The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 21st September 2001

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Editorial - No to war!
Lead Story - No to new US war!
Feature - On the PCS picket line.
International - US subversion in Belarus admitted.
British News - Opposition to war growing.
More news and Diary


No to war!

THE war drums of imperialism are being thumped day and night. The din from the White House is blasting across America and throughout the world. The purpose is not just to turn the natural feelings of grief and shock into flag-waving jingoism in the United States, but to whip other countries into joining Washington's latest grand coalition for war.

 Blair has adopted his usual posture when faced with an American President -- fingers on the forelock and feet scurrying to help in the big round-up of European leaders.

 We say, Britain does not need a Prime Minister freelancing as an ambassador for the United States, it needs a leader who will act to stop the tragedy in New York tuming into a disaster for millions around the world.

 Yet, even with the craven support of many national leaders, the warmongers of imperialism still feel the need to drench us in propaganda. This aims to gather support for whatever war the ruling class of the United States has decided to wage; to convert the feelings of sympathy for New Yorkers into support for the US state itself; to ignore the role of big power capitalism in the world -- the root cause of the suffering that lies behind these attacks -- and to even project the institutions of capitalism (stock exchanges, trade centres, money markets and the like) as bastions of civilisation.

 Imperialist wars are always fought for the benefit of the rich, the capitalist elites who start them. They always bring death and suffering to working class people (in and out of uniform), to the poor and the oppressed. The US-led coalition now being formed is no exception.

 We do not yet know the full war plans of the United States. But it seems certain they involve a major assault on Afghanistan, the country said to be the present base for Osama bin Laden, the man Washington believes to be responsible for the attacks on America.

 It is breathtakingly outrageous and criminal in concept. It will rain death upon untold numbers of Afghans who had nothing to do with the attack on New York, who live in one of the world's poorest countries and who have already suffered years of war. This is a country stricken by drought and with starvation already at the door. How could it possibly serve the cause of justice to plaster this land with bombs?

 The effect of course would be to strengthen anti-imperialist feelings in many countries and make desperate attacks on western targets even more likely. This is a lesson that should have been learned before 11th September.

 Surely the years of suffering imposed on the people of Iraq by the US and Britain, the years of injustice and oppression of the Palestinian people supported and funded by the US, and the constant economic inequality imposed by the imperialist states on the majority of the world's people are a source of great anger that cannot be ignored or swept aside.

 And the working class people of America, Britain and the other leading capitalist countries are also threatened by the grave danger of war and by the oppressive measures that the right-wing administration in the US will introduce under cover of the present situation.

 In all the western countries the anti-terrorist precautions will be used to tighten legislation and curtail civil rights. Past experience shows that these laws remain.

 And the capitalists in the West will use the attacks on America as a cover for the deepening crisis of the capitalist system. The rise in unemployment, the growing hardship, which was imminent in any case, will now be blamed on "terrorists". Working class fightback to defend jobs, wages and social provision will suddenly be denounced as unpatriotic or ill-timed. These arguments must be refuted vigorously.

 The immediate struggle is for peace. There are already pickets mounted in Whitehall and without any time to organise thousands of people have joined them. Peace demonstrations are also being organised in other cities and towns and it is vital these receive massive support.

 Build the movement for peace! Demonstrate and protest! Say No to War!

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Lead Story

No to new US war!

by our Arab affairs correspondent

US IMPERIALISM stands on the brink of war. US President Bush has made it clear that unless the Afghan authorities hand over Osama bin Laden within the next few days the United States and its Nato allies including Britain, will unleash its military might against them.

 But Afghanistan's Taleban leaders, who control some 80 per cent of the country, have said that they will not send bin Laden to the Americans without proof of his involvement in last week's terror attacks on New York and Washington. Pakistani efforts to force the Taleban's hand have failed and Pakistan itself is in deep crisis as opposition to the government's pro-American stance grows.

 Across the Arab and Islamic world there is a growing fear that Anglo-American imperialism is manipulating the crisis in preparation for an offensive aimed at anyone who dares to defy them. Though the White House has identified bin Laden and the Islamic order he leads as the chief suspects behind the attack on the Pentagon and the destruction of the World Trade Center - wanted "dead or alive" as Bush put it - the Bush administration is now trying to implicate Iraq and other so-far unnamed states in the attacks.

