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February 2014

Vol 14, No.02

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARRIBEAN DECLARED AS A ZONE OF PEACE By Countercurrents LatinAmerican and Caribbean heads of state adopted a landmark agreement pledging to make the region a “zone of peace.” Leaders from the 33-nation Community of LatinAmerican and Caribbean States (Celac) signed the Havana Declaration, promising not to intervene in other countries’ internal affairs and resolve disputes peacefully. The agreement followed the two-day Celac summit and recognised “the inalienable right of every state to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system.” It put in writing the need to resolve differences “through dialogue and negotiation or other forms of peaceful settlement established in international law.” The declaration also reiterated the need for total global nuclear disarmament and highlighted the ongoing importance of the 1967 Tlatelolco Treaty, which established the region as a nuclear-free zone. And it emphasised the need to work for

food security, literacy, education, the development of agriculture and the achievement of universal public health services.

enshrined in the United Nations Charter and International Law, and aware of the fact that prosperity and stability in the region contribute to international peace and security,

The brainchild of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, Celac was set up in 2011 to counter the US-dominated Organisation of American States, which expelled Cuba in 1962 in retaliation for its rejection of imperialism.

Mindful that peace is a supreme asset and a legitimate aspiration of all peoples and that preserving peace is a substantial element of LatinAmerica and Caribbean integration and a principle and common value of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC),

The Declaration: Original signed by the Heads of State and Governmenent of the Community of Latin American and Caribbeans States The Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) gathered in Havana, Cuba on January 28 and 29, 2014 at the Second Summit, on behalf of their peoples and faithfully interpreting their hopes and aspirations, Reaffirming the commitment of member countries with the Purposes and Principles

Reaffirming that integration consolidates the vision of a fair International order based on the right to peace and a culture of peace, which excludes the use of force and nonlegitimate means of defense, such as weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons in particular, Highlighting the relevance of the Tlatelolco Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in LatinAmerica and the Caribbean establishing the first nuclear weapon free zone in a densely populated area, this being Turn to next page

ARTICLES .ISRAELI FACTOR IN SYRIAN CONFLICT UNVEILED BY NICOLA NASSER...................................................P 2

.FROM WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM TO THE WORLD

SOCIAL FORUM BYPRAHLAD SHEKHAWAT......................................P 7

. THE PROBLEM WITH ROUHANI-GORBACHEV ANALOGIES BY GHONCHEH TAZMINI.........................................P 4

. FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

. U.S. ARTIC AMBITIONS AND THE MILITARIZATION

. UK ORDERED DESTRUCTION

OF THE HIGH NORTH BY DANA GABRIEL.................................................P 5

COLONIAL PAPERS BY RUSSIA TODAY...............................................P 9

BY KATHY KELLY...................................................P 8 OF

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a contribution to peace and to regional and international security, Reiterating the urgent need of General and Complete Nuclear Disarmament, as well as the commitment with the Strategic Agenda of the Organization for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), adopted by the 33 Member States of the Organization in the General Conference held in Buenos Aires in August, 2013. Recalling the principles of peace, democracy, development and freedom underlying the actions of countries members of SICA, Recalling the decision of UNASUR Heads of State of consolidating South America as a Zone of Peace and Cooperation, Recalling the establishment, in 1986, of the Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic, Recalling also our commitment, agreed in the Declaration of the Summit of Unity of Latin America and the Caribbean, on 23 February 2010, to promote the implementation of our own mechanisms for the for peaceful conflict resolution, Reiterating our commitment to consolidate Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, in which differences between nations are peacefully settled through

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dialogue and negotiations or other means, fully consistent with International Law,

and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors;

Cognizant also of the catastrophic global and long-term humanitarian impact of the use of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and the ongoing discussions on this issue,

5. The commitment of the Latin American and Caribbean States to fully respect for the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social, and cultural system, as an essential conditions to ensure peaceful coexistence among nations;

Declare: 1. Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace based on respect for the principles and rules of International Law, including the international instruments to which Member States are a party to, the Principles and Purposes of the United Nations Charter; 2. Our permanent commitment to solve disputes through peaceful means with the aim of uprooting forever threat or use of force in our region; 3. The commitment of the States of the region with their strict obligation not to intervene, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other State and observe the principles of national sovereignty, equal rights and self-determination of peoples; 4. The commitment of the peoples of Latin American and Caribbean to foster cooperation and friendly relations among themselves and with other nations irrespective of differences in their political, economic, and social systems or development levels; to practice tolerance

