Showing posts with label syria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label syria. Show all posts

Friday, February 03, 2017

The Proxy War in Syria

 When Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson rather undiplomatically criticised key British ally, Saudi Arabia, for being amongst those 'puppeteering' in Syria, he blurted out the truth. What has been going on in Syria for the past five or so years has been much more than a civil war. Rival regional powers, as well as the West and Russia, have been intervening both directly and via groups on the ground which they finance and arm.

 What started as a bid to spread the so-called Arab Spring to Syria, with the aim of transforming a secular classic dictatorship (one party state, secret police, torture chambers) into a secular political democracy (which would have been a welcome development) was soon hijacked by Islamists of one degree of extremism or another with a quite different agenda. They won the support of the Islamic states, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and of Erdogan in Turkey who would like to turn his country into one too.

 With Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey using Sunni Muslim groups as their puppets and Iran, which supports the Syrian government, using Shia Muslim ones as theirs, the conflict has taken on the appearance of being a religious one. Some commentators have suggested, much more plausibly, that the real issue, for these states at least, has been for control of territory through which an oil pipeline from the Gulf to a Mediterranean port could pass most directly.

 For the West and Russia, it has been more a matter of geopolitics. The Syrian government, long controlled by a wing of the Arab Nationalist Baath party, has been sympathetic to Russia since the days of the Cold War, if only because during that period America kept trying to overthrow it. It even claimed to be 'socialist' but only in the sense of running a state-directed capitalist economy as in the former USSR, to which its dictatorial political system was similar too.

 Although Syria was not specifically included in Bush's 'axis of evil' it was still regarded as a hostile state deserving regime change. Russia, even though the pretence of being socialist has (thankfully) been dropped, continued to support the regime, if only to maintain its naval base in the Mediterranean, an objective of the Russian state since the time of the Tsars. For the moment at least, Russia has proved more determined in the defence and pursuit of its interests than the West, and it looks as if the regime is not going to be changed.

 These various clashes between rival capitalist interests have led to a minimum of at least 300,000 being killed, many more injured and much destruction as in the images from Aleppo. Millions more have been displaced both within Syria and as refugees living in misery in camps in Turkey and, if they didn't drown trying to get there, Greece.

 As socialists, we place on record our abhorrence of this latest manifestation of the callous, sordid, and mercenary nature of the international capitalist system, while hoping that the fighting, the killing and the destruction stop immediately and unconditionally.

From this months editorial (February 2017) Socialist Standard

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fight War Not Wars

The monster of war has raised its ugly head again, or at least the escalation of a civil war by the threatened intervention of the UK/US. The American, British and French governments, on the hollow pretext of stopping the use of chemical weapons will  launched a massive air attack on Syria. The victims of similar past campaigns in Serbia, in Iraq and in Libya are forgotten. It again exposes the futility of the United Nations to avert war.

Many people's gut reaction is simply that war is crazy. Socialists share this anti-war sentiment. but like a voice crying in the wilderness, we also maintain that capitalism and war are inseparable.The weakness of the anti-war movement is that the majority want nothing more than a return to capitalist "peace" rather than the overthrow of the system that causes war. Speaker after speaker sees the immediate situation of open conflict as the problem, the simple solution of which is to simply pull back the troops. It doesn't go beyond that to examine the fact that if states have weapons and armies, they are there to be used. It fails to look at how conflict is actually continuous in the present world. It simply adopts a simple moralist position, "War is bad”. Capitalist states are not moral entities, and their ruling classes do not react to attempts at moral persuasion.

Anti-war protesters lose sight of the fact that we live in an economic system which drives its actors to battle against one another, in order to secure trade routes, natural resources and capital investments. This conflict is continual, the only variation being in the intensity of the conflict and the badges on the uniforms. Whether a war in society is within a nation or between nations, the causes of these wars are of a similar nature. While the circumstances surrounding each war may remain peculiar to the time and place (the extent of dictatorship/democracy or ideas on religions etc), the pattern seems to be repeated all over the world.  The owning class of one nation possesses something which that of another nation, or groups within a nation would like to possess. These could be land,  markets, or a natural resources like oil and gas.  And where a conflict occurs within a country, outside influences are often brought to bear. If resources are up for grabs, the capitalist grabbing class join the fray to see what share of the spoils they can win.

