The last few years have shown the hypocrisy of the U.S. and allied governments reasoning for their involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ tens of thousands of civilians and thousands of troops have died to set up puppet governments run by warlords and thugs no better than the tyrants they have replaced.

The only winners have been large multi-national companies who have made billions from the war and seek to gain more from Iraqi oil fields and a gas pipeline through Afghanistan. It is for the profits of a few that working class people risk death and injury fighting wars for U.S. Imperialism.

If you also support the struggle for Aboriginal rights see Fight for Aborignal Rights

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rudd's war marches to the beat of racism

By Hamish Chitts

While the wars of occupation against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, like most wars, are being fought for big-business profits, they cannot be waged without the assistance of racism. Racism breaks down human solidarity, and there is no greater example of this than when seemingly rational people are able to be convinced that it is acceptable to kill other people simply because they have a different skin colour.

The armed forces of imperialist countries like Australia and the US have a long history of consciously fostering racism to justify their wars against non-white people fighting for their national liberation. The word “gook” for example has been used by US military forces for more than a century. According to, it was used by US forces in the Philippines in 1899. It was then used by US forces that invaded Nicaragua in 1912 and Haiti in 1920. It was revived again by US forces during the 1950-53 Korean War and brought out again in the 1960s to de-humanise the entire Vietnamese people.

When the US military invaded Somalia in the 1992, its great military thinkers came up with the word “Skinnies” for Somalis because they couldn’t make any reference to the colour of their skin with so many black soldiers in the US army. Australian infantry from a Darwin-based battalion training to deploy to East Timor in 1999 were told they had to come up with a de-humanising name for the East Timorese and the Indonesians. The theory was that if soldiers had to shoot a “monkey” (an East Timorese) or a “rice monkey” (an Indonesian), they would not be emotionally affected by it.

Racism and Islamophobia

Since 9/11, state- and corporate-sponsored racism against Muslims — under the cover of a “war on terrorism” ­— has been ramped up to justify wars to impose governments in Afghanistan and Iraq that would be “friendly” to imperialist political and economic interests, particularly the profit-making interests of the big Western oil corporations. While Muslims are not a racial group, because the vast majority of the world’s Muslims are non-whites the promotion of Islamophobia has taken on a distinctly racist character.

This of course is not the first time that a non-racial group has been “racialised” to justify waging war against them. During the first inter-imperialist war (1914-18) the British rulers sought to dehumanise their German enemy as non-white, referring to all Germans as “the Hun” (the Turkic-speaking nomadic pastoral peoples from Central Asia who invaded the collapsing Roman empire in the 4th century). The German Nazis portrayed all European Jews and all the Slavic-speaking peoples of Europe as biologically inferior races to “Aryans” (non-Jewish northern Europeans), as untermenschen (sub-human).

In today’s world, as Dr Bobby Sayid, director of the Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies at the University of Leeds, has observed, Islamophobia is the “racism that takes up the white man’s burden for the New American Century. It’s a humanitarian intervention not a mission civilisatrice, it only wants to spread democracy not to expropriate resources, it does not want to exterminate ignoble savages, only to domesticate unruly Muslims … themes associated with previous expressions of racism can be (and increasingly are) brought back into style. Muslim extremists can join the Black mugger, the Gypsy thief, the Jewish anarchist … as the stars of racism’s narratives. Expertly opined, scientifically classified and institutionally enshrined, Muslims are inserted into a pubic discourse as almost isomorphic replacements for previous arch-villains of racist anxieties and fantasies.”

Rudd’s ‘counter-terrorism’ white paper

The Australian government’s white paper on counter-terrorism, released on February 23, is an exercise in just such demonisation. When he released the paper, PM Kevin Rudd said, “the government’s security intelligence agencies assess that terrorism has become a persistent and permanent feature of Australia’s security environment” and “Another apparent shift has been the increase in the threat from people born or raised in Australia, who have become influenced by the divisive narrative espoused by al-Qaeda”.

The paper provided no evidence of such a threat. The best Rudd could come up with was recent “terror” witch-hunts that have imprisoned Muslims for thought crimes, including five men who were sentenced on February 15 to jail terms of between 23 and 28 years, despite not even the slightest evidence of a plan or target for a terrorist attack. You are tens of thousands of times more likely to be killed by your boss (or someone else’s boss) cutting corners on safety to save money than you are to be killed by a Muslim terrorist. A 2003 Access Economics report for the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission estimated that there are 8168 work-related fatalities every year in Australia.

