WDIE Masthead

Year 2001 No. 218, December 22, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

Push to Extend US Imperialist Aggression by Attacking Iraq:

Hands Off Iraq! No to the Use of Force to Settle Conflicts!

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Push to Extend US Imperialist Aggression by Attacking Iraq:
Hands Off Iraq! No to the Use of Force to Settle Conflicts!

From Our West Midlands Correspondent
More Jobs To Be Lost As Crisis Deepens
Kidderminster Hospital Campaigners Take Case to European Court

OSCE Interferes in Central Asian States to "Fight Terrorism"

More Evidence of Nato War Crimes in Yugoslavia

Evil Unleashed

European Press Blames IMF and United States for Argentine Bankruptcy

Fidel Castro at 3rd Association of Caribbean States Summit

End Unjust Wars

Daily On Line Newspaper of the
Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA. Phone 020 7627 0599
Web Site: http://www.rcpbml.org.uk
e-mail: office@rcpbml.org.uk
Subscription Rates (Cheques made payable to Workers' Publication Centre):
Workers' Weekly Printed Edition:
70p per issue, £2.70 for 4 issues, £17 for 26 issues, £32 for 52 issues (including postage)

Workers' Daily Internet Edition sent by e-mail daily (Text e-mail):
1 issue free, 6 months £5, Yearly £10

Push to Extend US Imperialist Aggression by Attacking Iraq:

Hands Off Iraq! No to the Use of Force to Settle Conflicts!

More than 20,000 American troops have been moved into Qatar and Kuwait. This is an ominous sign that the US is broadening the "war against terrorism" to include Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Two weeks ago, the US had also moved the headquarters of its 3rd Army from Florida to Kuwait in preparation for expanding the "war on terrorism" to Iraq, Somalia and elsewhere.

The 3rd Army already maintains permanent units in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and at the British military base Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. A spokesman for the US Central Command was quoted as saying that the headquarters "will have command and control of the ground forces in Afghanistan. They will also support the ground forces for the ongoing war against terrorism."

Some 2,000 soldiers from the US Army's 1st Cavalry Division had been sent to Kuwait in late November. Additional troops from the 4th Infantry Division were reported to be next in line. They join an armoured brigade already in Kuwait.

A German military official was quoted as saying that a unit of 600 German soldiers to be deployed in Kuwait specialises in detecting nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and is being dispatched "for several possibilities". Czech "anti-chemical warfare and medical troops" are also believed to be en route to Kuwait. The Czech parliament recently approved sending up to 400 such troops to join in a US campaign.

"Iraq will not bow," Iraqi officials have kept repeating for the benefit of the US, as it threatens to turn to Iraq once it is through with the war in Afghanistan.

President George W. Bush, waging the Afghan campaign under the banner of the "war on terrorism", indicated in late November that Iraq would be his next target if it continued to bar arms inspectors. The inspectors were pulled out of Iraq on the eve of the punitive US-British blitz on the Iraqi people three years ago.

Russia, which in July blocked a US-British proposal to impose "smart sanctions" on Iraq, has ended up acquiescing to a slightly amended version of the plan when the council voted at the end of November to renew Baghdad's "oil-for-food" programme for an 11th, six-month period.

In passing Resolution 1382, the UN Security Council has paved the way for the possible return of weapons inspectors to Iraq and for the approval, by the end of May 2002, of a list of goods with possible military uses which Baghdad will not be able to import without UN agreement.

Iraq insists that it qualifies for a total lifting of the UN embargo, suggesting it might then accept long-term international monitoring of armament programmes.

Workers and democratic people must oppose any pretext being used by US imperialism, backed or not backed by the British government, to attack Iraq. Such an attack would constitute a further international crime, and a widening of Anglo-US aggression to impose the "New World Order" under the signboard of the "war against terrorism". The use of force to resolve matters between states and peoples internationally must be condemned as illegitimate.

Article Index

From Our West Midlands Correspondent

More Jobs To Be Lost As Crisis Deepens

Around 120 jobs are going at the Sealed Air factory in Telford. The news comes just 24hours after Perkins Engines announced more than 500 redundancies in Shrewsbury.

The firm has decided to focus on its business activities outside the county to maximise profit.

Perkins blames a downturn in trade for its decision.

Kidderminster Hospital Campaigners Take Case to European Court

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has been presented with a file of evidence challenging the downgrading of Kidderminster Hospital.

