US pledges “catastrophic” response to potential Russian use of nuclear weapons
Andre Damon, WSWS, Sep 26 2022

The mushroom cloud from the world’s first test of a thermonuclear device,
dubbed Ivy Mike, over Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands on Nov 1 1952.

In the aftermath of statements by President Putin Wednesday threatening to use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine, US officials have made clear they are actively discussing the possibility that the conflict will erupt into a nuclear exchange. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told moderator Margaret Brennan on CBS Face the Nation Sunday:

We have communicated directly, privately at very high levels to the Kremlin that any use of nuclear weapons will be met with catastrophic consequences for Russia, that the US and our allies will respond decisively, and we have been clear and specific about what that will entail. And it is a matter that we have to take deadly seriously, because it is a matter of paramount seriousness, the possible use of nuclear weapons for the first time since WW2.

Later that day, the NYT reported that US officials believe the chances of nuclear escalation “are significantly higher than they were in February and March.” The Financial Times added that the US and its allies are “increasing nuclear vigilance and deterrence, according to five western officials who spoke under the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.” The FT also reported, citing a high-level official:

The US had also discussed scenarios with the Ukrainians about possible nuclear use and walked through ‘protection and safety.’

In his appearances on the US Sunday talk shows, Sullivan confirmed a report published in the WaPo Thursday that US officials had sent “private communications to Moscow warning Russia’s leadership of the grave consequences that would follow the use of a nuclear weapon.” Sullivan made these threats more explicit. He told NBC Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd the consequences would be “catastrophic if Russia went down the dark road of nuclear weapons use.” In response to request for clarification from Todd, Sullivan continued:

If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The US will respond decisively.

Asked by Todd whether the repeated use of the term “catastrophic” means “as bad as he could imagine,” Sullivan responded:

Russia understands very well what the US would do in response to the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine because we have spelled it out for them, and I will leave it at that today.

In other words, while the Russian leadership has, according to Sullivan, been informed of the consequences of the Russian use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the American people, who stand to be incinerated if the US were to initiate a full strategic nuclear exchange, are to be left in the dark. The escalation of tensions came as Russia held referendums in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, four regions of Eastern Ukraine under its military control, for joining the Russian federation. The third day of voting was held Sunday. On Saturday, Lavrov said that any regions annexed to Russia will be “under the full protection of the state,” implying that Russia would respond to any attacks on them with the use of nuclear weapons. The Russian parliament could potentially move to incorporate the provinces into the Russian Federation on Thursday, and Putin is tentatively planning to address parliament on Friday. In an interview with CNN, Liz Truss made clear that the threat of nuclear escalation by Putin would not diminish UK involvement in the war. Truss said:

We should not be listening to his saber-rattling and his bogus threats. Instead, what we need to do is continue to put sanctions on Russia and continue to support the Ukrainians.

Sullivan’s threats were accompanied by a full-court press in the US media rationalizing the potential use of nuclear weapons in the conflict. In perhaps the most egregious example, NYT columnist Ross Douthat mused:

Kyiv might be willing to accept an unusual degree of nuclear risk, even absorb a nuclear strike, for the sake of its own territorial integrity. In a battle for their very freedom, the Ukrainians … want their children to look back and say that in the greatest crisis, the blood of their fathers ran strong.

In a previous commentary on the WSWS, we wrote that the strategists and propagandists of US imperialism see the people of Ukraine as “cannon fodder.” There is no greater confirmation than the suggestion that the people of the impoverished Eastern European country would be happy to “absorb” a nuclear attack potentially capable of killing millions of people. In no section of the US political establishment has the increasingly obvious reality that the conflict is rapidly threatening to escalate into a nuclear wear been treated as an incentive to push toward a negotiated settlement of the war, which has already killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions. Rather, the US is treating any Russian escalation of the conflict in the wake of the military debacle in northern Ukraine as an opportunity to further escalate its own involvement in the war. US officials, according to an op-ed Sunday by NYT columnist David Brooks, wish to “continue to supply Ukraine with weapons, maybe even including tanks and advanced fighter planes. Those systems are apparently on the table.”

