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Spring 2012

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NO TO CUTS NO TO WAR Photo by Tom Shrapnel tomshrapnel.com

BY JAMES MEADWAY

The economy is stagnant. Military adventures against Iran and Syria are threatened. David Cameron’s Coalition lurches from crisis to crisis. It is a weak government. The longer it stays in power, the more the cracks begin to show. Opposition to NHS break-up is overwhelming, uniting public, patients and healthworkers against Andrew Lansley’s car-crash proposals. Cameron’s top civil servant, Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Haywood, has now advised the Prime Minister to drop the plans. Steve Hilton, Cameron’s closest advisor, central to driving through the destruction of the welfare state, has quit. His programme has provoked dissent across Whitehall. Unpopular, facing rising resistance, Hilton has been all but forced out.

But this is also a vicious government. And the weaker it gets, the more it may choose to lash out. George Osborne’s promises for economic recovery lie in tatters, but he remains tied to his slash-andburn spending cuts. Cameron, fresh from his Libya campaign, has already developed a taste for blood. Economic crisis and war are linked. The legacy of the war on terror, with US power seriously weakened in the Middle East, is driving fresh imperialist intervention. The main enemy for the US – with the UK, as ever, in tow – is Iran, a regional power strengthened by the failures of Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama’s recent speech made clear that a military attack could be imminent, while America’s maddened watchdog, Israel, is straining at the leash. The global economy remains in critical condition. Chaos in the eurozone threatens further financial

crisis. Weak economies and tighter competition for resources herald increasing international tensions between the major powers. War and economic chaos march together. Halting them will require mass mobilisation – protests, marches, strikes, pulling in hundreds of thousands. A movement against cuts must be built. And so must the movement against war. Our weak leaders can be broken.

BUILD THE MOVEMENT AGAINST CUTS go to: coalitionofresistance.org.uk

BUILD THE MOVEMENT AGAINST WAR go to: stopwar.org.uk


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Apocalypse soon: US and Is Iran attack BY FRANCES LEGG War with Iran now seems not to be a question of ‘if ’, but ‘when’. President Obama, David Cameron and Israeli leader Netanyahu are emphatic: the time for negotiation is almost over and military action is ‘on the table’. In an address to Israeli lobby group AIPAC in March, Netanyahu said: “We’ve waited for diplomacy to work, we’ve waited for sanctions to work; none of us can afford to wait much longer.” Yet US intelligence shows that Iran’s uranium enrichment programme is for civilian purposes and that they do not have the intention or capability of developing nuclear weapons. Despite this, the same hawks that brought us the 45 minute claim and a war that left 2 million dead in Iraq are now arguing for an attack on Iran. Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum says Iran poses “an existential threat to freedom-loving people across the world.” In an election year for the US a rush to the right has meant that primary season has been defined by war-hungry rhetoric. Obama is competing with Republican candidates for the prize of most belicose interventionist. There is already a nuclear power in the Middle East: Israel. Its nuclear arsenal is thought to contain over 300 warheads. It refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In the last decade, Israel and the United States

Where do the wars come from? BY MYA POPE-WEIDEMANN Imperialism is a word not often discussed by the media. They have other words for it: ‘intervention’; ‘counterterrorism’; ‘free trade’. But it exists. Its consequences are clear in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Libya. But what is imperialism exactly, and what drives it? Imperialism is a product of the competitive market economic system. In recent years deregulation and economic liberalisation have renewed corporate capital’s insatiable appetite

