Thursday, September 07, 2006


Depleted uranium, known as DU, is a highly dense metal that is the byproduct of the process during which fissionable uranium used to manufacture nuclear bombs and reactor fuel is separated from natural uranium. DU remains radioactive for about 4.5 billion years.

Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot ..that it do singe yourself.
- William Shakespeare

This brief presentation is aimed at conveying to the primarily Indian participants of the Conference the fateful and disastrous consequences of the indiscriminate use of depleted and non DU munitions on the people of the west, central and south Asian regions, women, children , men , animals, plant and animal life now and in the future, in gross violation of international law, the Hague convention and domestic US military law.

Official Gamma Ray damage caused studies have been deficient in a number of respects..internal contamination, internal dose to individual cells, omissions of diseases other than cancer, mutagenic, long term degeneration , oncogenesis, effects of the killer isotopes in particular. The case studies of the years 1945-50 were ignored. A recent European Parliament Report ECRR 2003 (European Committee on
Radiation Risk ) concludes that A Bomb studies underestimate the radiation risk by more than 1000 times and failed to consider the internal exposure and diseases caused by Alpha and Beta rays. They did not consider the Manhattan Project classified memo that, in case the Project objective of producing Plutonium fission and theA Bomb did not succeed , Depleted Uranium munitions would be deployed towards the attainment of the same objective (encl. 1).

DU weapons emit Alpha particle dose to a single cell from U-238 which is 50 times the annual dose level. Cancer is initiated with one alpha particle, its daughter isotopes effect generations as the isotopes bio-concentrate in plants and animals, and travel up the food chain. It is a nuclear weapon because the energy is derived from the nucleus of the atom. They enter the body through the lungs, the digestive system or breaks in the skin. One gram of DU releases more than 12,000 particles per second. The radiation slowly kills the cells that make life possible. The Gulf War syndrome of 1991 did just that ( reported by Dr Asaf Durakovic, Prof. of Medicine , Georgetown University, and discoverer of the Gulf War Syndrome.)

We are well aware that the radiation fall-out map Under the Cloud: Decades of Nuclear Testing has demonstrated the effects of 1200 nuclear weapon tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site; and the US Government admitted in Nov. 2002, that every living person in the US between 1958-63 was exposed to this fall out resulting in cancer, gene mutation, heart disease, autism, diabetes, Parkinsons, ALS, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome , hypothyroidism in new-borns, obesity and learning disabilities. One out of twelve children in the US is disabled. The fall out did not stop at the US borders. It travelled around the world, as atmospheric dust and remains even in the biosphere/ sub-orbital space today. High breast cancer rates have been co-located in the proximity of nuclear power plants in the west and more so in the east coast areas of the US (The Breast cancer map from The Enemy Within: the high cost of living near nuclear reactors, quotes US Govt. Disease Control Centers.

The Radiation & Public health Report (RPHP), rendered by a group of independent scientists collected 4000 baby teeth and by measuring Strontium 90 levels in the baby teeth ( a built in dosi-meter ) they have been able to co-relate with radiation related diseases in children living near the nuclear power plants; the main path ways being dairy products and drinking water.

The induction of DU weapons in 1991 in Iraq, the radio-active trash from nuclear plants broke a 46 year taboo. This Trojan Horse of nuclear war, an omnicidal weapon has since then continued to be used more and more. DU remains radioactive longer than the age of the earth ( estimated at 4.5 billion years. )

The long-term effects from over a decade of DU exposures are emerging in Southern Iraq. They are devastating. The increased quantities of radio-active material ( including non-depleted uranium), used in Afghanistan are 3 to 5 times greater than Iraq 199. In Iraq 2003 they are already estimated to be 6 to 10 times 1991 and will travel through a larger area and affect many more people, babies and unborn. Countries within a 1000 mile radius of Baghdad and Kabul are being affected by radiation poisoning , that includes the Capital, New
Delhi, where the ruling elite lives. The reported coming of an AIDS epidemic last year in India , down wind, may have a relationship to DU bombing in Afghanistan. If we think cancer is a problem now wait until more DU is released in wars against terror and for regime change, on mistaken Intelligence reports.

More than 500 tons of DU munitions have been dispensed in Afghanistan. Professor Yagasaki calculated that 800 tons of DU is the atomicity equivalent to 83,000 Nagasaki bombs in a paper presented at the World Uranium Weapons Conference in Hamburg in October 2003 ( 5 months ago ). The amount of DU used in Iraq in 2003 is equivalent to nearly 250,000 Nagasaki bombs ( Busby and Leuren Moret have calculated that 1900 tons of DU is equivalent to 60 TBq of Alfa and Beta particulate activity).

We need not ennumerate the DU munition types used in Iraq 199, Kosovo 1999, Afghanistan 2001-04 and Iraq 2003. They have been dispensed by all air / ground and sea systems on innocent civilians. DU burns intensely and is very hard. It releases Uranium Oxide. The aerosol contains particles of 0.5-5 microns in size, once they are in the air or dust they are inhaled or ingested, including from contaminated soil. Once in the lungs one such particle is equivalent to having one XRay per hour, for life. Because it is impossible to remove, the victim is gradually irradiated. Still births, birth defects, leukemia, damaged central nervous systems and other cancers have been common in children born since 1991. Child leukemia has risen 600 n areas of Iraq as reported by the Netherland Visie Foundation. Beyond just the health
consequences, DU munitions are in fact, weapons of Silent Mass Destruction in so far as the consequences of their usage are vast, indiscriminate and violate all Human Rights Conventions . Tora Bora , Kabu , Paktia , Karises or underwater supply tunnels have been contaminated forever. All this has been documented in a comprehensive paper Uranium wars : The Pentagon steps up its use of Radio-active Munitions, by Marc W. Herold to whom this paper owes sincere acknowledgement.

In another paper Dr Mohammed Daud Miraki, Director Afghan DU Recovery Fund, quotes George W Bush , we will smoke them out, condemning the unborn, the living and the future generations of Afghans and the neighbouring people to a pre-determined, death sentence. After the destruction of our village, I realised that the Americans had sentenced us all to death. When I saw my deformed
grandson I realised my hopes for the future have vanished This time we are part of the invisible genocide brought on by America a silent death from which we will not escape ( Jooma Khan of Laghman province..March 2003.) Similar stories are repeated from Paktita province of Jelly Babies. Pregnant women are afraid of giving birthThis is the legacy of US ushered liberation, freedom and democracy. DU is cheap for the US, utilising nuclear waste, cheaper than titanium and tungsten, not for the liberated (non-DU is still cheaper as it is the uranium feedstock, pre-enrichment).

The Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC), Washington DC, and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (1991) - Steve Fetter and Frank Von Hippel have reported on extensive research by Field teams of the UMRC in Afghanistan. Testimonies of fathers and mothers are horrifying What else do the Americans want ? They killed us , they turned our new-borns into horrific deformations, and they turned our farm lands into grave-yards, and destroyed our homes. On top of all this their planes fly over and spray us with bullets.. we have nothing to lose ..we
will fight them the same way we fought the previous invaders (Sayed Gharib at Tora Bora).

Radiological dispensing devices or warfare is the latest of the weapons of the new millenium, but it singes even those who use it , as shown in the after effects of the tests at home ground in the US, where evidence of cognitive damage during early infancy have been compiled. For us in Eurasia, Pakistan and India we have a new health epidemic to drain our scarce resources.

As world citizens we need to focus on a new scourge, the reality of the PNAC - Rebuilding Americas Defenses, Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.

The Report notes that , Much has been written in recent years about the need to transform the conventional armed forces of the United States to take advantage of the Revolution in Military Affairs. Our military requires a dramatic transformation , lest we lose our ability to fight the future unconventional wars .. some may be fought in cyberspace, others under water or in outer space . And some even within our bodies.

Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol and others are some of the men representing contemporary power centers, who define US policy. History indicates that the men who define US military policy from the shadows , are worthy of our attention.


When creating genetic-bombs or weapons to target specific groups; genetic profiles are subtler and more accurate than the coarse pseudo category called race. The group with ADHD ( the Edison Gene) uniquely share common inherited variations in their dopamine regulating genes regardless of race, geography or ethnicity. Thus anybody whos part of a group with a shared genetic profile may be at risk in the future.