Protests in Iran enter second week after young woman’s police-custody death
Jordan Shilton, WSWS, Sep 26 2022

Protests are continuing for a second week in many of Iran’s major cities following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of the clerical regime’s morality police. While the demonstrations are fuelled by popular anger over the terrible social and economic situation in the country and the Shia clerical establishment’s monopoly over political power in the bourgeois Islamic Republic, the imperialist powers are shamelessly seeking to exploit the protests for their own predatory interests. Amini, from the northwestern city of Saqqez in Kurdistan province, was detained in Tehran on Sep 13 by the notorious morality police, who are responsible for enforcing the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women, for wearing hijab “improperly.” Amini was visiting the capital with her family at the time. Reports suggest that she was severely beaten by the police, who allegedly struck her over the head with a baton and slammed her against a police vehicle. She was taken to hospital after falling into a coma and died three days later. In a clumsy attempt to calm public anger, the authorities made the improbable claim that the young woman died of a heart attack or a brain hemorrhage unrelated to any injury. Her family have rejected such assertions, declaring that Amini had no health problems. As of Friday, state media reported that 35 people have died since the protests began, including five members of the security forces. Exile groups have reported as many as 50 deaths, with several children among them. Activists associated with these anti-regime groups released footage that appeared to show security forces firing live rounds at protesters. Hundreds of political activists and regime opponents have been rounded up and detained in raids.

The protests initially began in cities in western Iran dominated by the Kurdish minority, of which Amini was a member. As the week progressed, they spread to Tehran and other cities, where much if not most of their explicit support came from university campuses. Prominent slogans in the demonstrations have included “Death to the dictator,” a reference to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, and “Women, life, freedom!” in Kurdish. President Ibrahim Raisi, who belongs to the conservative hard-line faction of the clerical establishment, vowed Saturday to “decisively confront” protesters. Security forces must “deal decisively with those who oppose the country’s security and tranquillity,” he was reported by state media as saying during a call to a family of a deceased security service member. Access to the internet, including popular social media channels like Instagram and WhatsApp, has been heavily restricted by the authorities since Wednesday in a bid to curb the protests. Earlier in the week, Raisi sought to strike a more conciliatory tone, pledging a full investigation into Amini’s death after speaking to her family.

Since coming to power in 2021, Raisi, a prominent cleric notorious for his role as in the 1988 mass executions of political prisoners, has overseen a toughening of the enforcement of hijab guidelines by the morality police. The protests are being fuelled by a rapidly deteriorating economic crisis, produced above all by the devastating impact of a brutal sanctions regime enforced by the imperialist powers that is tantamount to war. The Iranian currency dropped to its lowest-ever level against the dollar during the summer, and inflation is running at over 40%. Iran’s oil exports have plummeted, slashing the country’s most important source of income. In a report published earlier this month, UN special rapporteur Alena Douhan painted a devastating picture of the impact of decades of US-led sanctions on the country of 80m people and called for their immediate abandonment, noting:

Even though medication and food are supposed to be excluded from these sanctions, licences provided by US authorities to ensure exemptions appear to be ineffective and nearly non-existent. These constitute serious impediments to the enjoyment of the right to the highest attainable standard of health by all Iranians.

Under the Bush 43 and Obama administrations, in concert with its European allies, Washington dramatically intensified the campaign of economic sanctions it has waged against Iran since the blood-soaked regime of the US-sponsored Shah Reza Phalevi was toppled by a mass popular uprising in 1979. The sanctions, which were coupled by threats of war (“all options are on the table”), were part of a bipartisan US push to bring about “regime change” or at least exploit the cleavages in the clerical establishment to bring Tehran more directly under Western domination. Under the 2015, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), the Obama administration agreed to relax the punishing economic sanctions in exchange for Tehran accepting that its civil nuclear program be subject to sweeping and unprecedented restrictions and international surveillance. Tehran, which has always maintained that its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes only, complied with the terms of the agreement to the letter. However, Washington refused to fulfil its obligations under the deal. Instead, under Trump it repudiated the Iran nuclear accord in May 2018; then, as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign, launched all-out economic war against Iran and threatened retaliatory measures against any country that did not abide by its illegal sanctions. Although the European imperialist powers made empty pledges to oppose Trump’s provocative move and offer Tehran alternative trading and financial options to remain linked to the world market, these promises remained a dead letter. Concerned far more with protecting their lucrative business interests and frayed geostrategic relations with the US than maintaining ties with Iran and upholding international law, European companies withdrew from Iran en masse and the European powers fell into line. Picking up where Trump left off, the Biden administration has continued to ratchet up pressure on Iran, including with provocative military threats and actions and by introducing ever more preconditions for a promised revival of the nuclear accord. Biden has also cultivated an anti-Iran alliance of the Gulf States and Israel, which has been given a free hand by Washington to step up its aggressive air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria. In light of this record, the sheer hypocrisy of the imperialist powers’ sudden concern for the “rights” of the Iranian people in the wake of Amini’s death is breathtaking. During his speech to the UNGA Wednesday, Biden declared:

Today, we stand with the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights.

