SYRIA: IS A US-RUSSIA-CHINA CONFRONTATION POSSIBLE?

Jon Kofas

Syria’s history and geography has determined to a large degree its alliances. As a former colony subjected to French imperialism, and a country lacking rich energy resources of its Middle East neighbors, Syria always needed to use whatever diplomatic leverage it had at its disposal to retain as much of its national sovereignty as possible. The question has always been what political system best expresses its national interests and retains its national sovereignty. The situation today is that the US and EU are interested in using Syria as a satellite to counterbalance Iran and gain immense foothold in the Middle East. This explains the reason for the Western-backed uprising that started in spring 2011 and it continues with more than 16,000 casualties, countless refugees, and a broader geopolitical instability that stretches from Turkey and Iran to Lebanon and Israel.

One the one side, there is Iran that has a stake in Syrian stability under Bashar al-Assad, with Russia and China having a long-term close relationship with Damascus. While it is clear that Russia makes billions of dollars in supplying Syria with weapons, the real goal of Moscow, along with Iran and China, is to prevent the US and EU from upsetting the balance of power in the Middle East by gaining a foothold in Syria. The question of what is in the best interests of the Syrian people is not one that either East or West are considering. No matter the inane US and EU rhetoric about freedom and democracy for Syria, something that Western institutions often deny to their own citizens, let alone remain silent about when it comes to allies like Saudi Arabia, the interest in Syria is geopolitical.

Geopolitical leverage is the only thing that Syria has and the current regime under Assad uses that leverage to retain the support of China, Russia and Iran. From 1958 to 1961, Nasser attempted a united Arab states project, but failed as nationalism was a dynamic force precluding alliances even among nations that had common interests and common enemies. Given that Syria was vulnerable after it broke with Nasser’s Egypt, given that its neighbors were pro-West, it needed allies to counterbalance its enemies, while retaining the country’s unity by satisfying the disparate socioeconomic groups. Syria’s alliance with the USSR during the Cold War made geopolitical sense, given the alliances of Syria’s neighbors, and given the ideology and political program of the ruling Ba’athist party that was closer to Socialism (heavily statist) than it was to Western-style market capitalism.

That Syria has been one-party state, essentially a dynasty catering to narrow interests at home and abroad is not something that the ruling party can deny, any more than it can hide from its record of favoring certain tribal, sectarian and ethnic groups over others. This is not to say that pro-West Arab regimes manage sectarian, tribal, and ethnic divisions any better than the Assad regime currently under fire from a mass popular uprising. That Syria has enjoyed China’s and Russia’s backing at the UN, which the US has tried to use to topple the Assad regime, is troubling to relations between East and West. China and Russia seem to dig in their heels on this issue, and will not permit another Western-backed uprising to overthrow a regime they support and see as key to the regional balance of power and stability.

When the US and EU condemned Syria for shooting down a Turkish plane that violated Syria’s air space in June 2012, neither Ankara nor Beijing were willing to permit NATO to use the staged incident as a pretext for operations to support Syrian rebels. Turkey has a long-standing record of violating the airspace of neighboring nations. The government in Tehran has sent stern warnings that it will not permit Turkey and NATO to undermine the national sovereignty of Iran. That Turkey wants to become the great power of the Middle East is not a secret, any more than it is a secret that it will do just about anything to undermine its Arab neighbors to secure that preeminent role. As long as there is convergence of US-EU foreign policy goals, Ankara will be permitted to go all out in undermining its former close ally Syria.

It is true that the Assad regime is a dictatorship and it must assume responsibility for failing to find a solution to the civil war of the past 16 months.

Editor’s Note: This statement is not true. The Syrian government launched a reform process that brought together both supporters and opponents of the government, culminating in the adoption of the new Constitution after it was approved in a popular referendum. The conflict would be over if the U.S. and its GCC allies stopped funding armed terrorist groups that have no interest in reforms, only overthrowing the Syrian government.

