SPANISH STATE ARMS MADRID AGAINST PROTESTS AT NATO SUMMIT: €37 million (including the purchase of 6,000 Taser pistol chargers)

From La Izquierda Diario (the Daily Left) by Carlos Rubio (Translated by D.Breatnach)

Foreign Affairs and Interior Departments spare no expense when it comes to strengthening the Atlantic Alliance summit, scheduled for June 29 and 30th. The budget increase of 1.95 million euros for the State Security Forces includes the purchase of 6,000 Taser chargers for the convened protests.

On October 8, 2021, the next NATO summit meeting in Madrid was officially announced, where Prime Minister Sánchez announced that “they would have all the capabilities” to “guarantee security”, at a key “historic moment” for the organisation.

(Image from Social Revolution)

Two months before the official date, Ministers of the Interior Marlaska and Exterior Albares are already anticipating some of the measures to be taken to prepare for the Summit. €37 million will be the budget limit, which will include the cost of assembly and adaptation of Ifema (Madrid festival organising consortium — DB), the catering and the security of the meeting.

More specifically, the State Security Forces will have almost 2 million euros to reinforce their equipment, which includes the purchase of 6,000 chargers for Taser pistols, to guarantee “a safe environment in the face of a possible threat”, according to the Marlaska himself.

Together with this acquisition, the purchase of metal detector arches, parcel inspection scanners, digital personal video cameras and computer graphics equipment for the preparation of three-dimensional plans of complete buildings is expected.

(Image from Social Revolution): “70 years of war, NATO no, bases out”

The National Police will be the body deployed for this summit, which will be involved in “establishing a comprehensive security arrangement for it that will cover, in addition to the place where the meetings are held, travel and all those places of accommodation where the delegations of different countries that are planning their assistance will be staying”.

According to the Government, all these measures are a priority since “several organisations and social groups are already announcing protests.”

The leading issue at this summit, given the context, is the war in Ukraine and the position that NATO is to take against Putin’s reactionary invasion. This time, there will be 50 delegations, some of them invited from outside NATO but close to it, as in the cases of Ukraine, Sweden or Finland.

At this summit, it is foreseeable that the main trend that has already been taking place in recent months and has been justified by the war between Kyiv and Moscow will be strengthened: imperialist rearmament.

In recent months, from the various partners of the alliance and from the EU, weapons have been sent successively to Ukraine, defending the interests of the alliance, arming the Ukrainian Security Forces and militias, among which are groups such as the well-known Azov Battalion and the Pravy Sektor, to name a few examples. While Russian troops remain… on their battlefronts, these armed far-right groups are strengthening their hegemony and repression in the parts of the country they control.

(Image from Social Revolution)

In this regard, as Sánchez stated: “Madrid and Spain are going to play a determining role”. Last Thursday, the President of the Government announced that Spain was going to double military aid to Ukraine, at the same time that the Army ship “Ysabel” is sailing to Poland with 200 tons of ammunition and war material of various kinds.

Since March 2nd, when the first shipment of weapons by the Spanish State was approved in Congress, the efforts of the “progressive government” (i.e social-democrat and Podemos coalition – DB) to actively participate in the escalation of war have continued uninterruptedly.

(Image from Social Revolution)

Sánchez seems to reinforce his intention to turn the Spanish state into one of the main partners of NATO and the US in Europe. In accordance with the positive historical diplomatic relations between the US and Morocco, Spain legitimised less than a month ago the illegitimate occupation of Western Sahara by the Alaouite monarchy, selling the Saharawi people in exchange for a diplomatic relationship that maintains a strong border policy between Africa and the EU; and to ensure the economic interests of Spain over her former colony.

(Image from Social Revolution)

Spain is the seventh ranking country in contribution of money to the organisation and which, in line with the other members of the Treaty Organisation, raised its defence budget by 1.5 billion euros between 2020 and 2021, which is still far from the 2% requested by “the White House” from its partners.

With the 2018 budgets the “progressive government” approved from the beginning an increase of almost 11% in defence and 6.5% in the National Police and Civil Guard, so it is expected that this trend will continue to rise.

End.

“Prime Minister Sanchez and his master” (Image from Social Revolution)

WORLD WAR III?

APRIL 29, 2022

Reducing Tensions, Building Trust, De-escalating

From Counterpunch

BY JOHN LAFORGE

FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The United States could immediately take direct actions that would de-escalate the over-arching nuclear threat that haunts Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. A few such actions would demonstrate good will and indicate a real intention to reduce tensions in the crisis which seems every day to grow more dangerous.

1. U.S. hydrogen bombs stationed in Europe could be withdrawn and their planned replacement cancelled.

The United States and Germany are formal states parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Articles I and II of the NPT flatly prohibit the transfer of nuclear weapons from one states party to another. Any fourth grader can understand that the NATO practice of “nuclear sharing” with Germany, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Turkey — which together have over 100 U.S. nuclear weapons — is an open violation of the clear, unambiguous, unequivocal and binding prohibitions of the NPT.

(Image sourced: Internet)

The United States stations an estimated 20 of its B61-3 and B61-4 thermonuclear gravity bombs at the German Air Force Base Büchel, 80 miles southeast of Cologne. These B61 H-bombs at Büchel are identified as “intermediate-yield strategic and tactical thermonuclear” bombs, and “the primary thermonuclear gravity bomb in the U.S.” according to the NuclearWeaponArchive.org.

Calling these weapons “intermediate” or “tactical” is shocking disinformation. The maximum yield of the B61-3 is 170 kilotons, and the maximum B61-4 yield is 50 kilotons, as reported by the Bulletin of the atomic Scientists. These H-bombs respectively produce over 11 times and 3 times the explosive blast, mass fire, and radiation of the 15-kiloton Hiroshima bomb that killed 140,000 people. (For background, see Lynn Eden’s “Whole World on Fire,” or Howard Zinn’s “The Bomb.”

The effects of detonating B61-3 or B61-4 bombs would inevitably be catastrophic mass destruction involving disproportionate, indiscriminate and long-lasting devastation. Plans to replace the current B61 with a new “model 12” could be cancelled now, and constitute a real ratcheting down of tensions in Europe.

2. The U.S. can discontinue its nuclear attack courses underway at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

The U.S. studies and plans nuclear weapon attacks at classrooms of its Defense Nuclear Weapons School (DNWS), and the one branch school outside the U.S. is at Ramstein in Germany, the largest U.S. military base outside the country, headquarters of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, and NATO Allied Air Command. Outlines of nuclear attack coursework can be read on the DNWS website, which boldly declares the school: “is responsible for delivering, sustaining and supporting air-delivered nuclear weapon systems for our warfighters …every day.”

One class outlined on the DNWS website is for “Theater Nuclear Operations,” described as “a 4.5-day course that provides training for planners, support staff, targeteers, and staff nuclear planners for joint operations and targeting. The course provides an overview of nuclear weapon design, capabilities, and effects as well as U.S. nuclear policy, and joint nuclear doctrine…. Objectives: … Understand the U.S. nuclear planning and execution process…; Understand the targeting effects of nuclear weapon employment….”

Dispensing with this nuclear attack planning school would reduce tensions and help eliminate Russia’s dread of the U.S./NATO nuclear posture.

3. NATO can suspend its provocative military exercises.

Attacks with U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe are regularly simulated or “rehearsed,” as is often reported. Recent headlines noted: “German Air Force training for nuclear war as part of NATO” (Kazakh Telegraph Agency 2020), “Secret nuclear weapons exercise ‘Steadfast Noon” (German Armed Forces Journal 2019), “NATO nuclear weapons exercise unusually open” (2017), and “NATO nuclear weapons exercise Steadfast Noon in Büchel” (2015).

Giant NATO war games routinely zero in on Russia. In 2018, there was “Trident Juncture” with 50,000 troops in Norway, and “Atlantic Resolve” was conducted in Eastern Europe. In 2016, some 16,000 troops gathered in Norway for “Cold Response,” and in “Anaconda 2016” another 31,000 troops from 24 countries were again in motion across Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. In 2015, there was “Atlantic Resolve,” “Dragoon Ride,” and “Spring Storm,” all conducted across Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. In 2014, the routine “Cold Response” game in Norway involved 16,000 troops, and “Atlantic Resolve” took place in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

Beyond the annual “Steadfast Noon” simulations, complex, multinational NATO exercises in Eastern European countries just recently ballooned in number. In 2019, there was a single big exercise called “Atlantic Resolve.” In 2020 there were five. In 2021 the number leaped to eleven, and NATO that year made plans for a total of 95 exercises. Individual NATO states had plans for another 220 of their own war games. Nothing justifies Putin’s naked aggression, but the marked increase in NATO war practices would even make the Dali Lama defensive.

4. The U.S. and NATO could end their nuclear weapon “first-use” policy.

The public policy of readiness to initiate attack with nuclear weapons — not as a deterrent against being attacked with nuclear weapons, but its exact opposite — is at the heart of both U.S. and NATO “nuclear posture.” This perpetual threat to start nuclear attacks during a conventional conflict, especially in the context of routine NATO nuclear war exercises, is unnecessarily destabilizing and reckless. In view of the enormously overwhelming power of U.S. and NATO conventional military forces, the nuclear option is grossly redundant and militarily useless.

(Source image: The Irish Sun 2019)

After he retired, Paul Nitze, a former Navy Secretary and personal advisor to President Ron Reagan, wrote “A Threat Mostly to Ourselves” where he observed: “In view of the fact that we can achieve our objectives with conventional weapons, there is no purpose to be gained through the use of our nuclear arsenal.”

Now that the U.S. public as a whole has been transformed into one big anti-war group, it should recognize that it can influence our own government but not Russia’s. Our demands for negotiation, cease-fire, de-escalation and a peace agreement need to be directed in a way that has some chance of success. ###

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

INVASION – RIGHT OR WRONG?

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 7 mins.)

We are a people – or nation – that has been invaded; we have resisted and suffered in that resistance. Naturally we tend to sympathise with other countries who have been – or are being – invaded too. Many other peoples have been invaded more often than has Ireland; the Book of Invasions and Occupations of some of those would run to many pages. Few however have been occupied for nearing a millenium by what has been essentially the same invader – as has our little nation. So the question as to whether invasions are always wrong is bound to arouse an emotional feeling of rejection in us, of hostility to the questioner, even. Still, I ask the question and turn to history for the answer, our own history and that of other places.

INVASIONS OF IRELAND

The Vikings invaded Ireland (a sovereign state or collection of states) in successive waves from Norway and Denmark areas, took people to be sold as slaves, pillaged and looted and in time occupied parts of our land. They were hardly welcome but after their defeat at the Battle of Clontarf (sic) in 1014, left little permanent damage.

The Normans, invading in 1169, were a different matter, with less pillaging but wreaking far-reaching adverse changes, especially as they became the English ruling class, a mixing of Norman and Anglo-Saxon elites. Our land was turned into a colony, competing industries destroyed, the majority population turned into second-class subjects, our produce used to fuel the British industrial revolution, followed by famine here, mass emigration, our resistance repressed ……

In our strivings to be free from the English Occupation, we invited an invasion from the Spanish Kingdom to Ireland and one arrived in 1601, which was followed by the Siege and Battle of Kinsale (2nd October 1601-3rd January 1602) between Irish clans and their Spanish allies against the English. The latter’s victory resulted in English conquest over the whole island and the destruction of the remains of the Gaelic social and legal order in Ireland.

