non-covid-related

Pindo war drive against China accelerates
Peter Symonds, WSWS, Jul 8 2020

The presence of two Pindo aircraft carrier strike groups in the South China Sea conducting “high end” war games starting Saturday involving round-the-clock aircraft launches is just the most graphic demonstration to date of the Trump administration’s accelerating preparations for war against China. The fact that the two-carrier operations were timed to coincide with Chinese naval exercises in the same strategic waters makes them all the more provocative and dangerous. The global COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically exacerbated the crisis of global capitalism, centered in Pindostan, and all of its fundamental contradictions, leading to a further rapid rise of geopolitical tensions. Confronting a deep social and economic crisis at home, with growing opposition in the working class to the reckless back-to-work drive, the Trump administration is seeking to divert social tensions outward at an external enemy. Trump, backed by the Democrats and the media establishment, is seeking to whip up a climate of war fever through a relentless campaign of anti-China propaganda based on lies and disinformation. Without a shred of evidence, major boxtops routinely blame China for the coronavirus pandemic and the huge Pindo death toll for which the White House is directly responsible through its criminal negligence and indifference.

The anti-China campaign goes across the board. Pindostan has ramped up its denunciations of Beijing over “human rights” abuses in Hong Kong and of the Muslim Uyghur minority in the Chinese province of Xinjiang. Punitive Pindo sanctions have already been imposed over these issues. The Trump administration’s rank hypocrisy is underscored by its push for the military and National Guard to be deployed, in breach of the Pindo Constitution, to violently suppress protests against police killings in Pindostan. Once again, as with its criminal wars in the Middle East, Faschingstein is seeking to exploit “human rights” to pursue economic warfare and a massive military build-up against China. The COVID-19 pandemic is not the root cause of the Pindo war drive, but it is rather the accelerant of long-standing processes. The Obama administration announced its “pivot to Asia” in 2011 directed against China, involving an aggressive diplomatic offensive to undermine Chinese influence throughout the Indo-Pacific and the world, the isolation of China through the Trans Pacific Partnership and a build-up and restructuring of the Pindo military presence throughout the region. Obama recklessly inflamed dangerous regional flashpoints, including the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula.

The Trump administration has intensified the drive to war against China. While he abandoned the TPP, Trump launched a full-scale economic war against China, imposing a raft of punitive tariffs on virtually all Chinese goods, most of which remain in place, and demanding not only greater Pindo exports and investment into China, but its subordination to Pindostan in hi-tech industries. Trump’s economic nationalism and insistence that supply chains, especially those crucial for the military, have to be Pindostan-based are nothing less than the economic preparation for war. On the pretext of protecting American intellectual property and preventing Chinese spying, Faschingstein has targeted the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. It has pressured allies such as Britain not to use Huawei equipment and threatened sanctions on firms supplying Huawei with key components. While Pindostan makes unsubstantiated allegations of Chinese spying and hacking, its own intelligence agencies like the NSA, as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, spy on the world’s population, including its own citizens, on an industrial scale.

The Trump administration has also targeted Chinese students and researchers in Pindostan, imposing tough entry restrictions and now threatening to deport thousands of students if they are only enrolled in on-line college courses due to COVID-19 measures. The White House is widening its restrictions on Chinese media operating in Pindostan, with another four organisations last month being designated as “foreign missions.” The military preparations for war are also proceeding apace. Obama set the target of 2020 for the redeployment of 60% of Pindo warships and warplanes to the Indo-Pacific. Under Trump, the Pentagon announced in 2018 that great power competition, not the “war on terror,” was its top priority, with Russia and China identified as its chief rivals. The focus on China reflects the view in American strategic circles that China’s extraordinary economic expansion represents the chief threat to the continued global dominance of Pindo imperialism. In preparation for military conflict, Pindostan has been strengthening military alliances and strategic partnerships throughout the Indo-Pacific, in particular, the so-called “Quad,” involving Japan, Australia and India. The reckless character of the Pindo anti-China campaign is nowhere clearer than in its encouragement of India in recent military clashes with China over disputed borders. In this dangerous stand-off between nuclear armed powers, Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows sided unequivocally with India in comments on Monday, declaring:

We’re not going to stand by and let China or anyone else take the reins in terms of being the most powerful, dominant force, whether it’s in that region or over here.