The Rudd government paints the Australian military’s participation in the US-led occupation of Afghanistan as a form of self defence against terrorist attacks against Australians, but it is the civilians of Afghanistan who are being slaughtered and terrorised by the US-led occupation forces — workers and subsistence farmers who possess neither the capability nor the desire to attack countries like Australia or the US. Meanwhile, Washington’s puppet government in Kabul headed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai provides government positions, business deals and cash to the same people who are supposed to pose a terrorist threat to ordinary Australians.

Last year the US set up and funded an Afghan government department to offer sweeteners to people like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is on Washington’s “most wanted” terrorist list. Hekmatyar is the leader of Hezb-i-Islami, which has been fighting NATO troops alongside the Taliban. Unlike the majority of Afghan resistance fighters, Hekmatyar has been committing war crimes and acts of terror since the 1970s to advance his personal wealth and power. In the early 1990s, even after being named prime minister, Hekmatyar’s forces subjected Kabul to relentless artillery and rocket bombardment for months, destroying half the city and killing 50,000 people, deliberately targeting civilians.

It is a racist lie that the Western powers are trying to bring “democracy” to the Afghan people. The recent fraudulent elections in Afghanistan cost nearly $300 million, and added to a growing dissatisfaction among the Afghan people. Only 30% of Afghanistan’s 15 million registered voters cast their ballots in the elections, which were simply aimed at presenting a facade of representative government to public opinion in the countries of the occupying armies, while entrenching the rule of pro-US warlords.

If the people of Afghanistan were able to freely express there views, the majority would be in favour of the foreign troops leaving. Even under the heel of the occupation, only 37% of Afghans said they supported the presence of the US-led military forces in their area, according to a public opinion poll released on February 9 last year by the US ABC News, the BBC and ARD German TV networks.

The US-led war in Afghanistan is not about bringing “democracy” to anyone or about combating “terrorism”. It’s about consolidating the political and economic domination of the US and its imperialist allies in the Middle East and Central Asia, two regions extremely rich in oil and natural gas. Cheap access to oil is needed, not only to generate super-profits for owners of the big oil corporations, but also to run the US military. In 2007 the US Department of Defense’s per capita consumption of oil was 10 times more than per capita consumption in China, or 30 times more than in Africa. This has only increased as US President Barack Obama has ramped up the war in Afghanistan.

[Hamish Chitts is a member of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and one of the founders of Stand Fast — a group of veterans and military service people against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For information about Stand Fast visit the Stand Fast website or phone 0401 586 923.]

From Direct Action, Sydney, Australia

Monday, March 8, 2010

US-Australia alliance: an axis of evil

By Hamish Chitts

When the visit of US President Barack Obama was announced last month, an official White House statement said he “is looking forward to commemorating the 70th anniversary of Australia-US relations”. Far from being a cause of celebration, the anniversary represents 70 years of cooperation in attacks, invasions and occupations in the pursuit of economic dominance and profit for a handful of obscenely rich people in both countries — a 70-year axis of evil pitting working people from Australia and the US against working people resisting imperialist exploitation.

This alliance for profit-driven slaughter is as strong today as it has ever been. In response to the announcement of Obama’s planned visit, Kevin Rudd told ABC News on February 2: “We have a whole truckload of areas of military cooperation and to work out where we go in the future together.” When Rudd visited the US in March last year, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared: “America doesn’t have a better friend in the world than Australia. A friend through good times and hard times.” It is, in fact, a “friendship” saturated in the blood of the victims of their joint war efforts.

British Empire wanes

On January 8, 1940, the governments of the United States and Australia announced the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations. Australia was already officially at war, having immediately followed Britain’s declaration of war on September 3, 1939. At this time the Australian capitalist ruling class still saw its interests tied firmly to the British Empire and its global trade and military strength. However, Britain could not defend the Australian capitalist ruler’s interests from the rapidly advancing Japanese imperial forces. When the Japanese army moved into Australia’s New Guinea colony, Canberra turned decisively toward reliance on an alliance with Washington to protect Australian corporate interests in Asia and the Pacific. The US capitalist rulers needed a willing strategic and logistic base for its war drive against its Japanese imperialist rival.

The inability of European colonial powers ravaged by war to hold onto their colonies at the end of World War II opened the door for an upsurge of national liberation struggles, particularly in Asia. The example of the Russian Revolution in 1917 and the influence of the USSR meant that many of these struggles took on socialist aspirations. The close relationship between US and Australian imperialist ruling classes was forged in their common struggle to crush the worker-peasant anti-imperialist revolutions throughout Asia.

