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The Democratic Party spearheads war drive against Russia; No More War!

2 Feb

The Biden administration and the Democratic Party are spearheading a campaign for war against Russia that is bringing the entire globe to the brink of World War III.

On CNN’s Sunday television interview program “State of the Union,” Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the ranking Republican on the committee, James Risch of Idaho, appeared side by side to demonstrate the bipartisan unity of the two big business parties against Russia.

Menendez dismissed the warning by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that US talk about an imminent Russian invasion of his country was unwarranted. “He wants to create a semblance of calm as it relates to his economy,” the Democrat said, “So I understand that.”

He hailed the bipartisan legislation authorizing the Biden administration to impose “the mother of all sanctions… that ultimately would crush Russia’s economy, and the continuing lethal aid that we are going to send, which means Putin has to decide how many body bags of Russian sons… are going to return to Russia.”

“This is beyond Ukraine,” Menendez warned. “We cannot have a Munich moment again. Putin will not stop with Ukraine if he believes that the West will not respond.”

The top congressional Democrat on foreign policy was only one of dozens of Democrats comparing Putin to Hitler and advocating measures that lead inexorably to a military confrontation between Russia and the United States, the countries which possess the two largest arsenals of nuclear weapons.

There are two interrelated political and social processes at work in the increasingly hysterical campaign against Russia: 1) The disintegration of the anti-war faction of the Democratic Party that emerged during and in the aftermath of the Vietnam War; and 2) the pro-imperialist evolution of the affluent middle class, which, beyond Wall Street and the military itself, forms a principal social base for the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party has always been a party of the American capitalist class. A Democrat was president and commander-in-chief in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the first half of the Vietnam War. But as the mass antiwar movement gathered strength in the course of the 1960s, the Democratic Party took on the role of co-opting and containing antiwar sentiment within the framework of bourgeois politics.

A substantial faction of the Democratic Party came out against the Vietnam War, associated with figures like Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee J. William Fulbright (Arkansas); Indiana Senator Vance Hartke; Minnesota Senator and 1968 presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy; Idaho Senator Frank Church; Connecticut Senator Abe Ribicoff; and Tennessee Senator Al Gore, Sr. In 1972, South Dakota Senator George McGovern won the Democratic Party nomination for president on an anti-war program.

Senator Church headed the Church Committee, established in 1975 to investigate abuses and illegal activities carried out by US intelligence agencies throughout the world. Even into the 1980s, most Democrats opposed US military intervention against the Nicaraguan revolution and other radical movements in Central America. As late as January 1991, 45 Democrats in the Senate voted against the resolution authorizing George H. W. Bush to launch the first Gulf War against Iraq, although 10 supported it, just enough to ensure passage by a 52-47 margin.

The administration of Bill Clinton (1993-2001) marked a significant shift. Clinton picked Al Gore, Jr., one of the 10 Democratic senators who had voted for the Gulf War, as his running mate, and his administration used military force aggressively in Bosnia, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and Haiti. When Gore became the Democratic presidential nominee in 2000, he chose another hawkish senator, Joe Lieberman, as his running mate.

By 2002, when the Authorization for Use of Military Force came before the Senate, authorizing the administration of George W. Bush to wage a second US war against Iraq, the balance within the Democratic Party had been reversed.

The vote among Senate Democrats was 29-21 in favor of the resolution, compared to 45-10 against the equivalent resolution in 1991. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who backed the resolution and managed its passage, was Joe Biden of Delaware—now the US president. When mass antiwar demonstrations erupted in America and throughout the world, the Democratic Party turned its back on them and embraced the war drive of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell.

Two more significant steps to the right followed. In the 2008 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama attacked Hillary Clinton incessantly over her 2002 vote for the Iraq war. He was silent about his own close ties to the US intelligence agencies, which personified the deep connections between the Democratic Party and the Wall Street-military-intelligence complex.

President Obama quickly ditched the antiwar rhetoric of candidate Obama, using US military power just as aggressively as previous administrations. He escalated the war in Afghanistan as he carried out the drawdown in Iraq at the pace set by Bush, and launched new wars via NATO in Libya and via Islamic proxies in Syria and Yemen. Obama then sent US forces back into Iraq against ISIS. US forces conducted drone missile warfare on an ever wider geographic scale, from Pakistan through Central Asia and the Middle East and across North Africa.

The Obama administration was part of a broader elevation within the Democratic Party of candidates with a background in the intelligence agencies and the military, whom the World Socialist Web Site refers to as the CIA Democrats.

