Review: “Nkrumaism and African Nationalism: Ghana’s Pan-African Foreign Policy in the Age of Decolonization” – Matteo Grilli

In “Nkrumaism and African Nationalism: Ghana’s Pan-African Foreign Policy in the Age of Decolonization”, Matteo Grilli brilliantly re-examines the legacy and influence of Kwame Nkrumah in Africa.

After Nkrumah was deposed in 1966 in a coup supported by the West, the military regime attempted to discredit Ghana’s foreign policy and Nkrumah’s Pan-African vision as a “failure”. Scholars such as W. Scott Thompson support this interpretation. Grilli criticizes this one-dimensional interpretation of Nkrumah’s legacy, and instead examines Nkrumah’s legacy and Ghana’s foreign policy in all its complexities. While Nkrumah was unsuccessful in establishing a continental state, and no liberation movement completely adopted the principles of Nkrumaism, Grilli argues that to describe Nkrumaism as a “failure” misses the massive influence Nkrumah had on liberation movements throughout Africa. From ideological and military training to financial and military aid to those on the frontlines, Nkrumaism helped shape countless nationalist and liberation movements. Indeed, at the time of the Western-backed military coup, there were 136 African nationalists being hosted in Ghana and several major liberation movements, including African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), Basutoland Congress Party (BCP), Ngwane National Liberatory Congress, Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe, People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), Pan-African Congress (PAC), African National Congress (ANC), Popular Idea of Equatorial Guinea (IPGE), Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), etc., had offices in Accra. Moreover, many of the most prominent anti-colonial African nationalists have cited Nkrumah as an important influence, such as Lumumba, Mugabe, Cabral, Touré, Obote, Kaunda, Gaddafi, etc.

Secondly, Grilli examines how Nkrumah’s Pan-African vision influenced domestic politics within Ghana, more specifically the “feuds” between Ghana’s “orthodox”, British-trained Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ghana’s “unorthodox” Pan-African institutions, such as the Bureau of African Affairs. These “feuds”, Grilli argues, were one of the major weaknesses of Ghana’s foreign policy, and handicapped Nkrumah’s ability to project his Pan-African vision.

A really great book overall 🙂

2020 Recap…a bit late

Hello!

As I am sure you can tell, I haven’t done a lot of blogging here this past year, and even less in the last few months of 2021. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been getting stuff done! Here’s a bit of what’s been going on in my life!

I’m still working full-time — and in an office. COVID or not, I am an “essential” worker in an “essential” industry, so 5 days a week I clock in at the office. Although it doesn’t always feel like it, I am fortunate that at a time when so many peoples lives have been completely disrupted or destroyed, my life has remained more or less the same.

One of the main reasons I haven’t been very active on here is that I have been aggressively trying to complete the first draft of my manuscript — a Marxist-Leninist analysis of the right to self-determination in Nagorno-Karabakh. Sadly, due to a combination of factors, I am nowhere near as close to being finished as I had hoped I would be. Among the issues I have struggled with are a lack of time to write and research (I work full-time); the lack of an editor, since the comrade-editor who was helping me bailed and I can’t easily afford to pay an editor; the closure of McNally Robinson’s self-publishing service; etc. At this point, I am not sure what I want to do with my manuscript: publish it here or on Academia.edu, shelve it for now, I don’t know. Self-publishing a nonfiction book without the assistance of an editor, a publisher, or even a friend, while working full-time, is proving to be more difficult than I had initially anticipated.

Another reason I haven’t been very active here is that I have been experimenting with different websites (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Goodreads, Reddit, etc.). None of these have really worked for me: I am too wordy for Twitter, I don’t like recording myself for YouTube, I dislike most people on Facebook and Goodreads, and while Reddit isn’t ‘bad’, there is almost too much happening on there, and it can feel a bit socially overwhelming for me.

Although I haven’t been writing very much, I definitely haven’t stopped reading (or buying books). In total I read 58 nonfiction books in 2020 (see below). So far, as of this writing, I have read 11 nonfiction books in 2021 (see below). I’m still trying to diversify what I read (less Nagorno-Karabakh and Central Asia, more Africa, Latin America, and other subjects). I’ll be posting some reviews here soon!

Reading List (2020):

  1. By-Passing Capitalism — B. Shirendyb
  2. The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley — Malcolm X
  3. The Iran-Iraq War — Pierre Razoux
  4. Faisal I of Iraq — Ali A. Allawi
  5. The Development of Socialist Yugoslavia — M. George Zaninovich
  6. Neocolonialism: Methods and Manoeuvres — Vasily Yakhrushev
  7. Law, Morality, and Man: The Soviet Legal System in Action — A. Vengerov and A. Danilevich
  8. People’s Control in Socialist Society — Victor Turovstev
  9. The Forge Glows Red: From Blacksmith to Revolutionary — Tom McEwen
  10. My Uncle Joe: By Stalin’s Nephew — Budu Svanidze
  11. A History of Pakistan, 1947-1958 — Y. V. Gankovsky
  12. How the National Question was Solved in Soviet Central Asia — R. Tuzmuhamedov
  13. The Making of Nagorno-Karabagh: From Secession to Republic — Levon Chorbajian
  14. The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World: From the Archaic Age to the Arab Conquests — G.E.M. de Ste. Croix
  15. Tim Buck: A Conscience for Canada — Oscar Ryan.
  16. The Caucasian Knot: The History and Geopolitics of Nagorno-Karabagh — Levon Chorbaijan, Patrick Donabedian, and Claude Mutafian
  17. The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict: Causes and Implications — Michael P. Croissant
  18. Contested Territories and International Law: A Comparative Study of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and the Aland Islands Precedent — Kamal Makili-Aliyev
  19. Demystifying Kashmir — Navnita Chadha Behera
  20. Stalingrad: The City that Defeated the Third Reich — Jochen Hellbeck
  21. Laboratory of Socialist Development: Cold War Politics and Decolonization in Soviet Tajikistan — Artemy M. Kalinovsky
  22. Dispatches from the People’s War in Nepal — Li Onesto
  23. Red Peak: A Personal Account of the British-Soviet Pamir Expedition — Malcolm Slesser
  24. Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since WWII — William Blum
  25. Social and Economic Change in the Pamirs (Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan) — Frank Bliss
  26. At the Crossroads: The Sino-Indian Border Dispute and the Communist Party of India, 1959-1963 — Ouseph Varkey
  27. Yemen in Crisis: The Road to War — Helen Lackner
  28. Gomulka: His Poland, His Communism — Nicholas Bethel
  29. Joe Zucken: Citizen and Socialist — Doug Smith
  30. Muslim National Communism in the Soviet Union: A Revolutionary Strategy for the Colonial World —  Alexandre A. Bennigsen and S. Enders Wimbush
  31. A Marxist Model of Social Change: Soviet Central Asia, 1917-1940 — R. R. Sharma
  32. Burmese Labyrinth: A History of the Rohingya Tragedy — Carlos Galache
  33. The Falklands War: An Imperial History — Ezequiel Mercau
  34. The Plot to Overthrow Venezuela: How the U.S. is Orchestrating a Coup for Oil — Dan Kovalik
  35. War is a Racket — Smedley Butler.
  36. Lady Death: The Memoirs of Stalin’s Sniper — Lyudmila Pavlichenko
  37. Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life — Jon Lee Anderson
  38. The Establishment of National Republics in Soviet Central Asia — Arne Haugen
  39. Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist — Harry Haywood
  40. Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict in the South Caucasus: Nagorno-Karabakh and the Legacy of Soviet Nationalities Policy — Ohannes Geukjian
  41. The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: A Legal Analysis — Heiko Kruger
  42. Self-Determination of Peoples: A Legal Reappraisal — Antonio Cassese
  43. All My Life: An Autobiography — Rev. A. E. Smith
  44. Crisis in the Philippines: The Making of a Revolution — E. San Juan
  45. Greece, 1941-49: From Resistance to Civil War, the Strategy of the Greek Communist Party — Vlavianos Haris
  46. The Politics of Muslim Cultural Reform: Jadidism in Central Asia — Adeeb Khalid
  47. Tajikistan: A Political and Social History — Kirill Nourzhanov and Christian Bleuer
  48. Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia: A Legal Appraisal — Tim Potier
  49. The Making of Informal States: Statebuilding in Northern Cyprus and Transdniestria — Daria Isachenko
  50. Discordant Neighbours: A Reassessment of the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-South Ossetian Conflicts — B. George Hewitt
  51. The October Revolution and the East — Yu. M. Ivanov
  52. Afghanistan: A History from 1260 to the Present — Jonathan L. Lee
  53. The Chagos Islanders and International Law — Stephen Allen
  54. A History of The Ogaden (Western Somali) Struggle for Self Determination — Mohamed Mohamud Abdi
  55. Empire of the Sikhs: The Life and Times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh —  Patwant Singh and Jyoti M. Rai
  56. Another View of Stalin — Ludo Martens
  57. The Armenians — John M. Douglas
  58. Red, Black, White: The Alabama Communist Party, 1930-1950 — Mary Stanton.

Reading List (2021):

  1. Private Property and the Origins of Nationalism in the United States and Norway: The Making of Propertied Communities — Erik Magnus Fuglestad.
  2. Molotov Remembers: Inside Kremlin Politics — V. M. Molotov.
  3. Understanding Ethnopolitical Conflict: Karabakh, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia Wars Reconsidered — Emil Souleimanov.
  4. Relations with Turkey, the Karabakh Conflict, and Armenia’s Future — Levon Ter-Petrossian
  5. The Origins of Ethnic Conflict in Africa: Politics and Violence in Darfur, Oromia, and the Tana Delta — Tsega Etefa.
  6. The International Politics of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Conflict: The Original “Frozen” Conflict and European Security — ed. Svante E. Cornell.
  7. The Politics of Ethnic Separatism in Georgia and Russia — Julie A. George
  8. The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939 — Terry Martin
  9. Crime, Class and Corruption: The Politics of the Police — Audrey Farrell
  10. Nkrumaism and African Nationalism: Ghana’s Pan-African Foreign Policy in the Age of Decolonization — Matteo Grilli
  11. Empire of Nations: Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union — Francine Hirsch

James Bezan, the League of Ukrainian Canadians, and the Holocaust in the Ukraine

If you have never heard of James Bezan (lucky you!), let me fill you in. Mr. Bezan is the far-right Conservative Member of Parliament for Selkirk-Interlake, in Manitoba. He is a Ukrainian nationalist, Russophobe and Sinophobe extraordinaire, and like the prehistoric dinosaur that he is, he is opposed to LGBTQ rights and women’s reproductive rights.