It is just as true that Western nations have had a very large role in Syria’s political opposition, aiding with weapons, money, intelligence, and massive propaganda – all for the good of democracy and freedom, they claim. Russia is correct to blame the US and its partners for supplying weapons to Syria, just as it is correct to worry about Syria lapsing into some type of an Islamic regime that would be hostile to Russia, which has had its own problems with Islamic rebels. Vladimir Putin wants greater not lesser influence in the Middle East, and Moscow seems determined to carry the contest of wills with Washington as far as it can, short of an open conflict.

The larger question is how far should the reach of the NATO powers extend, and to what extent should the West be permitted to destabilize the Middle East in order to exert hegemonic influence, assuming that would be possible under radical Islamic regimes in the future. Is Syria worth an all-out war between the US and EU on one side, and Russia, China and Iran on the other? Such a scenario is unthinkable and not realistic to contemplate. But where do Russia and China draw the line on Western encroachment in Muslim countries? Besides, what have the US and its partners really achieved that is to the benefit of the occupied nations or the region by military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Scenarios of a broader regional Middle East war are as numerous as there are analysts, especially those interested in promoting an agenda such as a stronger Israel, stronger US defense sector, war as a stimulus to the contracting economy, etc. War may not be in the cards before the US presidential election in November 2012, and by then Assad may have fallen. But it does not matter either way, because Islamic regimes will flourish out of the ashes of Middle East revolutions, especially now that the Muslim Brotherhood is in power in Egypt. Is a clash of civilizations inevitable and could such a clash lead to future smaller wars or Western-backed uprisings, or can the West live with Islamic regimes not so different in their approach to the West than Iran?

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Mercosur Suspends Paraguay Over Lugo Ouster

Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo’s impeachment by a right-wing dominated Parliament have led Latin American leaders to deem it a “coup.”

Through a unanimous decision by Mercosur’s permanent and associate members, it has been decided– because of the events that occurred last Friday– to suspend Paraguay’s participation in this presidential summit.”
Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman

South American foreign ministers have suspended Paraguay from the regional trade bloc, Mercosur, over last week’s ouster of former President Fernando Lugo.

However, the bloc stopped short of imposing economic sanctions on Paraguay, which is one of the four founding members of the Mercosur bloc, along with Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

Paraguay was banned from this week’s summit held in Mendoza, Argenita, as the regional leaders considered the removal of the country’s first left-wing president as a parliamentary coup.

“Through a unanimous decision by Mercosur’s permanent and associate members, it has been decided– because of the events that occurred last Friday– to suspend Paraguay’s participation in this presidential summit,” Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said on Friday at a news conference.

Last week Paraguay’s Senate removed Lugo from office after a five-hour impeachment trial. He was accused of mishandling an armed clash over a land dispute in which seven police officers and ten landless farmers were killed on June 15.

Lugo was immediately replaced by his pro-US deputy, Federico Franco. The move has prompted harsh criticism inside the country and among its neighboring nations.

South American officials said that the suspension of Paraguay will stand until “democracy is fully restored” to the country.

Bolivian President Evo Morales voiced his concerns over what happened in Paraguay, saying that his country will not “recognize a dictatorship in paraguay.”

Several South American nations have recalled their ambassadors from Paraguay’s capital Asuncion, permanently or for consultation, in a bid to show their opposition to the dismissal of a democratically elected president.

SAB/GHN/AZ
SOURCE

NATO’s Kafkaesque War Against Syria

 Kafka’s ghost wrote the screenplay for NATO’s war against Syria.

Saman Mohammadi

NATO’s war against Syria has been long in the making. In September 2003,the Guardian newspaper wrote about a secret CIA-MI6 plan from 1957 that recommended ways to change the government in Syria and replace it with a puppet regime. Here is an excerpt from the Guardian article:

“The plan called for funding of a “Free Syria Committee”, and the arming of “political factions with paramilitary or other actionist capabilities” within Syria. The CIA and MI6 would instigate internal uprisings, for instance by the Druze in the south, help to free political prisoners held in the Mezze prison, and stir up the Muslim Brotherhood in Damascus.

