wsws

Poland discusses hosting American nuclear weapons as US buys up anti-radiation drugs
Andre Damon, WSWS, Oct 6 2022

Yars ICBM launch (Russian Defense Ministry)

Amid growing warnings that the war between Russia and NATO in Ukraine could turn nuclear, Polish President Andrzej Duda said Wednesday that he has spoken to Washington about stationing American nuclear weapons in the country. Poland shares a 120-mile border with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. Duda told Gazeta Polska:

The first problem is that we don’t have nuclear weapons. There is always a potential opportunity to participate in the Nuclear Sharing program. We spoke to American leaders about whether the United States was considering this possibility.

The announcement comes as authorities in Kiev have started distributing potassium iodine tablets, used to protect from radiation exposure from nuclear detonations, in evacuation centers throughout the city. On Thursday, the department of health and human services announced that it has purchased more than $290m worth of Nplate, “for use in radiological and nuclear emergencies.” According to the National Institutes of Health:

Nplate has expanded the toolbox of medical countermeasures available in case a catastrophic event exposes people to high doses of radiation. Such an event could be a nuclear explosion, an accident at a nuclear reactor, a radiotherapy accident, or the escape of radioactive waste.

Earlier this week, the Times of London reported:

President Putin is set to demonstrate his willingness to use weapons of mass destruction with a nuclear test on Ukraine’s borders, NATO is believed to have warned its members. Sources said Nato had sent an intelligence report to its members and allies alerting them to the fact that Russia is expected to test its nuclear-capable torpedo drone Poseidon, possibly in the Black Sea, which it controls. As officials in Washington draw up possible scenarios for a response, Nato is thought to have reported that the nuclear submarine K-329 Belgorod is headed to the Arctic, having become operational in July.

Additionally, the Times reported that a train operated by the division of the Russian armed forces responsible for nuclear weapons had been spotted advancing toward the front. Notably, when asked about those reports during a background press briefing Monday, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed seeing the reports but refused to comment on them. The growing warnings of a nuclear escalation came as Ukraine continued its offensive along large portions of the front, as Russian forces continued to retreat in the face of Ukrainian advances. For the first time, Putin acknowledged the destabilization of the Russian line, telling reporters he expected the situation to “stabilize.” Putin said:

We are working on the assumption that the situation in the new territories will stabilize.

On Wednesday, Putin signed four laws ratifying Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian provinces, even as Russian officials could not exactly explain what territory they had annexed. Ukrainian officials said they have taken thousands of square miles of territory since last month, and have captured dozens of towns and villages in recent days. The UK ministry of defense reported:

Ukraine continues to make progress in offensive operations along both the north-eastern and southern fronts. In the north-east, in Kharkiv oblast, Ukraine has now consolidated a substantial area of territory east of the Oskil River.

Ukrainian forces appeared to be moving their offensive into the province of Luhansk. Sergei Haidai, the head of the Ukrainian regional government of Luhansk, wrote on Telegram:

The deoccupation of the Luhansk region has already officially started.

Putin also announced that he had made a series of “corrections” to Russia’s mobilization drive, exempting a broader range of students from being called up (sic – RB). UK Prime Minister Liz Truss declared Wednesday:

We will stand with our Ukrainian friends, however long it takes. Ukraine can win. Ukraine must win. And Ukraine will win.

The statement appeared to be an endorsement of Ukraine’s stated aim of retaking all of the Donbas and Crimea. Even as Russian forces continued their retreat, Russia apparently carried out a strike 50 miles south of Kiev using a swarm of kamikaze drones, according to Ukraine officials. Amid the growing debacle for Russian forces, US officials are becoming more explicit in stating the goals of their intervention in the conflict. One senior US official told the British Telegraph:

The recapture of Crimea by Ukraine is now a distinct possibility and can no longer be discounted. It is clear that Russia no longer has the ability or willpower to defend key positions, and if the Ukrainians succeed in their goal of recapturing Kherson, then there is a very real possibility that it will ultimately be able to recapture Crimea.

Meanwhile John Bolton, former UN ambassador under Bush 43 and National Security advisor under Donald Trump, has called on the US to formally state its implicit goal of regime change in Russia. Bolton praised the call for the ouster of Putin made by Biden in March, and condemned efforts by the White House to distance itself from Biden’s remark. He wrote in an article for an online journal:

Why the angst? There is no long-term prospect for peace and security in Europe without regime change in Russia. The whole regime must go. Russians are already discussing it, quietly for obvious reasons. For the US and others pretending that the issue is not before (us) will do far more harm than good. Carefully assisting Russian dissidents to pursue regime change might just be the answer. Russia is obviously a nuclear power, but that is no more an argument against seeking regime change than against assisting Ukrainian self-defense… it must involve far more than simply replacing Putin. Among his inner circle, several potential successors would be worse. The problem is not one man, but the collective leadership constructed over the last two decades. No civilian governmental structure exists to effect change, not even a Politburo like the one that retired Nikita Khrushchev after the Cuban missile crisis (sic – RB). The whole regime must go. It is from the colonels and one-star generals, and their civilian-agency equivalents, where the most-likely co-conspirators to take matters into their own hands (must come).

