obama declared that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government was a red line that would trigger a more muscular US intervention, the Syrian calculus turned decidedly against their use. Using chemical agents against rebels would play directly into Washington’s hands, giving the bellicose superpower a pretext to intervene militarily in an open and direct fashion. This would be a disadvantage that would grossly outweigh any advantage that accrued from the weapons’ use. On the other hand, once Obama announced his red line, it made a ton of sense for the rebels to falsely claim they were gassed.

3. While an investigation by the United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria has found evidence that the rebels used sarin gas, no evidence has been found that the Syrian government has done the same. Commission member Carla Del Ponte reported that, “We collected some witness testimony that made it appear that some chemical weapons were used, in particular, nerve gas. What appeared to our investigation was that was used by the opponents, by the rebels. We have no, no indication at all that the government, the authorities of the Syrian government, had used chemical weapons.” (Emphasis added.) [4]

An intervention would create harm

To reduce suffering, a military intervention would need to reduce harm to a greater degree than the military intervention itself would produce. Judging by previous US-led interventions undertaken for professedly humanitarian reasons, a military intervention in Syria would likely involve air strikes on Syrian military, government and even civilian facilities, with attendant civilian casualties, disruption of essential services, and massive displacement of non-combatants. According to The New York Times’ Elisabeth Bummiler, senior Pentagon officials have warned that “military intervention would be a daunting and protracted operation, requiring at least weeks of exclusively American airstrikes, with the potential for killing vast numbers of civilians.” (Emphasis added.) [5]

To be sure, an open and direct military intervention would be ardently welcomed by Syrian rebels, and their co-sectarian arms suppliers, the Turks, Saudis and Qataris. But it would kill many and make life even more miserable and uncertain for Syrians, especially those living in areas under loyalist control.

Far better to reach a political solution. But one of the reasons the Syrian civil war carries on is because the United States refuses to back a political resolution that would fall short of achieving its chief Syria foreign policy goal, namely, the ouster of Assad and his replacement by a pliant, pro-US government. A genuinely humanitarian intervention would set as its goal an end to hostilities, not the absorption of Syria into the US-Israeli camp.

Intervention would not be based on humanitarian concern

There is no reason to believe that the United States has any genuine interest in protecting Syrians from chemical weapons attacks. Washington dismissed out of hand evidence presented by the United Nations that the rebels used sarin gas, which is hardly what a government would do were it genuinely keen on protecting all Syrians from chemical attack, no matter which side of the conflict they’re on.

Significantly, US regime change policy in Syria antedates Syria’s civil war. The outbreak of the “Arab Spring” in Syria, and Damascus’s response to it, didn’t start the ball rolling on US efforts to force Assad from power. US regime change policy, linked to Damascus’s refusal to become a “peace-partner” with Israel, its alliance with Iran and Hezbollah, and its refusal to fully open its economy to US capital, existed long before the Syrian government cracked down on opposition forces. In fact, one element of US foreign policy was to encourage opposition to the Assad government, [6] that is, to foment the kind of civil unrest that eventually morphed into a full blown civil war.

Multi-party representative democracy, a tolerant attitude to dissent, and eschewal of chemical weapons, have not been relevant components of US foreign policy decision making. Indeed, Washington has shown itself willing to overlook the absence of multi-party representative democracy, to ignore an intolerant attitude to dissent, and to turn a blind eye to the deployment of chemical weapons, where US corporate interests are promoted, either directly, or indirectly through the strengthening of United States’ geostrategic position. For example, Washington and its NATO allies have adopted a tolerant attitude to the violent suppression (aided by Saudi tanks) of a Shiite rebellion in Bahrain against an absolutist Sunni monarchy, while at the same time casually dismissing the UN’s concrete suspicions that the Syrian rebels used sarin gas. Significantly, Bahrain, a paragon of free-markets and free-enterprise, is home to the US Fifth Fleet; Saudi Arabia is a source of generous profits for US oil majors and New York investment banks; and the Syrian rebels are instruments through which US foreign policy goals of regime change in Damascus are to be achieved. If US foreign policy was indeed driven by democracy-promotion, human rights objectives, and non-proliferation goals, its attitude toward Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Jordan and the possibility of sarin gas use by Syrian rebels, would be very different.

