Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Uluru Statement: moving towards Treaty

Nick G.

Delegates at the Referendum Council at Uluru on Friday 26 May, 2017 issued a statement essentially rejecting the farce of Constitutional Recognition, and gave explicit support to the demand for a Makarrata or Treaty.

Taking place against the historical background of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum on including Aboriginal people in the Census, and on allowing the Commonwealth government to make laws relating to Aboriginal people, the mood of the three-day convergence was clearly against a repetition of superficial changes to wording which leave longstanding injustices intact.

Bunerong man Bruce Pascoe summed up that feeling when he told ABC radio last Thursday that “I don't think much about 1967; it didn't stop the intervention, or deaths in custody or the stealing of children, or the institutionalisation of racism within the constitution…. Some see it as a light on the hill, but I see it as the glint off a businessman's false golden tooth.”

That false golden tooth has been quite influential in the push for Constitutional Recognition.  According to a Spirit of Eureka publication due to be available shortly, 'Driving Disunity: the Business Council against Aboriginal Community', the whole constitutional recognition saga had its birth in the Samuel Griffith Society. The Society was set up with key involvement of Western Mining Corporation boss, Hugh Morgan, a close friend of John Howard.

The Constitutional Recognition it proposed was more of the same: tokenistic, symbolic, a salve for hurt feelings, but scrupulously avoiding ATSI people’s rights to self-determination and sovereignty.

The Business Council of Australia, comprising the hundred biggest local and overseas corporations in the country, has been relentless in its push to develop a “new architecture” of Aboriginal leadership, of corporate-minded servants of finance capital within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

BCA Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott put on a brave face as she tried to minimise the significance of the rebuff to Constitutional Recognition, telling the ABC’s AM program on May 29 that “This is something that has got a long way to play out, I think…over history we’ve had many kinds of…I dunno, false alarms over things that turned out to work out in practice.  Let’s see the final form.  This is, you know, a matter for the Indigenous community.”  In other words, let’s hold our fire, bide our time, and see how we can work through “our” ATSI leaders to turn the process to our advantage.

While the Uluru Statement from the Heart (see below) supports “a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations”, it has not entirely broken from a desire for Constitutional change. The Noel Pearson-initiated proposal for “a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution” pushes self-determination and sovereignty demands into the quicksand of the parliamentary talking shop and takes precedence over progress towards a Treaty.

It was Pearson’s influence that led to some members of the Referendum Council meeting waking out on the first day. Ghillar Michael Anderson, one of the leaders of the original Makarrata movement from 1981 to 1985, walked out on day one and was refused re-entry and speaking rights on the two following days.

Allegations were raised that grass roots activists were denied entry and that the meeting was stacked. Some mobs like the Tanami Desert people and Wilcannia people either refused to attend, or disputed the selection of those chosen to represent them.

Senior lawmen from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yakunytjatjara communities said that the meeting had been held on their lands without their consent.

“As Chairperson of APY Law and Culture,” said Murray George from Fregon (Kaltjiti), “I have written to the Referendum Council to say the Tjilpis (old men, uncles, elders – ed.) are insulted that the Referendum Council did not respect protocol and procedure before they called a meeting for discussion on having Anangu/Aboriginal people all over Australia included in Australia's Constitution.

“We, the Traditional Owners for Uluru and Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara country argue that our Law is the Law of the Land in this part of the world and not the whiteman law. We know we have been controlled by the whiteman law because we didn't have enough warriors and clever Lawmen who can take the fight up to these people who occupy our lands illegally.

“We are only just learning about how to talk about sovereignty and the fact that the High Court of Australia in the Mabo case said our Law and Culture survived British sovereignty. So us Tjilpis are asking ourselves if the colonial power agrees that our Law and culture survived British sovereignty - well then what does that truly mean for us?

“This is what they should be talking about not trying to put us in their constitution so that they get power over us to pass laws for us without us really knowing what the real outcome will be for Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Law and culture.

“We don't want this meeting called by the Referendum Council to take place on our Country.”

Murray George’s statement that his community is still coming to grips with the implications of self-determination and sovereignty was echoed by Philip Wilyuka, a senior man from Titjikala, approximately 100km south of Alice Springs. He demanded that the consultation process be done proper way in the languages of the First Nations, when all options must be put on the table and both sides of the argument explained in detail. This way the communities can go forward fully informed. Wilyuka confirmed the need for proper interpretation into First Nations languages and more time to get it right.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart shows the direction in which ATSI people want to move, but the three-day meeting showed that different people have different ideas about which path to take to get there.

Even acknowledging the internal tensions and contradictions, it is clear that the course favoured by the multinationals and the BCA has been rejected and that a Treaty enshrining self-determination and sovereignty is clearly on the agenda for national discussion.

The desire for meaningful action, and not cheap words, is strong among First Nations peoples.  They will have plenty of trickery and false words to deal with but their own united voice can no longer be denied.  Quire correctly, they are setting the agenda for their own communities and are bound to achieve victory despite the false golden teeth of their opponents.

A meeting at the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra will be held on 24
& 25 June to develop strategies going forward and to make First Nations’ voices heard.
In the interests of fully understanding the Uluru Statement from the Heart we reproduce the entire text below:


 We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart:

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.

How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?

 With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future. 

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution. 

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination. 

We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Turnbull's 2017 Budget: a wolf in sheep's clothing!

Max O.