A virus or bacteria may attack only a particular type of person, killing, disabling or sterilising only those of a particular gene profile.
Threatening a particular type would be sufficient political black-mail.

Wolfowitz, Kristol and their colleagues suggested that the Pentagon should be thinking about not just germ warfare of which they have plenty of capabilities, but gene warfare.

Genetic terra-forming could replace diplomacy, or it could change the face of politics if an organism got loose that killed all the people of a particular minority community who tend to vote for a particular political party.

According to the PNAC, Genetically targeted weapons could change world politics for ever, and the report notes, advanced forms of biological warfare that can target specific geno-types may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool

To conclude 4th generation micro-nukes, with their war-head composition, were deliberated upon and decided at the US Airforce Strategic Command Headquarters at the Offutt Airforce Base, Nebraska, between the top Corporates /weapon manufacturers and the US military brass. The former not only have prior knowledge of numbers and types of all types of nuclear weapons, but the locations of the planned and approved targets, globally.

This meeting took place on Hiroshima Day, 6th August, 2003, and to reiterate, the aim was to define a new generation of nuclear weapons to be used on a pre-emptive basis against rogue enemies and terrorist organisations. (mini-nukes have an explosive capacity between one-third and six times a Hiroshima bomb).

In this Strangelovian logic, nuclear weapons are now viewed as a means to ensuring peace and security against non-existent WMDs.


1. In the 2003 war, the IraqiS were subjected to the Pentagons radioactive arsenal, mainly in the urban centers, unlike in the deserts in 1991. The aggregate effects of illnesses and long term disabilities and genetic birth defects will be apparent only 2008 onwards.

2. By now, half of all the 697,000 US soldiers involved in the 1991 war have reported serious illnesses. According the American Gulf War Veterans Association, more than 30f these soldiers are chronically ill, and receiving disability benefits from the Veterans Administration.

3. The number of disabled veterans is shockingly high . They are in their mid-thirties and should have been in the prime of health.

4. Near the Republican Palace where US troops stood guard and over 1000 employees walked in and out, the radiation readings were the hottest in Iraq, at nearly 1900 times background radiation levels.

5. At a roadside stand, selling fresh bunches of parsley, mint, and onions, children played on a burnt out Iraqi tank just outside Baghdad, the Geiger counter registered 1000 times normal background radiation.

6. The Pentagon and the United Nations estimate that the US and Britain used 1,100 to 2,200 tons of armor piercing shells made of DU during attacks in March-April 2003, far more than the 1991 Gulf War (this does not include air dispensed DU munitions and missiles), wrote the Post Intelligencer.

7. An otherwise useless by-product of the uranium enrichment process, DU is attractive to military contractors because it is so cheap and often offered for free by the Government.

8. The long term effects, as Dr Asaf Durakovic elaborates, after the early neurological symptoms are cancer, and related radiation illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, joint and muscle pain, neurological and/or nerve damage, mood disturbances, auto-immuno deficiciencies, lung and kidney damage, vision problems, skin rupture, increase in miscarriages, maternal mortality and genetic birth defects/deformation.

9. For years the US government described the Gulf War Syndrome as a post traumatic stress disorder. It was labelled as a psychological problem or simply as mysterious unrelated ailments much in the same way as health problems of Vietnam veterans suffering from Agent Orange poisoning.

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The Torturer's Apprentice By Ray McGovern

09/07/06 "Information Clearing House" -- -- Addressing the use of torture Wednesday, President George W. Bush played to the baser instincts of Americans as he strained to turn his violation of national and international law into Exhibit A on how “tough” he is on terrorists. His tour de force brought to mind the charge the Athenians leveled at Socrates—making the worse case appear the better. Bush’s remarks made it abundantly clear, though, that he is not about to take the hemlock.

As the fifth anniversary of 9/11 approaches and with the midterm elections just two months away, the president's speechwriters succeeded in making a silk purse out of the sow’s ear of torture. The artful offensive will succeed if—but only if—the mainstream media is as cowed, and the American people as dumb, as the president thinks they are. Arguably a war criminal under international law and a capital-crime felon under U.S. criminal law, Bush’s legal jeopardy is even clearer than when he went AWOL during the Vietnam War. And this time, his father will not be able to fix it.

Bush in jeopardy? Yes. The issue is torture, which George W. Bush authorized in a Feb. 7, 2002, memorandum in contravention both of the Geneva Accords and 18 U.S. Code 2441—the War Crimes Act that incorporates the Geneva provisions into the federal criminal code which was approved by a Republican-led Congress in 1996. Heeding the advice of Vice President Dick Cheney’s counsel, David Addington, then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, the president officially opened the door to torture in that memorandum. His remarks yesterday reflect the determination of Cheney and Bush to keep that door open and accuse those who would close it of being "soft on terrorists."

The administration released that damning memorandum in the spring of 2004 after the photos of torture at Abu Graib were published. It provided the basis for talking points that the president wanted “humane” treatment for captured al-Qaida and Taliban individuals. And—surprise, surprise— mainstream journalists like those of The New York Times swallowed the bait, clinging safely to the talking points and missing altogether Bush’s remarkable claim that “military necessity” trumps humane treatment. That assertion, over the president’s signature, provided the gaping loophole through which Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and then-CIA Director George Tenet drove the Mack truck of officially-sanctioned torture.

Using the arguments adduced by the Addington/Gonzales/Bybee team, Bush’s 2002 memo made the point that the bedrock provision of Geneva—Common Article 3—does not apply to al-Qaida or Taliban detainees, but that the U.S. would “continue to treat detainees humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity , in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva.” (Emphasis added.)

Sounding very much like Mafia lawyers, the president’s legal troika felt it necessary to warn him that playing fast and loose with the U.S. War Crimes Act (Section 2441) could conceivably come back to haunt him. The bizarre passage that follows is the best they could offer in terms of reassurance:

It is difficult to predict the motives of prosecutors and independent counsels who may in the future decide to pursue unwarranted charges based on Section 2441. Your determination would create a reasonable basis in law that Section 2441 does not apply, which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution.

While the imaginative lawyering of Addington (now Cheney’s chief of staff), Gonzales (now attorney general), and Bybee (now a federal judge) may have qualified for a presidential “heck-of-a-job” at the time, Bush is learning the hard way that, while sycophants are fun to have around, they can do a president in. Between the lines of Bush’s rhetoric yesterday lies belated acknowledgement that his decision to condone the torture of al-Qaida and Taliban captives is now back to haunt him—big time.

The Supreme Court decision on Hamdan v. Rumsfeld , announced on June 29, 2006, stripped the president of the magic suit of clothes approved by his courtiers when it found the “military tribunals” invented by the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal to try terrorists illegal. The Court rejected the artifice of “unitary executive power” used by the Bush administration to “justify” practices like torture, indefinite detention without judicial process, and warrantless eavesdropping. In other words, the Supreme Court of the United States reaffirmed that ours should be a government of laws, not of the caprice of the vice president or president. And in condoning torture, they are outlaws.

The Defense Rests Not

The president’s performance yesterday reflects the time-honored adage that the best defense is an aggressive offense—and especially with a mere two months before the midterm elections. Bush devoted fully half of his speech to cops-and-robbers examples, none of them persuasive, of how “tough” interrogation techniques have yielded information that prevented all manner of catastrophe. Someone in the White House apparently forgot to tell the Army, for the head of Army intelligence, Lt. Gen. John Kimmons, sang from a very different script at a Pentagon briefing yesterday , as he explained why the new Army manual for interrogation is in sync with Geneva. Conceding past “transgressions and mistakes,” Kimmons said:

No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tells us that.

Grabbing the headlines today is the fact that Bush has admitted that the CIA has taken high-value captives to prisons abroad for interrogation using “tough” techniques. More telling is the fact that CIA interrogators are not bound by the strictures of the new Army field manual, and that the president is determined to maintain in place detention centers where CIA interrogators can ply their trade at his bequest.