Blinken attacked Tehran for “violently suppressing peaceful protesters” as he unveiled an exception to the US sanctions to allow internet software companies to provide technology to the Iranian market with the aim of circumventing state restrictions on the internet. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz chimed in, writing on Twitter:

It’s terrible that Mahsa Amini died in police custody in Tehran. Wherever it is in the world, women must have the right to live as they please without having to fear for their lives.

On cue, the same media outlets that have spent the past seven months belching out pro-war propaganda to legitimise the US-NATO war on Russia, which has led to the deaths of tens of thousands on both sides, suddenly discovered their sympathy for the “human rights” of Iranians. The NYT, The Guardian, Der Spiegel and others have pumped out column after column of moralising drivel denouncing the regime in Tehran and proclaiming support for the “rights” and “freedom” of the Iranian people. None of these people or publications have been troubled by the hundreds of thousands of entirely preventable COVID-19 deaths in Iran, a large portion of which must be put down to the malicious exclusion of Iran from access to health care technology and medication under the US-led sanctions regime. The US and its European allies are also fully complicit in the barbarous war waged by Saudi dictator Mohamed bin Salman against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the impoverished country of Yemen, where tens of thousands of civilians have died since 2015 and millions have fled their homes.

The glaring double standard is to be explained, as always when it comes to the political establishment and the bourgeois media, by definite imperialist interests. Washington, Berlin, and the other major powers view the protests over Amini’s death as a useful stick to beat the Tehran regime into making concessions in the largely stalled talks aimed at renewing the nuclear accord. The failure to reach an agreement thus far is entirely the fault of the imperialists, who have engineered one provocation after another against Tehran. In June, the US and its European allies collaborated to adopt a resolution at the IAEA over the objections of Russia and China, and with India and Pakistan abstaining, that accused Iran of not complying with IAEA inspectors. Biden has also refused to remove the IRGC from the US list of terrorist organizations, a key Tehran demand, although it now appears to have dropped it to no avail. On Sep 7, the IAEA provocatively asserted that it is “not in a position to provide assurance that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.” As a matter of fact, the US has admitted that there is no evidence of Iran having any kind of nuclear weapons programme since 2003, as admitted by current CIA director William Burns.

Beyond the nuclear talks, the imperialist powers are determined to intensify pressure on Iran’s bourgeois-clerical regime as it deepens its partnerships with Russia and China in Central Asia. At the SCO meeting in Uzbekistan earlier this month, Iran signed a memorandum of obligations to become a full member of the security and trade bloc led by Beijing and Moscow. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdullahian said the move marked “a new stage of various economic, commercial, transit and energy cooperation.” Separate agreements were signed with Uzbekistan to expand trading relations. In August, Tehran announced a new railway project with Kazakhstan aimed at boosting trading relations in Central Asia and pledged that it would from now on trade with Russia in their own currencies rather than in US dollars. Raisi speaks for the hardline faction of the clerical establishment, which was never fully reconciled to the efforts of former president Hassan Rouhani and the so-called “reform” wing to reach an accommodation with US and European imperialism through the nuclear accord. During a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the SCO conference, Raisi said of Iran’s SCO membership:

The relationship between countries which are sanctioned by the US, such as Iran, Russia or other countries, can overcome many problems and issues and make them stronger. The Americans think whichever country they impose sanctions on, it will be stopped, their perception is a wrong one.

While it doubles down on waging war with Russia in Ukraine, even at the risk of triggering a catastrophic nuclear conflagration, US imperialism is also plotting a major intensification of hostilities in the Middle East. Biden’s trip to the region in July, where he visited Israel and Saudi Arabia, was aimed at consolidating Washington’s anti-Iran alliance between Tel Aviv and the Gulf sheikdoms. Iran’s bourgeois-clerical regime, sitting atop a social powder keg, has nothing to offer in opposition to the imperialist provocations other than a closer alliance with Russia’s capitalist oligarchy, which oscillates between appeals to the imperialists for a place at the table and blood-curdling threats of nuclear Armageddon. The only way out of this blind alley is for Iranian workers to unify their struggles with the working class throughout the Middle East and internationally on the basis of a socialist and internationalist programme.

