Dalai Lama’s “Tibetan Orphans” Taken from Parents

“Violation of common ethics and morality”

Xinhua

In 1963, seven-year-old Tibi Lhundub Tsering was picked up by his foster parents at Zurich Airport, Switzerland. His mother Youden Jampa, working in a road-building camp in India, knew nothing of her son’s whereabouts.

This is the beginning of the inconvenient and uncomfortable truth presented in Swiss documentary “Tibi and his mothers” directed by Ueli Meier.

According to the documentary, Tibi was one of the 200 so-called “Tibetan orphans” who were brought to Switzerland in the 1960s from the Nursery for Tibetan Refugee Children in Dharamsala headed by Tsering Dolma, the elder sister of the Dalai Lama. They were moved through a program privately run by Swiss entrepreneur Charles Aeschimann and approved by the Dalai Lama.

Contrary to the expectations of the foster parents in Switzerland, only 19 of these children were orphans, while the vast majority had at least one parent in Tibet, often both, said Meier in the bonus feature of the DVD edition, citing a report by Aeschimann.

In a confidential letter in February 1963, the Swiss Ambassador to India at the time said he discovered many of these “orphans” selected in Dharamsala actually had at least one parent. He warned against the “human and spiritual difficulties” faced by children who became “contractually assigned care items” thanks to the agreement between Aeschimann and the Dalai Lama.

Meier said during his research on the documentary, many documents showed that Aeschimann and the Dalai Lama had divergent interests in their arrangement. While Aeschimann wanted a child refuge, the Dalai Lama appeared to intend to turn the children into an elite for the “Tibetan government-in-exile”.

According to letters between the two, the Dalai Lama never mentioned the psychological well-being of the children after being separated from their parents and only had limited discussion with Aeschimann about them, the director said in an interview with Swiss German-language daily Neue Zuricher Zeitung, which ran a series of reports in September questioning the “Tibetan orphans” program.

As for Tibi, protagonist of the documentary, the tender care and devotion of his foster parents cannot replace the love of his birth mother. He went off the rails and almost lost himself after he visited his birth parents for the first time years later and realised his mother will never be able to understand him.

The film accompanied Tibi on his journey to visit his birth mother in India and his foster mother in Gruningen, Switzerland. “While observing the now quiet everyday life of the two old women, distant memories emerge silently and sometimes painfully to the surface,” says the introduction of the film.

The director said he learned many tragic stories of the former foster children during his research.

A study published in 1982 by the University of Zurich found that among the Tibetans who grew up in Switzerland, suicides were only reported in the group of “Aeschimann Children,” Meier pointed out in the interview with the Swiss newspaper.

Meier said he sent an interview request to the Dalai Lama’s bureau in Geneva, but was met with silence.

On Tuesday, the Chinese government condemned the Dalai Lama and his clique for abusing children’s rights by orchestrating the 1960s campaign to send Tibetan “orphans” to Switzerland.

At a regular news briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, “The Dalai Lama’s deeds have trampled on the children’s individual rights and publicly violated common ethics and morality. All humane, justice-loving people should condemn such acts.”

The Russian Revolution Changed The World Forever

ussr-soviet-day

Stephen Millies

Ninety-six years ago on Nov. 7, 1917, workers and peasants overthrew the capitalist government in Russia.

Two million soldiers in the Russian army had died in World War I. Russia was ruled by the cruel Czar Nicholas II.

Like the United States, the Russian Empire was a big prison of oppressed nationalities. Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Poles, Ukrainians, Georgians, Finns, Armenians and other peoples were denied self-determination.

Russian peasants and workers were also oppressed. Many had been serfs, a sort of land slavery. Serf families couldn’t be broken up and sold like cattle, as African slaves were in the U.S., but they could be worked to death. Thirty thousand serfs died building St. Petersburg, the former Russian capital.

Serfdom was abolished in 1861, two years after John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry. The outbreak of the U.S. Civil War may have influenced the czar to get rid of serfdom before the serfs got rid of him.

Lenin and the Bolsheviks

By 1914, serfdom was gone, but 30,000 big landlords still ruled the countryside. The vast majority of people were peasants who couldn’t read or write. Women had no rights.

Foreign capital poured into Russia, grabbing huge profits from long workdays in the factories. Striking workers were shot down.

