Category Archives: Anti-War

Twin Blasts Kill Activists in Turkey

On 10 October, 97 peace activists were killed and over 400 were wounded in twin explosions near the Ankara central train station as tens of thousands gathered for the “Labour, Peace and Democracy Rally”. Several labour unions and mass organizations convened the event to urge an end to the violence between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

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War to end all Wars turns 100 – Nothing to celebrate.

Shell Shock victim in trenches
Shell Shock victim in trenches
( Published February 18, 2014 in Socialist Action ) by JOHN SCHRAUFNAGEL
The 100th anniversary of the great imperialist slaughter known as World War 1 takes place this year. With 37 million casualties, over 16 million dead, and 20 million wounded, it was one of the bloodiest chapters of history.
In the coming months the bourgeois press and historians will write about the causes and will give all the answers except the correct one, which is that the war was the logical outcome of capitalism’s relentless pursuit of profit, regardless of the consequences. The more honest bourgeois historians might say that nationalism, imperialism, and militarism caused the war, but these are merely effects of capitalism’s drive to “accumulate, accumulate, accumulate.” War has proven an excellent tool in the endless quest to accumulate.Skeleton in Trench During World War I
Prior to World War I, bourgeois apologists were pointing to the 100 years of relative “peace” that the rise of capitalism had brought—the last major European war had been the Napoleonic war, approximately 100 years earlier. But peace “at home” was bought with blood in the colonies and the mass murder of indigenous peoples throughout North America.
Capitalism was promising that everyone’s living standards would gradually rise without the ugly business of revolutions. Even many Marxist parties, including the largest—the Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Germany—accepted this gradualist approach and reserved talk of workers’ control and a socialist economy for speeches at May Day parades and party rallies.
But beneath the surface, the internal contradictions inherent in capitalism continued to play out. What Marxists call “the crisis of overproduction” left many countries worried about opening new markets abroad because their own markets were saturated—hence the need to expand through imperialism and carve up the world into colonies. Germany got a late start and was busy scrambling for a foothold in Africa. There were diplomatic incidents in Morocco, adding to the tensions in Europe.
Competition with other colonial powers requires a military, support for which is won by fanning the flames of nationalism, which can get out of hand. Germany was building up its navy, to rival Great Britain on the high seas. And Tsarist Russia had its eyes on the Balkans and the rotting Ottoman Empire, specifically Turkey.
Shellshock-World-War-I-British-troops-Battle-of-Arras-631.jpg__800x600_q85_cropPrior to World War I, a massive arms race took place, and all the European countries were armed to the teeth—but there was no “peace through strength.” At the same time, socialist parties were gaining steam, and labor unrest was growing. One British officer summed up the situation: “A good big war just now might do a lot of good in killing Socialist nonsense and would probably put a stop to all this labor unrest.”
War has served capitalism well. The capitalists use militarism, national patriotism, and imperialism to distract people from the core exploitation that is the capitalist system. War takes peoples’ minds off the exploitation of the bosses and class conflict and focuses them instead on hating some “other”—the citizens of another capitalist state. The last phrase in the Communist Manifesto begins “workers of the world unite.” It is not “workers of the world, first help your capitalists slaughter other workers and then unite.” The SPD in Germany discarded this most basic tenet of Marxism—internationalism. The working class must not fight the working class of other countries but the ruling class of their own country.
V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky saw through the capitalist smokescreen and opposed the war throughout. When a comrade said to Lenin, “war is terrible” he replied, “Yes, it is terrible, terribly profitable.” The Bolshevik slogan “land, bread, and peace” and their continuous opposition to the war helped propel them to power.
But when a movement like the Bolsheviks in Russia rises up and questions the irrational nature of the capitalist war-making system, the capitalists will do everything in their power to quash or deform it. The capitalists will never forgive the Bolsheviks for publishing their secret treaties, pointing out the undemocratic nature of their governments and the stupidity of the slaughter that was occurring in World War I. Despite the Bolsheviks’ offering very favorable treaty terms to the capitalist nations, their governments insisted on trying to crush the Bolshevik revolution with an invasion force from at least 14 countries, material and financial support for the White armies, and blockades and sabotage of the devastated Russian economy.
In our time as well, capitalist governments, media, and bourgeois intellectuals continue to disparage and dismiss the Russian Revolution and communist ideals as if the inevitable outcome must be brutal dictatorship. If they were being honest, they would observe the more intimate and direct connections between capitalism, militarism, and war.
Capitalist dogma likewise lauds the maximization of private profits. Bourgeois economists repeatedly state, without any proof, that capitalism is the most rational and effective system for distributing “scarce” resources. If we assume (as economists love to do) that the system is capwr500wonderful and that war is terrible, defenders of capitalism are left with the unenviable task of explaining all the capitalist wars. They tie themselves in knots blaming such elements as human nature, misunderstandings, miscommunication, or the assassination of some worthless monarch.
The paradox that cannot be resolved is that capitalism requires an entire society to accept as its goal the maximization of profit by a few powerful individuals. While this outcome might make sense for the powerful individuals, it is illogical for society as a whole. Militarism and war become the method for solving this contradiction.
Capitalists do not want to pay the price for research and development; they only want the profits that result. Through the military budget (the U.S. spent $518 billion on the Pentagon in 2013), these costs are socialized. This massive distortion of spending priorities away from what “rational” people would collectively choose—tackling the climate crisis, producing clean energy, health care for all, education for all, eradicating poverty—cannot be accomplished in the presence of true democracy. Therefore, we have fake democracy and a population made irrational with fear of some mysterious other rather than the true enemy. The inevitable outcome is perpetual war.
History never repeats itself exactly, but the world today looks much like it did prior to World War I. China, the United States, and Europe are carving up Africa—AGAIN. The United States is scrambling to build military bases across the continent to bolster its ability to exploit the mineral and oil riches. But Canada, Europe and China are also interested in the vast wealth, making Africa a staging ground for a new round of imperial competition. The United States backs one repressive regime after another (Saudi Arabia, a medieval monarchy with vast oil reserves, being a shining example) to advance its own imperialist ends.
Recent and continuing revelations by Edward Snowden point to just how low the United States will sink to gain an upper hand over its competitors. Inter-imperialist squabbles are everywhere. Japan and China (and the U.S.) are engaged in territorial disputes over islands. A European financial crisis brought on by capitalist speculation threatens to tear Europe apart. The U.S. continues to flex its military muscle from Syria to Yemen to North Korea, needlessly provoking the citizens who would have no interest in hostilities.
Capitalist expansion will continue to inflame these underlying tensions until the people of the world unite to fight the only war worth fighting, the class war, and for the only goal worth fighting for — socialism.
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Did Intervention in Middle East prompt Ottawa shootings?