The final chapter in the Democratic Party’s abandonment of any pretense of opposition to war came in the course of the Trump administration. The principal, even the sole, axis of the Democratic opposition to Trump was the anti-Russia campaign, based on the bogus claim that Trump was either a Russian stooge or an outright agent of Vladimir Putin. This campaign led to the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which turned up no evidence, and then to the first impeachment of Trump, based on his pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Bidens by withholding a shipment of US weapons, which disrupted long-running US plans to escalate the conflict with Russia.

Alongside and connected to the transformation of the Democratic Party is the pro-imperialist shift that took place in the middle class, particularly its most privileged layers. As it emerged in the 1960s, the antiwar movement was dominated by sections of the middle class, particularly on the campuses. The end of the military draft in 1973 was part of a broader strategy of the ruling class to integrate a section of the middle class into the political establishment, including through the cultivation of identity politics.

Beyond the corporate and financial aristocracy, a section of the upper middle class—the top 5 or 10 percent of American society—has enriched itself in the course of the four-decades-long Wall Street boom, which is dependent on the dominant global position of American capitalism. The Balkan War of the 1990s, promoted by the Clinton administration as a war for “human rights,” was a turning point. As the WSWS wrote at the time:

The objective modus operandi and social implications of the protracted stock market boom have enabled imperialism to recruit from among sections of the upper-middle class a new and devoted constituency. The reactionary, conformist and cynical intellectual climate that prevails in the United States and Europe—promoted by the media and adapted to by a largely servile and corrupted academic community—reflects the social outlook of a highly privileged stratum of the population that is not in the least interested in encouraging a critical examination of the economic and political bases of its newly-acquired riches.

These social processes find their reflection in all the official institutions of the ruling class. In the media, one cannot find a single voice that questions, let alone opposes, the official government lies being used to justify war against Russia from a left-wing standpoint. There is no equivalent to CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite, who famously declared his opposition to the Vietnam War in the wake of the 1968 Tet offensive. Among the well-paid media talking heads, as well as the privileged layers in academia, imperialism finds an absolutely devoted constituency.

Pseudo-left organizations like the Democratic Socialists of America play a central role in supporting American imperialism and channeling opposition behind the Democratic Party. The liberal magazine American Prospect reported on the weekend that in response to questions about US policy in Ukraine, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib either declined to answer or did not return calls.

Such transformations are a worldwide phenomenon. In Germany, the Green Party, formed by environmentalists and antiwar activists in the 1970s, finally came to power as part of a coalition government in 1998, and the Green foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, a former radical “street fighter,” spearheaded the dispatch of troops to the former Yugoslavia in the first deployment of German forces outside the country since the Third Reich. Similar political metamorphoses took place in France, Britain, Italy, Canada, Australia, Spain and other countries.

Opposition to war is and must be centered in the working class. Opinion polls show overwhelming popular opposition to US intervention in any military operations in Ukraine or Eastern Europe. But this opposition finds no expression within the official US two-party system. The struggle against imperialist war cannot be waged through the Democratic Party or through any of the institutions of the capitalist political establishment. It requires the independent mobilization of the working class, on the basis of a socialist and internationalist program.

International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI)

Patrick Martin31 January 2022

Nearly 700 Protests Planned for Saturday at Post Offices Across Country as DeJoy Slammed for Defense of Mail Sabotage.

22 Aug

“From the most remote village in the Alaskan tundra to the tiniest island in the Everglades, there’s one connection we’ve always depended on: the mail.”byJulia Conley, staff writer

As of Friday afternoon, more than 650 demonstrations were planned as part of “Save the Post Office Saturday,” a national day of action in which people across the U.S. will demand that President Donald Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy end their assault on the U.S. Postal Service. Demonstrations will begin at 11:00 am local time. 

The number of planned protests at hundreds of post offices grew as DeJoy testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday, telling lawmakers he has “no intention” of returning hundreds of mail sorting machines that have been decommissioned in recent weeks, severely cutting postal workers’ ability to deliver mail quickly. The postmaster general claimed the machines are not needed.

The removal of machines in battleground states including Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan will have serious implications for the general election in November, civil rights advocates have warned, as many Americans—particularly Democratic voters—plan to vote by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

This week, DeJoy announced he was suspending changes to mail operations until after the November election to “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail,” but made clear that he has no plans to return mailboxes and sorting machines that were removed or restore overtime hours that he cut. 

