Showing posts with label war. Show all posts
Showing posts with label war. 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

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Masters of War: A Scots firm named in Ukraine arms deal corruption probe

A Scots firm was named in Ukraine arms deal corruption probe in The Glasgow Herald on 27 January 2017. This is no surprise of course to hard headed socialists who know the nature of the capitalist beast.

 The overall death and destruction that took place during World War II may well be beyond human comprehension. Historians estimate that military casualties on all sides, in both the European and Pacific theaters, reached up to 25 million, and that civilian casualties ranged from 38 million to as high a figure as 55 million – meaning that somewhere between 3 and 4 percent of the world’s total population died in the conflict.

  Don't let us ever forget either, the war science practiced upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the 'Good Guys', despite how it is spun as, 'the end of war', as well as the potential for more of the same destruction being wreaked upon humanity as trade wars and sanctions, fuel blundering and conscious recourse to battles over raw materials, trade routes and spheres of geopolitical advantage between competing capitalist nations and blocs.

"Business by other means" has not gone away as a latent as well as a potent reserved option at all times.
If money, according to Augier, “comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek,” capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt. Marx.

 The latest episode however features a Scottish firm at the centre of major corruption probe in the former Soviet arms industry.

Ukraine’s elite National Anti-Corruption Bureau or Nabu has accused one of Scotland’s increasingly controversial “tax haven” firms of skimming £1.5 million from the multi- million-dollar export of war planes to Kazakhstan.

Detectives say an Edinburgh- registered Scottish limited partnership (SLP) called Portvilla Trading was paid for acting as a fictitious intermediary on the deal.

They have discovered some of the cash was funnelled through a Latvian bank, Rietumu, which is part-owned by Celtic football club’s biggest shareholder, Dermot Desmond. There is no suggestion the bank, or Mr Desmond, had any knowledge of the alleged wrong-doing. When you are awash with cash capitalist anarchy will see it seem to take on a life of its own as your minions invest it on your behalf.

The Nabu allegations, part of a major crackdown on corruption in Ukraine, immediately sparked calls from SNP MP Roger Mullin for UK Security Minister Ben Wallace – the politician in charge of MI5 – to order a British investigation into the case.

  Mr Mullin, who has campaigned for SLP reform, said the latest revelations were “deeply worrying” and highlighted the transnational nature of the allegations involving a Scottish firm, a Ukrainian exporter, Kazakh importer and the Latvian bank, Rietumu.

  He said: “This clearly calls for full investigation. I will be contacting the Securities Minister and asking him to consider a particular review of this case.”
Well he may too but however sincere politicians may or may not be, their outrage is misplaced as they continue otn support an economic and political system where such actions are inevitable war and poverty, twin hand maidens of capitalist development, will see short-cuts and subversions of legal and juridical frameworks any time there is a quick buck to be made.

 The Ukrainian corruption probe into Portvilla Trading is just the latest to feature a Scottish limited partnership or SLP, a kind of firm whose owners can remain secret, pay no taxes and file no accounts.

Last year a separate probe into allegations another SLP, Lanarkshire-registered Fuerteventura Inter, was used to skim $2m from the export of aircraft cannon shells from Ukraine to the Middle East.

  Ukrainian sources have warned that Scotland has become a popular place for their country’s so-called “arms-mafia”, crime groups with strong links in the nationalised weapons manufacturing industry, to set up front companies.

  The latest Ukrainian probe by the elite Nabu investigators centres on an order for two Antonov An-74 military transport aircraft worth a total of $59m placed by Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee or KNB, the republic’s successor organisation to the KGB, with a factory in Kharkiv.

  According to papers filed by an investigating magistrate at Solomianka district court in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, Kazazh officials were unaware of any services provided by the SLP.

  Court documents said payments to Portvilla Trading were made to accounts at two banks in Riga, Latvia, including Rietumu.

  SLPs are marketed in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere as “zero-tax offshore companies” and sometimes offered as a package with Rietumu accounts.

 Mr Desmond owns around a third of the bank, which in 2015 was fined for violations of money-laundering rules and is currently contesting French allegations of facilitating tax evasion.