140 case studies from people claiming their rights have been infringed by the loss of accident and emergency have been lodged.

Councillor Louise Edginton, from Worcestershire County Council, has compiled the file.

The hospital was downgraded to a minor injuries unit in September last year.

Article Index

OSCE Interferes in Central Asian States to "Fight Terrorism"

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will create special working teams "to help Central Asian countries combat terrorism", it was announced in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek on December 14.

"The working teams will consider the possibility of rendering financial, technological and consultative assistance to terrorism-afflicted countries in Central Russia," a delegate to the OSCE said while attending the International Conference on the Consolidation of Security and Stability in Central Asia, in Bishkek, according to Itar-Tass news agency reports.

According to Itar-Tass, the delegate said, "It is well known that terror acts are most frequent in poor countries, where the law enforcement system is weak and human rights are abused. So many countries in Central Asia should be helped to reform and enhance the effectiveness of their national administrations, to improve their national legislation in order to fight terrorism. Aid from the OSCE will accelerate these countries' accession to the existing UN anti-terrorism conventions."

The OSCE is taking up the logic of so-called "failed" or "weak" states in order to further the intervention of the big powers in the central Asian Republics and establish the stranglehold of Anglo-US imperialism and the EU powers, which it is doing also in collusion and contention with Russia.

Article Index

More Evidence of Nato War Crimes in Yugoslavia

In Yugoslavia, 100 workers who had come into contact with areas where NATO had deployed depleted uranium (DU) bombs have been tested, it was reported on December 21. Of these, nine have been found to have the highly carcinogenic chemical Piralen in their blood while a further 15 have been sent for further analyses.

The workers had been sent to clear up the Bor mine after NATO had deployed DU weapons against it in 1999. A doctor working for the Institute for Workplace Medicine and Radiological Protection has confirmed the cases.

Snezana Milacic, spokesperson for the group carrying out the analyses, declared that the nine workers showed evidence of mutagenic chemicals in the blood as a consequence of their contact with Piralen. The only explanation that can be found for this prevalence is the radiation released by NATO's DU weapons.

Tens of soldiers who came into contact with DU weaponry developed different types of cancers, the most common being leukaemia. This Balkans War Syndrome was much talked about during the year 2000 as the first cases started to appear but since then the issue has been sidelined after NATO declared that DU weapons were not radioactive.

Depleted Uranium is used to tip shells and bombs to give them more penetration and effectiveness.

The Geneva Convention states that munitions deployed in a theatre of war must be restricted to the battlefield and their effect must not outlast the conflict. Failure to respect these norms constitutes one of the infractions which constitute war crimes.

Article Index

Evil Unleashed

The following article by Tanya Reinhart appeared in Indymedia, Israel December 19, 2001.

In mainstream political discourse, Israel's recent atrocities are described as "retaliatory acts" – answering the last wave of terror attacks on Israeli civilians. But in fact, this "retaliation" had been carefully prepared long before. Already in October 2000, at the outset of the Palestinian uprising, military circles were ready with detailed operative plans to topple Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. This was before the Palestinian terror attacks started. (The first attack on Israeli civilians was on November 3, 2000, in a market in Jerusalem). A document prepared by the security services, at the request of then PM Barak, stated on October 15, 2000 that "Arafat, the person, is a severe threat to the security of the state [of Israel] and the damage which will result from his disappearance is less than the damage caused by his existence". (Details of the document were published in Ma'ariv, July 6, 2001.) The operative plan, known as Fields of Thorns, had been prepared back in 1996 and was then updated during the Intifada (Amir Oren, Ha'aretz, Nov. 23, 2001). The plan includes everything that Israel has been executing lately, and more.(1)

The political echelon for its part (Barak's circles), worked on preparing public opinion to the toppling of Arafat. On November 20, 2000, Nahman Shai, then public-affairs co-ordinator of the Barak Government, released in a meeting with the press, a 60 page document titled Palestinian Authority non-compliance...A record of bad faith and misconduct. The document, informally referred to as the "White Book", was prepared by Barak's aid, Danny Yatom.(2) According to the "White Book", Arafat's present crime – "orchestrating the Intifada", is just the last in a long chain of proofs that he has never deserted the "option of violence and 'struggle'". "As early as Arafat's own speech on the White House lawn, on September 13, 1993, there were indications that for him, the D.O.P. [declaration of principles] did not necessarily signify an end to the conflict. He did not, at any point, relinquish his uniform, symbolic of his status as a revolutionary commander" (Section 2). This uniform, incidentally, is the only "indication" that the report cites, of Arafat's hidden intentions, on that occasion.