Basically, Bezan is a typical Tory, a wealthy white man who wins each election by outspending all his opponents and who uses his experience as the CEO of the Manitoba Cattle Producer’s Association to exploit the working-class like cattle.

Rarely do I write about or critique current events and politicians, except something happened this week that I found both shocking and revealing.

On Twitter I criticized Bezan for his support for neo-Nazis in the Ukraine and the League of Ukrainian Canadians (LUC). On the LUC’s website there is a portrait of Stepan Bandera, the Ukrainian Nazi whose Ukrainian Insurgent Army collaborated with the Nazi Einsatzgruppen in carrying out pogroms against Jews and was responsible for the ethnic cleansing of as many as 100,000 Poles in 1943.

Besides the obvious anti-communism and Russophobia, I have often wondered how it is that someone like Bezan never ‘remembers’ the hundreds of thousands of Poles, Jews, Russians, etc., exterminated by Stepan Bandera’s organization, but obsesses over the alleged crimes committed by the USSR. In Bezan’s defense, this selective remembering of crimes is quite common in Canada and other Western countries. Just look at Chrystia Freeland!

A Twitter user came to James Bezan’s defense. According to this user, Jews, Poles, Russians, etc., had to be exterminated to “cement a Ukrainian identity”.

Are these the kind of people that support Bezan? As a person with Jewish, Ukrainian, and Polish ancestry, I find this reprehensible.

If Bezan does not refute this Tweet, I will assume it means he endorses it, since it perfectly aligns with his Russophobia and the policies of the LUC.

Review: “The Establishment of National Republics in Soviet Central Asia” – Arne Haugen

“The Establishment of National Republics in Soviet Central Asia” by Arne Haugen is the Das Kapital of Soviet nationalities policies, especially in Central Asia. Haugen, a Norwegian scholar, methodically and scientifically examines Soviet national territorial delimitation in Central Asia.

In this book Haugen examines many of the issues raised in Western scholarly works on Soviet national territorial delimitation…

Stalin the Omnipotent was Responsible for National Territorial Delimitation

According to Haugen, the thesis that ‘Stalin drew the borders’ is a “misleading oversimplification.” The Central Committee — i.e., “Moscow” — as a rule approved the decisions of the Central Asian Bureau, based in Tashkent, which as a rule approved of the decisions of the Territorial Committee. “Only in a few, but obviously important, cases did the Central Asian Bureau change the decisions of the Territorial Committee, and it was equally rare that the Central Committee ignored the decisions of the Central Asian Bureau.” National territorial delimitation must therefore be examined primarily “on lower rather than upper institutional levels.” At the very least, writes Haugen, who is by no means a supporter of Stalin, “in the political situation of 1924, Stalin was tending to more important matters than border disputes between the various Central Asian political entities.”

In his analysis of the many and often bitter negotiations between representatives of the Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tajiks, Turkmen, and others and the Territorial Committee, Haugen finds that, contrary to the Stalin-drew-the-borders thesis of Western scholarship, “local forces were able to influence the project to a much greater degree than has usually been acknowledged.” Haugen examines the negotiations that led to the delimitation of such controversial regions such as Ferghana, Tashkent City, and others. He concludes that, far from being an authoritarian, Moscow-imposed restructuring, “the process of border making involved a high degree of consensus building. My analysis suggests that, for the central Soviet authorities, a main ambition was to achieve consensus between Central Asian communist representatives of the various national groups. The Soviet authorities were looking for compromises that all groups could accept.” Consensus was achieved on the delimitation of the Uzbek-Turkmen and Uzbek-Kyrgyz borders, without the intervention of central Soviet authorities. Only when consensus proved impossible, such as the delimitation of the Uzbek-Kazakh border, did central Soviet authorities directly intervene and impose a solution.

National Territorial Delimitation as a ‘Divide-and-Rule’ Tactic

In the correspondence between the Central Asian Bureau in Tashkent and the Central Committee in Moscow, Soviet authorities describe Central Asia as extremely divided. One such correspondence cited by Haugen between the Central Asian Bureau and the Central Committee is a report by Karklin in 1924:

“The national relations represent a very serious problem in Khorezm. I have never seen antagonism taking on such a severe form as here. If for instance an Uzbek appears on a horse in Tashauz, no doubt his horse will be taken and the Uzbek attacked. And if a Turkmen woman appears in Khojeilin, she will most certainly be attacked in all ways, only because she is a Turkmen among Kirgiz [Kazaks]. The same attitude to the Turkmen is found among the Uzbek.”

In other correspondence Soviet authorities expressed concern at the marginalization of some minorities. Regarding the Turkmen, the Central Asian Bureau reported: ‘‘It must openly be said that the Turkmen communities here represent a hotbed of counter-revolution. Turkmen population are increasingly alienated from the general leadership, and thus disappear from our view.”

After examining this and other correspondence between the Central Asian Bureau and the Central Committee, as well as the history of ethnic revolts in Central Asia, Haugen concludes that “it is difficult to interpret the national delimitation as an instrument for the division of an originally united societal elite. Rather, national mobilization on the part of the Soviet regime might well be seen as an attempt to avoid a situation in which entire groups remained outside the Soviet orbit. In contrast to Tsarist Russia’s policy of segregation, Soviet thinking on this point represented ambitions of integration.” Moreover, “one might very well argue that if the intention were to divide and rule, maintaining the status quo might have been more conducive” than a reorganization of Central Asia.

Haugen also takes aim at what Western scholars frequently cite as examples of ‘divide-and-rule’ tactics: the Soviets alleged favouring of the Uzbeks, the lack of attention paid to the Tajiks, and the sudden existence of previously unknown nationalities, such as the Karakalpak.

While there is no denying that the Uzbeks were the main beneficiaries of national territorial delimitation, as Haugen concedes, it is nonetheless wrong to interpret this as an anti-Tajik bias or as an example of ‘divide-and-rule’. Rather, since “delimitation must be understood in this context of perceptions of national and sub-national fragmentation, and the central authorities’ hope that the establishment of national republics might end or at least reduce the fragmentation,” what appears as Uzbek favouring was in reality Soviet efforts to reduce Uzbek intra-ethnic conflict. According to Haugen, “the records of the Central Asian Bureau suggest that Soviet authorities were particularly concerned with the divisions between Uzbeks, and that the authorities considered these intra-Uzbek divisions particularly harmful.” In Haugen’s opinion, Soviet authorities found it expedient to favour the Uzbeks to bring about an end to intra-Uzbek conflict.

As for the Tajiks, who received ‘mountain tops’ as their republic, Haugen argues that this was not due to an anti-Tajik, pro-Uzbek bias, much less ‘divide-and-rule’. “Many of those who, in 1924, consented to the Uzbek–Tajik delimitation, by 1929 represented a quite radical Tajik nationalist position.” According to Haugen, those “same Tajiks who in 1924 had accepted the delimitation without uttering a word of protest” and then “completely rejected the boundaries of the Tajik people” had initially identified as Uzbek. Their newfound Tajik nationalism was a response to changes in how national identities were perceived in Central Asia after delimitation. “The period of the delimitation,” writes Haugen, “was a time when concepts and identities were in flux, not least those of ‘Uzbek’ and ‘Tajik’. When later Tajik nationalists in 1924 seemed to have had few objections to the Uzbek project, it was because they identified with the Uzbeks. When, nevertheless, many of them later became Tajik nationalists, the main reason was that political developments had failed to meet their expectations. The Uzbek identity had moved in a different direction.”

Prior to delimitation “Uzbek” was intimately connected to the settled-nomadic and urban-rural dichotomies. “In this sense ‘Uzbek’ was not what one would characterize as an ethnic community. Rather than visions of, for example, common descent or a linguistic community, it represented the sedentary and urban civilization in the Central Asian region.” This sedentary and urban civilization is what the Tajik nationalists of the 1920s identified with. After delimitation, ‘Uzbek’ became more ‘Turkified’, and ‘Turkic-Iranian’ replaced the sedentary-nomadic and urban-rural divisions of earlier. “As a result, people who only a few years earlier seemingly preferred to live within an Uzbek republic rather than join with their ‘co-ethnics in the mountains’, now represented the opposite position. Now, the idea of a community of the carriers of an Iranian culture and language grew increasingly important. This community included urban Tajiks and mountain Tajiks alike.”

As for groups such as the Karakalpak, which did not express any nationalist sentiment prior to the delimitation process, their nationalist demands were not artificially created by Soviet authorities to ‘divide-and-rule’ Central Asia. Rather, Haugen argues that “it was the delimitation project itself that appears to have triggered Karakalpak nationalist demands,” as “Central Asians who identified as Karakalpak found that the Karakalpak framework might be politically expedient.”

An excellent book on the subject, albeit not the easiest to read.

Books of 2019!

As of this writing, I have read 53 nonfiction books in 2019, although I am still working on finishing several others.