NYT acknowledges Ukraine behind assassination of Darya Dugina
David North, WSWS, Oct 6 2022

In its report on the Aug 20 car bomb assassination in Moscow of Darya Dugina, daughter of the Russian fascist Alexander Dugin (sic – RB), the NYT hastened to declare that there “was no evidence that the attack was connected to the war in Ukraine.” Without a hint of skepticism, the NYT cited the denial by Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak of Ukraine’s involvement:

Ukraine certainly had nothing to do with yesterday’s explosion. We are not a criminal state like the Russian Federation, much less a terrorist one.

But today, using language that sounds like a carefully constructed alibi, the NYT has posted an article headlined “US believes Ukrainians were behind an assassination in Russia.” Correspondent Andrew Kramer reports:

US intelligence agencies believe parts of the Ukrainian government authorized the car bomb attack that killed Daria Dugina, the daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist, an element of a covert campaign that US officials fear could widen the conflict. The US took no part in the attack, either by providing intelligence or other assistance, officials said. American officials also said they were not aware of the operation ahead of time and would have opposed the killing had they been consulted. Afterward, American officials admonished Ukrainian officials over the assassination. The closely-held assessment of Ukrainian complicity, which has not been previously reported, was shared within the US government last week. While the Pentagon and spy agencies have shared sensitive battlefield intelligence with the Ukrainians, helping them zero in on Russian command posts, supply lines and other key targets, the Ukrainians have not always told American officials what they plan to do. The US has pressed Ukraine to share more about its war plans, with mixed success. Earlier in the war, US officials acknowledged that thanks to their intense collection efforts, they often knew more about Russian war plans than they did about Kyiv’s intentions. US officials also lack a complete picture of the competing power centers within the Ukrainian government, including the military, the security services and Mr Zelensky’s office. The military intelligence service, known as HUR, and Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces, responsible for overseeing operations behind enemy lines… sneak down darkened alleys to set explosives. They identify Russian targets for Ukrainian artillery and long-range rockets provided by the US. They blow up rail lines and assassinate officials they consider collaborators with the Russians… They first cut an electrical wire, blacking out a streetlight, then dashed quickly into the darkness where they planted a bomb, wrapped in tape with the sticky side facing outward, into a wheel well. The fishing line was taped both to the inside of the wheel and to a detonator, rigging the bomb to explode when the wheel turned.

The denial of involvement by the US lacks any credibility. The Kiev regime is a creation of the US-instigated 2014 Maidan coup, and the dependence of its military on US armaments and intelligence services is an established fact. Just three days before Dugina’s assassination, the NYT published an article headlined “Behind Enemy Lines, Ukrainians Tell Russians ‘You Are Never Safe.’” Nothing Kramer reported was unknown to US intelligence. It is nothing less than preposterous to suggest that Ukraine could have carried out a high-level killing in Moscow without US knowledge and approval. However the question arises: Why have US intelligence agencies leaked to the NYT a report that implicates Zelensky’s regime in the Moscow assassination? Why does it report that it has admonished Ukraine for this operation? Can it be that the report indicates US concern over the political fallout from a more recent operation that is of far greater international consequence than the Moscow assassination? The unexplained bombing of the Nord Stream pipeline comes to mind. My guess is that the purpose of the exposure of the Moscow assassination is to provide the Biden administration with a degree of plausible deniability should Ukrainian involvement in the Nord Stream bombing become known. It is no less likely that the Biden administration lacks a complete picture of the competing power centers within the CIA, the military and countless other segments of the vast US national security state, and cannot control all the covert operations under way in Ukraine. This reality underscores the recklessness of the US-instigated war. An event can take place with or without the approval of the Biden administration that can trigger a drastic escalation of the conflict, all the way to thermonuclear war.

UK Tory government meltdown as Truss faces threat of removal
Thomas Scripps, WSWS, Oct 5 2022

Truss at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, Oct 5 2022.
(Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

No government in British history has been in such open disarray so early in its lifetime as that of Prime Minister Liz Truss. Within a month, a politician once christened “the human hand grenade” has gained a chancellor with the scathing nickname “Kamikwasi” Kwarteng. The chaos at the Conservative Party conference is fundamentally an expression of the crisis wracking British and world capitalism. Large numbers of Tory MPs decided to stay away this year, amid the fallout from Truss and Kwarteng’s disastrous mini-budget, which sent markets tumbling. Its flagship policy of scrapping the 45% top rate of tax was abandoned mid-conference. Those that did attend engaged in ferocious briefing wars for and against Truss and her policies, with senior Tories and cabinet ministers joining the fray. Off the record, Tory MPs have described the situation as a “house on fire” and “adrift and heading towards an iceberg.”