A large section of the document is devoted to establishing Arafat's "ambivalence and compliance" regarding terror. "In March 1997 there was once again more than a hint of a 'Green Light' from Arafat to the Hamas, prior to the bombing in Tel Aviv... This is implicit in the statement made by a Hamas-affiliated member of Arafat's Cabinet, Imad Faluji, to an American paper (Miami Herald, April 5, 1997)." No further hints are provided regarding how this links Arafat to that bombing, but this is the "green light to terror" theme which the Military Intelligence (Ama'n) has been promoting since 1997, when its anti-Oslo line was consolidated. This theme was since repeated again and again by military circles, and eventually became the mantra of Israeli propaganda – Arafat is still a terrorist and is personally responsible for the acts of all groups, from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to Hizbollah.

The Foreign Report (Jane's information) of July 12, 2001, disclosed that the Israeli army (under Sharon's government) has updated its plans for an "all-out assault to smash the Palestinian authority, force out leader Yasser Arafat and kill or detain its army". The blueprint, titled The Destruction of the Palestinian Authority and Disarmament of All Armed Forces, was presented to the Israeli government by chief of staff Shaul Mofaz, on July 8. The assault would be launched, at the government's discretion, after a big suicide bomb attack in Israel, causing widespread deaths and injuries, citing the bloodshed as justification.

Many in Israel suspect that the assassination of the Hamas terrorist Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, just when the Hamas was respecting for two months its agreement with Arafat not to attack inside Israel, was designed to create the appropriate "bloodshed justification", at the eve of Sharon's visit to the US. (Alex Fishman – senior security correspondent of Yediot – noted that "whoever decided upon the liquidation of Abu Hanoud knew in advance that would be the price. The subject was extensively discussed both by Israel's military echelon and its political one, before it was decided to carry out the liquidation" (Yediot Aharonot, Nov. 25, 2001)).

Israel's moves to destroy the PA, thus, cannot be viewed as a spontaneous "act of retaliation". It is a calculated plan, long in the making. The execution requires, first, weakening the resistance of the Palestinians, which Israel has been doing systematically since October 2000, through killing, bombarding of infrastructure, imprisoning people in their hometowns, and bringing them close to starvation. All this, while waiting for the international conditions to "ripen" for the more "advanced" steps of the plan.

Now the conditions seem to have "ripened". In the power-drunk political atmosphere in the US, anything goes. If at first it seemed that the US would try to keep the Arab world on its side by some tokens of persuasion, as it did during the Gulf war, it is now clear that they couldn't care less. US policy is no longer based on building coalitions or investing in persuasion, but on sheer force. The smashing "victory" in Afghanistan has sent a clear message to the Third World that nothing can stop the US from targeting any nation for annihilation. They seem to believe that the most sophisticated weapons of the twenty-first century, combined with total absence of any considerations of moral principles, international law, or public opinion, can sustain them as the sole rulers of the world forever. From now on, fear should be the sufficient condition for obedience.

The US hawks, who push to expand the war to Iraq and further, view Israel as an asset – There are few regimes in the world like Israel, so eager to risk the life of their citizens for some new regional war. As Prof. Alain Joxe, head of the French CIRPES (peace and strategic studies) has put it in Le Monde, "the American leadership is presently shaped by dangerous right wing Southern extremists, who seek to use Israel as an offensive tool to destabilise the whole Middle East area" (December 17, 2001). The same hawks are also talking about expanding the future war zone to targets on Israel's agenda, like Hizbollah and Syria.

Under these circumstances, Sharon got his green light in Washington. As the Israeli media keeps raving, "Bush is fed up with this character [Arafat]", "Powell said that Arafat must stop with his lies" (Barnea and Schiffer, Yediot, December 7, 2001). As Arafat hides in his Bunker, Israeli F-16 bombers plough the sky, and Israel's brutality is generating, every day, new desperate human bombs, the US, accompanied for a while by the European union, keep urging Arafat to "act".