6. The promotion in the region of a culture of peace based, inter alia, on the principles of the United Nations Declaration on a Culture of Peace; 7. The commitment of the States in the region to guide themselves by this Declaration in their International behavior; 8. The commitment of the States of the region to continue promoting nuclear disarmament as a priority objective and to contribute with general and complete disarmament, to foster the strengthening of confidence among nations; We urge all Member States of the International Community to fully respect this Declaration in their relations with CELAC Member States. In witness of the undersigned having duly signed this Proclamation in Havana, on the 29th day of the month of January of 2014, in a copy written in the Spanish, English, French and Portuguese languages. 31 January, 2014 Source: Countercurrents.org

ISRAELI FACTOR IN SYRIAN CONFLICT UNVEILED By Nicola Nasser More than two and a half years on, Israel’s purported neutrality in the Syrian conflict and the United States fanfare rhetoric urging a “regime change” in Damascus were abruptly cut short to unveil that the Israeli factor has been all throughout the conflict the main concern of both countries. All their media and political focus on

“democracy versus dictatorship” and on the intervention of the international community on the basis of a “responsibility to protect” to avert the exacerbating “humanitarian crisis” in Syria was merely a focus intended to divert the attention of the world public opinion away from their real goal, i.e. to safeguard the security of Israel.

Their “Plan A” was to enforce a change in the Syrian regime as their “big prize” and replace it by another less threatening and more willing to strike a “peace deal” with Israel and in case of failure, which is the case as developed now, their “Plan B” was to pursue a “lesser prize” by disarming Syria of its chemical weapons to continued next page


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deprive it of its strategic defensive deterrence against the Israeli overwhelming arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. Their “Plan A” proved a failure, but their “Plan B” was a success. However, the fact that the Syrian humanitarian crisis continues unabated with the raging non – stop fighting while the United States is gradually coming to terms with Syria’s major allies in Russia and Iran as a prelude to recognizing the “legitimacy” of the status quo in Syria is a fact that shutters whatever remains of U.S. credibility in the conflict. President Barak Obama, addressing the UN General Assembly on last September 24, had this justification: “Let us remember that this is not a zerosum endeavor. We are no longer in a Cold War. There’s no Great Game to be won, nor does America have any interest in Syria beyond the well-being of its people, the stability of its neighbors, the elimination of chemical weapons, and ensuring it does not become a safe-haven for terrorists. I welcome the influence of all nations that can help bring about a peaceful resolution.” This U – turn shift by the U.S. dispels any remaining doubts that the U.S. ever cared about the Syrian people and what Obama called their “well being.” The U.S. pronounced commitment to a “political solution” through cosponsoring with Russia the convening of a “Geneva – 2” conference is compromised by its purported inability to unite even the “opposition” that was created and sponsored by the U.S. itself and the “friends of Syria” it leads and to rein in the continued fueling of the armed conflict with arms, money and

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logistics by its regional Turkish and Gulf Arabs allies, which undermines any political solution and render the very convening of a “Geneva – 2” conference a guess of anybody. Israeli “Punishment” Meanwhile, Israel’s neutrality was shuttered by none other than its President Shimon Peres. Speaking at the 40th commemoration of some three thousand Israeli soldiers who were killed in the 1973 war with Syria and Egypt, Peres revealed unarguably that his state has been the major beneficiary of the Syrian conflict.

Peres said: “Today” the Syrian President Basher al-Assad “is punished for his refusal to compromise” with Israel and “the Syrian people pay for it.” When it became stark clear by the latest developments that there will be no “regime change” in Syria nor there will be a post- Assad “Day After” and that the U.S. major guarantor of Israel’s survival has made, or is about to make, a “U-turn” in its policy vis-àvis the Syrian conflict to exclude the military solution as “unacceptable,” in the words of Secretary of State John Kerry on this October 6, Israel got impatient and could not hide anymore the Israeli factor in the conflict.

