Archive for the ‘Afghanistan’ Category

At the beginning of the NLP (NewLabour Party); vice-president Sue Bradford; president Matt McCarten; party MP and leader, Jim Anderton

by Philip Ferguson

Jim Anderton passed away peacefully on Sunday, January 7, just two weeks away from his 80th  birthday.  I have two sets of views about Anderton: a political assessment and also a personal view, as my parents were friends and strong political supporters and co-workers of Anderton’s for several decades.

First, the personal side.  This Anderton, I’ll call Jim.  I only met him once and this was when my mother was dying.  She had collapsed at home and been subsequently diagonised as riddled with cancer.  She went home for a fortnight before being transferred into a rest home with hospice facilities.  Jim showed up at my parents’ house with a load of food when my mother came out of hospital.  During the visit he gave me his personal cell-phone number and told me to call him at any time; also, that if he was in a meeting and couldn’t answer, he would get back to me straight afterwards.  He was particularly concerfned if we had any trouble with the public health bureaucracy – he told me to just let him know and he’d get onto them straight away.

Ferocious in dealing with petty bureaucrats

I knew from my mother that he was  ferocious in dealing with state bureaucrats who put any obstacles at all in the way of people receiving their just rights.  She had volunteered in Jim’s constituency office for years, both when he was a Labour MP and later, when he (and my parents) departed from Labour and founded the left social-democratic NewLabour Party and, subsequently, the Alliance.  I had heard stories from her of being in the office when Jim, outraged at one or other a tale of officious state mistreatment of one of his constituents (or anyone from across Christchurch who visited his office) would literally rip the jumped-up bureaucrat a new one.

My mother had also told me of his personal generosity.  The office was in a small block of shops in Selwyn Street in Spreydon and Jim and Carole Anderton’s home was up a driveway at the end of the row of shops.  This made it easy for him to dash back to the house and grab (more…)

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imperialism_usa_world_map_protestby The Spark

Before taking office, Barack Obama pledged to wind down the war in Iraq and redouble efforts to defeat the insurgency in Afghanistan. “As president, I will make the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be,” he said in a major foreign policy address in July 2008 during his electoral campaign, promising to finally defeat and destroy “all of the terrorists responsible for 9/11, while supporting real security in Afghanistan.”

Obama also promised to help the Afghans build their own government institutions to keep order: “I will focus on training Afghan security forces and supporting an Afghan judiciary…[to] sustain their own security.”

Lasting peace, Obama assured his audience, would depend on not only defeating the Taliban but helping “Afghans grow their economy from the bottom up.” He added, “We cannot lose Afghanistan to a future of narco-terrorism.”

He went on to emphasize: “This is a war that we have to win.”

Judging from the lack of news coverage in this country about Afghanistan, one would assume that Obama’s strategy had (more…)

On September 4, 2010 British war criminal (and former prime minister) Tony Blair arrived in Dublin to promote his self-serving book.  The Irish socialist-republican current éirígí called a protest at Eason’s, the central city bookshop where Blair was doing a book signing.  éirígí had demanded that if Blair set foot in the 26-county state he be arrested as a war criminal.

Announcing the protest, éirígí spokesperson Daithí Mac An Mhaistír said Blair’s legacy is one of illegal invasions, occupations and war crimes, noting “Tony Blair is a war criminal, with the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians on his hands. Alongside his US allies, Blair launched brutal and bloody wars against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. More than 1.3 million Iraqis are believed to have been killed during the illegal invasion and subsequent occupation.

“This man should be arrested and put before the International Criminal Court.”

He continued: “In Afghanistan, casualties continue to mount as the occupation and slaughter of civilians continues. Blair’s justifications for these invasions are a tissue of lies and deceit. His book is an attempt to rewrite history and justify his role in these illegal wars and the countless war crimes committed by British troops.

“In his time as British prime minister, Blair also oversaw the normalisation of the British occupation in the Six Counties and the murder by pro-British forces of nationalist civilians, including human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson. He also blocked all attempts to secure the truth about collusion between British forces and unionist death squads, in particular their role in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings.”

Mac An Mhaistír concluded: “The book promotion in Eason’s is an insult to the victims of Blair’s war crimes and Eason’s should withdraw their invitation to him. If Blair proceeds with his visit, éirígí will be highlighting his crimes and staging a protest outside Eason’s from 10am on Saturday [September 4].”  Below is the video of the protest called by éirígí:

 

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Moko Rangitoheriri

by Don Franks

The torture and slaying of Moko Rangitoheriri appalled and sickened me, as it did most people in New Zealand. I say most, because not everyone is repelled. There are those in our society who regularly abuse and murder children.

