Saturday, 14 April 2018

World War III Has Started!

The bombing of Syria by the US, UK and France is the first act of World War III. It's clear that those imperialist powers now believe that they can win such a war. More correctly, it shows that having been used to exercising the right, for the last 70 years, to act as world's policeman with no opposition, and having been able to continue to intervene, in the last 30 years, to bolster their global strategic interests, including moving their sphere of influence ever closer to Russia's borders, whilst Russia's global power shrank, they believe that they can continue to get their way by bullying, and that Russia will be forced to let them get away with it. Unfortunately, Putin and the Kremlin have other ideas, and the stage is set for what now appear to be highly unstable leaders, ascribing to themselves more dictatorial powers, and shunning any democratic oversight, and control of their actions, and driven by short term, domestic political considerations of their own, to stumble from one mistake, one misjudgement, one miscalculation, and rushed action to another, which leads inexorably to war. 

This is exactly the series of events that played out in the outbreak of World War I. It led to terrible slaughter, initially justified on the basis of retribution for atrocities and outrages committed, but which had, in fact, been committed on both sides, and were merely a pretext. That war was described as “a war to end all wars”. It wasn't, and the end of it, in 1918, turned out to be only an interlude, before the hostilities resumed in 1939. World War III, will be the war to end all wars, because it will necessarily escalate quickly into global nuclear war, which will bring humanity to an end, as I wrote the other day. Given that the pinnacle reached by our societies, was a democracy so feeble that it could not even hold its governments to account, even over the most important questions, such as going to war, and given that it led to the winning of elections, in the most scientifically and technologically advanced country, on the planet, of a boorish moron, who is proudly the antithesis of all of that, of everything that is civilised and decent, perhaps it is fitting that it should come to an end. Perhaps humanity has run its course, and been found wanting, in fulfilling its historic role. 

In the run up to World War I, the conditions were set in the conflicts in the Balkans, which rumbled on for several years, and provided the pretext for the intervention of various global imperialist powers. They too justified their “liberal interventionism” on the basis of the need to respond to atrocities. Socialists, at the time, opposed such intervention. Trotsky who worked, then, as a war correspondent, in the Balkans, not only detailed the atrocities committed on both sides, but also described how the reporting of those atrocities was heavily biased, and distorted, as a means of the imperialist powers justifying their role, and why the working-class can never support such intervention, which amounts to handing over its own tasks and historic mission to its class enemies. 

The US has gone to war without discussion or approval from Congress; Britain has gone to war deliberately snubbing the calls of Parliament to discuss and approve any such action; France has done the same. There was no time constraint on taking any such action. Other than if that time constraint is seen to be the desire to wage such a strike before the OPCW begins its analysis of the site tomorrow! Once again, as with all of the actions of these states, in recent months, the question of why they are so afraid of open discussion and democratic scrutiny of their executives, why they feel moved to take action before, any real analysis and provision of evidence has been undertaken, poses serious questions about the real motivations for their actions, and the validity of the evidence, and argument they have as justification for their claims, and reason for action. The Tory MP, Johnny Mercer, in the last couple of days, responding to calls for such democratic debate and control, rejected it with the true voice of the authoritarian, and Bonapartist. We could not have such a meaningful debate, he claimed because the evidence for taking action was secret, and we could not be made privy to it! 

In other words, the whole basis for a parliamentary democracy is rejected, because on the most important issues for a parliamentary democracy to operate, the question of life and death, of going to war, we are now told, by the Bonapartists, it is as useful as a chocolate teapot, and has to be suspended! If Mercer's argument was valid, what it should tell us, is not that parliamentary democracy has to be suspended, so as to allow the executive to act, in dictatorial fashion, over our heads, on the basis of information we cannot be privy to, but that rather, the organs of state, such as the secret services are irreconcilably in conflict with the fundamental principles of parliamentary democracy, that they are uncontrollable by democratic means, and that the required elements of an open society, of freedom of discussion and debate, and full and equal access to information, upon which democratic decisions are to be made, are undermined by such organisations. Rather than being an argument for a suspension of democratic principles, Mercer's argument should mean that we disband all such secret organisations! And, indeed we should. 