Battle of Kinsale map (Image sourced: Internet)

During the Jacobite War (1689-1691), the Irish and Anglo-Irish clans invited Royal French forces to invade Ireland in order to assist them in supporting King James II his bid to regain the English Crown1 and that too ended badly for the Irish with the Limerick Treaty, the flight of the Wild Geese and the religious Penal Laws.

In the late 1790s, the United Irishmen once again invited the French forces — but this time Republican – to assist them in overthrowing English rule in Ireland in what was a semi-sovereign state. The planned French invasion failed due to adverse weather conditions in 1796 and a smaller force successfully landed in Mayo in the closing weeks of the 1798 Rising, joined with Irish insurgents and defeated English military units but was soon surrounded and, massively outnumbered, surrendered.

DURING WWI

During WWI sovereign states in large areas of the world, in particular in Europe and in the Middle East, were invaded by the armies of many states, comprising those of the Central Powers of Germany, Austro-Hungary and Turkey on one side and those of the Entente — UK, France, USA, Turkey, Russia, Italy and Japan – on the other. The cause of the war was contention between imperial powers and no side could be said to have been justified in the alliance they joined or in invasions carried out as a result. One revealing example of the gap between justication propaganda and reality was that the UK claimed that it was waging war with Germany in defence of the little nation of Belgium, while it repressed a rising of the little nation of Ireland. Likewise, the USA, which claimed to want a post-war world of peace and security for small nations, refused to receive the delegations of a number of small or weaker nations, including that of Ireland, to the Paris Peace Conference2.

AND WWII

In the runup to WWII and during it, parts of Africa, Asia and most of Europe, including many sovereign states3, were invaded by the Nazis and Fascist powers of Germany, Italy or Japan4, with horrific consequences for the people who lived in the invaded lands.

German motorised Nazi troops invading the USSR during WWII(Image sourced: Internet)

Would we have countenanced an invasion of Nazi Germany to prevent what it was going to do? In any case, during the War, the counter-attack of the Allies also invaded huge parts of the world, including sovereign states that had colluded with the Nazis, as well countries totally dominated by them: the USSR invaded Eastern Europe beyond the USSR’s earlier borders, also sovereign Germany and sovereign Austria; the USA and UK invaded France (part-sovereign, part-occupied) and Italy (part-liberated by popular revolt) and all three invaded sovereign Germany and Austria too, but also North Africa; the USA invaded the Phillippines and Indo-China. Had we been alive then, most of us would have cheered those invasions – they brought down the terrible Axis forces, liberated death camps, freed people from fascist rule.

Soviet infantry follow Soviet tanks in counterattack on Nazi forces during WWII. (Image sourced: Internet)
US troops invading France in the Normandy Landings during WWII (Image sourced: Internet)

But the UK and France retook their colonies, where they had been suppressing and repressing the people for generations.5 The UK and USA prevented the Greeks from stopping the return of their monarch (their sovereign) and, combining former fascist police with their own armed forces, suppressed the Greek rising. And the USA installed themselves in the Phillippines, making them their neo-colonies. The USA also began to cultivate elites as clients in Indo-China, particularly in Korea and Vietnam.

The reoccupations of colonies and transfer of control to new masters were the cause of a wave of anti-colonial struggles and wars of repression in India and Malaya with the UK; in North Africa with the French; in Korea with the USA; in Vietnam with the French first and then with the USA; in the Middle East and West Africa with the UK and France. They also facilitated the creation of the Zionist state of Israel with horrific consequences (including invasions by it) that continue to be played out to this day.

The struggles of people resulted in the eventual national liberation of areas of the world, including part of Korea and later, Vietnam, creating states. Cambodia and Laos, having been bombed by the USA in its war with the Vietnamese people, came under new national regimes. But the new rulers of Cambodia’s sovereign state, under the Pol Pot regime, developed a new kind of horrific rule resulting in the distinction of becoming the country with most mass graves in the world6. That sovereign regime was toppled by an intervention of Vietnamese forces and those of us alive then cheered that invasion.

The Portuguese colonies in Angola and Mozambique were freed by liberation struggles but in Mozambique were assisted by Cuban troops, which also helped them resist invasion by South African troops and proxies.7

Much closer to our own time, the UK and USA/NATO, leading coalitions of other states, invaded Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, destabilising them and destroying for years the development potential of those countries8. They attempted the same with Syria and that conflict is ongoing. The excuse given was always along the lines of countering a threat to the world (Iraq: “Weapons of mass destruction”, “Al Khaeda”) or liberating their populations (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria).

US tanks and soldiers in Iraq, six days after the fall of Baghdad (Photo credit: John Moore/ AP)

INVASIONS GENERALLY — AND WHAT ABOUT UKRAINE?

So, reviewing the historical record, very few would say that invading another region — even a sovereign state — is wrong on every occasion. Most would say, I think, that it would depend on the motivation for the invasion, how it is conducted and what the invaders do afterwards.

Hopefully this can help us to mediate the automatic Irish sympathetic reaction to the war in the Ukraine and with regard to the Western-dominated discourse that Russia is automatically wrong – purely because its troops invaded the Ukrainian sovereign state. Russia may indeed be wrong – but not purely on the fact that it invaded.

Which then moves the evaluation on to a more productive and rational basis. Was the reason for the invasion justified? How did Russian troops conduct themselves during the invasion? What is intended as the longer-term outcome of the invasion?

Here, unfortunately we are in a marsh of propaganda, fake news, partial accounts, censorship9 ….. and the war has not yet concluded. But we can try to navigate our way across this marsh relying on the fairly firm patches we can find and hopefully avoiding getting stuck or even sucked down.

Justification for the invasion?

Russia says it invaded because it was being encircled and threatened by NATO, while the latter denies this. The evidence is however on the side of Russia in this disagreement10.

Putin also says that he did so to “de-nazify” the Ukraine. Considering the number of active fascists in Russia, this does not ring true, though the presence of nazi militia in the Azov Battalion is undeniable and the the Ukrainian regime is certainly glorifying Nazis in its past.

Conduct during the invasion

When Russia invaded it says that it fought to confront military units and to keep civilian casualties to a minimum. In the early days of the war this does seem to have been the case. As the fighting grew fiercer around Kyiv and Mariupol, it was harder to ascertain the truth, with Ukranian claim the Russians were targeting civilian structures and Russian counter-claim that, in Mariupol in particular, the Ukrainian forces were firing from civilian structures, which naturally attracted Russian return fire. And of course, bombardment of any large area is going to result, whether intended or not, in damage to civilian structures.

Another Ukrainian accusation, widely covered in the western media, is that the Russians were kidnapping civilians and transporting them back to Russia. The latter responded that they were facilitating the evacuation of civilians from danger areas. A similar Ukranian removal of civilians, on the face of it, is represented as a humanitarian action. Humanitarian evacuation or kidnapping? By one or the other, or by both?

There have been Ukranian accusations that the Russians executed captured Ukrainian soldiers and civilians and the Western media and political leaders have repeated those accusations. What appears to be bodies of civilians have been photographed in the streets of Bucha and Irpin after the Russians forces retreated, some of which appeared to have their hands tied behind their backs.

The Russians have rejected the whole story as fake news, pointing out that the Mayor of Bucha had smilingly recorded a video message after the Russian military evacuation of his town, during which he had made no mention at all of any such executions. Also that the reports of the alleged executions did not emerge until four days after they had evacuated the town.

However the Ukrainians also say that a mass grave containing 410 bodies has been uncovered outside Kyiv. Russia has said it wants the issue discussed at the UN Security Council11 but so far have been blocked by another permanent member, the UK (the latter holds the Presidency of the Security Council at the moment)12.

We must await some kind of even semi-independent investigation but if any of these allegations turn out to be true it will certainly be a powerful indictment of Russia’s conduct during the invasion.

Post-invasion actions

We do not know for certain what the situtation will look like post-conflict but it looks likely that Russia will withdraw from most of the Ukraine, which will remain outside NATO and with much-reduced armament, which was part of what Russia was seeking even years before the conflict. But it also looks as though Russia will retain the Crimea and the Donbas area.

Simple neutral map showing the Ukraine in yellow with Donetsk and Luhansk areas in brown (together known as Donbas) and the Crimea (lined pattern) with the western shore of the Sea of Azov running between the two enclaves. East of that Sea and of Donbas is Russia (shown in grey). Kiyv is far to the north-west in Ukraine. (Image sourced: Internet)

To judge whether that retention is just or not, one has to choose between two narratives (or some synthesis of both).

The Russian narrative is that after the change of government in 2014 there was a campaign against ethnic and linguistic minorities, in particular Russian-speakers, by the Ukrainian authorities, aided by fascist forces. These attacked the Russian-speaking areas, the latter mobilised to defend themselves and asked Russia to come to their defence.

The Western narrative is that Russia egged on Russian speakers to fight the Ukrainians and to secede and that the whole thing was just a Russian land grab.

But one way or another, the bare fact of Russian invasion is not sufficient to decide against them, much less to agree with what is essentially the dominant US/NATO discourse of the western media – the bigger and longer picture needs to be examined.

End.

FOOTNOTES

1Both Irish and Anglo-Irish sought an end to religious oppression of Catholics and retention of their lands; the Irish clans may have also sought recovery of some of their ancestral lands.

2More about the division of the world between victorious powers and punishing the losers, than about peace.

3The Austrian state was subverted under threat by the Nazis, as was also the Norwegian, followed quickly by invasion.

4Nazi Germany also recruited fascist units from Spain, Ukraine and Romania into their army and Japan recruited Koreans; in addition an Indian natiolal liberation army fought the English occupation in coalition with the Japanese.

5The Japanese were asked to hold on to their conquered territory in parts of SE Asia until the French could move back in, for example in Vietnam.

6Spain is the second, dating from its Civil War/ Anti-fascist War, a sovereign monarchical state evolving from a successful fascist-military coup against an elected Republican government.

7A highly simplified description, as there were civil war elements also with fighting for control between different factions of the former liberation movement.

8The UK holds the record for countries invaded, while the USA holds the record for involvement in military conflicts since WWII.

9Twitter has taken down an archive of six years of Chris Hedges’ Contact programs, Netflix has removed the Oliver Stone documentary “Ukraine Is Burning”, the US and UK has banned RT and Russia then banned BBC, China has banned BBC and Facebook, the latter has unbanned the fascist Ukrainian Azov Battallion …. And the Western Left is ignoring Naom Chomsky.

10Just Google “Map NATO states in Eastern Europe”.

11The United Nations is a body containing essentially two general decision-making bodies, the General Assemby of every full member nation — currently 193 – and the 15-member Security Council, which makes the only binding decisions. However, the decisions of the rest can be vetoed by any of the five Permanent Members of the Security Council: USA, UK, France, Russia and China.

12Any entering of the words “Russia” combined with “war-crimes” or “executions” into a search engine will bring an avalanche of western reporting of the allegations but scant treatment of the Russian response. As balance I have included only two rare more balanced western reports in the Sources section.

SOURCES

Rare balanced western media coverage of Russian response to allegations of war-crimes: https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/kremlin-denies-ukrainian-allegations-its-forces-killed-civilians-near-kyiv-2022-04-04/

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russia-ask-un-security-council-again-discuss-bucha-provocations-2022-04-04/

Not Russia-friendly Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/4/6/ukraine-as-russia-faces-genocide-charge-experts-urge-caution

IRRATIONAL CRITICISM OF ZELENZKY BY PALESTINIAN ANALYST

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 2 mins.)

