|Volume 44 Number 25, September 13, 2014||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
Referendum on Scotland’s Independence:
Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :
The Necessity for an Anti-War Government:
Britain out of NATO! No Intervention in Iraq or Syria! Stop Warmongering in the Ukraine!
Dangerous Developments at NATO Summit
Decisions of the NATO Summit
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Referendum on Scotland’s Independence:
The past week has seen a significant closing of the gap in the Scottish referendum polls to the extent that it is now widely recognised as too close to call. Alongside this, it has seen the official No campaign fall completely into tatters. The now very real prospect of a Yes vote has sent the entire British establishment into panic. They are increasingly turning away from any reasoned campaigning and to other means. The result has been that this final pre-referendum period has taken on the character of the pro-Scottish sovereignty camp on one side versus on the Westminster cartel on the other, the latter further exposing its true nature with every new attempt to drum up support and cajole the population into voting No.
Wednesday saw all three cartel party leaders head up to Scotland, after David Cameron and Ed Miliband agreed to cancel Prime Minister’s Questions. The desperation was particularly evident in the unimpressive and patronising “man on the street” tone of Cameron’s plea that “I think people can feel it is a bit like a general election – that you make a decision and five years later you can make another decision if you are fed up with the effing Tories, give them a kick and then maybe we’ll think again.”
Meanwhile, the role of the Labour Party has been to block the working class reaching a decisive conclusion, by spreading confusion and acting to split the vote. The Labour Party has been actively taking a stand against Scottish self-determination and sovereignty, while dividing the working class on the basis of separation or unity, as well as on the basis of pragmatism on what allegedly works better, in place of the principle of self-determination. The traditionally Labour-supporting Guardian newspaper has also announced its support for the No campaign, joining the Financial Times and the rest of the monopoly-controlled press.
At the same time, the financial oligarchy is bringing out its guns. Bank of England governor Mark Carney is again raising the spectre of the currency, trying to sow further doubt. Furthermore, the banks Standard Life, Clydesdale, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds announced plans to relocate or establish legal entities in England in the event of a Yes vote. Retail giant John Lewis has also intervened, warning consumers to expect higher prices in an independent Scotland. Internationally, Deutsche Bank contributed to the hysteria by claiming that independence would be a “historic” mistake and send Scotland into a “Great Depression”. The pulling-out of Chancellor George Osborne and Mark Carney from the G20 meeting is also an attempt to add to the climate of emergency and panic.
The effect of these interventions remains to be seen, but winning a No vote through fear will be an empty victory indeed. This blatant attempt to hold a gun to the head of the Scottish people shouldbe condemned. The aims of the financial oligarchy and their representatives in Westminster stand exposed. It is to the credit of the Scottish people that they have kept the initiative in their own hands in the face of such massive pressure.
Not only is a vote for Scottish independence a stand for self-determination and sovereignty, not only is it a shot in the bow of British imperialism, but it also opens up a whole sphere of discussion on how Britain is constituted, where sovereignty lies, and that the constitution should embody the rights of the people. It is precisely this discussion that the British ruling elite fears so much.
WWIE calls on the working class and people of Scotland to vote Yes. We call on the working class and people of the whole of Britain, and indeed Ireland, to forge a greater unity in discussing the need for a Yes vote, and to take up all of the issues of rights and democratic renewal across Britain and Ireland. We advocate a voluntary and equal union to build unity on a new basis, a new kind of union of modern sovereign states. With this outlook, we call for a Yes vote.
Throughout, the official No campaign has been trying to deny that change is possible, that the British system as it stands is set in stone, that a break-up of the United Kingdom is unthinkable. The attempt is to spread confusion about what is and is not possible, what an independent Scotland would and would not be able to do. For further development in favour of the working class and people of Britain, bringing about the end of the archaic and backward United Kingdom is a necessity. The fight to take Scotland’s nation-building project forward will be opened up with a vote for Scotland as an independent country, and the people will be in a more favourable position to tackle the concentration of power in the EU, withdraw from NATO and unite around a constitution based on rights and establish an anti-war government.