However, since I don’t expect to be finishing any of the books I am reading right now in the next month, I thought now wouldn’t be a bad time to do a annual recap of all the books I read in 2019 🙂

Here are all the books I read in 2019 (not in order):

  1. The Struggle for Algeria — Joseph Kraft
  2. The Condition of the Working Class in England — Fredrich Engels
  3. Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide — Gerard Prunier
  4. The Origins of the Civil War in Tajikistan: Nationalism, Islamism, and Violent Conflict in Post-Soviet Space — Tim Epkenhans
  5. How the Other Half Dies: The Real Reasons for World Hunger — Susan George
  6. The East Pakistan Tragedy — L. Rushbrook Williams
  7. Balochistan: In Quest of Freedom — Syed Ramsey
  8. West Papua: The Obliteration of a People — Carmel Budiardjo and Liem Soei Liong
  9. War Economy and Crisis – Hyman Lumer
  10. The Right to Self-Determination in the South Caucasus: Nagorno-Karabakh in Context — Bahruz Balayev
  11. From Conflict to Autonomy in the Caucasus: The Soviet Union and the making of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno Karabakh — Arsene Saparov
  12. Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism — Kwame Nkrumah
  13. Atomic Imperialism: The State, Monopoly, and the Bomb — James S. Allen
  14. The Sudanese Communist Party: Ideology and Party Politics — Tareq Y. Ismael
  15. Politics in Sierra Leone, 1947-1967 — John R. Cartwright
  16. Cuba: Anatomy of a Revolution — Leo Huberman and Paul M. Sweezy
  17. Against All Odds: A Chronicle of the Eritrean Revolution — Dan Connell
  18. Third World Colonialism and Strategies of Liberation: Eritrea and East Timor Compared — Awet Tewelde Weldemichael
  19. A History of South Sudan: From Slavery to Independence — Øystein H. Rolandsen and M.W. Daly
  20. The Communist Movement in Nepal: Origins and Development — Bhim Rawal
  21. Ethiopia’s Revolution — Raul Valdes Vivo
  22. Memories — Andrei Gromyko
  23. The Rise and Fall of the Communist Party of Iraq — Tareq Y. Ismael
  24. Namibia’s Liberation Struggle: The Two-Edged Sword — Colin Leys and John S. Saul
  25. The Baloch and Balochistan: A Historical Account from the Beginning to the Fall of the Baloch State — Naseer Dashti
  26. The Supreme Court of Canada: History of the Institution — James G. Snell and Frederick Vaughan
  27. The History of Siberia: From Russian Conquest to Revolution — Alan Wood
  28. Kenya’s War of Independence: Mau and its Legacy of Resistance to Colonialism and Imperialism, 1948-1990 — Shiraz Durrani
  29. Fifty Fighting Years: The Communist Party of South Africa, 1921-1971 — A. Lerumo
  30. Kyrgyzstan: Beyond “Democracy Island” and “Failing State”: Social and Political Changes in a Post-Soviet Society — Marlène Laruelle (Editor), Johan Engvall (Editor)
  31. The Balkan Wars, 1912-13: The War Correspondence of Leon Trotsky — Leon Trotsky
  32. Psychiatric Hegemony: A Marxist Analysis of Mental Illness — Bruce M. Z. Cohen
  33. Land and Agrarian Reform in Zimbabwe: Beyond White Settler Capitalism — Sam Moyo
  34. Amilcar Cabral: Revolutionary Leadership and Peoples War — Patrick Chabal
  35. Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan — A. C. Grayling
  36. Fiji: Race and Politics in and Island State — Michael Howard
  37. Making Uzbekistan: Nation, Empire, and Revolution in the Early USSR — Abeed Khalid
  38. A History of Niger: 1850-1960 — Finn Fuglestad
  39. Tajikistan: The Trials of Independence — Shirin Akiner, Mohammad-Reza Djalili, Frederic Grare
  40. The Trial of Hissène Habré: How the People of Chad Brought a Tyrant to Justice — Celeste Hicks
  41. Cultural Cleansing in Iraq: Why Museums Were Looted, Libraries Burned and Academics Murdered — Raymond William Baker, Tareq Y. Ismael, Shereen T. Ismael
  42. A Tibetan Revolutionary: The Political Life and Times of Bapa Phüntso Wangye — Melvyn C. Goldstein, Dawei Sherap, and William R. Siebenschuh
  43. State of Rebellion: Violence and Intervention in the Central African Republic — Louisa Lombard
  44. The Problem of India — R. Palme Dutt
  45. Burkina Faso: A History of Power, Protest, and Revolution — Ernest Harsch
  46. The First Socialist Schism: Bakunin vs. Marx in the International Workingmen’s Association — Wolfgang Eckhardt
  47. Sir George Goldie and the Making of Nigeria — J. E. Flint
  48. The Fulani Empire of Sokoto — H. A. S. Johnston
  49. An Act of Genocide: Colonialism and the Sterilization of Aboriginal Women — Karen Stote
  50. Tribal Nation: The Making of Soviet Turkmenistan — Adrienne Lynn Edgar
  51. The Birth of Tajikistan: National Identity and the Origins of the Republic — Paul Bergne
  52. Khomeinism: Essays on the Islamic Republic — Ervand Abrahamian
  53. Russian Colonial Society in Tashkent, 1865-1923 — Jeff Sahadeo

Most of the reviews I wrote for these books were published on other sites (another blog of mine, GoodReads, etc.). Below are reviews of what I feel are some of the most important books I read in 2019. Enjoy!

Continue reading “Books of 2019!”

Soviet Nationalities Policy and Territorial Delimitation: “Divide at impera” or something else?

Have you ever looked at a map of Central Asia and the Caucasus? If you answered ‘yes’, then you have more than likely wondered why the borders of many of the now independent states in these regions of the former Soviet Union are so confusing and seemingly irrational. The strategic and fertile Ferghana Valley, for instance, appears to be haphazardly divided between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, while in the Caucasus Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia and Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan are de facto independent, and Nakhchivan is totally separated from Azerbaijan by Armenia.

Most authors attribute this confusing patchwork of borders to the sinister ‘divide-and-conquer’ policies of the Soviet Union, specifically Joseph Stalin.

This explanation is attractive to many Western authors for a number of reasons: 1) it transforms the Soviet Union’s nationalities policy into a simple Good vs. Evil narrative; 2) it serves to demonize the Soviet Union as an oppressive empire no different than its tsarist predecessor; 3) it has long been the policy of empires, whether ancient like King Philip II of Macedon (359-226 BC), in which the phrase “divide at impera” (divide and conquer) is usually attributed to, or contemporary, such as the colonial empires of Britain, France, Belgium, and other European colonial powers.

Yet a serious examination of Soviet nationalities policy and the delimitation of national territories disproves the ‘divide-and-conquer’ narrative of the origins of many of these now independent states.

A question that is almost never asked by those proponents of the Soviet ‘divide-and-conquer’ narrative is why the Soviet Union would have sought to divide and conquer subject peoples?

Most proponents of the ‘divide-and-conquer’ narrative, implicitly if not explicitly, attribute these policies to the Soviet Union’s empire-like aspirations. Despite its attractiveness to Western writers, however, empire is a poor explanation of alleged Soviet machinations. As Michael Parenti writes, “empires do not just pursue ‘power for power’s sake.’ There are real and enormous material interests at stake, fortunes to be made many times over.” The existence of empire is predicated on a socio-economic system “whereby the dominant investor interests in one country bring to bear their economic and military power upon another nation or region in order to expropriate its land, labor, natural resources, capital, and markets-in such a manner as to enrich the investor interests,” that is, imperialism.

Was the Soviet Union imperialist? “The answer should be clear enough,” writes Parenti. If “imperialism is a system of economic expropriation, then it is hard to describe the Soviets as ‘imperialistic.’ They own not an acre of land, not a factory or oil well in the Middle East or Eastern Europe. Moscow’s trade and aid relations with other socialist countries are decidedly favorable to those countries, contrary to the imperialist pattern in which wealth flows from the client states to the dominant nation.” Thus, according to Parenti, the Soviet Union can’t be described as an ‘empire’, since it wasn’t imperialist. Since the Soviet Union wasn’t imperialist, it is hard to imagine the Soviet Union benefiting from dividing and conquering subject people. [1]

Even if one rejects Parenti’s analysis and falsely claims the Soviet Union was an imperialist state, the ‘divide-and-conquer’ narrative of the Soviet Union’s nationalities policy and national territorial delimitation ignores a crucial historical detail: there was no unity to be divided.

In Central Asia, according to Adeeb Khalid, the Soviet Union wasn’t confronted “by a unified, cohesive local society, but a bitterly divided one. Conflicts within Central Asian society were just as important as conflicts between Europeans and Central Asians in the early Soviet period…As historians, we should rid ourselves of the phantom of Central Asian Muslim unity and look at Central Asia as an arena of multifaceted conflict.” [2] For this reason, Khalid argues that “We should therefore be wary of claims of a primordial unity of the people of Turkestan that was shattered by Soviet machinations. Turkestan was quite literally a creation of the Russian conquest, and it encompassed no unity.” [3]

Khalid’s conclusions are supported by Adrienne Lynn Edgar in her study of Turkmenistan. “In creating national republics in Central Asia,” Edgar writes, “Moscow did not divide a unified region, but merely institutionalized” the divisions that already existed [4]. According to a 19th century Russian officer quoted by Edgar about the Turkmen people, “The hatred of the various Turkmen clans toward each other is scarcely less than their hatred toward other peoples.” [5] Moreover, as part of Soviet Union’s larger nationalities policy, Central Asia was not singled out for delimitation, as new “national territories were springing up everywhere in the Soviet Union in the 1920s,” such as those for Ukrainians, Tatars, etc. To exclude Central Asia from this process “would have been tantamount to admitting that they were too ‘backward’ to travel the path of other Soviet peoples and become modern Soviet nationalities.” [6]

In the Caucasus, another volatile region, the Soviet Union found itself in a similar situation. In his study on the origins of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh, Arsene Saparov describes how “The Bolsheviks inherited a region [the Caucasus] plagued by ethno-political conflicts which now became their problem.” [7] Indeed, the Caucasus had experienced widespread inter-ethnic violence before the Bolsheviks ever came to power, such as the Armenian-Tatar massacres, which left hundreds dead.

As a tactic used by an imperialist power to weaken a rival power to exploit the latter’s land, labour, and resources, the ‘divide-and-conquer’ narrative is inapplicable in the Soviet context. The Soviet Union was not an imperialist power and, even if it were, the regions it allegedly sought to ‘divide-and-conquer’ were already thoroughly divided.

What, then, explains the cartographic nightmare that is the borders of the various states in Central Asia and the Caucasus?