The president brags about how his government “changed its policies,” giving intelligence personnel “the tools they need” to fight terrorists, and makes it clear that the CIA was given permission to use “an alternative set of procedures.” He said he could not describe the specific methods used, “but I can say the procedures were tough.” The alumni of this school of hard knocks are now on their way to Guantanamo, but Bush made it clear that he wanted to keep the schools open for incoming students.

Acknowledging that other terrorists are waiting in line to take the place of captured leaders, the president made it clear that he wants the “CIA program” for interrogating advanced placement terrorists to continue. Bush conceded that, after the Hamdan decision, “some believe” that intelligence personnel “could now be at risk of prosecution under the War Crimes Act—simply for doing their jobs in a thorough and professional way.” So he is asking Congress to pass legislation squaring the circle; that even while using “alternative” procedures, CIA personnel can be said to be in compliance with Common Article 3 of Geneva. (The not-so-hidden threat, of course, is the virtual certainty that any member of Congress opposing this kind of legerdemain will be branded soft on terrorism in the weeks leading up to the November election.)

In a bizarre twist, the retroactive nature of this legislation, which the president said “ought to be the top priority” over the next several weeks, would hold Bush himself harmless, at least under the U.S. criminal statute, as well as intelligence practitioners of “alternative” procedures.

And so the stage is set. There is one more Bush speech to go on this general theme. It’s a safe bet that the next one will present an equally impassioned defense of warrantless eavesdropping on Americans, branded unconstitutional and illegal by Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit because it violates the Fourth Amendment and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Sen. Arlen Specter, R- Pa., who initially called that activity extralegal, has now come full circle and drafted legislation that would hold harmless the president and others involved in that program—and, again, retroactively. It is hard to tell what brought Specter 180 degrees around; not to be ruled out is the kind of “alternative procedure” employed so successfully by former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who was the inadvertent catalyst for the FISA law.


Is there no one to hold our leaders to account? The Bush Crimes Commission, a grassroots citizens’ initiative determined not to follow the example of the obedient, passive Germans of the 1930s, has taken testimony on torture and other key issues to establish whether President Bush is guilty of war crimes. Testimony was taken in October 2005 and January 2006, indictments have been brought and served on the White House, and the judges will issue their verdict on Sept. 13 in Washington. (Full disclosure: I am proud to have taken part in the proceedings of the Bush Crimes Commission.) Join us next week.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer, then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Interview With Ray McGovern, Part 3 (and the attack on the USS Liberty

Interview With Ray McGovern, Part 3
By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Tuesday 05 September 2006

During the Veterans for Peace National Convention in Seattle, I conducted an interview with Ray McGovern. McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years and is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

In the final installment of this interview series for Truthout, McGovern discusses links between US/Israeli policy, the need for change if there is to be true security for either country, the Bush administration's use of torture, and the likelihood of a US attack on Iran.

DJ: What is the solution for this dysfunctional entanglement between the US and Israel regarding their failed policy in the Middle East?

RM: It is very hard to perceive a solution to the entanglement between our country and Israel. No one has more power than the Israeli lobby. We know the study that professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt did was criticized, as they predicted, as being anti-Semitic. But they didn't tell half of the story. They omitted, for example, the USS Liberty.

Let me tell you about the USS Liberty. It was off the coast of Israel during the 1967 war. It was an intelligence collection ship. The Israelis knew what it was. The ship had a great big American flag flying on top of it. On the 8th of June, three days into the war, Israeli fighter bombers reconnoitered the ship and then came back an hour later and did their damnedest to sink it. Not only that, but torpedo boats participated in this, knowing that it was a US ship. 34 US sailors were killed, 171 US sailors were severely wounded. The ship limped back on its own power into Malta.

In the midst of all this, during the engagement, the commander of the 6th Fleet, having been apprised of what was going on, immediately ordered fighter bombers to do battle with whoever was attacking the USS Liberty. Guess what happened? They were called back halfway. They were called back halfway. By whom? By President Lyndon Johnson and by Defense Secretary Robert MacNamara.

When the sailors who survived got off that ship, they were allowed to sleep one night. The first thing the next morning, they were told they would be court-martialed if they ever mentioned that Israel had deliberately tried to sink their ship. They were sworn to secrecy. And that secrecy held for about 20 years, but now the story is out. The navy lawyers who were cajoled into suppressing the real story have come out and told exactly what the story was.

Why do I mention all this?

Among other things, Admiral [Thomas Hinman] Moorer, who had been chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, did his own investigation and came up with the fact that the Israelis did this.

Now, Congress suppressed this information, our press suppressed this information, so what effect did this have on the Israelis? I think the Israelis concluded that this was pretty good - that they could literally get away with murder. They could literally get away with murder, and the US government would not criticize Israel even if they killed 34 US soldiers and wounded 171. That was 1967.

Since then, the Israeli lobby in this country has become even more powerful. And the money they disperse to various candidates, congressman and senators has become even more grandiose, and it's not possible to discuss this or get politicians to be honest about this sort of thing. So what do we have to do? I think we just have to plug away at the media and do alternative media, studies and articles and point out that this is precisely what George Washington warned against and that Israeli interests are not the same as ours. That the neo-cons have great difficulty distinguishing what they perceive to be Israeli interests and those of the US and we have to adopt a more balanced policy.

I'll conclude by pointing out that over the last several decades, US policy has been very consistent in the Middle East. Two major objectives: 1. To secure the safe provision of oil and natural gas; 2. To secure the state of Israel within secure and internationally recognized borders.

Now, in a sense, George W. Bush's policy is consonant with those two aims. The only difference is that he thought it was OK to start a war of aggression to achieve those aims. And that's a little different, I would suggest. What we have now is a policy that was adopted at the very first meeting of the National Security Council (NSC), on the 30th of January, 2001, well before 9/11. That was a meeting in which two things happened. Number one, the president said: "This honest broker business in the Middle East, this attempt to mediate between the two and adopt some sort of even-handed policy - that's for the birds. We're jettisoning that. We'll tilt towards Israel. Who knows this fellow Sharon?" Colin Powell, Secretary of State, raises his hand, "Yeah, I know him." Bush says, "Well, I think we'll just let him cope with the Palestinians the way he wants to. Sometimes a show of force can do a lot of good."

How do we know all this? We know all this because Paul O'Neill, the secretary of the treasury, was there. He was aghast, and he looked at Powell and described Powell as "startled." This is the first time Powell knew about this. So he gently, in his manner, remonstrated and said, "Mr. President, that would give Ariel Sharon a free hand." Bush responded, "That's all right, let's see what happens."

Well we know what happened. Ariel Sharon did have a free hand, and most people forget that he didn't wait 24 hours after 9/11 before sending his US-built tanks into the West Bank and wreaking havoc there.

That was a major departure in US policy, and it has caused all manner of reverberations in the Middle East.

The second part of that NSC meeting on the 30th of January, 2001, was devoted exclusively to Iraq. The president himself made it clear that Condoleezza Rice, who was national security advisor at the time, would be orchestrating these meetings and had orchestrated this one.

At that point she said, "George Tenet [resigned director of the CIA] has a photo he brought along with him, and he would like to show it." So Tenet put up a satellite photo of a building in Iraq, and he said, "We suspect that this building is involved in chemical/biological warfare agent production." Someone asked, "Do you have any corroboration?" Tenet said, "No, we don't have any corroboration. We just suspect that this might be the case."

He took the picture down, and the conversation immediately proceeded to which targets in Iraq would be the best to hit first. This was the 30th of January, 2001, 10 days into the first term of the regime of George W. Bush. And most of that first meeting was devoted to how we get Saddam.

Paul O'Neill, who has reported all of this in great detail, was shaking his head as he left that meeting, saying, "I just don't understand. There must be something I don't get. But I never thought the primary policy of this administration would be to invade and get Saddam. What kind of threat is he posing?"

So that's the way the Middle East policy was laid, and of course George Tenet, to my great regret, showed himself a willing pawn in the shell game, showing a picture and saying, "Well, we suspect this might be a really dangerous sort of thing." And Condoleezza Rice, having orchestrated the thing, said, "See! Let's go to Don Rumsfeld now. What about the targets, Don?"

The whole thing is so corrupt. The whole thing is so disingenuously deceitful that it's hard to believe that our elected leaders and the people they appoint could be so corrupt.