Oppression breeds revolution. V.I. Lenin was the greatest leader of Russia’s revolution. He built a communist party commonly known as the Bolsheviks.

Lenin was 17 when his older brother Alexander was hanged in 1887 for trying to assassinate Czar Alexander III. That’s the same age Black revolutionary Jonathan Jackson was in 1970, when he was killed trying to free his older brother George Jackson and other political prisoners.

Lenin studied the teachings of Karl Marx. Lenin taught that workers had to be imbued with Marx’s revolutionary knowledge and determination to win.

Soviets vs. pogroms

The first Russian Revolution broke out in 1905. Workers went on strike, shutting down factories and railroads. Peasants burned the gentry’s mansions. Czarism was on the ropes.

Workers formed councils called soviets. These councils had no formal legislative power, but they had great authority among the workers, peasants and soldiers.

European banks poured in loans to save czarist tyranny. The 1905 Revolution was defeated. The czar was able to pit peasant soldiers against workers and even other peasants, just as billionaires divide poor and working people in the U.S. today with racism and anti-immigrant bigotry.

Mass lynchings called pogroms killed Jewish people, just as the Ku Klux Klan did to African Americans here.

The Bolsheviks fought pogroms with guns in hand. Lenin waged war on racism. He enriched Marxism by teaching that workers in the big capitalist countries had to support revolts in the colonies.

“What emotion, enthusiasm, clear- sightedness and confidence it instilled into me!” was how Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh described Lenin’s “Theses on the National and Colonial Questions.”

Peace, land and bread

Sick of war and hunger, women textile workers in Petersburg went on strike on March 8, 1917, International Working Women’s Day. The holiday commemorates a 1908 march of women garment workers in New York City.

Five days later, czarism was overthrown. Workers, peasants and soldiers made that revolution, but capitalists controlled the new government.

For the next eight months Lenin’s Bolsheviks won millions of poor people to socialist revolution by demanding bread, peace and land. Despite Lenin and other leaders being forced underground, Bolsheviks won majorities in the soviets that sprung up everywhere.

These soviets overthrew capitalist politician Alexander Kerensky on Nov. 7 (Oct. 25 by the old Russian calendar). Many peoples, not just Russians, rose up to break their chains.

Peasants threw out their landlords. Bolsheviks exposed secret treaties among the imperialists that divided up colonies. This revolutionary energy helped overthrow Germany’s kaiser and end World War I in 1918.

Capitalist governments, including the U.S., then waged war against the Soviets on a dozen fronts. But the Red Army, organized and led by another Bolshevik leader, Leon Trotsky, was victorious.

The 73-year war

Following Lenin’s death the enormous difficulties involved in trying to build socialism in a very underdeveloped country, encircled by imperialism, led to struggles in the party and then to backward steps. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin purged Bolshevik opponents while making concessions to careerists and increasing inequality.

Nevertheless, at the same time the Soviet Union launched the first and biggest affirmative action program in history. Every person had the right to education in their own language. The Soviet five-year plans created the world’s second-biggest economy. Everyone had a job.

But the Soviet Union remained the target of world capitalism. German big capital handed power to Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Party so the Nazis could crush the German working class. German imperialism invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.

With Stalin leading the government, the Soviet Union defeated Hitler, but nearly 26 million Soviet people died in World War II. The Red Army liberated all of Eastern Europe from Nazi rule, including the extermination camp at Auschwitz.

The Pentagon spent $5.5 trillion on nuclear weapons aimed at the Soviet Union. This relentless pressure undermined socialist solidarity and finally led to the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Despite this tremendous defeat, the lessons of the October Revolution will live forever.

Russian Revolution Still a Shining Example

worker-kolkhoz.jpg

Eugene Puryear

(Originally posted in Nov. 2009 and updated slightly.)

Nov. 7 marks the 96th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution. While the revolution itself could be considered a more drawn-out process, Nov. 7 stands as its most outstanding date. When the majority of workers, peasants and soldiers took over state and governmental power, for the first time in the history of class society a country was not controlled and governed by a tiny group of monarchists, capitalists or other exploiting class.

Just six months before, all actors in the political drama had considered it impossible for such a revolution to occur so soon.

Prior to the revolution, the Russian Empire—roughly the same territory later covered by the Soviet Union—was ruled by the czar, or emperor. The czar had absolute power. He ruled both through the Russian Orthodox Church, which created a religious veneer for the regime, and by virtue of his hereditary position as the richest and most central of a group of feudal princes who divided the land amongst themselves.