Other forces have alleged from a chauvinist position that a “Yes” vote would split the working class, as though the working class does not support the right to self-determination and is not imbued with the spirit of proletarian internationalism.
In stark contrast, the positively fought independence campaign has proved that yes, it can be done, while the No campaign has exposed its negativity and moribund nature. The British establishment has become a stuck record trying to prove what is not possible, blackmailing the Scottish people and throwing blocks in the way of any progress or discussion.
This referendum period has proved what a defunct force the British establishment is, devoid of any kind of forward thinking, while patient discussion has been opening the door to all sorts of new possibilities.
The fact that such a turnaround in the polls could happen so quickly, as the Scottish people gain confidence in their decision, has such struck fear into the heart of the British establishment, who are truly afraid of lifting the lid, amongst all the people of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland.
by Siddharth Varadarajan*, Economic Times, September 13, 2014
[T]here are seven reasons why India, and the rest of the world, should stop worrying about Scottish independence.
First, unlike the ethnic nationalism that propelled the violent break-up of the former Yugoslavia, the movement for Scottish dependence embraces the modern view that everyone in Scotland is a Scot regardless of ethnicity, religion, language (or accent).
Second, the fact that the Scots enjoyed considerable cultural autonomy after the 1707 Act of Union but still favour political independence reminds us that nations are defined not just by identity – ethnic or geographic – but by the kind of society they create. Scottish independence was not a serious trend for centuries; but 35 years of Thatcherism, New Labour and now David Cameron’s renewed anti-social offensive has undermined Scottish values and alarmed the Scots about the direction their economy and society is going in. Scotland is, in effect, seceding not from Britain but from the clutches of the City of London, which inter alia wants medicine privatised. If the Scots succeed in their quest for a more humane, inclusive economic model, this may encourage the rest of the UK and Europe to think afresh about how they are allowing their own lives to be controlled by banks and financiers.
Third, at a time when the UKIP’s reactionary politics is making inroads in England and Wales, and the possibility of the UK voting to exit the European Union is a real danger, independence is the best way to preserve the relationship Scotland’s 5 million citizens have with the EU. European officials have said the country will not get its own membership easily. But if Scotland votes yes, the EU must choose whether to be a Europe that respects the will of the people or a top-down project in which states, bureaucrats and bankers are the arbiters. UK politicianshave used the EU card to scare Scottish voters and warned that countries like Spain, which have secessionist regions of their own, will veto Scotland’s entry. But as the Spanish foreign minister has repeatedly said, how Madrid and the rest of the EU reacts to an independent Scotland depends entirely on how Westminster itself behaves. And Westminster must be driven by both law and realpolitik. Scotland’s secession will not only be lawful but if it does break away, the rest of the UK would have an incentive to have excellent relations with it.
Fourth, the peaceful manner in which the process of separation has proceeded is a lesson to the world in how democratic countries tackle challenges like secessionism. If Scotland eventually chooses not to separate, this will be because of the arguments deployed by the unionists and their additional concessions towards full devolution, not because of tanks and guns. This in itself would be a positive lesson in a world where the use of force is seen as more important than dialogue as a means of dealing with secessionist threats.
Fifth, an independent Scotland committed to the abolition of nuclear weapons means Britain must shift its anachronistic Trident missiles and submarines from Faslane and Coulport in Scotland to England – a difficult and costly proposition. Else, it will have to bite the bullet and do what it should have done years ago – give up its nuclear weapons. If the UK chooses the latter, the world will be a safer place.
Sixth, the separation of Scotland, especially if it eventually leads to a denuclearized UK, will provide a new impetus to the debate over the composition of the UN Security Council where Britain and France both have permanent seats. Proposals like a rotating permanent European seat may gain traction, thereby creating space for emerging world powers like India, Brazil and South Africa.