have attacked ten countries, leaving in their wake a trail of destruction and human suffering. A war of aggression against Iran would amount to a war crime under international law since Iran does not pose an imminent threat of attack. Yet the motivation for an attack is clear. In Iraq the US failed to establish a base of operations in the Middle East. The refusal of the new Iraqi regime to allow 50,000 US troops to remain in the country has been compounded by the pro-Iranian leanings of some sections of Nouri al-Maliki’s government. The result has been to strengthen Iran as a regional power. US dominance has been further called in to question following the Arab Uprisings and the growing influence of Russia and China. Military intervention in Syria, Iran, or any other country in the region has nothing to do with the self-determination or freedom of the peoples of the Middle East and everything to do with regaining US imperial control. War on Iran is not inevitable, but those who sit back and claim that it is simply “too crazy” a prospect have adopted a naive and dangerous position. War in its covert form has already begun. The expulsion of Iranian diplomats from Britain, the assassination of an Iranian general and numerous Iranian scientists, and the implementation of sanctions are all signs of the West’s commitment to regime change. The regional and international

for the exploitation of new markets, new ecosystems and cheaper labour. The oil companies, the machinetool firms, the internet giants, the logging corporations and the banks chase each other around the globe hoping to make more profit than their rivals. These corporations have powerful allies in the world’s best armed state machines. In theory in parliamentary democracies that state is supposed to do the bidding of the voters. But the government’s first loyalty is always to the powerful and the rich. In Greece and Italy elected politicians have just been replaced with bankers as head of state. Even in Egypt where the revolution overthrew the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak the military regime continues to sell off more industry and may leave little of the national economy intact by the time they transfer power to a parliamentary government. It’s a universal rule that whenever money is stuffed into the ballot box, it

Each bomb icon represents one of the 5,113 declared US nuclear warheads Barack Obama ‘Hope’ poster by

ramifications of an attack on Iran would be huge. It is unlikely that the conflict would remain contained within Iran: Iran would strike back, either in Israel or elsewhere and the involvement of its allies would ensure the Middle East be consumed by war

and bloodshed for a long time. Were Iran to block the Strait of Hormuz (through which 20% of world oil supplies pass) a spike in oil prices could deepen the global economic crisis. Our government has made its position clear. Having been briefed by

Image by Peter Kennard and Cat Phillipps kennardphillipps.com

is accomplished in shouting the people down. Thus in our name, though not our interests, the corporations and the wealthy states have created a new imperial order where they seek dominance over the weaker states in

the system and their resources.  As long as money can be made by inciting violence or betting on famine at the stock exchange, those practices will continue. Even the growing political and eco-


srael planning

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The jingo industry BY JOE GLENTON

y Shepard Fairey, mosaic by Adrian Cousins

British security advisors, David Cameron said of a military attack on Iran: “Nothing is off the table.” A mass mobilisation is needed in order to translate popular public opinion into a powerful force for opposition that cannot be ignored.

nomic instability of a global recession has not been enough to put stop to aggressive imperial expansion In Afghanistan the occupation is descending into chaos as US soldiers burn the Koran and even the Afghans working in NATO bases go on strike. Now they threaten to ‘intervene’ in Syria and start an international war with Iran. At home the financial cost of war becomes ever more disgraceful as essential public services are sold off and the fabric of democracy in Europe comes under threat. Now is the time to say no to a government that is bankrolling bombings but has no money for the NHS. We have no right to empire; but we do have a right to live in peace. As long as government continues to bolster the power of capital, resistance will continue.

More: counterfire.org/imperialism

As we argued before the invasion of Iraq: now is the time to stop the war before it starts.

More: counterfire.org/iran

Drumming up jingoism is an ancient, vicious industry. It is the creation of pseudo-patriotism, made to distract, obscure and lubricate elite agendas. It is visible today as society is pillaged to resolve the crises the super-rich caused. But don’t fall for it. Throw it straight back and don’t let it take the sting out of your anger. It’s not difficult to see that sport is used to drum up infantile nationalism and increase divisions. I say this as a lover of sport and competition, but public games have always been used to appease angry masses and to convince them that their rulers care. They do not care. It just suits them for us to raise a flag in each hand so they can better go through our pockets. Games like these are used to distract from the most pressing match-up of all - the one between the classes. The Olympics have a long history of this. Those who say sport is separate from politics are often the ones politicising it for their own ends. We’ve all witnessed the weakening of the Kick Racism out of Football campaign. How about the recent (failed) call for female Olympic boxers to wear skirts? Did the Premier League not just sidestep efforts to reduce homophobia in football? Sport is anything but apolitical. It can be and is being used to unify all kinds of bigotry in one shiny set of packaging, as well as to distract people from cuts, wars, more wars, and more cuts. The forthcoming Olympics were