  Portvilla Trading is registered at a flat in Leith, whose occupants are not accused of knowing anything about the firm’s activities. The SLP’s owners are called Western Admin Ltd and Global Admin Ltd. There was no way to contact these firms.

  Green MSP Andy Wightman, who has campaigned against SLPs, said: “These latest revelations show the urgent need to stop the abuses of Scottish Limited Partnerships that appear to be taking place.

"Scotland’s reputation as a place to do legitimate business is being tarnished. I’m pleased that there is to be a UK-wide review but believe Scottish Ministers can take a pro-active approach and I will continue to press them on this.”

 But the legitimate business of capitalism is profit and we can not have profit without war and poverty. It is a reformist delusion that capitalism can be made squeaky clean or, 'jist a wee bit manky', in Scots parlance.

 In contrast to the Greens and SNP or any other of the outraged supporters of capitalism, the socialist argument is as follows,

 It is time we took ownership and control into our collective hands to end the capitalist system, the immense majority being self led and using democratic means, the end of governments over people and utilisation of this political awareness to have the people themselves administer over things , utilising recallable delegates when necessary.

We urgently need to consider changing from how things are done today, with standing armies and competing local, regional and global interests allied with anarchic production for sale market allocation, for the benefit of 1-5% minority privileged owning groups, with the majority in waged enslaved conditions of rationed access to the wealth they collectively produce.

 We need to be moving into a commonly owned production for use cooperative, global, regional and local, endeavours with free access and the situation is resolved into cooperative allocations and sharing of raw materials as opposed to warring competition.

 The material productive forces of society have come into conflict with the existing relations of production. From forms of development of the productive forces, these relations have turned into their fetters or, in other words, the productive forces have outgrown the production relation.

All wealth comes from the world's working class.

The capitalist class, liberals or neocons, are an economic parasite class.

 Time to get rid of them.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Support our troops?

Among men and women it is commonly held that we should support our troops because they’re protecting our country, they’re protecting the world, and we wouldn’t have freedom without them. It is no wonder such beliefs are widely held since those claims are continually repeated by politicians and the media. The undercurrent of  that “support” and “gratitude” for the military and those who serve in it is intrinsically apolitical. Often, the spectacle of public gratitude to the troops reaches absurd proportions. Recently we witnessed at Ibrox, soldiers chanting and singing along with the hard-core Protestant supporters in a celebration of Armed Services Day.

If our freedom is bestowed on us by soldiers the implication that people should feel boundless gratitude to the military as an institution and all the men and women who serve in it. But it also follows that if our freedom exists only at the pleasure of the military, of course, is that the same military can revoke said freedom if it so desires.

Supporting the military and expressing gratitude for what the military is actually doing around the world, are nothing if not explicitly political sentiments. It reflects the highly effective propaganda that has convinced generations of people that there is virtually nothing for which we should not thank the troops.  There is seemingly no limit to the scope of human activity that many of us sincerely believe would not be possible were it not for the military’s selflessness. We reduce our entire existence as free people to something that only exists at the whim of themilitary, and suffocate critical thought about the military and what it’s actually doing in the world such as the murder of wound prisoners in the name of freedom.

Adapted from here

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Give socialism and peace a chance

Modern wars as a rule have been caused by the commercial and financial rivalry and intrigues of the capitalist interest in the different countries. Whether they have been waged as wars of aggression or they have been hypocritically represented as wars of “defence,” they always have been made by the ruling classes and fought by the masses.

War is not the cause of the troubles of society. War is an essential part of capitalism. War is a symptom.

The conflicts of capitalism lead to war and the only way to get rid of war is to remove the cause of war. The only possible struggle against war is the struggle for the socialist revolution. No one who upholds capitalism – whether directly, as an open adherent of the capitalists, or indirectly, from an reformist position – can fight against war, because capitalism means war.

 War breed a sinister spirit of unreason, race hatred, and  patriotism. They obscure the struggles of the workers for life, liberty, and social justice. They cut the bonds of solidarity between workers here and in other countries, it destroys their organisations and curtails their civil and political rights and liberties.