US troops kill 15-year-old girl in Iraq
Dominic Gustavo, WSWS, Sep 26 2022

A teenage girl was shot dead by American soldiers as they conducted live-fire drills at the Victoria military base near Baghdad International Airport on Sep 20. Fifteen year-old Zainab Essam Majed al-Khazali, a student, was working with her father on their family farm when a bullet struck her in the head. Her funeral procession was held the next day. Zainab Essam Majed al-Khazali
The Iraqi Security Media Cell promised an investigation into the murder, which it initially described as a “random shooting.” However a statement given by Iraq’s security forces, quoted by The Cradle, confirmed the culpability of the US military:

The killing of Zainab Essam Majed coincided with the presence of training operations for the American forces. The bullet that was taken out of the girl’s head confirms that it is from one of the weapons used by the American forces in the embassy and airport.

The shooting has provoked widespread outrage, with locals demanding to know why American soldiers were holding live-fire exercises near residential areas. On Sep 22, Iraqi legislator Ahmed Taha al-Rubaie, from the Basra province, called upon the Baghdad government to summon the American ambassador and present her with a formal note of protest, along with taking legal measures to hold those responsible for the murder accountable. In a post on Twitter, Rubaie wrote:

Even though two days have passed since the teenage girl was killed by a bullet fired during US military exercises near the Victoria base northwest of Baghdad, the US Embassy has not bothered to issue any official apology for the unjust incident. The death, which occurred as a result of the use of live rounds during military drills near residential neighborhoods, exhibits an outrageous disregard for Iraqi blood and a blatant disrespect for the country’s sovereignty.

Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, a Shi’ite militia group that is part of the Popular Mobilization Forces, demanded on Twitter:

The government must present a detailed report to the Iraqi people, explaining this cowardly incident, and how a military base can exist on Iraqi soil in clear violation of the Iraqi constitution and sovereignty.

It remains unclear whether the shooting was intentional, or the result of US troops recklessly firing off live ammunition near populated urban areas. In either case, it demonstrates the criminal indifference of the US occupiers towards the lives of the people whom they “liberated.” It also exposes the cynicism and hypocrisy of the leaders of the US and the other imperialist powers as they invoke concern for “human rights” to justify the use of militarism. US officials have not acknowledged the crime, and in fact not a single Western news outlet has reported on the murder. At the same time, they have used the occasion of the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Iran and the popular protests in Iran that have ensued to call for regime change in Iran. The NYT and WaPo, in sync, have both published articles by foreign policy analyst Karim Sadjadpour, who writes in the WaPo:

We should champion the aspirations of the Iranian people to live in a free society at peace with the world … Iran’s transition from theocracy to democracy may not come easily, peacefully or soon. But it is the single most important key to transforming the Middle East.

On Thursday, the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iranian police and intelligence officials in response to what Blinken called the “tragic and brutal” death of Amini. The stark contrast in media coverage of the two deaths, which happened days apart, reflects the fact that from the standpoint of the interests of US imperialism, one of them is politically useful while the other is an inconvenience best ignored. Nearly two decades ago, the Bush 43 administration applied an equally cynical campaign of falsehood, on a much greater scale, to justify the unprovoked invasion of Iraq. On the one hand, Iraq was manufacturing “weapons of mass destruction” and posed an imminent danger to the world. On the other, the Iraqi people needed to be liberated from the brutal Saddam Hussein regime. These were the official justifications for what in reality was a war of imperialist aggression, launched against an oppressed nation in order to secure US domination over the oil resources of the Middle East. Begun with an infamous lie, the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq was conducted with a level of brutality and criminality not seen since Hitler’s bloody invasions in the early stages of WW2. During the initial “shock and awe” blitzkrieg, the practically defenseless and already impoverished country was ruthlessly pulverized with the most advanced weaponry, with the capital Baghdad turned into a raging inferno by a storm of bombs and missiles. The ground invasion that followed encountered virtually no organized opposition from the dilapidated Iraqi Army, making it more accurate to call this phase a massacre rather than a war. The number of Iraqi soldiers and civilians killed during the invasion has never been accurately assessed, but it likely numbers in the tens of thousands at the least.