All the preparations for a Pindo war against China, which would rapidly escalate into a catastrophic conflict involving the whole world, are very advanced. Any number of flashpoints, whether in the South China Sea or on the Indian borders with China, could lead to an incident, whether accidental or deliberate, that would provide a casus belli for a POTUS under siege at home. The only social force capable of halting the precipitous plunge towards world war is the international working class. In 2016, the IC4I issued a statement entitled, “Socialism and the Fight against War” calling for the building of a unified antiwar movement of workers and youth around the globe. The dangers identified in that statement have only become more acute in the past four years and thus the urgency of constructing such a movement. The statement outlined the fundamental principles that must form the political basis for uniting the working class against war:

  • The struggle against war must be based on the working class, the great revolutionary force in society, uniting behind it all progressive elements in the population.
  • The new antiwar movement must be anticapitalist and socialist, since there can be no serious struggle against war except in the fight to end the dictatorship of finance capital and put an end to the economic system that is the fundamental cause of militarism and war.
  • The new antiwar movement must therefore, of necessity, be completely and unequivocally independent of, and hostile to, all political parties and organizations of the capitalist class.
  • The new antiwar movement must, above all, be international, mobilizing the vast power of the working class in a unified global struggle against imperialism.

That is the task to which workers and young people today should turn to ensure the future of humanity.

UK set to ban Huawei from 5G network
Nick Beams, WSWS, Jul 8 2020

The global economic war initiated by the US against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has gone up another notch. The British government is now virtually certain to reverse its January decision to allow the corporation to have some limited participation in Britain’s 5G mobile phone network. The key factor in the about-turn, after months of denunciations of the UK decision by Faschingstein, was the move by the Trump administration in May to ban the use of Pindo software in Huawei’s operating systems. Previously the UK’s GCHQ had concluded that the alleged security concerns raised by Pindostan could be allayed so long as Huawei was excluded from critical networks. However, following the Pindo ban on the use of Pindo software, the GCHQ is reported to have reversed its decision, advising that including Huawei would carry risks that could not be controlled. Pindostan has continually alleged either that Huawei functions as an espionage mechanism for the Chinese government or that it would be required to do so under Chinese law. Both Huawei and another Chinese high-tech firm ZTE have denied enabling Beijing to conduct espionage, and Pindostan has never published any evidence they have done so. Faschingstein has continually insisted that they could be forced to hand over data if that was demanded by the Chinese government and therefore must be excluded from the telecommunications networks of all Pindo vassals.

The rank hypocrisy of these assertions is evidenced by the fact that the major instigator of global spying and hacking operations is Pindostan itself. As Huawei boxtops have previously pointed out, one of the main reasons for the Pindo actions against the company is that, unlike Pindo corporations, it provides no “backdoors” to Pindo intelligence agencies. The drive against Huawei is part of a series of actions by Pindostan to intensify global economic, political and military pressure against China. At the same time, Faschingstein has maintained its pressure on vassals such as Britain to fall into line, which now appears to have worked. In a comment published in the Financial Times over the weekend, former head of MI6 ‘Sir’ John Sawers set out the claims which will be employed to reverse the January decision on Huawei as he sought to portray China as an aggressor, writing:

The last six months have revealed more about China under President Xi Jinping than the previous six years. China is overplaying its hand and giving western leaders no option but to stand up to it. Combined with the tough US sanctions imposed on Chinese companies, Beijing’s actions have also shifted the parameters on Huawei’s potential involvement in British telecoms. In January, I thought the UK had found a reasonable balance in limiting Huawei’s role in Britain’s 5G network, while not excluding it entirely. Huawei equipment was thoroughly checked by a testing facility under the control of UK intelligence services. Huawei’s use of reliable suppliers such as the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company for crucial components also meant we could assure its supply chain. The Trump administration’s motives for trying to destroy Huawei can be debated. But the latest Pindo sanctions, at the end of June and last week, mean that reliable non-Chinese suppliers to Huawei can no longer work with the company. UK intelligence services can therefore no longer provide the needed assurances that Chinese-made equipment is still safe to use in the UK’s telecoms network. There are now sound technical reasons for the UK to change January’s decision, which would have allowed Huawei to have an up to 35% stake in the UK’s 5G market, and exclude the company instead. The security assessment is now different because the facts have changed.

Sawers made clear the Huawei decision is part of the wider agenda for action against China, writing:

New leadership in Pindostan would further help create a common front that includes Japan, SK and India, as well as Pindostan, Eurostan, UK, Canada and Australia. We must be careful not to go so far as to turn China into an enemy. We need its engagement on crucial issues such as managing climate change and regulating international trade. But China’s leaders should also understand that they will pay a price if they try to impose their system and standards on other countries, be that through the Belt and Road Initiative, by manipulating economic leverage for political ends, or by more forceful military or intelligence actions. Only unity among China’s main economic partners will achieve that.

The reference to “new leadership” is based on the recognition that such a common front, all the major powers, would proceed even further under a Biden presidency, as key sections of the military and intelligence agencies, for which the Demagogs speak, are coming to regard Trump as being too “soft” on China. These views were articulated in an article published in Defense One earlier this month in which it said that Pindostan’s 2017 National Security Strategy, focusing on “great power competition” with stronger measures against China, would be pursued “much more robustly” under a Biden administration. A decision to ban Huawei in the UK will prove very costly, potentially running into billions of dollars and will be less efficient. When the Johnson government initially gave approval for Huawei in January, the Financial Times reported it had repeatedly asked Faschingstein if it could provide alternative technology, but to no avail. One unnamed official told the FT:

We have been asking for almost a year, but there has been no answer at all.