Conclusion

There are sound strategic reasons for the Syrian army to leave chemical weapons in storage. Deploying them would play into Washington’s hands by providing the United States with a pretext to escalate its intervention in the Syrian civil war. On the other hand, any force that would benefit from a more muscular US intervention on the rebels’ behalf has an interest in manufacturing evidence of the use of chemical agents by Syrian forces. This would include the rebels themselves and those of the United States’ allies that would like Washington to refashion Syria in their political or sectarian interests.

Much as intervention by the United States is sold as a humanitarian exercise, it fails the humanitarian test on two levels. First, it would create substantial harm. US military officials have warned that direct military intervention—which would take the form of US air strikes—would create massive civilian casualties. Second, US foreign policy is based on commercial, financial, and geostrategic goals, not the promotion of multi-party representative democracy, tolerance of dissent, and anti-proliferation. This is clear from a simple examination of the countries Washington supports: those with a congenial attitude to US free enterprise and a willingness to submit to US domination, regardless of their practices in connection with multiparty representative democracy, civil liberties and weapons of mass destruction.

For all these reasons the United States should not bomb Syria, and nor should it provide military, diplomatic, or any other kind of assistance to the Syrian rebels. Of course, what it should do and what it will do are very different matters, but all the same we should be clear that the chemical weapons case against Syria is a fraud, as is the idea that direct US military intervention in the Syrian conflict would have either a humanitarian basis or humanitarian outcome.

1. Bashar al-Assad May 19, 2013 interview with Clarin newspaper and Telam news agency.

2. Adam Entous, Joshua Mitnick and Stephen Fidler, “Syria used chemical arms, Israel says”, The Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2013.

3. Ibid.

4. Alex Lantier, “UN says US-backed opposition, not Syrian regime, used poison gas”, World Socialist Web Site, May 7, 2013

5. Elisabeth Bummiler, “Military points to risks of Syrian intervention”, The New York Times, March 11, 2012.

6. Craig Whitlock, “U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, cables released by Wikileaks show”, The Washington Post, April 17, 2011.

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Commander says Iran is ready to train Syrian army in light of Israeli attacks

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May 5, 2013

Iran has denounced a reported Israeli attack on Syria and offered to assist ‘train’ the Syrian army if Damascus asks for help, commander of country’s ground forces stated. Iran has been urging for neighboring nations to stand against the assault.

“As a Muslim nation, we back Syria, and if there is need for training we will provide them with the training, but won’t have any active involvement in the operations,” IRNA news agency quoted the commander of the Islamic republic’s army ground forces, General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan as saying.

“The Syrian army has accumulated experience during years of conflict [with Israel], is able to defend itself and doesn’t need foreign assistance,” he added.

Israel reportedly carried out its second airstrike in three days on Syria early on Sunday, a Western intelligence source confirmed to Reuters, targeting Iranian-supplied missiles to Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah. The attack hit the Jamraya military research center, Syria’s state TV reported; while a senior Israeli official told AFP that the Israeli airstrike was carried out near Damascus Airport.

Iran has spoken out against the alleged airstrike, arguing that it was meant to create instability and insecurity in the region and urging the countries in the region to remain united against Israel, the Fars news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying.

Events in Syria show the intent to weaken the existing government and give more room to the terrorists, RT Arabic quoted the opening statement of the Iranian parliament’s session. According to the statement, the reasons behind the Israeli attack are the success of Syrian national army is battling against the armed groups.

Iran also urged other countries in the region to stand united against Israel’s’ actions and demand a stop to unwarranted attacks, RT Arabic reports.

So far Israel has remained silent on the issue. Earlier Israel stated that they would not tolerate Hezbollah being supplied with arms, as Tel Aviv considers Lebanon’s Hezbollah a terror organization.

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Venezuelan President Maduro vows to “radicalize” revolution in face of right-wing violence

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The following article below was originally published by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization

April 17, 2013

The streets of Avenida Bolivar turn red with supporters of Pres. Maduro, along with billboards in tribute to Chavez and declaring “they won’t return” (Alex Guzman / AVN)

On April 16, newly elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called on workers to resist the wave of right-wing violence that broke out after the recent presidential election. Speaking defiantly to a crowd of workers in Miranda state on Tuesday, April 16, Maduro said, “If they continue with violence, what we can do is to radicalize this revolution.”