Less than an hour’s drive from the site of Zainab al-Khazali’s killing is the town of Fallujah, which in 2004 became a center of an uprising of the Iraqi people against their oppressors. Determined to make an example, US forces responded by virtually obliterating the town during a months-long siege, making no distinction between civilians and combatants in what can only be described as a mass reprisal, reminiscent of the brutal collective punishment meted out by the Nazi conquerors in Poland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere. Just a few miles from where the teenager met her untimely end lies Abu Ghraib, the site of the infamous prison camp operated by the US military which saw the torture and murder of detainees, the majority of whom were never even suspected of belonging to any resistance group. Photographs from Abu Ghraib profoundly shocked and angered the consciences of the world, and exposed the sheer gangsterism of the US war against Iraq. The senseless killing of an innocent girl is therefore the latest in a long list of outrages. But despite all the crimes, the mass killings, the torture, the systematic looting of the country and the destruction of priceless cultural artifacts, US imperialism failed in its military aim of installing a viable puppet state in Iraq, as demonstrated by the lingering presence of US troops. The country seethes with discontent. A similar operation in Afghanistan, which saw a 20-year effort by US imperialism to maintain an installed pro-US regime, likewise ended in a debacle. Now, US imperialism, confronted with an intractable social, economic and political crisis at home, is planning even greater and more catastrophic wars. The rhetoric of “human rights” and “defending democracy” is being used by the ruling class and its media apparatus to provide a justification for the planned wars against Russia and China which threaten humanity with the specter of nuclear annihilation.

Protests against political and social crisis continue in Haiti as imperialist powers consider military intervention
Alex Johnson, WSWS, Sep 26 2022

Demonstrators protest against fuel price hikes and to demand that Ariel Henry step down, in Port-au-Prince, Sep 19 2022. (Photo: Odelyn Joseph/AP)

Mass protests escalated across Haiti after weeks of resistance to the conditions of poverty and oppression millions are facing. This is combined with political opposition to Prime Minister Ariel Henry, widely perceived as a pawn of the US ruling elite, who protesters are demanding be ousted from power. In response to some of the largest demonstrations in recent years, international media outlets and imperialist governments alike are now mulling over or explicitly calling for a foreign military intervention to crack down on dissent. The opposition to the corrupt political establishment, intolerable social climate and decades-long imperialist oppression is being expressed in targeted attacks against critical institutions widely seen as bastions of neocolonial domination over the small island. A local bank in the coastal commune Léogâne, Unibank, was one of several banks across the country which protesters attacked and partially burned. Protesters sprayed graffiti on the building reading “Down with USA” and “Down with USA and Ariel Henry.” In Jeremie, a commune in Haiti’s southeast region, protesters were filmed burning down and ransacking NGO facilities, while other NGOs around the country are reporting being attacked. NGOs have been the source of immense contempt by the population following the devastating 2010 earthquake. Thousands of NGOs have come to operate around 80% of the country’s basic public services, ostensibly enlisted to rebuild infrastructure and provide long-term employment to jobless locals. They have instead siphoned off millions in relief money that has gone totally unaccounted for while highly paid staffers have profited from the country’s misery. Other instances included large-scale arson attacks, including the burning down of barricades in Port-au-Prince after Henry slandered protesters as “gangs” funded by local businesses and foreign interests.

The notion that the unrest in Haiti is primarily the product of gang violence rather than raging social inequality is being repeated in ruling circles. During his speech at the UGA meeting on Wednesday, UN Sec-Gen António Guterres said gangs in Haiti were “destroying the very building blocks of society.” Guterres has joined Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader, whose government has clamored in recent weeks for the return of a UN “peacekeeping” force like MINUSTAH, a Brazilian-led international military occupation that was tasked with suppressing opposition in Haiti’s shantytowns after the overthrow of elected president and former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. Perhaps the most cynical and hypocritical comments at the UNGA came from Sébastien Carrière, Canada’s ambassador to Port-au-Prince, who said “the international community needs to get together and support Haiti.” Carrière lauded the Haitian police, declaring that he had the “utmost respect for them and the work they are doing,” and that what was missing in resolving the crisis was “political actors getting together and also doing the best they can to come to an inclusive accord that doesn’t leave anybody behind and puts the country back on the right track.” Videos circulated widely on social media have refuted this disgusting flattery, clearly documenting the same Haitian police, trained and armed by the various imperialist powers, beating, maiming and gunning down protesters over the past month. In this, Canada has been a complicit actor, providing $42m in funding for the Haiti’s security force this year alone.