But Mercer's argument is, in any case, facile. If there really is compelling evidence either about the attack in Salisbury, or the attack in Syria, there is no reason why it cannot be made public. But, the fact is that the so called evidence that has been released has been laughably insubstantial. The latest such “evidence” was simply more unsubstantiated claims about supposed Russian hacking of Julia Schripal's e-mail account, five years ago, and supposed Russian secret service programs and training on how to administer chemical weapons. Conveniently, one such method, we are told, is the application of such agents to door handles, which is now the settled line put out by the British state of how the Schripal's were poisoned. 

Now, it might be correct. I am not a secret agent, trained in such things, but if that is one of the proposed methods, it seems to me a most inefficient and ludicrous method, in relation to such nerve agents. Moreover, as I wrote some days ago, it raises further questions for the British state to answer. It seems to me, as a lay person, who has only watched lots of murder mysteries, that if you are going to poison someone, you should try to make sure that you deliver the poison so as to target your victim. In every Agatha Christie plot, the murderer seems to go out of their way to achieve that end. But, if you put poison on a door handle of someone's house, surely the people more likely to be poisoned by it are other people, rather than, or at least as well as, the intended victim. Surely, the first victim would be the postman, maybe the newspaper deliverer, the milkman, the person delivering various junk mail, or a neighbour who calls around. The homeowner, may actually rarely use the front door, where they have an integral garage, accessed from the back of the house. 

In any case, there is far more chance that someone other than the intended victim will be the first to be poisoned, which would then rather defeat the object, as that would then warn the victim, as well as the police about what was going on. Even if the Schripal's did leave by the front door, and so picked up the nerve agent, it was several hours later before they collapsed, and several hours more before any police or chemical weapons teams turned up to their house. Are we to believe that during those hours, no one else, such as the postman, milkman and so on, was in contact with their front door? 

And, as I pointed out a while ago, in order to apply the chemical agent to the front door, the assassin must have spent some time doing so, and in order to avoid being a victim of their own poison, presumably must have been wearing a suitable degree of rather obvious hazmat protective clothing. The Schripal's house is not in some isolated location, but a normal house on a normal estate, with open views to it, from the rest of the road, from what can be seen from the TV pictures. Did no one in the road, witness a vehicle turn up to their house, and some strangely garbed person get out, and wander up to the Schripal's door, before disappearing again? But, given the extent of all the supposed definitive, secret information that the state claims to have, why is it that, knowing how, and presumably when this poison was deposited, they have not used all of that extensive secret information, all of the CCTV footage of movement of individuals and vehicles to the Schripal's road, to identify the assassin, and bring them in? Why have we not even seen appeals to the public for information about any such vehicles or suspects? 

The revelations about Russian hacking of Julia Schripal's e-mail account is rather rich coming from the British state, which via GCHQ routinely monitors all communications of British citizens, and for which the Tory government is seeking even more extensive snooping powers, again without any democratic oversight. Trotsky, pointed out the way the reports of atrocities by the “liberal interventionist” forces in the Balkans were censored, and only the atrocities of the Turks were allowed to be reported. 

“Your censorship has not pursued military aims, it has not been concerned to safeguard military secrets, but rather to conceal 'secrets' of quite a different order: all the black spots, all the cruelties and crimes, all the infamies that accompany every war, and your war in particular. That is what you have striven above all to hide from Europe! You have indulged in the senseless dream of hypnotising European public opinion and making it believe not what was true, not what you yourselves know to be true, but what you wanted to get accepted as true. You wanted to make Europe believe that the armed Turkish peasants, workers and hamals (porters) whom the ruling caste of Turkey transforms into an instrument for enslaving the non-Turkish nationalities, and the Turkish working masses, constitute 100 percent embodiments of cruelty, barbarism, and bestiality. And you wanted to make Europe believe that the Bulgarian army – from the lowest-ranking soldier working in the cookhouse up to commander in chief Savov, from whose brow you have not managed to wipe the stamp of that indictment for embezzlement, that the whole of this army constitutes a living embodiment of the highest ideals of right and justice.” (p 282-2) 