The recent 2017 Federal Budget catch-cries of "good debt vs bad debt" and "security, opportunity, fairness" pitifully fail to cloud the class antagonisms that afflicts Australia. From the disastrous 2014 Budget of "lifters and leaners", Turnbull's Coalition government has taken the 'Labor Lite' route to swoon support for this year's Federal Budget.

However the working class, who are becoming more and more impoverished, can clearly see a con when Treasurer Morrison offers hollow inducements such as: increasing the Medicare levy to fund the  National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS); supposed increase of $18 billion for needs based funding of Australian schools; introduction of the First Home Super Saver Scheme that will enable first home buyers to direct some income into super accounts, at a lower tax rate than normal and allegedly 'assist' them to the purchase a house.

The philosophy of the rich is one of making the working class pay!

The reality is that these measures either cost Australian workers without touching the rich or corporations, or do pathetically little to improve the livelihoods of ordinary people. Tax payers will pay a 0.5% increase in their Medicare levy to finance the NDIS whilst the rich can now rejoice that the 2% deficit levy will be removed.

The increase of $18 billion for needs-based funding for Australian schools is in actual fact a $22 billion decrease from the original Gonski $30 billion funding recommendation for schools. Similarly, the First Home Super Saver Scheme will do little to make homes affordable to the working class, despite the Government claims that it will help first home buyers to save a deposit 30 per cent faster.

What would help first home buyers is ceasing Negative Gearing and Capital Gains discounts to investors who cash in on it and consequently dominate the housing market and push up prices, causing the housing speculation bubble to eventually crash.

Another pea and thimble trick is the 0.06 percent levy on the bank liabilities creating a $1.5 billion tax impost for the Big Four Banks. However, this will be compensated when the corporate tax cuts are introduced, a measure that will eventually give away $50 billion from the Government coffers when the company tax rate is reduced to 25%.

Much fan-fare has been placed on the Turnbull Government’s Budget commitment to boost and improve infrastructure. Here is where the Coalition posits the analogy of "good debt vs bad debt", counter-posing that spending on infrastructure is better than recurrent spending on social welfare, education and health.

Billions of dollars will presumably be spent on a mixture of energy, rail and road infrastructure projects throughout the nation. $5 billion will be spent on constructing Sydney's postponed second international airport.  It is doubtful whether all of these infrastructure commitments will be undertaken due to the current economic slump.

The 2017–2018 budget  is now the tenth that has vowed to achieve a surplus within a four-year budget cycle. With a large deficit of $29.4 billion and public debt out of control credit agencies and big business are not happy and are threatening to downgrade Australia’s current AAA rating. Australian businesses will then have to borrow at higher interest rates which will further weaken economic activity.

Capitalism's growth paradigm: the fool's paradise

The illusion of a 'return to surplus budget' is premised on the unlikely forecast of economic growth, both globally and in Australia. Turnbull's Budget envisages the expansion of the Chinese, Japanese and US economies over the next few years, thereby keeping up Australian export prices and government tax revenues from both company and personal income taxes, and attracting further inflows of foreign investment. Out of all this fantasizing about economic growth, Australian GDP apparently will climb from 1.75 percent in 2017 to 3 percent in 2020.

In continuing its commitments to keep Australia tied up to US-led wars of aggression, the Turnbull Government will maintain its escalating financial allocation to the military, intelligence and police. Their budget boosted military expenditure by 6.1 percent this financial year and will keep increasing it up till 2021.

Around $150 billion will go to the military over the next couple of years to pay for F-35 jet fighters, new surface warships, the start-up construction of 10 new submarines and the funding of Australia's continuing involvement in military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. In the next ten years, approximately $494 billion will be spent on the military by the Australian Government to further its inter-operability with the US war-machine and contribute towards American dominance of the world.

The economic reality for the Turnbull Government is that capitalism in Australia will be trapped in a low growth and a low profitability future. Because of the difficult task of imposing control over the working class and cutting public spending and wages there will be continuing political and economic turbulence for this and any future 'Shorten/Labor Government'.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Trump Administration: The new Cold War