DJ: What might a first step be toward bringing US/Israeli relations into a more functional paradigm?

RM: Our job now is to get the truth out about the realities of US/Israeli relations. We have to be willing to be called anti-Semitic. We have to be willing to face what happens whenever somebody says, "Hey, there's an elephant in the living room. There's an elephant in the living room, and its name is Israel."

We have to be willing to approach this in a more objective way. We have to be willing to openly discuss it, at least as freely as they do in the state of Israel. There is much freer discussion there in their press. We have to be willing to do this, because the truth will set us free.

The bottom line, really, is that we do Israel a great service, as well as doing a great service for our own country, by pointing out the short-sightedness, the myopia that attends this policy - that you can just bomb the hell out of a country, that you can send rockets and tanks to catch a resistance group like Hezbollah Ö It never has been done. You will not be able to defeat Hezbollah any more than you'll be able to defeat the resistance in Iraq.

The sooner that both our countries realize that, the sooner that that truth gets out and the American people know that's the truth, the sooner we can hope for some change in policy.

Still, vouching for the defense of Israel - nobody wants to see Israel pushed into the sea, but that's not the problem. Israel's not going to be pushed into the sea with 300 nuclear weapons. They've got to make peace with their neighbors.

You have to take official pronouncements pretty seriously. Take those from Osama bin Laden. In our media coverage of his press announcements, they leave out something that they find inconvenient. And what they find inconvenient is what he says about the motivation for what he and other insurgents are doing. And that is that they are acting out of extreme hatred for US policies, the primary policy being our one-sided support for the state of Israel, vis-á-vis the Palestinians. Also, of course, our support for the corrupt regimes in places like Saudi Arabia.

I remember Osama bin Laden, just a couple of months after 9/11, included a story in his tapes. The story depicted an Arab camel driver. The camel driver was tying up the camel across the street from where another camel was. And the other camel was at the hands of a butcher and the butcher was hacking into this camel in the full sight of this other camel driver and his camel. The Arab camel driver's camel broke his ropes and ran over and bit the butcher's hand off.

Osama's comment on this was, "So it will be. So it will be with Arab mothers who see their children being slaughtered, being hacked to death. They will rise to the occasion and bite the hand of the invader."

I should add that when the 9/11 Commission was preparing their report, something that escaped media attention was that in the midst of their drafting, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, was captured. On page 147, even though this commission was appointed to look into the background, and why it all happened, there is just one sentence that says Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, when asked why he devised the 9/11 plan, said, "I did it out of violent hatred for the effects of one-sided US support for the state of Israel." Then there is a footnote at the back of the book that says [paraphrased], "Indeed, this is what Ramzi Yousef, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's nephew, said, after he tried to knock down one of the Twin Towers in 1993 and was arraigned, convicted and sentenced to 243 years in a Federal Prison." What he said was, "I'm proud to have done this deed, I'm sorry I failed to knock down the whole building. But I did it out of my extreme violent hatred for US policies, one-sided in the favor of Israel."

None of that has appeared in the American press, but it happens to be part of the reality. If we want to stem terrorism, we have to be a little more enlightened, educated and sensible. Because the way you defeat terrorism is the same way you defeat malaria.

With malaria you find the swamp that breeds mosquitoes and you station sharp-shooters all around that swamp and you try to hit every one of those mosquitoes when they try to leave the swamp, right? Not really. What you do is you drain the swamp.

Now, we have to drain the swamp of legitimate grievances that come from over four decades of concentration-camp type living on the part of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Of grievances that come from our support for dictatorial regimes like the one in Saudi Arabia. We have to address those grievances.

If you believe what the president says about why they hate us, "They hate our freedom," well I have a bridge of mine in Manhattan that goes to Brooklyn I'd love to sell you. You have to look a little deeper than that. The reason they hate us is because they have these un-redressed grievances and there are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world and they see, every night on their TV, what is going on. They see the Israelis using our weaponry to suppress their brothers and sisters.

Osama bin Laden uses the line about the Palestinians in his addresses because it is effective. Even if he doesn't truly believe it himself, it is effective because the broad majority of Muslims listening know these un-redressed grievances all too well, and that is why it is effective as a rallying cry.

We all warned before the invasion of Iraq that the recruiting lines for al-Qaeda would go around the corner. If we thought we would lessen the threat of terrorism by going into Iraq, we were sadly mistaken - because before we attacked Iraq, there were no terrorists in Iraq. I repeat: There were no terrorists in Iraq.

What Saddam Hussein was doing was paying some of the families of suicide bombers who did their dastardly deeds in Israel, or elsewhere. But that was the extent of the terrorism in Iraq.

But now Iraq is teeming with terrorists. This is important because if, as I believe to be the case, one of the main reasons the US thought they would invade and take over Iraq was to make that part of the world safer for the state of Israel, then the situation now is just the opposite of that.

The situation now is much more precarious with all of these terrorists in Iraq. Israel is much less safe, and the bottom line as far as US policy is concerned is that it's much more difficult to contemplate withdrawing forces from Iraq under these conditions.

If you put yourself in the place of the Israelis, I can understand the concern, of course. During the first Gulf War there were 39 Scud Missiles shot towards Israel. That's pretty scary. So the Israelis were hell-bent and determined to make sure there were no scuds left in Iraq.

As we know, Colin Powell said in his infamous speech in front of the UN on February 5, 2003, that our best estimate was there were about two dozen scuds left in Iraq. Now, he happened to be off by only 24, because there were no functioning scuds in Iraq. But if I were an Israeli citizen, I'd like to make damned sure that was the case.

Well, they did make damned sure that was the case. But they could have done that through traditional intelligence sources. They didn't have to do that by encouraging the US to invade Iraq and clean it out, because the results speak for themselves. An upsurge in terrorism, very long recruiting lines for al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and the others, and no draining of the swamp. No coherent policy toward addressing the grievances of those who then become terrorists.

Don Rumsfeld, he'll scratch his head as he did two years ago and say, "You know, I just don't understand what would possess someone to put a bunch of explosives on their body and blow themselves up just to kill other people. Why do people act this crazy?"

My advice to Secretary Rumsfeld is he really ought to tune into Al Jazeera for just one evening and see the diet that 1.3 billion Muslims are getting - a diet of weaponry provided by the US to the state of Israel and to others, weapons that are used against Arabs and Muslims, people who have been repressed for more than 50 years now. And that would give Don Rumsfeld some insight as to why people act this "crazy."

I'd suggest that our policy is more deserving of that label than the terrorists.

DJ: Do you see any time-frame within which the Bush administration would like to drag Iran into this?

RM: It's hard to discern whether Iran would come before Syria. The best thing to do would be to read the "Clean Break" document, and some of the others and try to figure it out for yourself, because they've had to adjust things a bit.

But as far as Iran is concerned, which would be the main threat, the way I see it, the reason I give such urgency to the question is because the president is in real trouble. His numbers are very low. There are these midterm elections coming up in November and the stakes are really high. Because if the Democrats take the House, my view is that John Conyers wouldn't wait two weeks before initiating impeachment proceedings against the president for due cause. What would that mean? That wouldn't necessarily mean conviction, because who knows what would happen in the Senate, but it would mean the president would be bogged down for his last two years in defending himself for crimes committed. Demonstrable crimes. Witness only the violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Deliberate violation. Admitted violation, where the president brags about having authorized violation 29 times.

Why do I cite that among other indignities? That happens to be one of the indictment counts that the House Judiciary Committee passed to impeach President Nixon in 1974. So it's an impeachable offense, demonstrably by precedent.

All I'm saying is that the president has to look with great concern at a takeover of the House by the Democrats. Not only will he be under the gun, but every committee will be looking into crimes and misdemeanors by other departments and other agencies. And the next two years would be completely wasted in terms of his achieving more of the neo-con agenda.

Not only that, there is personal liability here. Take torture for example. When the president decided he'd like the CIA to start torturing folks who were captured in Afghanistan, they came back to him and said, "We have 12-13 people who are willing to do this, they are all special-ops guys from Vietnam and know how to do this. But Mr. President, we have this little paper we'd like you to sign."