meant to benefit people and communities. Yet just one firm has a monopoly over taxi services, spectators pass through a shopping mall on the way to watch sports and no food is allowed into stadia – you have to leave it at the gate and buy the over-priced junk food inside instead. What happened to the body-beautiful and benefits for all? The royal family tick similar boxes. Apart from topping the table over three diverse and quintessentially British disciplines – benefits scrounging, weapon dog breeding and dodgy dealing – they amount to little more than expensive window dressing. William Hague tells us Prince William’s latest deployment to the Falklands is ‘routine’. Of course, as we know, every son and daughter in the military has their deployment announced in the world’s media. You literally have to die in an imperialist war to get mentioned, and then only to drum up some more jingo. Class is not dead. Don’t be duped. Do not let publicly-funded events, sponging royals or Wills’ six-week vacation to an exclusive resort in the Atlantic blind-side you.  Keep your eye on the ball.

More: counterfire.org/olympics

CITIZEN ACTIVISM A SHORT COURSE IN REBELLION Sat 31 March • SOAS rooms G50 and G51 • 11am-5pm Speakers: ELLY BADCOCK DAN POULTON NEIL FAULKNER MYA POPE-WEIDEMANN Sessions: Lenin.org: how to be a radical organiser Write for your rights: writing for a political publication Counterspeak: creating a great speech What’s in a meeting?: building a succesful event Registration: 10.30 for Prompt 11am start Cost: £5/£3 conc (free for paying members) Book your place: info@counterfire.org More info: counterfire.org/activism


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Join the Global Revolt

Anti-government protests during Thessaloniki Trade Fair, Greece Photo by Craig Wherlock

BY MITRA QAYOOM

The gap between the rich and the poor is getting bigger each day with attacks on jobs, free healthcare and education. In the last couple of years we have witnessed wars and revolutions and some of the wealthiest countries falling into recession. We have seen people revolt against both economic and political power. First Greece, which fell into a huge debt crisis over the last year. The country has seen pay cuts for public sector workers, mass unemployment and poverty increasing; some work-

ers have not been paid for months and hospitals are running out of medical supplies. What Greece is going through could be our future if we don’t resist now. Then we have the people’s revolt in Russia, which began before the elections last year. Hundreds of thousands of protestors gathered on the streets of Moscow, the biggest demonstration the country has witnessed since the fall of the Soviet Union. Protestors demanded a fairer election. The movement was triggered by a disputed parliamentary election result that protesters say wildly overstated the popularity of Putin’s United Rus-

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sia party. Putin has won the election again this year but thousands of Russians have started protesting again in anti Putin demonstrations. Last year we also witnessed the people of Egypt overthrow Hosni Mubarak’s regime in a revolution. The transition government consisted of the military junta. However within months Egyptians were out protesting in a second revolution to defend and extend the first, which resulted in deaths of many protestors and a deadly soccer riot. Then there is the failing war in Afghanistan. Thousands of Afghans protested outside the Bagram US base

to demonstrate against the burning of the Quran. Soon after the burning Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, issued an apology. However, this time apologies are no longer enough. After almost eleven years of occupation, soldiers still show insensitivity towards Afghan culture and religion. The message is now obvious, the war is failing and the road to exit couldn’t look clearer. Wherever we look the old elite politics of free-market economics at home and war abroad are failing. The movement for change has begun. Why not be part of it?

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Counterfire Broadsheet Spring 2012