The online publication Middle East Eye published on March 22nd an open letter from Palestinian political analyst As’ad Ghanem sharply criticising the Ukrainian President, Volodomir Zelensky, for the latter’s March 20th speech by Zoom before the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. The Palestinian academic’s criticism was, at base, entirely irrational.

As’ad Ghanem is a senior lecturer at the School of Political Sciences, University of Haifa. Ghanem’s theoretical work has explored the legal, institutional and political conditions in ethnic states. He has covered issues such as Palestinian political orientations, the establishment and political structure of the Palestinian Authority, and majority-minority politics in a comparative perspective. His books include Palestinian Politics after Arafat: A Failed National Movement (Indiana Series in Middle East Studies). Ghanem has initiated several empowerment programs for Palestinians in Israel.

As’ad Ghanem at a speaking engagement (Photo sourced: Internet)

Ghanem’s opening paragraph, though a denunciation of Zelensky’s speech, seemed to display a misapprehension of the conflict in the Ukraine and of Zelensky’s role there: Your recent speech before the Israeli Knesset was a disgrace when it comes to global struggles for freedom and liberation, particularly of the Palestinian people. You reversed the roles of occupier and occupied. You missed another opportunity to demonstrate the justice of your cause and the broader cause of freedom.

Any hope that Ghanem’s words were some kind of subtle attack on imperialism in Eastern Europe, an exposure of its false defence of national sovereignty, democracy and freedom, were swiftly expelled in reading the third and fourth paragraphs of his letter:

I am angry and sad that Russia is seeking to occupy your country and to crush the rights of the Ukrainian people to self-determination and freedom, and I believe that every possible support must be given to Ukrainians as they resist this barbaric aggression……

And while I admire your success in building a large international coalition to support your struggle against Russian aggression, I wish we as Palestinians could persuade the world to mobilise in a similar fashion, and force Israel to abide by international resolutions.

But Ghanem wants to show that although he may be a liberal, he is also an anti-imperialist. So he adds the following line to his third paragraph: At the same time, I reject the policies of the US and its Nato allies around the globe.

What an irrational position to hold! “The policies of the US and its Nato allies around the world” being enacted are precisely what is causing the current conflict in the Ukraine and it is those forces that are backing Zelensky and employing him in their contention with Russia.

Asad Ghanem’s plaintive criticism and appeal to Zelensky and — by implication — to imperialism exposes the ideological bankruptsy of the liberal critics of imperialism1. He is disappointed by Zelensky’s support for the murderous and racist rule of Israeli Zionism and sees it as somehow in contradiction with his position in the Ukrainian state’s conflict with Russia.

TO GAIN UNDERSTANDING, ASK BASIC QUESTIONS

The answers to a few simple questions would have disabused Ghanem and other pro-Palestinian liberal critics of imperialism of any confusion or illusion about the situation:
Which major imperialist military bloc is supporting the Ukraine in the current conflict? NATO.
Which imperialist state controls NATO at least since 1951? The USA.
Which power fundamentally props up and defends the Zionist state? US imperialism.

Even without any consideration of the reported Zionist state’s training and arming of the Ukrainian Azov, Zelensky’s stance towards Israeli Zionism is entirely in line with his alliances and Ghanem’s criticism completely irrational. If Zelensky is to be criticised politically for anything, it is for perhaps making his alliances so clear.

RATIONAL STANCE TOWARDS IMPERIALISM

Ghanem concludes his letter thus:

I know that most Palestinians are watching your stubborn struggle and wishing you victory over Russia’s brutal aggression. (Really? I sincerely doubt it – DB2). I also know that a Russian victory would be a great gift to Israel’s aggressive posture – a victory for its “Iron Wall” concept, which regulates its dealings with us until our complete defeat.

On the other hand, the struggle and victory of your people, even with the destruction of much of your country and the displacement of scores of Ukrainians, would give hope to other peoples struggling against oppression and erasure, rekindling our hopes for return and liberation. To this end, I urge you to stop supporting our oppressors.

The only rational stands towards imperialism are outright support or outright opposition — and the latter is the revolutionary position. Liberals want to criticise imperialism without being revolutionary, presumably because they feel more comfortable in the imperialist world than fear they would in a revolutionary one. They ask imperialism (which is what they usually mean by “the international community”) to remedy a situation here and there, a situation that usually only exists directly or indirectly because of imperialism.

Of course, imperialism regularly disappoints them but, like besotted lovers in an abusive relationship, they never learn, they never abandon their relationship but instead keep returning, asking their partner to behave better this time.

End.



FOOTNOTES

1Which is certainly no worse than that of the appalling stance of a major part of the Western Left

2“The two Arab Israeli (this is Zionist apartheid code for Palestinians – DB) parties chose to snub Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech to the Knesset on Sunday night, with only one Arab lawmaker out of their 10 MPs showing up. Joint List chief Ayman Odeh skipped the speech, as did the two other lawmakers from his Hadash faction, party officials said. A spokesperson for Odeh did not respond to a request for comment. “Our position is that NATO and its leader America imposed this war,” said Mansour Dahamsheh, the Hadash party’s secretary-general, in a phone call with The Times of Israel. https://www.timesofisrael.com/arab-israeli-mks-skip-zelenskys-knesset-speech-nato-imposed-this-war/

SOURCES

Text of As’ad Ghanem’s letter: https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/russia-ukraine-war-israel-palestine-zelensky-support-disgrace?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign&utm_content=ap_qf0gnh7kqc

Zelensky’s speech to the Knesset: https://www.timesofisrael.com/full-text-ukraine-president-zelenskys-speech-to-israeli-lawmakers/

Palestinian Knesset MP’s attitude to Zelensky: https://www.timesofisrael.com/arab-israeli-mks-skip-zelenskys-knesset-speech-nato-imposed-this-war/

Israeli Zionist Government Minister’s reaction to Zelensky’s speech: “The war is terrible but the comparison to the horrors of the Holocaust and the final solution is outrageous” — https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/politics-and-diplomacy/article-701850

https://www.al-monitor.com/podcasts/ambassador-liel-zelenskyys-knesset-speech-exposes-gaps-perception-over-conflict

NAVIGATING PROPAGANDA TO ARRIVE AT TRUTH

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time main text: 9 mins.)

We are surrounded by propaganda: to favour this or that political and economic system, those products, accept this way of life and to reject that other, to emulate or aspire to be like those people or to reject others …. The propaganda is constant but perhaps most evident in times of conflict: social conflict and wars in particular. We cannot be free of it but we can attempt to navigate it, to reach that fabled destination, the port of Truth.

Political propaganda by Cartoon: Left, Chancellor of the Exchequer Sunak shown as superhero, saving the economy and Right, former Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn shown as a Russian, suggesting he is a communist. (Images sourced: Internet)

OUR OWN PERSONAL BIAS

Firstly, we need to be aware of our own personal bias. Are we for reasons of culture, position, location or habit likely to incline to one side rather than to the other? Of course, that might be the right (or least bad) side but ….. are we being blinded by our own bias?

Our own personal biases are formed through our familial group, our schooling, training and experiences but some are engendered through the wider society, our culture.

Our cultural bias in the western world and, in particular in the English-speaking one, is towards the USA. We watch films in which the admired characters have UStater accents and even employ UStater turns of phrase and idioms1; their life-styles are recogniseably western. These cultural products cover a range from comedy to thriller or tragedy, their situations varying from urban to rural life, their genres from romance to crime to war to science fiction. In fact, both latter genres tend to present us with war-heroes who not only speak like UStaters but evoke the armed forces of the United States, whether in past real armed conflicts or in imagined ones to come. Earlier Irish generations were familiar with the dramatised plight of European settlers in the western regions of the USA being attacked by Indigenous people, only to be saved by the arrival of the US military – in that genre, the US Cavalry.2

Another major cultural influence on the English-speaking world is the UK and, to a lesser extent3, Australia. Although in Ireland there is a certain residual historical resistance to UK acculturation, some UK cultural products gained a large enough following, particularly the Coronation Street and EastEnders series4.

In comics the characters and often their environments are identifiably Western — usually of the USA5 — and even the popular Asian-based ones tend to have their facial features shaded towards European ones. Many of the electronic games also have a Western cultural bias.

And of course, we speak English. A high proportion of the Irish population is English-monoglot and even among Irish/English bilinguals, either the English is dominant or at least easily-accessible. From childhood to adulthood we see signs in English, hear it on the street, use it daily in most places, read it, are educated and instructed through it, access the Internet through it – in fact, we mostly think in English. All of which makes the pathways for accessing US and UK cultural products easy and our acceptance of the dominant discourse more probable.

Dominant discourse is of course a fact of life, some aspects of which are necessary for our social existence but other aspects of which are laden with unhelpful cultural and even political bias. We need to be alert to those aspects and prepared to investigate and analyse them.

Sometimes it looks like just about everyone is in agreement with a particular opinion and it is also the one that accords with our own inbuilt bias. Now we need to be REALLY careful, because those are two factors working together to put us at our ease on one side of a conflict and making it very difficult for us to even investigate the fact that the dominant discourse, on at least this occasion, might be mistaken. And clearly at times in history widely-accepted views HAVE been wrong – the literal seven-day creation belief, the sun going around the earth, the divine right of monarchs, the unsuitability of women for equality, the unnatural inclination of gay and lesbian people ……

OUR SOURCES

In conjunction with being aware of and taking into account our own bias and prejudices, we need to the same with our sources of information, which in industrial and post-industrial cultures – apart from educational establishments — is mostly the mass media: television, newspapers and the Internet (in particular social media).

All the owners of non-State-owned mass media that we access (and that in turn accesses us) are capitalists and not only that but monopoly capitalist. Although he has recently exited his media empire6, this was the situation six years ago: “Denis O’Brien, reputedly Ireland’s richest man, is the largest shareholder in the country’s largest newspaper publisher, Independent News & Media (INM). That company has now agreed a deal to add seven more newspaper titles to its stable by acquiring the Celtic Media Group (CMG). They include the Anglo-Celt in Cavan, the Meath Chronicle and the Connaught Telegraph in Mayo. In all, it extends INM’s footprint to five more counties.

“INM is already the major player at national level. It publishes Ireland’s two largest-selling titles, the Irish Independent and Sunday Independent, plus the Sunday World and the Dublin Herald. It also has 50% of the Irish Daily Star. O’Brien’s other media company, Communicorp, owns Ireland’s two leading commercial radio talk stations: Newstalk and Today FM. In addition, it owns Dublin’s 98FM, SPIN 1038, TXFM and SPIN South West.”7

Media companies in the USA went from 50 1984 only six conglomerates controlling 90% of the United States’s in 2011: GE/Comcast (NBC, Universal), News Corp (Fox News, Wall Street Journal, New York Post), Disney (ABC, ESPN, Pixar), Viacom (MTV, BET, Paramount Pictures), Time Warner (CNN, HBO, Warner Bros.), and CBS (Showtime, NFL.com).8

“Take the UK’s newspaper industry: in a national market of 20 daily and Sunday newspaper titles, just three companies control 90 percent of newspaper circulation. Lord Rothermere’s DMG Media—publishers of the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday, the Metro, and the i—accounts for almost 40 percent of all national newspapers sold each week in the UK, while Rupert Murdoch’s News UK and Reach (which publishes the Mirror and Express titles) command one-third and one-fifth of the market, respectively.