* * *

But what is the rationale behind Israel's systematic drive to eliminate the Palestinian Authority and undo the Oslo arrangements? It certainly cannot be based on "disappointment" with Arafat's performance, as is commonly claimed. The fact of the matter is that from the perspective of Israel's interests in maintaining the occupation, Arafat did fulfil Israel's expectations all these last years.

As far as Israeli security goes, there is nothing further from the truth then the fake accusations in the "White Book", or subsequent Israeli propaganda. To take just one example, in 1997 – the year mentioned in the "White Book" as an instance of Arafat's "green light to terror" – a "security agreement" was signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, under the auspices of the head of the Tel Aviv station of the CIA, Stan Muskovitz. The agreement commits the PA to take active care of the security of Israel – to fight "the terrorists, the terrorist base, and the environmental conditions leading to support of terror" in co-operation with Israel, including "mutual exchange of information, ideas, and military co-operation" (clause 1). [Translated from the Hebrew text, Ha'aretz, December 12, 1997]. Arafat's security services carried out this job faithfully, with assassinations of Hamas terrorists (disguised as "accidents"), and arrests of Hamas political leaders.(3)

Ample information was published in the Israeli media regarding these activities, and "security sources" were full of praises for Arafat's achievements. E.g. Ami Ayalon, then head of the Israeli secret service (Shab'ak), announced, in the government meeting on April 5, 1998, that "Arafat is doing his job – he is fighting terror and puts all his weight against the Hamas" (Ha'aretz, April 6, 1998). The rate of success of the Israeli security services in containing terror was never higher than that of Arafat; in fact, much lower.

In left and critical circles, one can hardly find compassion for Arafat's personal fate (as opposed to the tragedy of the Palestinian people). As David Hirst writes in The Guardian, when Arafat returned to the occupied territories, in 1994, "he came as collaborator as much as liberator. For the Israelis, security – theirs, not the Palestinians' – was the be-all and end-all of Oslo. His job was to supply it on their behalf. But he could only sustain the collaborator's role if he won the political quid pro quo which, through a series of 'interim agreements' leading to 'final status', was supposedly to come his way. He never could. . .[Along the road], he acquiesced in accumulating concessions that only widened the gulf between what he was actually achieving and what he assured his people he would achieve, by this method, in the end. He was Mr. Palestine still, with a charisma and historical legitimacy all his own. But he was proving to be grievously wanting in that other great and complementary task, building his state-in-the-making. Economic misery, corruption, abuse of human rights, the creation of a vast apparatus of repression – all these flowed, wholly or in part, from the Authority over which he presided." (Hirst, Arafat's last stand? (The Guardian, December 14, 2001).

But from the perspective of the Israeli occupation, all this means that the Oslo plan was, essentially, successful. Arafat did manage, through harsh means of oppression, to contain the frustration of his people, and guarantee the safety of the settlers, as Israel continued undisturbed to build new settlements and appropriate more Palestinian land. The oppressive machinery – the various security forces of Arafat – was formed and trained in collaboration with Israel. Much energy and resources were put into building this complex Oslo apparatus. It is often admitted that the Israeli security forces cannot manage to prevent terror any better than Arafat can. Why, then, was the military and political echelon so determined to destroy all this already in October 2000, even before the terror waves started? Answering this requires some look at the history.

* * *

Right from the start of the "Oslo process", in September 1993, two conceptions were competing in the Israeli political and military system. The one, led by Yosi Beilin, was striving to implement some version of the Alon plan, which the Labour party has been advocating for years. The original plan consisted of annexation of about 35% of the territories to Israel, and either Jordanian-rule, or some form of self-rule for the rest – the land on which the Palestinians actually live. In the eyes of its proponents, this plan represented a necessary compromise, compared to the alternatives of either giving up the territories altogether, or eternal bloodshed (as we witness today). It appeared that Rabin was willing to follow this line, at least at the start, and that in return for Arafat's commitment to control the frustration of his people and guarantee the security of Israel, he would allow the PA to run the enclaves in which the Palestinians still reside, in some form of self-rule, which may even be called a Palestinian "state".

But the other pole objected even to that much. This was mostly visible in military circles, whose most vocal spokesman in the early years of Oslo was then Chief of Staff, Ehud Barak. Another centre of opposition was, of course, Sharon and the extreme right wing, who were against the Oslo process from the start. This affinity between the military circles and Sharon is hardly surprising. Sharon – the last of the leaders of the "1948 generation", was a legendary figure in the army, and many of the generals were his disciples, like Barak. As Amir Oren wrote, "Barak's deep and abiding admiration for Ariel Sharon's military insights is another indication of his views; Barak and Sharon both belong to a line of political generals that started with Moshe Dayan" (Ha'aretz, January 8, 1999).