Robert Menzies (Australian PM in 1940 and then again from 1949 to 1963) was a virulent anti-communist who espoused the theory of “forward defence”, which he described: “We either commit ourselves with great friends and allies or we do not. If we do not, then we must attend to our own defence … If there is a war of our own existence it should be carried out as far from our soil as possible.” By “a war of our own existence”, Menzies meant a war for the existence of Australian imperialist capitalism. “Forward defence” was used to justify the wars for defence of US and Australian corporate profits that underlies the US-Australian alliance.

Military intervention in Malaya

Britain and Australia used their militaries to advance the interests of their own ruling classes, whenever possible in alliance with Washington. In 1950, Australia sent Royal Australian Air Force transport planes and bombers to help British colonialism fight the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA), the refounding of the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army, the guerrilla force that had been the principal resistance in Malaya against the Japanese occupation. The Malayan “emergency” was the term used by the British colonial government for the war against the MNLA because the British owners of rubber plantations and tin mines in Malaya demanded use of the term “emergency” rather than war so that their losses would be covered by insurers. The MNLA called it the “Anti-British National Liberation War”. The combined use of massacres, heavy bombing, paid spies, the forced relocation of some 500,000 rural Malays into concentration camps and, most critically, the playing off of different ethnic groups against each other allowed the British and Australian forces to eventually defeat the MNLA. This took until 1960, and from 1955 to 1960 Australia sent thousands of troops to fight against the MNLA.

Korean War

In August 1945, with Japan defeated, Korea’s workers and peasants rose in revolution. Grassroots “people’s committees” mushroomed and took sweeping control of industry and the land. On September 6, independence fighters and representatives of the people’s committees proclaimed a Korean People’s Republic in Seoul on the basis of a 27-point program. The key points related to land redistribution, nationalisation of major industries, rent control, an eight-hour work day and a guaranteed minimum wage.

Washington and Moscow had agreed during the war to jointly oversee Korea’s “decolonisation” on either side of a “temporary” border at the 38th parallel. The US immediately set up a counter-revolutionary government, the US Military Government in Korea (USMGIK), which began the brutal suppression of the working people’s committees. The USMGIK banned strikes and ordered the people’s committees to disband. The director of the US Department of Transportation described the US military’s role as strikebreakers: “We were out to break that thing up and we didn’t have time to worry too much if a few innocent people got hurt. We set up concentration camps outside of town and held strikers there when the jails got too full. It was war.”

The USMGIK oversaw sham elections in the south in 1948, creating a still-existing partition of Korea. Despite the brutal repression, workers in the south continued resisting and large uprisings kept occurring. Finally, after a long debate among the Communists in the north, they decided to help liberate the workers and peasants of the south and sent their army across the 38th parallel on June 25, 1950. The unpopular Republic of Korea regime in the south began to rapidly collapse, with masses of ROK Army soldiers deserting en masse to Communist-led Korean People’s Army. By September, the US-ROK forces held only 10% of Korean territory.

On September 15, 1950, the US and its imperialist allies, including Australia, began a massive offensive against the KPA forces, pouring in reinforcements from occupation bases in Japan under cover of a heavy naval artillery and aerial bombardment. After retaking the south, the imperialist forces overran the north, but were then driven back to the 38th parallel by a combined Chinese-KPA counter-offensive. Over the next two years, the areas controlled by the two sides would remain virtually the same. In July 1953 an armistice was signed. Four million Koreans had died, two-thirds of them civilians. US carpet bombing destroyed 75% of North Korea’s cities and villages. China lost at least 114,000 soldiers, and the US lost 36,934. Of the 17,000 Australians who fought in the Korean War; 339 died and 1200 were wounded.

The US-Australian war on Vietnam
Most people have some idea of the history of the war in Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s. Less well known is the part US imperialism played in actually starting the war. After the Viet Minh resistance fighters defeated France, they were forced into an international agreement in 1954 that partitioned Vietnam pending national elections (under international supervision) to be held by 1956. Like Korea, the agreement created two governments separated by a temporary demarcation line (known as the demilitarised zone) against the wishes of the Vietnamese people. The “international community” (i.e. the US and its imperialist allies) forced a partition and were not interested in elections because they would not allow the whole of Vietnam to be communist. US President Dwight Eisenhower later wrote, “80 per cent of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh”.

