|Year 2001 No. 178, October 19, 2001||ARCHIVE||HOME||SEARCH||SUBSCRIBE|
No to Anglo-American Aggression against Afghanistan! For a Just and Peaceful Solution!
Step Up the Struggle
against State Terrorism, Aggression and War!
- Call of RCPB(ML), October 13, 2001 -
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
World Food Day:
World Hunger Gets Worse
The World In Brief:
Asia & the Pacific
Russia and Central Asia
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Since September 11, Tony Blair and Labour government ministers have spent many days visiting other heads of government throughout the world. Calls to and from US President Bush, as well as other government leaders have kept the phone lines hot. Tony Blair has been acting with messianic zeal in his efforts to weld together a stable coalition in support of the "war on terrorism".
Aside from the injustice of the ways and means with which this "war on terrorism" is being prosecuted, attention must be drawn to the question of what authority Tony Blair has to act in this way. Why should Tony Blair act as though he were president of the world?
Clearly Tony Blair regards it as self-evident that he has this God-given mission. Though he has, to our knowledge, never openly declared that his "war on terrorism" has divine authority, nevertheless the language he and, following him, the government has used since day one has been of the "new evil of our times", that the terrorist atrocities of September 11 were "acts of wickedness", and so on. He has condemned the terrorists as having no regard to the "sanctity of human life". In other words, he has been using the language of Christian fundamentalism to justify his mission to build and set in motion the coalition.
No one would argue that Tony Blair should not exercise his right to conscience and hold firm to his conviction of the immorality of these acts. However, it is a very backward step for him to mix his religious convictions with his conduct as a national and international political figure. His course of action may be self-evident to his own mind, but he cannot violate the right of conscience of others who have other moral and religious convictions. As a government leader his mandate must come from the people. Matters are not helped, of course, by the British political system, in which the authority of parliament still retains its medieval constitutional source, namely the sovereign and its ultimately divine authority. Though Tony Blair has wished to be known as a "moderniser", he has resisted touching this relic of pre-17th century government which enlightenment has passed by, and with good reason, as far as his political conduct is concerned. It is this relic which gives parliament its absolutism, and allows Tony Blair and his War Cabinet to act untouched by considerations of accountability to the popular will.
However firmly, though retrogressively, this mixture of the divine and the political, this association of the state and matters pertaining to religion, is entrenched in British political life, internationally the Prime Minister can claim no such authority. Where is the international body that allows Tony Blair to pursue the prosecution of a war and build a coalition behind Britain and the United States to this end? It is true that Tony Blair argues that the United Nations has sanctioned the "war against terrorism". But this is not where Tony Blairs authority comes from. The Anglo-US plans and global diplomacy were in place long before the United Nations discussion on terrorism took place, and the British representatives contribution that if something smells like terrorism then it is terrorism and the general disdain with which he treated the debate were less then helpful. Nor was it the UN that debated the question of the appropriate action to be taken against terrorism, the use of force and the danger of war, and with the norm of equality between nations set the course for the international community. In other words, the UN has been quite incidental to the Anglo-US "war on terrorism". Tony Blair has used its discussion and its resolutions quite irresponsibly and inappropriately to try and shore up his case for aggression against Afghanistan.
Therefore, for all Tony Blairs protestations that the war must not be seen as a struggle between "Western" countries versus Islam, it is an inescapable conclusion that Anglo-American values and/or Anglo-US economic, political and strategic aims are being foisted on the conduct of international relations, with disastrous and extremely dangerous and retrogressive consequences. The more Tony Blair protests against the analysis of a clash of civilisations in this way, the more exposed it becomes that there is a case to answer in this respect. These "Western" values are being elevated to the status of "decent civilised values" which people "everywhere" support, or should support if they are not be classed as being with the terrorists. Tony Blair does not offer the choice that one may condemn terrorism and reject the "decent civilised values" that Tony Blair is a proponent of. Furthermore, he tries to impose these values on Islam itself by dismissing anything else, as the expert he is, as un-Islamic or evil.
And here is where his role as acting as though he were president of the world fits in. There has been no break with the imperialistic ways of thinking and courses of action with which Britain built its colonies and its empire in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is a thinking in which the British parliament is the mother of democracies, in which Britain was faced with a "civilising mission" against barbaric and savage races in the far-flung corners of the globe. It was also a thinking which was given rise to by economic and strategic imperatives as Britain took up its role as the "workshop of the world" and contended with other usurping emergent colonial and imperialist powers in a race to carve up the world.
It is these motives springing from the arrogance of a "superior" civilisation that are shaping the British governments unjust and unjustifiable actions in being the leading force in establishing the coalition for the "war on terrorism" and furnishing it with its ideology. Tony Blair appears in his element in integrating the programme to "Make Britain Great" again with stamping out terrorism in what is, after all, his own definition of it.
Tony Blair should reflect that history has condemned time and again the genocide that has been committed in the name of Christianising so-called unenlightened peoples. It has condemned collective punishment meted out when desperate acts have been committed, often fomented or organised by the oppressors themselves, against "guilty" peoples, and has branded this method as Hitlerite. The working class and democratic people must ensure that this time is the last time these crimes are committed in their name, and that they aim their struggles at this old imperialist conscience which is pervading Tony Blairs conduct, as well as demanding an end to the war of aggression and that international affairs be conducted on a democratic basis.
Thursday's bombing raids against Afghanistan resulted in the largest number of independently confirmed civilian casualties yet in the war.