The so-called “political actors” cited by Carrière have been handpicked by the imperialist powers themselves, above all Henry, to form Haiti’s government following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in Jul 2021. This was done through the Core Group of imperialist ambassadors operating in Haiti who saw Henry as a more auspicious figurehead for a puppet regime than interim president Claude Joseph. The unelected Henry was carefully selected due to his politically criminal history as an operative for the US government stretching back to the early 2000s, when he led the Convergence Democratique movement which played a critical role in toppling Aristide in a US-backed coup. Leading up to the coup, CD made explicit appeals to the US for an invasion and the restoration of the violent Haitian army that tortured and killed thousands in the 1990s. Henry’s organization provided political cover for the CIA-trained and funded death squads and former army officers that would carry out Aristide’s violent overthrow.

Prior to becoming prime minister, Henry served in ministerial positions under the presidencies of US lackeys Michel Martelly and Moïse, the former being installed in 2011 through fraudulent elections orchestrated by Hillary Clinton, before placing Moïse in power as his handpicked successor in another entirely bogus electoral process. Both Martelly and Moïse were infamous for their connections to Haiti’s rapacious business elite and for carrying out brutal police crackdowns on protestors in Haiti’s shantytowns. In the waning days of his term, Martelly relied on the Haitian police and Departmental Brigade of Operations and Interventions, a paramilitary unit that was directed at crushing opposition to his rampant corruption, while Haitians starved on poverty wages and dilapidated infrastructure. Just recently a lawsuit was brought against Martelly which alleged Haitian officials and multinational corporations conspired to fix the prices of remittances and telephone calls from the United States to Haiti, diverting millions in tax funds into private hands instead of filling the government’s treasury. Haiti’s intractable political crisis came to a head during the presidency of Moïse, who gutted the federal legislature, judiciary and local governments and defied his constitutional term limit in his efforts to inaugurate a dictatorial regime.

The gangs that are now violently terrorizing the nation were largely a creation of Moïse. In 2018, these gang forces carried out the La Saline massacre that gruesomely killed 59 people in a neighborhood that was the scene of protests against his government. Police agent Jimmy “BBQ” Cherizier is a former police officer who participated directly in the assault and subsequently founded the G9 Family and Allies gang federation, employed to intimidate voters during elections and quell social unrest. Large-scale protests against Moïse erupted after a criminal investigation found that Moïse and his political cronies embezzled millions through a development fund, PetroCaribe program, that was subsidized by Venezuela that was intended to help low-income Haitians. The massive resistance of Haiti’s oppressed working class, who face super-exploitation by American apparel and other companies, has led to a propaganda offensive by foreign diplomats and strategists to scapegoat gangs and oligarchs as responsible for the uprisings. Juan Gonzalez, the National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere and a special assistant to Biden, said during an appearance Monday at the Washington-based US Institute of Peace meeting that Haiti’s instability was being financed by people “who have mansions in different parts of the world, and are paying for people to go into the streets.”

The Jeff Bezos-owned WaPo, a propaganda conduit for the US military and intelligence agencies, is once again trumpeting another colonial-style intervention in Haiti. The WaPo writers reprised their comments from an editorial last year following the assassination of Moïse calling for “boots on the ground” or another violent military intervention. They complain about the “absence of muscular action by outside actors,” and argue “propping up the prime minister” is a mistake. The WaPo editorial insists that outside some foreign expedition on the island and external force, any policy decision in Haiti is an “abdication of responsibility.” Aside from falsely conflating the violent carnage now being meted out by the likes of G9 and its family with the genuine expressions of popular anger against poverty and political repression, the WaPo editorial entirely brushes over the fact that the social disaster and gang warfare are result of actions of Henry and his predecessors who have received the full backing of Democratic and Republican administrations alike. A major US newspaper calling for the renewal of direct colonial-style domination of Haiti has frightening implications, as it recalls the two-decade-long US Marine occupation of Haiti after President Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam was assassinated. This ushered in more than a century of imperialist plunder that saw hundreds of thousands killed under the Duvalier dictatorships, US -backed military juntas and a 13-year-long UN military operation. American intelligence agencies and State Dept officials funded death squads that murdered without restraint in Haiti’s slums. It is this century of imperialist domination that has cemented a legacy of abysmal economic conditions out of which the present crisis has emerged.