The increase in costs arises from the fact that 5G does not replace the existing 4G network but is based on it. Huawei is deeply involved in the UK 4G network, and its technology is not compatible with other systems. This means telecoms companies will have to spend large amounts of money to reconfigure their already existing systems, a process that will slow down the rollout of 5G. But such economic considerations are being dispensed with in favour of geostrategic objectives in which increasingly aggressive measures against China are front and center. This push is backed by a significant section of the Conservative Party. Even before the latest Pindo sanctions, leading Tories had been threatening an “insurgency” against any decision to include Huawei in the 5G system. Sir Iain Duncan-Smith, one of the leaders of the Conservatives’ 59-member Huawei Interest Group, warned:

Unless the government now really takes a firm lead, they will find that Parliament leads dramatically.

At a virtual press conference on Monday, China’s Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming denounced the impending decision, saying it would damage Chinese trust in the UK and undermine any belief that Britain could carry out a foreign policy independent of Pindostan. The ambassador appealed to British imperialist interests and the personal motivations of Johnson, who fancies himself as a modern-day Winston Churchill and would like nothing so much as a revival of the “glory days” of the British Empire, saying:

Banning Huawei would send out a very bad message to other Chinese businesses. China wants to be your friend and partner, but if you want to make China a hostile country, you will have to bear the consequences. If you dance to the tune of other countries, how can you call yourselves Great Britain?

India takes economic reprisals against China as border frictions continue
Dipal Jayasekera, Keith Jones, WSWS, Jul 7 2020

Delhi has responded to the bloodiest border clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers since 1967 by taking economic reprisals against Beijing. The measures, coupled with a military build-up on both sides of the mountainous disputed border region, underscore that the danger of a catastrophic war between the two nuclear-armed rivals remains very real. The violent clash occurred on Jun 15 in the Galwan Valley, where Indian-held Ladakh abuts Chinese-controlled Aksai Chin. It left 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of their Chinese counterparts dead. On Jun 29, India responded by banning 59 apps made by Chinese-based companies, including several such as TikTok with more than 100m users. The Ministry of Information wrote:

In view of information available they are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.

Emphasizing that the app ban is part of New Delhi’s geopolitical offensive against Beijing, India’s Information Technology Minister characterized it as “a digital strike” against China at a BJP rally in West Bengal on Jul 2. Inciting anti-China chauvinism still further, the minister warned:

If somebody casts an evil eye on India, we will give a befitting reply.

The following day, Indian PM Narendra Modi made a “surprise” visit to Ladakh with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane. They met with senior military officers at a forward position in Nimu. Without directly naming China, Modi used his highly-publicized visit to whip up anti-Chinese chauvinism. In an address to troops, he said that the “era of expansionism is over” and “history is witness that such forces have been wiped out, or have been forced to turn around.” Taking an indirect jab at Beijing, he added that the “enemies of India have seen the fire and fury of our forces,” and warned that “India’s commitment to peace should not be seen as its weakness.” Although several rounds of talks between military and diplomatic personnel have been held, both Delhi and Beijing have increased their military presence in the Ladakh/Aksai Chin region and beyond. Thousands of troops, artillery guns, tanks and fighter planes have been deployed at multiple locations along the 3,488 kilometre/2167 mile long disputed border. A military official told the Hindu yesterday that Indian and Chinese forces have implemented a “disengagement” plan in several places including the Galwan Valley. Chinese troops have retreated 2 km and Indian troops 1.5 km from the Jun 15 clash site. However, the official warned that this could not serve as a “permanent solution” to the dispute, since India is adamant that the entire Galwan Valley is rightfully theirs. In this regard, it is important to remember that the Jun 15 clash occurred during what was supposed to be a “de-escalation” initiated after a series of violent but non-lethal border clashes dating back to May 5.

The decades-long Sino-Indian border dispute is rooted in the neighbours’ competing geostrategic interests. However, it has taken on vastly greater significance as a result of Pindo imperialism’s ever-escalating drive to strategically encircle China and thwart its emergence as a competitor in high-value-added and high-tech economic sectors, a drive which has been accompanied by aggressive efforts by Faschingstein to harness India to its strategic agenda. The Indo-Pindo “global strategic partnership” that the previous Congress Party-led government struck with the Bush 43 administration in 2006 has been taken to a qualitatively higher level during the last six years of BJP government. Under Modi, India has emerged as a front-line state in the Pindo military-strategic offensive against China. Delhi has signed a basing agreement with Faschingstein, throwing open its air and naval bases for the latter’s military, and joined an anti-China quadrilateral strategic partnership and security dialogue with Pindostan, Japan and Australia. In return for India’s ever-closer integration into the Pindo war drive against China, Faschingstein has granted New Delhi a series of strategic favours, including securing India access to civilian nuclear fuel and technology, enabling it to focus its indigenous nuclear program on developing its arsenal of nuclear weapons. India has also been designated by Pindostan as a “major defence partner,” which allows it to purchase high-tech Pindo weapons systems available only to Faschingstein’s closest vassals.