A R T I C L E S wires headlined their reports, “In public shift, Israel calls for Assad’s fall,” citing a report published by the Israeli daily the Jerusalem Post, which quoted Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, as saying: “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” “The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren added. And that’s really the crux of the Syrian conflict: Dismantling this “arc” has been all throughout the conflict the pronounced strategy of the U.S.-led so-called “Friends of Syria,” who are themselves the friends of Israel. The goal of this strategy has been all throughout the conflict to change the regime of what Oren called the Syrian “keystone in that arc,” which is supported by a pro-Iran government in Iraq as well as by the Palestinian liberation movements resisting the more than six decades of Israeli military occupation, or otherwise to deplete Syria’s resources, infrastructure and power until it has no choice other than the option of yielding unconditionally to the Israeli terms and conditions of what Peres called a “compromise” with Israel as a precondition for the return of the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Syria the Odd Number This strategic goal was smokescreened by portraying the conflict first as one of a popular uprising turned into an armed rebellion against a dictatorship, then as a sectarian “civil war,” third as a proxy war in an Arab-

On last September 17, major news continued next page


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Iranian and a Sunni-Shiite historical divide, fourth as a battle ground of conflicting regional and international geopolitics, but the Israeli factor has been all throughout the core of the conflict. Otherwise why should the U.S.-led “Friends of Syria & Israel” care about the ruling regime in a country that is not abundant in oil and gas, the “free” flow of which was repeatedly pronounced a “vital” interest of the United States, or one of what Obama in his UN speech called his country’s “core interests;” the security of Israel is another “vital” or “core” interest, which, in his words, “The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure.” The end of the Cold War opened a “window of opportunities” to build on

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the Egyptian – Israel peace treaty, according to a study by the University of Oslo in 1997. A peace agreement was signed between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Hebrew state in 1993 followed by an Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty the year after. During its invasion of Lebanon in 1982 Israel tried unsuccessfully to impose on the country a similar treaty had it not been for the Syrian “influence,” which aborted and prevented any such development ever since.

this key without the withdrawal of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) from Syrian and other Arab lands and a “just” solution of the “Palestinian question.”

Syria remains the odd number in the Arab peace - making belt around Israel; no comprehensive peace is possible without Syria; Damascus holds the key even to the survival of the Palestinian, Jordanian and Egyptian peace accords with Israel. Syria will not hand over

14 October, 2013 Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

This has been a Syrian national strategy long before the Pan-Arab Baath party and the al-Assad dynasty came to power. Therefore, the U.S. and Israeli “Plan A” will remain on both countries’ agendas, pending a more forthcoming geopolitical environment.

Source: Countercurrents.org

THE PROBLEM WITH ROUHANI-GORBACHEV ANALOGIES By Ghoncheh Tazmini A plethora of analyses have surfaced making wild assumptions about President Rouhani’s diplomatic manoeuvres, translating his diplomatic overtures as reminiscent of Gorbachev’s era of Perestroika and Glasnost. Is Rouhani an Iranian Gorbachev? asks Jochen Bittner of Die Zeit. The Wall Street Journal asks the same question, featuring an article titled, ‘Is Rouhani the New Gorbachev?’ Meanwhile, Stephen Kotkin writes about ‘Rouhani’s Gorbachev Moment’ in Foreign Affairs. Such analogies shed very little light on the direction of Iran’s political evolution. While Rouhani is comparable to Gorbachev in the sense that he too, is an agent of change, the exercise of reforming Iran presents a more complex picture. Not only are such comparisons gratuitously redundant (when Mohammad Khatami launched his reform programme, numerous works sprung up comparing the reformer with the former Soviet leader), they are often dangerously

subjective in nature. In ‘Why the Democratic Party is Doomed’, for example, Richard Miniter compares President Barak Obama to Gorbachev in an effort to betray a conviction that the U.S. is in a state of decline under a leader who is accelerating that trajectory through his efforts at reform. Walter Russell Mead raises a similar concern in ‘The End of History Ends’, in American Interest, in which he warns of Obama’s Gorbachevlike attempt to correct the country’s past. Mead argues that Obama’s attempts to disengage from the overcommitments of the George W. Bush presidency have emboldened what he calls the Central Powers: Russia, China and Iran. With the U.S. in seeming retreat, these rivals ‘think they have found a way to challenge and ultimately to change the way global politics work’. Analogies with Gorbachev are often carried out disparagingly and are very

much pejorative. After all, although Gorbachev was attempting to change an outmoded, outdated system, the country over which he ruled disintegrated. The fact is that Gorbachev remains in the mind of his compatriots a tragic figure whom some deify and others hate; some see him as a great reformer, others as a perfidious destroyer. For many Russians, Gorbachev’s legacy was national humiliation, or what President Vladimir Putin has called the ‘greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century’. The other problem with such comparisons is the element of wishful thinking. For the West, Gorbachev was the visionary leader who tackled the economic and political failings of the Soviet Union’s authoritarian system, introducing an era that ended Communist oppression, brought down the Berlin Wall, ended the Cold War and expanded Europe’s community of democracies. Mainstream media and Iran bashers and detractors often make these