It was then and only then that the president called in Alberto Gonzales, his White House Counsel and said, "Hey, can I authorize this torture of Taliban and al-Qaeda?" Gonzales goes to the vice president's lawyer, David Addington, who then drafts this memo that Gonzales signs. This is the one, dated January 25th, that says Geneva is quaint and obsolete and according to Gonzales, "you don't really have to worry about international law like that. However, Mr. President, there is unfortunately US Law, 18 US Code 2441, called the War Crimes Act, and it has very, very stringent penalties, including death, and it's all tied explicitly to the provisions of the Geneva Convention. So that's a little sticky, but we believe there is a reasonable basis in law where you can escape prosecution if at some later date some mean-spirited special prosecutor is appointed and decides to move against you juridically."

Now, there wasn't and there still isn't a respectable lawyer in this country who says that was a good opinion. But George W. Bush acted on that opinion, and two weeks later, on February 7, 2002, he wrote a memorandum that parroted this business and said in the final bottom line, "As a matter of policy, the US Armed Forces shall continue to treat detainees humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva."

Now my friends, that is the loophole through which Don Rumsfeld drove the Mack Truck of torture. "To the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity." Who decides that? Don Rumsfeld and his folks. So what I'm saying is these people are criminally culpable, in my view, criminally liable under US Code, criminal statute for war crimes. This is something that has to worry them, and it's precisely why they are trying to change the law. They are trying to change the US War Crimes Act of 1996 to permit the kinds of things that they've already done. I've never seen the likes of it.

How does this all play out?

If I were they, I would be very receptive to a Karl Rove and a Dick Cheney who would come up and say, "Mr. President, we have to do something to prevent this. And the best thing we can think of is: you did pretty well as a war president. You like that role. So we think if we take off after Iran, because of course it is threatening Israel, and juice that as the justification and the fact that they are still trying to get a nuclear weapon - we can make people think that. Then you'll be a war president again. It's risky, these damned armed-forces guys are a bunch of cowards and warn that all hell could break loose, but look at the downside here. Let's say the Democrats take the House. We are in very deep kimshei. So this is what we advise. We advise using these smart bombs, and the Air Force guys say they can do it, even though the Army and Marines are being a bunch of wimps about this, they are afraid of having to go in and clean up after the Air Force. But the Air Force guys say they know where most of the targets are and the Israelis could start it. We could finish it up. The domestic ramifications would be OK because of the control of the media and the Israeli lobby and there's a good chance that if you could become that kind of war president, maybe it would be accompanied by a minor terrorist incident - which we could certainly arrange - you have a decent chance of hanging onto the House."

Is that Machiavellian? Is that un-American? Is that beyond the pale? Yeah, it is! But I would not put that past this crew. Watching Cheney, watching the lawyers they got out of the yellow pages to justify torture and stuff like that, I would not put it past them. I would say that the sycophants that have risen to the rank of general, I'm talking about the armed forces now and especially the Air Force, that they would probably tell Cheney and Rumsfeld what they thought they wanted to hear, "Yeah, we could do the job." And we'd have Vietnam all over again when the Air Force told MacNamara, "Yeah, we'll bomb the hell out of them and they'll come to their senses."

So that's what worries me. And you ask about the timing - I think the timing is just as likely to happen in the next couple of months before the election, that there is this additional incentive to do it before the election. And I must say that not all of my colleagues agree, and I dare say most people think it won't happen until early next year, but that's how I come at it and that's the rationale that I use.

Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist who has reported for the Guardian, the Independent, and the Sunday Herald. He now writes regularly for Inter Press Service and Truthout. He maintains a web site at

U.S. Losing Control of Iraq Fast

*RAMADI, Sep 5 (IPS) - The U.S. military has lost control over the
volatile al-Anbar province, Iraqi police and residents say.*

The area to the west of Baghdad includes Fallujah, Ramadi and other
towns that have seen the worst of military occupation, and the strongest

Despite massive military operations which destroyed most of Fallujah and
much of cities like Haditha and al-Qa'im in Ramadi, real control of the
city now seems to be in the hands of local resistance.

In losing control of this province, the U.S. would have lost control
over much of Iraq.

"We are talking about nearly a third of the area of Iraq," Ahmed Salman,
a historian from Fallujah told IPS. "Al-Anbar borders Jordan, Syria and
Saudi Arabia, and the resistance there will never stop as long as there
are American soldiers on the ground."

Salman said the U.S. military is working against itself. "Their actions
ruin their goal because they use these huge, violent military operations
which kill so many civilians, and make it impossible to calm down the
people of al-Anbar."

The resistance seems in control of the province now. "No government
official can do anything without contacting the resistance first," Abu
Ghalib, a government official in Ramadi told IPS.

"Even the governor used to take their approval for everything. When he
stopped doing so, they issued a death sentence against him, and now he
cannot move without American protection."

Recent weeks have brought countless attacks on U.S. troops in Haditha,
Ramadi, Fallujah and on the Baghdad-Amman highway. Several armoured
vehicles have been destroyed, and dozens of U.S. soldiers killed in the
al-Anbar province, according to both Iraqi witnesses and the U.S.
Department of Defence.

Long stretches of the 550km Baghdad-Amman highway which crosses al-Anbar
are now controlled by resistance groups. Other parts are targeted by
highway looters.

"If we import any supplies for the U.S. Army or Iraqi government, the
fighters will take it from us and sell it in the local market," trader
Hayder al-Mussawi said. "And if we import for the local market, the
robbers will take it."

Eyewitnesses in Ramadi say many of the attacks are taking place within
their city. They say that the U.S. military recently asked citizens in
al-Anbar to stop targeting them, and promised to withdraw to their bases
in Haditha and Habaniyah (near Fallujah) soon, leaving the cities for
Iraqi security forces to patrol.

"I do not think that is possible," retired Iraqi police
Brigadier-General Kahtan al-Dulaimi from Ramadi told IPS. "I believe no
local unit could stand the severe resistance of al-Anbar, and it will be
the last province to be handed over to Iraqi security forces."

According to the group Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, 964 coalition
soldiers have been killed in al-Anbar, more than in any other Iraqi
province.. Baghdad is second, with 665 coalition deaths.

Residents of Ramadi told IPS that the U.S. military has knocked down
several buildings near the government centre in the city, the capital of
the province.

In an apparent move to secure their offices, U.S. Army and Marine
engineers have started to level a half-kilometre stretch of low-rise
buildings opposite the centre. Abandoned buildings in this area have
been used repeatedly to launch attacks on the government complex.

"They are trying to create a separation area between the offices of the
puppet government and the buildings the resistance are using to attack
them," a Ramadi resident said. "But now the Americans are making us all
angry because they are destroying our city."

U.S. troops have acknowledged their own difficulties in doing this.
"We're used to taking down walls, doors and windows, but eight city
blocks is something new to us," Marine 1st Lt. Ben Klay, 24, said in the
U.S. Department of Defence newspaper Stars and Stripes.

In nearby Fallujah, residents are reporting daily clashes between
Iraqi-U.S. security forces and the resistance.

"The local police force which used to be out of the conflict are now
being attacked," said a resident who gave his name as Abu Mohammed.
"Hundreds of local policemen have quit the force after seeing that they
are considered a legitimate target by fighters.."

The U.S. forces seem to have no clear policy in the face of the
sustained resistance.

"The U.S. Army seems so confused in handling the security situation in
Anbar," said historian Salman. "Attacks are conducted from al-Qa'im on
the Syrian border to Abu Ghraib west of Baghdad, all the way through
Haditha, Hit, Ramadi and Fallujah on a daily basis."

He added: "A contributing factor to the instability of the province is
the endless misery of the civilians who live with no services, no
infrastructure, random shootings and so many wrongful detentions."

According to the new Pentagon quarterly report on Measuring Security and
Stability in Iraq, Iraqi casualties rose 51 percent in recent months.
The report says Sunni-based insurgency is "potent and viable."

The report says that in a period since the establishment of the new
Iraqi government, between May 20 and Aug. 11 this year, the average
number of weekly attacks rose to nearly 800, almost double the number of
the attacks in early 2004.

Casualties among Iraqi civilians and security forces averaged nearly 120
a day during the period, up from 80 a day reported in the previous
quarterly report. Two years ago they were averaging roughly 30 a day.