In the two days since Maduro’s victory, the Venezuelan right-wing opposition has attacked supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution and resorted to violence to oust the democratically elected president. These confrontations left seven people dead and more than 60 people injured. Armed bands of opposition forces, angry at their defeat in the election, attacked Venezuelans who gathered to celebrate the victory of Maduro in several states. These dangerous attacks are part of a deliberate attempt by the U.S.-supported opposition to destabilize the revolutionary Venezuelan government.

Lacking any commitment to democracy in Venezuela, opposition gangs firebombed the United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s (PSUV) party headquarters in Anzoategui and Tachira while people worked inside, April 16. Elsewhere, upper class students led deadly confrontations with Venezuelan security forces. According to Russia Today, these opposition mobs attacked a government-run clinic in a central Venezuelan state.

Maduro denounced the opposition’s violent tactics in the harshest terms. He vowed to protect the will of the Venezuelan people, saying, “I will fight fascism and those who attack democracy with a firm hand. If they want to topple me, they can come get me.”

In the recent special presidential election, Maduro defeated opposition candidate Henrique Caprilles by a margin of 50.8% to 49.0%. Maduro, a member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), succeeded the late President Hugo Chavez, who died just months after also defeating Caprilles in the 2012 election.

Maduro won by a narrow margin of about 270,000 votes. Despite the National Electoral Council (CNE) and at least 100 international observers affirming that the election was fair, Caprilles and the opposition are demanding a full recount. Venezuela’s election process is consistently rated by international observers, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, as one of the most democratic in the world.

Caprilles’ demand for a recount follows in a sinister tradition of U.S.-backed counter-revolutions in socialist and anti-imperialist countries. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) works closely with the rich and wealthy elites in these countries to delegitimize democratic elections and violate the will of the people. In 2002, the U.S.-backed a coup d’état in Venezuela that temporarily removed then-President Chavez from power. The workers of Venezuela and progressive elements in the military battled these U.S. puppets in the streets and eventually restored Chavez to power. A similar CIA-backed destabilization attempt took place in Iran in 2009, with the so-called “Green Revolution.”

This most recent election marks the second time that the people of Venezuela rejected Caprilles’ anti-worker, pro-corporate agenda at the ballot box. Caprilles currently serves as the face of the wealthy Venezuelan opposition. The corporate elites who funded Caprilles’ campaign lost much of their wealth and power because of the Bolivarian Revolution led by Chavez. They fear Maduro’s presidency will continue the trend towards a more just society.

Maduro indicated that the threat of a coup would open the opportunity to radicalize the Bolivarian Revolution. Even after the privately owned media and major corporations conspired to overthrow him in 2002, Chavez stopped short of outlawing or arresting most opposition leaders. This latest wave of counter-revolutionary violence may open the opportunity for Maduro and the Venezuelan people to break the power of the rich oligarchs once and for all.

Revolutionaries and progressives in the U.S. have an obligation to the Venezuelan people to oppose intervention by their own government in the conflict. Venezuela has a right to national self-determination and progressives in the U.S should support the ongoing national democratic process under the leadership of President Maduro. We should demand, “U.S. hands off Venezuela! U.S. hands off Latin America! Victory to the Bolivarian Revolution!”

Venezuela: Fascist violence met with revolutionary defense

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Maduro’s election victory sparks right-wing backlash

By Gloria La Riva
April 16, 2013

Nicolás Maduro

Longtime socialist Nicolás Maduro was elected president of Venezuela on April 14, in a crucial election held five weeks after the death of revolutionary leader and president Hugo Chávez on March 5.

Notwithstanding the close vote count—50.8 percent to 49 percent—Maduro’s presidency is a critical victory for the Bolivarian revolutionary process and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s ongoing struggle for socialism.

On April 19, Maduro will be inaugurated in a historic day for all Latin America and a reaffirmation of the great Bolivarian Revolution begun by Chávez.

Yet, as thousands of Venezuelans broke out in celebrations across the country after Maduro’s victory was announced, the defeated right-wing candidate, Henrique Capriles, refused to concede, following his script written in Washington.