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dubious analogies in the hope that some Gorbachev-esque character will suddenly turn up to unravel the Islamic Republic at the hems. Others make cynically protestations, contending that in fact, Rouhani is No Gorbachev! And that he is really is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, cut from the same cloth as the conservative, traditional establishment and is therefore, alas, unlikely to bring the country to disintegration! This short expository underscores the problem with Gorbachev-analogies. Either way you look at it comparisons with Gorbachev are bound to be riddled with bias and partiality. Iran’s pathway to reform is far more complex and variegated. Since the revolution, the political inclination of Iranian heads of state has been very much determined by the prioritisation,

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instrumentalisation or sometimes the interplay of these four principles: (1) Republicanism: This element was central to Mohammad Khatami whose reform movement symbolised an effort to consolidate the rule of law and to stimulate civic activism; (2) Development: This was the cornerstone of Akbar HashemiRafsanjani’s presidency, which focussed on reviving the post-war economy; (3) Justice: The pursuit of justice was one of the main pillars of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s political platform, which was founded on tackling poverty and corruption, and redistributing wealth; and (4) Independence: The emphasis is on resistance of foreign encroachment. This was the goal of the father of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini with the revolutionary slogan – ‘Esteghlal (independence), Azadi (freedom),

A R T I C L E S Jomhouri Islami (Islamic Republic)’. Iran stands at the intersection of multiple factors that shape its political reality. President Rouhani’s challenge is to strike a balance between these factors and to achieve a balance point or the ‘nokhteh taadol’. If we are to understand Iran’s transformation, we need a solid understanding of ideational factors and historical legacy rather than simplistic and platitudinous analogies made by so-called serious analysts. The task ahead of the President means finding a balance between continuity and change - this is a challenge Gorbachev never lived up to, love him or loathe him. 11 January, 2014 Dr. Ghoncheh Tazmini is a postdoctoral visiting fellow at the London Middle East Institute, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London. She is also a Just member.

U.S. ARCTIC AMBIIONS AND THE MILITARIZATION OF THE HIGH NORTH By Dana Gabriel Canada recently took over the leadership of the Arctic Council and will be succeeded by the U.S. in 2015. With back-to-back chairmanships, it gives both countries an opportunity to increase cooperation on initiatives that could enhance the development of a shared North American vision for the Arctic. The U.S. has significant geopolitical and economic interests in the high north and have released a new national strategy which seeks to advance their Arctic ambitions. While the region has thus far been peaceful, stable and free of conflict, there is a danger of the militarization of the Arctic. It has the potential to become a front whereby the U.S. and other NATO members are pitted against Russia or even China. In an effort to prevent any misunderstandings, there are calls for the Arctic Council to move beyond environmental issues and become a forum to address defense and security matters.

In May, Canada assumed the chairmanship of the Arctic Council where they will push for responsible resource development, safe shipping and sustainable circumpolar communities. The Arctic Council is the leading multilateral forum in the region and also includes the U.S., Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Russia. During the recent meetings, members signed an Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic which seeks to improve coordination and planning to better cope with any such accidents. In addition, China, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, along with Italy were granted permanent observer status in the Arctic Council. With the move, China has gained more influence in the region. The potential for new trade routes that could open up would significantly reduce the time needed to transport goods between

Europe and Asia. The Arctic is an important part of China’s global vision, as a place for economic activity and a possible future mission for its navy. In order to better reflect the realities of politics in the high north, there are calls to expand the Arctic Council’s mandate to also include security and military issues. Writing for the National Post, Rob Huebert of the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute explained that, “One issue that has not received much attention is the need to discuss the growing militarization of the Arctic. While the Arctic Council is formally forbidden from discussing military security in the Arctic, the time has arrived to rethink this policy.” He went on to say, “The militaries of most Arctic states are taking on new and expanded roles in the region that go beyond their traditional responsibilities, which may continued next page


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continued from page 5 create friction in the region.” Huebert also stressed that, “These new developments need to be discussed to ensure that all Arctic Council member states understand why they are occurring, and increase the confidence of members that these new developments are not about a conflict in the Arctic, but about the defence of core strategic interests.” He further added, “It is easy to see how both the Americans and Russians will become increasingly concerned about the security steps that the other is taking. But now is the time for all to openly discuss these developments so that old suspicions and distrusts do not resurface.”