“When online readers are included, the same companies control a four-fifths market share among the major newspaper groups, giving these publishers an unparalleled influence for setting the agenda across the rest of the news media.”9

“Most of the social media we use on our laptops, Iphones or tablets is owned by five conglomerates in the USA: Meta Platforms, Inc., doing business as Meta and formerly known as Facebook, Inc., …..is the parent organization of Faecebook, Instragram and WhatsApp among other subsidiaries. Meta is one of the world’s most valuable companies. It is one of the Big Five American companies, alongside Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.”10

It should not surprise us if that media exhibits a strong bias towards capitalism, for example in praising businessmen (capitalists) and businesses (exploitation operations) and in criticising or slanted reporting on strikes (workers’ resistance) or on what they might term ‘terrorism’ (but is often oppressed people’s resistance).

The State-owned media, in the UK the BBC and RTÉ in Ireland, are not of course the property of capitalists, however the states in question are capitalist states. It would be surprising therefore if such media were to take a stance in opposition to that of their state and their dominant classes and, by an large they do not. If, in times of conflict elements within the program-making sections of the State-owned media veer significantly away from the State’s line, official reprimands, cuts in funding, sackings and outright censorship may follow.11

This mass media, as well as being orientated in defence of monopoly capitalism, is also orientated towards the expansion of monopoly capitalism beyond its origins, i.e imperialism. And imperialists have their alliances, by far the largest of which is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, or NATO in acronym. That alliance is led by what is still the largest imperialist superpower in the world, the USA.

We may note that the antithesis of capitalism is socialism but a capitalist or imperialist system of one state may be in contention with that of another such state which in fact often happens, even occasionally breaking out in war, as was the case with WWI, when the then-dominant imperialist alliance led by the UK and France was challenged by the weaker one of Germany and Turkey.

And mentioning socialism brings to a consideration of alternative media, including that of the Socialist and Irish Republican movements. Briefly we can note that just because they declare their opposition to the status quo does not mean necessarily a) that they are indeed so opposed, or b) that they have examined and challenged their own bias or c) therefore that their analysis is correct. Indeed both the Irish Socialist and Republican movements have made huge mistakes over the last hundred years or more and, in addition, during the height of the Covid19 pandemic we saw a plethora of misinformation ranging from the fascist and racist to the fantasticaly paranoid from sources opposed to the status quo12.

NAVIGATION

With the preparations and precautions entailed in the above completed, we are ready to sail, to navigate the propaganda ocean on board the MV Investigator. Let us take the stormy propaganda seas around the Ukraine conflict for our voyage.

According to the Russian Government, ethnic Russians were under attack in parts of the Ukraine after a coup overthrew the Ukrainian Government in 2014. Furthermore, it claims that US/NATO supported that coup and, in addition, has been gathering up states to its military alliance to encircle Russia, which it sees as a threat to the existence of the Russian state. In addition, Russia claims the Ukrainian government has fascist elements in its polity including a nazi battalion incorporated into its national military. Therefore it has invaded Ukraine in order to protect its own state and to “de-nazify” the Ukraine.

According to the Ukrainian Government and the USA, along with most Western governments, all of Russia’s claims are lies and just an excuse for it to grab land in the Ukraine, in order to extend its dominion further.

The Western media supports the Ukrainian Government and USA discourse on these issues and, on the rare occasion when it quotes the Russian one, negates it or casts doubt upon it.

So, to the navigation. The first thing is that we cannot trust the Western discourse but on the other hand can we totally discount it? We cannot trust it because it is part of a capitalist and imperialist bloc centred around the USA and NATO. On the other hand, Russia might be lying and the Western media might be correct on this occasion. After all, Russian troops HAVE invaded the sovereign state (something we usually see from the USA or NATO) of Ukraine.

Map showing Nato states in Europe (Image sourced: Internet)

So, let’s investigate! A look at the map will in fact show a large number of states in East Europe that have progressively become part of NATO and Ukraine, which shares a border with Russia, was heading that way, according to even non-Russian analysis.13 And Russia has been complaining about this for years. In addition, the elected neutral Ukrainian government WAS overthrown by a violent coup in 2014, one which was welcomed by western media. And fascists WERE active in that coup and the Azov Battalion IS full of fascists and nazis (even according to US and Canadian government circles along with human rights groups, including in Israel, only a few years ago).

But the Russian regime anti-fascist? That is something else. Far-Right groups including openly Nazi ones have proliferated across Russia since the collapse of the USSR and there is little evidence that the Russian regime has been trying to eliminate them. De-nazification should start in your own territory first, right?

So a reasonable conclusion on the available evidence is that Putin’s statement about de-nazification is mere propaganda for international and domestic consumption but his real and primary motive for the invasion is the security of Russia and the withdrawal of NATO from its borders.

Might there be an element of acquiring some more Ukrainian territory and stragic locations there? Of course there might. So how to test that? What about if NATO agrees to withdraw, Ukraine declares its neutrality but demands withdrawal from its recently-conquered territory? Russia would have to comply or to expose its supposed territorial ambitions.

However, NATO is currently refusing to withdraw from Russia’s borders and the Western media is supporting it ideologically as well as pouring arms into Ukraine; NATO denies Russia’s declared motivation but declines to put it to the test.

Mentioning “land-grabbing” also raises the issues of the Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Those regions had a high proportion of ethnic Russians — the Crimea in particular nearly totally Russian-speaking — and according to numerous sources, came under attack from Ukrainian nationalist forces from 2014. The Western media says that Russia “annexed” the Crimea; however Crimea had an autonomous parliament and voted to secede from the Ukraine – it was not overthrown in a violent coup as was the neutral Ukrainian one. Subsequently Crimea asked for Russian protection from attack by the Ukrainian military (including in particular those Azov fascist fighters). Donetsk and Luhansk regions also asked for protection, according to the Russians while, according to the West, they were also annexed by Russia.

Ethnic map of the region (however not including Gypsies, Jews and Poles). The brown peninsula bottom centre is the Crimea; two top right regions are Donestk and Luhansk. (Image sourced: Internet)

CONTINUING THE NAVIGATION

Those are the fundamental points to think about during the conflict but we will be presented with reports of “kidnapping” of thousands of civilians by the Russians from the battle-zones on the one hand, with the “rescue” of thousands by the Ukrainian military on the other. Of course, any war impacts severely upon civilians in the war zones, as we have seen in conflicts from Vietnam to ireland to the Balkans, from Palestine to Yemen. What is happening in the Ukraine is a war, with bullets and missiles being fired by both sides and, furthermore, most of the fighting is taking place in and around heavily-populated areas. But are civilians and civilian buildings really being targeted by the Russians? They may or may not be but certainly the damage and casualties would be much higher if, as a matter of course, that were the case. Are civilians being used as hostages and shields by the Ukrainian military as some have alleged? They may be but it is difficult to prove or disprove that when the battle is taking place in an urban area.

We have to seek the actual causes of the war, rather than its features, to seek a workable and hopefully long-lasting solution.

WHAT ABOUT CENSORSHIP?

The fact is that all sides are practicing censorship. While the western media was quick to tell us that Russia had banned the BBC’s news service, it took a bit of searching to find out that had occurred after the UK banned RT, the Russian broadcasting service. We now learn that China has also banned Facebook and the BBC – the latter perhaps in response to the banning of RT but Facebook perhaps for lifting its ban and Tier 1 classification14 of Azov, the neo-nazi fighters incorporated into the Ukrainian military.

Currently, as an example of Western censorship, the Oliver Stone documentary Ukraine On Fire (2016) has been taken down off Youtube and according to users, rarely lasts more than a day if posted up anew.

And Naom Chomsky, veteran US-based anti-imperialist, who would normally be widely quoted in the Socialist media, is hardly ever heard or seen. Oh, he’s talking and writing alright but his discourse does not match the dominant one in the West — nor currently in the Western Left — and therefore he is excluded from their media.

Naom Chomsky, linguist and critic of imperialism often quoted by the Western Left but mostly silenced by them during the Ukrainian conflict. (Photo sourced: Internet)

CAN WE MOVE, PROCEED, ACT?

Obviously we cannot proceed through life in a permanent doubt – that would paralyse us, make us incapable of movement in any direction. We must come to a decision, at least for the time being, to allow us to act. But while we proceed on the basis of our certainties or at least assumptions, we need to be able to keep a part of our mind alert, questioning, challenging and – at some point – ready to dissent from the ideological environment in which we find ourselves and ready to consider taking a different – even oppositional – opinion and path.

This is the way we can navigate through the sea and storms of propaganda to a the desired landing on Truth. However, we need to remember that “truth” is an approximation, that it changes shape and what was true yesterday may not be true tomorrow. It is a floating land, not necessarily where it was when last charted, even when the most recent cartographers were not dishonest. Nevertheless, we are required to act, to act in the real world and therefore must reject paralysis. We find the nearest we can to the truth, test it and act upon it – but ready to amend our understanding if necessary.

We set sail.

End.

Chart for navigating the Propaganda Seas (Image: D.Breatnach)

FOOTNOTES

1The interjection of irrelevant “like” in conversations (e.g “I was like just leaving …”), the grammatically incorrect “I’m good” response to query-greetings, ‘hip’ interjections such as “dude” and even the “OK” for positive confirmation (in our lexicon since the 1950s), have all reached us from the USA.

2That film trope has led to a popular saying regarding last-minute deliveration, probably even employed by people who are unaware of its origin: “Saved by the Cavalry”. Of course, the Indigenous, who are having their lands stolen, their way of life and other parts of their culture destroyed and their resistance massacred, never have a last-minute salvation, neither in fiction nor in reality.

3Though we still hear “No worries” in reassurance, a phrase introduced by Australian soap-operas such as “Neighbours” screened on UK television channels in the 1980s and ‘90s.

4These two in particular propagated a very biased view of working class and lower-middle class people in Britain. The Coronation Street (note the monarchical tone of even the title) series, based on the Salford area near Birmingham, despite being an area settled by successive waves of migrants such as Irish (Engels even referred to them in his 1845 Condition of the Working Class in England), Caribbean and South Asian, did not include characters of migrant background for decades and it was not until 2019 that it introduced its first Black family characters. When the British soaps first provided characters of Irish background, both Coronation Street and EastEnders produced negative types without positive Irish characters to balance them.

5In the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s the majority of the comics bought in Ireland were English, from the younger age-orientated Dandy, Beano to the older-orientated range of Bunty, Judy and June for girls and, for boys, Eagle, Hotspur, Victor and the exclusively military Commando and War Picture Library series along with the Amazing Fantasy series. The US contributed super-hero series Marvel Comics and a range of both cartoon and realistic characters in Dell Comics. There was no competition from any Irish-focused publisher (nor is there yet to any real degree).

6https://www.irishtimes.com/business/media-and-marketing/o-brien-exits-irish-media-after-30-years-of-mixed-fortunes-1.4495046

7See News & Current Affairs Monopolies in Sources at the end of this article

8Ibid.

9https://tribunemag.co.uk/2021/04/britains-media-monopoly-is-a-threat-to-democracy

10https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta_Platforms#:~:text=Throughout%20its%20existence%2C%20Facebook%2C%20Inc,billion%20in%20cash%20and%20stock.

11Perhaps the most extreme (or the most pulblic) such cases were the UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher criticism of the BBC for the content of its drama and current affairs programming, going so far as to ban interviewing of prominent Irish Republicans from 1988 to 1994 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_controversies#1988%E2%80%931994:_Sinn_F%C3%A9in_broadcast_ban, a ban also promulgated by Irish Governments on RTÉ in 1971 and again during the 1976-1994 period https://www.rte.ie/brainstorm/2021/0507/1217560-section-31-broadcasting-ban-censorshop-troubles/

12It is also worth noting that censorship, misrepresentation of different views and verbal abuse towards those who challenge the views of the alternative media make using them to arrive at the truth more than problematic and this has been nowhere more evident than in the coverage and discussion of the conflict in Ukraine.