 Some on the Left focus on the role of American imperialism as if the American government had some choice in pursuing an imperialist policy, that its actions result from some mysteriously gung-ho national characteristic, rather than from the dictates of capitalist economy. If the US declines as an imperialist power, others will readily and gladly take its place.

The Socialist Party  loudly proclaim our adherence to "no war, but the class war" as a means for bringing this ongoing horror to an end. The consent of the ruled (us!) is essential to the continued functioning of capitalism (in both its state-capitalist and private-capitalist forms). Our consent, or our resistance, is part of our rulers’ profit-and-loss estimates. We can make this particular militaristic adventure too difficult or too expensive for our rulers.

 But as long as we, all of us, consent to the capitalist system as a whole, in other words, so long as we resist only this particular imperialist intervention, then there will be more and more bloodshed. We must deal with causes, not just symptoms. The socialist does not take sides in ruling class quarrels.

Let the workers unite to control of the machinery of government, including the armed forces. In that way alone will they be able to usher in a system of society wherein universal solidarity of interests will abolish all war, be it between classes or nations. Only socialists can claim to be the true anti-war campaigners. Our fellow workers around the world participate in anti-war campaigns, which call for the end of military wars, but few make that connection, as socialists do, to the wider society and particularly, to its mode of production and guiding ideology which promote competition among all sections of society. In campaigning solely for an end to military wars, which are but a bloody climax to the wider commercial war, there can be no hope of addressing the problems of human society today as a whole. Our message as always is that workers have the choice of roads, a choice which all humanity must make. One road is the road of blood and tears, of capitalism and war. The other is the road to socialism  and by ending the exploitation of man by man can we strike at the roots of war.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Can Capitalism Ever Afford Peace?

Another bloody war, and the hope of socialism is being buried again. The workers of Syria and other Arab lands are murdering each other at the bidding of capitalism.

The Western media except for the occasional report forgets that both sides in Syria are using hideous weaponry and committing horrible atrocities, and that the UK/US with its Arab monarchist/religious states are actively aiding one side, while Russia and Iran helps the other.

 The American and British administration have declined to make public the evidence and scientific proof of the use of Sarin and they are being allowed to say "trust us" on the issue of chemical weapons use and its consequences. The newspapers and TV news appear to readily accept such claims which is surprising considering their track record of previous misinformation and intelligence errors. Isn’t it true that that liars are untrustworthy?

Jean Pascal Zanders, a leading expert on chemical weapons who until recently was a senior research fellow at the European Union’s Institute for Security Studies. “It’s not just that we can’t prove a sarin attack, it’s that we’re not seeing what we would expect to see from a sarin attack.”

Greg Thielmann, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Arms Control Association, noted that the White House had a lack of a “continuous chain of custody for the physiological samples from those exposed to sarin.” The statement released by the White House Thursday, "does not eliminate all doubt in my mind,”

Philip Coyle, a senior scientist at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington, said that without hard, public evidence, it’s difficult for experts to assess the validity of the administration’s statement. He added that from what is known, what happened doesn’t look like a series of sarin attacks to him. “Without blood samples, it’s hard to know,” he said.

 Anthony Cordesman, a security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, wrote Friday that “the ‘discovery’ that Syria used chemical weapons might be a political ploy.”

Meantime, other informed commentators such as UN representatives suggest that “...there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated. This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.”

Many supposed “peace-makers” now call for a “No-Fly Zone”. There is no such thing as a “limited” no-fly zone. It  means essentially a declaration of all-out war.  Once the US and its allies start a no fly zone they will expand it and intensify it as they take countless other military actions to protect its zones until the Syrian government falls.

During the no-fly zone in Libya, a country with substantially less effective air defences than Syria, the US backed it up with all manner of refueling, electronic jamming, special-ops on the ground. Over the 192 days of patrolling the Libyan no-fly zones, NATO countries flew 24,682 sorties including 9,204 bomb strike sorties. NATO claimed it never missed its target but that was also not true. Hundreds of civilians were killed in Libya  by no-fly zone attack aircraft  that either missed their targets and emptied their bomb bays before returning to base  while conducting approximately 48 bombing strikes per day using a variety of bombs and missiles, including more than 350 cruise Tomahawks.