In every country workers are oppressed and exploited. They produced enormous wealth and the  capitalist class of each country is forced to look for foreign markets to sell its wealth or to seek th sources of raw material to feed production. The geographical boundaries of modern capitalist country have become too narrow for the industrial and commercial operations of its capitalist class. The efforts of the capitalists of all leading nations are therefore centered upon the domination of the world markets. The acquisition of spheres of commercial and political influence results diplomatic intrigues and the cause of constant clashes between nations. The acute competition between the capitalist powers of the earth, their jealousies and distrusts of one another forces each of them to arm to the teeth.

Socialism will eliminate war because by overthrowing capitalist economy and supplanting capitalism with a socialist system, it will remove the causes of war. In socialism there will no longer exist the basic contradictions that lead to war. Artificial barriers based on national boundaries will be removed. The expansion of the means of production, under the ownership and control of society as a whole, will proceed in accordance with a rational plan adjusted to the needs of the members of society. Thus, under socialism, war will disappear because the causes of war will be done away. Every step on the path to socialism is a blow at war.

There is only one war which is worthy of men and women, that is class war, the social revolution. It is of little use to cry out against war while we tolerate a social system that breeds war. Capitalism makes war inevitable. Capitalist nations not only exploit their workers but ruthlessly invade, plunder, and ravage one another. The profit system is responsible for it all. Abolish that, establish industrial democracy, produce for use, and the incentive to war vanishes. Until then people may talk about “Peace on earth” but it will be a myth.

 The Socialist Party is unalterably opposed to the system of exploitation and class rule which is upheld and strengthened by military power and national patriotism.The Socialist Party does indeed  take sides in wars, but it’s the side of the workers, against the owning class that exploits them now, as well as against any other  owning class that WANTS to exploit them. It is not people against people, but instead, class against class. The Socialist Party has no sympathies for the ruling class of any country. The only struggle which would justify the workers in taking up arms is the great struggle of the working class of the world to free itself from economic exploitation and political oppression. In support of capitalism, we will not willingly give a single life but in support of the struggle of the workers for freedom we pledge our all. The working class of this country has no quarrel with the working class of any other country. Workers are never consulted and have no part in declaring war.  Our first business is to hate the capitalist system that means the continued robbery of the workers.  Our duty as socialists is to develop a “class patriotism,” refusing to murder one another for a sordid world capitalism. Let the rich go defend their own  property. We wish to  live for socialism.

Friday, May 24, 2013

How to Stop War

The SNP has announced its future programme to commemorate the First World War.

Alex Salmond said :
"By reflecting on these devastating events, and the consequences they had for communities the length and breadth of Scotland, we will help people of all ages in this country understand more about the futility of war and strengthen our resolve to never let a tragedy like the Great War happen again."

The most common mistake made in the attempt to explain war comes from the belief that this exists somehow independent of capitalism and that it is an aberration or even accidental. War is not the cause of the troubles of society. The opposite is true. War is a symptom and result of the irreconcilable troubles and conflicts of the present form of society, that is to say, of capitalism. The supposed moral, religious, racial and ideological disguises that war garbs itself with should not be allowed to hide the the true cause of modern war.

The only way to fight against war is to fight against the causes of war. Since the causes of war are part of the inner nature of capitalism, it follows that the only way to fight against war is to fight against capitalism. It therefore follows that the only possible struggle against war is the struggle for the socialist revolution. There is no “separate” or “special” struggle against war.

To suppose that socialists can work out a common campaign against war with non-socialists is a fatal illusion. Any organisation based upon such a policy is not merely powerless to prevent war; in practice it acts to promote war, both because it serves in its own way to uphold the system that breeds war, and because it diverts the attention of its members from the real fight against war - the struggle for socialism.

Pacifists spreads illusions about the nature of war and of the fight against war (advocating disarmament, conscientious objection, international treaties as solutions), and thus prevents a true understanding of the nature and causes of war. Many anti-war protesters will have a turn-around once war commences and become patriots in the name of national unity and that we must now support “our” troops.