This breed of generals was raised on the myth of redemption of the land. A glimpse into this worldview is offered in Sharon's interview with Ari Shavit (Ha'aretz, weekend supplement, April 13, 2001). Everything is entangled into one romantic framework: the fields, the blossom of the orchards, the plough and the wars. The heart of this ideology is the sanctity of the land. In a 1976 interview, Moshe Dayan, who was the defence minister in 1967, explained what led, then, to the decision to attack Syria. In the collective Israeli consciousness of the period, Syria was conceived as a serious threat to the security of Israel, and a constant initiator of aggression towards the residents of northern Israel. But according to Dayan, this is "bull-shit" – Syria was not a threat to Israel before 67: "Just drop it. . .I know how at least 80% of all the incidents with Syria started. We were sending a tractor to the demilitarised zone and we knew that the Syrians would shoot." According to Dayan (who at a time of the interview confessed some regrets), what led Israel to provoke Syria this way was the greediness for the land – the idea that it is possible "to grab a piece of land and keep it, until the enemy will get tired and give it to us" (Yediot Aharonot, April 27 1997)

At the eve of Oslo, the majority of the Israeli society was tired of wars. In their eyes, the fights over land and resources were over. Most Israelis believe that the 1948 Independence War, with its horrible consequences for the Palestinians, was necessary to establish a state for the Jews, haunted by the memory of the Holocaust. But now that they have a state, they long to just live normally with whatever they have. However, the ideology of the redemption of land has never died out in the army, or in the circles of the "political generals", who switched from the army to the government. In their eyes, Sharon's alternative of fighting the Palestinians to the bitter end and imposing new regional orders – as he tried in Lebanon in 1982 – may have failed because of the weakness of the spoiled Israeli society. But given the new war-philosophy established in Iraq, Kosova and Afghanistan, they believe that with the massive superiority of the Israeli air force, it may still be possible to win this battle in the future.

While Sharon's party was in the opposition at the time of Oslo, Barak, as Chief of Staff, participated in the negotiations and played a crucial role in shaping the agreements and Israel's attitude to the Palestinian Authority.

I quote from an article I wrote in February 1994, because it reflects what anybody who read carefully the Israeli media could see at the time: "From the start, it has been possible to identify two conceptions that underlie the Oslo process. One is that this will enable to reduce the cost of the occupation, using a Palestinian patronage regime, with Arafat as the senior cop responsible for the security of Israel. The other is that the process should lead to the collapse of Arafat and the PLO. The humiliation of Arafat, and the amplification of his surrender, will gradually lead to loss of popular support. Consequently, the PLO will collapse, or enter power conflicts. Thus, the Palestinian society will loose its secular leadership and institutions. In the power driven mind of those eager to maintain the Israeli occupation, the collapse of the secular leadership is interpreted as an achievement, because it would take a long while for the Palestinian people to get organised again, and, in any case, it is easier to justify even the worst acts of oppression when the enemy is a fanatic Muslim organisation. Most likely, the conflict between the two competing conceptions is not settled yet, but at the moment the second seems more dominant: In order to carry out the first, Arafat's status should have been strengthened, with at least some achievements that could generate support of the Palestinians, rather then Israel's policy of constant humiliation and breach of promises."(4)

Nevertheless, the scenario of the collapse of the PA did not materialise. The Palestinian society resorted once more to their marvellous strategy of zumud – sticking to the land and sustaining the pressure. Right from the start, the Hamas political leadership, and others, were warning that Israel is trying to push the Palestinians into a civil war, in which the nation slaughters itself. All fragments of the society co-operated to prevent this danger and calm conflicts as soon as they were deteriorating to arms. They also managed, despite the tyranny of Arafat's rule, to build an impressive amount of institutions and infrastructure. The PA does not consist only of the corrupt rulers and the various security forces. The elected Palestinian council, which operates under endless restrictions, is still a representative political framework, some basis for democratic institutions in the future. For those whose goal is the destruction of the Palestinian identity and the eventual redemption of their land, Oslo was a failure.