Seventh, the “triple lock” proposed by Scottish independence advocates requires any use of force by Scotland to be consistent with the UN Charter, and to be approved by the Scottish government and Scottish parliament. This will help put an end to the abuse of executive power that saw Britain drag Scotland into its illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Whether the “Yes” side wins or not, the movement for Scottish self-determination has entered a decisive phase. All told, the discourse that the Scots nation-building project has produced is a welcome antidote to both the ethnic chauvinism of separatists and the neoliberal fundamentalism of those who see nations as markets and not people. And that’s a good thing for the world.
* The writer is Senior Fellow, Centre for Public Affairs Critical Theory, Shiv Nadar University, New Delhi
Pay, living standards and the growing concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the wealthy took centre stage in the TUC Congress which took place in Liverpool last week from September 7-10. Those issues were reflected in the motions and debates, as well as in the Congress theme “Britain Needs A Pay Rise”. Frances O'Grady, TUC General Secretary, also raised many important questions in her address to Congress. She spoke about the need for “all have a real say in how our lives are run”, that “austerity” should be defeated and how the coming General Election should deliver on the need for a strong economy. She asked the question as to “who will measure up” and “who do we trust to deliver a real industrial policy so we rebuild manufacturing, reform the banks, cut carbon and end the North-South divide”. She also pointed out that the NHS was the “biggest battle of my life time” and summed up all this by saying “we know they won't give up power without a struggle”.
There was a sense, however, that what was needed to breathe fire into the Congress debates was to take a stand against the capital-centred analyses which establishment forces attempt to impose on the workers’ movement. The sentiment of the delegates, as always, is to fight to take up responsibility for the fate of society. However, one of the most important issues to address, that of how to affirm the thinking and strength of the workers’ movement in the face of the establishment’s determination to marginalise and negate the workers’ movement’s independent programme, was barely touched upon. True, the motions addressed the important issues facing the whole society, of the need for a new economy, to end the low pay economy, to invest in social programmes and oppose privatisation, to uphold the dignity of labour and for the workers’ voice to be heard, and to strengthen the organised workers’ movement. But how to accomplish these aims, how to become effective in turning around the austerity agenda and bringing about a society in which the public good is paramount, how to lift the content of the motions off the page and prevent them from remaining policy objectives – this was by and large absent from the Congress debates.
What was preventing this being grappled with? One of the most glaring examples were when Chuku Umunna MP, Labour Party Shadow business secretary spoke, lecturing the TUC on the claim that the capital-centred direction of getting workers behind their employers in the global market and a tripartite arrangement between big business, government and unions can be created in the interests of the working class and people if only they elect them to power next year. Then there was an address by the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, to Congress. Reading even his critics after they had reflected, they said little more than that he engaged with the delegates “respectfully” and was agreeing with them against low living standards and a for a livingwage. The truth is Mark Carney did seriously address the issue raised by the Congress, but not from their point of view and direction of opposition to “austerity” but from the point of view of maintaining the status quo of one of the most aggressive monopoly capitalist systems in the world and its “austerity” agenda. Mark Carney even joined in the diversion that the financial crisis was caused by the banks and not by the monopoly capitalist system. Following this logic he tried to claim that the Bank of England had put in place measures to not let that crisis happen again. One could ask not only did the Bank of England fail to stop that crisis let alone past and future ones, but it was at the centre of it, serving the interests of the financial oligarchy with its “quantitative easing” and right at heart of this exploitative, warmongering system of the ruling elite.
But then, the TUC Congress did reflect this clash between the old consciousness and the new. The capital centred outlook is an outlook that does not start from defending the rights of all and a direction for the economy that serves the needs of the working class and people first and foremost before the interests of big business and the monopolies. Such an outlook does not recognise the claim on society of the workers as the producing class, a class that produces all the goods and services within the socialised economy. The trade unions have been facing the effects of the crisis of the capitalist system, the attacks on their right to organise, the labelling of their members as a “cost” and a burden and so on. Every, strike, every fight that was reflected in the Congress was a contribution in that they put a spanner in the works of the juggernaut of “austerity” and the neo-liberal programme. Also, many speakers in their contributions reflected the space that has been opened for the new as the trade unions have been responding with the aspirations not only to defend their members but to defend the interests of all in society. For example, one delegate pointed out in one of the debates that education should be approached from the point of view that it was “a right and a public good”. This is the new consciousness that the working class must take up the defence of the rights of all in society to education, health care, etc., as opposed to the old outlook that education, health care, etc., is just a concession in the “cost” to the capital centred economy that pays the rich.