Small in number, they had tied the vast majority of the country, some four-fifths of the population, to the land like feudal serfs. Although serfdom was formally abolished in 1861, serf-like conditions continued well into the 20th century. Along with the feudal remnants of the 17th century, a section of the nobility wished not only to emulate Europe but also to establish the place of the ruling classes of Russia alongside those of Britain, France and Germany—that is, the most powerful capitalist countries of Europe. That meant Russia also had to develop capitalist industry.

The czar, however, was aware that popular forces led by the capitalist class had overthrown the absolute monarchs in Western Europe. He therefore sought to control the process and preserve the aristocratic class. Capitalism in Russia thus developed in its own peculiar and somewhat “deformed” way. As a proportion of the economy, industry remained relatively small. However, in technique it matched the advanced nations of Western Europe, and indeed foreign, mostly British and French, investors owned most of Russian industry.

The workers were drawn from the peasantry, closely connecting the two laboring classes. Many of Russia’s new capitalists were also landowners and part of the nobility. Illiteracy, poverty, hunger, disease and poor housing ravaged the lives of both the workers and the peasants, in sharp distinction to the great wealth and high living of the czar and aristocracy.

Elements of the new capitalist class in Russia, however, chafed under the czar, as did many of the intelligentsia. Both sectors resented and felt oppressed by the czar’s absolute power. These pressures accompanied the demands of the workers and peasants for more economic and political rights.

War lays basis for revolution

When Russia followed France and England into the First World War, social tensions inside the empire became exacerbated. By 1917, war had wreaked a terrible toll. The brunt of the hundreds of thousands of deaths was borne by the peasants, who were forcibly conscripted. Hunger, disease and poor living conditions ravaged the rank-and-file soldiers just as the rest of the exploited classes.

It was under these pressures that the czar’s regime finally fell. On International Women’s Day, Feb. 23, 1917, on the Gregorian calendar, women textile workers launched a strike in Petrograd, the capital of Russia. Over five days, the textile workers’ strike grew into a general strike, and the army split, with rank-and-file soldiers coming over to the side of the workers.

It took five days for the czar’s government in Petrograd to fall, and some months for the monarchy to be swept away in various parts of the country. Parties representing the capitalists, petty capitalist elements and, purportedly, the peasantry, formed a provisional government.

The reformist socialists—the Mensheviks—and the peasant-based Social Revolutionary Party supported the provisional government. The Mensheviks justified their support for the new bourgeois government by arguing that the revolution would have to pass through a separate “bourgeois” stage where a capitalist republic would be established, with formal democratic rights, as a prerequisite for a socialist revolution. Until their central leader, Vladimir I. Lenin, returned from forced exile in April 1917, the Bolshevik Party, too, gave support to the new regime.

The provisional government, however, was very fragile. The weak Russian capitalist class, totally dependent on Anglo-French imperialism, could not end Russia’s involvement in the war. Prostrate before the Western imperialists, and with little to no independent social base, forces of the provisional government began to move closer to monarchist elements scheming to return to power.

Meanwhile, the workers and peasants had created their own structures of power—soviets. The soviets, or councils, were mass democratic organs based in the factories, districts and military units, as well in some parts of the countryside.

Thus, a type of “dual power” arose. On the one hand, the precarious provisional government was besieged on all sides, unable to end the war or meet the workers’ and peasants’ other social and economic demands. And on the other, the soviets of soldiers, workers and peasants potentially represented the interests of the toiling, exploited masses, who continued to clamor for relief from the jaws of war and poverty.

In April 1917, Bolshevik leader Lenin arrived in Petrograd and grasped the situation immediately. He understood that the nascent Russian capitalist class could not end the war and would not touch the great landed estates or capitalist industry, leaving all the demands of the masses unmet. He argued that instead the soviets of soldiers’, workers’, and peasants’ deputies should take power in their own name.

Rather than depend on the provisional government to provide “Land, Peace, and Bread,” they should gather all the power in the organs of the working masses, demanding and achieving “All Power to the Soviets.” When Lenin first produced his famous April Theses, only a small minority of the party’s Central Committee supported his position. But the force of his arguments and the unfolding of events soon won over the Bolshevik leaders and rapidly growing rank-and-file membership.