These developments have encouraged the Indian ruling elite to take a more aggressive stance in their dealings with China and Pakistan. The Pindo political establishment enthusiastically encourages India’s rivalry against China, calculating that an escalation will further integrate India into Faschingstein’s military-strategic offensive. Whatever the immediate fate of the border dispute and the avowals from Delhi and Beijing that they want to de-escalate, the crisis is being exploited by the Indian elite to whip up hostility against China, so as to overcome popular opposition to an even closer partnership with Pindo imperialism. In this, the Congress Party is playing a particularly foul role. Senior party leaders have repeatedly attacked Modi from the right for purportedly failing to stand up firmly enough to Beijing, and the General Secretary of the All-India Congress Committee’s International Dept has called for India to make the Quadrelateral into the “nucleus” of a “pan-Asian strategic framework.” An editorial in the Jul 2 Hindustan Times argued:

The great Indian strategic debate is whether China’s behaviour is a result of the emerging Indo-Pindo alliance, or vice versa: Chinese aggression has now answered the question. Whether India desires it or not, it will end up as one of the front-line states which will have to step up to contain Chinese power, not because of a third power but because its own interests are at stake. This will mean India has no choice but to deepen its partnerships with other countries, particularly Pindostan.

A remark made by Modi during his visit to Ladakh is highly significant in this regard. According to press accounts, he said:

Indian soldiers have a long history of bravery and competence in global military campaigns, including in the two world wars.

Indian soldiers fought in the two imperialist world wars of the 20th century, as part of the British Indian Army and to uphold the interest of the British Empire, including India’s continued subjugation to Britain. That Modi chooses to celebrate this and cite it as evidence of Indian soldiers’ competence in “global military campaigns” underscores the readiness of his government and the Indian bourgeoisie as a whole to serve as vassals for Pindo imperialism as it charts course for a catastrophic war with China. When border tensions flared between India and China in May, Faschingstein quickly rushed to signal its support for India, denouncing Chinese aggression and tying it to the South China Sea dispute. This has only escalated since the Jun 15 border clashes, with Pompeo and other Pindo boxtops repeatedly railing against Beijing. Last Wednesday, White House spox Kayleigh McEnany reported Trump as having said:

China’s aggressive stance along the India-China border fits with the larger pattern of Chinese aggression in other parts of the world.

Pompeo commented:

We welcome India’s ban on certain mobile apps that can serve as appendages of the CCCP’s surveillance stateChinese apps are appendages of the CCP’s surveillance state. India’s clean app approach will boost India’s sovereignty, integrity and national security, as the Indian government itself has stated.

There is strong bipartisan support within the Pindo ruling elite for the Trump administration using the border crisis to strengthen Faschingstein’s strategic partnership with Delhi against Beijing. In recent weeks, more than a dozen Pindo Congress critturs of both parties have expressed their support for India resisting purported Chinese “aggression.” Under conditions of stepped-up military and diplomatic provocations by Faschingstein against China, including naval exercises in the South China Sea, Beijing has responded cautiously to India’s economic reprisals. Last Thursday, Chinese Commerce Ministry spox Gao Feng issued a statement on India’s banning of Chinese apps that said:

China has not taken any restrictive and discriminatory measures against Indian products and services.

He accused India of violating WTO rules. China has moved to assert its territorial claims in the region against Bhutan, a tiny landlocked state that India has traditionally treated as a protectorate. Responding to questions about China’s recent attempt to block the UNDP’s Global Environment Facility from providing funding for the Sakteng wildlife sanctuary on the grounds that it related to “disputed” territory, a Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry statement said:

The boundary between China and Bhutan has never been delimited. There have been disputes over the eastern, central and western sectors for a long time.

To appreciate the explosive potential of such an assertion, it is worth recalling the military stand-off that occurred between India and China for over two months in 2017 due to a still unresolved territorial dispute between China and Bhutan over the Doklam plateau, a remote unpopulated Himalayan ridge.