On Aug. 31 the Pentagon announced that it is increasing the number of
U.S. troops in Iraq to 140,000, which is 13,000 more than the number
five weeks ago.

At least 65 U.S. soldiers were killed in August, with 36 of the deaths
reported in al-Anbar. That brought the total number killed to at least

Cuba antes de Fidel por Emir Sader

Cuba antes de Fidel

Emir Sader

Em 1989, acreditando que o efeito dominó chegaria ao Caribe, toda a imprensa internacional – inclusive a equipe da TV Globo – foram a Havana, se instalaram no Habana Libre – crendo que voltaria a se chamar Habana Hilton -, para esperar, em frente ao Malecón, que caísse o regime socialista. Afinal Cuba só existia e sobrevivia, em meio a uma miséria que a imprensa ocidental caracterizava como infernal, com uma ditadura que faria da Ilha um “gulag tropical”, devido à ajuda soviética. Quando a URSS, o chamado “campo socialista” e a economia internacional planejada de que fazia parte Cuba, desapareciam do dia para a noite, como efeito de carambola, o socialismo tropical daria lugar ao retorno dos exilados de Miami e tudo voltaria a ser como nos tempos de Batista.

Naqueles tempos, Cuba era o “pátio traseiro” dos EUA, o itinerário preferido das férias dos estadunidenses, de locação dos filmes melosos de Hollywood, dos cassinos onde os gângsteres do norte estabeleciam suas ramificações mais sujas. A ponto de que, no final da segunda guerra, depois que a máfia italiana ajudou os “defensores da democracia ocidental” a desembarcarem na Sicília para derrotar o regime fascista de Mussolini, os capos realizaram uma espécie de congresso internacional no Hotel Nacional, em Havana, para reorganizar seu lucrativo comércio em escala internacional, redividindo os novos mercados e acertando suas diferenças. Al Capone, doente, não pôde comparecer, mas todos os outros estavam ali. Chamaram um jovem e promissor cantor branco estadunidense, chamado Frank Sinatra, para que cantasse para eles. Durante o congresso houve uma greve dos funcionários do hotel, por atraso no pagamento dos funcionários. Os mafiosos quitaram todos os salários atrasados e a paz social voltou a reinar no hotel, que foi visitado pelo então presidente de Cuba, para congratular-se com aquele evento internacional de prestigiosos empresários ligados ao grande vizinho do norte.

O primeiro vôo internacional da Pan American (se lembram dela?) foi para Havana. Os novos modelos de automóveis estadunidenses eram primeiro testados no “pátio traseiro”. Os marinheiros dos EUA se comportavam em Havana como se o país inteiro fosse um “prostíbulo” – conforme as belíssimas descrições dos poemas de Nicolas Guillén. Um vasto plano de construção de uma rede de hotéis, conectados diretamente com cassinos e prostituição, estava pronto para ser colocado em prática, com recursos que incluíam participação de gente como Richard Nixon, o próprio Sinatra, entre outros.

“Y en eso llegó Fidel/Se acabó la diverson/Llegó el comandante y mandó a parar” – como passaram a cantar os cubanos por lá. Não poderia deixar de ser, a partir dali, a vítima preferida do ódio dos yankees. Ainda mais quando, acreditando nas suas lendas, pensaram que poderiam derrubar o novo regime, com a invasão de Baía dos Porcos, que contaria – segundo a imprensa “livre” do norte – com a vontade de sublevação, para se tornarem de novo “livres”, do povo cubano. A aventura agressiva durou 72 horas, o povo se levantou, sob a direção de Fidel, mas contra os invasores, Cuba se declarou socialista, os presos estadunidenses foram humilhantemente trocados com o governo de John Kennedy por remédios e compotas para crianças.

Em “Little Havana”, do outro lado do oceano, se refugiaram os burgueses e contra-revolucionários derrotados, a curtir suas amarguras, a votar pelos republicanos, a sonhar com um passado que não volta mais, a acordar com pesadelos de que o socialismo cubano veio para ficar. Dez presidentes dos EUA disseram, sucessivamente que iam derrubar o regime cubano, todos se foram embora derrotados, sem pena nem glória.

Cuba socialista e Fidel sobreviveram a tudo e a todos. Centenas de atentados foram realizados, mas aí também fracassou o império. Até o fim do campo socialista foi superado por Cuba. Os recentes acordos estratégicos com a Venezuela e a Bolívia, no marco da Alba, os acordos com a China, a descoberta do petróleo em Cuba, fazem com que o regime se consolide ainda mais, supere as dificuldades do chamado “período especial”, desde o fim da URSS e retome os avanços para a construção do socialismo.

Assim era Cuba antes de Fidel. E assim ficou com Fidel: o único país do mundo em que não há ninguém abandonado, sem proteção social, dormindo nas ruas. O primeiro pais do mundo a terminar com o analfabetismo. O único país do mundo que pode se orgulhar de ter um mínimo de 9 anos de escolaridade para toda sua população. O único que tem um sistema de saúde universal, que atende gratuitamente a toda sua população, com a melhor saúde pública do mundo. O país que desafiou o império a pouco mais de 100 quilômetros da maior potencia bélica da histórica da humanidade, afirmou sua soberania e sua vontade de construir uma sociedade justa e solidária – uma sociedade anti-capitalista, uma sociedade socialista.

Emir Sader, professor da Universidade de São Paulo (USP) e da Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (Uerj), é coordenador do Laboratório de Políticas Públicas da Uerj e autor, entre outros, de “A vingança da História”

Venezuelan presidential elections: vote for Chavez, carry the revolution out to the end

Venezuelan presidential elections: vote for Chavez, carry the revolution out to the end

By the International Marxist Tendency
Tuesday, 05 September 2006

Statement of the International Marxist Tendency

The December presidential elections are an important turning point in the development of the Venezuelan Revolution. They reflect the struggle between the Venezuelan workers and peasants and the oligarchy and imperialism. Our attitude towards these elections is therefore a key question.

Marxism has nothing in common with anarchism. We have never denied the importance of the electoral struggle as part of the class struggle. For the masses the question is very clear: a vote for Chavez is a vote for the revolution. On the other hand, the oligarchy and imperialism are doing everything in their power to bring about the defeat of Chavez. At bottom this is a class question and we must take our place side by side with the revolutionary workers and peasants fighting against imperialism and the oligarchy.

The counterrevolutionary forces have already started a campaign to discredit the elections. They will use all the means at their disposal to undermine them: bribery, corruption, slander and lies and all kinds of sabotage. They will have at their disposal considerable resources: the wealth of the oligarchy, the technology of the CIA, the backing of the US embassy, the yellow press and the rest of the prostituted media.

On the other side we have the revolutionary spirit, courage and dedication of millions of Venezuelan workers, peasants and urban poor, the revolutionary youth, the revolutionary sections of the army and the progressive artists and intelligentsia - in short, all the live forces of Venezuelan society, backed by the exploited masses of Latin America and the working class of the entire world.

The workers and peasants are fighting to transform society. Great advances have been made, but the final goal has not been reached. The power of the oligarchy has not yet been broken. As long as this is the case, the revolution cannot be irreversible and will be constantly under threat.

Elections and the class struggle

The electoral struggle is part of the class struggle. Although the decisive issues are always settled in the last analysis outside parliament - in the factories, on the streets, on the land and in the barracks - the electoral struggle is a means whereby the revolutionary forces can be mobilised and measure their strength against the counterrevolution.

The electoral struggle played a most important role in mobilizing the Venezuelan workers and peasants after the massacre of the Caracazo. Every victory on the electoral front (including the recall referendum of August 2004) has objectively strengthened the revolutionary tendency and weakened the counterrevolutionary tendency. It has helped to defeat and demoralize the forces of reaction and to create the most favourable conditions for carrying out the socialist revolution.

In the Russian Revolution of 1917, the existence of the soviets - revolutionary organs of workers' power - meant that the parliamentary element played a secondary role. When the Constituent Assembly was finally convened (after the working class had taken power through the soviets) it had already exhausted any progressive historical potential it might have had and was soon dispersed by the soviets led by the Bolsheviks.