“You defined your war as a crusade for civilisation against barbarism. You strove, with your pencils and scissors, to adjust all our telegrams and correspondence to those two categories. But now Europe will learn that the path of the crusading army was marked by crimes that must evoke shudders and nausea in every cultured person, in everyone capable of feeling and thinking.” (The Balkan Wars, p 282-3) 

And, a similar thing can be seen in relation to Syria, and elsewhere in the region. In Libya, the UN was told that all that was being proposed was a “No Fly Zone”, but they were lied to, as the US, Britain and France launched thousands of missile and bombing runs on Libyan government buildings, and forces. The world was told that the liberal interventionist forces were only acting to prevent atrocities by the Libyan regime, and were supporting the liberal-democratic forces of the Libyan TNC against Gaddafi. But, in fact, the TNC was a mirage. It had no real existence outside the minds, and corridors of power, of liberal politicians, who believe that politics is all about what happens within their narrow circles, rather than what happens in terms of the movements of huge social forces, of the interactions of social classes, and other social collectivities. The reality always was that the actual fighting forces on the ground in Libya were pitifully small, amounting to just a few thousand fighters, and nearly all of them were jihadists, not nice bourgeois liberals. They were jihadists who only months before had been fighting in Iraq. They were backed by the feudal Gulf States that are the main backers of Jihadism across the globe, including today in Syria. The main concern of those regimes is to use those fighters, to undertake a proxy war, across the region, against Iran, just as the main aim of the US, Britain and France is to support those Gulf States, and, either vicariously or directly, the jihadists, in order to undertake a proxy war against Russia and China, which stand behind Iran. 

The Libyan jihadists could not have won without the massive bombing campaign waged by the US, UK and France, and when that was all over, the result was not the installation of some nice liberal democracy, but the inevitable reality that the TNC was exposed as a mirage that disappeared without trace, and the various jihadist forces then competed for dominance, reducing the country to chaos, and continual atrocities, on a daily basis, way in excess of anything that Gaddafi had ever been responsible for. 

The liberal-interventionists have pointed to Syria, and argued, “but you see what happens when we don't intervene.” Except, of course, it is a lie. The US, UK, and France have been intervening in Syria all along. They have supported the Gulf states, who have provided the weapons and finance for the jihadists fighting in Syria, and via the CIA and other such secret organisations, they have provided weapons and training directly for some of those jihadist forces, just as they provided that kind of support for Bin Laden, and the jihadists in Afghanistan in the 1980's to fight the USSR, and as they used Bin Laden as means of contact with, and support for the KLA in Kosovo, as a means of stirring up ethnic violence there in the 1990's, as a necessary pretext to wage their war against Serbia, and so undermine another sphere of Russian influence, in the region. 

The KLA in Kosovo were a vile criminal gang, guilty of all kinds of atrocities, including stealing human organs for trafficking, yet it was no obstacle for the US and other western powers providing them with support. Similarly, the jihadists that the West supports in Syria, have been decisively proven to have committed all kinds of atrocities, including the use of chemical weapons, and yet the West continues to support them, as a means of attacking Assad. And, those jihadists in Syria have repeatedly been shown to have organised false flag operations, so as to provoke a response against the regime by their external supporters. 

We are being told that there are numerous reports of the chemical attack in Dhouma, but over the last few days, every time someone has appeared on UK TV, putting an alternative view, such as that according to hospital staff in Dhouma, jihadists swarmed into hospitals shouting about a chemical attack, which spread panic amongst patients, who were then doused with water by those who had rushed into the hospital before disappearing again, or like even some UK military strategists who pointed out that the Syrians and the Russians had little to gain from such a use of chemical weapons, and that even the US General Mattis had said that no definitive evidence of the use of chemical weapons had yet been shown, they were quickly cut off. 