13In fact we can see a similar US-led encirclement of Russia in the Middle East too.

14 A classification that included ISIS and bars users from engaging in “praise, support, or representation” of blacklisted entities across the company’s platforms.

SOURCES

“Saved by the Cavalry”: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheCavalry

Comics in 1950s and ‘60s Ireland: 1https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/just-dandy-26629681.html

https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/the-joys-jolts-and-jingoism-of-old-children-s-books-1.1877172

News & Current Affairs Monopolies

Ireland: https://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2016/sep/07/should-ireland-allow-denis-obriens-media-empire-larger

https://www.irishtimes.com/business/media-and-marketing/o-brien-exits-irish-media-after-30-years-of-mixed-fortunes-1.4495046

USA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_conglomerate#:~:text=By%202011%2C%2090%25%20of%20the,Showtime%2C%20NFL.com).

UK: https://tribunemag.co.uk/2021/04/britains-media-monopoly-is-a-threat-to-democracy

Social Media: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta_Platforms#:~:text=Throughout%20its%20existence%2C%20Facebook%2C%20Inc,billion%20in%20cash%20and%20stock.

News & Current Affairs Censorship

In the UK: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_controversies#1988%E2%80%931994:_Sinn_F%C3%A9in_broadcast_ban

In the Irish state: https://www.rte.ie/brainstorm/2021/0507/1217560-section-31-broadcasting-ban-censorshop-troubles/

From the USA, over the world: Oliver Stone documentary trailer: https://www.imdb.com/video/vi4058495257?playlistId=tt5724358&ref_=vp_rv_ap_0

Facebook lifting its ban on Azov Batallion: https://theintercept.com/2022/02/24/ukraine-facebook-azov-battalion-russia/

USA’s ambitions bring danger of war

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 13 mins.)

“Wars and rumours of wars …”1 The sabres are rattling around Eastern Europe. The mass media in our latitudes largely takes the position of the USA under the guise of democracy; however with some text and the use of a few maps I hope to show that Russia’s position is essentially defensive in this regard and that the USA is the main aggressor. I hope to do that without expressing any support for the Russian regime.

WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING?

The USA sees Russia as its main opponent or competitor in Europe and has been working since the post-WWII decades to neutralise it, earlier under the guise of stopping the spread of “communism” and defending “democracy”. Since the fall of the USSR system the talk is no longer about defeating “communism” but “defending democracy” continues to used in anti-Russian rhetoric. Russia is no democracy but the notion that the US, the world superpower, the biggest imperialist power on the planet since WWII, cares about democracy should make us laugh. It would perhaps, except that the mass media keeps feeding us the USA’s rhetoric and shaping us to support it in war.

The USA is actually squeezing Russia from two directions — from Europe and from the Middle East. NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is a US-led military alliance which now has the membership of most states in the EU, along with the UK and nearly every state of the former USSR to the west of Russia. A look at the map of NATO states will demonstrate that2. Nearly every state in the Middle East is also formally or informally in the sphere of influence of US imperialism3.

“Russia says it wants Western guarantees that Nato will not allow Ukraine and other former Soviet countries to join as members. Moscow has also demanded the alliance halt weapons deployments to Ukraine and roll back its forces from eastern Europe – demands flatly rejected by the West.4

Map NATO & non-NATO countries in Europe, showing also periodic expansion (Source: The Economist)

So the Russian ruling class is naturally worried and feeling besieged. On or near their European borders they only have Sweden, Finland, Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine which are not formally part of NATO and Ukraine has clearly indicated an interest in that direction. Beyond those last three aforementioned, all the states through central Europe are NATO members right through to the UK: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania actually bordering on Russia, with – heading generally westward and south-westward– Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Albania, Greece, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and UK. In addition, some of those states have highly-developed military power such as Germany and two of them have nuclear armament of their own — UK and France – while the US has ready-to-launch nuclear missiles on the lands of many of the NATO states — Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey5.

Sweden, Austria and Switzerland may remain nominally neutral but are in general politically aligned with the EU and the USA rather than with Russia, while non-NATO Finland is definitely, for historical and geographical reasons, extremely wary of its Russian neighbour.

The smaller non-NATO states of the former Yugoslavia – Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Montenegro and Kosovo are in some cases friendly towards Russia (or not overly-friendly towards NATO) but they are completely surrounded by NATO states.

On its borders with the Middle East, Russia is also being squeezed. Turkey has long been a major NATO state in the region and only Georgia is located between it an Russia to the latter’s south-west, with Armenia and Azerbaijan to its south-east. Nearly all of the states in the Middle East are in formal or informal alliance with the West and therefore with the US: Cyprus, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and United Arab Emirates. Yemen is embroiled in its own Saudi and West-proxy war, while Syria is threatened by Israel, Turkey and NATO. Only Iran is fairly safe for the moment on that part of Russia’s border, which is why Russia will take its side in any conflict with the West, despite the Russian ruling class’ dislike of and vulnerability in some regions, as in Chechnya, to militant fundamentalist Islam.

Middle East states and Russia (Source: Internet)

Syria is next to Iran which is also why Russia has been supporting the Assad regime and why, during the past week, it has warned Israel about its bombing raids into Syria as the latter attacks Hizbollah bases there. In fact we may see the invasions by western alliances of Iraq and Libya as part of huge US/NATO ‘domino’ plan to attack Syria with Iran next; then the pressure on Azerbaijan and Georgia on Russia’s doorstep. While on the eastern side of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan are also allies of the West ….

Further east, there is India which has long been friendly to Russia and in tussles with Pakistan — and China, which is not openly hostile to Russia as a rule but which is not a real friend either, though its competition and contention with the US keeps it friendly enough towards Russia for the moment.

What the Russian ruling class is doing is attempting to bring a halt to its encirclement by NATO at the point of Ukraine. And the US-NATO and EU are issuing a counter-threat – an open one of sanctions and a more veiled one, in the case of US-NATO, of armed action.

This week it appears that some parts of Ukraine have sought to break away from the main part, probably instigated by Russia or at least promised support if they did – which has materialised in Russian diplomatic recognition and in troop movements. This may amount to an annexation or may not but what is clear is that Russia, in the face of what it considers a threat to its existence and NATO intransigence, has decided to take some decisive action.

WHAT IS REPORTED

The western mass media reports the situation painting a picture of big powerful Russia threatening its much smaller neighbour, by threat of invasion seeking to force it into submission to Russia’s regime, in denial of the small nation’s democratic rights. And the democratic West, through NATO, is moving troops to support the Ukraine, warning Russia of consequences.

Russian Tanks and Troops Reportedly entering part of Ukraine (Photo source: The Telegraph)

The picture contains much truth but overall it is a lie. Russia is much bigger than the Ukraine and it is threatening it with troop movements. And NATO is moving troops up to counter-threaten. But to evaluate a situation properly, we need to know its antecedents, what led up to it. We also need to see the situation through the eyes of the participants, whether we agree with them or not. The mass media, apart from a couple of honest analysts tucked away inside a newspaper, far from the headlines, does not supply us with that information.

The Irish Times, one of Ireland’s main daily newspapers, on 12 February reported that “Russia’s military build-up near Ukraine and a surge of Russia’s military activity has fueled fears that Russia could invade the country. Russia denies having any such plans. However a US official has said that the US had picked up intelligence that Russia is looking at Wednesday as a target date for an incursion.”

So on the basis of the quoted paragraph, we were to draw the conclusion that Russia was threatening to invade Ukraine. OK, Russia denied it but then why the military buildup near Ukraine? Finally, the authority voice of the USA, quoting what we are supposed to see as excellent intelligence sources (which we cannot of course question), predicting a probable Russian invasion four days away. So which state are most people in this part of the world likely to believe, the Russians or the US?

Some weeks earlier, on 25th January, another Irish daily newspaper, the Examiner, reported on reactions to a Russian naval fleet exercise in the Atlantic. The Irish Government told the Russians the exercise was not welcome although not illegal6, because the area of the exercise is regarded as international waters. This from the same government that facilitates US military flights via Shannon airport, i.e on its own national territory. And NATO carries out at least one major exercise in European waters annualy, with the UK doing so twice yearly without complaint from the Irish Government.7

The Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland, Ms Gerasko moved to take advantage of the situation “A plan to hold a major exercise by the Russian navy and air force in the Atlantic off the southwest coast of Ireland is yet another demonstration of the threat that Russia poses for the world,” she said, in a statement to the Irish Examiner.” 8

Attempts were made at the same time to whip up Irish offshore fishermen against the Russians and to whip up the Irish public in defence of “our fishermen”. The latter project failed miserably since the Russian Ambassador to Ireland met and negotiated with the fishermen, leading one of their leaders to comment that the Russians had treated his members better than their own (Irish) government.

We might expect an alternative discourse about the Ukraine crisis from Al Jazeera but its report on the 24th of January, although emphasising US military movements in the area, attached a number of articles which were generally relaying the western line. The Irish Independent carried a much more in-depth explanation, though based on the position of the UK through its premier, Boris Johnson; however it did list the Russian demand that NATO cease pushing towards them and that Russia considered Ukraine joining NATO “an existential threat” while in general still following the general anti-Russian pattern9.

Closing ceremony of Sea Breeze, NATO-Ukraine joint naval exercises in the Black Sea 12 July 2019 (Photo by US Naval Officer)

POSITION OF THE IRISH STATE

An analysis piece in its business section by the Irish State’s national broadcaster, RTÉ, concentrated on the possible economic impact of loss or drastic reduction in gas and oil exports from Russia, either as a direct consequence of conflict or through imposition of sanctions by the West. “Russia produces 11% of global oil supplies and according to David Horgan, managing director of Petrel Resources, any significant loss of Russian energy exports would result in a further spike in prices.”10

Russia is the biggest supplier of gas in the world and the largest to Europe with a third of of its gas pipeline supply to Europe crossing Ukraine. Ireland’s electricity supply is highly dependent on gas for its generating stations so any disruption will impact heavily of prices which “have already gone from $2 to about $30 per million BTU”, according to the Petrel managing director.11

It is clear that while the USA is driving the agenda through its dominance of NATO and the the threat of sanctions on Russia, which the USA regularly insists upon when teaching other countries a lesson, its own economy would suffer little as a result. However, it is a different question for the European states, which would be obliged to bear the weight of economic impact. Mícheál Martin, the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of the Irish State felt obliged to comment on this possibility but, rather than criticise the USA and NATO’s expansionism, spoke about the need to break from their dependence on Russian energy supplies.

Micheál Martin said the EU is unified in responding “very strongly” to any Russian invasion of Ukraine and stated that in Europe’s view the huge build-up of troops by Russia on the Ukraine border is “not justifiable” in any circumstances. While calling for “diplomacy and de-escalation” he clearly sided with the USA in the conflict as both the Irish ruling class and the EU’s would expect of him.12

Despite many criticisms to the contrary, the policy of the Irish state during WWII was essentially one of neutrality in favour of the Allied forces while the government of the Six Counties was of course wholly aligned with the UK. Nevertheless Irish commercial shipping was sunk by Nazi German action and cost many Irish seamen their lives.