The answer to this question, according to the above cited authors, is in Soviet efforts to promote socialist development and stability in regions inhabited by non-Russian minorities. “As the sole power in the entire Caucasus,” notes Saparov, “the Bolshevik leadership needed to resolve those conflicting issues that prevented the establishment of stable governance.” [8] The solution adopted by the Soviet leadership was to create “territorial republics based on ethnic criteria and promoting ‘national cultures’ within them,” encouraging political stability and socialist development through fostering “national consciousness and incipient national statehood among its [Soviet Union’s] numerous non-Russian minorities.” [9] Thus, Soviet nationalities policy and territorial delimitation “was not some deliberate attempt at long-term manipulation, but rather a practical, albeit clumsy, compromise to contain violent conflicts.” [10]

Non-Russian minorities, if not always eagerly than begrudgingly, participated in the territorial delimitation, a fact often overlooked by proponents of the ‘divide-and-conquer’ narrative. The creation of Uzbekistan, writes Khalid, was “the triumph of an indigenous national project,” not sinister Soviet machinations [11]. Edgar’s study regarding Turkmenistan concurs with Khalid’s conclusions about the role of indigenous elites in Soviet territorial delimitation. While Moscow’s role in the territorial delimitation was “undeniably important,” notes Edgar, “the crucial contribution of local elites in shaping Soviet nations has not received enough attention. In Central Asia, members of the cultural and political elite had their own ideas about nationhood and socialism,” which often “differed substantially from those of the authorities in Moscow.” [12] Neither were local elites “passive recipients of central policies” in the Caucasus, according to Saparov, having “played a critical role in shaping Soviet policies.” [13]

The fact that the Soviet Union, in the words of Edgar, “served as midwife to the separate states that emerged” in 1991, discredits Conquest’s claim that the Soviet Union was a ‘breaker’ of nations, while providing an important historical lesson in how only with the victory of socialism can all nations experience free and equal development [14].

[1] Page 191, The Sword and the Dollar, Michael Parenti

[2] Pages 88-89, Making Uzbekistan: Nation, Empire, and Revolution in the Early USSR, Adeeb Khalid

[3] Page 46, ibid.

[4] Page 47, Tribal Nation: The Making of Soviet Turkmenistan, Adrienne Lynn Edgar

[5] Page 17, ibid.

[6] Page 47, ibid.

[7] Page 172, From Conflict to Autonomy in the Caucasus: The Soviet Union and the making of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno Karabakh, Arsene Saparov

[8] ibid.

[9] Page 2, Tribal Nation: The Making of Soviet Turkmenistan, Adrienne Lynn Edgar

[10] Page 172, From Conflict to Autonomy in the Caucasus: The Soviet Union and the making of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno Karabakh, Arsene Saparov

[11] Page 258, Making Uzbekistan: Nation, Empire, and Revolution in the Early USSR, Adeeb Khalid

[12] Page 5, Tribal Nation: The Making of Soviet Turkmenistan, Adrienne Lynn Edgar

[13] Page 6, From Conflict to Autonomy in the Caucasus: The Soviet Union and the making of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno Karabakh, Arsene Saparov

[14] Page 2, Tribal Nation: The Making of Soviet Turkmenistan, Adrienne Lynn Edgar

A Letter to Ralph Eichler, MLA for Lakeside

Dear Ralph Eichler,

Congratulations on your re-election as MLA for Lakeside.

At approximately 7:30 PM on September 18, 2019, I received a distressing phone call. The call was from my vocational counselor at Interlake Employment Services. (Her office is beside yours in Stonewall.)

Due to draconian budget cuts imposed by the Progressive Conservative regime in Manitoba, led by the multimillionaire, Costa Rican-wannabe Brian Pallister, a regime you support and participate in, my vocational counselor and many others at Interlake Employment Services are being laid-off.

What does this mean?

It means that dozens of individuals with disabilities like me will lose the support we need to find and maintain meaningful employment. Many of us will likely lose our jobs without this support.

This cut comes after the Pallister regime has not only cut Rent Assist and funding for social-housing but has sold-off 1000 units of publicly-owned housing while maintaining one of the lowest minimum wages in all of Canada.

As a ‘Progressive’ Conservative, Mr. Eichler, please tell me — is this your idea of progress?

If this is your idea of ‘progress’ then shame on you.

The Grenfell Fire: Austerity is Terrorism

On June 14, the 220 ft. tall Grenfell Tower went up in flames in a matter of minutes, as if it were tissue paper, witnesses reported. The world watched in horror as residents desperately tried to flee the fire, with one mother even dropping her baby out of a window. The BBC has reported that the total number of those killed could be as high as 70.

The fire was no accident; it was an attack on the poor by the capitalist system and its political supporters.

As far back as 2004 concerns were raised about the safety of the building. The EMB Property Management Committee found that the lighting system was in such poor condition it would fail in an emergency situation, with two-thirds of the batteries dead. A 2012 fire risk assessment report found that some portable firefighting equipment hadn’t been inspected or tested in years. Some portable firefighting equipment even had the word “condemned” written on the side.

The building’s residents’ organization, the Grenfell Action Committee (GAC), expressed concern about the existence of only one escape route and the lack of a building-wide sprinkler or alarm system. In November 2016, the GAC warned of “dangerous living conditions,” but after years of being ignored, concluded that “only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO.”

When the building was under renovations in 2016, The Guardian reported, the owners requested the more flammable exterior cladding to save £2 (a little over $3 CAD) a square foot. Cladding of a similar material is banned in Germany and the U.S.

In the aftermath of the July 7th, 2005, London Bombings, Ken Livingston, the then-Mayor of London, said the attacks were “aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old.”

Weren’t the victims of the Grenfell fire also victims of such indiscriminate mass slaughter? Like the London Bombings, the victims of the Grenfell fire were working-class, mostly low-income, Londoners from all walks of life. And if the BBC is correct, more working-class Londoners have died as a result of the Grenfell fire than were killed in the London Bombings.

And like the men responsible for the London Bombings, those responsible for the Grenfell fire were motivated by their own political agendas. The owner’s of Grenfell Tower, the Kensington and Chelsea TMO (KCTMO), despite stockpiling £270 million in reserve, chose to disregard the safety of its Grenfell residents in favour of cutting costs. Even when a similar disaster was only narrowly averted in 2013, the KCTMO continued to downplay the seriousness of its residents’ concerns. The Conservative-controlled Kensington and Chelsea Council even went so far as to threaten the publisher of the GAC’s blog with “defamatory behaviour” and “harassment” if they continued posting concerns about the safety of the building online.

Central austerity budgets, moreover, ensured that when a did fire occur, it would cause terrible human suffering. Budget cuts of up to 80% in some communities have drastically reduced frontline services, “visible to all in unrepaired roads, uncollected bins and closed libraries, gyms and children’s centres,” writes George Eaton. Cuts to legal aid made it more difficult for Grenfell’s mostly low-income residents to obtain legal advice, Eaton argues, while the loss of 7,000 firefighters in the last five years, resulting in longer response times and less fire prevention visits, all but guaranteed a major disaster.

The terrible Grenfell Tower fire in North Kensington was entirely avoidable,” Deon Lombard, an architect, wrote.

Austerity kills. Capitalism kills. The only difference between those responsible for the London Bombings and the Grenfell Tower fire is that the perpetrators of the latter were mostly white men wearing expensive suits and sitting in plush offices.

(Image Source: The Sun (U.K.))

An Open Letter to David Anderson, MP for Cypress Hills-Grasslands

Dear David Anderson,

I am writing to express my disgust with your false and outright disgraceful polemic in the House of Commons recently about the death of Fidel Castro and the revolutionary government of Cuba.

I’d like to respond to some of your criticisms of Castro and of the Cuban “communist regime.”

Quoting an unnamed ‘Cuban friend’ of yours you claim that Cuban healthcare, far from being the ‘model of the world’ like that pesky organization called the United Nations says it is, is unable to provide the most basic services. According to this ‘friend’, Cuban hospitals don’t even have any aspirin!

Did it ever occur to you or this ‘friend’ that Cuba’s economic difficulties could be attributed to the U.S. embargo on this small island nation rather than being indicative of the failure of the Cuban social system? U.S. policy towards Cuba has always been to make life as unbearable as possible since the overthrow of Batista, the ‘good dictator’. Does Operation Northwoods or the Bay of Pigs Invasion sound familiar to you? Those operations certainly were in no way intended to benefit the masses of Cuban people. According to a 1997 report by the American Association for World Health, the 54-year-old U.S. embargo “has dramatically harmed the health and nutrition of large numbers of ordinary Cuban citizens,” causing “a significant rise in suffering-and even deaths-in Cuba.” The same reported applauded the Cuban government for averting a “humanitarian catastrophe” by maintaining “a high level of budgetary support for a health care system designed to deliver primary and preventive health care to all of its citizens.” I have included the link here to that report for you to share to your ‘friend’ and for you to read for yourself.

Your ‘friend’ claims that Cuban hospitals lack the most basic medicines and medical supplies, and this you use as evidence of the failure of Cuba’s healthcare system. Yet, despite the Cuban healthcare system’s apparent inability to provide its people with such basic medicines like aspirin, Cuba has managed to achieve a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S, the richest country in the world! Quite an impressive achievement for a country lacking painkillers, wouldn’t you say? A case could be made that if Cuba’s healthcare system is as you and your ‘friend’ describe and it has nevertheless achieved a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S., then this is indicative of the failure of the U.S. healthcare system, which by the way your Party and its former leader Stephen Harper enthusiastically support, not the Cuban.

Your criticisms of Cuba’s human rights record and lack of Western-style democracy are about as laughable as yours criticisms of Cuba’s healthcare system. With all do respect, you are far from being qualified to lecture the Cuban government about democracy and human rights! Let me remind you of the democratic and human rights achievements of the former Harper government, which you so dutifully served in as the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Foreign Affairs:

  • First government in the whole Commonwealth to be found in contempt of Parliament.
  • Largest mass arrests in Canadian history.
  • Passed the most repressive security legislation. A Canadian citizen can now be arrested on the mere suspicion of future dangerousness!
  • Your government cozied up to apartheid Israel. Regardless of what you might think of Cuba’s human rights record, in no universe has Cuba committed a fraction of the heinous crimes the Israelis have committed against the whole Palestinian nation. Nobody, not even you with your flawed and distorted logic, can accuse the Cubans of genocide.
  • Your government systematically undermined Indigenous rights, medicare, environmental protection, democratic debate, and the right to collective bargaining.
  • Your government formed a majority government with 38% of the popular vote! On what planet is that a democracy? The Foreign Minister you served couldn’t even provide an answer to a Jordanian reporter that asked how a government could hold all the power with 38% of the popular vote?

With a record like this you are hardly in any position to be criticizing the Cuban political system.

