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Year 2001 No. 195, November 14, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

Strengthening the "Coalition’s" Foothold in Central Asia

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Strengthening the "Coalition’s" Foothold in Central Asia

Flouting the Norms of International Conduct under the Guise of "Defeating Terrorism"

Involvement of the World Bank

Threats of Globalisation to School and Higher Education

For Your Information:
Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill

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Strengthening the "Coalition’s" Foothold in Central Asia

With the government of the Taleban having retreated from Kabul, the "Coalition’s" attention is focusing in earnest on strengthening their foothold in Afghanistan, and hence in Central Asia as a whole. This is the case not least because the military advance, backed and orchestrated by British and US forces, among others, and made possible by the high-powered bombing of the Taleban, has leap-frogged over the state of the "Coalition’s" plans for the new so-called "broad-based" and "multi-ethnic" government of Afghanistan.

Speaking at Downing Street on Tuesday, Tony Blair, on behalf of "we the coalition" said that the commitments given would be honoured "both on the humanitarian side and in terms of rebuilding Afghanistan". We, he said, "are with you for the long term". "This time we will not walk away from you."

The dream of Anglo-US imperialism as the Soviet Union and the Eastern European bloc were collapsing in 1990 of controlling Europe in order to form a springboard into Asia and attain global domination is one step nearer to being played out. The opening shots were fired in the Gulf War. The Middle East has been kept simmering with Israel as the US's gendarme in the region, and with Britain also as an honest broker. Albania in the Balkans was swept aside heralding the murky intervention of the US, Britain and the European powers in the whole Balkan region, which has caused so much slaughter, culminating in the bombing and dismembering of Yugoslavia under the pretext of protecting the Albanian Kosovars. Meanwhile, the new scramble for Africa is still being played out, with the G8 countries preparing to put in place a plan for the whole of Africa. In East Asia, US imperialism, in conjunction with Japanese militarism, has continued its blockade against North Korea and maintained the long-term injustice of the division of the Korean peninsula. The US has put together its Free Trade Area of the Americas, which excludes Cuba, in its economic, political and strategic interests. This whole scenario has also been coupled with the scenario of "globalisation", the unfettered access to markets and control of human and material resources, by the international financial oligarchy. The crusade against "Islamic fundamentalism" has become the new Cold War slogan, along with the elimination of the "evil of terrorism".

This very serious and highly dangerous situation has not come about without growing opposition from the world’s people, including the poor and developing nations who are not reconciled to being marginalised from control of their own and the world’s affairs. At the same time, the contradictions among the big powers themselves, though at times thinly covered over in the "coalition against terrorism", have intensified as the crisis has deepened. China, for one, has continued to insist on a multi-polar world, and the countries of South Asia have been flexing their muscles.

Thus the danger of a war of global proportions continues to loom, at the same time as the imposition of Anglo-American values in the interests of big capital, and the attack on fundamental freedoms is being stepped up domestically. But the initiative of the people to put in place new arrangements which favour their interests and to oppose the criminalisation of all dissent is also beginning to regroup.

Tony Blair and the "Coalition" powers have in mind entrenching their foothold through tried and tested methods of setting sections of the people against each other’s throats, albeit carried out under the signboard of bringing peace and tolerance. They have toppled the old order in Afghanistan, but are not prepared to allow the Afghan people to bring forth their own values and identity. In Tony Blair’s words, the "Coalition" is with the Afghan people for the long term.

The people’s forces must ensure that the momentum gained in opposition to the war against Afghanistan and the bombing of the Afghan people must be carried forward to opposing the big power dictate globally and to taking decisive steps towards bringing about the empowerment of the working class and people themselves.

Article Index



Flouting the Norms of International Conduct under the Guise of "Defeating Terrorism"

On November 11, the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, delivered a speech to the UN General Assembly entitled "The Task of Defeating International Terrorism".

It is perhaps not surprising that Jack Straw did not concern himself with a definition of what might be meant by the phrase "international terrorism", something that is currently being demanded by many of the member states of the UN. Instead he referred to the events of September 11 and the history of the United Nations itself to present the view that what he called the "military coalition", essentially the US and Britain, is now taking action that is unavoidable. This was, according to the Foreign Secretary, in the best traditions of the UN and in particular based on the principles enshrined in the UN Charter.