The planners envisaged replacing the Ba’ath/Communist regime with one that was firmly anti-Soviet, but they conceded that this would not be popular and “would probably need to rely first upon repressive measures and arbitrary exercise of power”.

The plan was never used, chiefly because Syria’s Arab neighbours could not be persuaded to take action and an attack from Turkey alone was thought to be unacceptable. The following year, the Ba’athists moved against their Communist former allies and took Syria into a federation with Gen Nasser’s Egypt, which lasted until 1963.”

Speaking of the CIA-MI6’s 1957 plan for regime change in Syria, the author of the website “Moon of Alabama,” said: “That all sounds very familiar when compared what is happening these days.”

After fifty-five years, the plan to destroy Syria has been put into action by the CIA, MI6, and their clients in the Middle East. A number of factors explain why Washington and London decided to act against Syria this time around.

One, the Arab world has turned on Syria in the wake of the CIA’s Arab Spring, which saw the replacement of anti-Western rulers with pro-Western puppets.

Two, Syria’s former ally, Egypt, has swung to the corner of the Western-backed Muslim Brotherhood, which supports a NATO intervention in Syria. Its real name should be the CIA-MI6-Mossad Brotherhood.

Three, Turkey is led by a foolish and arrogant leader who wants to fulfill the wishes of his Western masters by committing aggression against Syria.

And four, the collapse of the Soviet Union naturally emboldened the U.S. empire and made the power-drunk crazies in Washington dream of world domination. And taking out Syria is part of their insane dream.

Former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury  Paul Craig Roberts says the “criminally insane government in Washington,” poses, “the greatest threat to life on earth that has ever existed.” Roberts writes:

“The neoconservative lie behind Washington’s wars of hegemony is that the US is bringing democracy to the invaded and bombed countries. To paraphrase Mao, “democracy comes out of the barrel of a gun.” However, the Arab Spring has come up short on democracy, as have Iraq and Afghanistan, two countries “liberated” by US democratic invasions.

What the US is bringing is civil wars and the breakup of countries, as President Bill Clinton’s regime achieved in former Yugoslavia. The more countries can be torn into pieces and dissolved into rival factions, the more powerful is Washington.”

Washington’s war against Syria and war against terror are, at their core,propaganda wars. The truth is Washington’s biggest enemy, not this or that country, or this or that terrorist organization. Washington is not afraid of Al-Qaeda, which it created, but whistleblowers, truth-tellers, and investigative journalists.

The surreal aspects of the media war against Syria have not gone unnoticed. The Western media has twisted reality and falsified the crisis from day one. It’s like Kafka’s ghost is penning Barack Obama’s speeches, and NATO’s official statements on the Syrian conflict.

NATO’s latest stunt in its propaganda war against Syria revolves around aTurkish jet illegally invading Syrian airspace. The whole world knows Syria is on the right side, and Turkey is on the wrong side. But right and wrong doesn’t matter to NATO. Reality doesn’t matter, either. This newest provocation by NATO shows that Washington doesn’t care how absurd it’s case against Syria sounds to the international public. It is so committed to its illegal policy of regime change.

Independent journalist Finian Cunningham says that NATO is engineering an, “all-out war in the Middle East,” but still has the audacity to establish “peace” conferences about how to end its own criminal wars. Cunningham writes in his article, “NATO Proxies Turkey and Saudi Arabia Move to War Footing on Eve of Syrian ‘Peace Summit’”:

“The NATO-backed covert aggression against Syria could be reaching a tipping point for all-out war involving state forces. That should be no surprise. For the past 16 months, NATO and its regional proxies have been steadily increasing the violence and turmoil inside and outside Syria, while the Western corporate-controlled media maintain the ridiculous fiction that the bloody chaos is largely due to the government forces of President Bashar Al Assad cracking down on “peaceful protesters”.