More damaging for Truss were the open criticisms of leading Tory Party figures. Former home secretary Priti Patel told a fringe event that the government was “spending today with no thought for tomorrow.” Former transport secretary Grant Shapps told journalists Truss had 10 days to save her premiership, saying he didn’t think Tory MPs were “going to sit on their hands.” One senior figure even suggested a new election, with former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, a close ally of deposed leader Boris Johnson, tweeting that Truss needed a “fresh mandate” to pursue her policies. Truss’s problems go beyond jilted ex-ministers. Home Secretary Suella Braverman, a right-wing ally of Truss, announced that she was “disappointed” in the U-turn on the top rate of tax, a comment Levelling Up SecretarySimon Clarke praised for its “good sense.” Braverman denounced colleagues who had “staged a coup, effectively, and undermined the authority of the prime minister in an unprofessional way.” Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch was left to bemoan a conference “marred” by Tory MPs “trying to lob grenades” at Truss, while criticising Braverman for her “inflammatory” comments. Welsh Secretary Robert Buckland told critics to just “be quiet.”

In her leader’s speech, Truss tried to put a brave face on the situation, wheeling out one Thatcherite platitude after another as red meat for congress delegates. In pursuit of “growth, growth, growth,” she tried to rally the party against the real enemy: the “anti-growth coalition” of the Labour Party, “militant unions”, the SNP and all “separatists” trying to destroy the UK, the “enemies of enterprise,” the “hard left” and environmental protestors. She leant heavily on what the party’s right-wing would view as crowd-pleasing pledges to “realise the promise of Brexit” and “stand with Ukraine,” delivering a raft of Thatcherite soundbites: an “iron grip on the nation’s finances,” a “lean state,” a readiness to “do what it takes” and “make the hard choices.” But Truss was unable to address the causes of the crisis rocking her premiership. She made only a limited reference to signs of a global economic breakdown, explaining that these external economic factors were responsible for any difficulty in implementing her tax-cutting agenda and promising that she had “listened” to those demanding an end to additional government borrowing. But this was schizophrenic, combined with a stress that her climbdown on the top tax rate had left most of her multi-billion corporate tax cuts intact. There was no reference to the growing wave of strikes and protests in Britain and internationally, forcing the Daily Mail to reiterate her plans for “new legal curbs on strikes by teachers, doctors, nurses and firefighters,” as well as transport workers.

Truss’s Tory opponents would never be satisfied with such an evasion, in the face of global investors’ demands for immediate austerity measures worse than anything announced so far. The fact that the focus of the Tory infighting shifted to plans for a sharp real terms cut in benefits shows the other major concern animating sections of the party. Truss and Kwarteng are reportedly planning to stop welfare benefits rising in line with inflation, as promised by Johnson, to help pay for their massive tax giveaways to the corporations and the rich. Multiple newspapers have cited sources claiming a major rebellion is brewing among her MPs. Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt broke cabinet discipline Tuesday to say it “makes sense” to increase benefits with inflation. David Frost, normally a fierce critic of Mordaunt, commented:

I think she’s got this right.

What worries the Tory party is that benefit cuts at this point would fuel rising social opposition. Truss is its second popularly despised prime minister in as many months and heading rapidly for a collision with a working class coming into action as part of a global resurgence of the class struggle. Speaking Wednesday morning, former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown warned of a “national uprising” if benefits cuts went ahead. The Tories’ panicked shambles underscores the government’s absolute reliance on the Labour and trade union bureaucracy to police opposition in the working class. At this most opportune of moments, all prior talk of a general strike by the likes of Rail, Maritime and Transport union General Secretary Mick Lynch has disappeared. Instead, the leader of the most prominent strike in the UK has taken to making friendly noises about Truss’s new Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan. In her conference speech, Trevelyan said:

I want to help find a landing zone which we can all work with. I can tell you there is a deal to be done between the unions and our train operators.

The RMT has responded warmly, telling its members:

Your determination has brought the employers around the negotiating table. The government, who are controlling the negotiations, has also started to meet your union.

Lynch described those meetings as a “good start.” Meanwhile the Labour Party continues its efforts to reassure big business that it is a safe pair of hands, ready to replace the Tories if needed but only when called on to do so. Its lead in the polls is unprecedented, sitting roughly 30 points ahead of the Tories, a 20-year high. It has a 38% lead in the “Red Wall” seats in the north, large swathes of which were won by Johnson. Yet leader Sir Keir Starmer will not even raise the issue of a general election. His appeal is directed entirely to Tory MPs and big business to work together to help steady the ship. He wrote in the Daily Telegraph:

Labour will work with anyone to ensure some semblance of economic sanity is restored.

If saving the Tory government is beyond Starmer’s power, then he offers the chance of a government of national unity or a Labour government committed to the same pro-war, pro-austerity policies. In the same Telegraph article, he declared that Labour had taken up the mantle of “careful stewardship of the nation’s finances” that had been “forfeited” by the Tories. The crossover between the Tories and Labour is becoming ever more open and complete. Truss “Growth, growth, growth” slogan in her speech was stolen from Starmer. One Tory MP commented tellingly at the conference:

I would rather see Keir Starmer in No 10 than this Conservative party.

After Braverman touted her policy of banning refugees who use “illegal” routes to reach the UK from applying for asylum, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves delivered a blistering right-wing attack on “12 years of Tory failure”. Reeves said:

The problem is the government are not deporting people today… The government needs to get a grip and get people out of the country.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: