Archive for the ‘United States – history’ Category

US naval carrier taking part in manoeuvres off coast of Korea; Photo by JO JUNG-HO / Yonhap via AP)

by Nizar Visram 

IN its latest move early June 2017, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted a resolution drafted by the United States to expand the scope of sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) over its latest missile tests.

Prior to this the UNSC slapped North Korea with six rounds of sanctions, but Washington and its allies have been  pushing for more powerful and crippling sanctions in an attempt to halt the increasing wave of missile tests by Pyongyang.

Meanwhile, President Trump said “all options are on the table” (implying military solution), while his Vice President Pence declared the “end of strategic patience.” Pence added:

“The patience of the United States in this region has run out. . . The world has witnessed the strength and resolve of the US in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan.

Pence was alluding to the (more…)

Below is an article submitted to Redline by Alec Abbott written 18 April 2017

1. A quintessentially liberal cycle: from smugness to despair, from despair to hope and from hope to smugness

The initial blow

Trump’s election victory left the liberals reeling with shock and incomprehension. Detached from the poverty and discontent around them, and supremely confident in the Democratic Party’s electoral machine, they saw Hillary Clinton as unassailable. Her defeat did little to diminish their disdain for ordinary working people, or to improve their grasp of US realities.download

Rather than consider the socio-economic forces that brought Trump into office, the liberals focused almost exclusively on his personality, his egocentric greed for power, money and fame. Some went so far as to detect the sinister hand of Moscow at work. When asked how he viewed Trump’s relationship with Russia, Bernie Sanders, always hovering between radical liberalism and mild social-democracy, replied:

‘The American people are astounded that when you have an authoritarian like Putin who is moving Russia more and more towards an authoritarian society, President Trump has only positive things to say about this authoritarian figure. What hold does Russia have over the President? We know that Russian oligarchs lent Trump and his associates money. Does that have anything to do with Trump’s relationship with Russia?’ (CNN News, 30/3/2017)

From the start of the election campaign, liberals viewed Trump as an impulsive maverick, a right-wing bigot who has little regard for civilized norms of behaviour. Only by pandering to the worst prejudices of disaffected Americans, they maintained, would he succeed in capturing the presidency. The great unknown was how this relative new-comer to politics would behave once in office. Would he adapt his election pledges to political reality or would he pursue his outlandish agenda to the bitter end? That was the question on the minds of liberal commentators as Trump assumed the position of the 45th president of the US.

In no time at all the liberals gave vent to their despair. Maggie Lake, CNN commentator and political analyst, bewailed: ‘He hasn’t changed. There was the expectation that the office changes the man but we have not seen this with Donald Trump.’ (CNN News, 23/3/2017) Not long after, The Los Angeles Times, a prominent liberal organ, delivered the following lamentation:

‘Like millions of other Americans, we clung to a slim hope that the new president would turn out to be all noise and bluster, or that the people around him in the White House would act as a check on his worst instincts, or that he would be sobered and transformed by the awesome responsibilities of office. Instead … it is increasingly clear that those hopes were misplaced.’ (4/4/2017) (more…)

by Jim Creegan

It is now increasingly apparent that the abrupt reversals of the Trump White House, emerging from behind a curtain of court intrigue, signal a major political shift. The white nationalist platform upon which the parvenu real estate mogul was elected in November seems in the process of being scrapped, plank by plank, in favour of a far more conventional rightwing Republican agenda, at home and abroad.

Far too often, Marxist political writing suffers from a conceptual gap. On the one hand, the bourgeois state is said – as a general theoretical proposition – to be an instrument of capitalist class rule. On the other hand, short to medium-term political events are analysed exclusively in terms of the pronouncements and deeds of political actors, momentary combinations, electoral moods etc., without regard to the interface between politics and class. No attempt is made uncover the particular pressures and influences through which the interests of the bourgeoisie are brought to bear.

In cases where politics flow through accustomed channels, the challenge is not daunting. Political parties and institutions are headed by individuals who either come from the ruling class themselves, or who are thoroughly venal and have undergone certain vetting procedures for class loyalty. The task of explanation becomes more difficult, however, when extraordinary convulsions – coups or insurrections in authoritarian regimes, or electoral upsets in democracies – put power in the hands of individuals and groups without long-established ruling class connections, and who may be hostile in important ways to the settled aims and practices of the bourgeoisie.

Hostile takeover?