On Nov. 7 (Oct. 25 according to the old Russian calendar) the workers, peasants and soldiers rose again, and it was these two slogans that drew them over to the Bolsheviks, giving the revolutionary communists leadership of the soviets. Under that leadership, the workers in alliance with the peasantry deposed the provisional government and assumed total control through the soviets.

This “October Revolution” reverberated all around the world. In China, where Marxism had no history, small circles of revolutionaries began to discuss the ideas of communism. Among them was Mao Tse-tung who urged the Chinese people to “Arise and Imitate” the great popular unity of the October rising. Two years later, in May 1920, Mao and the few other communists formed the Chinese Communist Party, which went on to lead the great Chinese Revolution of 1949.

Over time, when at the peak of its power, U.S. imperialism, along with its imperialist allies, succeeded in dividing the world communist movement and containing the Russian Revolution, leading to the overthrow of the Soviet Union and to other major working-class defeats.

Millions have looked to the Russian Revolution for inspiration, however, because it continues to stand as a shining example of how the majority of society, its exploited and oppressed masses, can under the leadership of a revolutionary party take power in their own hands, mold it in their favor and take a giant leap toward wiping away all vestiges of exploitation.

With capitalism entering an era of deepening crisis, and U.S. imperialism in apparently irreversible decline, the beacon of the October Revolution shines brighter than ever.

USA Maneuvering for UN-Sanctioned Attack vs. Syria

Richard Becker

Having been forced to back off from a threatened military attack on Syria by intense international and domestic opposition, the Obama administration is now seeking to lay the basis for a UN Security Council-sanctioned assault.

On Sept. 13, an agreement was reached between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on a plan to dismantle Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons. The government of Syria expressed support for the agreement, while the Syrian armed opposition has condemned it.

Having been delayed in carrying out a direct military attack, the United States, Britain and France are seeking to use any UN Security Council resolution as the basis for a renewed push toward a Pentagon bombing campaign. Russia and China, which hold the two other seats in the Security Council, are attempting to word any Syria resolution in a way that prevents it from being used or interpreted as a rationale for such an intervention.

France was the colonial power over Lebanon and Syria. Britain was the other major colonial power in the Middle East until the end of World War II. The United States took their place as the major imperial power in the region in the post-World II era.

The ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), which organized protests around the country in the weeks prior to Obama’s announcement that he was pulling back from an imminent military attack on Syria, stated: “We believe that the issue of chemical weapons is being used as a pretext for greater intervention by the United States, Britain and France to carry out a larger but unstated agenda in the Middle East, which is to destroy every single independent, nationalist government in this oil-rich region.”

The United States has more than 5,000 nuclear weapons and is providing more than $3 billion each year to Israel, which has a large stockpile of chemical and biological weapons and, even more importantly, a large number of nuclear weapons. When the United States demanded last week that Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile be destroyed, they made sure to avoid language calling for a regional ban on such weapons since it would have highlighted the fact that the U.S. government’s principal ally, Israel, possesses these weapons.

Maneuvers at the United Nations

The plan agreed to by Syria calls for the Syrian government to turn over a list of its chemical weapons and where they are stored by Sept. 21. UN weapons inspectors are to arrive in Syria by mid-November and the weapons are supposed to be destroyed by the middle of 2014.

The agreement is being turned into a UN Security Council resolution. Kerry is demanding that the resolution include authorization for military strikes on Syria if it is deemed to not having sufficiently complied with the resolution. But the Russian government opposes this provision, and Russia is one of the five states that have veto power in the Security Council.

Both Obama and Kerry have repeatedly threatened that the United States could still carry out a unilateral attack on Syria, regardless of the wording of a UNSC resolution.

Chemical weapons report—More questions

The rationale for the U.S. threats of military action was a chemical weapons attack in Ghouta and the surrounding area east of Syria’s capital Damascus on Aug. 21. Obama and Kerry have blamed the Syrian government for the attack from the start. More than a year ago, the President Obama declared that use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would cross a “red line,” triggering a U.S. military response.

A team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had arrived in Syria on Aug. 18 to investigate an earlier alleged use of chemical weapons in the city of Aleppo.

That the Syrian government would launch a large-scale chemical weapons attack immediately after the arrival of the OPCW team in the country seems illogical, even more so given that the government forces have been making major gains in the war over the past several months.