The media itself is an active player in this dynamic. In the US, the media was all too willing to give an airing to the ridiculous views of Trump, because it guaranteed them ratings. Similarly, in recent days we have seen Lord Adonis become animated over the role of the Brexit Broadcasting Company, who he quite rightly points out, for years, gave Nigel Farage hugely exaggerated amounts of air-time to spread his vile, xenophobic message. Perhaps its no wonder the BBC is intending to air the racist Enoch Powell's “Rivers of Blood” speech that was not just vile, but demonstrably false 50 years ago, and even more demonstrably false and irrelevant today. The BBC were happy to give Farage such air-time and to stir up xenophobic sentiment against the EU, because they saw it as a means of gaining ratings. A similar thing was seen in Stoke some years ago, where the local newspaper used every opportunity to criticise any and every action of the Labour administration, on no matter how flimsy a basis, leading up to them organising a campaign for the introduction of an elected Mayor. Then, of course, when, it all collapsed into chaos, they organised a campaign to scrap the elected Mayor. Now, the media, as it has done in every previous such instance, is willing the combatants on, goading them to “do something”, conscious that nothing sells paper, or attracts viewers like a war. 

I have no reason to believe Assad or Putin. I consider both vile dictators, whose removal by the working classes of their respective countries cannot come soon enough. But, nor do I have any reason to believe Trump, May or Macron who are equally enemies of the working-class, and whose actions are only different in the fact that they are hidden behind a velvet glove. In reality, Trump, May and Macron have more in common with Putin and Assad than they do with the working classes of their own country. In the case of Trump and Putin, that may be even more the case, as the on going FBI investigations into Trump and the Kremlin may yet show, and the financial links between the Tories and the Russian oligarchs is of a similar order. 

The fact is that the actions of the US, UK and France have strengthened the position of both Assad and Putin, because they have given them the basis for rallying their own people around them against an external threat. But, this supposed “one-off” strike is not likely to be any such thing, any more than the Libyan “No-Fly Zone” ever was such, any more than the one-off strike launched by Trump on Syria, last year, was a one-off event. If this really were a strike as a deterrent against the use of chemical weapons, the US, UK and France would have waited until after the OPCW had conducted its analysis tomorrow, and then taken the findings to the UN. Instead, if Russia does fail to respond to the attack, the US, UK and France will see it as evidence that their calculation is correct, and that they can continue to bully it, and others into submission. It will be followed, therefore, by other such atrocities that have to be responded to, until such time as either the West re-establishes its global dominance, or else the Russians are provoked into a response. That is the path to war and annihilation. 

In his writings on the Balkan Wars Trotsky did not deny that the Turks committed atrocities. He had no desire to support them or the continued role of the Ottoman Empire, but he saw that as no reason to support the liberal interventionists, or to deny their atrocities either. In response to the liberal-interventionists who denied the atrocities their own forces committed, and censored reports of them, Trotsky wrote, 

“An individual, a group, a party, or a class that ‘objectively’ picks its nose while it watches men drunk with blood massacring defenceless people is condemned by history to rot and become worm-eaten while it is still alive. 

“On the other hand, a party or the class that rises up against every abominable action wherever it has occurred, as vigorously and unhesitatingly as a living organism reacts to protect its eyes when they are threatened with external injury – such a party or class is sound of heart. Protest against the outrages in the Balkans cleanses the social atmosphere in our own country, heightens the level of moral awareness among our own people. The working masses of the population in every country are both a potential instrument of bloody outrages and a potential victim of such deeds. Therefore an uncompromising protest against atrocities serves not only the purpose of moral self-defence on the personal and party level but also the purpose of politically safeguarding the people against adventurism concealed under the flag of ‘liberation’.” (p 293) 

It was on that basis that he and the other socialists opposed such intervention, and refused to stay quiet about the liberal interventionist forces “drunk with blood massacring defenceless people” under cover of some humanitarian or liberating mission. Trotsky wanted liberation from Ottomanism too, 