As part of efforts to strengthen Arctic security cooperation, in June, the Northern Chiefs of Defence Meeting was held in Greenland. It brought together representatives from the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. Gen. Charles Jacoby, Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) also attended the event. The second annual gathering was used as an, “opportunity for direct multilateral and bilateral discussions focused on Northern issues. Topics discussed included the sharing of knowledge and expertise about regional operational challenges; responsible stewardship of the North; and the role Northern militaries can play in support of their respective civil authorities.” The Northern Chiefs of Defence meeting has become an essential forum to address common Arctic safety and security concerns. Ahead of Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to attend the Arctic Council Ministerial Session in May, the White House unveiled a National Strategy for

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the Arctic Region. It outlined strategic priorities including advancing U.S. security interests, pursuing responsible stewardship and strengthening international cooperation. The document acknowledged competing environmental and economic goals, but in the end sets an aggressive agenda for the exploitation of Arctic oil, gas and mineral reserves. In addition, the

strategy recommended enhancing national defense, law enforcement, navigation systems, environmental response, as well as search-and-rescue capabilities in the Arctic. It also builds on National Security Presidential Directive-66 issued by the Bush administration in 2009. In coordination with the new plan, the U.S. Coast Guard has released their Vision for Operating in the Arctic Region which will work towards improving awareness, modernizing governance and broadening partnerships. According to James Holmes, professor of strategy at the U.S. Naval War College, the Coast Guard and Air Force could become the military’s odd couple in defending America’s Arctic front. Several months back, Congressman Don Young testified in front of Armed Services Committee in support of Alaska national defense priorities. He proclaimed, “We must be able to project power into the Arctic environment and extensive Arctic training is needed to do that.” Some have pointed out that the true nature surrounding U.S. plans to shift additional missile interceptors

A R T I C L E S to Alaska is not to protect against a North Korean threat, but is instead aimed at control over Arctic resources. Meanwhile, there have also been renewed discussions about Canadian participation in the U.S. anti-ballistic missile shield, a move that could damage relations with Russia and China. In order to enhance its presence and security in the Arctic, the U.S. is increasing cooperation with Canada. This includes expanding joint military exercises and intelligence gathering operations in the region. Professor Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research has described Washington’s militarization of the Arctic as part of the process of North American integration. In December 2012, the U.S. and Canada signed the Tri-Command Framework for Arctic Cooperation which is part of efforts to further merge USNORTHCOM, Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) and NORAD. A press release explained that the framework is designed to, “promote enhanced military cooperation in the Arctic and identify specific areas of potential TriCommand cooperation in the preparation for and conduct of safety, security and defense operations.” USNORTHCOM, CJOC and NORAD have also pledged to work closer together with regards to planning, domain awareness, informationsharing, training and exercises, capability development, as well as in the field of science and technology. In the coming years, the Arctic will become an even more important part of North American perimeter security. While the Arctic remains a region of strategic interest to the alliance, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen recently rejected a direct NATO presence. For a number of continued next page


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years, Norway has been pushing for NATO to increase its focus in the Arctic and has called for more joint northern exercises. Even though NATO has yet to truly define its role in the area, Arctic member countries are stepping up military and naval operations in the high north. In the future, NATO’s mandate could include economic infrastructure and maritime security. It could also serve as a forum for discussing Arctic military issues. Expanding NATO

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activity in the region might signal the militarization of the Arctic which could raise tensions with both Russia and China.

also the possibility that conflicts which originate in other parts of the world could spillover and affect the stability of the Arctic.