To take the questions up from the point of view that the working class defends the rights for all is the new direction for the economy. It demands that the workers sort out what is what, and see that they have the ability and power to turn the situation around and progressively rein back the claims of monopoly capital. It is this stand to take up the defence of the rights of all that will open up the path to build a human centred society and economy fulfilling the needs of the people. This is the new direction and line of march of the workers' opposition.
On September 8, the Prime Minister, David Cameron made a statement to Parliament in regard to the recent NATO summit meeting held in Wales. The Prime Minster hailed the summit as a success but his brief statement merely underlined that the agreements reached by the warmongering big powers and their allies create even greater dangers for the people of Britain and other countries.
Every effort is made to present the NATO as an organisation of peace-lovers intent on preserving the peace, whilst in reality it remains a warmongering alliance, headed by the US, with enormous stockpiles of nuclear and conventional weapons. It is based on the medieval principle that might makes right and is intent on intervention throughout the world in the interests of the domination of the US, Britain and their allies.
Within NATO Britain remains a major player and spends more on war preparations than any other country except the US. On the eve of the summit, the MoD announced a £3.5bn contract, the largest in over thirty years, for nearly six hundred military vehicles with General Dynamics UK, a subsidiary of the US arms manufacturer that is the fifth largest in the world. For Cameron, one of the key successes of the summit was that NATO’s members re-committed themselves to increase their military spending, so as to provide the Alliance with the most modern weapons of mass destruction and in order that the US might shoulder less of the financial burden.
As the Prime Minister’s statement made clear, a major focus of the summit were the attempts of the US, Britain and their allies to ramp up their threats against Russia and to strengthen NATO throughout Eastern Europe. The Ukraine remains a country that the British government and NATO wish to incorporate within their orbit. They therefore boast of their own intervention and interference, which it is claimed is in defence of Ukraine’s sovereignty, while condemning Russia’s actions in that country. As part of their contention against Russia and global warmongering plans it was announced that NATO would again establish a rapid deployment force with a global reach and carry out provocative military “exercises” in Eastern Europe. The British government declared its readiness to commit troops for such a force and these “exercises” and also remains fully committed to develop a joint Anglo-French combined expeditionary force, which will also have the capacity for rapid global deployment.
The summit communiqué makes it clear that NATO is strengthening itself not only as part of its contention with Russia but also with the aim of continuing to intervene in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite public assertions to the contrary, throughout the Mediterranean region and in the Balkans, as well as in North, West and East Africa. At the same time it continues to threaten countries such as Syria, Iran and the DPRK. In short NATO is being strengthened and modernised as part of military means to further the plans of the US, Britain and their allies to dominate the world militarily.
It is in this context that the Prime Minister’s remarks concerning what he called “Islamist extremism” can be understood. In his statement, Cameron emphasised the importance of what he referred to as the “fight against ISIL”. At the summit Britain joined with the US and eight other countries to develop a joint strategy in regard to the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The NATO communiqué paved the way for military intervention by even going as far as to blame the government of Syria for the emergence of ISIL. It was therefore evident that even before US President Obama’s recent speech the British government had committed itself to further military intervention both in Iraq and Syria. As for this “Islamic State”, there is every indication that it is, or was, just like “al Qaeda,” the creation of those who are now using it as a justification for further military intervention in western Asia and to effect regime change in Syria.
The British government must be condemned for its zealous participation in the warmongering NATO, for its sabre rattling and contention with Russia and for its slavish activity in support of the US. Military intervention in Syria without the consent of the government of that country is a clear breach of international law, a violation of Syria’s sovereignty and a provocation against Russia and China. Evidently what the British government and the NATO allies could not achieve by instigating and financing a civil war and the deaths of tens of thousands in Syria they are attempting to achieve by direct military intervention that will create even greater disaster.