There prevails a dangerous doctrine which has been systematically propagated during recent years by liberals that a basic distinction must be drawn between the comparatively “good” capitalist nations, the “peace-loving” nations – Great Britain, France, and the United States who only intervene for humanitarian purposes , on the one hand; and, on the other, the altogether “wicked” capitalist aggressive nations such as North Korea and Iran. “Sanctions” are often the precursor of actual hostilities and are presented as a means to avoiding military engagements. But sanctions are war measures. They include withdrawal of financial credit, embargoes on trade, various forms of boycott. To enforce them genuinely would require a blockade of the country against whom the sanctions were invoked. The probable, the almost certain outcome of such a blockade, as history has so often proved, is war – since the blockaded nation cannot accept such a measure peacefully without surrendering political sovereignty. Thus it follows that sanctions must be either ineffectual – a kind of large-scale bluff – or they must lead to war.

The true enemy is at home: our class enemy, the capitalists, and their political representative, the state. This is the enemy to be defeated, in every country. And this is the aim of socialists in every country, the overthrow of the class enemy, the joining together with the working class of the entire world for the defeat of capitalism and the victory of the working class. The business of the working class within any country is never under any circumstances to defend “the government” – that is, the political executive of the class enemy.

By overthrowing the capitalist economic system and supplanting capitalism with a socialism , it will remove the causes of war. In socialism there will no longer exist the basic contradictions that lead to war. The inherent competition between nations will end. Artificial barriers based on national boundaries will be removed. The means of production, under the owner-ship and control of society as a whole, will proceed in accordance with a rational plan adjusted to the needs of the members of society. Socialism permits the scientific and controlled development of production. Thus, war will disappear because the causes of war will be done away with.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Trade Wars

The Pacific War against Japan was never a contest between democracy and fascism, as we have been taught. Neither the British nor the U.S. or the Dutch had ever entertained democracy for Asian peoples. Chiang Kai-shek remained a U.S. ally throughout the war and British historian Christopher Thorne has commented that, “if the term ‘fascist’ is to be employed in a non-European context for the 1930s, to no regime is it more appropriate to attach it than that of the Kuomintang in China.”

Leaving aside the conspiracy theory that the American government knew of the Pearl Harbor attack would take place and chose to allow it to happen, there is no question that an attack from Japan was probable. Contrary to U.S. political folklore, Japan’s subsequent attack was launched on a U.S. naval colony in Polynesia not U.S. territory (Hawaii only became a US state in 1959). And it cannot properly be described as a surprise.

In 1932, the Ottawa Conference cut off Japanese trade with the British Commonwealth, including India. Three years later Japan was forced to curtail shipments of cotton textiles to the Philippines while U.S. imports there remained duty free. (At the same time, U.S. tariffs on many Japanese goods surpassed 100%.) Japan protested about American, British, Chinese, and Dutch encirclement strangling its economy. So in 1937 Tokyo began its conquest of China in earnest, wiping out 140,000 Chinese civilians at Nanking while proclaiming a desire to promote economic development and prevent Communist domination of Asia.

Four years later negotiations between Admiral Nomura and Secretary of State Cordell Hull broke down over the Japanese request for equal trading rights in Latin America in return for allowing U.S. capital penetration of China.

On July 2, 1941 the Japanese decided to move troops into southern Indochina. Washington, having broken Tokyo’s purple code, immediately knew of the decision. On July 21, 1941 Japan signed a preliminary agreement with the Vichy government of Marshal Henri Petain, leading to Japanese occupation of airfields and naval bases in Indochina. Almost immediately, the U.S. and Britain froze all Japanese assets in their countries. Radhabinod Pal, one of the judges in the post-war Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, later noted that the U.S. embargo presented a “clear and potent threat to Japan’s very existence.”

On July 24, 1941 FDR informed the Japanese Ambassador that if Japan would refrain from putting troops in southern Indochina Roosevelt would use his influence to have Indochina neutralized. But this message failed to reach the Japanese Foreign Ministry until July 27.