As for Cuba’s human rights, are you aware that at no time under the rule of the man you called a “tyrant,” Fidel Castro, was Cuba’s incarceration rate as high as that in the U.S.? Neither has Cuba, unlike the U.S. and Canada, been bombing other countries back to the stone age and torturing people abroad in U.S.-run torture camps. There wasn’t a war in the world your government didn’t like, and your government aided and abetted the illegal incarceration and torture of one of its own citizens. Finally the United Nations slammed your government for “increasingly serious violations of civil and political rights in Canada.” Among these “violations of civil and political rights” were your government’s refusal to take action on the 1, 200 missing and murdered Aboriginal women, repressive security legislation, and the use CRA audits to shut down charities not in line with your government’s ideology among many other serious violations.

I hope that you do some research and fact-checking next time before you decide to fulminate in the House of Commons.

Best Regards,

T.J.

The Hypocri$y of Non-Profit$

Christmas, the season of giving, is rapidly approaching, and workers earning poverty level wages with no benefits or any job security are busy at work processing the annual flood of donations to charitable organizations and non-profits. The good intentions of donors notwithstanding, like using a band-aid to treat cancer, charity is incapable of any fundamental social change, incapacitated as it is by the socio-economic system in which it operates. Unbeknownst to many donors is how these same organizations perpetuate and profit from the very social ailments they are supposedly on a mission to end, a consequence of the non-profit industrial complex.

It is no secret that billionaire philanthropic organizations are corporate entities masquerading as charities. Even by capitalist standards one can hardly claim that an organization like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, whose questionable charitable activities are far surpassed by its investments in virtually every industry, is anything other than a corporation. With investments in private prison companies and mercenary firms to transnational oil and gas, chemical, food, construction, pharmaceutical, and retail corporations, the foundation profits from the most violent and destructive exploitation of working people and the environment that exists today, including war.

Yet hidden from the public eye through effective marketing schemes and social taboos is the anti-working class activities of public non-profit organizations. To a lesser degree, though not always by very much, these charities likewise suffer from the same contradiction between their highly publicized objectives and their less publicized quest for more wealth, power, and privilege.Continue reading “The Hypocri$y of Non-Profit$”

Peacekeeping: Fiction vs. Reality

(Image: Protest in Haiti against UN sexual crimes against women. Source)

The word peacekeeping is like the word terrorism: it is meaningless on its own and able to be molded to serve the interests of a political clique. Like Alex P. Schmidt’s description of terrorism in The Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research, peacekeeping “is usually an instrument for the attempted realization of a political…project that perpetrators lacking mass support are seeking”[1].

Peacekeepers have never kept the peace in any conflict. On the contrary, peacekeepers themselves have been linked to an increase in violence and human rights abuses, particularly of a sexual nature. In Bosnia, Somalia, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, peacekeepers have been “associated with criminal misconduct, including sexual violence. Crimes against women and children have followed UN peacekeeping operations in several locations, and the UN reported that the entrance of peacekeeping troops into a conflict situation has been associated with a rapid rise in child prostitution”[2]. Allegations of sexual violence against peacekeepers dates back to the 1990s. During the 1995-2002 UN mission in Bosnia, Kathryn Bolkovac, a human rights investigator, found that young “girls from Romania, Ukraine, Moldova and other Eastern European countries [were] being brought in to service the UN and military bases as sex-slaves. The cases involved the officers from many foreign countries, including the USA, Pakistan, Germany, Romania, Ukraine, government contractors, and local organized criminals”[3]. Bolkovac was subsequently fired for her investigation. As of 2015 more than 200 women and girls have been sexually exploited by UN peacekeepers in Haiti in exchange for food, clothing, medicine, and other basic necessities [4]. In the Central African Republic, French peacekeepers have forced young girls to have sex with dogs [5], starving and homeless boys as young as nine have been sodomized by peacekeepers [6], and an entire UN contingent was expelled from the country due to sex crimes [7].

Extrajudicial murder, torture, and mass murder – all war crimes under international law – have also been committed by peacekeepers. A 14-year-old Somali boy was beaten, tortured, and murdered by Canadian peacekeepers in Somalia; the peacekeepers having posed in photos with the boy’s bloody corpse. Not to be outdone, Belgian peacekeepers were photographed roasting a Somali over a fire.Continue reading “Peacekeeping: Fiction vs. Reality”

The Permanent War Economy and De-industrialization

(Image: Detroit, Michigan, the former centre of America’s auto industry. Source)

Politicians of all political stripes like to dress inflated military budgets, and the wicked arms deals that frequently accompany them, in terms of “job creation.” Former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, arguing against any reduction in military funding, claimed that any decrease “would result in job cuts that would add potentially 1 (percentage point) to the national unemployment rate.”[1] Here in Canada, both Stephen Harper and his Liberal counterpart Justin Trudeau have justified the $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, the largest such deal in Canadian history, as a means of creating jobs. “The fact is that there are jobs in London relying on this” deal, Trudeau said [2].

A closer examination will reveal something different. By not producing a life-serving product, i.e., an article used for either consumption or for further production, military spending is not only the worst of available choices for job creation, it contributes to industrial and infrastructure decay.Continue reading “The Permanent War Economy and De-industrialization”

Canada’s $15 Billion Saudi Arms Deal: What History Tells Us

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is a “matter of principle” that Canada follows through with a $15 billion armaments deal with Saudi Arabia, a totalitarian state which funds international terrorism, stones women to death for the crime of being raped, and that leads the world in public beheadings. This decision has been sharply criticized by journalists, activists, and international organizations. In a public statement Amnesty International said that it has “good reason to fear that light armored vehicles supplied” to Saudi Arabia by Canada “are likely to be used in situations that would violate human rights” in both “neighboring countries” and for ‘suppressing demonstrations and unrest within Saudi Arabia.” Montreal students and a former Bloc Quebecois MP and law professor have filed a class action lawsuit to block the deal, citing that by selling weapons to countries with poor human rights records Canada is violating its own laws.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, in response to criticism about how these weapons will be used, replied that Canada has undertaken similar deals with Saudi Arabia, and that country “has not misused the equipment to violate human rights” according to the government’s “best, and regularly updated, information.” This is an outright lie.

In 2011 more than a hundred thousand protestors participated in an uprising against the undemocratic monarchy in Bahrain, calling for “political reforms, right of political participation, respect for human rights, stopping of systematic discrimination against Shias.” The regime responded by banning all demonstrations, caging villages in barbed wire, firing live ammunition at doctors that tried to help injured protestors in hospitals, torturing some protestors to death in police custody, and calling in the military of Saudi Arabia. 1, 000 Saudi troops crossed into Bahrain in armored vehicles not unlike those sold to Saudi Arabia by Canada throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. The Canadian government has neither confirmed nor denied that Canadian armored vehicles were used to suppress pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain.

In Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have been at war with the country’s Houthi rebels, the U.N. has accused Saudi Arabia of war crimes. The Saudi-led coalition’s war against the poorest Arab country has caused the deaths of more than 8, 000, displaced millions, and destroyed nearly all of the country’s schools, hospitals, and historical heritage. Hundreds of thousands of children are at risk of starvation due to the violence and the Saudi-led coalition’s naval blockade in a bid to starve the country into submission. Based on photos of Saudi ground forces in Yemen, the armored vehicles being used by the Saudi military bore a striking resemblance to those manufactured in Canada, while a retired Canadian general, speaking anonymously to the Globe and Mail, identified the armored vehicles as having been manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems, the same company manufacturing the armaments in the latest $15 billion deal.

An arms deal with Saudi Arabia raises serious questions about the role of Canada in the international community. Critics of the deal have said that if Canada follows through with selling arms to Saudi Arabia “we can kiss Canada’s human rights credibility goodbye.” But such criticism presupposes that Canada has a credible human rights record. “Canada,” writes BJ Siekierski, “hasn’t suddenly been transformed from Boy Scout to arms merchant.” The history of Canada, both domestically and internationally, isn’t a history of a country dedicated to the defense of democracy and human rights, it is a history of an imperialist state built on the theft of Aboriginal land that faithfully serves as a junior partner to U.S. imperialism’s war of exploitation and subjugation of the world.

Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, was an ally of the most racist section of the elite of that time. In the House of Commons he was in favor of a system of legalized racism, claiming Europeans and Chinese were different species, introducing “biological racism as a defining characteristic of Canadianness.” While starving thousands of Aboriginal people to death by withholding food, MacDonald argued that the disenfranchisement of the Chinese people was imperative to protect the “the Aryan character of the future of British America.” Liberal Prime Minister Mackenzie King wrote in his diary that after meeting Adolf Hitler he believed Hitler “might come to be thought of as one of the saviors of the world.” Trudeau, like his father before him, is an avowed supporter of apartheid regimes. The late Pierre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father, “sympathized with the [South African] apartheid regime not the black liberation movement or nascent Canadian solidarity groups,” while one of the first acts of the Justin Trudeau Liberals was to pass a Conservative motion to condemn all Canadians who exercise their democratic right to support the non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement as a form of resistance to Israeli apartheid.

Let us not forget the ongoing genocide of Aboriginal people in Canada. For more than a century Aboriginal children were taken away, sometimes at gunpoint and in handcuffs, to be shipped off to residential schools, where they were to learn how to “assimilate” and become “civilized” through a system for forced labour and re-education. The “Residential Schools were predicated on the notion that Indigenous children were less human than other children, so they were worked like animals in the slave labour many schools mandated.” Thousands of children died from malnourishment, disease, physical and sexual abuse, with many buried in unmarked graves near the site of the schools. To this day Aboriginal people are more likely to be born into poverty, are less likely to graduate from high school, and have a shorter life expectancy than non-Aboriginal people.

Internationally Canadian foreign policy has been reflective of the country’s imperialist system of exploitation. Canada was among the 14 imperialist states that invaded the Soviet Union in 1918 in an effort to bolster the forces of the anti-Bolshevik White Army and stop the Russian working class from establishing socialist government. More recently the Canadian military has been involved in Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Mali, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. In Somalia, where Canadian troops were participating in the U.N. mission, Canadian ‘peacekeepers’ tortured and murdered a 16-year-old boy. In a sociopathic ritual that has repeatedly been documented wherever Western forces are active, these Canadian ‘peacekeepers’ photographed themselves with boy’s bloodied corpse like he was a trophy kill. In Libya, a country that prior to the NATO-led intervention had the highest standard of living in Africa, the Canadian military supported al-Qaeda-linked Islamist terrorists that ransacked the country’s wealth, brutally murdering the country’s former leader Muammar al-Gaddafi by sodomizing him with a bayonet.