The president has also said he would block emergency funding for the Postal Service and for election assistance, saying that the funding would allow for “universal mail-in voting,” which he has falsely claimed would result in a fraudulent election.

MoveOn, which is joining with the NAACP, SEIU, the Working Families Party, and other advocacy groups to organize the day of action, said people across the country are rejecting Trump’s attack on the election and the Postal Service. 

“From the most remote village in the Alaskan tundra to the tiniest island in the Everglades, there’s one connection we’ve always depended on: the mail. Together, we’re coming together to support a beloved system that every American relies on,” said Rahna Epting, executive director of MoveOn.

poll released this week by Yahoo News and YouGov showed strong opposition to Trump’s blocking of Postal Service funding, with 50% of respondents saying they “strongly” disapprove and only 28% saying they approve. Nearly two-thirds of voters surveyed said they feared they would be prevented from voting due to Trump and DeJoy’s actions. 

“The mail shapes our lives and our livelihoods. It’s how millions get our medicines, send holiday greetings, and receive the resources we depend on,” said Epting. “And, in this pandemic, the mail is how millions of us will deliver our democracy. We reject these attacks on the USPS. We demand full restoration of machines and personnel plus full funding for the post office. We will fight until every vote is counted.”

MoveOn and other organizers are offering print-at-home signs for attendees to bring to the protests, emblazoned with phrases including, “Stamp Out Fascism,” “Roll Back DeJoy, Restore the Machines,” and “4 Million Prescriptions Delivered Daily.”

Participants will be urged to wear face coverings at the socially distanced demonstrations, MoveOn said. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and the global plight of refugees and migrant workers

25 Jun

24 June 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to tear through the global population, the disease is having an especially devastating impact on the tens of millions of displaced people throughout the world.

More than 1 percent of humanity–some 79.5 million people–were living as forcibly displaced people in 2019, the highest number on record. This staggering figure, which is almost double the number of displaced people just a decade ago and 10 million more than at the end of 2018, was cited in the latest United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) annual Global Trends report released last week.

If the world’s displaced were considered as their own country, that country would have a population almost equivalent to that of Germany, Europe’s largest economy, or that of Iran. The vast majority of the refugees come from five countries, all of which have either been direct targets of US imperialist aggression and intrigue or are suffering as a result of decades of colonial domination and neocolonial occupation. Afghanistan, Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria and Venezuela account for 68 percent of the total. Syria alone, which has been devastated for almost a decade by a bloody US-instigated civil war, accounts for over 13 million displaced people–more than half of its 22 million pre-war population.

The poorest countries are bearing the brunt of the crisis, as the imperialist powers in North America and Europe seal their borders to refugees, use heavily armed, fascistic border guards to fire on them, or allow them to drown at sea. The UNHCR report notes that 73 percent of people displaced outside of their home country have found refuge in a neighbouring country, i.e., they live in countries that are often as ill-prepared as their war-torn, impoverished homelands to provide for their survival and well-being.

The report noted in this context the fate of the Rohingya, who were forced out of Myanmar in a vicious campaign of terror by the US-backed military regime. Tens of thousands remain confined to miserable, inhospitable camps in Bangladesh. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the UNHCR has registered growing numbers of Rohingya moving towards Malaysia and other southeast Asian countries due to the hardship produced by lockdown measures and the diminishing prospect of ever returning home.

Refugees and displaced people who seek to reach richer countries in Europe and North America confront brutal repression and the threat of death due to the ruling elites’ criminal policies. In the United States, the Trump administration has established a vast array of internment camps, where desperate and impoverished people fleeing horrendous social conditions in Latin America, including women and children separated from their families, are treated no better than animals. Militarized guards and militias patrol the US-Mexico border, which has become the scene of hundreds of migrant deaths every year.

In “Fortress Europe,” the European Union has all but abolished the right to asylum and shredded the protections adopted in the Geneva Convention on Refugees, a piece of international law instituted following the unbridled savagery of the Nazi regime. Seven decades later, European governments, with Germany in the lead, are well on the way to resurrecting similarly barbaric practices.

Tens of thousands of refugees are confined to hellish concentration camps in Libya and other parts of North Africa, where they are subjected to torture, rape, slavery and worse by EU-funded militias. On the Greek islands, tens of thousands of people are crammed into overcrowded camps with virtually no sanitary facilities, amid a raging global pandemic. Thousands of refugees are left to drown in the Mediterranean on Europe’s doorstep each year.