So far the Irish state has remained outside NATO but over the past decade there has been discussion envisaging the creation of an EU rapid deployment force made up of personnel contributed from all member states. It would hardly be surprising if such a move appealed to some within the career personnel in the Irish armed forces, envisaging taking part in wider military action, alongside varied forces, employing advanced weapons and systems and with possibly better promotion prospects. Additionally in recent weeks there has been media discussion of greater funding for those forces.

Ireland – and not only the UK’s colony here – can be dragged into war more easily than we perhaps imagine and also into being targeted for retaliatory action. Indeed, the facilitation of US military personnel and materiel through Ireland’s airport at Shannon, along with CIA transport of secret prisoners (“rendition”) has already exposed the State (and succeeding governments) to accusations of military partisanship.

Contrary to popular belief, the Irish State’s ‘neutrality’ is in general a matter of government policy rather than a requirement of the Constitution or Statute law.13 

The principal statute governing the Irish Defence Forces is the Defence Act 1954, which did not oblige members of the Irish Army to serve outside the state (members of the Air Corps and Naval Service are not so excused). A 1960 amendment intended to allow deployment in United Nations Peacekeeping missions requires three forms of authorisation, since the 1990s often described as the “triple lock”:

  1. A UN Security Council Resolution or UN General Assembly Resolution;
  2. A formal decision by the Irish government;
  3. Approval by a resolution of Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Oireachtas, to which the government is responsible).

From those last two it is clear that the 26 Counties can be put on a war footing by a decision of the Irish Government or even a majority vote in favour in the Dáil. Anyone who believes that the party with most TDs would necessarily vote against such a motion is fooling themselves since the SF party has been at pains to portray itself as a safe pair of hands for Irish capitalism and recently called for greater funding for the armed forces of the Irish state; in addition it has long had an uncritically friendly relationship with the USA, in particular – though not only – with its Democratic Party.

A resolution from the UN Security Council obliging the Irish state to go to war against Russia is impossible and though such from the General Council might be possible, albeit unlikely.14

These provisions were modified in 1993 to allow for UN Chapter VII missions and again in 2006 to allow for regionally organised UN missions.

Joint NATO-Ukraine military exercise September 2021 (Photo sourced: Internet)

WHAT WE CAN DO

There seems no middle way — either NATO will back down or Russia will. No doubt the Western powers think it reasonable that Russia be the one to blink but as commented earlier, for the latter NATO creep to their borders is seen as a threat to their very existence. The same people who thought it reasonable for John Kennedy as President of the US to threaten war on the Soviet Union for the location of some missiles on the Caribbean island of Cuba think Russia should accept the advance of NATO to its borders.

In practical terms there seems little we can do in Ireland except struggle to resist the state and colony in which we live being dragged into war – for which we need to mobilise the opposition we can on the street. Sadly the anti-imperialist war movement in Ireland of years ago was allowed to deteriorate — but we should work to rebuild it.

In order to assist in this it is essential that we expose the reality of what is going on in the world. Some will say that because the USA is the main aggressor in this case and the biggest bully, we should support Russia but to do so would be a big mistake. Not long ago, while joining others in anti-fascist solidarity with people in the Donbas region in SE Ukraine, I found us being increasingly nudged towards support for Russia which I did not view as being the same thing at all.

Russia has its own crimes against people and workers and calling for support for it now will cause confusion when in future we will need to condemn it. Our position should be that while neither the USA’s regime or Russia’s is to be supported, the biggest danger of war comes from the USA and therefore it will be the main target of our hostility – besides which it is the power with which the ruling classes of Ireland and the UK are aligned. It is the biggest imperialist power in the world by far along with being the biggest military power in most of the world.

Most Irish people have no wish to be dragged into an armed conflict anywhere where they do not feel threatened. On the other hand our society is conditioned not only by decades of strong cultural influences from the USA, in particular through film but also by media reporting that is biased towards the dominant western European view and that of the USA. In that paradigm, the Russians are the bad guys, the gunfighters in the black hats, while the US and the West in general are on the side of the angels.

With the 1916 Rising in the middle of WWI, Ireland became the first country to carry out an uprising against world war15, against the dominant trend throughout Europe at the time — a tradition worth upholding. As long as imperialism exists, the world will continue to suffer smaller wars and the danger of another major war. It is necessary to overthrow imperialism and we can best contribute towards that aim by coordinating our struggles with the aim of carrying out a revolution in Ireland, thereby depriving imperialism of one of its supporters in Europe.

End.

FOOTNOTES
1
“And you will begin to hear of wars and rumors of wars. Behold, do not be alarmed; for it is necessary to take place, but the end is not yet” — Christian New Testament Bible, Matthew, Chapter 24:6.

2See map NATO states

3See appropriate map for this also

4https://www.breakingnews.ie/world/white-house-calls-russian-moves-on-ukraine-an-invasion-1262219.html

5https://armscontrolcenter.org/fact-sheet-u-s-nuclear-weapons-in-europe/

6https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40792923.html

7https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/operations/united-kingdom/exercise-joint-warrior

8Ibid.

9https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/ukraine-crisis-why-russia-might-invade-and-what-could-happen-next-41279592.html

10https://www.rte.ie/news/business/2022/0128/1276522-ukraine-ireland-analysis/

11Ibid.

12https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40811598.html

13According to Wikipedia: “One exception is Article 29, section 4, subsection 9° of the Irish constitution:

The State shall not adopt a decision taken by the European Council to establish a common defence pursuant to Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union where that common defence would include the State.

This was originally inserted by the 2002 amendment ratifying the Treaty of Nice,and updated by the 2009 amendment ratifying the Treaty of Lisbon. An earlier bill intended to ratify the Treaty of Nice did not include a common defence opt-out, and was rejected in the first Nice referendum, in 2001.”

14Resolutions of the UN Security Council, the only ones binding on all member states, require unanimous agreement by all five Permanent Members: UK, France, USA, Russia and China. Forcing a vote such as this in the UN General Assembly would likely lead to the fracture of the organisation.

15The following year there were two in Russia and in 1918 another in Germany.

SOURCES

Matthew 24:6 https://biblehub.com › matthew

https://www.dw.com/en/thousands-of-russian-troops-leave-ukraine-border/a-60257452

https://www.breakingnews.ie/world/putin-orders-forces-to-maintain-peace-in-eastern-ukraine-1261744.html

https://www.breakingnews.ie/world/emergency-meeting-called-by-un-security-council-over-ukraine-crisis-1261794.html

Map Middle-East towards Russia: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/291678513336896419/

European states holding US nuclear weapons: https://armscontrolcenter.org/fact-sheet-u-s-nuclear-weapons-in-europe/

Map NATO states towards Russia: https://www.businessinsider.com/map-europe-divided-nato-russia-2016-7?r=US&IR=T

UK bi-annual military including naval exercises: https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/operations/united-kingdom/exercise-joint-warrior

NATO exercise 2021: https://mc.nato.int/media-centre/news/2021/nato-exercise-dynamic-mariner-and-joint-warrior-begins-in-the-atlantic#:~:text=It%20runs%20between%2018%20and,Kingdom%20and%20the%20United%20States.

Mass media:

Ireland, on Russian Naval fleet in the Atlantic and Ukraine Ambassador: https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40792923.html

Al Jazeera on the Ukraine confrontation: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/1/24/uk-pulls-staff-from-ukraine-as-fears-of-war-rise-liveblog

Much more in-depth coverage with emphasis on the UK position: https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/ukraine-crisis-why-russia-might-invade-and-what-could-happen-next-41279592.html

Irish Government position: https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40811598.html

Irish neutrality — facts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_neutrality

Calls for a joint EU countries armed force: https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20210902-proposals-for-an-eu-army-re-emerge-after-afghan-pullout-%E2%80%93-but-many-remain-hard-to-convince

PROTESTS GREET PRESENTATION OF CHANCELORSHIP TO HILLARY CLINTON

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: mins.)

Queen’s University Belfast appointed Hillary Clinton as the institution’s Chancellor1. On 24th September 2021 the University authorities organised an event to mark her formal inauguration; however a large and voluble crowd gathered to protest the inauguration and the authorities’ choosing her as Chancellor of the University. Among the shouts of protesters were “War criminal!” and “Hillary, Hillary, Hillary – Out, out, out!” (This story is now “old”, apologies but nevertheless worth posting for those who might not be aware of it as media coverage was muted)

Although the Belfast Telegraph’s coverage of the event made no mention whatsoever of protests, they were reported in a number of other media. The protest saw Irish Republican and Left socialist groups come together to carry out the protest, with a number of them taking turns to speak.

The speakers at the protest included Pól Torbóid of Lasair Dhearg; Aidan Moran, a former ISM activist in Occupied Palestine, on behalf of Cairde Palestine; Conal MacMathúna on behalf of the Connolly Youth Movement; Local Councillor Michael Collins from People Before Profit; and Dr. Azadeh Sobout, Scholar of Transitional Justice and Peace building and Member of Academics for Palestine.

In addition to Irish organisations’ banners and flags, the national flags of Palestine and Cuba were also in evidence.

Hillary Clinton has been a member of the USA Congress from 2001 to 2009, followed by Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, having also held the ceremonial position of First Lady during her husband Bill Clinton’s tenure as President of the USA 1993-2001. The Secretary of State of the USA, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, is the President’s chief foreign affairs adviser. The Secretary carries out the President’s foreign policies through the State Department and the Foreign Service of the United States.

Lasair Dhearg’s Pól Torbóid, who helped organise and also spoke at the event, said, “Queen’s University’s complicity in the whitewashing of Hillary Clinton and her war crimes further epitomises the university’s role in an international framework of imperialism that sees it not only glorify warmongers like Clinton, but have immense financial investment in military contracts and companies guilty of immense environmental destruction.”

“Queen’s has facilitated the visitation of many war criminals and parasites over the years, but arguably none as big as the visit of Hillary Clinton as its chancellor. A proud Zionist and imperialist; with a war record as long as your arm, Clinton has helped oversee US bombing campaigns in over 9 countries.”

“As US secretary for war, she authorised over 400 drone strikes across multiple nations, which overwhelmingly killed civilians and even children at a proportion of almost 90%.”

“She labelled black men ‘super-predators’ when she helped lobby for the 1994 US Clinton Crime Bill, which was immensely important in creating the mass incarceration levels that exists today in the US to benefit the prison-industrial complex – which is a system of slavery by new means.”

Section of the protest as seen from the inside of the University (Photo sourced: Internet)

“A Zionist, Hillary Clinton has shown herself to be an enemy of Palestinian liberation, siding with the oppressor every time it mattered, like during the 2014 Israeli bombing campaign of Gaza. She increased annual US funding to Israel from 2.5billion, to 3.1 billion US dollars whilst she was US Secretary of State, and she stated that countering the BDS movement globally should be a priority for Israel’s defence.”

“All this – and Queen’s award her chancellor for her Peace and Reconciliation efforts. For all the books Queen’s have at its disposal, I don’t think their management have ever read one! PEACE IS SOMETHING HILLARY CLINTON CAN’T EVEN SPELL, NEVER MIND DISPENSE!”

Full video below (with thanks to Lasair Dhearg organisation):

(Photo sourced: Internet)

FOOTNOTES

  1. In the UK university system, the office of Chancellor is held by a distinguished individual, from academia or public life, who is not usually resident and does not hold any other University office.

