Bruno Kretzschmar is unfortunately typical of leftist defenders of the European Union proto-superstate (Letters, December 21).
Cocooned in their self-congratulatory refracted hall of mirrors, for them this bureaucratic, undemocratic edifice has somehow become intertwined with common-sense notions of ‘socialism’. They - the defenders of the EU against the burgeoning force of capitalism, the bankers, the elites and the ruling class - see themselves as the front line of the class war, when in reality the reverse is the case. Everyone outside this hall of PC-received wisdom sees that the entire world banking empire and pillars of the capitalist system, the former US president and the ruling class of Europe, the elite from the church, the Lords and 75% of MPs are singing in the same choir.
The BBC and big business, the stock exchange spivs and intelligentsia are standing arms linked with them. The left EU cheerleaders see in the autocratic structures not obstacles to socialism in even its weak national parliamentary form, never mind some revolutionary vision of a United States of Socialist Europe, god help us, but a facilitation of it.
The fate of the anti-austerity programme and defiance of the International Monetary Fund and the European Bank by popular leftist Greek socialists demonstrated that. The current overruling of the Polish parliamentary programme of legal reform by the EU demonstrates that, whatever the wrongs and rights of that legislation, any idea of a national parliament doing anything outside the dictates of the EU commissioners will hit a brick wall. Those such as Bruno who seem to think that a pro-EU Corbyn would squash the referendum result and then implement his wide-ranging programme of nationalisations, state subsidies and public service financing just do not see how utterly contradictory those objectives are. The EU will simply not allow such a programme to be enacted, as it would be against the spirit and intention of EU trading rules.
The drawing of the Churchillian dog in the Union Jack waistcoat illustrating Mike Macnair’s article (‘Labour tails Tory rebels’, December 21), on a different subject, is perhaps the way in which Bruno and the liberal pro-EU left see ‘out’ voters. Reality in our neck of the woods, however, is radically different. It is not necessary here to try and explain again to southern-based leftists the reason why solidly proletarian, militant trade unionist and rock-hard Labour-voting constituencies in the former industrial heartlands voted for ‘leave’ by up to a two-thirds majority, but it has nothing to do with that wretched flag or memories of ‘empire’ or xenophobia. It has everything to do with sticking two fingers up to the ruling class and liberal consensus on what they have decided is good for us. We have had a lifetime of that and ended up on the rust pile with the industries we worked in. Bruno will not understand this, but the anti-EU vote in the traditional working class heartlands was a class response to what was seen as yet another ruling class manoeuvre to shaft us again.
The very rare exposure of a solidly working class audience in Barnsley on a recent BBC Question time showed without question what that audience thought about vacillation on withdrawal from the EU. The audience was keen to tell its Labour representatives on the panel not to “stab us in the back”.
Bruno’s advice to Labour to come out loud and clear for staying in the EU and squash the referendum result would be the kiss of death. Having had what seemed to be assurances from Labour that it would respect the withdrawal vote, with all that meant in terms of the single market and EU regulations, those areas swung back behind Jeremy Corbyn and returned to the Labour fold. Those who passionately believed in withdrawal got out on the knocker and round the streets in a new push for Labour. This happened nationwide and the real social issues confronting folk came back to the fore, while the Tories loomed large in their sights again.
Sadly, since that time, the ‘line’ on the EU has wavered, with too many front-bench spokespersons pushing something less than leaving and something a lot more like actually staying. This has set loose despondency and disillusionment in the northern, traditional Labour constituencies once again. It is the classic snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory. These areas will cut their wrists before they would vote Tory, and Ukip is a non-runner, so we will be looking at mass Labour abstentions and, despite everything which has happened, another Tory victory.
Far be it for me to tell the sodden Parliamentary Labour Party what to do, but as a sheer matter of political fact there is time yet for anti-EU leftist and centrist MPs to tell the truth about their constituents’ actual view on this subject and warn Corbyn how dangerously close the fat is to the fire. It cannot be fudged or ignored if they expect to retain and regain those traditional Labour seats they need for victory.