However, it was by no means excluded that the Russian Revolution could pass through a phase of parliamentarism, as did the Great French Revolution of 1789-93. The Venezuelan Revolution has followed a path that is more similar to that of the French Revolution than that of the Russian Revolution. The elements of workers' power exist - in the occupied factories and the movement towards workers' control - but so far they exist only in an embryonic state. This means that the electoral front will continue to occupy a central position.

The revolutionary Marxists wholeheartedly support the re-election of Chavez, but at the same time we are fighting to carry the revolution out to the end. A decisive victory in the December elections must be followed by decisive measures to disarm the counterrevolution and expropriate the oligarchy. Only in this way can the revolution be made irreversible.

The electoral struggle, although important, cannot resolve the central question of power. It can create favourable conditions to carry out the revolution. But in the final analysis, the struggle for power will not be resolved by speeches and resolutions in parliament. The oligarchy will never surrender its power and privileges without a ferocious struggle. To shut one's eyes to this fact would be the greatest irresponsibility and a crime against the revolution.

The bourgeoisie and "legality"

We are told that we must uphold the rule of law. But what is the attitude of the oligarchy to legality? The landlords and capitalists speak constantly about "democracy" but in reality they only support "democracy" as long as it represents their class interests. But when elections return a government that does not represent the interests of the rich and powerful, when it tries to uphold the interests of the poor and exploited, then the oligarchy turns against democracy and resorts to extraparliamentary activity - sabotage, assassinations, and coup d'etats.

In 2002 these "democrats" organised a coup against the democratically elected government. Only the revolutionary movement of the masses saved the revolution. A few months later they organised the bosses' lockout and sabotage of the oil company PDVSA, which brought the economy to its knees. Again, only the working class saved the situation by threatening to occupy the factories and running the oil industry under workers' control.

The recall referendum was yet another attempt to destabilise the country and use the Bolivarian Constitution to overthrow the government. Of course, the first thing they would have done if they had succeeded would have been to abolish the right of recall along with the rest of the Bolivarian Constitution. Once again, it was the unerring revolutionary instinct of the masses that saved the situation.

Finally, in December 2005, the opposition boycotted the Legislative Elections, realising that they would have obtained a ridiculous result. By this action, they effectively declared war on democracy. They threw down a gauntlet to the people of Venezuela. They said: no matter how you vote, no matter who is elected, we intend to hold onto our power and privileges and we will fight to the death to defend them.

Thus, at every decisive stage of the revolution, the oligarchy has shown its complete contempt for all democratic, parliamentary and legal norms. They have consistently resorted to extraparliamentary methods to overthrow the government elected by the people. This is a fact that cannot be denied. We must draw the necessary conclusions. In order to advance the revolution must defend itself against the illegal and extraparliamentary agitation and aggression of the counterrevolutionary oligarchy. There is only one way to do this: the oligarchy must be defeated, disarmed and expropriated. That is to say, the struggle to win the Second Battle of Santa Ines must be linked clearly and firmly to the struggle for socialism.

The Bolivarian Revolution has taken giant strides forward, but it has yet to solve the fundamental problems. The main challenges facing the revolution are:

  • the question of the economy,
  • the question of the state,
  • the lack of an organised expression of the revolutionary movement,
  • the arming of the people.

The economy

After a decisive victory in the Presidential elections the Bolivarian Movement will enjoy a commanding position in the National Assembly and every other level of government. There will therefore be no excuse for not taking decisive measures against the oligarchy, which still owns and controls key points in the national economy. Unless this is rectified, there can be no talk of socialism or revolution and the Bolivarian Republic will always be in danger. The oligarchy will always use its control of banking and finance (80% in the hands of Spanish multinationals), food distribution (in the hands of two monopoly groups), telecommunications (in the hands of three or four multinational groups), the media (controlled by four powerful monopolies), private manufacturing, etc, to sabotage the economy. Despite initial measures of land reform the overwhelming majority of fertile land remains in the hands of a handful of landowners.

The National Assembly must introduce an enabling act to expropriate the land, the banks and finance houses and all major industries under workers' control and management. This is the prior condition for the introduction of a democratic socialist plan of production. All the wealth of Venezuela, in the first place its vast unused human resources, can be mobilized and put to work to build the houses, schools and hospitals that are needed. This is the only way to place the revolution on a firm basis and make it irreversible. All other proposals amount to mere reformist tinkering that will solve nothing and end in a crisis.

A real socialist planned economy has nothing in common with the bureaucratic totalitarian state that existed in Stalinist Russia. It is based on the democratic participation and control of the economy at all levels by the working people themselves, including the scientists, engineers, agronomists, planners, architects and economists. Freed from the dictatorship of private profit, the economy will expand at an unprecedented rate. Unemployment would disappear overnight and the basis would be laid for a general increase in living standards.

As the economy expands and the conditions of the masses improve, it will be possible to bring about a general reduction in working hours without prejudicing productivity. Under capitalism the introduction of new machinery and technology does not lead to a reduction of the working day, but on the contrary, to a continual expansion of the hours of work and a constant increase in the burden of labour. In a socialist planned economy, the generalised application of new technology will lead to a reduction in working hours, which is the prior condition for the participation of the masses in the running of industry and the state and in art, science and culture. This, and no other, is the real material basis upon which socialism of the 21st century will be built.

The state

After nine years of Bolivarian government, the state apparatus remains in a lamentable state. A genuine revolution cannot simply take over the existing state and use it for revolutionary purposes. The old state of the IV Republic was a state designed to defend the status quo and the interests of the exploiters, a capitalist state. It was based on corruption and violence against the people, a vast bureaucratic monster serving the interests of the rich and powerful.

That was the state the Bolivarian Revolution took over. What has changed? Some of the worst elements have been purged and there are some honest Bolivarian ministers and officials who are trying to carry out the wishes of the people. But in every ministry there are many people who wear a red shirt but who are enemies of the revolution and work against it. Corruption and abuse is widespread and the influence of counterrevolutionary elements is a constant threat to the revolution.

In order to succeed, the revolution cannot base itself on such a state, but must create a new state in its own image: a workers' state on the lines of the Paris Commune or the democratic workers' republic established by the Bolsheviks in Russia before it was destroyed by Stalin and the bureaucracy. Such a state would be under the democratic control of the workers, with salaries strictly limited to no more than the wage of a skilled worker.

All officials would be elected and subject to instant recall if they did not carry out the wishes of the people. Only in this way can the cancer of bureaucracy be extirpated from the body of the revolution and the conditions be established for the participation of the whole people in the administration of industry, society and the state, without which socialism would be just an empty word.

The need for an organised expression of the revolutionary movement

Without organisation the revolution cannot succeed. The masses hold tremendous power in their hands, but this power must be organised and directed to a central aim. Without this, it will remain a mere potential with no actual content. It will be dissipated in the air like steam, which becomes a power only when concentrated in a piston-box.

In Venezuela today, millions of working people are organised in tens of thousands of organisations, land committees, Bolivarian Circles, revolutionary assemblies, class struggle trade unions, water commissions, health care organisations, misiones, etc. But these are atomised and isolated. There is no national body in which they are represented and through which the experience of the masses in struggle can be shared and generalised. The Bolivarian political parties represented in parliament are widely regarded as purely electoral machines, unaccountable to the revolutionary people, and full of careerist and reformist elements.

The coming elections provide us with a great opportunity to perfect the revolutionary organisations of the masses. Electoral Battle Units for Socialism should be set up in every factory, barracks, school and neighbourhood, and linked at local, regional and national level through elected and recallable delegates. In such a National Revolutionary Assembly all the different tendencies and ideas that exist within the Bolivarian movement would be able to express themselves and put their proposals to the democratic decision of the organised revolutionary movement.

At every level it is necessary to promote the establishment of democratic revolutionary organisations that unite the workers, peasants, women, youth and revolutionary soldiers. These revolutionary mass organisations (the equivalent of the soviets in revolutionary Russia) will begin by organising the revolutionary struggle, but will inevitably end by taking power into their own hands. They are the embryo of the new society that is being formed within the womb of the old.

The establishment of such organisations is a key question for the revolution, and is essential for its success. They must be linked up on a local, regional and finally, national level. This is the most urgent task facing us.

