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Volume 53 Number 21, July 15, 2023 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania:

Oppose Escalation of US/NATO Proxy War in Ukraine!
Negotiate a Peaceful Resolution NOW!

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NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania:
Oppose Escalation of US/NATO Proxy War in Ukraine! Negotiate a Peaceful Resolution NOW!
Joe Biden Meets Rishi Sunak and King Charles
Demand a Negotiated Peace Deal Now!

Workers' Forum:
Teachers' Steadfast Strikes Force Concessions from the Government


NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania:

Oppose Escalation of US/NATO Proxy War in Ukraine!
Negotiate a Peaceful Resolution NOW!


Demonstration in Sweden, June 4, 2023, opposing joining NATO

The US, Britain and other NATO members are prolonging their proxy war in Ukraine. Every day, announcements are made of more military spending, more sanctions, more provocations and dangerous plans to be adopted. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian lives are being sacrificed as a result of the refusal of the US/NATO-backed Ukrainian government to negotiate a peace deal with Russia, or implement previous peace deals with Russia, such as the Minsk agreements which were backed by the United Nations, following the Anglo-US Maidan coup in 2014. Peace negotiations were blocked, and continue to be blocked, by the US and Britain and other NATO powers whilst they continue to arm Ukraine to wage a proxy war against Russia for their own aims.


Picket of the US Consolate Ottowa, Canada

The NATO Summit which was held in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11-12, according to all accounts, has become a sordid attempt to save face about the sorry state of Ukraine's counter-offensive that they incited and armed with such huge loss of Ukrainian lives, and also the mounting contradictions of the NATO countries themselves not least the huge opposition within these countries against NATO's escalation of the war in Ukraine and the war preparations they are making in Asia against China. The summit boasted that NATO has adopted "its most comprehensive defence plans since the end of the Cold War".

Whilst the US and other NATO countries resolved to keep Ukraine at arms length at the summit so as not to directly get involved in the conflict, they attempted to present a united front. Although full details have not emerged, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg made a proposal to allow Kyiv to skip the so-called Membership Action Plan (Map) programme and the summit "reaffirmed the commitment" that "Ukraine will become a member" at some point in the future, a commitment they made in 2008 at the summit in Bucharest, 15 years ago. He also said that the NATO summit in Vilnius would adopt a three-point plan to bring Ukraine "closer" to accession: 1) a multi-year programme of assistance; 2) upgraded political ties; and 3) a new NATO Ukraine Council, with Ukraine participation, which is reported to have had its first meeting after the summit closed.

However, further elaborating on this at a press conference, Jens Stoltenberg claimed that the reason for not allowing Ukraine to join NATO now was because it is necessary that Ukraine first meets the need for "additional democratic and security sector reforms" in the country. Of course this is something that none of the leading NATO countries concern themselves with domestically, with constant civil war of the ruling elites in the US, uprisings in France of peoples for their rights, and the huge strikes struggles of the working people in Britain to defend their livelihoods and oppose the government's draconian measures. However, Stoltenberg then warned that the bloc must first ensure that Ukraine achieves a "victory" in its ongoing conflict with Russia, and should Kyiv not succeed, its NATO membership would be out of the question.

In other words, the only thing that can save Ukraine to continue to exist as a country from this Anglo-US-led proxy war is if NATO were to give up on their own ambitions to use Ukraine as a means to defeat Russia and instead make sure Ukraine reaches a settlement with Russia which, as their jargon goes, provides its security demands with a guarantee.


Anti-NATO demonstration Tokyo, Japan

Besides Ukraine's application for NATO membership and how to sustain the proxy war in Ukraine against Russia, the summit also addressed NATO's regional plans to have troops battle-ready and in forward deployment positions for war against Russia. Under the new plans the aim is to have 300,000 troops fully ready for action. The "allies" have also made an "enduring commitment" to invest at least 2% of GDP annually in defence, according to the communique published at the summit. However, only 11 of the alliance's 31 members have reached or exceeded this target "after nine consecutive years defence spending" since 2014, documents released at the summit showed [1].