Before Sunday’s vote, U.S. imperialism and the Venezuelan right wing crafted a plan of action to distort the electoral outcome and create violent chaos afterwards, knowing Capriles’ defeat was likely.

Sunday night, April 14, the violence was unleashed.

Seven pro-Maduro supporters were murdered after Capriles called for street actions, giving the green light to his fascist followers. TV and radio stations were destroyed, the homes of PSUV members burned down or vandalized, and people beaten in the streets by roaming right-wing gangs.

One right-wing reporter, Nelson Bocaranda, falsely claimed to his 1.2 million Twitter followers that Cuban doctors were hiding ballot boxes in CDIs, the free health clinics run by 38,000 Cuban medical workers. Several CDI clinics were suddenly attacked across Venezuela in actions obviously coordinated beforehand.

Two persons were murdered trying to defend a CDI clinic under attack.

The revolutionary government responds decisively

To prevent the danger of further fascist attacks, President Maduro Tuesday morning declared he would not permit a right-wing march to the National Electoral Council (CNE) called by Capriles for Wednesday, April 17: “The march to downtown Caracas will not be allowed. I will not permit it. I will impose a firm hand against fascism.”

Maduro is trying to prevent a massacre similar to what occurred on April 11, 2002. As a prelude to the coup against Chávez, the right wing led a similar march to downtown. There, fascist sharpshooters gunned down and killed 11 people, as a cover to justify the coup.

Tuesday, April 16, at the last moment, Capriles was forced to back down and announced the cancelation of his action.

The same day, a government Official Gazette announced that all police forces, national, state and local, are immediately suspended from active duty until Saturday evening, April 20, except by express permission. In their place, the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) are to provide public security.

The declaration also prohibits the carrying of arms in public for the same period, to prevent further violence.

National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello announced that the parliament will look to prosecute Capriles for violating the public order and peace. In one twitter message, Cabello wrote: “Pure fascism, they assaulted and destroyed the CDIs, persecute the doctors, burn homes. Irresponsible Capriles, you generated all this.”

U.S. imperialism directs the fascist campaign

The U.S. government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars since Hugo Chávez first took office in 1999 to destabilize the country, counter-organize and even stage a coup and carry out oil sabotage. Its campaign continues.

In Washington on Monday, April 15, President Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, insisted on a 100 percent audit of the vote, effectively refusing to recognize Maduro’s presidency. The next day, U.S. State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell repeated the demand.

In Caracas, National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena has rightfully refused Capriles’ 100 percent recount demand, declaring that 53 percent of the votes were audited, in a process recognized internationally for its exceptionally high standards. Her home was violently attacked afterward.

Meanwhile, Latin American governments across the board are sending congratulations to Maduro and backing Venezuela’s transparent electoral process. Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa has called on Latin American presidents to attend Maduro’s inauguration in a show of support.

The revolutionary masses take action

Hour by hour the people of the Revolution are responding with a combative will to defeat the right wing. Tuesday, April 16, more than 200 community defense units of a new Popular Front in Defense of the Bolivarian Revolution and Peace were created and announced on Venezuelan state television. Hundreds of community radio stations linked together to share information on the right-wing attacks and to help mobilize the people to defend the peace.

Across the country, the people are coming out into the streets through their collective councils, neighborhood groups, and permanent community mobilizations to warn the fascists, “No Pasarán!”

With the right-wing threat, it should be clear that the April 14 vote was much more than a contest between two individuals.

On one side is the Bolivarian Revolution process of 14 years. Huge transformations have been carried out in the economic and social realm: free health care, massive housing projects for the people, education, and the mobilization of millions of people committed to the ultimate objective of socialism.

On the other side is the counterrevolution, whose candidate Capriles—backed by the Venezuelan elite and U.S. imperialism—appealed to the wealthy and middle class and promised a return to the “free market.” He called for the dismantling of Cuban-Venezuelan cooperation.

Venezuela’s rising revolution is causing great consternation within U.S. ruling circles because it is building people’s power and inspiring all the people of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Maduro, the government and the people will now move ahead with the “Plan de la Patria”—the socialist plan for the nation—first unveiled by Chávez in his presidential run last fall.