Ironically, the crisis is culminating at the same time that the United Nations convenes an emergency summit on Syria in Geneva this weekend. The meeting, which is ostensibly aimed at “reviving the Kofi Annan peace plan”, will be attended by the five permanent members of the UN security council and other “invited” regional states. The irony is that leading NATO members, the US, Britain and France, as well as their Turkish and Arab allies who will also be attending the crisis conference, are the very parties that have deliberately created the precipice for all-out war in the Middle East.”

Syria’s resistance to NATO’s aggression is heroic. The people of Syria have acted bravely by standing together as one and opposing the evil plot that has been hatched against them.

Contrary to popular opinion, the legitimate opposition to Assad in Syria does not want a NATO invasion. There is no need to protect civilians from Assad’s government because his government is not doing the killing. The CIA’s Islamists and other members of NATO’s death squads who are misrepresented as “rebels” are doing the killing. They have proven by their bloodthirsty actions that they are barbaric savages who belong in prison, not in government.

But, Washington doesn’t care how many innocent Syrians are killed as a result of its support for Islamic extremists like Al-Qaeda. “Lives be damned!” shout the maniacs in Washington. They will lay the Middle East flat if it means they get to put their flag on the ruins. Washington’s “humanitarian warriors” are more ruthless and barbaric than Genghis Khan was.

When the history of our age is written, NATO will be remembered as the most rotten and godless empire that the world has ever seen.

Venezuela Condemns “State Coup” in Paraguay

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared Sunday that Fernando Lugo’s dismissal as Paraguayan president was a “state coup”. (AVN)

Ewan Robertson

Edinburgh, 25 June 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela has suspended oil shipments and withdrawn its ambassador from Paraguay as part of a regional wave of condemnation against the ouster of leftist Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo last Friday.

“We are absolutely not going to support this state coup, not directly, neither indirectly,” stated Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez yesterday.

Chavez described Lugo’s political impeachment trial, engineered by the majority conservative parties in Paraguay’s congress and senate, as “express, summary, illegal and unconstitutional,” continuing that “they judged him without evidence, and furthermore from night to day…these things always happen when the bourgeoisie and the right govern”. He further drew parallels with the state coup against Manuel Zelaya in Honduras in June 2009.

Right wing parties in Paraguay’s congress and senate had been blocking Venezuela’s entry into the Mercosur trade bloc despite the approval of Lugo’s presidency and other member states Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

Newly sworn-in de facto Paraguayan president Federico Franco has reiterated his opposition to Venezuela’s entry into Mercosur and stated his opinion that the removal of Lugo has saved Paraguay “from becoming a pro-Chavez satellite”.

Chavez further attacked Paraguay’s new leaders yesterday as “the same as those who made Paraguay a Yankee colony for many years and supported the dictatorship, massacres, tortures and disappearances”.

Social movements in Caracas and other parts of Venezuela also protested against Lugo’s ouster. At a demonstration outside of the Paraguayan embassy in Caracas on Saturday, Hernan Vargas of the Dwellers Movement argued, “What was attacked [in Paraguay] was the people’s will, therefore we condemn the bourgeoisie of Latin America and the political, economic and military factions in Paraguay that lent themselves to this dirty move”.

Regional Criticism

Venezuela’s response toward the situation in Paraguay comes as part of a wave of regional condemnation of Fernando Lugo’s ouster from power.

The nations of the eight-member ALBA alliance, which includes Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua, released a statement immediately after Lugo’s impeachment trial condemning it as a “state coup”. The ALBA countries also declared their support of Lugo as the elected president and their refusal to recognise the government of Federico Franco, “elected by 39 votes in the Paraguayan senate”.

Along with Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, and Mexico have also withdrawn their ambassadors from Paraguay.

Meanwhile the Mercosur bloc released a communication on Sunday, further signed by associate states Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, suspending Paraguay from Mercosur and barring its attendance at the upcoming Mercosur summit this 28 – 29 June in Mendoza, Argentina.

The statement indicated the countries’ “most energetic condemnation of the rupture of democratic order that has occurred in the Republic of Paraguay, for due process not having been respected”.