SOURCES

https://www.thejournal.ie/hillary-clinton-installed-chancellor-queens-university-belfast-5557234-Sep2021/

https://www.v-c.admin.cam.ac.uk/chancellors-role

HOWARD ZINN — US INTELLECTUAL CRITIC AND ACTIVIST

By Geoff Cobb

(Reading time: 3 mins.)

Like many Brooklyn Jews of his generation, Howard Zinn, an icon of the American left, questioned laissez fair American capitalism and American nationalist glorification of country. He was the author of “A People’s History of the United States,” a best seller which sold more than two million copies and inspired a generation of high school and college students to rethink American history. He was also a strong supporter of the civil rights movement and an opponent of the Vietnam war, as well as being a much-loved professor. Proudly, unabashedly radical, Zinn delighted in debating ideological foes, including his own college president, and in attacking conventional ideas, not the least that American history was a heroic march toward democracy.

One of the many different jacket covers for reprints of Zinn’s most famous book — this one abridged for teaching purposes (Image sourced: Internet)

Born Aug. 24, 1922, Howard Zinn grew up in Bedford Stuyvesant. His parents were Jewish immigrants who met in a factory. His father worked as a ditch digger and window cleaner during the Depression. His father and mother ran a neighborhood candy store for a brief time, barely getting by. For many years his father was in the waiter’s union and worked as a waiter for weddings and bar mitzvahs. “We moved a lot, one step ahead of the landlord,” Zinn recalled. “I lived in all of Brooklyn’s best slums.”

“NO LONGER A LIBERAL”

His parents were not intellectuals and Zinn recalled that there were no books in his home growing up. At some point his parents, knowing his interest in books, and never having heard of Charles Dickens, sent in a coupon with a dime each month to the New York Post and received one of ultimately twenty volumes of Dickens’ complete works. He became interested in fascism and began to read about its rise in Europe and to engage in political discussions and debates with some young Communists in his neighborhood. Zinn was radicalized thanks to a peaceful political rally in Times Square, where mounted police charged the marchers, hit Zinn knocked him unconscious. Zinn explained, “From that moment on, I was no longer a liberal, a believer in the self-correcting character of American democracy. . . The situation required not just a new president or new laws, but an uprooting of the old order, the introduction of a new kind of society—cooperative, peaceful, egalitarian.”

After graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School, Zinn became an apprentice shipfitter in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where he and a few other apprentices began to discuss books and strategize about how to improve their dangerous working conditions. Excluded from the craft unions of skilled workers, they formed their own Apprentice Association. On an overnight boat trip he organized to raise money for the association, he met his future wife, Roslyn Shechter, who shared Howard’s progressive views and was also a Jewish child of immigrants. Zinn joined the Army Air Corps in 1943, eager to fight the fascists, and became a bombardier in a B-17. While in the Air Force he was disturbed by the race and class inequality among the servicemen. It wasn’t until years after the war that he questioned the necessity of the bombs that he dropped.  But at the end of the war, back in New York, he deposited his medals in an envelope and wrote: “Never Again.”

View of students and faculty carrying signs during a strike by faculty and staff of Boston University, on Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, 1979. Historian Howard Zinn, then a professor at BU, is just visible in the centre foreground. (Photo by Spencer Grant/Getty Images)

“I would not deny that [WWII] had a certain moral core, but that made it easier for Americans to treat all subsequent wars with a kind of glow,” Zinn said. “Every enemy becomes Hitler.”

After the war, he went back to interview victims of the bombing, and later wrote about it in two books. His own experience and his subsequent interviews led him to conclude that the bombing had been ordered more to enhance the careers of senior officers than for any military imperative, and he later wrote about the ethics of bombing in the context of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Tokyo and Dresden, as well as Iraq.

Zinn and Roz married in 1944. While Zinn worked various jobs after the war, they lived on meager income in a rat-infested basement apartment in Brooklyn. Their daughter Myla was born in 1947 and Jeff in 1949. They moved to new public housing in 1949 and Zinn went to New York University for his B.A in history.

Thanks to the GI Bill, which paid the tuition of veterans, Zinn went to Columbia, where he earned an MA in 1952 with a thesis about a famous coalminers’ strike in Colorado, then obtained his PhD with a dissertation about the career in Congress of Fiorello LaGuardia, the reforming mayor of New York. He studied at Columbia under Richard Hofstadter who taught Zinn that American liberals were not as liberal as they thought they were, and that the two common threads in all American history were nationalism and capitalism.

PROFESSOR ZINN

In 1956, Zinn accepted a professorship at Spelman College, a traditionally black college for women in Atlanta, Georgia. Among his students were Maria Wright Edelman, the campaigner for children’s rights, and the future novelist Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple. At Spelman, he was a mentor to and later the historian of the Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee (SNCC), the radical student wing of the civil rights movement. Zinn took part in many civil rights protests, and he encouraged his students to join him in these marches, which angered Spelman’s president. Zinn angered the authorities at Spelman over his insistence that its students should not be trained to be ladies, but should be actively involved in politics. “I was fired for insubordination,” he recalled. “Which happened to be true.” Zinn moved to Boston University in 1964, where he quickly became an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War. He angered many Americans, including Boston University’s president, by traveling with the Rev. Daniel Berrigan to Hanoi to receive prisoners released by the North Vietnamese, and produced the antiwar books “Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal” (1967) and “Disobedience and Democracy” (1968). When Daniel Ellsberg, a previously gung-ho John F Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson administration official, came out against the war, he gave one copy of the Pentagon Papers (officially titled United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense, the government’s secret history of the war) to Zinn and his wife, Roslyn. Zinn and Noam Chomsky edited what became known as the Mike Gravel edition, published in Boston in 1971-72 by the Beacon Press.

In 1980, he published his most successful work, A People’s History of the United States, which was a highly controversial revision of American history. Instead of the usual congratulatory tone of most American history textbooks, his work concentrated on what he saw as the genocidal depredations of Christopher Columbus, the blood lust of Theodore Roosevelt and the racial failings of Abraham Lincoln. He also highlighted the revolutionary struggles of impoverished farmers, feminists, laborers and resisters of slavery and war. Bruce Springsteen said the starkest of his many albums, “Nebraska,” drew inspiration in part from Mr. Zinn’s writings.

For decades, he poured out articles attacking war and government secrecy. 

When President Ronald Reagan bombed Tripoli in 1986, Zinn wrote: “There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people for a purpose which is unattainable.” He denounced the invasion of Iraq and also criticized President Barack Obama’s intensification of the war in Afghanistan. He was sharply attacked in Israel and by many of his fellow American Jews for saying that war was morally the equivalent of terrorism.

Howard Zinn (Photo sourced: Internet)

Mr. Zinn retired in 1988, concluding his last class early so he could join a picket line. He invited his students to join him. Zinn also wrote three plays: “Daughter of Venus,” “Marx in Soho” and “Emma,” about the life of the anarchist Emma Goldman. All have been produced. Zinn died in 2010.

Zinn always believed in standing up to injustice and fighting for oppression. He said near the end of his life, “Where progress has been made, wherever any kind of injustice has been overturned, it’s been because people acted as citizens, and not as politicians. They didn’t just moan. They worked, they acted, they organized, they rioted if necessary to bring their situation to the attention of people in power. And that’s what we have to do today.”

End.

POSTSCRIPT from Rebel Breeze:

TRUMP ATTACKS ZINN AFTER LATTER’S DEATH

“If you want to read a real history book,” Matt Damon’s character tells his therapist, played by Robin Williams, in the 1997 film “Good Will Hunting,” “read Howard Zinn’s ‘A People’s History of the United States.’ That book will knock you on your ass.”

It is very unlikely that President Donald Trump knew who Howard Zinn was before he saw the name on his teleprompter. And it is even less likely that he’s read “A People’s History of the United States.” But that didn’t stop him from saying — at the White House Conference on American History on Thursday — that today’s “left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools. It’s gone on far too long. Our children are instructed from propaganda tracts, like those of Howard Zinn, that try to make students ashamed of their own history.”

Quoted from https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/09/23/rights-long-war-howard-zinn-reaches-white-house

WHO ARE “WE”?

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: one minute)

When I read or hear someone say something like: “We should stop supporting Israel” or even “We need to stop ignoring Israel’s crimes”, my hackles rise somewhat and I ask myself “Who are this ‘we'”?

Are you turning a blind eye? No, you are not. Amy I? Are those who post the crimes of the Zionist state and all the others who have “liked” those posts, or the thousands who have demonstrated in Ireland in solidarity with Palestine? Or those who go on solidarity visits every year, braving Zionist surveillance and traveling under cover? Or the unknown thousands who don’t buy goods produced in Israel, so much so that when supermarkets display avocados from Israel they leave off the country of origin and one no longer sees herbs for Israel on sale in their shops (not in Dublin anyway). No matter the limited effect these actions have, clearly “they” are not supporting Israel and are in solidarity with the Palestinians.

Part of Palestine solidarity march in Baggot Street, Dublin, June 2021 (Photo: D.Breatnach)

This is more than personal protest at being lumped in with the imperialists and their collaborators or even the apathetic in the “we”. More importantly, I am making what I consider to be an essential political point.

I and “we” are not part of the oppressors (nor of the apathetic sections, those who have not yet awoken). To speak in that way is liberalism. It implies that you and I and so many others are part of a society that we order and run and that its rulers represent us. We are not and they do not.

Our society’s managers are representatives of capitalists and worse, monopoly capitalists, whose governing ethos is profit, maximisation of profit and continuation of profit, amen. In pursuit of that they compete with other monopoly capitalists and other monopoly capitalist-run states but also cooperate and collude with them when their interests coincide. Clearly for some substantial time now the interests of the rulers of the EU and other Western capitalist states coincide with those of the USA. And clearly, Israel serves US interests in the Middle East, the only state in that region which is safe from a) socialist revolution and b) take over by anti-imperialist Islamicism.

People in Grafton Street, Dublin (Photo credit: Stephen Collins)

So if WE are in solidarity with Palestine and WE want to see it free, WE must be against Israel. And if WE are against Israel, WE have to be against the USA. And if WE are for that people and against those powers, then WE are on the other side of a line from the Zionists and their local supporters. The greatest help WE can give the Palestinians in addition to expressions of solidarity is to overthrow the imperial powers and their monopoly capitalist allies wherever WE are.

If we think of those rulers as being part of us, as part of “We”, we are ideologically disarmed and unfit to go into battle against them. In that case, the assistance WE can give the Palestinians will be even more limited than that for which we have the potential at the moment.

end.

INTERNATIONALIST SOLIDARITY – THE DIVIDING LINE BETWEEN THE PEOPLE AND OUR RULERS

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 12 mins.)

The oppression of the Palestinians led to an outbreak of active resistance recently in Jerusalem, to which the Israeli Army reacted with increased repression, timed to harass Palestinian Muslims during the period of Ramadan and the height of devotees attending the Al-Aqsa mosque, escalating into attacks on worshippers within the temple itself. At the same time, Israeli Zionist settlers threatened dozens of Palestinian families with eviction from their homes in East Jerusalem. Reacting to these events, one of the Palestinian organisations fired home-made rockets into officially Israeli territory, to which the Israeli armed forces responded in turn with drone missiles and missiles from its air force jets on Gaza. As Palestinians in the West Bank came out on to the streets to protest, they were fired on with live ammunition by Israeli soldiers. The death toll has climbed to 200 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, including 59 children and 35 women, with 1,305 people wounded; while ten Israelis have been killed, two of them children.