by Evan Engering and Barry Weisleder

Immediately after two Canadian Forces soldiers were killed in separate incidents on October 20 and 22, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the assailants ‘terrorists’. Leader of the Official Opposition New Democratic Party, Tom Mulcair, disagreed, citing a blend of factors, psychological and political.

Harper seized on the gun fight in a hallway of Parliament, in which a deranged man with a rifle fell in a hail of police bullets, to step up his assault on civil liberties. Mulcair and the labour-based NDP opposed Harper’s words, but should oppose his direction on principle, not just on semantic grounds.

Against a backdrop of widespread grief for the dead soldiers and their families, Harper and the business media stoked the fires of patriotism, which spilled over into Islamophobic acts across the country.

The assailants, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau, recent converts to Islam, were not linked to ISIS. What is not known is whether they lashed out for political or personal reasons. Thus, their actions can be seen as an indictment of Canada’s faltering mental health care system. Or they can be cited as ‘blow-back’ from western military intervention in the Middle East. Or both.

In any event, the context of the attack on the soldiers, and the Conservative government’s rhetoric in response to it, reveal another crack in the myth that Canada is a peace-keeping state.

In early October, Prime Minister Stephen Harper commited fighter jets, pilots and ground crew to join the U.S.-led bombing campaign in war-torn Iraq and Syria. That came on the heels of 13 years of Canadian military intervention in Afghanistan, and Ottawa’s involvement in NATO wars in the former Yugoslavia, in the Persian Gulf, Libya, and Somalia. This is not to mention Harper’s brash support for the Israeli apartheid state, and for its brutal summer 2014 onslaught against the people of Gaza.

Harper in Libya
Harper in Libya

Conservative foreign policy makes many enemies at home and abroad, but individual attacks against military personnel on Canadian soil play directly into the hands of the capitalist rulers, fanning the flames of pro-war sentiment, racism and jingoism. Stephen Harper and his collaborators, by their engagement in military interventions in the East, have certainly outraged peoples there, fanning the flames of their discontent with the West. Every bomb dropped by Canadian, American and allied fighter jets on Iraq and Syria brings fresh recruits to ISIS.

And the context of intervention goes back much further.
In this centennial year of World War 1 it is timely to recall Canada’s contribution to the sad legacy of big power nationalism and imperialism as it continues to plague the peoples of the Middle East. Canada joined WWI at Britain’s behest to fight for the class interests of the Triple Entente rulers against those of the Central Powers. Arms producers became obscenely rich, while millions of workers died in trenches, at sea, and by aerial bombardment.