The 12 member Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), of which Paraguay currently holds the rotating presidency, is set to meet this Wednesday in Lima, Peru, to discuss the situation. Ecuador will propose UNASUR’s Democratic Clause by applied to Paraguay and it is likely that Peru will assume the UNASUR presidency early, rather than waiting until November.

If Paraguay is deemed to have violated the UNASUR’s Democratic Clause, it could face expulsion from UNASUR and Mercosur.

Lugo has confirmed he will attend both the Mercosur and Unasur summits, and will facilitate the handover of the UNASUR presidency. While agreeing to step aside after Friday’s trial, on Sunday he announced the formation of a parallel government, declaring the Franco government installed to replace him as illegitimate.

The Organisation of American States (OAS) will also meet this Wednesday to discuss possible measures relating to the situation in Paraguay. On Saturday OAS general secretary Jose Miguel Insulza voiced the “doubts” of “the international community” over whether the events leading to Lugo’s dismissal had complied with “universal principals of due process and legitimate law”.

Canada, Germany and Spain have already recognised the new Paraguayan regime. The United States has yet to declare whether it will recognise the Franco government.

A former Roman Catholic bishop, Fernando Lugo’s election in 2008 on the promise of agrarian reform and helping the poor majority ended 61 years of rule by the conservative Colorado party.

The senate impeachment trial accused him on five counts of misconduct including linking him to a recent clash where police tried to evict squatters on lands held by a wealthy politician, which resulted in 17 dead. Lugo’s impeachment trial lasted for little over 5 hours with limited time given for him to prepare a defence, after which with 39 votes in favour and 4 against the Paraguayan senate dismissed from office.

Syria: Armed Terrorist Groups Foil Efforts to Evacuate Children, Injured People from Homs

SANA

An official source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry stated on Thursday that for the fifth time, the armed terrorist groups foiled efforts exerted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the local authorities in Homs city to evacuate the wounded people, children and people with special needs from Homs neighborhoods.

The source added that the Syrian Government has offered all facilities to the ICRC and the SARC to evacuate the innocent citizens and offer them medical aid and food, pointing out that after the International Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent exerted enormous efforts throughout the past days, the armed groups rejected to let the citizens leave the areas which they control.

The source said that the Syrian Government calls on the UN Security Council, the Human Rights Council and the international community to exert pressure over those terrorist groups.

The source concluded that Syria will do its best to defend its people, and it will assume full responsibility for evacuating the innocent citizens and prevent the armed terrorist groups from continuing bloodshed in Syria.

Terrorist Group Assassinates University Professor and a Number of Her Family Members in Homs Countryside

SANA

In the framework Of targeting the national expertise and intellectuals, an armed terrorist group on Thursday assassinated Dr. Ahlam Imad, the Professor at Petrochemical Engineering Faculty at al-Baath University in Homs.

A source at the governorate told SANA reporter that the armed terrorist group attacked the house of Dr. Imad at al-Hossn town, Homs countryside, and opened fire on her and her family member which led to her immediate martyrdom with her mother, father and three children of her sister.

The source added that the inhabitants of the neighborhood, where the Professor lives, informed the competent authorities who interfered and clashed with the terrorists who committed the massacre. The clash resulted in the killing of 10 terrorists, two of whom are of Arab nationalities and the injury of 20 others.

In Taldaw, in Homs suburbs, the authorities clashed with terrorist Khaled Mohammad Walid Abdel Wahed and killed him and seized weapons that were in his possession included a machine gun, a sniper, six bombs, and a quantity of ammunition.

On the other hand, engineer units in Homs dismantled two explosive charges weighing 40 kg for each. The devices were planted at the gas station of Kafer Enab village.

Authorities Storm Terrorist Hideouts in Daraa, Arrest Terrorists and Kill Others

Authorities on Thursday stormed several terrorist hideouts in Kafr Shams town in Daraa countryside, arrested many terrorists and seized large amounts of weapons.

A source in the province said that the bodies of 12 terrorists were found in one of the hideouts who were shot at close range which indicates that they were killed by other terrorists.