Washington backed a brutal puppet regime in South Vietnam, hailing sham elections as “democracy” and supplying military aid and trainers. When US officials realised that its South Vietnamese puppet regime could not survive against the popular uprising being waged by the workers and peasants, it mobilised and drafted the young men of its own working class (and lost nearly 60,000 of them) to show the whole Third World the price in lives they would pay if they challenged US domination. Australia’s rulers willingly joined in the war and also introduced conscription. More than 50,000 Australians fought against Vietnamese self-determination, of whom 520 died and around 2400 were wounded. More than 4 million civilians died in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos during the war, and more than 1 million Vietnamese died fighting for their freedom.

While the US and its allies used similar tactics to those the British used in Malaya, they were defeated and driven out of Vietnam by a population convinced of revolution and by mass anti-war movements in the US and in allied countries like Australia. The anti-war movement cut through government and corporate propaganda and revealed the truth that working people in the US and Australia had more in common with the Vietnamese workers and peasants fighting for independence than they did with the fat cats of industry who were pushing the war.

Indonesia and East Timor

The policies of nationalising foreign-owned business and supporting strong unions pushed by Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno from 1945 to 1965 did not suit the interests of Australian and US big business. The Australian and US government’s supported the right-wing military coup of General Suharto in 1965. They continued to support Suharto’s military dictatorship right up until its demise in 1998. In the course of establishing this dictatorship, between 500,000 and 2 million Indonesians were slaughtered by the military and right-wing militias. Hundreds of thousands of people were detained and many of them were tortured.

Canberra knew in advance of the October 1975 Indonesian invasion of East Timor. Memos, cables and letters sent and received by Australia’s foreign department between 1974 and 1976 confirmed that PM Gough Whitlam’s Labor government gave tacit approval to Suharto for annexation of the former Portuguese colony. In March 1975, the US ambassador to Indonesia, David Newsom, recommended a “policy of silence” on the Suharto regimes plans to invade East Timor. On October 8, 1975, a member of the US National Security Council, Philip Habib, told an NSC meeting: “It looks like the Indonesians have begun the attack on Timor”. US secretary of state Henry Kissinger’s response to Habib was, “I’m assuming you’re really going to keep your mouth shut on this subject”. Australia and the US both provided weapons and training to the Indonesian military during its invasion and occupation of East Timor.

Global war
In the last decade, we have seen the US-led invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, actively assisted by Australia. These wars, supposedly against “Islamic terrorism”, are really being waged against Third World countries that won’t make themselves “free and open” to super-exploitation by US or allied capitalists. Socialists in southern Yemen are labelled al Qaeda by the US to justify attacking them. Trade unionists resisting exploitation, whether in Iraq or Colombia, are labelled terrorists. The revolutionary socialist governments of Cuba and Venezuela are accused by the US of sponsoring “terrorists”, while Washington actively supports groups committed to carrying out terrorist attacks in both countries. Australian politicians parrot US politicians, saying that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are for “democracy” despite majority opposition to the wars in the countries occupied and the countries occupying, and almost everywhere else in the world. Today the imperialist politicians use the same tricks as they did last century: sham elections, indiscriminate bombing, puppet regimes, political assassinations, widespread detention and torture.

These wars and the US-Australian alliance are only for the benefit of the capitalist ruling classes in both countries — the same bosses who will risk workers’ safety to make more money, the same bosses who let people die waiting for medical treatment because they can’t pay up front. The capitalist ruling class does not have any regard for the lives of workers when there are profits to be made, whether or not the workers wave the same national flag as the capitalists. Working people in Australia and the US are duped into fighting and supporting (or staying silent about) these wars through the nationalist illusion that workers’ interests are the same as their capitalist bosses simply because they live in the same country and speak the same language.

In an October 11, 2009, TVNZ interview, Kurt Campbell, US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, stated: “I think Australia ... in the last 10 years, has ascended to one of the closest one or two allies on the planet, so very hard to think of any issues in which the United States and Australia are not coordinating on, whether it’s Indonesia, whether it’s Afghanistan, whether it’s Iraq, and so generally speaking there is a desire to work as closely as possible with Australia, because of what it does, what it has done and will continue to do with the United States.” What the Australian nation-state has done and continues to do with the US rulers is to inflict death and destruction on working people in order to protect the global system of capitalist exploitation and oppression. Their alliance is an axis of evil that needs to be fought against and ended.

[Hamish Chitts is a member of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and one of the founders of Stand Fast — a group of veterans and military service people against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For information about Stand Fast visit the Stand Fast website or phone 0401 586 923.]

From Direct Action, Sydney, Australia