Bombing of Turkey’s Watiya base escalates Franco-Italian proxy war in Libya
Alex Lantier, WSWS, Jul 8 2020

Even as COVID-19 spreads, the decade-long civil war between rival imperialist-backed warlords triggered by the 2011 NATO war in Libya is spiraling out of control. On Jul 5, unidentified warplanes bombed al-Watiya airbase, which Italian-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) forces recently retook from French-backed Libyan National Army (LNA) forces of Khalifa Haftar. The attack damaged hangars and destroyed military equipment from Turkey, which is coordinating its support for the GNA with Italy. LNA official Khaled al-Mahjoub told Al Arabiya:

Other attacks similar to the one on the base will soon be carried out. We are in a real war with Turkey, which has oil ambitions in Libya.

Turkish military sources told Spanish news site Atalayar the raid included “nine precision airstrikes against Turkish air defense systems,” which wounded several Turkish intel officers. They added that the attacks were “successful” and left “three radars completely destroyed.” However, Atalayar refuted reports that MiG-29 or Su-24 jets Moscow has given the LNA carried out the strikes, saying that it was the work of French-made Rafale jets. Egypt, the UAE and France itself all field Rafales, support the LNA and could have bombed al-Watiya. On Jun 21, Gen Sisi threatened to intervene in Libya against Turkey. Erdoğan’s office reacted to the strike by tweeting that Turkey would escalate operations in Libya, attacking the coastal city of Sirte and al-Jufra, Libya’s largest airbase, both located in central Libya and held by LNA forces. It cited control of oil supply lines and Russian support for the LNA to justify its intervention. The bombing of al-Watiya, barely 150km from Tripoli, followed visits by Turkish and Italian officials. It came only a few hours after Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar concluded a trip to Tripoli, during which he proclaimed:

Turkish sovereignty and our return, after the withdrawal of our ancestors, to return forever in Libya.

This apparently referred to the Turkish Ottoman Empire’s control over Libya, until Italy seized Libya and held it as a colony from 1911 until 1943 and its defeat during WW2. On Jun 24, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio visited Tripoli, after meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Ankara and amid joint Turkish-Italian naval drills. In Tripoli, he said the war was central to Rome’s strategic interests, calling Libya “a priority for our foreign policy and national security.” The strike on al-Watiya has revealed the bitter divisions among the NATO imperialist powers, as well as between the regional powers, over the division of the spoils from the 2011 war. Amid revolutionary uprisings of the working class in Egypt and Tunisia in 2011, Paris, London and Faschingstein pushed NATO to bomb Libya and arm Islamist and tribal militias to topple Gaddafi. Berlin declined to join the war, and the belligerent powers ran roughshod over initial Turkish objections. Western media and petty-bourgeois pseudo-left groups like France’s New Anti-capitalist Party claimed it was a humanitarian war to protect Libyan protesters, but it was an imperialist rape of Libya.

It set the stage not only for the ongoing proxy war in Syria between Russia and NATO, which sent to Syria many Islamist proxy militias it had mobilized in Libya, but for a ruthless struggle to carve up Libya and its massive oil reserves. Thousands have died in fighting between rival militias unleashed by the 2011 war, and the coronavirus pandemic is now ravaging Libya. The number of cases doubled in the last two weeks of June, to 713, and now stands at 1,117. Only 269 have recovered while 34 have died, as the disease spreads across a country whose health and industrial infrastructure have been shattered by a decade of bloodshed. This month the International Rescue Committee reported:

This year Libya has recorded the highest number of attacks on health facilities of any country in the world. Just yesterday, an ambulance was hit by an airstrike, severely damaging the vehicle and the health facility close by. Last week two doctors were killed by a mine that exploded under a body they were moving from a hospital. With Libya’s health system already on its knees, continued attacks such as these are making it even harder for medical teams in the country to respond to the pandemic.

The NATO powers are not bringing medical and humanitarian aid, but plundering Libya and threatening to escalate the fighting into an all-out regional war. Several regional powers play a major role, with Turkey and Algeria backing the GNA, and Egypt and the UAE backing the LNA. Moscow has also intervened to back the LNA against the Islamist-dominated GNA. However, a decisive aspect of the conflict is between major oil corporations like France’s Total and Italy’s ENI. On July 3, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency wrote:

The GNA is advancing on Sirte, the gateway to the east of the country and oil fields. Sirte is crucial for two reasons. First, Sirte has significant economic value as a gateway to Libya’s oil crescent region, consisting of vital ports such as al-Zuweytinah, Ra’s Lanuf, Marsa al-Brega and as-Sidr, which reportedly supplies 60% of Libya’s oil exports. Secondly, it is a strategic city that could enable the GNA to take control of the Libyan coastline from the capital to the west and Benghazi to the east.

ENI dominates the oilfields in GNA-held north-western Libya. But many of the oil reserves and refineries in the “oil crescent” region are held by Total and LNA militias in the Cyrenaica region around Benghazi, the center of the NATO-backed revolt against Gaddafi, and in the Fezzan. This region in southern Libya borders two former French colonies, Niger and Tchad, that Paris exerts control over as part of its so-called war on terror in Mali and the Sahel. Conflicts between the NATO imperialist powers are increasingly evident. Commenting on French support for Haftar, Tarek Megerisi of the European CFR told the Financial Times:

France has different interests to Germany and Italy in Libya, and it has moved to protect these interests. It has security interests in the Sahel and a wider security partnership that it is building with the UAE, and in which Egypt is a big part.

Dorothée Schmid of the French Institute on International Relations said there is “strategic panic” in Paris at Haftar’s recently suffered reverses. She pointed to growing chaos and uncertainty in NATO, and said:

France is rather isolated in this affair, and everyone is waiting for the Pindo elections.

The only way to avert a further escalation is a mobilization of the working class in MENA, resuming the struggles launched a decade ago, and the unification of these struggles with growing strikes and protests in Pindostan and Europe in a socialist anti-war movement. Absent a revolutionary intervention of the working class, the ruling elites are all sliding towards war. Naval tensions continue to grow in the Mediterranean. France withdrew from NATO operations in the Mediterranean on Jul 1, protesting that a Turkish warship allegedly threatened to fire on a French frigate as it tried to inspect a merchant ship bound for Libya. Egypt has for its part reportedly acquired a Russian “Bastion” coastal defense battery amid reports that Turkey intends to set up a naval base in the Libyan city of Misrata.

Jeffrey Epstein’s confidante Ghislaine Maxwell relocated to federal jail in NYC
Kevin Reed, WSWS, Jul 8 2020

Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime partner of convicted sex offender and wealthy New Yorker Jeffrey Epstein, has been relocated to a federal jail in Brooklyn where she will appear via remote video before a Manhattan judge on Jul 14. Federal Bureau of Prisons boxtops disclosed on Monday that Maxwell was transferred from Merrimack County Jail in New Hampshire to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, but did not say on what day she was relocated. Prosecutors have indicated that Maxwell is a flight risk, and any request for bail will be denied. On Jul 2, DoJ boxtops announced that Maxwell had been arrested and charged on four counts of enticing minors to engage in illegal sexual activity and two counts of perjury, in connection with her role in grooming girls as young as 14 for abuse by Epstein and to be trafficked in his international sex ring during the 1990s. Last year, Jeffrey Epstein was awaiting trial on multiple counts of sex trafficking and abuse of minors when he was found dead in his jail cell in the Manhattan Correction Center on Aug 10. Although the NYC medical examiner determined that Epstein committed suicide by hanging, the circumstances at the prison indicated and the opinion of other medical experts was that he had been strangled to death.

Authorities including Attorney General William Barr claimed at the time that a vigorous investigation of Epstein’s sexual abuse of young girls would be continued, but it took nearly eleven months for Maxwell to be arrested. One of the reasons given for the delay was that authorities were uncertain where Maxwell was, or if she was even in Pindostan. However, more than twenty armed agents and police reportedly raided her million-dollar mansion called Tucked Away on a 156-acre property in rural Bradford, NH on Jul 2, breaking down the front door and bringing Maxwell out in handcuffs. According to the unsealed indictment, between 1994 and 1997:

Maxwell and Epstein enticed and caused minor victims to travel to Epstein’s residences in different states, which Maxwell knew and intended would result in their grooming for and subjection to sexual abuse. Moreover, in an effort to conceal her crimes, Maxwell repeatedly lied when questioned about her conduct, including in relation to some of the minors described herein, when providing testimony under oath in 2016.

Ghislaine Maxwell, 58, is the youngest daughter of Robert Maxwell, who owned the Mirror Group of Newspapers before he drowned under suspicious circumstances near his yacht called Lady Ghislaine in the North Atlantic off the coast of the Canary Islands in 1991. Shortly after Robert’s death, Ghislaine moved to NYC and met the investment advisor, multi-millionaire and well-connected socialite Jeffrey Epstein, with whom she developed a close relationship. Over the next two decades, Maxwell and Epstein, with her connections to European royalty and wealthy elite and with his connections to Pindo celebrities and the financial and political elite, established a social network through lavish parties and get-togethers at Epstein’s residences in Palm Beach, Manhattan, New Mexico and his private island in the Pindo Virgin Islands that involved sex with young girls. A measure of the connections that Epstein had was revealed on Tuesday when the NY State Dept of Financial Services announced that Deutsche Bank has agreed to pay $150m in fines to settle allegations that it “inexcusably failed to detect or prevent millions of dollars of suspicious transactions,” despite knowing Epstein’s “terrible criminal history.” According to a report in the WaPo:

The German bank’s ties to Epstein began in 2013, years after the billionaire pleaded guilty to two prostitution charges in Florida, according to the consent decree filed by the New York regulator. Deutsche Bank knew about Epstein’s past, classifying him as a ‘high-risk’ client, but also considered the relationship potentially lucrative: $100m to $300m in revenue over time. In 2014, bank officials met with Epstein at his NYC mansion after reports emerged about his activities. The bank ultimately decided to continue doing business with Epstein but established new safeguards, which were largely ignored, according to the consent decree.