Henry and other top government officials are also now pleading for international intervention amid the irresolvable political conflicts raging the country. Foreign Minister Jean Victor Geneus told UN delegates in New York on Saturday that Haiti was facing a multifaceted sociopolitical and economic crisis that is being exacerbated by gang terror and could “only be solved with the effective support of our partners.” Geneus cited Henry’s own words, saying the prime minister had “no desire to stay in power longer than necessary” and appealed to the regime’s foreign patrons to facilitate an electoral coalition. The bloody fighting between the various gang organizations is a testament to the hostility among rival sections of the Haitian ruling elite. Cherizier was enlisted by Haiti’s big business families to control the importation of food, fuel and other lucrative goods. A section of Haiti’s ruling elite is turning to ever more violent means to produce the conditions for Henry’s overthrow to consolidate control over Haiti’s most profitable sectors.

At the UNGA Biden issued bland platitudes, professing his intention to “stand with our neighbor in Haiti as it faces political-fueled gang violence and an enormous human crisis,” without making any long-term policy decision to address the crisis. Although the Biden administration has not unveiled any immediate plans for intervention, the US has maintained its criminal anti-immigrant policies that have placed Haitian migrants under conditions tantamount to torture, while continuing to deport refugees in droves without any consideration of their asylum claims. A new report from Amnesty International documents discriminatory and degrading ill treatment of Haitian asylum seekers that have accompanied the mass expulsions under the Title 42 Trump-era policy which Biden has continued. Whatever the coloration of any political regime that emerges from crisis, either the prolongation of Henry’s rule or the cobbling together of a coalition including his political opponents, what is certain is that the US and world imperialism will arrange a factional alliance as grasping and corrupt as all the other governments that followed the 2004 coup. The self-serving lies about lending “support” to Haiti are not to ensure democracy, but to facilitate a new round of fraudulent elections like all the ones since the installation of Martelly. To end the social calamity they face, the Haitian masses must initiate an independent political struggle led by the working class, at the head of the oppressed masses and in the closest unity with their class brothers and sisters internationally. The conditions facing Haitians are far from isolated experiences, as protests and strikes against the insufferable life created by capitalism have erupted in Sri Lanka, the US and worldwide. The road forward lies in creating a unified basis for a movement of the international working class for socialism.

Labour conference sings “God Save The King” amid rout of the Corbyn “left”
Thomas Scripps, WSWS, Sep 25 2022

Delegates opened the Labour Party’s annual conference with a minute’s silence for Queen Elizabeth II and a rendition of the national anthem, God Save The King, for the first time in the party’s history. Both were observed without protest. The stage consisted of a giant Union Flag backdrop design behind the podium and above that an enormous video banner—spanning the width of the entire stage—with a photo of the queen reading, “Queen Elizabeth II – 21 April 1926 – September 8 2022.” This was the latest episode in Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s effort to prove the party’s right-wing, nationalist credentials to big business. It follows two weeks, since the queen’s death, in which Labour MPs have been forbidden from posting anything other than their own or party tributes to the queen on social media. Previous edicts ordered shadow cabinet members to stay away from workers’ picket lines and for all Labour MPs to show “unshakeable support” for NATO.Speaking ahead of the conference, Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy told the Independent:

I think the Queen’s passing reminds us all of what unites us and I think that Keir feels that very keenly. I support him in that. We are the party that set up NATO after WWS.

The same day Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting, a strong favourite to replace Starmer as leader, told the Spectator that the private sector was “one of the levers” for tackling NHS backlogs, adding:

The Labour party can’t just rely on the same old hackneyed slogans on the NHS.

Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed revived Tony Blair’s “tough on crime, touch on the causes of crime” slogan in an interview with the New Statesman, adding his own, “Punish, Prevent, Protect.” Neither the devastating cost-of-living crisis, producing the worst fall in real incomes in generations, nor the imminent danger of war with Russia escalating toward a nuclear conflict warranted a mention. Labour is in lockstep with the Tory government on pursuing class war at home and imperialist war abroad. As Labour MPs gathered, #GeneralStrike and #GeneralElectionNow were trending on social media. Millions of workers are pressing for strike action. The mood in the country is for a showdown with an illegitimate Tory government planning an all-out assault on the working class amid the largest wave of strikes in close to four decades. Rail, post and telecoms workers have responded with disgust at Starmer’s overt hostility to their struggle for a living wage. That the Labour leader is still able to organise his right-wing spectacle on top of this social powder keg is due to the prostration of the Labour “left,” which is in a state of collapse two-and-a-half years after Jeremy Corbyn resigned as leader. Protests against Starmer’s policies were kept to the conference fringes, without the slightest hint of a fight against his leadership. Pro-Corbyn pressure group Momentum organises events under the title The World Transformed. At one of these, former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell joined MPs Dawn Butler and John Trickett in criticising the ban on picket line attendance. But this stopped at a humble appeal to the leadership to change course. McDonnell told the audience:

We’ve got to say to the Labour leadership and others, don’t think you can win this next general election by default just because of the unpopularity of the Tories.