Nine years before Canada’s invasion of the Soviet Union trains “loaded not only with supplies, rifles, and ammunition, but also with machine guns and light artillery pieces” were dispatched to Cape Breton in preparation for the military occupation of the island, where miners and steelworkers were striking for improved working conditions and higher wages. Such violence and disdain for the working class has been repeated throughout Canadian history. During the “Hungry Thirties,” striking miners in Estevan, Saskatchewan were murdered in cold blood by the RCMP, while the unemployed were rounded up and sent to labour in slave-like conditions in relief camps.

The deal to sell armaments to Saudi Arabia must be opposed on all moral and political grounds, but to be able to effectively oppose such a deal, the deal must be put into the historical context of Canada’s role as a junior partner of U.S.-led imperialism.

Terror Attacks in Paris: Western Imperialism Is to Blame

In the aftermath of the latest attacks on Paris that left more than 120 dead, the corporate, Eurocentric media of the West is in overdrive to scare working people into sacrificing their civil liberties and convince us of the need to launch more aggressive bombing raids, with the possibility of deploying troops, in Iraq and Syria to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS). The attacks reek of a false flag operation by French security forces, but even if the attacks were indeed the work of ISIS, the attacks are nevertheless the inevitable response to Western imperialism’s exploitation of the Middle East and North Africa and worldwide military interventions.

Each conflict in the Middle East and North Africa can be attributed to the policies of Western imperialism. The conflict in Syria is not a civil war; it is a regional proxy war being waged by Western imperialism through air strikes, sanctions, and support for regional proxies (i.e., so-called “moderate” rebels, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Israel, etc.), all with their own agendas, to weaken movements and states opposed to their interests. Likewise, the war in neighboring Iraq can be directly attributed to the illegal occupation of the country by Western imperialism in 2003; al-Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor of ISIS, was not formed until after the U.S.-led occupation.

The U.S. and its allies have over the last 50 years caused untold devastation and suffering to millions of people in dozens of countries throughout the world, especially in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. There is hardly a single country in all three regions that hasn’t been subjected to airstrikes, invasions, coups, sanctions, and/or mass murders by U.S.-led imperialism.

The rise of radical Islamic extremism itself has its origins in the policies of U.S. imperialism to overthrow the People’s Democratic Government of Afghanistan in the 1970s and 1980s. Muslims were recruited, trained, and armed by the U.S. and its allies Pakistan, then under the control of Zia ul-Haq, an authoritarian, US supported military dictator with a radical Islamic agenda, and Saudi Arabia, still controlled by one of the most corrupt and oppressive regimes in the world with an extreme interpretation of Islamic law, in camps and madrassas on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

These “freedom fighters”, as Ronald Reagan referred to them, poisoned the water of schoolchildren, mercilessly tortured teachers, raped women, and fought to reestablish the power of the feudal landlords. After the Soviet withdrawal and the overthrow of the socialist government, many of these Muslim fighters left Afghanistan to wage violent insurgencies against the authoritarian dictators that serve as the puppet masters of Western imperialism in their home countries and against the Western states that support them.

Whenever a terrorist attack is committed, Western politicians and the media try to capitalize on the anger and fear of the masses to implement pre-planned agendas, while deliberately ignoring the history of these very states in committing terrorist acts themselves.

France has terrorized the people of its former colonies for decades. In Algeria, 1.5 million were killed fighting for their independence from France, among many other bloody wars of independence fought against France. French imperialism routinely intervenes in its former colonies whenever its interests are threatened; French special forces were sent to control the uranium mines in Niger and the Central African Republic, and thousands of troops were deployed in the Ivory Coast to control the cocoa tradeand also to Mali to control the country’s mineral wealth in competition with Chinese investments.

To this day 14 former French colonies in Africa are forced to pay France a ‘colonial tax’, putting $500 billion of wealth into the French treasury each year instead of being used to help the desperately impoverished people of Africa. When French President Hollande declared, “Our democracy stands more true than these assassins,” he is referring to the same ‘democratic’ state that massacred 200 Algerian protestors in Paris in 1961.

The most recent attacks in Paris have the hallmarks of a false flag operation. A Syrian passport was conveniently located by French police at the scene of one of the attacks, an extremely helpful piece of evidence to justify closing the borders for refugees fleeing the violence created by France and its allies and illegally bombing cities in Syria. Hollande’s accusation that ISIS was responsible for the attack, before any investigation was completed and before ISIS, itself, claimed responsibility for the attack, as well as the appearance on Wikipedia of a detailed account of the attacks within two hours of them happening and Hollande’s statement an hour before he made it raises serious suspicions that this was a pre-planned attack by French security.

False flag operations have been used by many states to carry out pre-planned agendas. The Nazis did it in 1933 when they set fire to the Reichstag, Israel did it when Israeli agents planted bombs in American and British own civilian targets (known as the Lavon Affair) in Egypt, and the U.S. did it during the Vietnam War (Gulf of Tonkin Incident) and was prepared to do it Operation Northwoods, a plan by the U.S. to bomb civilians targets in the U.S. as a pretext for war against Cuba.

French police conducted more than 150 raids following the attacks in Paris. If the U.S. Patriot Act and anti-terrorism activities of police in Canada, the U.K., Australia, and elsewhere tell us anything about these raids, it is that not all of them were against suspected terrorists. The FBI has used the Patriot Actto target anti-war, anti-globalization, environmentalist, immigrant, and socialist movements in the U.S., and the RCMP have used anti-terrorism legislation to monitorenvironmental and Aboriginal movementsopposed to the Alberta Tar Sands.

Working people must remember that the tragic and despicable attacks on Paris are the inevitable consequence of Western imperialism’s destructive policies of exploitation and terrorism abroad. Further restrictions on domestic civil liberties and more military interventions will not keep working people safe. To fight terrorism Western imperialism must first stop engaging in it and recognize the fundamental right of the people of the Middle East to live in peace and to self-determination.

Photo Source: The Accra Report

Refugee Crisis is a Crisis of Imperialism

The widely circulated photo of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy whose body was found on a beach in Turkey and whose family was “making a final, desperate attempt to flee to relatives in Canada even though their asylum application had been rejected” by the Harper Government, has caused widespread outrage and forced Western leaders to acknowledge that there is a “refugee crisis”.

In Canada, the leaders of the Liberal and New Democratic parties have used the news of Kurdi’s tragic death, along with the deaths of his five-year-old brother and his mother, to criticize the Harper Government’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Trudeau and Mulcair have called on Canada to accept more Syrian refugees, while the Harper Government, with its lust for military action, insists on more illegal bombing raids in Syria and Iraq as the solution to the surge of Syrian refugees.

The real tragedy is the refusal of Western leaders to acknowledge the cause of the refugee crisis – Western imperialism’s genocidal and never ending wars on the people of the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa.

There are now more refugees than at any time since World War 2, and the number of refugees has increased markedly since the start of the “Global War on Terror”. Wherever the U.S. and its imperialist allies have intervened, whether through direct military action or indirect proxy wars, economic sabotage, and coups, in the name of “democracy”, the “War on Terror”, or the “responsibility to protect”, death and despair have been forced upon millions of innocent people, who have been left no other choice than to abandon their native lands to embark on a dangerous future of desperate struggle.

In Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, Korea, Vietnam, East Timor, Sudan, Ukraine, and elsewhere the livelihoods of millions have been destroyed by the forces of U.S. and Western imperialism.

In the 1980s, Afghanistan had a “genuinely popular government”, according to John Ryan, retired professor from the University of Winnipeg, that was implementing widespread reforms (Parenti, Michael. “The Terrorism Trap”. Page 56. City Lights Books, San Fransisco, 2002). Labour unions were legalized, a minimum wage was established, hundreds of thousands of Afghans were enrolled in educational facilities, and women were freed from age-old tribal bondage and able to earn an independent income. U.S. and Western imperialism, fearful of that kind of equitable distribution of wealth, supported the feudal landlords and fundamentalist mullahs to sow chaos across the country, bringing rise to elements that later formed al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The Afghan people were once more dealt a severe punishment by the forces of Western imperialism following 9/11, despite a lack of conclusive evidence linking either the Taliban or al-Qaeda to the attacks. 30 years of U.S. intervention in Afghanistan have left the people of Afghanistan impoverished, traumatized, and desperate.

The conflicts in Libya and Syria are eerily similar to the Western destabilization of Afghanistan. In 2011, when the Arab Spring protests swept across the Middle East and North Africa, Western imperialism hijacked legitimate grievances of the masses as a pretext for intervention in the name of the “responsibility to protect” and “democracy promotion”.

Prior to the 2011 U.S./NATO intervention, Libya was among the wealthiest and most stable countries in Africa, with the continent’s highest standard of living. Housing was enshrined as a human right, education and healthcare services were free for all citizens, and the country was pushing to establish an African currency linked to gold to help end the endless cycle of debt and impoverishment of the African masses by Western imperialism. Under the cloak of the United Nations, Western imperialism, using the pretext of protecting the people of Libya from Gaddafi’s murderous rule, launched airstrikes on Libya and allied themselves with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other Libyan extremists. NATO airstrikes killed hundreds of civilians and forced Libya back into the Stone Age; Gaddafi was mercilessly tortured and murdered by the rebels. Thousands have been killed as rival tribal and extremist factions, some now allied with ISIS, battling for control of the country.