The bank processed more than $7m in settlement payments that Epstein made to alleged coconspirators. Clearly, the role of Deutsche Bank is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to corporate, financial and government participation in facilitating and covering up Epstein’s criminal activities. In 2008, after dozens of young girls had given statements to Palm Beach law enforcement officials that Epstein had both sexually abused them and also paid them to help recruit a network of teenagers for his trafficking operation, the federal government intervened and blocked the local case from going forward. At that time, federal Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Alex Acosta, worked out a plea deal with Epstein’s legal team that included a “non-prosecution agreement” stipulating that Epstein and none of his coconspirators could be charged in the future for any crimes related to his guilt in “procuring a minor for prostitution.” Ghislaine Maxwell was named as one of his coconspirators in that agreement.

Canadian establishment downplays failed attempt to assassinate Trudeau
Roger Jordan, WSWS, Jul 8 2020

46-year-old Corey Hurren was arrested by the RCMP last Thursday morning after crashing his pick-up truck through the gates of Rideau Hall, the official residence of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and Governor General Julie Payette. Hurren, an army veteran and current member of the Canadian Rangers, a reserve unit operating in remote areas, was heavily armed when he was detained, including with an M14 assault rifle, a loaded high-standard revolver, an illegal high-capacity magazine of ammunition, and two loaded shotguns. According to the charge sheet released Monday, Hurren, who was on full-time army duty at the time of his arrest, is accused of 21 firearms offences and one count of uttering threats against Trudeau. Hurren “did knowingly utter a threat to PM Justin Trudeau, to cause death or bodily harm,” reads the charge sheet. Contradictory reports have appeared on how this threat was delivered. Initially the RCMP stated that Hurren had wanted to deliver “a note” to Trudeau, but declined to divulge anything about the note’s contents. Subsequent media reports have claimed that Hurren uttered the threat during his exchanges with RCMP officers on the grounds of Rideau Hall.

Although much about Hurren’s political biography and views is still unknown, it is clear, at the very least, that he has been influenced by far-right views. He served in the military from 1997 to 2000, reaching the rank of corporal, and rejoined as a reservist in 2019. Hurren appears to have been radicalized by the social and economic upheavals triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, including the difficulties facing the sausage-making business he set up in 2014 in Bowsman, Manitoba, the small community where he lives. In late March, he shared a post on the Instagram account of his small business advocating the views of “QAnon,” a far-right group that claims Trump is being targeted by forces in the “deep state.” A Facebook post from Hurren noted in May indicating that he feared for the survival of his business:

I am not sure what will be left of our economy, industries, and businesses when this all ends.

Just one hour prior to the attack, he shared a post supporting the claim promoted by the far right in Pindostan and Germany that Bill Gates and various international organizations created the COVID-19 pandemic. The only conclusion that can be drawn from the available evidence is that Hurren plotted a political assassination. He drove his truck laden with firearms, military food rations and ammunition from his home in northern Manitoba to Ottawa, a distance of more than 2,500 km, purposefully crashed it through the gates of the PM’s temporary official residence; and then sought to proceed heavily armed and on foot towards Trudeau’s home. He was intercepted by an RCMP security detail, who took him into custody after a long verbal exchange lasting 90 minutes.

However, judging by the response of the corporate-media and political establishment, Trudeau included, little out of the ordinary happened last Thursday morning. After a few perfunctory news reports on Hurren’s detention, including a handful pointing to his sharing of far-right conspiracy theories online, the story largely disappeared from the media. Trudeau, who was not at Rideau Hall when the failed attack took place, blandly remarked at a press conference Friday that he was happy that the RCMP had responded swiftly to this “concerning” incident. Only after the charge sheet against Hurren was released Monday could the National Post bring itself to admit the obvious: that the attack looks “like an assassination attempt.” Prosecutors have to date refused to bring any national security or terrorism-related charges against Hurren. Displaying an astonishing degree of complacency, Leah West, a former national security lawyer with the Dept of Justice, told the Toronto Star:

In order to bring charges of terrorism, they would need to have reason to believe that he was motivated by political, ideological or religious motives, and that he intended to intimidate likely in this case the PM or elements of the government. That may not have been apparent on its face from the initial investigation.