In Kafr Nasej, the authorities clashed with an armed terrorist group which attacked the law-enforcement members in the region, killing 5 terrorists, arresting 13 others, seizing weapons and recovering a Van and pick-up car.

A Citizen Martyred in Explosion of Booby-Trapped Bicycle in Idleb

In Idleb, a citizen was martyred in explosion of a booby-trapped bicycle near Agricultural Researches Center in Idleb.

A source at the governorate said to SANA reporter the explosion resulted in the martyrdom of Samer Kurdi, and material damages to passing cars. No damages in the Agricultural Researches Center were reported.

World Congress of Families Meets, Seeks a New Dark Ages

Because these ideals don’t line up with the way many people live and think about their lives, it’s tempting to dismiss the WCF as a gathering of out-of-touch extremists. Scratch the surface, though, and what you find are well-connected and well-funded groups hard at work codifying their “traditional values” through national and regional legislatures and judiciaries.


Gillian Kane

Last month the World Congress of Families (WCF), an international conservative network, met at the Palacio de Congresos in Madrid to share tactics in defense of the “natural family.” For its participants the natural family is a standard for social values that harkens back to a mythical era when men headed the household, women tended the kitchen and children, and sex was for procreation only.

Because these ideals don’t line up with the way many people live and think about their lives, it’s tempting to dismiss the WCF as a gathering of out-of-touch extremists. Scratch the surface, though, and what you find are well-connected and well-funded groups hard at work codifying their “traditional values” through national and regional legislatures and judiciaries.

The conference theme, “Marriage and Family, the Future of Society,” echoed many of the concerns of conservative religious organizations here in the U.S. (the WCF, unsurprisingly, is headquartered in Rockford, Illinois). While drolly retrograde panels like “Authentic Women and Rediscovering Homemaking” and “Solutions to Homosexual Behavior” featured prominently, embedded in these and most other panels were serious themes articulating a conservative worldview and strategies for protecting and promoting them in the public sphere.

Personal improvement sessions like “Keeping Families Together,” “The Case for Marriage, Purity and Abstinence: How to Develop Character,” and Promoting Fatherhood (Crisis in Manhood),” were outnumbered by those analyzing opposition tactics like, “Threats to Life and Family in International Law,” “The Homosexual Lobby,” “The Natural Family and the Revolution against the Family,” and counter-strategic sessions like “How to Fight Back against International Law,” or “How to Impact Public Policies and Elections.”

2012 marked the first time the WCF devoted an entire day to organizing with parliamentarians and civil society. The invitation-only International Parliamentary Forum met to develop concrete political and legislative solutions in defense of the natural family. By far the biggest block of participating parliamentarians was from Spain’s newly installed conservative party, the Partido Popular (PP).

With a political platform staunchly opposed to reproductive and sexual rights, the Partido Popular is a natural ally for the WCF. Among their first announcements upon entering office was the promise to restrict Spain’s progressive abortion laws; specifically denying youth access without parental consent (youth rights versus parental rights was a central theme of many conference presentations). The PP’s promise to replace a required public school class—which includes instruction on respect for human rights and sexual diversity, among other topics—with one that would exclude “contents that could be used for ideological indoctrination,” drew high praise from participants.

What emerged after three days was a clear tension between agitating against governments, courts, and international human rights bodies that had “corrupted the meaning and dignity of marriage, devalued parenting, encouraged easy divorce and births outside of marriage, confused sexual identities, promoted promiscuity, created conditions that increased child abuse, isolated the elderly, and fostered depopulation,” and figuring out how to best manipulate those same systems into defending their particular religious values.

One concern undergirding the varied topics covered by the speakers was that the protection of individual rights (youth rights, gay rights, reproductive rights) was taking place at the expense of “fundamental” religious, cultural, and parental rights. The idea of Christian persecution, or Christianophobia, was echoed throughout and the human rights framework was frequently misappropriated to serve the needs of a given speaker. Human rights were oppressive when they protected reproductive and gender rights (or “new” rights), whereas, when it came to protecting “traditional” rights to freedom of religion and speech, they were suddenly fundamental. New rights, they argued, cannot supersede traditional human rights. When they do, these rights violations must be redressed.