A recent media release from the United States Defence Department has revealed a new generation of counter-insurgency training provision. It is specifically intended for use in the Asia-Pacific region and forms part of wider initiatives to reassert traditional US hegemonic positions.
The military planning has far-reaching implications for progressive-minded people and their democratic organisations with all the hallmarks of an attempted return by the US to Cold War positions.
New jungle warfare training at Scholefield, Hawaii
A media release in March, coinciding with the start of massive US-led military exercises off the Korean peninsula, announced the Pentagon was training personnel in 'the first jungle school the US army has established in decades'. (1) The training, at US Schofield Barracks, Waikiki, Hawaii, is a major military facility in the Asia-Pacific region and home of the 25th Infantry Division.
The Schofield military facilities, covering 18,000 acres, also has dense woods, cliffs and a waterway and their official website describes the base as being used for training personnel to 'prepare for deployment to the theatre of operations to perform combat operations as part of corps counter attack'.
It is, perhaps, not coincidental the Schofield military facilities are situated near to the US Pacific Command (PACOM), the regional defence and security base. The PACOM facilities have a stated command which includes the US 7th fleet with a range from South Africa to Australia, the 5th fleet which covers the northern part of the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf and the 3rd fleet with a range from Australia to Latin America.
The media release about the Schofield facilities also left readers with no ambiguity about US military planning for the wider region. It noted 'the course is part of a program to train soldiers for exercises and potential combat on terrain that looks more like islands and nations in the Pacific than arid Afghanistan and the deserts of the Middle East'. (2)
Jungle warfare training and counter-insurgency provision for US-led military drills tended to be superceded with developments following 9/11 and led to concentration upon the Middle East and wider planning to deal with supposed Islamic terrorism. Jungle warfare was also closely associated with the Vietnam War period and marked by brutality and repression. Following declassification of military documents in the 1990s the Pentagon sought to distance itself from unfavourable publicity.
Other factors also came into play for the maintenance and furthering of class and state power: the US tended to rely more upon the economic strategies during the New World Order during the 1990s as a means of controlling the vast region. Numerous so-called Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) were designed as a means of containing and encircling China. One layer of FTAs, therefore, tended to rest upon defence and security alliances centred upon allies. The planning has, however, been shown to have failed, in a spectacular manner. The continued economic growth of China has therefore thrown previous US military planning into disarray.
Western countries have had problems with low economic growth rates and decline for many years. There is little indication of any upturn in the foreseeable future. China dislodged Japan some years ago as the second-biggest economy in the world and is now set to topple the US within the next decade. Chinese diplomacy has also extended influence through the wider region effectively challenging traditional US hegemonic positions. For most countries across the region, a successful future now lies with strong links with Beijing, not Washington. 
The new US 'jungle school' military planning has to be seen in line with classic counter-insurgency provision and Cold War diplomatic positions. It is marked by neo-colonial ambitions and a preoccupation with military supply-lines in the most dynamic sector of the global economy. In fact, the defence department media release about the Schofield military facilities quoted Brigadier-General Stephen Michael, who stated, 'The jungle school gives that focus, it reinforces that we're in the Pacific', and, 'you got to fight in the tough environment of the Pacific'. (3) 
What the media release did not clarify is counter-insurgency provision has two specific military uses: to contain insurgency movements which threaten the existing status quo and to deal with remnants of previous political systems following 'regime change'.
The defence department media release did, however, reveal further information about the nature of training provision with their jungle school and direct linkage with previous brutality and repression. It was noted 'instructors in training pored over old army jungle manuals' as they sought to 'relearn everything' and to 're-acquire long-lost skills'. (4)
Declassified documents reveal imperialists’ fascist mindset
Studying some of the declassified documents from the US Defence Department provides a chilling picture of what the military regard useful long-lost skills. Adversaries, for example, are defined as 'those who oppose the US Defence Department' during 'peacetime and all levels of conflict'. (5) 
Adversaries, being monitored by US-led intelligence agents in civil society, were subsequently categorised onto black, grey or white-lists following the infiltration of 'a wide array of groups'. Training documents, from the period, show 'small group penetration', together with 'psychological warfare techniques' and 'interview and interrogation techniques' a major priority for military and other personnel. (6)
The definition of the 'enemy', from a variety of documents, would tend to indicate the US-led offensive was directed toward the whole of civil society not merely insurgents. The US Army's Project X, for example, was established in the mid-1960s as part of the wider program. Used initially in the Vietnam War, it was later used elsewhere. (7) In Vietnam, it included the Phoenix Program which was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians thought to be associated with the Vietnamese Communists. The program, later exported to Argentina, was used in the Dirty War period between 1976-82. Once again, the merest hint of contact with subversive elements through intelligence agents, was regarded as sufficient evidence to justify widespread detention and 'disappearances' of civilians. The Argentine military junta subsequently exported the counter-insurgency model to Central America under the tutelage of the US. Installed in Honduras, the US-backed training provision for the Contra to destabilise the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, resulted in tens of thousands of innocent civilians being abducted, tortured and killed. 
Democratic institutions, as defined by the project, were equated with terrorism: insurgents are regarded in the same light as 'political adversaries' of the ruling elite. Foreign policy objectives appear concerned with total control of a subject society and elimination of viable political opposition.
A sub-section of one declassified document dealing with 'impersonation' described the enemy in very broad terms as 'one assisted by his ability to hide his arms and merge at short notice into civilian population. He may disguise himself as a priest or woman or impersonate a policeman or soldier but is most likely to appear as a normal village peasant'. Presumably, using such a definition, US-led intelligence agents were expected to assess an entire civil population in the name of defending society from 'terrorism'.
Indoctrination procedures, accompanied by abductions of family-members to pressurise those being questioned, also included the indiscriminate use of Sodiopentathol (truth serum).
Another sub-section of a declassified document dealing with correct procedures for dealing with prisoners of war was immediately followed by a section dealing with 'burials'. 
Throughout the many declassified documents numerous references to the military working cooperatively with civil administrations has thrown light upon the concept of 'regime change'. One declassified document acknowledged limitations of military personnel: 'while the unit cannot undertake long term government functions, it is capable of exercising supervision over four civil affairs categories' and then listed government functions including labour and finance, economic functions, public functions and dealing with displaced peoples'. The senior military personnel concerned had a clearly defined role with the establishment of civil administration composed of 'puppets' to serve military interests.  
References, likewise, to correct conduct when military personnel deal with civilian populations is further evidence that newly installed puppet-type civil administrations serve the interests of the US and its allies. Numerous pages of 'Relations with Local People' contain lists of correct and incorrect behaviour including the 'mopping up' process of dealing with the remnants of the previous political system. It was supposed to be kept well-guarded, subject to higher levels of classification and noted 'deliberate mopping-up will be required even when the enemy is overrun and surrounded' and do not 'tell locals anything about military matters'.
If, however, sensitive information was revealed in the course of military matters, those concerned were expected to behave 'in such a way as to assure secrecy or concealment of the operation and its sponsor, and to permit plausible denial by the sponsor in the event the operation is compromised'.
Within a culture of lies and deceit, US-led forces were able to justify military occupation of a country under the pretext of countering terrorism to install puppet administrations with the specific intention of the exploitation of local labour and resources. It was nevertheless considered outside standard ethical behaviour to 'interfere with local women' and 'livestock belonging to local people'.
Following declassification of the sordid documents, the US Defence Department was forced to purge itself of those responsible for the repressive measures as a means of distancing itself from the disgrace. Highly unfavourable publicity, nevertheless, took place. It was noted at the highest level, for example, 'the CIA seemed to specialise in hiring murderous thugs and military officers' and it was due to 'the bad habits of the Cold War'. (8)
And now, with the passing of more than two decades, former military practices have been brought out of storage for future use in the Asia-Pacific region. It is also interesting to note how the previous military practices have been updated and the reasons behind the changes.
Modern-day Asia-Pacific countries have experienced rapid economic growth and have rising urban-based middle-classes in recent decades. In many countries across the region manufacturing has also taken priority over traditional rural agriculture. Well-educated, urban-based people, are more likely to rely upon China for their prosperity and cannot necessarily be regarded by the US as supporters of traditional diplomatic positions. 
The Philippines and South Korea are two recent examples of former pro-US puppet governments being toppled by the will of the mass of civil population and being recently swept closer into China's sphere of influence. Their governments now do not support traditional US diplomatic positions. Both countries nevertheless remain highly-sensitive and strategically-placed, for US military facilities and supply-lines. 
Imperialists switch training from rural to urban focus
It is therefore significant to note the changing focus of counter-insurgency training provision away from rural theatres of operations to urban areas. A recent military exercise for Special Forces from Australia, South Korea and Singapore, for example, included 'planning a mock city with multi-story buildings for soldiers to hone their urban warfare skills'. (9)
The military exercises also included provision for soldiers to 'storm and seize control of a terrorist hideout' in an urban area and were accompanied by Australia and Singapore strengthening defence ties. The joint Trident combat drills have also included new agreements for sharing intelligence. (10) 