That conflagration was sparked by an assasination in Sarajevo that detonated an already tense situation. For the Arab and Kurdish peoples then living in the countries now under attack, it meant the drawing of artificial borders along lines beneficial to the British and French colonial powers. The foreign rulers called that infamous arrangement the Sykes-Picot Agreement. It is no surprise that the current prime target of the Western rulers, the Islamic State, pledges to abolish the borders imposd by Sykes-Picot.

parliament%20of%20canadaPrime Minister Harper, in the wake of the Ottawa shootings, made an emotive speech that was broadcast live. In it, he condemned any and all who attack Canadian soldiers as somehow attacking all “Canadians as a free and democratic people”, and he doubled down on his “national security” plans. But one is hard pressed to recall the Prime Minister making such a hardline speech regarding the hundreds of missing and murdered aboriginal women. He continues to refuse to launch an inquiry into that ongoing tragedy.

In the face of Conservative plans to legislate U.S. Patriot Act-style infringements on civil liberties, progressive and working class people should stand up to the government and its insidious plans. We should expose the big lies – the false claims that the Canadian state has a duty or right to interfere militarily in the Middle East, that the Canadian Forces are serving to protect all, rather than uphold the interests of corporate Canada, and that we should accept the expansion of the surveillance state for our own good.
Instead, the streets should be filled with demonstrators demanding: Canada out of NATO! Ottawa, Washington, London and allies, Out of the Middle East!

Justice for Palestine!

Statement of the NDP Socialist Caucus delivered to NDP MP Craig Scott during sit in at constituency office:



NDP Leader’s policy is Neither Balanced Nor Just

Lift the Siege of Gaza! Boycott Israeli Apartheid! Justice for Palestine!

Members of the New Democratic Party Socialist Caucus, joined by anti-war, labour, human rights and community activists, are here today to say: We stand with the people of Gaza. We are on the side of Palestine in the present conflict.

We call on NDP MP Craig Scott (Toronto Danforth) to stand up for justice, human rights, self-determination for Palestine, and the prosecution of Israeli war crimes. Statements by the NDP Leader, which MP Scott has echoed, fall far short of a ‘balanced’ or just approach to the war waged against the people of Gaza, in which the Israeli war machine has killed nearly 2,000, the vast majority of whom are civilians, including hundreds of children.

In the Toronto Star, Thomas Mulcair wrote: “New Democrats have long been committed to a policy of supporting peaceful coexistence in viable, independent states with agreed-upon borders, an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and an end to violence targeting civilians.”

This policy is wrong on many counts. The ‘two state’ solution is neither viable nor just. It would reduce Palestine to a few disconnected, impoverished Bantustans. The Oslo Accords failed even to slow, let alone halt the proliferation of Zionist settlements across the West Bank. Israeli jails are full of Palestinians never convicted of any crime. With the ‘separation’ wall, the Zionist state illegally seized Palestinian land and crippled the commerce of Arab cities and towns. Mulcair proposes lifting the blockade, but only after Gazans halt their justified armed resistance. He urges aid for reconstruction, and bringing injured Gazan children to Canada for treatment. The latter are fine sentiments, but grossly inadequate. Totally missing is a clear and unequivocal denunciation of the crimes committed by the dominant power. There is no moral equivalence between, on the one hand, brutal and devastating forms of collective punishment, using the most sophisticated weaponry, against an imprisoned people, and on the other hand, the firing of homemade ‘bottle rockets’ incapable of hitting a target. Mulcair’s stance blames victims and victimizers equally. This is an infernal ‘balance’. He says ‘end the occupation’, but robs it of any clear meaning.

NDP members across the country, alongside millions of working people from coast to coast to coast, want the labour-based party and its parliamentary caucus, to advance NDP adopted policy. ‘End the Occupation’ must be more than a tag-on phrase. It must be linked to: Dismantle the settlements. Tear down the Wall. For the Right of Return of all refugees. End the shipment of arms to Israel. Free the political prisoners. Prosecute Israeli war criminals, starting with Benjamin Netanyahu. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Apartheid Israel. Abrogate the special trade arrangements between Ottawa and Tel Aviv. For a single, secular, democratic state, based on full equality of rights for Jews, Muslims, Christians and non-believers, for Arabs and all others, in a unitary, free Palestine/Israel.

In solidarity,

Barry Weisleder,

chair, NDP Socialist Caucus