Donald Trump is a case in point. Although himself a member of the ruling class, he entered the presidential primaries as an (more…)

Regina Elsea and her fiance

by The Spark

Regina Elsea was killed last year when the robot she was trying to repair suddenly moved and crushed her. She was working for Ajin USA, a car parts company, earning $8.50 an hour.

Chambers County, where the company was located, offered tax breaks and other financial aid to companies to locate there. Encouraged by such free taxpayer-backed money, car companies, with their high-tech robots and technologies, started to move to the region. People were hired, but most of the wages remained very low. In addition, much of the work was supplied through staffing agencies and was temporary.

Elsea was not an Ajin employee. She was employed through a (more…)

by Louise O’Sheaflagtrump-1

US capitalism was a disaster for the majority of the country’s residents, and for the majority of the world’s population, well before Donald Trump came along. And now it’s about to get a whole lot worse.

Four decades of ruling class attacks have created one of the most unequal societies in world history. The billionaire and multi-millionaire class has grown in number year after year while real wages have been stagnant. Entire sections of the country are Third World status.

The economic shocks of neoliberal restructuring* have left dilapidated infrastructure in both city and town. The financial crisis and recession from 2008 made things even worse. In many cities, there are blocks of shuttered shops, even totally empty or decaying suburbs. In total, 43 million people live in poverty. And 20 million live in trailer parks.

More than 2 million people, disproportionately Black and Hispanic, are locked (more…)

downloadby The Spark

Before electronic computers, and multifunctioning calculators, there were human computers. Black and white women mathematicians were tasked with turning numbers into meaningful data for NASA. Their calculations made possible many ground-breaking missions. These calculations, done by hand, with pencil and paper, often took more than a week to complete, filling six to eight notebooks with data and formulas.

Hidden Figures follows three black women “computers”: Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) – and their work at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia in the ‘60s.

All three of these women were brilliant mathematicians living and working in segregated and sexist Virginia. The film gives a sense of the indignities and humiliations these women endured. At one point Katherine Johnson is sent to a new department to calculate the trajectories for Alan Shepard’s space flight. The men – all white – were not (more…)

downloadby Jim Grant

Shall the fun never end? This paper has already called the present lame-duck phase of the American political cycle the most dramatic since 1860,1 but in accordance with the laws of the Hollywood narrative arc, the stakes have been raised at the very death.

At issue, of course, is the infamous Trump dossier – 35 pages of allegations against Donald Trump and his people, ranging from the dubious to the treasonous, to the downright bizarre; all rendered in the bland, grey prose of the MI6 house style. The author is widely assumed to be a certain Christopher Steele, a former operative at the Circus gone private; he and his firm, Orbis, are merely one of a whole nexus of private intelligence firms operating in London, whose previous claim to notability consists in compiling evidence of corruption at the top of football’s governing body, Fifa, on the UK government’s dime, which issued ultimately – after the information made it to Washington – in the dramatic arrests of mid-2015 and the resignation of Sepp Blatter.

Steele’s name came up after it was admitted that the source of all these allegations is a Briton, which in the end is hardly surprising. Britain has the right combination – slavish obedience to US policy, coupled with a most hospitable environment for Russian oligarchs to stash their fortunes. No doubt there are many Russian gentlemen with ambiguous relations to the Kremlin available for a ‘private chat’ in the right sort of Mayfair club. A whole industry, it appears, has grown up around this fortuitous position, with ex-spooks very quickly replacing their income (and more) in the private sector.

There are, now we think of it, a few parallels between Blatter’s case and Trump’s: both men are sexist buffoons, for a start; and what Blatter achieved within the small circles of football’s governing elite (founding a firm and unpleasant regime on the support of more marginal constituencies) Trump aims to replicate on the grander stage of American society. They are both, above all, men who are liable to make enemies, and Blatter’s ultimately caught up with him.

While the interest of the secret state and its semi-detached private apparatchiks like Steele in the black heart of international football is merely a testament to how bizarre the distempers of the imperialist world order can get, the interest in Trump’s Russian adventures is more easily explicable. US state department doctrine in the recent period has been dominated by the objective of encircling Russia, in order to ensure ready American access from western Europe all the way to the far side of the Mediterranean and the Arabian peninsula. Such activity has increasingly clashed with Russia’s perceived interests in its near abroad – a policy that has provoked crises over Nato expansion and the recent wave of fatuous doublethink over who may be said to have liberated cities from Islamic State in the Middle East.

Compromised

Trump’s stated foreign policy represents, on this point at least, a dramatic shift. He has made no secret of his (more…)