This very argument is being used in the debate over the Obama health care reform law, one of the main objections to which is access to reproductive health care. Lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the mandate, however, do not directly confront abortion and contraception, but are based on the purported violation of the First Amendment. Stand Up For Religious Freedom, one of the lead networks agitating against health care reform, explicitly states that: “the American ideal of religious liberty is at stake. This isn’t really about contraception—it’s about the First Amendment.”

Editor’s Note: Invoking paternalistic privilege as the “father of two daughters,” President Obama ignored the advice of the FDA and betrayed millions of teenage girls and women by denying them over-the-counter access to the Plan B “morning after” pill. Democrats just as much as Republicans are a party of “family values” reaction that targets women, youth, and LGBT people.

The Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), one of four World Congress of Families co-conveners, has been extremely active in “defending religious organizations and businesses that refuse to comply with the mandate and abandon their faith.” To date they have filed three lawsuits against the Obama administration, each claiming that the health mandate is unconstitutional based on its violation of the First and Fifth Amendments.

The ADF is also actively litigating religious freedom cases overseas. Because U.S. justices are increasingly citing progressive international jurisprudence in their opinions and decisions, much of the ADF’s international litigation is aimed at ensuring that foreign rulings serve its domestic objectives. This, despite ADF Chief Council’s Benjamin Bull’s comment that “The Constitution is the only arbiter of American law. Allowing foreign or international law to determine the legitimacy of American law is completely unjustifiable and rife with dire consequences.” Presumably it is fine for activist American justices to cite international jurisprudence if it advances their religious agenda.

Roger Kiska, an Ave Maria-trained lawyer, runs ADF’s European office. Located in Vienna, it’s a Eurail ride from both the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and the European Court of Human rights in Strasbourg, where Kiska spends a great deal of time. Kiska is developing an allied attorney network dedicated to litigating European cases with the potential to impact ADF work in the United States. Kiska’s WCF presentation, “How to Fight Back against International Law,” included a four-point strategy that, while not revealing too many trade secrets, was notable for its venomous tone toward “humanists” and others who, he says, accuse Christians of demanding preferential treatment.

The European premiere of the Hollywood film For Greater Glory perfectly complemented the persecution complex detectable in many presentations. Titled Cristiada in Spain, the film chronicles the Mexican Cristero War as experienced by Catholic militia who opposed attempts by the post-Mexican Revolution government to impose anticlerical laws. A New York Times review described the movie’s characters as “clear-cut saints and sinners.” Like the Cristeros fighting against the Mexican lay state, WCF members see their battle as one of religious freedom against an oppressive state bent on forcing them to reject their values and accept a secular, relativist one.

While WCF participants make the case that they’re being denied their fundamental rights, they are in fact using “religious freedom” as a cover to deny women, children, sexual minorities, and others access to basic needs and protections. The WCF may want to take us back to the Dark Ages, but they’re not afraid to use modern human rights systems to get there.

On the final day of the conference Paul Herzog Von Oldenburg, the Belgian president of the right-wing Catholic group Tradition, Family and Property, summarized it best: “our great aim, our great ideal, is to build a Christian civilization from the ruins of the modern world just as the medieval world arose from the ruins of the Roman world.”

The Capitalist State: Instrument of Repression

Spartacist Canada

The daily police attacks and mass arrests during the Quebec student strike show vividly the purpose of the bourgeois state, including the cops and courts: to protect the rule of the capitalists against those whom they oppress and exploit. We print below excerpts from a section titled “The Capitalist State” in The ABC of Communism, a 1919 pamphlet written by Bolshevik leaders Nikolai Bukharin and Evgeny Preobrazhensky. The October 1917 Bolshevik-led workers revolution overthrew Russia’s repressive bourgeois state machine, replacing it with the rule of the working class in the interests of the vast majority.

