Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The First Casualty Of War

Truth is always the first casualty of war. It is a point previously made by Channel 4 News', Alex Thompson, that I have cited previously in relation to the war against Libya. Thompson cited several instances of where claims made by the Libyan 'rebels' were clearly false, and yet had been accepted as good coin by western governments, and some sections of the media. Similar instances have already been demonstrated in relation to the Civil War in Libya, with it being demonstrated that video footage released by the rebels was clearly falsified. As with Libya that does not change the brutal and vile nature of the regime. But, socialists should not simply transform their hostility towards these regimes into a blind acceptance of what their opponents say, let alone do so out of some misguided belief that our enemies enemy is our friend. We are not just against various reactionary forces we are positively for Socialism.

No one can fail to be appalled at the latest pictures coming out of Syria, and in particular the massacre in Houla. The UN is still in the process of investigating that event. Yet, Britain and other western powers have rushed to blame the regime for the massacre, and on the back of it have expelled Syrian diplomats from their respective countries. But, there seems to be considerable reason to doubt that it was the regime that was responsible. An RT report quotes several inhabitants who state that the massacre was committed by armed gangs who came in, and killed Syrian troops prior to the massacre. They are reported to have threatened inhabitants that unless they help them kill the soldiers and police they too would be killed. Of course, we should not take these reports at face value either. Russia itself has its own interests to further in the Middle East, as much as the West. However, the other aspect of RT's report does add weight to this account. Former British Intelligence Officer, Alistair Crooke, told them that the methods of the killings, beheadings and throat cutting, were not typical of the Levant.

The RT report says,

“This type of killing, beheadings, slitting of throats (of children too), and of this mutilation of bodies, has been a characteristic not of Levantine Islam, not of Syria, not of Lebanon, but what happened in the Anbar province of Iraq. And so it seems to point very much in the direction of groups that have been associated with the war in Iraq against the United States who have perhaps returned to Syria, or perhaps Iraqis who have come up from Anbar to take part in it,” he says.

Crooke believes the Al-Qaeda connection is misleading, as the massacre has its tactical and ideological roots in the Iraq war.

“I think the attack is more close to Musab al-Zarqawi [who declared an all out war on Shia in Iraq], than Al-Qaeda as we know it, in the sense that Zarqawi and Iraq gave birth to this very strong, bigoted, anti-Shia, anti-Iranian rhetoric. Much of that came into Syria when fighters from Anbar returned to their homes around Homs and Hama.

“So yes, we’re talking about Al-Qaeda like groups that are at the very end of the spectrum of the opposition. They may be a minority in terms of the numbers of the overall opposition, but they are defining the war,” Crooke maintains.”

Yet, there is little of this analysis within the British media. In fact, given criticisms of the media over recent years, it might be thought that they would be very careful about accepting reports from so called “citizen journalists”. That clearly was not the case in relation to the BBC, which showed pictures of dead children that were claimed to be in Syria, but who it turned out were in Iraq! Photographer Marco di Lauro who took the shot grabbed by the BBC says he nearly “fell off his chair” after finding the picture on the network’s website.

The BBC have apologised for the 'mistake' when it was raised, but this kind of activity lends support to the idea that the west is once again building a wave of propaganda to justify another war such as those it launched against Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. All the while, the reactionary feudal monarchies in the Gulf, such as that in Bahrain, continue to murder their own people, with little condemnation, and even in the case of Bahrain, the US continues to provide them with substantial amounts of arms!

There is a good documentary covering the long term effects of the West's War against Iraq. Entitled - “Fallujah, The Lost Generation” - it looks at the consequences of the use of depleted Uranium munitions during the War. Those effects, whilst having a devastating effect on the current and future generations of Iraqis, particularly in and around Fallujah, where they were used extensively, are also having an effect on the soldiers sent to fight in that War, because the DU was made airborne in the dust created in the explosions.

Of course, it was widely reported that the Imperialist forces used DU munitions in the more than 20,000 bombing runs they launched on Libya, in the recent war which caused more than 30,000 civilian deaths, a huge number for a country with such a small population. DU, not only enters the atmosphere, but also enters the water courses, water table, and from there the soil, and food chain, causing horrific illnesses, cancers and birth defects for decades to come. It is a more potent, long term killer than was the use of dioxin in Agent Orange used by the US to defoliate areas during the Vietnam War.

Wherever, Imperialism has intervened in the name of humanitarianism, or democracy, it has instead brought inhumanity, devastation, and chaos, disorder and repression. In Kosovo, it has acted to replace repression of the Albanian Kosovans (some at least of which was a response to the attacks that the KLA, backed by the CIA was launching against Kosovan Serbs), with its reverse. Now, it has brought about an ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Kosovo, and serious division and on going violence, which makes any real democracy impossible.

In Iraq, the US hoped to use sections of the Shia bourgeoisie, and its representatives, to establish a compliant regime, and attempted to portray figures like Sistani as bourgeois constitutionalists. But, the Iraqi Shia found their natural allies within the Shia of Iran. In place of the Bonapartist regime of Saddam, Iraq ended up with a clerical-fascist regime, closely tied to the Iranian Mullahs. The instability of that regime is apparent, as increasingly, the proxy war between the US and other Western powers, against Russia and China, plays out in conflicts between Sunni and Shia across the region. It is manifest in the increasing level of violence once more in Iraq.

In Afghanistan, the West is now already engaged in its longest ever War. That War has brought nothing but further devastation and misery, and when the foreign troops pull out, no one doubts that the Taliban will move back in, bringing even further misery to the people of that blighted country.

In Libya, the terrible regime of Gaddafi has been destroyed, but if anything the situation now is worse than before. Tens of thousands have died. Thousands more will die as a consequence of the War, and of the Civil War that is simmering, as the predicted conflicts between competing tribes, regions, and other interest groups erupts. With Sunni clerical fascist regimes being established in Libya, supported by Sunni Feudal Monarchies in the Gulf, who are themselves backed by the US and other western powers, and other clerical-fascist regimes emerging in Tunisia, Egypt, and other parts of North Africa, whilst on the other hand Shia clerical fascist regimes persist in Iran, and Iraq (which have much larger populations than the Gulf States), and which are backing revolts by Shia majorities in Bahrain and elsewhere, the stage is set for what could be a period of serious convulsion within the region. Socialists should be very wary of simply accepting the propaganda put out by either side within these conflicts.

Our task remains to support the workers, even where they are only an embryonic force, within these countries, to promote them as an independent force, and to caution against them being simply sucked in behind other larger forces, who are fighting for their own immediate interests. The interests of the workers of the Middle East and North Africa remains to build the greatest possible unity across borders, across religious and other divides, and those interests are not those of the bourgeoisie whether it fights under the cloak of democracy or fascism.

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