NATO also invited to the summit leaders of Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea to "further strengthen dialogue and co-operation to tackle our shared security challenges". In this context, the communique mentioned China 15 times claiming that "China's stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values" and that China posed "systematic challenges" to the alliance. To this the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin at a daily press briefing opposed these groundless accusations and added, "We have seen what NATO has done to Europe, and NATO must not seek to sow chaos here in the Asia-Pacific or elsewhere in the world." [1]

The NATO summit went on to discuss ramping up the production of armaments and heavy equipment to escalate the conflict in Ukraine and to prepare for war against China. Huge profits are at stake for the arms manufacturers. One can only imagine the behind-the-scenes deal-making, bribes and corruption in which the armaments monopolies and oligopolies and the heads of state that represent their interests were engaged in at the Vilnius summit to guarantee the production of yet more weapons as stocks dwindle. NATO is itself an oligopoly comprised of the military-industrial-civilian complex of the United States, Britain and other countries and international financial institutions and associations created after World War II. NATO itself is the most destructive oligopoly in existence today.

The occasion of the NATO Summit in Vilnius is a time to raise our voices loud and clear: Not in Our Name!

Negotiate a Peace Deal Now!

No to NATO! No to War! Fight for an Anti-War Government!

Note
1. http://www.china.org.cn/world/2023-07/13/content_92130735.htm

Article Index



NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania

Joe Biden Meets Rishi Sunak and King Charles


Storm Shadow missiles that the British government is supplying to Kyiv

Prior to the summit, US President Joe Biden met British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles III while on his way to Vilnius. Talks with Rishi Sunak were reported to highlight the so-called "enduring special relationship" between the US and Britain. His meeting with King Charles III was claimed to be "a tightly planned event at Windsor Castle where both men took part in a climate round table" attended by representatives of the financial oligarchy and "philanthropic heavyweights".

The discussions of Biden and Sunak were supposed to "have touched on various global issues, including the war in Ukraine". The prime minister's spokesperson "played down reports that the UK and US are split over Ukraine's hopes to join NATO". However, deliberately leaked was the notion that Sunak had raised the question of cluster bombs. The US has decided to provide the Ukrainian government and armed forces with cluster bombs, a type of munition whose use is opposed by some 123 countries via the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which includes Britain. Sunak's spokesperson admitted that this was discussed claiming that Sunak said it "was a difficult choice for the US" and had been "forced on them by Russia's war of aggression".

The use of the words "a difficult choice for the US" by Sunak recalls those he had used previously when Britain was the first to supply depleted uranium weapons and Storm Shadow missiles to Kyiv. This was Britain's "difficult choice". What this is revealing is how far the Anglo-US warmongers are prepared to take Britain and the US down the path of acting as global terrorist warmongering states, without any regard for the peoples of Ukraine or Russia. It also shows that Britain is not only slavishly following the US but also egging it on further by supporting the Lithuanian proposal [1] that Ukraine be allowed to join NATO now, which would lead directly to war between NATO and Russia. These Anglo-US leaders in their proxy war against Russia in Ukraine are prepared to commit the very crimes they are accusing Russia of committing.

Note
1. The Lithuanian parliament on April 6 unanimously approved a resolution proposing an invitation to Ukraine to join NATO at the alliance's summit at Vilnius in July.

Article Index



NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania

Demand a Negotiated Peace Deal Now!


Anti-war activists took to the streets across Britain as part of Stop the War Coalition's Day of Action For Peace in Ukraine on July 8, in the lead-up to NATO's Vilnius Summit.