In 1999, the army got back to power, through the "political generals" – first Barak, and then Sharon. (They collaborated in the last elections to guarantee that no other, civil, candidate will be allowed to run.) The road opened to correct what they view as the grave mistake of Oslo. In order to get there, it was first necessary to convince the spoiled Israeli society that the Palestinians are not willing to live in peace and are threatening our mere existence. Sharon alone could not have possibly achieved that, but Barak did succeed, with his "generous offer" fraud. After a year of horrible terror attacks, combined with massive propaganda and lies, Sharon and the army feel that nothing can stop them from turning to full execution.

Why is it so urgent for them to topple Arafat? Shabtai Shavit, former head of the Security Service (Mossad), who is not bound by restraints posed on official sources, explains this openly: "In the thirty something years that he [Arafat] leads, he managed to reach real achievements in the political and international sphere... He got the Nobel peace prize, and in a single phone call, he can obtain a meeting with every leader in the world. There is nobody in the Palestinian gallery that can enter his shoes in this context of international status. If they [the Palestinians] will loose this gain, for us, this is a huge achievement. The Palestinian issue will get off the international agenda." (interview in Yediot's Weekend Supplement, December 7, 2001).

Their immediate goal is to get the Palestinians off the international agenda, so slaughter, starvation, forced evacuation and "migration" can continue undisturbed, leading, possibly, to the final realisation of Sharon's long standing vision, embodied in the military plans. The immediate goal of anybody concerned with the future of the world should be to halt this process of evil unleashed. As Alain Joxe concluded his article in Le Monde, "It is time for the Western public opinion to take over and to compel the governments to take a moral and political stand facing the foreseen disaster, namely a situation of permanent war against the Arab and Muslim people and states – the realisation of the double phantasy of Bin Laden and Sharon" (December 17, 2001).


(1) For the details of this operative plan, see Anthony Cordesman, "Peace and War: Israel versus the Palestinians A second Intifada?" Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) December 2000, and it summary in Shraga Eilam, "Peace With Violence or Transfer", Between The Lines, December 2000.

(2) The document can be found in: http://www.gamla.org.il/english/feature/intro.htm

(3) For a survey on some of the PA's assassinations of Hamas terrorists, see my article "The A-Sherif affair", Yediot Aharonot, April 14, 1998, http://www.tau.ac.il/~reinhart/political/A_sharif.html

(4) The article (in Hebrew only) can be found in: http://www.tau.ac.il/~reinhart/political/01GovmntObstacleToPeace.doc

Article Index

European Press Blames IMF and United States for Argentine Bankruptcy

The European press is assessing Argentina as the graveyard of the neo-liberal economic model and the dollarisation imposed over so many years by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which it holds responsible for the resounding crash of that South American nation.

The Italian press charges the IMF and the Bush administration with bringing about the generalised crisis in that country.

An editorial in La Republica daily comments that as Buenos Aires is not a strategic piece on the global chessboard, lacks the capacity to destabilise the world, is not a in a zone where "Western" interests are in danger, to date neither the United States nor Europe has so much as lifted a finger for that nation.

La Stampa accused the IMF of a "short-sighted approach", called for greater transparency in that institution, affirmed that "we are witnessing the collapse of the dollarisation myth", and that "it was an illusion to believe that that economy could be cured by transforming Argentina into a US colony and pegging its currency to the dollar".

In France, Le Monde says that the IMF, subjected to the vigilance of a Bush administration that looks unfavourably on international financial aid, threatened to halt Argentina’s credits and left the country on the brink of chaos. "That is a matter of crying for Argentina," it comments.

El Figaro charges those governing the country and notes in an editorial that once again that great nation has become the victim of its defective leaders, adding that the fact that the public disturbances are the result of hunger in a country that on its own could feed half the planet is ominous evidence of that economy’s collapse.

In Germany, Die Welt observed that whatever their tendency, Argentine politicians have freely squandered the country’s wealth and used it to support their nepotism. The situation not only appears to be one of economic crisis: it is a declaration of the bankruptcy of all political actors in recent decades.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung notes that public loss of confidence in the political class has increased due to scandals, while in Spain El País warns that "all the ways out are through extremely tough adjustments that are difficult to explain to citizens who are continually more exasperated".

While the specialised newspaper Expansión notes that the Argentine crisis has passed all reasonable limits and is headed for disaster, Barcelona’s La Vanguardia highlights the breakdown of social cohesion and the total discrediting of political institutions.