The conflict in Syria has frequently been referred to as “Libya 2.0”. U.S. imperialism with the support of Israel, Turkey, and the Persian Gulf States, trained and financed “moderate” rebels to overthrow the secular and popularly supported government of Bashar al-Assad. The “Free Syrian Army”, i.e., the “moderate” rebels, has been virtually eliminated in the conflict despite millions of dollars in aid from the U.S. and its regional allies. FSA fighters have deserted to the ranks of ISIS en masse, itself a product of the illegal U.S. occupation of Iraq that killed 1 million Iraqis. There is overwhelming evidence that the U.S. and its allies have been actively training and supporting ISIS elements since the start of the proxy war in Syria. It wasn’t until ISIS invaded Iraq with its new Toyota technicals, curtesy of U.S. imperialism, that ISIS was declared a threat to the world. Western imperialism changed its tactic from supporting ISIS to airstrikes on Iraq and Syria, with the support of other Western imperialist states, Turkey (which is also conveniently bombing anti-ISIS Kurdish fighters), Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf States, but without consultation with the Syrian government, Iran, or Hezbollah that have been fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda elements since the start of the conflict. Hundreds of thousands have died in the West’s proxy war against the Syrian government.

From Libya to Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and Somalia, U.S. and Western imperialist interventions, coups, and sanctions have displaced and killed millions of people. Physicians for Social Responsibility estimates that in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan alone Western imperialist interventions have caused the deaths of 1.3 million people. It is no wonder then that hundreds of thousands seek asylum elsewhere; however, after traveling huge distances overland and on water, refugees find themselves abused, discriminated against, held in detention, or rejected from Europe, Canada, the U.S., and Australia.

More than 2, 500 have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe, while the International Organization for Migration estimates that 30, 000 could die by the end of 2015.

Refugees attempting to enter Europe, even if they are granted asylum in a mainland European country such as Germany, have been met with police violence in Greece, Italy, and other countries on the Mediterranean that are the first landing points for boats sailing from North Africa and Turkey.

Greek riot police have beaten refugees protesting the failure of local governments to process their applications. Conditions are so poor for refugees that while waiting for processing newborn babies have died in Greece.

On the Macedonia-Greece border, where more than a thousand refugees are crossing daily, refugees that broke through the barbed wire fences were shot at with stun grenades, and the Macedonian police have treated refugees as rioters, according to Amnesty International.

Italian police forcibly removed African refugees camping out at the French border after France refused to grant them asylum. Hungary is building a fortified wall, similar to the barbaric wall that divides the U.S.-Mexico border, to stop refugees from crossing the border.

The thousands of refugees that seek asylum in Australia are detained in Australia’s detention facilities in Papua New Guinea and the small island nation of Nauru, dubbed the “Guantanamo Bay of the Pacific”. Refugees can be detained for several years in these facilities, where social workers have observed “profound damage” to those detained through “prolonged deprivation of freedom, abuse of power, confinement in an extremely harsh environment, uncertainty of future, disempowerment, loss of privacy and autonomy and inadequate health and protection services”. An Australian Senate investigation received reports of guards raping women on tape and sexually exploiting children as young as 2-years-old. Just as Britain refuses to assist drowning refugees in the Mediterranean out of fear that it will encourage more migrants to seek asylum, the unannounced policy of Australian authorities is to make refugees suffer abuse and inhumane living conditions to deter them from seeking asylum in Australia, as if Australian imperialism hasn’t inflicted enough suffering on the people of the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia.

U.S. and Western imperialism is the root cause of the “refugee crisis”. Everyday men, women, and children are killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, U.S. and Western-backed militias in Afghanistan, Syria, and Somalia, European and North American mining and oil conglomerates in Central and Western Africa, or are starved to death in Yemen by the U.S.-backed Arab blockade of the country. Until the genocidal aims of U.S. imperialism, with the support of Canada, Australia, the European Union, and regional allies, are defeated, the “War on Terror” will continue to make life too unbearable for working people in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East to remain in their home countries.

(Image source: https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2015/09/14/429086/US-Syria-Libya-Afghanistan-Iraq-refugee-Aylan-Kurdi)

The War on ISIS is a Farce

Nowhere in recent years have the contradictions of imperialism been so clear than in the West’s war against ISIS. Working people are bombarded with messages in the media of the worldwide threat of ISIS, with the aim of the messages to convince working people of the need to sacrifice their civil liberties and democratic freedoms to counter ISIS and to support more military interventions in the Middle East. If Barack Obama, David Cameron, Tony Abbot, and other Western leaders were truly interested in countering the threat of ISIS, perhaps they should follow Stephen Harper’s “strong leadership” by finding the nearest closet to lock themselves in.

The rise of ISIS has its origins in the illegal occupation of Iraq by the U.S., the U.K., and other Western forces in 2003, which caused the deaths of an estimated 5% of the Iraqi population. The Bush and Blair administrations falsely accused the Iraqi regime of harboring weapons of mass destructions, of supporting al-Qaeda, and of having some connection with the 9/11 attacks. What the public wasn’t informed of was that the Bush administration had plans to attack Iraq long before 9/11. What’s more, the U.S. facilitated the rise of Saddam’s regime, supplied it with weapons of mass destruction in its war against Iran, and unlike Saudi Arabia and other allies of the U.S. in the region, Iraq was a secular state that was violently opposed to the reactionary Islamist ideology of al-Qaeda. The war, if anything, was a boon for al-Qaeda, which was never active in Iraq before the U.S.-led occupation.

In 2011, the U.S., the U.K., France, Canada, and other Western imperialist states, along with their allies in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar, allied themselves with militant Islamist organizations in Libya and Syria to overthrow the secular governments of Muammar al-Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad respectively.

Western imperialism invoked the ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) doctrine to justify NATO airstrikes on Libya, killing thousands of civilians. Libya was the wealthiest and most stable country in Africa, with the continent’s highest standard of living and with universal healthcare and education for all its citizens, but in the aftermath of NATO’s humanitarian intervention, the country fell into a state of collapse as rival tribes and Islamist organizations battled to control the country’s wealth. Militant Islamists captured, brutally tortured, and murdered Gaddafi. The NATO intervention in Libya directly facilitated the breakaway of the Azawad and the rise of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali. Using the “war on terror” ruse the U.S., E.U., Canada, and other imperialist states have been actively supporting the Malian regime in its war against Tuareg autonomy and AQIM, which they earlier supported in Libya along with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Libya was virtually handed to al-Qaeda by NATO.

With their success in Libya, al-Qaeda and other Sunni Islamic militants quickly mobilized to overthrow the secular government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, where the failure of Western imperialism is eerily similar to Afghanistan from the late 1970s to the 1990s and, albeit on a much larger scale, to Libya.

The U.S. policy of supporting hostile Sunni insurgent groups laid the foundation for the rise of ISIS, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and nearly every single Sunni extremist group that has appeared in the last 40-50 years. In Afghanistan, to undermine the country’s 1978 socialist revolution and spread instability into Soviet Turkestan, U.S. imperialism with its allies in the Persian Gulf and in Pakistan supported militant Islamist groups that would later form the nucleus of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The policy of supporting Sunni insurgent groups was given a further impetus following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, where an anti-U.S., theocratic Shiite regime was established. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in 2007: “To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

The Islamic State was formed in 2006 when al-Qaeda in Iraq merged with other Sunni insurgent organizations. The name was changed to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or Levant) (ISIS) in April 2013 after a second merger, this time between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, the al-Nusra Front.

The U.S., the U.K., Canada, and other imperialist states, through their allies Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, have been supporting the “moderate” Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels with hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons as well as setting up training camps and offering free medical treatment to injured fighters. The question that begs to be asked is how ISIS has managed to defeat the FSA despite hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from the West and its allies in the region?

You would have to be an absolute lunatic to believe that Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf States, all absolute monarchies run by a small clique of corrupt Arab sheikhs that couldn’t be farther from an acceptable version of democracy, would support a moderate, democratic, and free Syrian organization. Even to the corporate media in the West it is no secret that these allies of the West fund reactionary Islamist organizations whose interests are antithetical to democracy. The Washington Post reported that “Qatar’s cultivation of African Islamists, principally Somalia’s al-Shabab insurgents, has…troubled the United States,” which is drone bombing Somalia in the name of the “war on terror.” Israel, the region’s “only democracy” we are told, itself supported Hamas to counter the influence of the secular Palestinian Liberation Organization in the 1980s.

These “moderate” FSA fighters that the U.S. and its allies support, if there really was an independent FSA, have en masse joined the ranks of ISIS. Dozens of outlets have detailed this fact. A Lebanese newspaper quoted an FSA commander as saying, “We are collaborating with the Islamic State and al-Nusra,” and Al-Jazeera reported in 2013 that “hundreds of fighters under the command of the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) have reportedly switched allegiance to al-Qaeda-aligned groups.” The World Net Daily quoted Jordanian officials as saying that the rebels trained by U.S. instructors in Jordan have joined ISIS.

Furthermore there is overwhelming evidence that the U.S. and its allies are both directly and indirectly supporting ISIS. According to a source close to Iraqi intelligence, there is allegedly an ISIS training camp in Turkey that is in the vicinity of Incirlik Air Base near Adana, where American personnel and equipment are located. NATO member Turkey is among the most staunch supporters of the rebels, a fact that an ISIS fighter detailed to the Jerusalem Post: “Turkey paved the way for us. Had Turkey not shown such understanding for us, the Islamic State would not be in its current place.”

Former Iraqi Prime Minister and current Vice-President Nouri al-Maliki publicly accused U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar of bankrolling ISIS. Kuwait, in particular, due to its weak financial laws, has become a financial and organizational hub for Syrian rebel groups. The Brooking’s Institute in Washington, D.C. reported “evidence that Kuwaiti donors have backed rebels who have committed atrocities and who are either directly linked to al-Qa’ida or cooperate with its affiliated brigades on the ground.”

Evidence exists of direct Israeli support for ISIS fighters. United Nations observers in the Golan Heights reported to the United Nations Security Council of direct contact between ISIS and Israel, including Israeli Defense Forces supplying ISIS with unmarked crates and offering medical treatment to wounded fighters. An Israeli officer spoke out in opposition to the U.S. war against ISIS, claiming that in fighting ISIS the U.S. is strengthening what Israel perceives as the real threat, the Shiite alliance of Hezbollah and Iran.

Finally nearly all of the aid provided to the “moderate” rebels has been captured or sent to ISIS. It wasn’t long after the Washington Post reported that aid from the CIA and the State Department, which included dozens of Toyota pickup trucks, were being delivered to rebels on the Turkish-Syria border that the iconic photo of ISIS militants in a convoy of Toyota pickup trucks invading northern Iraq became public. Less than four months after Obama pledged $500 million in weapons and aid to the FSA rebels, ISIS had acquired the same amount of weapons from the FSA; a Syrian fighter told Al-Quds al-Arabi that much of the aid was sold to unknown parties in Turkey and Iraq. Don’t forget about the repeated “accidental” weapon drops by the U.S. in ISIS-controlled territory!