There are fears that the Arctic could become an arena for political and military competition. With potential new shipping routes and countries further staking their claims to the vast untapped natural resources, defending strategic and economic interests may lead to rivalries in the region. There is

23 July, 2013 Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, security, as well as other issues. Source: Be Your Own Leader

FROM WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM TO THE WORLD SOCIAL FORUM By Prahlad Shekhawat The Davos World Economic Forum is an exclusive or excluding club where the rich and mighty proponents of the neo-liberal economic model and corporate bosses converge to celebrate their self fulfilling prophecy. In a year of a huge economic downturn they cannot get away with their splendid complacency. The World Social Forum has emerged as a significant counterpoint to the World Economic Forum. After the collapse of the movement for the New International Economic Order in the eighties and after the disillusionment with ritualism of the UN sponsored summits and conclaves, the World Social Forum claims to provide a silver lining for struggling societies particularly in poor countries. The peace, environmental, women and human rights movements are especially able to converge at the Social Forum. The World Social Forum (WSF) characterises itself as not an organisation, not a united front, but an open meeting place for thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals and interlinking for action through groups and movements of civil society. It is opposed to neo-liberalism and domination of the world by capital or

any form of imperialism. It is committed to building planetary society directed towards furthering relations among mankind and between it and the earth. The forum is particularly opposed to militarism, racism, casteism, religious fanaticism, sectarian violence and patriarchy. It stands for universal human rights, justice, real participatory democracy, equality, solidarity among people and genders and planetary citizenship to build a new world. Its fight for peace and collective security implies confronting poverty, discriminations, domination and the creation of an alternative sustainable society. The Social Forum has laudable achievements beginning with the incipient rallying call against the World Economic Forum and the maturing into a huge global movement with inspiring ideals beginning with the World Social Forums in Porto Allegre in Brazil . Some regional Social Forums have been held in different parts of the world. If the total interest is calculated the external debt of the countries of the South has been repaid several times over. Illegitimate, unjust and fraudulent, debt functions as an instrument of domination, depriving people of their

fundamental human rights with the sole aim of increasing international usury. The Social Forum demands unconditional cancellation of debt and the reparation of historical, social and ecological debts. The countries demanding repayment of debt have engaged in exploitation of the natural resources and knowledge systems of the South. Water, land, food, forests, seeds, culture and people’s identities are common assets of humanity for present and future generations. It is essential to preserve biodiversity. People have the rights to safe and permanent food free from genetically modified organisms. Food sovereignty at the national, regional and local level is a basic human right; in this regard democratic land reforms and peasant’s access to land are fundamental requirements. The Social Forum points out that the United States government, in its efforts to protect the interests of big corporations, arrogantly walked away from negotiations on global warming, the anti-ballistic missile treaty, the Convention on Biodiversity, the UN conference on racism and intolerance continued next page


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reform the global economy.’

and the talks to reduce the supply of small arms, proving once again that US unilateralism undermines attempts to find multilateral solutions to global problems. All this is happening in the context of a global recession. The neo-liberal economic model feeds the greed of the corporations and is destroying the rights, living conditions and livelihoods of people. Using every means to protect their ‘share value’, multinational companies lay off workers; slash wages and close factories, squeezing the last dollar from workers. Governments faced with this economic crisis respond by cutting social sector expenditures and permanently reducing worker’s rights. This recession exposes the fact that the neo-liberal promise of growth and prosperity is not true. Two leading figures of the global civil society, Vandana Shiva and Helena Norberg-Hodge, advocate a de-linking from world markets and focusing on local sustainable self-reliant economies. They say, ‘WTO should only be responsible for preventing dumping of goods by rich countries in poor countries while Oxfam and other groups seek better terms of trade to

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Some of the proposals for an alternative world order that have been proposed at the WSF, are: 1 A tax on international speculative equity finance such as the Tobin tax to fund the social sector in poor countries and close tax havens. 2 Humanise and democratise institutions like WTO,World Bank, IMF and make multinational corporations more accountable and socially responsible under a global democratic regime. 3 Minimise agriculture subsides in rich countries. 4 Emphasise the UN Human Development Agenda over narrow economic growth. 5 Strengthen and implement agreement reached at Rio Earth Summit, other environment summits and Kyoto Protocol 6 Planetary citizenship should lead to a world parliament of people. 7 Move from national security and power towards human and environmental security agenda. 7 Situate internet search engines outside the United States who should not be allowed to get away from reducing democratic globalisation to global illegal spying breaching privacy and liberty The forum epitomises two related tendencies. First, it is the shift from national and international security to human and global environmental