Ferocious fighting has raged since June along the 1,000 kilometre front line separating Ukrainian and Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. It is widely promoted by NATO members and the monopoly media supporting this US/NATO proxy war as a successful Ukrainian "counter-offensive". However, when set-backs leak through their controlled media, they claim it has not been successful yet, or the Ukrainian forces are "probing" before launching their main counter-offensive. But this so-called counter-offensive is not successful. On the contrary, it is sacrificing the lives of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers who are being deliberately thrown into killing fields without the training, ammunition and air protection they needed under the circumstances. It is estimated that the "counter-offensive" launched on June 4 is resulting in Ukrainian losses of 500-700 soldiers per day, or 14,000-20,000 by June 29, as well as some 313 tanks, 815 Infantry Fighting Vehicles and other armoured vehicles, 313 how itzer and other long range artillery systems, all in June alone. Ahead of the NATO Vilnius Summit, Ukraine's top military officer General Zaluzhny said he needed more of every type of weapon and this has been one of the main refrains of what the Vilnius Summit must provide.

All the announcements about aid to Ukraine are disinformation of the first order to cover up that Ukraine is wallowing in corruption and its debt is so big, it is said Ukraine is now owned lock, stock and barrel by the US. Millions of dollars, said to be for Ukraine, in fact go directly into the coffers of the arms producers in the United States and Britain. Talk of sending more weapons covers up the lack of trained forces to operate them and that these weapons are being wiped out by the Russian military as soon as they arrive.

Britain is shamelessly and criminally in the forefront of the US/NATO demand that the war they are fighting to the last Ukrainian be escalated and are desperate to defeat Russia's intention to de-Nazify and de-militarise Ukraine so as to protect the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine as well as its own borders and security.

There is also no unity about any aspect of this proxy war within the European Union and amongst NATO members with, for example, the Hungarian and Bulgarian leaders [1] saying that the conflict will never be sorted out by war and calling for a negotiated resolution of the conflict. On July 10, Hungarian Prime Minster Victor Orban made a peace proposal to NATO: "Instead of bringing weapons to Ukraine, we should bring peace". He said that "a ceasefire is necessary, and instead of war, peace negotiations should start as soon as possible". He also noted that NATO is supposed to defend member states, "not to carry out military actions on the territory of other countries". [2]

The US and Britain in particular, along with Germany and France, have actively sabotaged every earlier prospect of a negotiated peace deal and they are promoting the adamant refusal of the NATO command to hold negotiations now. Instead they insist on escalation. To this end they are creating a more and more volatile situation, and increasing the war dead and wounded exponentially. They are running roughshod over the opinion of the peoples and majority of the countries of the world that the war must stop.

Notes
1. On July 6, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, who is opposing the export of weapons to Ukraine, explained to Zelenksy's Ukrainian delegation visiting Sofia that there was "no military solution" and that "more and more weapons will not solve it".
2. On July 10, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban Hungarian made a Ukraine peace proposal to NATO:
https://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/273895819/hungarian-pm-makes-ukraine-proposal

Article Index



Workers' Forum

Teachers' Steadfast Strikes Force Concessions from the Government


Photo: Getty Images

In response to last week's further strike action by NEU members on July 5 and 7, the government finally conceded to publishing the report of the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) and has accepted its recommendation of a pay rise for teachers of 6.5%. However, it will only provide the required additional funding for 3%, less than half of that rise. The four education unions involved in the dispute (ASCL, NAHT, NASUWT and NEU, together with General Secretary Elect of NEU, Daniel Kebede) have said in a joint statement [1] with the government that they will advise members to "accept the STRB recommendation", bringing an end to the strikes.

The action last week, in which teachers in England struck work on Wednesday and Friday, was in furtherance of the demand for a fully-funded pay increase to counter rising inflation and ten years of real-term pay cuts, and came on top of five previous strike days held this year. These cuts are affecting recruitment and retention, causing significant damage to education, says the National Education Union (NEU), which had been re-balloting its members for further strike action in the autumn.

Members of the teachers' union NASUWT and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) had joined the strikes for the first time. This marks the first strike action by NAHT members in its 125-year history. NEU members from sixth-form colleges additionally took part. The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) had also been balloting members on national strike action in England for the first time in its history.

Members of the NASUWT teaching union in England have also voted in favour of industrial action over pay, workload and working time. [2]

Elsewhere, teachers in the north of Ireland have been taking action short of a strike since October 2022, refusing lunchtime supervision or attending meetings out of normal working hours. Meanwhile, teachers in Scotland have agreed to a 7% increase for 2022-23, a 5% increase in April 2023, and a 2% increase in January 2024, ending their dispute. In Wales, NEU members accepted an 8% increase for 2022-23 and 5% for 2023-24, but this offer was rejected by members of the NAHT.