The warmongering of NATO in which Britain plays such a leading role must be brought to an end. Britain must get out of NATO. The working class and all peace loving people must make their voices heard and take action to prevent future disaster and the threat of global war. The times cry out for an anti-war government.
by Nathan J Freeman*
On September 5, the second and final day of the NATO Summit in Newport, Wales, US President Barack Obama reviewed the decisions the NATO countries took during the Summit. Obama referred to Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which specifically deals with "collective self-defence”. He stated, "First and foremost, we have reaffirmed the central mission of the Alliance. Article 5 enshrines our solemn duty to each other – 'an armed attack against one ... shall be considered an attack against them all.' This is a binding, treaty obligation. It is non-negotiable. And here in Wales, we've left absolutely no doubt – we will defend every Ally."
In fact, an essential feature of the NATO Summit was the proposal for a 4,000-member standing NATO army as a way to institutionalise Article 5 of the NATO Charter. US President Barrack Obama and others made repeated references to Article 5 of the NATO Charter during the Summit. Despite this, the more than 96 hours of live coverage on the Summit barely mentioned Article 5. It was not highlighted by any media coverage. However, Article 5 is important. It promises any member suffering aggression or attack from any other country that the rest of the NATO pact will come to its aid to repel or end the aggression. In reality it is far more likely that such institutionalisation would short-circuit much or any need for detailed discussion or further examination of the real casus belli on the ground.
This aspect of Article 5 is a direct outgrowth of Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which permits the Security Council to deploy armed force as a collective response to aggression against any member of the General Assembly. Article 5 was supposed to set in stone the idea that NATO could not have an agenda or procedure authorising the use of force that could be seen in any way to be or operate in contradiction with the United Nations. Politically it might only act at the instigation of a superpower overlord wearing NATO's mantle to conceal a self-interested agenda of that overlord, but cosmetically it would still have to measure up to the UN Security Council's Section 7 standard to pass muster beyond the ranks of NATO.
What has actually taken place is that a NATO force under a permanent NATO command is to substitute for the detailed Article 5 procedure of the NATO Charter. Article 5 procedures are based on the equally detailed procedures governing UN-authorised military intervention set out in Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.
During the 1970s and 1980s, NATO's top directorate did coordinate something known as "Standing Naval Forces Atlantic" or STANAVFORLANT. Of course it was "standing" only in the sense of standing by to be mobilised for the real thing at some distant future point. In practice, a flotilla of half-a-dozen to a dozen vessels from NATO-member navies prowled the Atlantic and Mediterranean basins each summer to "show the flag" – while staging no actual military exercises in the full meaning of that phrase.
Reviewed in that light, it becomes evident that the proposed permanent NATO intervention force is exactly the opposite of the original idea of Article 5. Indeed, it seems intended precisely and finally to overcome the obstacle that the detailed UN Security Council's Chapter 7 procedures created for the US-instigated so-called Coalition of the Willing that eventually invaded Iraq in March 2003.
The collective security doctrine embodied in Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter itself emerged in response to the Axis aggression that drove the Second World War from its earliest beginnings with the imperial Japanese invasion and seizure of Manchuria in 1931.
According to that collective security doctrine, deployment of armed force against aggression is permitted to a collective of nations deliberating and resolving a course of action according to the detailed procedures and deliberations set out under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. This starts with a request from a UN member state or group of member states for military assistance against aggression from another UN member or members.
Article 5 of the NATO Charter was similarly formulated to licence the deployment of counter-force by the member-states of that body in response to aggression from a non-NATO member (assumed to be the then-Soviet Union or one of its allies). This was as the final resort after deliberative procedures very similar to the UN Chapter 7 model were exhausted.