security. The second is the shift from international state treaties and conventions to trans-national people’s alliances. At the Mumbai WSF, there emerged a tension between two strategies. The first emphasised a unified party model seeking a cohesive strategy. The second view which prevailed, stressed a multiplicity model seeking plurality of approaches with no intention of merging view points. The forum’s deliberations have three aspects; denunciation of neo-liberal globalisation, share and express ideals and ideas, formulate proposals for the alternative. The limitations of the World Economic Forum and its idea of progress have been well revealed. It remains to be seen if the World Social Forum runs the risk of being relegated to the realm of utopian idealism in this cruel, unfair world of political realism. Can bridges be built between the two extremes: mainstream neo-liberal model and the alternative movement signified by the Social Forum so that a common middle ground can be found for the sake of our common humanity? Is another world possible? 30 January, 2014 Source: Countercurrents.org

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS By Kathy Kelly “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. ... A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. –”A Time to Break Silence (Beyond Vietnam)” Dr. Martin Luther

King, April 4, 1967

Afghanistan.

This month, from Atlanta, GA, the King Center announced its “Choose Nonviolence” campaign, a call on people to incorporate the symbolism of bell-ringing into their Martin Luther King Holiday observance, as a means of showing their commitment to Dr. King’s value of nonviolence in resolving terrible issues of inequality, discrimination and poverty here at home. The call was heard in Kabul,

On the same day they learned of the King Center’s call, the young members of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, in a home I was sharing with them in Kabul, were grieving the fresh news of seven Afghan children and their mother, killed in the night during a U.S. aerial attack - part of a battle in the Siahgird district of the Parwan province. The outrage, grief, loss and continued next page


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continued from page 8 pain felt in Siahgird were echoed, horribly, in other parts of Afghanistan during a very violent week.

My young friends, ever inspired by Dr. King’s message, prepared a Dr. King Day observance as they shared bread and tea for breakfast.They talked about the futility of war and the predictable cycles of revenge that are caused every time someone is killed. Then they made a poster listing each of the killings they had learned of in the previous seven days. They didn’t have a bell, and they didn’t have the money to buy one. So Zekerullah set to work with a bucket, a spoon and a rope, and made something approximating a bell. In the APV courtyard, an enlarged vinyl poster of Dr. King covers half of one wall, opposite another poster of Gandhi and Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, the “Muslim Gandhi” who ledPathan tribes in the nonviolent Khudai Khidmatgar colonial independence movement to resist the British Empire.Zekerullah’s makeshift “bell’ was suspended next to King’s poster. Several dozen friends joined the APVs as we listened to rattles rather than pealing bells. The poster listing the week’s death toll was held aloft and read aloud. It read: “January 15, 2014: 7 children, one woman, Siahgird district of Parwan, killed by the U.S./NATO. January 15, 2014, 16 Taliban militants, killed by Afghan police, army and intelligence operatives across seven regions, Parwan, Baghlan, Kunduz, Kandahar, Zabul, Logar, and Paktiya. January 12, 2014: 1 police academy student and one academy staff member, killed by a Taliban suicide bomber in Kabul on the road to Jalalabad. Jan 9, 2014: 1 four year old boy killed in Helmand, by NATO. Jan 9, 2014: 7 people, several

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of them police, killed in Helmand by unknown suicide bombers. January 7, 2014: 16 militants killed by Afghan security forces in Nangarhar, Logar, Ghanzi, Pakitya, Heart and Nimroz.” We couldn’t know, then, that within two days news would come, with a Taliban announcement claiming responsibility, for 21 people, 13 foreigners and eight Afghans, killed while dining in, or guarding, a Kabul restaurant. The Taliban said that the attack was in retaliation for the seven children killed in the airstrike in Parwan. Week after bloody week, the chart of killings lengthens. And in Afghanistan, while war rages, a million children are estimated to suffer from acute malnourishment as the country faces a worsening hunger crisis. This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we can and should remember the dream Dr. King announced before the Lincoln Memorial, the dream he did so much to accomplish, remembering his call (as the King Center asks) for nonviolent solutions to desperate concerns of discrimination and inequality within the U.S. But we shouldn’t let ourselves forget the full extent of Dr. King’s vision, the urgent tasks he urgently set us to fulfill on his behalf, so many of them left unfinished nearly forty-six years after he was taken from us. One year to the day before his assassination, he said: ... A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.”... The Western arrogance of feeling that it has