On July 26, 1941 Tokyo disclosed its intention to move troops into southern Indochina. The U.S. promptly froze all Japanese assets in the U.S. With Japan importing 90% of its oil, half of that from the United States, Admiral Richmond Turner, Director of the War Plans Division of the Navy Department, stated that it was “generally believed that shutting off the American supply petroleum [to Japan] will lead promptly to an invasion [by Japan] of the Netherlands East Indies.” FDR publicly stated that this reaction would be a justification for war. The New York Times characterized the U.S. move as “the most drastic blow short of war.”

For the Japanese military, it was “now or never.” The Western powers controlled and were choking off access to the raw materials on which Japan's national existence depended. With Washington refusing to lift its embargo unless Tokyo surrendered Chinese territory it had fought for years to conquer (Note: Washington objected to being shut out of the China market, not Tokyo's atrocities there), Japan was left to choose between submitting to U.S. demands or going to war to obtain the oil and other vital raw materials available in the East Indies and Southeast Asia.

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.

Monday, February 04, 2013

The War-Lord

"If there's people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we'll take them out of the game...It's a joy for me because I'm one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think I'm probably quite useful,"  Prince Harry comparing war in Afghanistan where real people die to playing a virtual reality video game.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Scotland's My Lai Massacre?

It has been dubbed “Britain’s My Lai massacre” a reference to the infamous murders by US forces in Vietnam.

The 16-man patrol of  the 7th Platoon, G Company of the 2nd Scots Guards, on 12 December 1948 were conducting military operations to combat the post-Second World War Communist insurgency of the Malayan Emergency. Soldiers surrounded the rubber estate at Sungai Rimoh in Batang Kali and shot dead 24 unarmed villagers before setting light to the village. The bodies of several  villagers were reportedly mutilated.

"So cruel those British,"
Foo Moi keeps repeating, "so cruel." An eyewitness, now aged 89

The British then introduced an extraordinary retrospective "licence to kill" law interpreted by lawyers as a clumsy bid to render legalise the killings that had already occurred. .

The colonial Attorney General who exonerated the British troops of any wrongdoing at the time privately believed that mass public executions might deter other insurgents.

Former defence secretary Denis Healey instructed Scotland Yard to set up a task team to investigate the matter while Labour was in power, but an incoming Conservative government dropped it in 1970 due to an ostensible lack of evidence. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has argued it cannot be held legally liable and that legal responsibility was transferred upon independence in 1963. On January 30, 2009, the Foreign Office in Britain rejected a call for an inquiry into the massacre of villagers. The UK government’s refusal to hold a formal investigation into the killings is being challenged during a two-day judicial review hearing.

Although the Emergency was a war, it was never officially called one out of regard for the London insurance market that the Malayan economy depended upon for cover. Insurance rates covered losses of stocks and equipment through riot and civil disobedience in an "emergency".

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Who owns the North Pole - Part 29

Greenland is an autonomous territory belonging to Denmark. But the U.S. believes Greenland is headed for independence, presenting “a unique opportunity” for American gas and oil companies to make money.

With Arctic ice receding due to global warming, American officials have been cozying up to Greenland, where future oil and mineral deposits may become available to exploration. State Department cables released by WikiLeaks reveal that the U.S. and other industrial nations are jockeying to “carve up” Arctic resources in the coming years. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates Greenland territory may sit atop oil reserves as large as those in the North Sea. The Arctic Circle could contain 90 billion barrels of oil, about 1,700 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. In addition to oil and natural gas, mining companies also have their eyes on aluminum, iron ore, gold and rubies.

One diplomatic dispatch states: “Our intensified outreach to the Greenlanders will encourage them to resist any false choice between the United States and Europe. It will also strengthen our relationship with Greenland vis-a-vis the Chinese, who have shown increasing interest in Greenland's natural resource.”