It is clear that today, as far as the US imperialists and their key allies, the UK, Canada and France, are concerned, this latest proposed permanent intervention force will eliminate any repetition of the last time Article 5 was invoked. That was back in August 2008, when it was invoked by the Harvard-trained Georgian president Mikhail Shakhtiashvili, installed at Tbilsi, to repel a Russian invasion.
At that time, the French government complained that Georgia had no business invoking Article 5's principle of collective self-defence since Tbilisi was still only a candidate member of NATO, not a full member. NATO fell silent, Georgia's appeal was buried, the Russian armed forces entered Georgian territory shortly after the opening of the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing to take out organised anti-Russian forces, and Moscow declared a truce within one week while the Olympic Games continued undisturbed to their conclusion. Ukraine was already a candidate member of NATO, and they can draw the obvious lesson of those events for their present contentious relations with the Putin administration in Moscow.
Throughout this past summer, meanwhile, relations between official Ukraine and Moscow have deteriorated into low-level civil war between the official national army, headquartered in the capital Kiev, and guerrilla forces, sustained from among the mainly Russian-speaking regions of Novorossiya in southern and eastern Ukraine. The population of these regions has been in open revolt against the western-imposed government at Kiev for most of the past year.
At the same time, the intent of the US-led
western bloc has been to ensnare the Ukrainian economy in the clutches of the
International Monetary Fund while preparing the permanent internal occupation
of Ukraine as a whole disguised as "joining NATO”. This much can be
discerned from what Russian diplomacy has been able to expose.
* TML Weekly Information Project, September 13, 2014
On September 5, the second and final day of the NATO Summit in Wales, US President Obama recounted the decisions of the summit at the closing press conference.
He began by pledging to implement Article 5 of the NATO Charter on "collective security" as the first priority and that NATO would defend every ally should they come under armed attack.
Obama continued, "Second, we agreed to be resolute in reassuring our Allies in Eastern Europe. Increased NATO air patrols over the Baltics will continue. Rotations of additional forces throughout Eastern Europe for training and exercises will continue. Naval patrols in the Black Sea will continue. And all 28 NATO nations agreed to contribute to all of these measures – for as long as necessary."
Next Obama reiterated his doctrine of using drone warfare and rapid deployment of Special Forces and "advisors”, instead of large occupation forces. Obama said, "Third, to ensure that NATO remains prepared for any contingency, we agreed to a new Readiness Action Plan. The Alliance will update its defence planning. We will create a new highly ready Rapid Response Force that can be deployed on very short notice. We'll increase NATO's presence in Central and Eastern Europe with additional equipment, training, exercises and troop rotations. And the $1 billion initiative that I announced in Warsaw [on June 3] will be a strong and ongoing US contribution to this plan." NATO is also to model itself on Pentagon plans for rapid deployments of smaller forces, backed up by airstrikes, drones and Special Forces, as is occurring now against Iraq.
Obama also spoke to the US demand for Europe to pay more for war. He said, "All 28 NATO nations have pledged to increase their investments in defence and to move toward investing 2 percent of their GDP in our collective security. These resources will help NATO invest in critical capabilities, including intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and missile defence. And this commitment makes clear that NATO will not be complacent. Our Alliance will reverse the decline in defence spending and rise to meet the challenges that we face in the 21st century."
He also indicated that more countries are to be embroiled in the US drive for world empire. "We agreed to expand the partnership that makes NATO the hub of global security. We're launching a new effort with our closest partners – including many that have served with us in Afghanistan – to make sure our forces continue to operate together. And we'll create a new initiative to help countries build their defence capabilities – starting with Georgia, Moldova, Jordan and Libya."
Obama was joined by Britain and Canada in repeatedly justifying further interference in Ukraine and making threats against Russia. And, as was a main aim of the US, to embroil all the NATO allies in such interference. As Obama put it, "All 28 NATO Allies will now provide security assistance to Ukraine. This includes non-lethal support to the Ukrainian military – like body armour, fuel and medical care for wounded Ukrainian troops – as well as assistance to help modernise Ukrainian forces, including logistics and command and control."
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