How humans can become brutalised to commit such crimes is hard to understand. The impoverishment of generations plays an indelible part. In wretched ghettos of New Zealand discarded by capitalism there are families reduced to hopelessness by generational unemployment.

US soldiers humiliating and torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib

US soldiers humiliating and torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib

Families with no positive role models. Hardly ‘families’ at all, more like atomised individuals fighting blindly for their own corner, with no sense of solidarity and little sense of right and wrong.

However, as is frequently pointed out by politicians, most recently Labour leader Andrew Little, not all people in poverty abuse children. And so, the familiar argument continues, the problem is not really poverty, but the existence of a few evil people. People who think it’s ok to inflict torture on those unable to resist.

downloadThe problem with this argument is the fact that vicious torture of the helpless is currently socially acceptable. It is sanctioned by the rulers of society and carried out by their minions.

Torture of prisoners in (more…)

Islamic State bombing in Burj el-Barajneh, a largely Shi'a neighbourhood in Beirut; at least 43 died and about 200 were injured

Islamic State bombing in Burj el-Barajneh, a largely Shi’a neighbourhood in Beirut; over 40 died and about 200 were injured

 

by Yassamine Mather

The horrific attacks in Paris on November 13, and the terrible loss of life they caused, came at the end of a week of atrocities committed by Islamic State. On November 11, 41 people died and 100 were wounded in two attacks in Burj el-Barajneh – not far from a Palestinian refugee camp in a Shia neighbourhood of Beirut. On the same day as the Paris bombing, 21 Muslims attending ceremonies in a Baghdad mosque were killed, and 33 were wounded, by an IS suicide bomber.

The Baghdad bombing did not make the headlines, mainly because such IS attacks in the Middle East, resulting in dozens of deaths, have become a daily event. For example, earlier in the week tens of thousands of Afghans took to the streets of Kabul and other Afghan cities to protest against the beheading of seven people from the Hazara ethnic minority. The Muslim Afghan protestors were chanting: “Down with Daesh” – the Arabic acronym for IS.

The assailants in Baghdad, Paris and Beirut were not local Muslims fighting Christians – many are recruits from western societies. In Paris they were until recently disco-going, alcohol-drinking, second-generation immigrants. Some were (more…)

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Renewed imperialist interventionism in the Third World has been a characteristic of global politics since the end of the Cold War. Crucial to this new era of intervention has been a propaganda offensive that the Third World is full of bloodthirsty leaders and tribes who are continually carrying out war crimes. The main part of the article below was written in 1997 when this trend was still relatively new. It appeared in the Christchurch-based revolution magazine, #3, August/September 1997.  The section on napalm has been added today.

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Top: Hiroshima; Above: The USA dropped 8 million tons of napalm in Vietnam. Western war criminals will never be brought to trial.

by Sharon Jones

War crimes, it seems, are pretty common these days. They seem to be breaking out virtually everywhere – except in the West. For instance, every time some repressive regime in the Third World carries out the kind of policies which Western governments encouraged in the past, during the Cold War, they are now denounced by those same Western governments as perpetrating ‘war crimes’.

Have the Western elites turned over a new leaf and become humanitarians? Or is ‘war crime’ fever in the West an indication of a sickness within the Western body politic?

Let’s begin by looking at the latest example of the obsession with war crimes, the American government’s attempt to get Pol Pot extradited to face a war crimes tribunal in the United States. (more…)

downloadby Don Franks

16,697 New Zealanders were killed and 41,317 were wounded during World War I.  Around another thousand men died within five years of the war’s end, as a result of injuries sustained. The lives of countless other men and women were blighted by the conflict.

The little Wellington street that I live in once housed numerous shell-shocked returned servicemen; poverty, unemployment, and alcoholism was all the reward of their sacrifice.

One hundred years on, New Zealand’s rulers glorify war.

New face of militarism

They glorify war in a style to suit these times.

Today there are no sabre-rattling calls to extend the empire and fight for God, King and Country.

Today, New Zealand troops are called ‘peacekeepers’; they identify targets for radio-controlled weapons more often than charging with bayonets, but they still kill people and are decorated for doing that.

According to a 2014 poll, the most trusted person in New Zealand is (more…)