The OPCW team conducted an investigation of the Aug. 21 attack and issued its report to the UN on Sept. 16 confirming that a chemical weapons attack had taken place, but not assigning responsibility. While the United States, Britain, France and Turkey have all blamed the Syrian government, the Syrian government has adamantly denied using chemical weapons and accused the opposition of staging a provocation to justify a U.S./NATO assault.

On Sept. 18, the Agence France Presse reported that the Syrian government had forwarded “new evidence showing it was opposition forces were behind the sarin attack” to the UN.

Besides responsibility for the Aug. 21 attack, the OPCW report leaves other unanswered questions. The Ghouta area is in Syrian opposition hands and the report states, regarding evidence the OPCW was collecting: “During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.”

The OPCW report does not include the estimated death toll. While the United States claims that at least 1,429 were killed, Britain and France have reported far lower figures, 350 and 281 respectively.

The report states that a deadly nerve gas, sarin, was delivered by M14 artillery rockets. But the question of whether the armed opposition possesses such munitions and sarin gas itself is not addressed.

There have been numerous reports of rebel forces possessing and seeking to produce sarin. On Sept. 13, the Los Angeles Times reported that a Turkish prosecutor had indicted six members of the Syrian opposition for attempting to procure precursor materials for creating sarin. The government of Turkey, it should be noted, has been strongly supporting the opposition.

The opposition Syrian National Coalition and “Free Syrian Army” have expressed bitter disappointment that the U.S./NATO air strikes they were hoping for did not materialize. They were counting on foreign intervention to tip the military balance in their favor, as it has become clear that they cannot win without it.

While it is worthwhile to skeptically examine the claims of those who are set on attacking Syria, the people’s opposition to a new imperial war against Syria should not be premised on whether or not chemical weapons were used either by pro-government forces or by the armed Syrian opposition. Rather it is necessary to expose the imperial motives of the United States, Britain and France, who are seeking any pretext to carry out their semi-colonial designs on the peoples of the region. These same imperialist forces have used nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Imperialist powers do not go to war because of “moral outrage” about the use of any particular weapon.

While the Obama administration was forced to pull back from military strikes, it has not given up on the objective it shares with the 11 other presidencies dating back to World War II: domination of the oil-rich and strategic Middle East. That means the anti-war movement must stay on alert.

Understanding the New Stage of the Syria Crisis

Brian Becker

Has the United States stepped back from the edge of the precipice?  Has the catastrophe been averted?

The U.S. war threat against Syria has not ended. But the particular path to war has required a shift because of resounding domestic and global opposition.

The U.S. Congress will now be asked to pass a different resolution than the one originally supported by the White House. The new resolution will be constructed to authorize Obama to carry out military strikes if the U.S. government decides that Syria is not in full compliance with a new UN resolution calling for its chemical weapons stockpiles to be totally destroyed.

This was precisely the scenario used by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney when they launched the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Even though the Iraqi government complied with UN weapons inspections demands and was actively disarming its own military forces, Bush simply declared that Saddam Hussein was not complying with UN resolutions and launched the U.S. war that toppled the government.

In Syria, like with Iraq, Libya and Iran for the past decades, the U.S. government goal of toppling independent, nationalist governments uses an assortment of tactics, including economic and financial sanctions, funding and arming internal domestic opposition, providing international legitimacy and recognition to the internal opposition, cyber attacks, and in some cases direct bombings and invasion.

Progressive and anti-colonial people should reject and oppose not simply one tactic like direct bombing but rather expose all forms of imperial domination against targeted countries.

In the case of Syria today, any push back or delay of the U.S. bombing of Syria is of extreme importance for the people of Syria. But it is certainly not the end of the struggle.

Russia’s proposal in context

The Russian government has offered a face-saving proposal to President Obama that is seen as a “way out” of the wildly unpopular U.S. bombing campaign against Syria.

It seemed likely that President Obama’s war resolution was going to fail in the House of Representatives and even possibly in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The people of the United States, in vast numbers, oppose the planned war against Syria even as the president and Secretary of State have tried to win them over by assuring them that only Syrians will bleed, which is the actual political meaning of the oft-repeated phrase “no boots on the ground.”

Although no details are yet available, the Russian proposal was immediately agreed to by Syria. The gist of the proposal is to put Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile under the control of the United Nations for their eventual elimination. Syria said it agreed to the Russian proposal as a way “to uproot U.S. aggression.” Syria has denied that it used chemical weapons on August 21 and suggested that the attack was a staged provocation by those who are seeking to draw in U.S. intervention to topple the regime.