But there is a worse conclusion, I fear. The ‘left’ itself is becoming perceived as just another brick in the ruling class elite’s wall - a distant ‘other’ class, whose social values and mores are in a different world than ours. The working class as a conscious, self-identifying class could come to see the left - at least in its pro-EU, liberal PC, middle class genre - as its enemy! And that opens the door to a dangerous political vacuum.
David John Douglass
Who defeated IS?
Before answering that question, what is Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Can the public overcome its chronic amnesia and think back to the sudden appearance of IS dressed in brand new black uniforms, gleaming white Nikes and driving Toyota trunks? They seemed to appear out of nowhere in 2014. IS looked as if it were a mirage when it appeared, or more likely a CIA-staged scene from Hollywood.
No sooner had IS appeared than it went on a head-chopping binge that repulsed and frightened the US public. Washington officials, including secretary of state John Kerry, rang the alarm that this hoard of Islamic crazies wanted to invade the US and “kill us all”. A well-compliant mainstream media swallowed Washington’s script and regurgitated it to frighten a US public. The public gave its silent consent for more war really aimed at Bashar al-Assad.
The next question is, who created IS? It “can trace its roots back to the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian. In 2004, a year after the US-led invasion of Iraq, Zarqawi pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and formed al Qa’eda in Iraq” (BBC News website, December 2 2016). Al Qa’eda in Iraq did not exist until after the US invasion by the Bush-Cheney administration.
The US invasion of Iraq was based on pure, unadulterated lies that Saddam Hussein supported al Qa’eda, was involved in the September 11 attacks on the US and had weapons of mass destruction. Al Qa’eda in Iraq was predictable blowback resistance against a US illegal invasion. Bush, who admitted that he created his own reality, had hallucinations of a grateful Iraqi people, having just been bombed back to the stone age with shock and awe, throwing kisses and flowers at the US expeditionary force as liberators.
Then came the failed surge in 2007, when the US allied with Sunnis to defeat the remnants of the Iraqi Ba’ath Party, which was Arab nationalist, neither Sunni nor Shia. The cynical sponsoring and siding with radical Islam goes back to the British ‘great game’ of the early 1900s. It was the British double-dealing with both Sunnis and Shias to supplant the Ottoman empire, and turn Sunni against Shia to divide and conquer south-west Asia. It is the story of Lawrence of Arabia, Winston Churchill and World War I.
One could then pick up the story after World War II, when the US was opposing Arab anti-colonial nationalism and communism during the cold war. It was the ‘grand chessboard’ strategist, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who in the 1980s convinced Jimmy Carter to back the Islamic radical mujahedin mercenaries and destroy Afghanistan in order to lure the Soviet Union into a Vietnam-type trap. Brzezinski was so proud of his success that he would later rhetorically ask to his shame, which is more important - “some stirred-up Muslims” or winning the cold war?
If Brzezinski was so clever, he would have learned from the British early 1900s south-west Asia super-spy, Gertrude Bell. As she would later say, the British empire encouraging and sponsoring radical Islam backfired into a big failure. But the US does not know history, not even its own history of repeated blunders of encouraging and sponsoring radical Islam against Arab anti-colonial nationalism.
So instead the US enlisted the most radical rightwing fascist regime in the history of the world, the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia, to bankroll Sunnis against Arab nationalism. They gladly funded US regime-change projects against secular Arab states. The US - flush with cash from the Saudis - went about encouraging, training and paying mercenaries from all over south-west Asia to overthrow Assad, who did not share the US role as the world leader of capitalist globalisation. Instead, he was using Syria’s wealth for the benefit of his people, just like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi. “Assad must go,” chanted Obama, Clinton, Kerry and Saudi Wahhabis. To the US it did not matter how many Syrians, Libyan or Iraqis died. As Madeleine Albright had said, “500,000 dead Iraqi children are worth it”.
It was the US and its allies in the absolute Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States that created IS. Mercenaries from all over the Muslim world were recruited and even supported by the United States Airforce. The mainstream media gave the cover story that the US was backing ‘well-vetted, moderate Islamists’. The mainstream media are criminal co-conspirators for spreading war propaganda, The Guardian being one of the worst offenders, with a few rare exceptions, such as Trevor Timm’s reporting.