The millions of Bolivarian supporters who have been mobilized in the streets for more than four months will now be decisive, to defend the Revolution, defeat the right wing and guarantee a life of dignity and peace for the Venezuelan people.

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An interview with north Koreans while traveling in the DPRK

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The following article below was originally published by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization:

April 6, 2013

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following interview that longtime Chicago activist Stansfield Smith conducted with Koreans in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The introduction, questions and explanations in brackets are by Smith.

I am an anti-war and Latin America solidarity activist in Chicago. I recently returned from a late March trip to north Korea [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)], along with 45 others, through Koryo Tours. On that tour I had the opportunity to discuss with the Korean tour guides their views on the current situation. I only recall the DPRK view mentioned here once in the corporate media, when Dennis Rodman returned with a message from new President Kim Jong. The message to President Obama was, “I don’t want war, call me.” Nobel Peace Prize winning President Obama refused to accept it, evidently preferring an escalating threat of a regional nuclear war to talking. I asked my Korean tour guides to be interviewed so I could present their views to U.S. people.

Has the DPRK made proposals for peaceful national reunification?

Yes, now we have options: the historic option of a federal republic, and the recent option. In our history we proposed three principles for reunification: that the north and south unite the country independently of foreign forces, that we reunify peacefully, and that we work together over the years to create the unity of the whole nation.

Our historic option is a federal republic: a central government concerned only with national defense and diplomacy, and two local governments, north and south, handling all other issues.

But recently the situation on the peninsula is deteriorating. There are no signs of resolving the issue. If south Korean provocations continue, war will break out and we are prepared to fight. Because the situation has deteriorated, that is why we invalidated the 1953 ceasefire agreement. What we need is a permanent peace treaty, so there will be no more war danger.

Now there is no contact between north and south. Now there are no phone lines between north and south, there is no hotline.

Now the U.S. and south Korea plan is that the DPRK will collapse. The situation continues to deteriorate. They are playing a dangerous game.

Japan is also very hostile. The present government is very right wing. It is trying to build a strong military using ‘dangerous’ DPRK as a pretext to justify turning its self-defense force into a regular army. Not only the DPRK, but many Asian countries are concerned with this right-wing Japanese resurgence.

The American people should ask the U.S. government to change its hostile policy. Make America aware of the real situation in the Korean peninsula. Ask the American government to sign a peace treaty and push for diplomatic ties with the DPRK.

Why did the DPRK feel the need to develop a nuclear bomb?

Koreans had to deal with the reality of nuclear weapons twice before. Many thousands of Koreans were used as slave labor by the Japanese in World War II and many of these were forced labor workers in Hiroshima and Nagasaki when the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb.

Later, in the U.S. war in Korea, U.S. General MacArthur wanted to drop 50-70 atomic bombs along the China-Korea border to create a belt of land people cannot live on or cross.

Later in the Pueblo incident in 1968, when the DPRK captured a U.S. spy ship in our waters, President Johnson sent aircraft carriers with nuclear weapons to Korea. And in 1969 when the U.S. E-C spy plane was shot down over our territory, the U.S. again threatened us with a nuclear attack.

The “Team Spirit” U.S.-south Korea war exercises from the 1970s to the 1990s practiced with using nuclear bombs.

The DPRK joined the International Atomic Energy Agency and became a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty member in 1985. We wanted to develop cooperation in the field of nuclear energy. Our purpose for joining was to be safe from nuclear attack. But the threat has continued.

In 1994 with our agreement with the U.S., we froze our nuclear program. In exchange, President Clinton and the U.S. promised to supply us with a light water reactor. As we now know, Clinton only made those promises because the U.S. thought the DPRK would collapse, and so did not need to honor the agreement. We allowed nuclear inspections until 1999, to show that our nuclear power was only for peaceful purposes. The U.S. broke the agreement in 2002 under Bush and we resumed using our nuclear power plant.

The Yugoslav war showed us that we need to defend ourselves. We learned from the U.S. that the U.S. has no justice, no fairness. The U.S. respects only power. So the DPRK developed nuclear weapons to have power.

The DPRK needs to allocate resources to meet people’s needs but must spend money on nuclear weapons to protect and defend our country. We learned the lesson in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan: be strong.

The DPRK negotiated with the U.S., but the U.S. broke agreements and increased sanctions five times. When the DPRK would agree to some terms, the U.S. would raise the ante. The U.S. had said we cannot have nuclear power, because we could use it for bombs. We cannot have satellites because the missiles we send them into space with can be used as military missiles. These they these things can have dual purpose, one civilian, one military. They deny us food because they say it can be used to feed the military. If we kept going along with this, they would say we cannot have kitchen knives because we could use them for fighting.

There are slave states and noble states. Noble states develop their own technological infrastructure, GPS, weather reporting, etc., so need satellites. These days satellites are used for many things. If your country doesn’t have your own technology, you end up a slave state, dependent on other countries. Noble countries are in control of their own development and have a future.

Maybe without nuclear weapons we could already have been attacked by the U.S. in a war. Now our people can live more peacefully. The people of the DPRK are proud we have nuclear weapons; they are a guarantee of peace. Only we on our own can safeguard the peace.

The U.S. has over 1000 nuclear weapons in south Korea – nuclear artillery, nuclear missiles, nuclear bombs, nuclear landmines.

The DPRK has called for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, but this call has been ignored. Now that we saw no choice but to develop nuclear weapons to defend ourselves, we are sanctioned. This is a double standard insulting to our people.

What do the people of the DPRK think of the U.S./UN sanctions? How do these sanctions affect the people here?

We have been used to coping with U.S. sanctions since 1945. Our people think the sanctions are a clear example of a double standard and a misuse of the UN Security Council. There is no justification for them. Sanctions were applied because of our nuclear bomb tests and satellite launches.

Since World War II there have been 9000 missile/satellite launches. Four were by the DPRK. There have been 2000 nuclear tests, three by the DPRK. But the UN never made a resolution or imposed sanctions against any country for doing that, only the DPRK.

This is a double standard by the UN. It is a misuse of the UN Security Council by the U.S. Other countries are like U.S. puppets to go along with this.

The sanctions affect every household, every individual in the DPRK. There are power cuts, a heating and energy shortage, a food problem. Even you visiting tourists are affected by the sanctions, as you see with your hotels. [in Pyongyang water and lights were only on certain hours of the day; in other towns it was even less]. There is a lack of oil and spare parts for machinery.

The sanctions threaten any country that trades with the DPRK, so that they must choose who they want to trade with, the DPRK or other countries. Our trade now is really only with China.

How is the food situation now and what role is the U.S. playing?

The food situation is still not satisfactory, and we are still trying to cover our basic food needs with the help of food imports and foreign aid. Repeated U.S. sanctions have stopped food aid. The sanctions have made the food situation worse.

At present U.S. NGOs [non-governmental organizations] give only some, limited, token medical aid and no food aid. For a period of seven to eight years there was no food aid from the U.S. The U.S. sanctions are interfering with solving the food situation. It has cut its food aid and even interferes with other countries providing food aid.

What is the main emphasis in the DPRK’s economic plan now [for the last several years the country had a military first policy]?

The DPRK now emphasizes two points: agricultural production and light industry. Light industry is what you call textiles, food processing, toys, furniture, shoes and so on. We want to invest and develop more these two areas. We want to improve the living standard of people. We focus on these two even if the situation is dangerous. Even if war is coming, we will focus on agriculture and light industry until war starts. We must work harder on developing agriculture and light industry.

Now with the nuclear bomb, the DPRK is a little safer and can turn from self-defense spending to light industry and consumer goods investment. You saw in Pyongyang a big conference of 10,000 delegates from light industries all over the country. They are here to discuss and exchange ideas about how to improve light industry, what has worked in their factories, what has problems, and how to solve them.

How are relations with south Korea since the Sunshine Policy? [Started by south Korean President Kim Dae Jung and continued by President Roh Moo-hyun, from the years 1998-2008. In this period of less chilly relations between north and south, the heads of state of the two countries met in 2000 and again in 2007. The Kaesong Industrial Park in the DPRK was opened and several thousand south Korean tourists visited the north.]

Since 2008 south Korea has shown only confrontation. There has been no cooperation. South Korea has broken all agreements we have made during the Sunshine policy. There is no more cooperation, no tourism from the south, no engagement. Now relations are only negative, there are no positive signs. This is because of both U.S. pressure and a south Korean decision. South Korea President Lee Myung-bak is a right-wing businessman, who changed the situation, just like Bush reversed Clinton’s even moderate degree of cooperation.

The present South Korea president is Park Geun-hye, daughter of south Korean military dictator Park Chung-hee , who was an officer in the Japanese Imperial Army. Cooperation has changed to confrontation. South Korea thinks military pressure on the north, combined with sanctions, will make the DPRK collapse.

Fidel Castro’s Reflections: The duty to avoid a war in Korea

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April 5, 2013

A few days ago I mentioned the great challenges humanity is currently facing. Intelligent life emerged on our planet approximately 200,000 years ago, although new discoveries demonstrate something else.

This is not to confuse intelligent life with the existence of life which, from its elemental forms in our solar system, emerged millions of years ago.

A virtually infinite number of life forms exist. In the sophisticated work of the world’s most eminent scientists the idea has already been conceived of reproducing the sounds which followed the Big Bang, the great explosion which took place more than 13.7 billion years ago.

This introduction would be too extensive if it was not to explain the gravity of an event as unbelievable and absurd as the situation created in the Korean Peninsula, within a geographic area containing close to five billion of the seven billion persons currently inhabiting the planet.

This is about one of the most serious dangers of nuclear war since the October Crisis around Cuba in 1962, 50 years ago.

In 1950, a war was unleashed there [the Korean Peninsula] which cost millions of lives. It came barely five years after two atomic bombs were exploded over the defenseless cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which, in a matter of seconds, killed and irradiated hundreds of thousands of people.

General Douglas MacArthur wanted to utilize atomic weapons against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Not even Harry Truman allowed that.

It has been affirmed that the People’s Republic of China lost one million valiant soldiers in order to prevent the installation of an enemy army on that country’s border with its homeland. For its part, the Soviet army provided weapons, air support, technological and economic aid.

I had the honor of meeting Kim Il Sung, a historic figure, notably courageous and revolutionary.

If war breaks out there, the peoples of both parts of the Peninsula will be terribly sacrificed, without benefit to all or either of them. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was always friendly with Cuba, as Cuba has always been and will continue to be with her.

Now that the country has demonstrated its technical and scientific achievements, we remind her of her duties to the countries which have been her great friends, and it would be unjust to forget that such a war would particularly affect more than 70% of the population of the planet.

If a conflict of that nature should break out there, the government of Barack Obama in his second mandate would be buried in a deluge of images which would present him as the most sinister character in the history of the United States. The duty of avoiding war is also his and that of the people of the United States.

Fidel Castro Ruz

April 4, 2013

11:12 p.m.

Source

DPRK’s “State of War” Declaration Is a Faulty Translation: Not an Official Policy Statement from Kim Jung Un

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Ed. Note: Since re-publishing this article from Global Research, and after several back and forth conversations on Facebook regarding this particular translation, I’ve since been informed that the English translation may, in fact, be accurate and not manufactured. The source of this comes from someone who’s spent time in the DPRK and has traveled alongside that of The Pyongyang Project, participating in their programs. The source wishes to remain unnamed, but I can verify that he is very knowledgeable and well-studied in Korean language.

When asked if the picture’s (shown below) claim of the English translation being inaccurate was true, this is what the source had to say:

‘This is not correct. The statement read: “이 시각부터 북남관계는 전시상황에 들어가며 따라서 북남사이에서 제기되는 모든 문제들은 전시에 준하여 처리될것이다.” The translation provided on the English version of Rodong Sinmun is: “From this moment, the north-south relations will be put at the state of war and all the issues arising between the north and the south will be dealt with according to the wartime regulations.” This is an accurate translation. Moreover, the English title of the announcement is “North-South Relations Have Been Put at State of War: Special Statement of DPRK”. The only media outlet manufacturing these claims is Rodong Sinmun.’

Korean: http://www.rodong.rep.kp/InterKo/index.php?strPageID=SF01_02_01&newsID=2013-03-30-0065
English: http://www.rodong.rep.kp/InterEn/index.php?strPageID=SF01_02_01&newsID=2013-03-30-0013&chAction=S Read the rest of this entry