Tensions within NATO are also exposed, as Canadian leaders privately express disquiet over the alliance’s mooted plans to project military force in the Arctic in the face of perceived Russian aggression. Recently re-elected Canadian PM Stephen Harper is quoted by diplomats as saying that a NATO presence in the region would give non-Arctic members of the Western alliance too much influence in an area where “they don’t belong”.
Another cable quotes Danish foreign minister Moeller’s opinion that “new shipping routes and natural resource discoveries would eventually place the region at the center of world politics.” The head of the Russian navy is quoted as saying “one cannot exclude that in the future there will be a redistribution of power, up to armed intervention.” A 2010 cable quotes Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitriy Rogozin saying: "The twenty-first century will see a fight for resources, and Russia should not be defeated in this fight ... NATO has sensed where the wind comes from. It comes from the North."

Greenpeace campaigner Ben Ayliffe reacting to the release of the new cables, said “These latest Wikileaks revelations expose something profoundly concerning. Instead of seeing the melting of the Arctic ice cap as a spur to action on climate change, the leaders of the Arctic nations are instead investing in military hardware to fight for the oil beneath it. They’re preparing to fight to extract the very fossil fuels that caused the melting in the first place. It’s like pouring gasoline on a fire.” Ayliffe of Greenpeace continued: “As so often before, this new military build-up is all about oil."

Friday, December 03, 2010

Who owns the North Pole - Part 23

"This is our land," said Delice Calcote, a liaison with the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, an advocacy group representing the region's indigenous peoples. "We aren't happy with everyone trying to claim it."

With one fifth of the world's oil and gas at stake, countries are struggling to control the once-frozen Arctic. With global warming, the search for resources have led to a new battle for northern dominance. As the planet warms, as northern sea lanes become accessible to shippers, as countries and companies hungrily eye vast petroleum and mineral deposits below its melting ice, a quiet, almost polite, scramble for control is transpiring in the Arctic

"Countries are setting the chess pieces on the board. There are tremendous resources at stake," said Rob Huebert, director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary."At this point, everyone is following the rules and say they want cooperation; behind the scenes developments are happening that suggest it may not be so cooperative," Huebert said.

Russia and Canada are the only two Arctic states who have ramped up the rhetoric on the military front. The US, despite its military power, doesn't rattle swords in the same way. The Norwegians are talking the most cooperatively but they are arming very assertively, recently buying at least five combat frigates with advanced AEGIS spying and combat capabilities. The Danes are re-arming too.

"It is our land and our water. They don't own it, it is ours," Calcote said, echoing the view of some indigenous peoples from Greenland, through Canada, Norway, and Siberia.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Who owns the North Pole - Part 16

Continuing our Arctic Saga

Canada is launching a series of military exercises in the Arctic far-north region of the country.The so-called sovereignty operation is designed to show a visible presence in the resource-rich area, amid competing claims among other nations.Asserting Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic has been a priority for Mr Harper's conservative government.

Operation Nanook will see the Canadian Armed Forces involved in sea, land and airforce operations in the country's eastern Arctic territory.

Once thought a barren region, a number of countries with competing claims have been carefully mapping the area around the North Pole, thought to be rich in minerals and natural resources.
Canada is also concerned by the melting of ice each year through the fabled Northwest Passage, blamed by scientists on global warming. The United States government has said that it does not recognise exclusive Canadian rights to the waterway, that could be a link between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Who owns the North Pole - part 15

Much news coverage of the Russians creating military units for a possible Arctic war as reported by Socialist Courier previously but of course they are not the only nations reinforcing their military might . We read of Canadian plans .

The First Battalion, The Royal New Brunswick Regiment is one of four reserve units from across the country designated to form the spine of a new Arctic force to be created over the next five years. Joining the 1RNBR will be the Voltigeurs de Quebec, Ontario's Grey and Simcoe Foresters, and Royal Winnipeg Rifles. To complement the creation of the unit, the military will continue with its plans to expand the Canadian Rangers, a group composed of First Nations and Inuit reservists. By 2012, those numbers are expected to reach 5,000 personnel. Should an incident occur in the Arctic, the soldiers would be available to respond.

Col. Greg MacCallum, commander of 37 Brigade Group , said the strategic significance of forming the new units is to exercise sovereignty and ownership of the Arctic.