One can only wonder how different the response would have been had the heavily-armed assailant and would-be assassin expressed any affinity for Islamist terrorist groups. The circumstances surrounding Hurren’s attempted assassination raise extremely troubling questions about his political motivations and ties, including the degree to which he was active in far-right circles, whether he acted alone, and if he promoted far-right views among his fellow members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Just one day before Hurren’s attack, hundreds of right-wing extremists and conspiracy theorists gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for what they dubbed a “Dominion Day rally.” Banners at the demonstration included denunciations of “global elites” for fabricating the coronavirus crisis, calls for the abrogation of all COVID-19-related restrictions, and support for the Pindo-based far-right “QAnon” movement. Present at the rally were several so-called “Yellow Vests,” a far-right group based in Alberta and Saskatchewan that has repeatedly organized anti-Trudeau and anti-immigrant protests over the past year-and-a-half. While there is no evidence as yet that Hurren attended the rally, it appears more than just coincidental that his attempted attack on the PM’s residence took place in the same city only hours later.

Under these conditions, what accounts for the general indifference to an assassination attempt by a supporter of the far-right against a sitting PM? Behind much official tripe about Canadian capitalism’s “progressive” and “democratic” ethos, all sections of the ruling elite have joined hands in shifting politics rapidly to the right in recent decades, mounting an offensive against the working class that has produced an explosive growth in social inequality. A recent study revealed that the richest 1% of the population owns over a quarter of all household wealth and more than the poorest 40% of all Canadians. The 9/11 attacks were used to justify a vast expansion of the powers and reach of the national-security apparatus. Following an Islamist-inspired terrorist attack on the House of Commons in 2014, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government granted sweeping additional powers to the intelligence agencies under Bill C-51, including giving the CSIS the right to break virtually any law in disrupting vaguely defined “threats” to national security. The Trudeau Liberal government enshrined these measures with its Bill C-59.

Over the past two decades, Canada’s armed forces have been engaged in virtually uninterrupted wars and military interventions and provocations, from Afghanistan to Haiti, where Canadian and Pindo soldiers completed a coup against the country’s elected president mounted by a fascist militia, to Libya, Syria and Iraq. These developments have led to the strengthening of far-right and even fascist views among sections of the military. Last November, a military intelligence report revealed that at least three dozen serving military personnel had been identified as supporting far-right groups or expressing racist or right-wing extremist views. None of them were expelled from the military. Instead they were instructed to get counselling or were issued with warnings. The release of the report came weeks after a Manitoba-based reservist, Master Corporal Patrik Mathews, fled to Pindostan after a reporter exposed his role as a recruiter for a neo-Nazi organization. In January, Mathews was arrested by the FBI for his involvement in a far-right terrorist plot. In another incident in 2018, a group of CAF sailors affiliated to the far-right Proud Boys group received a slap on the wrist after disrupting a Mi’kmaq ceremony in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The strengthening of far-right groups and networks is not merely a by-product of ruling class policy, but is actively encouraged. Ottawa played a major role in the 2014 fascist-led coup in Ukraine. After becoming Prime Minister in 2015 Trudeau travelled to the country with members of far-right Canadian-based Ukrainian nationalists in his delegation, many of whom helped supply weaponry to fascistic militias in the country’s civil war with pro-Russian separatists. Foreign policy is not the only field in which Canadian imperialism cultivates far-right and fascist forces. As the class struggle intensifies at home, driven by ever widening levels of social inequality and never-ending attacks by the ruling elite on the living standards of working people, far-right forces are being systematically nourished. Last month, a Quebec court acquitted the leader of a fascist group who stormed a media office and threatened a journalist who had investigated the activities of the far-right. During the recently concluded lockout of over 750 refinery workers at the Federated Cooperative refinery in Regina, Saskatchewan, FCL chief executive Scott Banda appeared alongside members of United We Roll, a far-right truckers’ group associated with the “Yellow Vests,” to denounce picketing workers. United We Roll broke through a solidarity picket for the locked-out workers set up at an FCL site in Alberta, and also dismantled a blockade near Edmonton during the nationwide anti-pipeline protests earlier this year. In early 2019, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe explicitly declared his backing for a “Yellow Vest” organized convoy to Ottawa to protest the Trudeau government’s support for a UN refugee accord.

Workers in Canada must take the attempted assassination of Trudeau as a serious warning of the danger posed by the far-right. It takes place under conditions of a resurgence of right-wing extremist and fascistic politics internationally, including the promotion and protection of far-right networks within the German state apparatus by the political establishment. Just one year ago, Walter Lübcke, a local CDU politician in Germany, was assassinated at his home by a known right-wing extremist. The German government was recently forced to announce the reorganization of its elite special forces unit (the KSK) due to widespread sympathy for and ties to far-right and neo-Nazi networks among its personnel. As in the 1930s, when world capitalism was similarly mired in systemic crisis, bourgeoisie elites are cultivating fascist forces as shock troops against the working class, terrified of a challenge from below to their vast wealth and privileges. In Canada as around the world, fascistic thugs and state violence will be deployed at home and abroad to enforce the rapacious interests of the financial oligarchy. Only the mass mobilization of the working class on the basis of a socialist and internationalist program can answer the threat posed by the far-right.

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