As we have seen, capitalist society is based upon the exploitation of labour. A small minority owns everything; the working masses own nothing. The capitalists command. The workers obey. The capitalists exploit. The workers are exploited. The very essence of capitalist society is found in this merciless and ever-increasing exploitation.

Capitalist production is a practical instrument for the extraction of surplus value.

Why has this instrument been able to continue in operation so long? For what reason do the workers tolerate such a state of affairs?

This question is by no means easy to answer at first sight. Speaking generally there are two reasons for it: in the first place, because the capitalist class is well organized and powerful; secondly, because the bourgeoisie frequently controls the brains of the working class.

The most trustworthy means at the disposal of the bourgeoisie for this purpose is its organization as the State. In all capitalist countries the State is merely a union of the master class. Let us consider any country you like: Britain, the United States, France, or Japan. Everywhere we find that the ministers, high officials, members of parliament, are either capitalists, landowners, factory owners, and financial magnates, or else the faithful and well-paid servants of these—lawyers, bank managers, professors, army officers, archbishops, and bishops, who serve the capitalists, not from fear but from conviction.

The union of all these individuals belonging to the bourgeoisie, a union which embraces the entire country and holds everything in its grasp, is known as the State. This organization of the bourgeoisie has two leading aims. The first and most important of these is to suppress disorders and insurrections on the part of the workers, to ensure the undisturbed extraction of surplus value from the working class, to increase the strength of the capitalist means of production. The second aim is to strive against other organizations of the same kind (that is to say, against other bourgeois States), to compete with them for a larger share in surplus value. Thus the capitalist State is a union of the master class, formed to safeguard exploitation….

Against the working class, the State can employ measures of two different kinds, brute force and spiritual subjugation. These constitute the most important instruments of the capitalist State.

Among the organs of brute force, must first be enumerated the army and the police, the prisons and the law-courts. Next must be mentioned accessory organs, such as spies, provocative agents, organized strikebreakers, hired assassins, etc….

The administration of justice in the bourgeois State is a means of self-defence for the bourgeois class. Above all, it is employed to settle with those who infringe the rights of capitalist property or interfere with the capitalist system. Bourgeois justice sent [German Communist leader Karl] Liebknecht to prison, but acquitted Liebknecht’s murderer. The State prison service settles accounts quite as effectively as does the executioner of the bourgeois State. Its shafts are directed, not against the rich, but against the poor.

Such are the institutions of the capitalist State, institutions which effect the direct and brutal oppression of the working class.

Among the means of spiritual subjugation at the disposal of the capitalist State, three deserve especial mention: the State school; the State church; and the State, or State-supported, press.

The bourgeoisie is well aware that it cannot control the working masses by the use of force alone. It is necessary that the workers’ brains should be completely enmeshed as if in a spider’s web. The bourgeois State looks upon the workers as working cattle; these beasts must labour, but they must not bite. Consequently, they must not merely be whipped or shot when they attempt to bite, but they must be trained and tamed, just as wild beasts in a menagerie are trained by beast-tamers. Similarly, the capitalist State maintains specialists to stupefy and subdue the proletariat; it maintains bourgeois teachers and professors, the clergy, bourgeois authors and journalists. In the State schools these specialists teach children from their earliest years to obey capital and to despise and hate “rebels.”…

In this manner the capitalist system ensures its own development. The machine of exploitation does its work. Surplus value is continually extracted from the working class. The capitalist State stands on guard, and takes good care that there shall be no uprising of the wage slaves.

—N. Bukharin and E. Preobrazhensky, The ABC of Communism (1919)

Editor’s Note: This quote dispels the myth that the capitalist State is a neutral arbiter in any situation. It will always seek to defend the rule of the capitalist class. As such, efforts to expand the size and scope of the State must be opposed. We must be especially vigilant when these efforts are aimed at controlling people’s private lives or are proposed under such righteous banners as “protecting children.” Only when those who labor rule can the State serve the interests of the vast majority and defend the oppressed against their oppressors.

— Nina Westbury