Corbyn expressed slight discomfort with the “very, very odd” singing of the national anthem, which he told BBC Nick Robinson Political Thinking podcast was “excessively nationalist.” But once again dashing the hopes of those who still look to him to form a new party, Corbyn repeated his desire to see the Labour whip restored, allowing him to sit as one of Starmer’s MPs.

‘Sir’ Keir Starmer and Liz Truss arrive at Westminster Hall to express their condolences, Sep 12 2022. (Photo: Markus Schreiber/AP)

Corbyn was rewarded for his slavishness in the usual fashion, with a shadow minister briefing the Daily Mail:

Only Corbyn would try to wreck Sir Keir’s tribute to the late Queen. It’s because Corbyn was seen as unpatriotic that we’ve got to build bridges with so many former traditional Labour voters who deserted us while Left-wing ‘Jezza’ was wrecking our party.

Corbyn and McDonnell’s fellow Socialist Campaign Group member Richard Burgon chose to direct his own ire exclusively at the monarchy, attending a Labour for a Republic event to ask politely:

How can we not talk about whether or not a head of state should be elected?

Zarah Sultana, the SCG’s main point of contact with the Enough is Enough campaign, told a World Transformed event:

Not everyone in the Labour Party is clear about the class they represent.

She was speaking alongside Mick Lynch, the head of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, front man of Enough is Enough campaign and touted as Britain’s “real leader of the opposition.” But he also gave another full-throated endorsement of a Starmer-led government, calling on Labour to “show that it’s on the side of ordinary people in this country who are really struggling.” Lynch gave Starmer license not to attend a picket line himself, saying “I’m not that naïve,” but suggested:

He should show a way that he identifies with the struggles working people have got. We want him to win the election but we want him to do it on a basis working people can get behind. He can’t cosy up to business and the Daily Mail all the time. He’s got to cosy up to working-class people.

Unite union General Secretary Sharon Graham, marketed by the pseudo-left as the other chief working-class leader alongside Lynch, cheered the supposed increasingly “clear blue water” between Labour and Tories in an interview at the union’s headquarters. She called on Starmer to “be brave,” adding:

We need to be really clear what it is that we are offering as Labour.

The rump of the Labour left and what passes for the “left” within the trade unions question Starmer’s class loyalties, but their own loyalties are to the bureaucracy and not the working class. All their polite criticisms and suggestions of a change in course have one aim only: to preserve the hold of the Labour Party and the trade unions over the working class so they can continue to throttle it.The left’s craven response was underscored by Al Jazeera’s release Fridayof the first of a three-episode exposure of the Labour right’s conspiracy against Corbyn’s leadership and left-wing members. Based on 500 GB of leaked documents, emails, video and audio files, the investigation reveals in great detail the use of false allegations of antisemitism and homophobia against party members supportive of Corbyn, their harassment, and the protection of right-wing provocateurs The Labour Files adds to the clear evidence of a conspiracy by the party’s Blairite MPs and apparatus against the membership put forward in the “Labour leaks” document in early 2020.

Jeremy Corbyn and ‘Sir’ Keir Starmer at an event during the 2019 General Election when Corbyn was party leader (Photo: Matt Dunham/AP)

However, if anyone believed that Al Jazeera’s findings would be taken up as a weapon by the Corbynites, they were immediately disappointed. At a World Transformed event discussing Labour’s Forde Report into the Labour leaks, Corbyn did not even mention Starmer’s name, let alone The Labour Files, or go further than accusing the right-wing of trying to “obstruct” his leadership. The most he gave his audience was a promise that his book would give “the full story,” but only after “all the legal cases I’ve been dealing with” had concluded, apologizing “I’m not allowed to say anything more at the moment.” He called on his supporters to “go forward determined, hopeful, optimistic, in unity.” The impression given by Corbyn and his allies is of a political group hermetically sealed from reality. They refer to his 2017 election manifesto as having “changed the course of labour movement history” and discuss the fight for a “socialist alternative,” while sitting as members of a proudly right-wing party out for their blood, their friends and colleagues being gradually picked off by Starmer’s relentless witch-hunt. A real socialist alternative will only be built in a determined fight against the Labour Party, including its dwindling “left” faction.

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