The war against ISIS in the Middle East by Western imperialism is a farce. ISIS has and continues to dutifully serve Western and Israeli imperialist interests in the Middle East, causing chaos in formerly staunch anti-imperialist states that had the strength to oppose Israel, and creating a force capable of countering Iranian influence.

The reason ISIS is now a “threat” is that Western imperialism, in failing to topple the Syrian government, requires a new pretext to continue its aggressive military interventions in the Middle East, in particular to weaken Syria and the Shiite leadership of Iraq for an attack on Iran. If defeating ISIS was the real objective, the Western powers would form an alliance with Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah, which have relentlessly battled ISIS on the ground, not with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey.

Working people need to realize that the real threat to the world isn’t ISIS, Iran, or Syria, it is Western imperialism.

(Image source: https://globalnews.ca/news/5178370/refugee-claimant-complicit-isis-crimes-against-humanity-tribunal/)

Attack on Paris a Direct Consequence of Western Imperialism

(Photo: A French solider in Mali. Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2267033/Mali-French-soldier-pictured-wearing-Call-Duty-grinning-skeleton-mask.html)

The tragic shooting in Paris of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in 2011, that left 12 people dead is a direct consequence of Western imperialism’s interventions in the Middle East.

The U.S. and its Western imperialist allies have continuously violated the national sovereignty and the right to self-determination of every country in the Middle East and North Africa in the last 50 years. Attacks such as the shooting in Paris, the September 11th attacks on New York (if we are to believe the dubious official story of the U.S. government), the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the attempted attack on the Eiffel Tower by Algerian hijackers in 1994, the London bombings of 2005, the Sydney Hostage Crisis, all are an inevitable consequence of the Western imperialism’s policies towards the people of the Greater Middle East and North Africa. From the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, the overthrow of Iran’s democratic leadership in 1953, to more recently supporting some of the world’s most reactionary and undemocratic monarchies and funding Islamic paramilitaries in Syria and Libya, the people of the Greater Middle East and North Africa have had their human and political rights subordinated to the interests of Western imperialism for decades.

Continue reading “Attack on Paris a Direct Consequence of Western Imperialism”

War in Afghanistan Far from Over

Now into its 13th year U.S. and NATO are announcing the end to combat missions in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of troops, but despite the symbolic flag-lowering ceremony, the U.S.-led war is in fact not ending, and the brutal war is set to continue through 2015. NATO is set to “transition” to a non-combat, “Resolute Support” mission to assist the Afghan National Army in its operations, with 4, 000 NATO troops to remain in Afghanistan into 2015.

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President Obama has authorized the 10, 800 U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan in 2015, an increase of 1, 000 from his May pledge to reduce U.S. troops in the country, to resume combat operations against Afghan militants, including night raids by Special Operation soldiers, previously banned by former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and ariel strikes. A senior American military officer was quoted saying that “the Air Force expects to use F-16 fighters, B-1B bombers and Predator and Reaper drones to go after the Taliban in 2015.”

The continuation of combat operations in Afghanistan by U.S. troops comes after the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between the U.S. and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, a former U.S. citizen and World Bank employee, a highly controversial agreement that was followed by a wave of attacks. The agreement allows for thousands of U.S. troops to remain in the country for another decade and grants all U.S. servicemen immunity from prosecution under Afghan laws. Several massacres and unlawful acts were committed by U.S. troops in Afghanistan, including the murder of 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar and the footage of U.S. soldiers urinating on the dead bodies of Afghans and posing for photographs with dead civilians.

The U.S. and its imperialist allies have a long history of occupations and interference in Afghanistan. In the 1980s, the U.S. and its allies through Pakistan funded radical Islamic counterrevolutionaries, including bin Laden and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, that fought to topple the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), then implementing widespread social reforms that benefited millions of Afghans. These “freedom fighters,” as former U.S. President Ronald Reagan described them, tortured teachers and activists, burnt down schools, poisoned children, and raped women.

karmal
Babrak Karmal, first President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan

After the PDPA was overthrown, the U.S. largely disengaged from Afghanistan, having accomplished its primary objective, and the various counterrevolutionary factions fought amongst themselves in a devastating civil war. Later the Taliban, an organization of Islamic students led by Mullah Mohammed Omar, defeated these factions and captured Kabul in 1996. The U.S., “keen to see Afghanistan under strong central rule to allow a US-led group to build a multi-billion-dollar oil and gas pipeline” from Turkmenistan to the Arabian Sea, indirectly supported the Taliban’s rise to power through Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The U.S.-led 2001 invasion of Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11 or bin Laden. Notwithstanding the scientific inaccuracies of the official 9/11 story, the FBI has admitted it lacks any hard evidence to formally indict bin Laden for his responsibility in 9/11, only the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. The U.S.-led invasion was an imperialist war of resource plundering and transferring public wealth into private hands. The media went into a frenzy when the U.S. “discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan” in 2010. The New York Times even declared that Afghanistan could become “the Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a mineral used in the manufacture of batteries. It is inconceivable that U.S. authorities weren’t aware of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth before the invasion; the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s confirmed the existence of enormous mineral reserves and produced “superb geological maps and reports that listed more than 1,400 mineral outcroppings, along with about 70 commercially viable deposits.”

Since the U.S. and NATO invaded Afghanistan the drug trade has boomed. Prior to the invasion, opium cultivation was banned by the Taliban in collaboration with the United Nations, and by 2001 the crop had declined by 90% to 185 tonnes. After the U.S. invasion the opium crop had skyrocketed to 3400 tonnes in 2002 under former President Hamid Karzai. The drug trade was an important source of covert funding for the Afghan counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s and 1990s and has long been under the control of the CIA. Mujahideen counterrevolutionaries forced Afghan peasants to plant opium, turning the Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas into the world’s top heroin producer, with the collaboration of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Islamabad.

Afghan farmers in their fields.
Afghan farmers in their fields.

The money from the drug trade is laundered through banks and recycled as covert funds for intelligence agencies. Money laundering, according to the IMF, constitutes 2-5% of the world’s GDP, and a significant share of money laundering is linked to the trade in narcotics. The trade in narcotics represents the third largest commodity after oil and arms, with powerful financial interests behind the trade. “From this standpoint, geopolitical and military control over the drug routes is as strategic as oil and oil pipelines,” writes Professor Michel Chossudovsky.

Partners in Apartheid: Boycott Indigo Books and Music

Branches of Indigo Books and Music and its subsidiaries Chapters, Coles, SmithBooks, and IndigoSpirit are a familiar site to Canadians from coast to coast, thanks to the company’s monopoly control of retail-bookstore sales in Canada. But behind the inviting facade of each store there lies a terrible reality – the murder of Palestinians.

Heather Reisman, the founder and CEO of Indigo Books and Music, and her husband, Gerry Schwartz, the co-founder of Onex Corporation, are among the most rabidly pro-Zionist capitalists in Canada. With a combined net worth between $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion they donate millions of dollars to support Israeli soldiers in their occupation of Palestine through the Heseg Foundation, an organization they founded that provides scholarships and other support to foreign-born soldiers that serve in the Israeli military and participate in the oppression of the Palestinian people. The Heseg organization handed out over a hundred thousands dollars worth of rewards to Israeli soldiers that participated in the 2008-2009 assault on Gaza.

28 December: Palestinians gather in the crater left by an Israeli missile strike on a building used by Hamas in Gaza City - Photograph: Khalil Hamra/AP - The Guardian
28 December: Palestinians gather in the crater left by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City – Photograph: Khalil Hamra/AP – The Guardian

The assault, which had nothing to do with ending rocket fire, an act of resistance legal under international law when a nation is occupied, but to murder Palestinians and to weaken the democratically elected Hamas into submission, killed 200 Palestinians in a single day, and killed more than 1, 400 Palestinians, including 400 children, in total. Reisman and Schwartz are close to several powerful Israeli military leaders and war criminals. “On the Heseg board are army and air force chiefs of staff, the head of Israeli intelligence (Mossad), and Maj General Doren Almog who has been charged with war crimes by Britain for his role in bombing civilians.”

During Israel’s genocidal war on the people of Lebanon in 2006, a war that killed thousands of Lebanese civilians and destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure, Reisman and her husband, in a highly publicized spectacle, switched from supporting the Liberals to supporting the Harper neo-conservatives due to Harper’s support for Israel. Kate Gilmore, speaking for Amnesty International, dismissed claims that Israel tried to avoid civilian casualties: “Many of the violations identified in our report are war crimes, including indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks. The evidence strongly suggests that the extensive destruction of power and water plants, as well as the transport infrastructure vital for food and other humanitarian relief, was deliberate and an integral part of a military strategy,” she told the press.

Destruction in Beirut, Lebanon, August 2006. Marco Di Lauro/http://www.marcodilauro.com/
Destruction in Beirut, Lebanon, August 2006. Marco Di Lauro/http://www.marcodilauro.com/

The level of destruction in Lebanon invalidates Israeli claims of ‘collateral damage’ and indicates that the war was about much more than ‘self-defense’. The Lebanese government estimated that 30, 000 houses, 900 businesses, 120 bridges, 94 roads, and 31 other vital points were destroyed in the 7, 000 Israeli airstrikes and 2, 000 naval shells launched against targets in Lebanon. The firing of over a million cluster bombs has left large swathes of southern Lebanon uninhabitable, and the extensive use of cluster bombs near the end of the war “looked suspiciously as if Israel had taken the brief opportunity before the war’s end to make south Lebanon – the heartland of both the country’s Shi’ite population and its militia, Hezbollah – uninhabitable, and to prevent the return of hundreds of thousands of Shi’ites who had fled Israel’s earlier bombing campaigns.” The use of white phosphorus shells, a chemical weapon that “causes skin to melt away from the bone and can break down”, a clear war crime committed by Israel. In total an estimated 700, 000 Lebanese were displaced and around 1, 100 murdered by Israel forces in the 34 day campaign against the people of Lebanon.

All peace loving people should support the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid’s boycott of Indigo Books and Music.