Moments after a missile strike against the capital, Kabul, one resident told the Pakistan-based Islamic news agency AIP that he had lost five members of his family in an attack that destroyed six homes in a residential neighbourhood on the south-eastern outskirts of the capital.
Other residents reportedly spoke of the death of an 8-year-old girl in a neighbourhood on the eastern outskirts. Again basing its report on eyewitnesses, the AIP news agency also reported 13 civilians killed and 12 wounded during an attack against Kandahar, the Taleban regime's spiritual centre. The Saudi Arabian TV chain Al-Jazeera transmitted images of mutilated bodies following the bombardment of Kabul, as well as rescue workers pulling bodies and human remains from beneath destroyed buildings.
The Saudi network warned its viewers about the gory nature of the scenes before transmitting them.
World Food Day:
More than 815 million people are malnourished in the world and nearly 100,000 people die of starvation every day, recent UN statistics claim. On the occasion of World Food Day October 16, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said that the 1996 World Food Conference failed in its declared objective to reduce hunger. FAO Secretary General Jacques Diouf pointed to the commitment five years ago to reduce the number of people going hungry by 20 million each year, noting that the international community has fallen far short of that objective.
Calling the fight against hunger a moral obligation, Jacques Diouf said a hungry nation can neither grow nor prosper. Leading up to World Food Day, special UN Human Rights Representative Jean Ziegler called hunger a silent genocide that constitutes a crime against humanity in a world more than capable of adequately feeding the entire planet.
Recalling that every seven seconds a child under 10 years of age dies from the direct or indirect effects of hunger, Jean Ziegler called each of these deaths an assassination.
According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), at least 100,000 Afghan children will die of hunger if food aid does not reach them within the next six weeks when winter begins. UNICEF reports that more than half of all Afghan children are malnourished and that as many as six million people in Afghanistan need urgent assistance. The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is described by the United Nations as the most complex and serious emergency in the country's history.
Commentary of Radio Havana, Cuba October 18, 2001
Hunger, war, death and disease, the mythic four horsemen of the Apocalypse are galloping across the sky again, this time the loyal shield bearers of the leaders of the world's two most powerful nations: the United States and Great Britain. In a collection of paintings by Peter von Cornelius known as Frescoes for the Campo Santo of Berlin Cemetery, the destruction of the human race by those four evils is vividly depicted.
The medieval paintings can't hold a candle to the horrifying reality of the third millennium which, while it is spawning war and destruction in central Asia, hunger and death are spreading across the globe and disease is threatening to destroy entire African nations. Humans have rarely had to face such a difficult situation, practically surrounded by the four evils, while powerful nations push on with their testing of the most modern deadly means of destruction in revenge for the cruel, inhuman actions of last September 11 in New York and Washington.
Fortunately voices of protest are beginning to be heard, though thus far lacking sufficient force. Meanwhile, there are important issues to be dealt with. As international attention is distracted, it seems as though the death of tens of thousands of people everyday from hunger, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, no longer matter.
Important meetings, like the Non-Aligned Summit and the meeting against hunger that was to have been held soon in Rome, have been put on the back burner. Vital themes like solidarity with the poorest peoples of the world and the survival children, pale against news of war. Though good news is increasingly absent, the struggle for the betterment of humankind goes on.
However, despite everything, we in Cuba are sure that humankind will survive and that the malevolent horsemen of the Apocalypse, along with their shield bearers, will be defeated and sooner or later humanity will take another step towards development and the construction of a just society. Cuba, not as isolated at some may think, is working to become a beacon that lights the way through the darkness that has descended.
21-27 October: The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is to hold a week-long meeting in Accra, Ghana, to discuss ways of combating drug trafficking, corruption, money laundering and terrorism.
25-26 October: Former Botswana President Sir Ketumile Masire and British secretary of state for international development, Clare Short, co-chair the Global Coalition for Africa in Gabarone, Botswana. Over 140 delegates including heads of state and government, ministers and officials and private sector representatives are expected to attend.
20-21 October: Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) ninth informal leaders' meeting takes place in Shanghai. President Jiang Zemin presides and a joint statement is expected to be issued denouncing terrorism. Russian President Vladimir Putin is attending, during which he is scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with, among others, George W. Bush, Chinese leader Jiang Zemin and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. US President Bush is to hold bilateral talks with APEC leaders, including Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung, and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
16-20 October: British trade mission comprising 10 companies is visiting the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. This is the first visit of its kind since Britain normalised its relations with Pyongyang earlier this year.
19 October: First informal European Council meeting of the Belgian EU presidency meets in Ghent. The agenda is to include discussion on action following the attacks on America, US-led strikes; the agenda set before the attacks included discussion on the euro and enlargement. The organisation International Resistance is calling for a pupils and students' demonstration against this event
25 October - 2 November: Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio is to visit Russia and Britain in preparation for the Portuguese presidency of the OSCE.
17 Sep - 31 Oct: Joint military exercises in Oman, reportedly the largest British military deployment in the Middle East since the Suez campaign.
13-23 October: 10-day "Bright Start" military exercises in Egypt involving the US, Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait, and six European countries.
19 October: An urgent meeting of a Russian-Indian working group on Afghanistan is meeting in Delhi, attended by Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov.
19 October: Emergencies ministers of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are meeting in Dushanbe to discuss co-operation between CIS rescue agencies in conducting humanitarian actions to help Afghanistan.
22-23 October: French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin is to visit Russia for a meeting of the "Kasyanov-Jospin" commission, which meets about once a year to map out strategy for economic, scientific, technological and other relations.
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