A R T I C L E S everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. We must never forget the full range of Dr. King’s vision, nor the full tragedy of the world he sought to heal, nor the revolutionary spirit which he saw as our only hope of achieving his vision making do with everything we have to try to keep freedom ringing, despite the pervasiveness of the evils that beset us, and a world that needs vigorous effort to save it from addictions to tyranny and violence practiced by reckless elites. “America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.” Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org) cocoordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (vcnv.org) 22 January, 2014 Source: Countercurrents.org


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U.K ORDERED DESTRUCTION OF ‘EMBARRASING’ COLONIAL PAPERS By Russia Today Britain systematically destroyed documents in colonies that were about to gain independence, declassified Foreign Office files reveal. ‘Operation Legacy’ saw sensitive documents secretly burnt or dumped to cover up traces of British activities. The latest National Archives publication made from a collection of 8,800 colonialera files held by the Foreign Office for decades revealed deliberate document elimination by British authorities in former colonies. The secret program dubbed ‘Operation Legacy’ was in force throughout the 1950s and 1960s, in at least 23 countries and territories under British rule that eventually gained independence after WWII. Among others these countries included: Belize, British Guiana, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia and Singapore, Northern Rhodesia (today Zambia and Zimbabwe), Tanzania, and Uganda. In a telegram from the UK Colonial Office dispatched to British embassies on May 3, 1961, colonial secretary Iain Macleod instructed diplomats to withhold official documents from newly elected independent governments in those countries, and presented general guidance on what to do. British diplomats were briefed on how exactly they were supposed to get rid of documents that “might embarrass members of the police, military forces, public servants (such as police agents or informers)” or “might compromise sources of intelligence”, or could be put to ‘wrong’ use by incoming national authorities. ‘Operation Legacy’ also called for the destruction or removal of “all papers

which are likely to be interpreted, either reasonably or by malice, as indicating racial prejudice or bias”.

The existence of some remaining Mau Mau legal case documents was revealed in January 2011.

The newly declassified files revealed that the Royal Navy base in Singapore was turned into the Asian region’s primary document destruction center. A special facility called a “splendid incinerator” was used to burn “lorry loads of files”, Agence France-Presse reported.

Even after eliminating important evidence half a century ago, earlier in 2013 the British government was forced to pay 23 million dollars in compensation to over 5,200 elderly Kenyans, who had suffered from Britain’s punitive measures during the Mau Mau uprising.

The “central incinerator” in Singapore was necessary to avoid a situation similar to that in India in 1947, when a “pall of smoke” from British officials burning their papers in Delhi, ahead of India proclaiming independence, filled the local press with critical reports. That diplomatic oversight was taken into account, as ‘Operation Legacy’ operatives were strictly instructed not to burn documents openly.

In another documented occasion, in April 1957, five lorries delivered tons of documents from the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur to the Royal Navy base in Singapore. Files were incinerated there; these contained details about British rule in Malaya, such as a massacre of 24 rubber plantation workers at the Malayan village of Batang Kali in 1948, who had allegedly been murdered by British soldiers.

But not all the doomed archives could be shipped to Singapore. In some cases documents were eliminated on site, sometimes being dumped in the sea “at the maximum practicable distance from shore” and in deep, current-free areas, the National Archives publication claims.

Despite the mass document elimination, Britain’s Foreign Office still has some 1.2 million unpublished documents on British colonial policy, David Anderson, professor of African history at the University of Warwick, told AFP.

The newly published collection of documents reveals that the British cleared out Kenyan intelligence files that contained information about abuse and torture of Kenyans during the Mau Mau uprising against British colonial rule in the 1950s. A special committee formed in 1961 coordinated document elimination in Kenya. Yet some files were spared simply when an estimated 307 boxes of documents were evacuated to Britain, just months ahead of the country gaining independence in December 1963.

So Her Majesty’s government might still publish more valuable material that can shed more light on how one of the biggest empires in human history used to be governed. Overall, Britain had total control over 50 colonies including Canada, India, Australia, Nigeria, and Jamaica. Currently, there are 14 British Overseas Territories that remain under British rule, though most of them are selfgoverning and all have leaderships of their own. 02 December 2013 Source: RT.com


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Just Commentary February 2014  
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