UN as a double-edged sword

There will undoubtedly be another UN proposal put forward that also includes language asserting that the Assad government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack and those responsible for the attack must “be held accountable.” This would lead to the possible indictment and arrest of Assad for war crimes. This is a tack that the imperialists have used in several countries where the government is targeted for regime change by U.S. policy makers.

Such a poison-pill resolution would be unlikely to be accepted by Syria. Hopefully, Russia and China would also openly reject such a resolution, which is designed to lay the basis for open imperialist aggression.

The origins of Obama’s political crisis

Despite global and domestic opposition to the planned bombing campaign, Obama had continued his transition during the past weeks into the camp of John McCain, Lindsey Graham and his neo-con Secretary of State. This was the camp that had argued for direct military intervention because Assad could not be toppled through the civil war.

For the last two years, Obama supported the regime change plan through the agency of a foreign-funded civil war. His CIA, working in Jordan, coordinated the massive shipments of weapons to armed groups that were fighting the Syrian government. They used proxies and partners like Saudi Arabia as the source of the weapons, but it was the Obama administration’s strategy. The weapons go to the Free Syrian Army and other armed groups.

The commanders of the Free Syrian Army are on the CIA payroll, as was reported by Wall Street Journal reporter Adam Entous on Democracy Now. (Sept. 6, 2013)

The announcement of the alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians on August 21 was the pretext used by the interventionists to start the direct military war against Syria.

But from the beginning, the adventure ran into huge hurdles. Substantial sectors of the ruling class and Pentagon brass were unconvinced that another war would not be a disaster for U.S. interests in this oil-rich region. They were afraid that global opposition to the U.S. Empire could reignite and spread, as it had under George W. Bush.

Broadly speaking, public opinion in the United States was opposed to another war.

The whole case was riddled with obvious inconsistencies. They could offer no proof of their claim that Assad ordered the attack. They could cite no law that allowed the U.S. to wage a new aggression. They couldn’t openly identify what the real goal of the military operation was. But Obama , feeling politically trapped, pushed ahead toward the precipice.

Even on September 8,  Obama sent his representatives out to the Sunday morning talk shows arguing for war even as they admitted that they had “no irrefutable” proof that Assad had ordered a chemical weapons attack and that their justification was only based on what they called a “common sense test.” That means they have no proof at all.

Obama was ready to blaze away with cruise missiles and bombs against another small country in the Middle East. His feckless, super rich, blue blood Secretary of State was telling the American people not to worry about the coming catastrophe because the Saudi monarchy was standing solidly behind his efforts. When your Secretary of State loudly and proudly proclaims that he has secured the support of the arch-reactionary autocrats in Saudi Arabia, that has to be understood as sign that your war policy is sinking.

Obama, faced with the current circumstances, has been forced to step back, but there will undoubtedly be a Plan B developed using other mechanisms to intensify the war

Any step back from an imminent bombing of Syria and the certain wider war that would follow should be understood as a result of the global opposition to the planned bombing campaign and the deep division about its possible catastrophic impact on U.S. interests in the Middle East from within the summits of the economic and political establishment.

Syria and Iran have made it clear that if the U.S. undertakes this aggression there will be counter-measures taken. Once such a war is started, it is impossible to know how it ends.

Rather than relying on the United Nations to do the right thing, the most important aspect of the next stage of the struggle against the U.S. imperialist regime change efforts in Syria is for the people of the world to continue to organize all forms of public pressure in favor of a genuine peace that allows the Syrian people the right to determine their own destiny free from threats, sanctions, subversion and war.

White House Syria Lies Backfire on Administration

Clifford A. Kiracofe

Although US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that diplomatic options suggested by Russia to solve the Syrian chemical weapon crisis would be pursued, the damage done by the US beating the drums of war has already been done.

The use of propaganda in wartime is nothing new. From experience with Washington’s lies during former president George W. Bush’s Iraq War, the international community knows the US cannot be trusted.

The Bush administration knowingly and systematically circulated false stories about weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) allegedly possessed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Washington’s outrageous claims such as supposed uranium “yellowcake” from Niger being transferred to Iraq proved false. Claims about “aluminum tubes” for rocket production proved false. Claims about chemical warfare and WMDs raised by then secretary of state Colin Powell at the UN proved false.