Recent references in the Australian media about a newly established Urban Operations training Facility at Mount Bundey, outside Darwin in northern Australia (above), provide further evidence the development of new counter-insurgency doctrines is well under-way. (11) The role of the Pentagon is also quite clear. In April, about 1250 US military personnel arrived in Darwin to use Australian military facilities as part of troop rotation planning for six months training and for use in rapid deployment in the region.
Likewise, recent references to the Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative (ASSI), a Pentagon military plan for 'increasing US military presence in Asia' is also under-way. (12) Australia is set to increase defence budgets from $32.4 billion at present to $58.7 billion by 2025-6 as part of the same military provision. (13) References to areas of specific interest which include 'hot zones including North Korea' leave little ambiguity about the nature of the military planning. (14) One can but speculate which other countries across the region the US regard as 'hot zones' and the timespan of their planning. We have entered a dangerous phase: The present presidential administration in the White House is dominated by a man who is a megalomaniac and compulsive risk-taker.  
A new Cold War and all which accompanies it is taking place in the Asia-Pacific region. And those who forget the lessons of history will have to repeat them over and over again.
1.     US army gets grip again on jungle warfare, Weekend Australian, 18-19 March 2017.
2.     Ibid.
3.     Ibid.
4.     Ibid.
5.     Website: US Army Foreign Intelligence Assistance Program, Declassified 15 November 1993,
        Army Regulation 381-20, Section 1.5.
6.     The Whores of War, Wilfred Burchett and Derek Roebuck, (London, 1977), page 31.
7.     Army's Project X Had  Wider Audience,
Washington Post, 6 March 1997.
8.     Lead Editorial, The CIA Cleanses Itself,
New York Times, 4 March 1997.
9.     Singapore's military training area in Australia to be tripled under $2.25 bn plan,
The Straits Times, 9 May 2016.
10.   Singapore ministers hail strengthening of Singapore-Australia defence ties, The Straits Times, 6 May 2016; and, SAF's extended facilities, The Straits Times, 10 May 2016.
11.   Soldier 'died in live-fire attack',
Australian, 12 May 2017.
12.   Turnbull talks up US presence in Asia,
Australian, 10 May 2017.
13.   D-Day for defence's 10-year funding, 
Australian, 8 May 2017.
14.   Spy funds boosted in terror fight,
Australian, 8 May 2017.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Book review: Yezhov vs. Stalin

Nick G.

Joseph Stalin, the man who led the building of socialism in the USSR and saved the world from Hitlerite fascism, is to many people an evil, bloodthirsty dictator and tyrant.

Anti-Communists everywhere have had a field day demonising Stalin and using the demon so created to drive people from curiosity about, or positive feelings towards, Communism and Communist Parties.

Undoubtedly this demonisation has largely succeeded and derived credibility because the most vocal, fiercest critics have worn the cloak of Marxism and Marxism-Leninism. 

Trotsky spoke as a “Marxist” when he savagely attacked Stalin for adhering to the theory of “building socialism in one country”, for disallowing “democracy” (factionalism) in the Party, and for fostering a bureaucratic caste that took power away from the workers.