Above all, it is necessary to press for the establishment of genuine proletarian organisations. The UNT must be united and strengthened as the basic organisation of the class and the cutting edge of the revolution. Too much time has been already wasted in internal squabbling. The UNT must start to act as a genuinely revolutionary union, not a talking-shop. Taking up the proposal of President Chavez, it must immediately draw up a plan of every abandoned or badly run enterprise and take it over under workers' control.

In addition to the UNT, there is the movement of occupied factories (Freteco). This is playing a key role in uniting and mobilizing the workers in the occupied factories. This is the cutting edge of the revolutionary movement and should be developed and extended to every region of the country.

Arm the people!

The imperialists are watching developments in Venezuela closely. They understand that a victory for Chavez in the Presidential elections poses a threat to them, not just in Venezuela but also in all Latin America.

Washington will try by every means to secure the overthrow of President Chavez, including assassination. It is true that at the moment they are trapped in a quagmire in Iraq and that this makes a direct military intervention by the USA extremely difficult. But it is not excluded that, in desperation, they might stage some kind of intervention, probably using the services of mercenaries or fascists from Colombia. The threat is very real and we must be prepared.

This is particularly the case in the countryside, where the land owners are already setting up paramilitary groups to defend their properties against agrarian reform. More than a hundred peasant activists have been killed already in disputes over land reform. This one-sided civil war in the countryside must be combated with the setting up of armed democratic self-defence committees under the control of the peasant organisations.

A people that is not prepared to defend itself with arms in hand deserves to be slaves. President Chavez has stated on many occasions that the people of Venezuela do not want war but will fight to defend their revolution against any foreign aggressor. The setting up of the reserve and the territorial guards is an attempt to arm the revolution against the threat of foreign intervention. Marxists welcome this step and will support all efforts designed to defend the revolution.

The UNT should participate in this effort by setting up workers' defence units in every workplace organised by the mass workers' assemblies and accountable to them. Every worker, peasant and student must learn how to use arms. The whole history of the revolution proves that the masses are the only consistent defenders of the revolution. Special schools should be set up to train military cadres from the ranks of the workers and peasants. There are plenty of revolutionary officers in the army who can educate and train the workers in military skills.

The reformists argue that such things will only provoke the imperialists and increase the danger of invasion. On the contrary! The more workers who learn how to use weapons, the broader layers of the population that are drawn into the task of military training, the greater the deterrent for imperialist aggressors and the greater the chance of a peaceful outcome. Let our slogan be that of the Roman Republic: "Si pacem vis, para bellum" - if you want peace, prepare for war.

For an internationalist policy!

A revolution that speaks in the name of Simon Bolivar must fight to carry out Bolivar's programme - the revolutionary unification of Latin America. But under modern conditions this can only be realised through a Socialist Federation of Latin America. An appeal should be made to the peoples of Latin America and the world to follow Venezuela's revolutionary road.

There are those who say that the revolution has gone far enough, that it is time to call a halt. That is not the spirit that motivated Simon Bolivar and his followers! They were not afraid to challenge the greatest powers on earth, even though they started with a tiny handful.

It is not enough to proclaim the revolution: the revolution must pass from words to deeds; otherwise, it will lead to scepticism and apathy, creating the conditions for counterrevolution. The revolution cannot stand still, or it will be defeated. It must march boldly forward, conquering one position after another.

It is not enough just to talk about socialism, while the land and banks remain in the hands of the landlords and capitalists. It is necessary to finish what has been started. A revolutionary leadership that is not prepared to go to the end is doomed to play a fatal role. In that case, it would have been better not to have started the revolution in the first place.

In the final analysis, the future of the Bolivarian Revolution will be determined by the degree to which it spreads to the rest of Latin America and beyond. That idea was understood by Che Guevara, when he said that the Cuban Revolution could only be saved by creating "one, two, three, many Vietnams".

US imperialism is a powerful enemy. It has colossal reserves. But the Venezuelan Revolution has even bigger potential reserves - the support of millions of oppressed and exploited workers and peasants in Latin America who see the Bolivarian Revolution as a ray of hope in the darkness. To the degree that the revolution takes bold steps forward, striking blows against its enemies and forcing the counterrevolutionary oligarchy and imperialism onto the defensive, the confidence and militancy of the masses will grow everywhere.

Already the revolutionary movement is spreading to other countries, as we see in the election of Evo Morales in Bolivia and the extraordinary movement against electoral fraud in Mexico. Peru and Ecuador are not far behind. What is needed is a bold lead, a decisive step to eradicate landlordism and capitalism in Venezuela once and for all. Once that step is taken, the revolutionary flame will spread like a forest fire to one country after another.

If the Bolivarian revolution is to succeed, it must spread to other countries, starting with a Socialist Federation of Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. Its message will soon spread to other countries, including the USA, where discontent is growing by the hour.

Against opportunism!
Against sectarianism!

On the eve of the Second Battle of Santa Ines, the Revolution stands at the crossroads. The masses, and particularly the vanguard, are beginning to tire of talk and speeches. Lenin once warned that talk and rhetoric has destroyed more than one revolution. It is time to translate the speeches into action! Only by carrying out a revolution within the revolution can the danger of counterrevolution be averted. But this is only possible on the basis of a Marxist policy.

Marx and Engels long ago pointed out that the Communists do not form a party separate and opposed to other working class parties. The Marxists are the most advanced part of the workers' movement. All revolutionary Marxists must strive to unite the masses around the programme of the socialist revolution, expressed as a series of transitional demands, from the smallest economic, social or democratic demand to the conquest of power. We must strive to build links to the mass of the workers, peasants and revolutionary youth who today are to be found in the ranks of the Bolivarian Movement.

Our first task is to unite the proletarian vanguard - the most advanced elements of the workers and youth - around the transitional programme of the socialist revolution. But we must not separate ourselves from the mass of revolutionary Bolivarians who wish to fight the twin dangers of counterrevolution and imperialism. The comrades of the Revolutionary Marxist Current (CMR) have started this work and must be fully supported by Marxists all over the world.

Those sectarians who dedicate all their time to attacking Chavez and splitting the revolutionary movement only discredit the name of Marxism in the eyes of the masses. Marx and Engels, the founders of scientific socialism, explained long ago in the Communist Manifesto that the place where Communists must work is inside the mass movement, not outside it. Let us speak clearly: outside the Bolivarian Movement (that is to say, outside the movement of the masses in Venezuela) there is nothing.

The imperialists and counterrevolutionaries understand the importance of the Bolivarian Movement and are trying to undermine it from within, using corruption to create a Fifth Column in the leadership of the Movement. The struggle against the counterrevolution is therefore impossible without a resolute struggle against opportunist wing of the Movement and the pro-bourgeois elements in the leadership.

The only way to defeat the counterrevolution and lead the masses towards the socialist transformation of society is to conduct a determined struggle against the right wing of the Bolivarian Movement, to drive out the opportunists, careerists and bureaucrats and to transform the movement into a revolutionary instrument capable of actually leading the masses.

The best leaders of the Movement are those who come from the masses and have no interest except to defend the interests of the masses, not professional politicians and bureaucrats. We demand that the salaries of the leaders should be limited to no more than those of a skilled worker. All expenses must be open to inspection by the rank and file, and all leaders must be elected by the rank and file and subject to recall.

In order to wage a serious struggle against opportunism and bureaucracy the proletarian vanguard must be organised. This is the most urgent task of the Venezuelan Marxists, who must fight side by side with the rest of the mass movement, dealing blows against the class enemy, while simultaneously explaining to the most advanced workers and peasants the meaning of events and patiently explaining the programme of revolutionary socialism in language that is accessible to the masses. That is the task that the CMR, the Venezuelan section of the International Marxist Tendency has before it.

The destiny of the Venezuelan Revolution is organically tied to the perspectives of the Marxist tendency. The Marxists will stand or fall according to their ability to penetrate the Bolivarian Movement and win it to the programme of revolutionary socialism. And the Bolivarian Movement will stand or fall according to its ability to transcend the limits of the bourgeois democratic revolution, expropriate the oligarchy and carry out the socialist revolution, not in words but in deeds.

[This statement was passed at the World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency in Barcelona, in August 2006]