 In a surprise move, the United States has told Israel to accept a cease-fire with the Palestinians and withdraw its troops from Palestinian Authority controlled territory. Talks between Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres are now expected to go ahead to try and revive the "peace process". But everyone knows that the Americans real motive was to clear the decks in preparation for the confrontation with the Afghans.

Bush 'crusade'

 Immense pressure is being put on Arab and Muslim leaders to support Bush's "anti-terrorist crusade" but many are urging caution, including some of America's closest allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

 Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has repeated his long-standing call for a UN sponsored anti-terrorist conference -- ignored for years by the Americans because its terms of reference could easily cover the state-terrorism practised by Israel and the United States itself. The Saudis' are worried at the backlash in their own kingdom even if an operation to capture or kill bin Laden succeeded.

 Though bin Laden has been stripped of his Saudi citizenship and his family have disowned him the Islamic cleric has a following in Arabia and the Saudi royal family are their chief targets -- seen as traitors for allowing US bases in the kingdom.

 The Taleban leadership have rejected Pakistani demands to hand the Saudi dissident over. The Grand Islamic Council, an assembly of Muslim clerics led by Mullah Mohammed Omar, is still in session but few believe it will reverse the decisions of their leaders.

 Tens of thousands of civilians are streaming out of the cities for shelter in the mountain villages or refuge in neighbouring Iran and Pakistan. The young men are being mobilised and the Taleban militia has called for Islamic volunteers if war comes.

 Mullah Omar has warned that if the Americans attack he will proclaim a Holy War (Jihad) against them.

Imperialist war-plans

 Taleban resistance was strengthened by the revelations this week from a former Pakistani diplomat who said he was told that the Americans were going to attack Afghanistan long before last week's attacks. Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, says that senior US officials told him in mid-July that the United States was going to take military action against Afghanistan by the middle of October.

 Naik says that at a UN-sponsored conference on Afghanistan in Berlin US representatives told him that unless Osama bin Laden was handed over quickly the US would move to capture or kill the Saudi dissident and Mullah Omar. They said the wider objective was to topple the Taleban regime and replace it with a new government led by the old king, Zahir Shah, who lives in exile. They added that Russia and the former Soviet Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan would support the operation and it would have to take place before the snow comes in October.

 Niaz Naik believes this plan will be carried out in the next few weeks. He said he doubted whether it would be called off even if bin Laden was surrendered to the Americans.

 Others say that Iraq is going to be attacked by American, British and Turkish forces in a move aimed at toppling the government of Saddam Hussein. The Turkish daily Hurriyet said British forces would lead the attack in southern Iraq, Turkish and US troops would move into the north and once this had been accomplished Baghdad itself would be seized. The Turkish deputy premier dismissed the story as "mere rumours".

 Putting a puppet king back on the throne in Kabul is clearly preferred by Washington to the other alternative -- backing the Northern Alliance whose militia's control ten to thirty per cent of Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance -- now called the United Front of Afghanistan -- consists of supporters of the old Mujahadeen government, some supporters of the communist government they overthrew and leaders from the Shia Muslim community.

 One of their top leaders, General Massoud, was killed earlier in the month in a suicide attack believed to have been planned by bin Laden's men. They are less than covertly backed by India, Russia and some of the new Central Asian republics. They have offered to help capture bin Laden -- but the Americans know the price wouldd be the restoration of a government which would clearly be more orientated towards its long-time backers and least of all to the Americans, who did nothing to save them from the wrath of the Taleban.

 Some may even close ranks with their old enemies if Afghanistan is invaded. One veteran Mujahadeen leader, Gulbeddin Hekmatyar, says that the United States has no justification for invading his country and warned that if they did his followers and many others would unite to fight them.

 The Afghan people must be free to chose their own government and way of life free from all foreign interference. Mass pressure around the world can stop this war and this war must be stopped.

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On the PCS picket line

by Caroline Colebrook

CIVIL, servants employed by the Employment Service and the Benefits agency are still staunchly maintaining their picket lines outside Streatham and Brent offices in London in the dispute over plans to remove safety screens.

  The Government plans to merge Jobcentres and benefit offices into Jobcentre Plusses, starting with 50 "pathfinder" offices. The PCS civil service union is concerned that the removal of safety screens from the Benefit Agency part of the offices, where benefit decisions are made and giros paid out -- or not according to the decision could put staff at risk from a very small, potentially violent minority of claimants.

 Some of these claimants are receiving incapacity benefit for mental illnesses. Also frequent Government changes to benefit laws -- mostly cuts -- mean that desperately hard-up claimantts are often refused money they thought they were entitled to.

  This is not the fault of staff who only administer the benefits but they are in the front line when claimants are angry.

  Building work on the Brent and Streatham offices to accommodate the new style offices began three weeks ago -- and the staff at these offices have been on all-out strike ever since.

  The other offices involved in the pilot scheme are currently balloting to join the strike. The union expects that a good ballot result will prompt a change in management policy.

 The PCS national vice president, Janice Godrich, and the general secretary elect, Mark Serwotka have written to all PCS members giving their full support to those in dispute.

  They reminded members that earlier this month hat a claimant in Wakefield being dealt with at the Benefit Agency wrecked 14 frontline terminals. Recently a policeman was stabbed at the Croydon office.

  "These are not isolated incidents." thev said. "this dispute is about forcing our employer to take seriously our health and safety as we enter Jobcentre Plus.

  "Let us be clear. We have been trying to talk to the employer for nearly 12 months about this issue.

  "Let us also be clear. PCS does not oppose Jobcentre Plus we gave it a cautious welcome.

  "But unless our concerns are addressed, we believe the working environment currently proposed will put staff at risk and we cannot allow this to happen.

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US subversion in Belarus admitted

by Steve Lawton

ALEXANDER Lukashenko, who was overwhelmingly re-elected President of Belarus a fortnight ago, has survived a US destabilisation effort and blocked its longer term aim of creating a pro-Western state on the Russian border.

 The process was monitored by hundreds of international observers with backing from 45 countries -- a measure of how much 'interest' there has been in the strategically sensitive state. The observers grudgingly accepted the result.

 But the United States had been busily orchestrating Lukashenko's downfall from its embassy in Minsk, capital of Belarus.

 US Ambassador Michael Kozak, in a candid letter to The Guardian (August 25), likened the US effort to change the course of the election as a Latin American Contra-style operation.

 He said that the United States' "objective and to some degree methodology are the same" in Belarus as that conducted in Nicaragua in the 80s.

 Nicaragua was subjected to mercenary anti-communist killers called Contras in a war claiming at least 30,000 lives. They were organised by the US Administration under President Ronald Reagan against the liberation forces the Sandinistas, but also in other guises elsewhere against the Salvadoran FMLN in particular.

 An official at the US embassy in Minsk told The Times (September 3) that they had assisted around 300 non-governmental organisations, media and political forces that were "seeking political change".

 The main Belarus daily Sovetskuya Belorussiyu (September 5) alleged US, British and German intelligence agencies had cooked up a plan to get rid of Lukashenko.

 The paper, which sourced its information to Moscow, said that the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) group based in Minsk and assorted NGOs were used as a cover.

 Lukashenko has a popular mandate because he has so far managed to salvage some semblance of economic and social order out of the Soviet Union's demise. That has kept most peoples' heads above water and prevented a collapse of the state into Western hands.

 This puts a rather different light on the assassinations of Lukashenko's opposition leaders, said by Western agencies to have been carried out by death squads at his instigation. This has been used to brand him in the West as an unreconstructed communist dictator who simply eliminated rivals to hold on to power.

 So reports, prior to Kozak's admission, that had been exposed by Lukashenko's Government and by state media at the time and still ridiculed now look a sight more credible.

 News programmes over the last six months have frequently alleged US covert operations in Belarus. Last February, for instance, one programme said that over an eight year period hundreds of US spies had visited Belarus, a relatively small country, through the US embassy. It accused the US of fomenting separatist and religious divisions.

 Opposition organisations from the Youth Front of the Belorussian Popular Front to the Belorusian Independent Trade Union -- among many accused of being US-funded -- have mocked the Lukashenko Government for branding any opposition as tantamount to being an imperialist spy.

 So the real meaning of Kozak's interview with Belarus National TV on 21 December 2000 is now clear. (This was the one that was pulled from the TV schedule, never to be aired, and which the US embassy in Minsk decided, nevertheless, to stick on its website).

 He arrogantly explained, while maintaining the "democratic" value of the Bush-Gore election shenanigans, that "the perception exists in the United States and in Europe that the processes by which the [Belarus] Parliament was recently appointed or selected did not meet...basic standards of democratic processes that are applied to all....

 "[We've reached a] situation now where we've got a Parliament that we aren't able to recognise as being representative of the Belorusian people." He added that there is a "fundamental problem of the credibility of the electoral process [in Belarus]."

 Kozak appears not to have done US-assisted groups any favours by his admission now that Lukashenko has been elected. Belarus remains close to Russia, not least because it is economically heavily dependent: President Vladimir Putin has endorsed Lukashenko.

 The broader connection of this US role is not coincidental in the light of the deep involvement of its forces -- military and intelligence -- in former Yugoslavia's Macedonia and oother parts of the Balkans.

 Nato-EU expansion up to Russia's borders has been persistently warned against by President Putin. That, so far, has been foiled. But now the US is about to unleash its dogs of war which will affect these unstable balances.

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British News

Opposition to war growing

PEACE campaigners in Britain have responded to the attacks on New York and Washington by taking a lead in a public plea not to add to the horrendous death toll by starting a war.

 A vigil was mounted last Saturday in Trafalgar Square on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields by workers for Peace News calling for non-violent and anti-militarist responses to the events of 11 September in the United States.

 The demonstration was quiet and reflective, respecting the feelings of the bereaved and delivering a simple message to the US government.

 This message condemned the militarist actions of persons unknown on 11 September and expressed deepest sympathies for those who had suffered human loss.

 It called for "a calm and considered non-violent response by the US government and Nato allies".

 It expressed opposition to the British government "offering a blank cheque in supporting a militarist response by the US government" and the perpetuation of the cycle of violence.

 The message also reminds the US government that after the Oklahoma bombing those who jumped to the conclusion that extremist Arabs were to blame were proved mistaken.

 The group Active Resistance to the Roots of War (ARROW) has organised a weekly vigil in Whitehall, opposite Downing Street, every Tuesday at 6pm and are calling on supporters to join them in showing opposition to the threatened use of force. This vigil is supported by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

 ARROW says: "We mourn the thousands who died in Tuesday's horrific atrocities. Our thoughts are with those who have lost their loved ones in these terrible crimes.

 "However, we must not respend to these evil acts by committing evil acts of our own. Lashing out militarily is not the answer and would inevitably cause the deaths of many more people as unconnected with terrorism as were those who died this week.

 "Rather we must bring the perpetrators to justice in a court oflaw."

 And in South Wales, Caerphilly Councillor Ray Davies reports that he and other peace campaigners have decided to form an anti-war coalition in the Gwent, South Wales, area to give the peace-loving people of Wales an opportunity to campaign against the threat of war.

 Ray Davies writes: "President Bush has embarked on what he calls the first war of the 21st century.

 "Members of his administration have called for the use of weapons of mass destruction with nuclear devices and chemical weapons, which are widely available. The consequences of such a war are unbelievably frightening.

 "As a member of CND, I am hoping to call on the British government to use its influence to urge the United States to 1) seek justice through international law and not by military means; 2) not take part in any military retaliation; and 3) refuse the United States the use of any base in Britain for military retaliation."

 This South Wales peace group has called a meeting on Saturday 22 September at the Star Centre in Cardiff at 2pm to consolidate the structure of the group and draw up a petition.

** "Stand up for Peace and Justice! -- CND rally Saturday 22nd September, 2pm, Whitehall, London. No placards or banners.

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