At a Congressional hearing in 2011, then US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates explained “a no-fly zone begins with an attack to destroy all the air defenses … and then you can fly planes around the country and not worry about our guys being shot down. But that’s the way it starts.”

The Socialist Party of Great Britain is part of the World Socialist Movement, companion political parties in the struggle for a socialist society. The call by Marx and Engels in the concluding words of The Communist Manifesto : “Workers of the World Unite!”  caught at hearts of people everywhere.

The slogan advocates solidarity in a capitalist world divided into states with opposing and conflicting interests, a world split up, criss-crossed with frontiers and borders. potential explosive powder kegs the world over threatening to blow up civilisation. Nowhere is there security. There is talk of peace while there is preparation for war. The need for disarmament is announced while the countries arm to the teeth. The world  hardly recovers from one war and it prepares and then  launches another one,  that draws in all nations whether they like it or not, which means the wholesale destruction of men, women and children.  The stand of the Socialist Party is to hold the capitalist class accountable for every drop of blood shed by people in war. Capitalism has no peaceful, non-violent, socially beneficial way of resolving national conflicts  because it has an automatic, built-in limitation: it may not overstep the profit interests of the dominant capitalists.  It remains the great and tragic paradox of our age – poverty in the midst of plenty and it is underlined by  a social system which cannot satisfy the most elementary needs of the people, squanders its vast resources for war: That is one of the greatest indictment of world capitalism. In a socialist world, that most damnable instance of capitalist greed and inefficiency – war – would be a thing of the past. Socialism could take the vast resources which are available and rather than devote them to destruction, use them for constructive purposes .

There is only one way to avoid this slaughter – a world revolution which will replace the struggle between nations by social co-operation. The task is to put an end to war forever by putting an end to its cause, the capitalist system. Humanity must choose between the continuation of the capitalist system which leads to destruction and the alternative option -  a revolution organised on the basis of solidarity and reciprocity through the socialisation  of the forces of production. Socialism will make of the world one country, single and indivisible. In each region and district, taking into consideration their cultural and linguistic identities, the “independence” of each “peoples” will be assured and each will by free co-operation work together for the common progress and happiness of all people.

 The Party’s task is not to concoct some fashionable means of helping the workers. It is to  assist  workers in grasping the class relations that underlie exploitation and all oppression and grasping the general and long-term interests of the working class in overthrowing capitalism and ending class society. It has been argued that thee exists the concept of a “good war”. That socialists should defend  the democratic liberties which had been won by the working class by allying themselves with their “own” rulers against a more brutal dictatorship. Should a “less reactionary” ruling class be supported against a “more reactionary” one? It is the same question that was asked at the start of the First World War and again at the beginning of the Second World War. It is impossible to protect the democratic liberties of the working class by subordinating the class struggle to agreements and collaboration with the ruling class.  Support for war means support to the narrowing down of democratic rights to the point where there is no longer any difference between the democratic and that of a totalitarian  country. The way to preserve democratic rights is for the workers to defend these rights against their own ruling class, their own main enemy.

The chief aim of the Socialist Party in event of war must be to warn the workers against allowing themselves to be misled by the lies of the media and the mutual recriminations of capitalist groups, and to remember that the worker in enemy countries is just as much a victim of capitalist oppression as they are —that even though they are compelled by circumstance to fight against each other, that it will not be long before they are again compelled to help each other against the common foe – capitalism – whose machinations have caused war. The capitalists make huge profits out of war and war preparations. War and its mass butchery can only bring hunger, misery and want. We must fight against the real cause of war, and against the people that benefit from it. Our enemy is capitalism everywhere. The fight for socialism is the fight for peace. The enemy is not the men and women of other lands; it is the capitalist class at home. There is only one way to prevent war is by the overthrow of capitalism, the real root from which war springs.

Monday, February 11, 2013

They never learn

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the fighters France is battling in northern Mali are some of the very same ones it helped arm in Libya.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he favored the idea of arming Syrian militants.