The casualty figures once again show the gross disproportion between what the Palestinians and their Zionist masters experience: in civil and human rights, citizenship, in land ownership, electricity and clean water supply, heating, fishing, education facilities, building materials, freedom to travel inside and outside the state, in depth and breadth of surveillance, in arms and defence capability, in states that support them. And in city structural damage: despite the many home-made rockets launched against the zionists, there has yet been no significant damage in Israeli towns, while their armed forces have effected large-scale structural damage in Gaza and bodies are still being pulled from the rubble.

In only one area perhaps do the Palestinians have the advantage over the Israeli Zionists: in support among the people around the world.

Israeli Zionist missiles strike the tower housing many media services, including Associated Press and Al Jazeera, which drew broad criticism from the mass media for a change. But families also lived here. Everyone was given ten minutes to get out. The Israeli Occupation Force has not yet bothered to explain its rationale for targeting this building. (Photo source: Internet)

PALESTINIAN SOLIDARITY MARCH DEFIES POLICE THREATS

Responding to these attacks on Palestinians the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the main organisation for Palestinian solidarity in Ireland, called for solidarity demonstrations and in particular advertised a solidarity rally to take place in Dublin’s city centre for 2pm on Saturday 15th May, asking those in attendance to comply with measures against Covid19 infection, to wear masks, maintain social distancing and comply with stewards’ instructions.

The IPSC was contacted by the Irish police force, the Gardaí, who told them not to go ahead with the event, that if they did they would intervene to stop it and also made threats of €5,000 fines and prison against the organisers. In a later public statement the Gardaí declared that they “have no role in permitting or authorising marches or gatherings. There is no permit/ authorisation required for such events”! But there is apparently an ability and power to intimidate and threaten progressive organisations to deter them from organising solidarity events.

Or to kettle socialist and socialist republican Mayday marchers and demand all their names, addresses and dates of birth before threatening them with arrest if they did not disperse. Or to threaten Debenham workers and their supporters, assaulting some of them while escorting KPMG forces in to evaluate stocks during pandemic restrictions.

A Palestinian policeman stands among the rubble of the tower in Gaza recently occupied by families and media agencies. (Photo source: Internet)

The predicament of the IPSC exposed the vulnerability to this kind of intimidation of a broad organisation that seeks to win friends in ruling circles. The leaders and organisers are placed in a position of not only personal but also of organisational vulnerability. Even should they be prepared to defy the State to fine and/or imprison them, would they also be prepared to damage their organisation, to lose some friends they are cultivating in the circles of political influence? What was one of the strengths of a broad organisation can thus be converted into a weakness, whereas a more radical or even revolutionary organisation, with less influence in influential circles can decide on defiance, risk fines and jail with however perhaps less possibility of influencing official opinion and ultimately, action.

Fortunately in this case one such organisation did step forward and took up the baton: the Trinity College BDS group expressed its solidarity with the IPSC on its treatment by the Gardaí and called their own rally for the exact same place and time as the original one called by the IPSC.

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/thousands-attend-rallies-in-irish-cities-in-solidarity-with-palestine-1.4566435

Video of rally at end of demonstration, near Israeli Embassy

Despite concern over Covid19 transmission and Garda threats – and the extremely short notice and much smaller circle of contacts of the TC BDS group — the response was magnificent, both in expression of internationalist solidarity and in maintenance of the right of the people in Ireland to organise such progressive events.

Before the appointed hour, people began to gather in large numbers at the Spire in O’Connell Street, Dublin’s main street and north city centre and, after being addressed by a number of speakers, set off in a march towards the Israeli Zionist Embassy near Ballsbridge, beyond the south city centre. As they marched their numbers grew until, approaching the Embassy, they numbered several thousand. Along the way, bystanders applauded the marchers and passing vehicles blew their horns in solidarity.

A section of the Dublin rally in solidarity with Palestine photographed outside the GPO in the city’s main street before they set off on the 5.5km march to the Israeli Embassy (Photo credit: PA, Breaking News)

Marchers shouted slogans of solidarity with the Palestinians, calling for the freedom of Palestine and the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador as a mark of the Irish people’s objection to what is being done to the Palestinians.

Near the Embassy, a number of speakers addressed the crowd and after dispersing, a number of demonstrators boarding public transport to return home were congratulated by the drivers.

LESSONS FOR US

The situation regarding calling and holding the demonstration in Dublin outlined some of the weaknesses of a broad organisation when it faces repression from the State and the greater resilience of a smaller organisation in being able to defy the State. It may be necessary in future to maintain support for both types of organisation, each being appropriate for particular situations.

Also demonstrated was the necessity to openly defy unjust laws and prohibitions at times and particularly around the right to organise, to protest and to show solidarity, which the demonstrators did so well on Saturday. Such situations also reveal the difficulty for the Gardaí in carrying out repressive actions and they are reduced to threatening individuals.

THE FAR-RIGHT MARCHES TOO – FOR WHAT?

Meanwhile, a couple of hundred of the far-Right also marched in Dublin, allegedly in defence of civil liberty. Not in solidarity with the Palestinians’ civil liberties and not in defence of our civil liberty to organise to show solidarity with people in other struggles. No, they marched in defence of the right to defy health protection regulations, in proclaiming the Covid19 pandemic to be a) a hoax or b) greatly exaggerated, in claiming that wearing masks damages one’s health and even intelligence(!), in insisting that vaccinations are a) dangerous to one’s health or b) means of injecting nano-machines into people’s bloodstream in order to control them.

A clip posted by Ireland Against Fascism showed one of the QAnon Saturday screechers for months outside the GPO, Dolores Webster, aka Dee Wall, lately self-declared “digital journalist” (don’t laugh), in total ignorance of the actual reality (but when has that mattered?), broadcast a claim by video from her studio (her car), accompanied by the strains of Abba from the headphones of her head-bobbing passenger, that the “scum in the Dawl” had allowed the Palestinian solidarity march to go ahead to distract from the alleged general removal of freedom and in particular from the far-Right group Irish Yellow Vests to hold their rally on May 1st.

When all the Covid19 precautionary restrictions are removed, what will these elements have to march about? The will need to return to the topics that engaged many of them in the recent past: racism, anti-immigrants, islamophobia, homophobia and anti-socialism, along with their false patriotism. None of that is welcome of course but at least it will be without this false concern for “civil rights and freedom” and closer to the reality of what the far-Right in general stand for – and fascists in particular.

SUPERPOWER BACKING AND IMPUNITY

The current atrocities of the Zionist State, which it carries out with impunity, along with its history, starkly reveals the effect of its main backing power, the USA, and the imperialist alliance dominated by that Power. The USA backs Israel with military aid to the tune of $10 Million daily, which is aside from other direct and indirect aid. Israel is the only state in the Middle East which is not only very friendly to the USA but totally dependent on the support of that superpower. For the ruling class of the USA, Israel is the only state in the Middle East which is totally safe forever from fundamentalist Muslim revolution or from left-wing anti-imperialist revolution and is therefore an extremely important factor in the USA’s plans to totally dominate the Middle East.

Solidarity marcher in Dublin on Friday with a home-made placard (Photo Credit: PA, Breaking News.ie)

This imperialist alliance finds reflection not only in the action/ inaction of governments in Europe, for example but also in the reporting of the mass media. One of the latter’s tropes is the constant emphasis on the numbers of Palestinian missiles fired, without revealing their general ineffectiveness in delivering destruction, in total contrast to the Israeli missiles. Another is their constant repetition of a lie, that “Hamas seized power in Gaza”. The truth is that Hamas swept the board in the Palestinian Authority elections in 2006. The “seizing” that was done was by Al Fatah, which usurped the results in the West Bank and installed themselves there; they tried to do the same in Gaza and, in a short fierce struggle, were beaten.

But the Western powers decided that Hamas was illegitimately in power, seized funds due to it and supported its blockading – by both Israel and Egypt. No explanation is offered in the general mass media as to how a generally politically-secular Palestinian public would turn from its decades of allegiance to Fatah to vote for the fundamentalist Muslim Hamas, which was Fatah’s surrender of the goals of Palestinian independence and freedom and the return of the refugees, in exchange for running a colonial administration with opportunities for living off bribery and corruption and Fatah’s settling down to that status quo.

CASTING A GIANT DARK SHADOW

It was not only in Dublin and in towns across Ireland that Palestine solidarity demonstrations were held on May 15th but by people across much of the world, generally in opposition to the wishes of their governments and ruling elites. It is worth thinking about how this has come about, in particular in contradiction to a mass media hostile to the Palestinians.

Palestinians come to view the remains of the tower block that was home to families and that housed a number of media agencies. (Photo source: Internet)

The Zionist state of Israel was declared in 1948, its anniversary actually only three days ago – May 14th, the first states to recognise it being the USA and the USSR. In Ireland at the time, there was general support for the new state which continued to the “June War” of 1967 and somewhat beyond. The general Irish population were horrified by the history of the Nazi-organised Holocaust and sympathised with the Jewish survivors. Irish nationalists and even Republicans empathised with the Zionist civil and armed struggle against the British (who, ironically, had begun the process of Zionisisation of Palestine). The 1966 film Cast a Giant Shadow purporting to show that struggle, starring Kirk Douglas and a cameo appearance by Frank Sinatra, was widely enjoyed and cheered in cinemas across Ireland. Though some of the film’s characters were based on real-life counterparts, the general narrative was a grotesque distortion, hiding the massacres of Palestinians and the expulsion of thousands as the Zionist state was created.

Many Irish language supporters admired how the new state had brought the Hebrew language, for centuries only spoken in religious contexts, back into everyday usage.

Solidarity marcher in Dublin on Friday with a home-made placard and a thought-provoking message (Photo Credit: Sam Boal, The Journal)

Yet, a few years ago, general pro-Palestinian sympathy across Ireland had become so strong that Israel’s Ambassador to Ireland declared the country “the most anti-semitic in Europe”. That of course is what the Zionists call anyone who supports the Palestinians or criticises the Israeli state harshly and only a few days ago, the current Ambassador accused some politicians of spewing hate towards Israel. He was responding not only to Left and Sinn Féin TDs who criticised the actions of Israel towards the Palestinians, but also to the Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister equivalent) Leo Varadkar who commented that Israel’s actions are “indefensible” and Government Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, who said at an EU conference that the EU had “fallen short” and failed to project its influence in agreeing a common position in opposition to illegal activity by the Israelis against Palestinians.

Palestinian solidarity march in Cork on Saturday (Photo source: Internet)

The fact that establishment right-wing politicians feel obliged to take a public stand, however ineffectively, against actions of the Israeli Zionists and implicitly against the Zionists’ biggest international backer and world superpower, the USA, is a strong indication of how much Irish public opinion has changed over decades. Since the Cast a Giant Shadow film, the state’s shadow of which we are aware now is indeed frighteningly giant and very dark. In response, the natural cultural and historical feelings of the Irish people have stirred in sympathy with the oppressed Palestinians – and in defiance of threatened police repression at home.

end.

SOURCES

Coverage of events in Ireland: https://www.thejournal.ie/peacful-protests-solidarity-with-palestine-5438356-May2021/

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/thousands-attend-rallies-in-irish-cities-in-solidarity-with-palestine-1.4566435

https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/protests-held-around-the-country-in-support-of-palestine-1127787.html

Recent reports on the conflict: https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/national-international/weary-gaza-marks-muslim-feast-as-violence-spreads-in-israel/2812715/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-57138996

Israeli Ambasador to Ireland clashing with politicians: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/israeli-ambassador-accuses-some-tds-of-spewing-hate-towards-jewish-state-1.4564184