Following Stalin’s death, the Trotskyite attacks were largely confirmed by Khrushchev, the Soviet leader who succeeded Stalin.

Khrushchev delivered a secret speech to the Soviet Party’s 20th Congress in 1956, three years after Stalin’s death. Although the content was kept from the mass of Soviet Party members, it was leaked to a US capitalist newspaper and sent shockwaves through the international communist movement. It accused Stalin of fostering a cult of the personality behind which he cruelly suppressed and killed loyal Bolsheviks in their tens of thousands.
Anti-Communists could not conceal their glee.  Many Communists were so disheartened and disillusioned that they withdrew from revolutionary activity or adopted the revisions to Marxist theory that Khrushchev passed off as corrections to “Stalinist dogma”.

Reactionary authors such as Robert Conquest lapped up the secret speech and produced “histories” that established as “fact” that Stalin had been responsible for mass repressions in which some 20 million Soviet citizens were murdered.

The evaluation of Stalin was not all one-sided.  Trotsky’s writings had always been contested during Stalin’s lifetime.  After the 20th Congress, Khrushchev was criticised by genuine Marxist-Leninists in all Parties.  Great assistance was afforded by the Chinese and Albanian Parties and their defence of Stalin.

Even so, there was a grudging acceptance that Stalin had made serious errors.  Neither the Albanians nor the Chinese had access to Soviet records against which to judge the validity of crimes attributed to Stalin by Khrushchev.  The strongest criticism of the secret speech was that it “completely negated Comrade Stalin” whereas “his merits outweighed his mistakes” (On the Question of Stalin, Beijing, September 13, 1963). It was largely accepted among genuine Marxist-Leninists that Stalin was 70% correct and 30% incorrect.  In the latter component were departures from dialectical thinking; confusing the two types of contradictions (between ourselves and the enemy, and among the people); conviction of innocent people on charges of conspiracy and counter-revolutionary activity; and certain violations of democratic centralism within his own party and of comradely relations between the Soviet Party and other Communist parties.

In only relatively recent years has it been possible to access some previously unreleased archival materials relating to the Soviet Union.

By and large, academics working on history of the Soviet era have declined to visit this archival material. The demonisation of Stalin has been so widely and successfully spread that it is not worth risking one’s academic reputation to suggest that there could be a different appraisal.

One person who has tapped into the archives is Grover Furr, an American professor of Medieval English literature at Montclair State University. Furr’s first full-length book, Khrushchev Lied (2011) investigates each of the allegations made against Stalin (and Beria) by Khrushchev in his secret speech and provides documentary evidence that establishes their monstrous falsehood.

This was followed by The Murder of Sergei Kirov (2013) which undermined the so-called “scholarship” on which accusations that either Stalin had Kirov murdered, or that the murder was the act of a lone assassin, have been based.  Using again a mountain of documentary evidence, Furr showed that Kirov’s assassination was planned and carried out by a group loyal to an anti-Party clique headed by Zinoviev and others, and with ties to Trotsky.

The following year, Furr published a lengthy refutation of Timothy Snyder’s widely-read Bloodlands which had equated Stalin with Hitler and blamed both for the slaughter of millions in the Ukraine, Byelorussia and Poland. It is worth giving the full title of Furr’s book: BLOOD LIES: The Evidence that Every Accusation against Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union in Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands Is False. Plus: What Really Happened in: the Famine of 1932-33; the “Polish Operation”; the “Great Terror”; the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact; the “Soviet invasion of Poland”; the“Katyn Massacre”; the Warsaw Uprising; and “Stalin’s Anti-Semitism”. Furr looked into every source cited by Snyder, and checked every one of his footnotes to produce a credible argument that Snyder was dishonest throughout his book.

A year later (2015) came Trotsky’s “Amalgams.” Trotsky's Lies, The Moscow Trials As Evidence, The Dewey Commission. (Trotsky's Conspiracies of the 1930s, Volume One). Trotsky’s own archives, as well as Soviet era archives, served to establish that he had maintained contact with Zinoviev, Kamenev and Bukharin and that the assassination of Stalin and other top Soviet leaders was the object of their conspiracy. Given the successes of the First Five Year plan and Stalin’s and the Party’s great popularity with the people, this was the only way that Trotsky and other oppositionists could come to power.

Returning for a moment to the 70-30 evaluation of Stalin held by the Chinese and many other genuine Marxist-Leninists, a specific criticism of errors by Stalin was the following: “in 1937 and 1938 there occurred the error of enlarging the scope of the suppression of counter-revolutionaries” (On the Question of Stalin). Indeed, there was a sharp increase in the execution of alleged spies, conspirators and counter-revolutionaries during these two years.  Yet, argues Furr in his latest book, Yezhov vs. Stalin: The Truth About Mass Repressions and the So-Called ‘Great Terror’ in the USSR (2016), Stalin was unaware of the scale of the repressions and not responsible for Yezhov’s private war on loyal Party members and Communists.

Furr presents Stalin as determined to restrict the power of the Party bureaucracy by introducing through his 1936 Constitution a provision for multicandidate secret ballot elections. This, together with a guaranteed right to recall elected officials who had lost the confidence of their electors, was designed to show working people world-wide that the dictatorship of the proletariat was the most democratic system of government, and far superior to anything that bourgeois democracies practiced.