The cruelty and vindictiveness shown towards refugees by European capitalism is so brazen that even UN officials have been compelled to criticise it. Speaking at the release of the Global Trends report, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said that as a European, he feels “embarrassed and ashamed” over how the EU has handled the refugee crisis.

As horrific as the figures are in the UNHCR report, it accounts for the situation in 2019. It therefore does not take note of the devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis, which has dramatically worsened conditions facing refugees and migrant workers on every continent.

Migrants and displaced people typically belong to the most oppressed and exploited sections of the working class. They have been hit especially hard by coronavirus outbreaks, and largely left to fend for themselves by callously indifferent and often maliciously hostile state authorities, from Modi’s India to Merkel’s Germany and Trump’s United States.

In Germany, where the fascistic Alternative for Germany plays a major role in determining government policy, large numbers of Romanian, Bulgarian and other Eastern European migrant workers are herded into dilapidated buildings often unfit for human habitation. They receive poverty wages and have no rights or job protection. They have been infected in large numbers in meat packing plants and in the agricultural sector, while many more have been placed under effective police guard in hopelessly overcrowded tower blocks and disused army barracks, which then become hotbeds for the spread of the virus.

In India, millions of migrant workers were left to starve by the Hindu supremacist government of Narendra Modi, which failed to provide adequate assistance to them when it unveiled a nationwide lockdown with just four hours’ notice in March. Due to the fact that the vast majority of migrant workers are day labourers in the so-called “informal sector,” they were left virtually overnight with no income to obtain food and other basic necessities. Hundreds of thousands began trekking on foot back to their home villages, often covering hundreds of miles and carrying the virus with them. Many more were detained in camps.

In the United States, migrant workers make up a large proportion of the more than 25,000 meat packing workers infected by CoVID-19. Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants received no assistance during lockdown measures, due to fears that contacting state institutions could result in their detention or deportation.

Building on the Obama presidency, which oversaw a record number of immigrant deportations, the fascistic-minded Trump has launched a series of military-style immigration raids carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement thugs to arbitrarily round up immigrants for detention and removal. In July 2019, Trump launched nationwide raids targeting 2,000 families in 10 major cities for deportation.

The defence of refugees and migrant workers is a task that falls to the working class. Anti-immigrant chauvinism and nationalism have been systematically promoted by all factions of the political establishment in every country to justify right-wing policies of law-and-order and attacks on democratic rights. They also seek to scapegoat immigrants and refugees for the social problems produced by decades of savage austerity and attacks on working conditions, which have in reality been implemented to boost the wealth of the super-rich and pay for imperialist militarism and war.

“The world of decaying capitalism is overcrowded,” wrote Leon Trotsky in the Manifesto of the Fourth International in 1940. “The question of admitting a hundred extra refugees becomes a major problem for such a world power as the United States. In an era of aviation, telegraph, telephone, radio, and television, travel from country to country is paralyzed by passports and visas. The period of the wasting away of foreign trade and the decline of domestic trade is at the same time the period of the monstrous intensification of chauvinism and especially of anti Semitism… Amid the vast expanses of land and the marvels of technology, which has also conquered the skies for man as well as the earth, the bourgeoisie has managed to convert our planet into a foul prison.”

Eighty years after these lines were written, their forceful condemnation of the bourgeoisie is, if anything, even stronger than in 1940. While the bourgeoisie of every country is returning to the reactionary politics of nationalism, militarism and the far-right, the working class on a world scale is more interconnected and unified than ever before. The mass multi-racial protests over recent weeks in dozens of countries triggered by the brutal police murder of George Floyd testify to the common experiences of exploitation and state repression faced by workers of all backgrounds around the world under capitalism.

Rejecting the ruling elite’s nationalism and anti-immigrant poison, working people must come to the defence of refugees and migrant workers on a global scale. They must defend the rights of workers of all nationalities to work, live and access social and health care services in the country of their choice without fear of persecution or deportation.

The defence of the democratic rights of refugees and migrant workers is possible only as part of the broadest mobilisation of workers and young people against social inequality, capitalist state repression and militarism and war. Such a struggle should be guided by a socialist and internationalist perspective and set as its goal the transfer of political power to workers’ governments committed to socialist policies.

Jordan Shilton

Published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI)

“While it is true that people must liberate themselves from their servitude, it is also true that they must first free themselves from what has been made of them in the society in which they live” New & Used Books for Activists, Protesters & Revolutionary’s; https://www.facebook.com/Fahrenheit451bookstore/

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