Immediately following the latest days of action, the NEU Joint General Secretaries Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney called on the government to publish the STRB report and restart discussions with the unions, which, they pointed out, the government has frozen since early April.

"We believe that the STRB has recommended a 6.5% across the board pay rise, and if such a rise were properly funded implementing such a rise could bring this dispute to a close," they said. "The holes that are appearing in our education system after 13 years of neglect by his Government can no longer be plastered over. The Prime Minister needs to understand that the education profession and the education system is at breaking point. Years of real-term pay cuts, a chronic lack of school and college funding, enormous recruitment and retention challenges, escalating workload and working hours, and an inspection system that is doing more harm than good have all taken their toll on the profession and our children and young people's education," they added, concluding: "We urge this Government to recognise the scale of the problem and start negotiating." [3]

The joint statement states: "This deal will allow teachers and school leaders to call off strike action and resume normal relations with government." The question remains, however, as to what these "normal relations" are. The teachers' strike action have been another example of the challenges faced by workers in organising to defend themselves, when the new normal of those in positions of power is to impose decisions and conditions, and to refuse to negotiate. To be effective, workers are having to speak for themselves and organise for control over matters that affect their lives, operating instead in the court of public opinion rather than within the confines of a defunct civil society.


Photo: Schools Week

In such a situation, the teachers are to be commended in forcing movement from the government, who, despite the disruption from school closures, were clearly losing the battle over the public consciousness. The teachers successfully held the line, staying true to the call that "Enough is Enough!" despite attempts to dissipate their resistance. A victory for one is a victory for all.

Nevertheless, over half of the pay rise (3.5%) will come from schools' own budgets [4]. The Department for Education has asserted that this is "affordable" given last year's announcement of £2.3 billion additional funding. The reality on the ground remains to be seen. Regardless of such claims, however, the issue is certain not to go away as long as the economy is not directed to fully funding and continually expanding and developing vital social programmes like education, instead being directed to the aims of war and paying the rich.

The very fact that the government proudly announced a "hardship fund" of up to £40 million to "support those schools facing the greatest financial challenges" certainly indicates that the fundamental issues remain - no school should be in such "hardship" in the first place. The teachers' struggle further raised the issue of what kind of education is needed. The frontline stand in the workers' movement taken by teachers will not vanish as the result of this deal, and they will certainly continue to hold the line to safeguard the future of education.


Notes
1. Joint Statement on Teachers' Pay, July 13, 2023
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/joint-statement-on-teachers-pay-13-july-2023
2. F. Whittaker, "Teacher pay: 6.5% rise approved, but DfE will only fund 3%", Schools Week, July 13, 2023
https://schoolsweek.co.uk/strb-report-6-5-teacher-pay-rise-but-dfe-will-only-fund-3/
According to Schools Week, the NASUWT said it intends to issue notice of "a programme of continuous action short of strike action" commencing in September. Details will be announced shortly. The union will also consider dates for autumn term strike action "co-ordinated with other education unions where possible". In total, 88.5 per cent of eligible members voted to support strike action and 94.3 per cent voted in support of action short of strike action, based on an overall turnout of 51.9 per cent. As well as meeting the 50 per cent turnout threshold, this also passes the threshold requiring 40 per cent of all eligible members to vote 'yes'. The vote equates to 46 per cent of all members voting to strike, and 49 per cent in support of action short of a strike.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said members have secured the union's "largest mandate" for industrial action in over a decade. "Our members' goodwill has been taken for granted for far too long. Excessive workload demands have become so debilitating that we have seen record numbers of teachers and headteachers leaving the profession, or reporting anxiety, work-related stress and self-harm because of the pressures of the job."
3. "NEU strike action", NEU Press Release, July 7, 2023
https://neu.org.uk/latest/press-releases/neu-strike-action-0
4. Schools Week, op. cit.

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