However, the powerful regional First Secretaries and other top officials frustrated and opposed Stalin’s attempted democratisation and, fearing the electoral influence of thousands of kulaks and others released from state prisons in 1935, quietly acquiesced  in Yezhov’s claims of a revived widespread conspiracy requiring new repressive measures. When the scale of Yezhov’s criminal activity became known to Stalin, he had him arrested and replaced by Beria who brought the repressions to an end.

As Furr makes clear in each of his books, it is almost impossible to dismantle what he calls the “anti-Stalin paradigm” which he defines in terms of the following:

• Stalin was a “dictator”. Therefore, he either initiated or could have stopped everything important that occurred. Therefore, whatever happened, happened because he wanted it, or something very like it, to happen. Stalin was always “in control”.
• The alleged conspiracies against the Stalin government were all fabrications. None of them really existed.
• It follows that the evidence produced in the testimony at the Moscow Trials, and in the interrogations and confession statements that have gradually been published since the end of the USSR in 1991, must be fabrications, and so are disregarded.
• Stalin never wanted democratic elections. The struggle by Stalin and his supporters for contested elections to the soviets (the legislative arm of the Soviet government) was either a sham or intended as a mechanism to get rid of entrenched local leaders whose power Stalin perceived as threatening in some way.

But “almost impossible” is not the same as “completely impossible”.  The mass reappraisal and appreciation of Stalin will not take place overnight, but take place it will.

History will be kinder to Stalin than to the Trotskys, Khrushchevs, Conquests and others who use a straw man, a caricature, a demonised Stalin, to attack and oppose the Communist alternative to capitalism.

And it will record the debt it owed to Grover Furr for pioneering this reeavluation.

Furr’s book is available from Erythros Press.  As an alternative to purchasing the book privately, those who are interested in Furr’s books, and who are members of their respective State or local libraries, might like to suggest the library purchase the book, thus helping to make it available to a wider audience.

If you wish to either purchase your own copy, or recommend it for a library purchase, the ISBN, publisher details and order arrangements are here: http://www.erythrospress.com/store/stalin-yezhov.html

Sunday, May 7, 2017

What’s so unclear about nuclear?

John C
What’s so unclear about nuclear?
Answer: Nothing!
Nuclear energy and weaponry have been around long enough for any rational person to arrive at the conclusion that these have no place or future on our planet. Yet the proponents of the nuclear industry continue to flog this dead horse.
Recently, a forum titled “SA The Nuclear State” and organised by the Anti-Nuclear Coalition SA was held in Adelaide. It was attended by around 60 people. The key-note speaker was Dr David Palmer, a historian who has been researching the nuclear industrial-military complex.
The reader might be aware that the SA government has proposed the idea of locating a massive international nuclear waste storage facility in remote SA, ostensibly to boost the ailing SA economy and jobs well into the future. A rather questionable Royal Commission was held into this, which came up with the conclusion that an international nuclear waste dump is a pretty good idea. This was followed by a Citizen’s Jury set up by the state government in the hope that the public would also be supportive of the idea. The Citizen’s Jury thought it stunk and did not want a bar of it. The reader is directed to an article previously published by Vanguard for a more in depth analysis of the background: http://www.cpaml.org/environment.php?id=383.
This has put a dampener on Premier Jay Weatherill’s plan. It was a great victory for the Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals and organisations leading the campaign against the nuclear dump.
You would think that would be end of the matter.
However, Dr Palmer in his keynote address to the forum referred to an article in The Advertiser which reported that recently, nuclear industry lobbyists sent an open letter to “state MP’s and42 influential people demanding the State Government commits to completing first-stage investigations of the proposed high-level repository”.
Further, in another Advertiser article late last year, Ben Heard, a strong proponent of the nuclear power lobby was quoted as saying “We must be a full service provider to the nuclear back-end”.
This sort of statement is a giveaway as to what is really behind the proposed international nuclear waste dump. As if though the idea of such a dump is not bad enough, the pro-nuclear forces would like to see SA involved in the entire nuclear cycle.  Of course this then has repercussions for the rest of Australia. One of which is the potential for the nuclear industry becoming a target for terrorists.
Dr Palmer has researched the 100 largest global defence corporations. Of the top ten, seven are American and 5 of the latter develop/manufacture products associated with nuclear weaponry.
A key point is that five of the top seven have a presence in SA. These are Raytheon, United Technologies, Boeing, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin. There are a few other less well-known companies, but still in the top 100, operating in SA that have connections to the nuclear weapons industry.
SA has secured the contract to build submarines. Currently these are diesel powered. However one can foresee pressure for progression to nuclear powered subs. Pretty much all of the US subs are nuclear powered, so for “interoperability” considerations, you can bet your bottom dollar that the US would prefer their allies to have nuclear capable subs.
Uranium mining is an activity carried out by BHP at Olympic Dam Mine at Roxby Downs in SA. According to Dr Palmer, the demand for new nuclear power plants has been decreasing whilst uses for nuclear materials in military sphere have increased.
Interestingly, the Royal Commission, apart from “assessing” the proposal for a nuclear waste dump, deals in Chapter 2 with the “expansion of the current level of exploration, extraction and milling of minerals containing radioactive materials in South Australia”.
Retired RAN Admiral and former SA Governor Kevin Scarce who was appointed to head up the Royal Commission, who is a known proponent of the nuclear industry, is also Chancellor of the University of Adelaide and deputy chairman of a large company. Just in this example alone it is plain to see the web of connections that exist between military, university, corporate and government sectors and influential supporters of the nuclear industry.
SA has the dubious distinction of being labelled the “Defence State” due to the significant operations of the military-industrial complex in the state. It appears from Dr Palmer’s research, that if the plans for an international nuclear waste dump go ahead, the potential for the establishment of the nuclear-military-industrial complex in the state is not out of the question. This will take the activities of the military-industrial complex in SA to a qualitatively different level and one which should raise alarm bells.