The principles enshrined in the UN Charter, which was signed n 1945 at the end of the Second World War, were based on the experience of the member states in the first half of the twentieth century, and were designed to avoid war and the use of state violence and terror and to promote international peace and security. The UN Charter established that international peace and security should be based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states; respect for the territorial integrity of states; peaceful co-existence of different social systems and the recognition of the equality of all states; the need to solve disputes by peaceful means; the rights of peoples and nations to self-determination; and a recognition that the nations of the world should work for the social and economic advancement of all.

But the fact is that the governments of Britain and the US organised their "military coalition" for the bombing of Afghanistan without any mandate from the UN, just as they assembled a similar force for the bombing of Yugoslavia. Rather than defending the principles on which the UN and other international institutions were founded after the Second World War, Britain, the US and the other big powers continually flout them, while they manipulate the Security Council and wield their power of veto for their own interests.

Jack Straw now states that "Afghanistan must be put in the hands of the Afghan people" and claims that the UN will rebuild Afghanistan and no longer will the country be exploited by outside powers. But it is clear that the UN has not been able to prevent such exploitation in the past nor at the present time when Britain, the US, Russia and others are opening interfering in its affairs, sometimes under the auspices of the UN itself and openly flouting the principles of the UN Charter by dictating the nature of Afghanistan’s future government, economy and political system based on their own Eurocentric views and neo-liberal values.

According to Jack Straw there is now a "strategic opportunity" not just to solve the problems of Afghanistan but to solve all the ills of the world, including poverty and instability in Africa and conflict in the Middle East. But he presents no explanation for such ills, which are themselves a consequence of the continual interference of the big powers, their flouting of the international norms established in 1945 and their domination of the international machinery.

Under the guise of defeating international terrorism, dealing with the consequences of "failed states", and other justifications, Britain, the US and the other big powers are preparing for further armed intervention throughout the world. They are cynically using the UN for their own purposes while flouting the very international norms on which it was established.

Article Index



Involvement of the World Bank

Tony Blair met the head of the World Bank, Jim Wolfenson, on Tuesday afternoon. Asked why the Prime Minister was meeting Mr Wolfenson, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said that it was a pre-planned meeting and did not signify any emergency. He said that it was clear that the issue of Afghanistan's reconstruction would require a lot of aid and assistance and the World Bank would no doubt have a part to play in this.

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Threats of Globalisation to School and Higher Education

The Association of University Teachers on November 9 warned that globalisation poses a threat to universities in Britain and to government attempts to extend access to higher education for 50 per cent of young people. Preliminary research by the union shows that GATS may increase the casualisation of university teaching staff, affect levels of government funding, increase commercial pressures on universities and damage traditional academic freedom.

In a separate story, a report published by the Institute for Public Policy Research predicts that temporary teachers could account for half the workforce in England and Wales inside a generation. Schools are already spending up to £600 million a year on supply cover more than they do on computers and the proportion of their budget that goes on short-term cover is expected to rise further from the current estimated level of 3.4 per cent.

Article Index




For Your Information:

Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill

The "Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill" was published on November 12.

The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, made no statement to the House of Commons on its publication.

Downing Street summarised that the measures contained in the Bill would:

The Bill, Downing Street said, will:

Asked about the concerns expressed by civil liberties groups to the measures, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said that we were living in exceptional times. The government’s position is to "strike a balance between respecting civil liberties and ensuring that they were not exploited and abused".

Junior Home Office Minister Angela Eagle also confirmed on Tuesday that an identity card scheme is being considered.

Angela Eagle said: "The policy on identity cards is kept under review and the Government is considering whether a universal card which allowed people to prove their identity more easily and provided a simple way to access a range of public services would be beneficial. Such an entitlement card scheme could also help to combat illegal working which disproportionately affects the poorer sections of our society by undercutting the minimum wage and encouraging unscrupulous employers. It could also reduce fraud against individuals, public services and the private sector."

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