Now, with the ringing in of 2018, we can expect the US to be patting itself on the back for defeating IS in 2017. The real story is that it was Assad, Russia, Hezbollah and Iran that defeated it (so far). For those without amnesia, they may remember back to when Russia released videos of endless convoys of black-market IS oil tankers heading into Turkey. IS was partially funding itself with stolen oil and enriching the black marketeers of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Somehow the US, with all of its technology and thousands of bombing missions in Syria, never saw all those tankers. Nor could they find IS fighters, so instead they bombed the Syrian army. The US only saw what it wanted to see and what it wanted to bomb. It was not IS. There are videos of Russian jets taking out IS oil tankers.
Some of the mainstream media grudgingly acknowledges that Russia had a hand in rolling back IS. Even then they downplay the Russian contribution to a support role, rather than the primary force. Instead they give the credit to “the US and 67 other nations from around the world”. It was, they say, the US that “trained, supported and provided air support” to local Syrian rebel good guys, the mythical democratic moderates, that the US was supporting. City after city and village after village were destroyed by IS, US bombing and an invisible US moderate rebel force, as hundreds of thousands of Syrian casualties and refugees were created.
According to the mainstream media, the Russians stepped in late “to provide air support for the Syrian government backing the regime of Bashar al-Assad against rebels threatening his rule, but also targeting some IS territory”. Unmentioned is that Russia was legally ‘invited’ by the legitimate government of Syria, while the US and its coalition are committing a war crime of aggression against a fellow member country of the United Nations.
Now we are going to be hearing that one year of Trump did what eight years of Obama could not do. We are going to be hearing more about how in just one year IS went from attracting thousands of foreign fighters to its anti-western cause and plotting devastating terror attacks all over the world to surrendering en masse. It was the US-led bombing campaign and US-backed and trained forces that defeated IS, supposedly.
Yes, after six-plus years of the most powerful military force in the history of the world, with the most technologically advanced weapons ever invented, and an annual military budget of $1 trillion, the US finally defeated a rag-tag, mercenary paramilitary of about 30,000 fighters.
The whole story of the US war on terrorism is an incredible and unbelievable tale of pabulum that Washington and its mainstream repeaters have been feeding to the US public since 9/11. It stinks.
David William Pear
The Stop the War Coalition was not founded to oppose the war in Iraq. It was founded to oppose the war in Afghanistan. So it has been right from the very start. Our arbitrary intervention in an Afghan civil war that has now been going on continuously for 40 years has been an abject disaster from the outset, and it continues to be so.
We are now effectively back to supporting the Taliban, whom we created, against the local franchise of Islamic State, which did not exist until we took out the bulwark against such things in Iraq. By far the most prominent politician in the western world to have said all of this throughout every one of these adventures is Jeremy Corbyn.
Arthur Bough shows that for Marx there was no permanent crisis of capitalism (Letters, December 21). However, the view that there is no permanent crisis of capitalism is plain wrong, if this, indeed, was the view of Marx. At the same time, it is easy to see how Marx could have arrived at this conclusion back in the 19th century, when most economists put money before energy in the rise of modern capitalism.
I have argued that Marxism contains flaws - some of them are quite serious and are of a fundamental nature. The view that there is no permanent crisis of capitalism is a flawed 19th century view, based on the fact that, for Marxism, like classical bourgeois economics, money is primary and energy is secondary, if it is mentioned at all. The problem is that 19th century economics and Marxism does not recognise the primary role of cheap energy in the birth and development of modern capitalism. In short, industrial capitalism grew out of cheap energy and depends on it for its long-term survival. In the absence of cheap energy, there would be a permanent crisis of capitalism because the system is based on production for profit.
The peaking of world oil production of the conventional sort, followed by the annual decline of oil production, leads to a supply crisis, triggering worldwide inflation. This will mean a permanent crisis of the capitalist system at every level, if a replacement for cheap oil is not found. Massive amounts of unconventional oil, like the Canadian tar sands, exist and will be economical to produce when conventional oil prices increase with a decline in supply, but no-one is suggesting that this oil will be cheap.