"You do that, at least in part, by being able to project military forces into that region to show a presence and to show a capability and intent to exercise ownership of it."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Teaching War

This Saturday members of Glasgow and Edinburgh branches will be in attendnce at stop the war demonstration in Glasgow leafletting and selling the Socialist Standard . It is now a cliche to say that the first casuality of war is truth but the statement remains accurate .

Ministry of Defence teaching materials that give an unbalanced view of the Iraq war are being used in schools, teachers' leaders have said. He warned that some of its assertions, presented as facts, would be disputed by most teachers. There were no estimates of the numbers of people killed, wounded or made homeless by the military action, he said. The material therefore risked breaching the part of the 1996 Education Act concerned with balanced teaching of political issues .

He told reporters: "When you are dealing with something as controversial as Iraq and the different events that led up to the invasion, teachers are under a duty to present material that is balanced. The MoD material does not live up to that high standard..."

Mr Sinnott also criticised Army recruitment methods which he said did not present a balanced view of what joining the armed forces entailed. He said "unethical practices" had been unearthed in recent research by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. He claimed that youngsters from deprived backgrounds were being targeted by Army recruiters. Mr Sinnott said the recruiters engaged in "very dubious practices", targeting youngsters from poorer backgrounds.
"Youngsters from the most disadvantaged backgrounds have more limited opportunities in life than youngsters from better off backgrounds. It's simply a fact. I am not saying that youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds cannot get something from a career in the military.The Army has created a better life for some youngsters, but there are other youngsters who join up because they have little or no choice."

The teaching union will debate a motion at its upcoming conference which argues: "Military intervention in schools customarily presents a partisan view of war, largely by ignoring its fatal realities in favour of promises of travel, skill training and further or higher education course sponsorships otherwise often unavailable to young people, especially in area of high unemployment."

Monday, January 07, 2008

Vultures of War

Young people are being recruited into the Army with misleading marketing . The report, by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, says that recruiters are targeting children as young as seven .

The advertising campaigns used by the Ministry of Defence "glamorise warfare, omit vital information and fail to point out the risks and responsibilities associated with a forces career", says the study. The report's author, David Gee, said: "The literature available to the young glamorises the armed services but does little to show the dangers recruits may face and even less the moral dilemmas they may face..."

One particularly successful advertising programme is "Camouflage", aimed at 13 to 17-year-olds, which includes a magazine, website and interactive games. The language in the recruiting literature and promotional DVD is so sanitised, a report says, that one brochure, "Infantry Soldier", does not even mention the words “kill” or “risk”.

A common tactic, is to “emphasise the game-playing character of battle to attract children by blurring the boundaries between fantasy and reality”.

The report, "Informed Choice? Armed Forces recruitment practice in the UK", says: “The literature rarely refers to the dangers of combat and never mentions the risk of being killed, seriously injured or chronically traumatised. The absence of the word ‘kill’ suggests a policy decision to avoid it.”

Potential recruits can also be confused or misled in other ways, it says: “A soldier is obliged to serve for at least four years and three months (or up to six years in the case of under18s) with no right to leave once three months have passed. [But] this is omitted from the brochure and video.” The differences between civilian and military life are not made clear, it adds. “Readers are told that there is ample free time and personal freedom.” In reality, the training programme involves “a tough regime of discipline. Trainees face relative isolation from family and friends for several months and can be posted to active service overseas immediately after training.”

Socialist Courier has always stated the only war worth fighting is the class war

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Who owns the North Pole part 3

We warned here and here that due to the global warming and the increased accessibility of the Arctic Ocean and thus to the natural resources in the region that a new rivalry for sovereignty has begun in the Arctic .

Canada has announced plans for six naval patrol vessels and deep-water port in the north to assert its claim to territorial waters in the Arctic , all at a cost of $3bn (£1.5bn) .

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the time has come to re-assert Canada's claim to the north to remind other countries - including the US - of Canada's claim to the waters off its northern coast.

The claim could also have serious economic implications. Natural resources including oil, gas and diamonds are thought to lurk - perhaps in abundance - under the Arctic ice. And then there is the North-West Passage - the northern shipping route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that European explorers sought for centuries. With a warming climate, the route may just become viable and lucrative.