The broader pattern of Western deception for the Iraq War included falsified “intelligence” reports from the UK ordered by then prime minister Tony Blair.Parliament in its subsequent investigations of the “dodgy dossier” intelligence manipulation revealed Blair’s lies.

Investigations of the British claims revealed that Israeli institutions, including the Herzliya research complex, played an important role in creating these false British and US reports.

Today in the case of Syria, the world is experiencing the same spectacle of US, British,and Israeli propaganda and deception. The players remain the same and the pattern of lies and deception is the same.

In the present case, the White House bases its case of the Syrian use of WMDs primarily on a single “intercept” of an unencrypted Syrian military voice communication.Washington alleges that this intercept proves the Syrian military used WMDs against civilians.

But what are the facts? Official Washington carefully avoids identifying the source of the intercept and hides it under the rubric of classified information because, critics say, the source of this intelligence report is Israel.

Experienced retired US intelligence officers believe that Israel is once again playing false with information so as to influence the West to go to war in the Middle East. Reports say that the alleged electronic intercept of a conversation between Syrian military personnel was fielded by Unit 8200 of Israeli military intelligence, which specializes in signals intelligence.

Some US experts believe that this alleged intercept, if it even exists, was doctored by the Israeli government so as to “prove” Syrian government complicity in WMD attacks.

Former British ambassador Craig Murray raises additional questions about the Israeli report.

He claims that the powerful British electronic intelligence center for the region, located on Mount Troodos in Cyprus, has no such intercept from its own monitoring.

He says that this center has such powerful capabilities that no electronic communications in the Middle East can escape it.

In addition to the Israeli allegation, the White House says it has obtained materials from the scene of the recent attack in Syria which “prove” the nerve agent Sarin was used.

From whom did the US obtain such contaminated materials? The Obama administration refuses to identify the source and chain of custody of the materials.

Given Washington’s transparent propaganda campaign, it is not surprising that some leaders around the world express grave doubts about US allegations. Russian President Vladimir Putin forthrightly calls such propaganda “lies.” Many Americans, including senators and congresspersons, would agree with him.

It is significant that the US Intelligence Community (IC) so far is not on public record supporting the Israeli allegations. The US IC apparently cannot assess with high confidence this Israeli reporting.

This is why the Obama administration had to issue its own politicized report on alleged Syrian WMD use from the White House.

The White House made a major political mistake engaging in such blatant deception of the American people and the international community.

The recent turnabout may mean no strikes, but the harm to US credibility has already been done.

The author is an educator and former senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Syria & Cruise Missile “Socialists”

The ISO and the war on Syria: Silly and shameful

 

In recent weeks there has been a real upsurge of activity on the part of the anti-war movement in the U.S. Protests have been held in scores of cities – more that 50 on Sept. 7 alone – including substantial demonstrations in cities like New York and Chicago. An article published in the Socialist Worker on Sept. 10, entitled “Standing against both war and dictatorship,” goes a long way toward explaining why the International Socialist Organization (ISO) has been by and large irrelevant, or worse yet, an obstacle to this growing movement against another U.S. war.

Penned by ISO member Eric Ruder, the article takes to task three socialist organizations: Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), Workers World Party (WWP) and the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) for supporting Syria in its fight to defeat a vicious onslaught from U.S. and Western imperialism, reactionary Arab states and the Israelis.

We in FRSO have constantly stated our views on this matter and we will always be on the side of those who resist imperialism.

Sectarianism directed at Syrian Americans

The anti-war movement is a united front, which brings together diverse viewpoints and forces. The level of political understanding about what’s happening in Syria is uneven and we need to unite people who have a wide range of perspectives. To oppose a U.S. attack on Syria, it is important that we have broad slogans that unite all who can be united, such as “Hands off Syria,” or “No U.S. war on Syria.” That’s a given.

It should also be a given that we build unity with Syrian Americans who are concerned about their loved ones at home and support their country in its battle with imperialism. Sadly this is not the case for the ISO.

In many cities, Syrian Americans have one of the most constant, dynamic, and in some cases, the largest force in the current anti-war movement. Most people would say that is a good thing, but not the ISO. Instead they complain about the flags, signs, and portraits that Syrian Americans bring to protests.