“But it is not at all a matter of indifference by what methods this emancipation is being accomplished. The method of “liberation” that is being followed today means the enslavement of Macedonia to the personal regime in Bulgaria and to Bulgarian militarism; it means, moreover, the strengthening of reaction in Bulgaria itself. That positive, progressive result which history will, in the last analysis, extract from the ghastly events in the Balkans, will suffer no harm from the exposures made by Balkan and European democracy; on the contrary, only a struggle against the usurpation of history's tasks by the present masters of the situation will educate the Balkan peoples to play the role of superseding not only Turkish despotism but also those who, for their own reactionary purposes, are, by their own barbarous methods, now destroying that despotism... 

Our agitation, on the contrary, against the way that history's problems are at present being solved, goes hand in hand with the work of the Balkan Social Democrats. And when we denounce the bloody deeds of the Balkan 'liberation' from above we carry forward the struggle not only against liberal deception of the Russian masses but also against enslavement of the Balkan masses.” (p 293-4) 

And so it is today. We should place no reliance on the words of Moscow or Washington, or on Damascus or London, Tehran or Paris. If the present trajectory into World War III is to be halted, it is time for the workers of the world to rise up against all of these regimes, before it is too late, and humanity is destroyed. 


Norman Pilon said...

With your permission, Boffy, I'd like to re-post or re-publish this piece on my blog. Not a lot of traffic, but a steady and regular stream of views. Of course, I'd have to "copy and paste," and proper attribution and a link to this post and your blog would be made.



BTW: I'm busy 'reading' some Paul Mattick at the moment (among other things), so the issue of "moral depreciation" is for the moment sidelined, but before the end of the week I should be back to it. Thus far, however, my feeling is that it most definitely trumps "historic cost" as the correct data point on which to 'calculate' the 'rate of profit.'

Boffy said...


Permission granted.

Norman Pilon said...

"The fact is that the actions of the US, UK and France have strengthened the position of both Assad and Putin, because they have given them the basis for rallying their own people around them against an external threat. "

And that may be a third possibility, so to speak, to get Assad's and Putin's people to rally around them.

My suspicion is that what we are really seeing in the Middle East is an entire region exploding into popular unrest and rebellion.

Consequently, although the ostensible rivalry between the implicated states, that is to say, of the factions of ruling cliques involved, is doubtlessly real, if the bigger threat is perceived by them all to be the loss of control over the increasingly restive and rebelling masses, then for tactical reasons, the ruling capitalist cliques (be they Russian, Iranian, Saudi Arabian, Israeli, American or whatever) will, so to speak, join forces and coordinate operations to quell the bigger and more urgent threat before proceeding to a settling of differences among themselves.

For example, and to pilfer and edit a comment I left elsewhere:

Have you seen this: The greatest radicalisation since 1979 as Iran explodes

My hypothesis: if Iran really does explode, and not on account of anything “instigated” by the so-called West, expect the U.S. to “invade” Iran. The scenario that many (perhaps even “most”) will buy into, is that the U.S. will finally be getting down to the business of toppling yet another regime on which it has had its guns trained for a long, long time. The reality, however, will be otherwise: there will be collusion, as there already is (a collusion to be corroborated by a link to be provided below), between the ruling capitalist cliques of Iran, on one side, and those of the U.S. and whoever else plays the role of the latter’s allies, on the other. The real reason for the invasion — one that many seem to overlook, if only as a possibility — will be "to drown Iranian popular unrest in blood."

(Here is a piece that to my mind raises interesting questions about who might be allied with whom in the Middle East, and against whom this alliance might truly be standing: Michael Karadjis Another piece of interest which supports the presumption of widespread social unrest throughout the Middle East, but that speaks more narrowly to this unrest as it manifested and manifests in Syria, see this masterful piece of analysis by Raymond Hinnebusch, <a href=">Syria: from ‘authoritarian upgrading’ to revolution?</a>

Norman Pilon said...

You can find the re-post of your article <a href=">here</a>, Boffy. Many thanks.