Who is Behind the Death Squads in Iraq?

Reports of the carnage in Iraq appear in The New York Times with appalling regularity, such as the December 2, 2013 report, headlined “Blast Kills at Least 12 Mourners At Funeral of Iraq Sunni Leader.” Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! (December 27, 2013) reported that The United Nations puts the 2013 death toll from such attacks at 8,000, the highest Iraqi death toll in war-related violence since 2008. Almost daily, dozens of Iraqis are being killed and many more wounded, mostly by car bombs.* The car bombs are detonated in markets, outside restaurants and cafes, at wakes and funeral processions like the one cited above; in other words, at places where crowds have gathered.

Someone is waging a war in Iraq. But, who? Who is carrying out this campaign of terror and death against Iraq’s civilian population? Who would have a reason to do that, to punish them so?

The New York Times writers always attribute these mass murders to Shia-Sunni rivalry, or occasionally, to Al Qaeda. However, it is not only Muslims who are the targets. For example, The Times reported that on Christmas Day, a car bomb planted in a parking lot outside a Christian church killed 26 people and wounded at least 38 others. (“Worshipers Are Targeted at a Christmas Service in Baghdad,” December 26, 2013) Sometimes, the reporter’s attribution of guilt is even accompanied by speculation as to the motives for the attacks, which are usually one of three: revenge, to “stoke sectarian violence,” or to discredit the government. Furthermore, the Times reports invariably identify the religious affiliation of the victims – Sunni or Shia – as if this is somehow explains the cause of the tragedy. Lately, the speculation has expanded to blame the war in Syria for the carnage in Iraq.

More here.

Whither Ukraine?

Whither Ukraine?

By Marilyn Vogt-Downey

February 26, 2014

It’s not just that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was a coward for fleeing in the dead of night from angry and rebellious Ukrainian nationalists in Western Ukraine to what (he hoped) would be a friendlier population in the Russian-speaking Eastern Ukraine. Of course, he probably was a coward to run away. However, a coup d’etat had been carried out against him, his government security forces were melting away, and roughnecks with weapons and shields were just outside his door.

But more important than his cowardice is the fact that he is a scoundrel.

He could have easily calmed the rebellion in Independence Square in Ukraine’s capital Kiev early on if he had simply told the crowds the truth about what the Association Agreement with the European Union would mean to their lives and futures, which is one reason he apparently refused to sign it.  His refusal to sign this Agreement on November 21, 2013 has been called the “spark” that led to the current crisis and his overthrow. However, if, for example, he had summarized the terms of only one part of it–the Agreement’s “Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area”–and explained what it would mean to the Ukrainian people, he would have severely dampened enthusiasm for this  Agreement. This Free Trade section alone–removing tariff barriers and export duties–would convert Ukraine into one big “free trade zone,” where the anti-environment, anti-labor, and pro-business laws would prevail.

This is what “European integration” and “joining” the glamorized “West” would really mean to Ukraine’s massive working-class population of 46 million. It would create the economic devastation of the type that NAFTA has created in Mexico.

“You want a free,  independent Ukraine?” Yanukovych could have asked, were he a man of integrity. “Well, so do I! That is why I cannot–in good conscience–sign this Agreement.”

THAT is what an honest leader would have said back in November 2013, or even before that. It is not complicated. Then he could have gone on to outline what the pending IMF “financial aid package” would do to further worsen their lives.  The last but one paragraph of  The February 23 The New York Times report on Yanukovych’s flight and its aftermath summarized very well what the “EU option” will mean.

More here.

Egypt: Revolution and Counterrevolution in the Age of Social Media

Revolution versus the Counterrevolution in the Age of Social Media

By Marilyn Vogt-Downey

December 3, 2014

On Saturday, November 30, 2014, an Egyptian judge dropped all charges against former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak.  Mubarak, with US government military and political support, had presided over nearly three decades of martial law and repression. His overthrow and arrest in 2011 had been considered a major achievements of the “Arab Spring” in Egypt, a mass upsurge that began on January 25, 2011 and led to Mubarak’s overthrow on February 11, 2011. Mubarak, along with others also released on Saturday, had been subsequently tried and convicted of a number of corruption and criminal charges.

One activist told a US reporter that Mubarak’s release is “closing the fate of the January 25, 2011 ‘revolution.’”  Another man, whose son was one of the hundreds of protesters murdered by Mubarak’s police during the uprising,  put it this way: ”Mubarak’s regime is still in place. The January Revolution is over.” (1)

Mubarak’s release came at a time when the US-backed military government has put in place a police regime so draconian that it was confident it could “suppress any backlash.”  That turned out to be true. Even to speak out in the courtroom against this ruling of the judge in the military-controlled court would have meant a year in prison. The few who dared to protest Mubarak’s release faced an overwhelming police presence; at least one protester was killed and 85 were arrested.

What was behind  2001 “January 25 Revolution” in Egypt and what went wrong? To answer these questions, one needs to know about the US government’s international cyberdissident offensive and how it worked in Egypt. An indispensable source of information about all this is a recent study by Linda Herrera called Revolution in the Age of Social Media: The Egyptian Popular Insurrection and the Internet.  (2) An amazing power has been unleashed on the world’s people. And we alone can stop it.

What can “one man” do?

Revolutionary organizations probably exist almost everywhere in some form throughout the world. The problem is that they tend to be small, or small relative to other political parties.  Meanwhile,  the need for revolutionary organizations has never been greater. Every day the need expands, as do opportunities for them to do their work. Masses of people are disillusioned with the capitalist system but don’t see a way to a better, socialist transformation. It has only been recently that the very word “capitalism” has even crept back into the popular vocabulary–to finally replace abstract euphemisms such as “corporate control,” “the free market,” etc. Private ownership of the means of production is the cause of the problem. And workers control over the means of production is the solution. But, how can we move toward that vital socialist transformation when the revolutionary parties are so small and relatively isolated?

More  here