For example in Chicago, Syrian Americans have been extremely active in anti-war demonstrations. How does the ISO evaluate this? Ruder’s article says, “The ugly consequences of ‘antiwar’ support for the Syrian regime were easy to see in Chicago, where organizers of ‘Hands off Syria’ protests repeatedly turned over the platform to representatives of the Syrian American Forum…” Imagine that. Syrian Americans help organize demonstrations, turn out in large numbers and often speak from the platform.

The ISO, which has never been big on opposing U.S. intervention in Syria, was apparently “caught off guard” when they finally did make their way to the anti-war protests and found Syrian Americans expressing their views. It seemed “ugly” to them. Perhaps it is more a case of ISO playing the Ugly American.

ISO and the demonization of Syria

At the very moment when Washington and those who echo the master’s voice are trying to demonize the government of Syria, ISO is trying to do the same thing among left and progressive forces. So they criticize the Syrian government for being “inconsistent” opponents of imperialism and praise the “rebels.”

Let’s take a look at this. The government of Syria has done more to oppose imperialism than ISO will ever do. They help the Palestinians in a big way. Same goes for the patriotic and national democratic forces of Lebanon. Syria, Iran and the movements for national liberation in Lebanon and Palestine are central to the camp of resistance to imperialism and Zionism in the Middle East.

So what does the ISO article have to say about this? According to them not only is Syria an “inconsistent” opponent of imperialism, the article says “the West considers the Syrian regime a precious asset that can assist in maintaining the current hegemonic structure of power in the region, though their preference may be for it to be weakened and thus more subservient.”

The Bush administration used to say that Syria could be considered a part of his ‘Axis of Evil.’ Over the last couple of years Washington has spent over $1 billion to destroy the Syrian government and right now the U.S. is threatening a military attack. Yet in the world that ISO sees, Syria is a “precious asset” of the West. It is hard for serious people to take this kind of analysis seriously.

The point here is not to say that Syria is perfect or socialist or always does the right thing. What is being said is that we should not be joining our rulers in demonizing the Syrian government.

As for the ‘rebels,’ history’s verdict is in. One can debate the nature of the demonstrations against the Syrian government several years ago and what led up to them, but today, right now, the opposition is bought, paid for, and acting on behalf of the U.S. and the most reactionary of Arab regimes.

Anti-imperialism is a good thing

The U.S. has built an empire and that extends into Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and some other places too. It exists to rip off the land, labor and natural resources of others while enriching the elite who run this country. This empire is a grim place, held together by U.S. military power, death squads and puppet governments.

It is positive that there are national liberation movements in places like Colombia and Palestine that are leading powerful movements to break free of imperialism. It is a step forward for the peoples subjugated by U.S. imperialism and they land blows on our common oppressor.

It is also a good thing that there are countries in this world that have left the orbit of imperialism. This includes Syria. It is good for the people of Syria, good for the struggle in the Middle East, and for all of us who want a world without imperialism.

ISO considers it strange that a socialist would take this view. In fact it is ISO that is the odd one out.

We recently reprinted a statement from the Syrian Communist Party, which reads in part, “The defense of Syria’s national regime, which faces, head held high, all methods of aggression, refusing humiliation and submission, means defending the country and its sovereignty and independence.” Frankly this is what the vast majority of revolutionaries around the world think. Check out what Cuba says about Syria or the government of Venezuela. One could go on and on like this but the point is clear enough.

Revolutionaries and socialists need to make a concrete analysis of concrete conditions; this is what Marxism is all about: understanding reality in order to change it. Everything in this world is the product of actual historical processes that we can know about, if we bother to study them. This includes Syria.

The ISO uses the opposite approach, which claims the world is what they would like it to be and what they say it is. In their world, the brutal foreign-backed Syrian opposition becomes the Arab revolution. They find progressive forces where they are not, and when forces resisting imperialism have shortcomings – they say that those resisting are the same as the imperialists.

The world never has and never will conform to a bunch of preconceived notions. The anti-war movement deserves something better than the ISO’s armchair critiques.

The people of Syria, the peoples of the world and the people of the U.S. face a vicious enemy that will go to any length to maintain its power and privilege. Building an anti-war movement under slogans like “Hands off Syria” and “No war with Syria” is the best way that people in this country can help to defeat U.S. imperialism’s attempt to dominate the Middle East. Washington is isolated right now. People don’t want another U.S. war. Together we can win.