Another speaker at the forum was Tony Clark, an Adnyamathanha man and a long-time activist for his Nation’s lands. He recounted the struggle against the first attempt back in 1998 by the then Howard federal government to establish a nuclear waste repository on traditional Aboriginal lands in remote SA.  As stewards of the land for future generations, the Indigenous people of the region fought persistently and won. As Mr Clark said, it shows what can be achieved when “the underdog decides to stand up”.
Nineteen years later, the First Nation people are today faced with another attempt by the Turnbull federal government to establish a nuclear waste dump in the same region. This is in addition to the international nuclear waste dump being proposed by the SA state government.
Mr Clark is as passionate as ever about protecting the land from this latest threat and encouraged those involved in the fight against the nuclear industry to persist because “this struggle can be won by the strength of fighting this battle together as like-minded people”.
The third speaker was Ally Fricker who is a veteran peace, environmental and anti-nuclear campaigner. She elaborated further on the corporations which operate in SA and their involvement in the nuclear industry, as well as explaining that there are intimate connections between the civilian and military components of the nuclear industry. In fact, promoting “peaceful” uses for nuclear materials such as the generation of power was from the very beginning, primarily a spruiking exercise in order to permit the continuation of the development and manufacture of nuclear weapons. The concern of the ruling class even at the time of the first atomic bomb was that if “peaceful uses” of nuclear materials were not dreamt up, then the people would oppose the continuation of the nuclear military efforts and the latter would have to be shut down. In other words the nuclear military industry cannot exist without the so-called “civilian” component of the industry.
It was also mentioned that one of the current bottlenecks to the further expansion of the nuclear industry is that there is no solution to the build-up of high level nuclear waste scattered around the world. The existence of a nuclear waste repository where this material can be sent, vis a vis the one proposed by the SA state government, is promoted as a “solution” to the problem by the nuclear industry. Therefore if the international nuclear waste dump goes ahead in SA, this paves the way for the expansion of the nuclear industry.

The take home message of the forum is summed up in Dr Palmer’s concluding remarks that “the debate about a South Australian nuclear waste dump needs to consider these broader ramifications. At the same time, refusing to agree to an international nuclear waste dump in South Australia is a crucial initial step toward turning away from the nuclear military-industrial complex toward a better, more productive economy and a safer environment for all”.
The forum reaffirmed the imperative that any proposals for nuclear waste dumps on Australian soil must be defeated. Otherwise, Australia will find itself more entrenched in the deadly ambitions of imperialism. Part of the strategy must include further well researched facts about the nuclear industry (civil and military) by “citizen scientists” in order to counter the flimsy arguments presented by proponents of the industry.
There is already a strong organised opposition to the nuclear waste dumps and the wider nuclear industry in place. By expanding this base, the united action of the Australian people will send those of the nuclear industry packing.
Fight to gain Australian independence and sovereignty!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

THAAD and the United States war-drive in Asia-Pacific


Military planning is now well under-way by the United States to implement a region-wide Electronic Warfare system across the Asia-Pacific.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) being installed in South Korea (ROK) at present forms only one component part of a much larger system aimed at containing and encircling China to reassert traditional US hegemonic positions.

The centre of the US war-drive in the region is its 'powerful X-band radar, which forms the heart of the system'. (1) The system rests upon various component parts placed in strategic locations, each with a range of thousands of kilometres. (2) Later disclosures acknowledged early component facilities included an installation on Aomori Prefecture, Northern Japan, as early as 2006. (3)

In 2012 the US military were using the military-industrial complex and companies such as Raytheon, converging upon the Pentagon, to build six similar systems. They were described by a US government official, as, 'laying the foundations for a region-wide' system, linked to similar facilities in 'Japan, South Korea and Australia'. (4)

Disclosures in Australia have already revealed military planning for the system began in 2004 when the then right-wing Howard Coalition government 'gave the green light' for cooperation with the US  to already existing facilities which now include 'similarly equipped Aegis ships in the US and Japanese fleets to form an embryonic region-wide missile defence shield'. (5)

The present THAAD system being installed in the ROK is a further component part of the already existing system. Likewise, recent publicity given to 'a stronger relationship with the US  and having an Australian mainland-based missile defence system' which was 'similar to the THAAD the US has deployed to South Korea' form a further component part. (6)

The THAAD system in the ROK has also been hastily built following mass protests in the country and presidential elections scheduled for 9 May and is expected to be 'fully operational by the end of April' before presidential frontrunner Moon Jae-in who has opposed the THAAD system is expected to take office. (7)

The US system is based upon radar being used to detect incoming missiles, which detect and identify where it was launched and the target. An interceptor is then fired which uses kinetic energy to destroy the missile. (8) The system, in military jargon, is an Electronic Warfare system defined as 'a specialised tool that enhances many air and space functions at multiple levels of conflict'. (9)

EW systems are based upon the achievement of technological superiority. Problems, however, arise.