In Russia, the press overall is rejoicing that Moscow did not follow the advice of Domingo Carvallo, Argentina’s ex–minister of economy, in the wake of its own crisis in August 1998. The daily Nezavisimaia Gazeta warns in a headline: "Nightmare of economic miracle ends. The Argentine crisis, first warning for Russia."

Article Index

Fidel Castro at 3rd Association of Caribbean States Summit

FIDEL Castro predicted that he would leave Venezuela a happier man than when he arrived. The prediction was fulfilled when the regional conference solidly condemned the 40-year-old US blockade of Cuba. The condemnation was included in the Margarita Declaration of the summit, named after the Venezuelan island on which the Caribbean meeting took place.

Fidel Castro expressed his joy at being in the South American country, at a time when the Bolivarian movement, headed by President Chávez, is on the field of battle.

Fidel Castro wished a "heart attack" on those who joined the strike in Venezuela last Monday against the Chávez government's popular measures of new fishing and coastal zone protection laws, which benefit both local fishermen and the marine ecosystem. The legislation has been criticised by the country’s industrial fleet.

"Our peoples are more and more closely following the Venezuelan process and experiencing a great feeling of solidarity, support and affection," the Cuban leader said. "If we have one virtue, it’s knowing how to value loyalty above all else. Loyalty to friends and principles."

The Cuban president defended differential treatment of the small economies and agricultural subsidies, particularly in the tropical countries of the Third World, refuting the criticism made by Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodriguez, who spoke out against that type of subsidy. Castro gave as an example of inter-regional development the European Union projects designed to balance that organisation's small and large economies, but argued that the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is different, given that it is based on the neo-liberal model.

"The powerful nations could destroy our dreams of integration, which they do not share, and convert integrationist aspirations into simple dreams that will never become realities," he argued. "Everything that protected us has disappeared," Castro commented, recognising that the Caribbean countries’ basic products have been attacked by subsidies of this type, but clarified that in the face of neo-liberal globalisation, the small Caribbean economies should protect themselves from the powerful ones through such mechanisms.

He explained that we are moving towards a world where trade barriers are disappearing, asking how long Mexican corn withstand competition from the United States, which harvests its corn with technology that is more productive per worker and per hectare. He recalled, moreover, the vulnerability of the Caribbean economies, subject to devastating meteorological phenomena that put them at a greater disadvantage, in competition with the developed world.

Evaluating the high prices of imported foods such as powdered milk, sold at inaccessible prices, Castro warned that at the rate things are moving a food catastrophe could be unleashed in which the few will obtain large profits and many more will join the army of the planet’s hungry.

Referring to President Chávez’s proposal to create a trans-Caribbean oil pipeline linked to the continent via Mexico (based on a technical report proving this to be an easier and more viable option than the pipeline that goes from North Africa to Europe), the Cuban leader requested more technical information on the proposal and took the opportunity to explain Cuba’s experience of obtaining a less expensive by-product using heavier crude oil, as in the Energas plants, which generate energy at a lower cost, with efficiency and minimum impact on the environment.

"The task of establishing peace in Colombia is difficult," Castro affirmed in a statement broadcast by the Colombian ECN radio network from Isla de Margarita. He referred to efforts in Cuba to seek an agreement between Colombian guerrillas in the National Liberation Army and the government of Andrés Pastrana. "I am aware of incidents that cost the lives of innocent people, of children or women," he highlighted, and criticised illegal armed groups for attacking the civilian population. "I believe that nothing justifies innocent people being attacked," he stated, adding that Colombian armed bands should respect the civilian population. "Without any hesitation, I am opposed to people losing their lives in a war."

Article Index

End Unjust Wars

A meeting "END UNJUST WARS" will take place in Birmingham on Sunday, January 13, 2002. The venue is The Rex Centre, 430-434 Coventry Road, Small Heath, Birmingham B10 0UG at 1.00 pm

The confirmed speakers are George Galloway, Tariq Ali, Lord Nazeer and Salma Yacoub. Khawaja Shafiq will chair the meeting.

Invited guests are: Ken Livingstone (Mayor of London), Paul Foot, John Pilger & Lynne Jones MP

For further details phone 07831 154 147.

Article Index

Please Note WDIE was not produced on December 21 and 22

RCPB(ML) Home Page

Workers' Daily Internet Edition Index Page