Critics of the system, for example, argue the system has little to do with the interception of incoming missiles and more about widespread surveillance across the region for intelligence purposes. Such criticism has carried considerable weight following further embarrassing disclosures about US defence and security facilities.

A recent acknowledgement about the existence of the highly secret US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) outside Washington using the X-band system and THAAD facilities does cast serious doubts over US military planning. (10) Despite high-level war-mongering rhetoric directed toward the northern DPRK, the Trump administration have been reluctantly forced to openly acknowledge the THAAD system in the ROK 'works against China' due to its 'radar fans go all the way through Manchuria'. (11)

Revelations about the NGA and its Australian counterpart facilities, raise serious questions about the nature of US military planning. Official media statements released in Australia have noted 'plans to deploy the THAAD system have angered not only North Korea, but also China and Russia which see the system's powerful radars as a security threat'. (12)

The US NGA facilities were completed in 2011 using an ARGUS-15, 1.8 billion pixel system hovering 4 miles high over the earth. Beforehand the intelligence work was conducted by the CIA. Its 'persistent stare technology' now, however, produces huge downloads of visual intelligence information and 'its principal function is to analyse the billions of images and miles of video captured' by the strategically-placed facilities. (13)  

The Australian counterpart facilities, the Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGIO) appear to have become operational in 2003 and were closely linked to the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD). (14) Its existence was secret until between 15,000 and 20,000 documents from Australian agencies were accessed by Edward Snowden then employed as a contractor with the US National Security Agency (NSA) and revealed in November 2013. A major part of US intelligence operations coordinated through Australia appear to have been surveillance of the Asia-Pacific region with a particular interest in Indonesian affairs, which included the activities of the inner circle of President Yudhoyono. (15)

The Australian involvement also included 'the interception of Indonesian naval and military communications' through secret monitoring facilities on the Cocos Islands which were linked to similar signals intelligence at Shoal Bay Receiving Station near Darwin. (16) The highly sensitive Cocos Islands system in the India Ocean was noted as forming part 'of a wider defence communications network' and hidden within coconut palm groves to avoid detection. It is significant to note the facilities rest well within the same arc as those based on Diego Garcia which are central to US global intelligence operations.

The US also appear to use Australian involvement through other diplomatic channels with sensitive surveillance equipment ostensibly used for countering terrorist threats and people-smuggling in the wider region although the main focus 'is political, diplomatic and economic intelligence' with specific reference to neighbourhood links with Chinese interests. (17) It was in this particular context the acknowledgement Australian Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) 'regularly taped the conversations of ordinary Australians' was officially linked to the collection of 'foreign intelligence' at the highest level in Canberra. (18)   

A major concern for US-led western intelligence agencies face, however, is the problem of technological advances with signals intelligence (SIGINT) require greater involvement of human intelligence (HUMINT) to provide localised information. Technological advances are also labour intensive. Local agents, usually referred to as Ground Human and organised into networks through intelligence agencies, are required to identify areas and persons of interest.  

The large-scale recruitment of Ground Human agents would appear well under-way in the Asia-Pacific. The US have been extending their influence in the region through numerous educational scholarships to prestigious institutions, the establishment of localised training agencies based on entities such as the Hudson Institute and exchanging of personnel in the corporate sector together with other seemingly generous behaviour and lavish displays of generosity.

A library, in a quiet Adelaide suburb in South Australia with a high density of higher socio-economic residents, for example, was recently found to have been used for recruitment by US consular staff with a particular interest in students from a local private high school who were about to graduate. The interviews took place in as formal setting across a table on which a full-size US flag was draped. Similar ones, no doubt, have also taken place across the Asia-Pacific region.

The softer diplomacy, displayed by the US in South Australia, would appear to rest upon far harder military planning in a part of the country with widespread defence industries, many of which are in the forefront of research and development of electronic equipment used for intelligence purposes.

1.     Kim keeps going ballistic,
        The Australian, 14 March 2017.

2.     Ibid.
3.     U.S. Seeks New Asia Defences,
        The Wall Street Journal, Friday-Sunday, 24-6 August 2012.

4.     Ibid.
5.     Kim keeps going ballistic, op.cit., 14 March 2017, see also,
        RAAF targets F-35 missile deal,
        The Australian, 7 April 2017.

6.     Protect cities from North Korean nukes,
        The Australian, 14 March 2017.

7.     Kim keeps going ballistic, op.cit., 14 March 2017, see also,
        US missile equipment reaches South Korea,
        The Australian, 27 April 2017.

8.     Kim keeps going ballistic, ibid, 14 March 2017.

9.     Definition – Air Force Doctrine 251, 5 November 2002,
        Pentagon, Operational Doctrine, US.

10.   The Multibillion-Dollar U.S. Spy Agency You Haven't Heard Of,
        James Bamford, Information Clearing House, 22 March 2017.

11.   Shield aimed at hurting China,
        The Australian, 7 April, 2017.

12.   Take that Kim: 'son of star wars' arrives in the South,
        The Australian, 8 March 2017.

13.   Shield aimed at hurting China, op.cit., 7 April 2017.
14.   Spy chief in defence of SBY mission,
        The Australian, 27 January 2014.

15.   Ibid.
16.   Listening post revealed on Cocos Islands,
        The Age (Melbourne), 1 November 2013.

17.   Revealed: How Australia spies on its neighbours,
        The Age (Melbourne), 31 October 2013.

18.   Spies are listening,
        The Australian, 6 June 2002.