imperialism

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Absurd Guardian Article Declares China World’s Only Imperialist Power

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/12/2021 - 1:00am in

Another cartoonishly ridiculous anti-China propaganda piece has been published in the western mass media, this time by The Guardian, which at this point could arguably be labeled the single most destructive promulgator of empire propaganda in the western world. It is authored by Simon Tisdall, who could most certainly be labeled the single most destructive promulgator of empire propaganda at The Guardian.

The article is titled “In China’s new age of imperialism, Xi Jinping gives thumbs down to democracy” and subtitled “Beijing is aiming for global ascendancy — but its leader’s vision of world dominion is centralised, oppressive and totalitarian.” None of these claims are substantiated in the text which follows.

It’s pretty cute how the only time you’ll ever see the word “imperialism” used in The Guardian (without scare quotes) is when it wants to criticize a nation the world’s actual imperialist dominator, the United States, doesn’t like. You will never see that word used to refer to the behavior of the cluster of US-aligned nations which functions as a single empire on foreign policy, nor to the government which has circled the planet with hundreds of military bases and works to kill, starve and subvert any population who refuses to be commanded, controlled, exploited or plundered.

In fact, Tisdall goes so far as to promote the hilarious idea that the days of any western power having imperialist inclinations are long gone.

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“Imperialism, in all its awful forms, still poses a threat,” Tisdall writes. “But it is no longer the imperialism of the west, rightly execrated and self-condemned. Today’s threat emanates from the east. Just as objectionable, and potentially more dangerous, it’s the prospect of a totalitarian 21st-century Chinese global empire.”

Well cool. The western world at some point in history apparently renounced imperialism, and now the east is the only direction from whence that threat emanates. Not sure when that happened, but Tisdall appears quite certain that imperialism has been completely stomped out everywhere west of Xinjiang, including in the United States government.

“[N]ascent empires establish an (often delusional) narrative, or ‘mission statement’, to justify their activities,” Tisdall writes. “British imperialists claimed to be a civilising force, bringing law and Christianity to the great unwashed. The postwar American empire was, supposedly, all about championing democracy.”

“Was”. The postwar American empire, back in the days when it existed, “was” supposedly about championing democracy. You know, back when it would exert force upon nations on the basis that they were insufficiently democratic. Again, Tisdall does not say on what precise date this ended, or name the point in history when the entire US empire blipped out of existence.

This would be the same United States that is currently constructing long-range missile systems on a chain of islands near China’s coast for the explicit purpose of threatening China. One need only imagine what would happen if China began building long-range missile systems off a US coastline to understand who is the real imperialist aggressor between these two nations.

There exist all kinds of arguments that can be made about whether or not the Chinese government is imperialist and if so to what extent. What absolutely do not exist are arguments that China is more imperialist than the United States and its tight cluster of allies, or anywhere remotely close. The government which continually uses its military and economic might to bully and manipulate the world into aligning with its geostrategic interests is indisputably the more imperialist force, by a massive, massive margin.

As evidence for his pants-on-head gibbering lunatic position that China has completely supplanted all western powers as an imperialist force in our world and is trying to become a globe-dominating empire, Tisdall cites three points: (1) that China engages in trade, (2) that China has a single military base in Djibouti, and (3) that the US intelligence cartel has asserted that China plans on building a second military base in Equatorial Guinea, with perhaps more to follow.

“The first phase of China’s new imperial age is already in train. Xi’s ambitious belt and road investment and infrastructure initiative (BRI) touches 60 countries,” Tisdall writes. “China is the world’s largest trading nation and largest exporter, with $2.6tn worth of exports in 2019.”

So, trade. That’s trade. The idea that an investment and infrastructure plan rises to anywhere near the level of US wars which have killed millions and displaced tens of millions just since the turn of this century is risible.

“The CCP’s focus is meanwhile shifting to empire phase two: military bases,” says Tisdall. “US media reported last week that the port city of Bata in Equatorial Guinea could become China’s first Atlantic seaboard naval base — potentially putting warships and submarines within striking distance of America’s east coast.”

Antiwar’s Daniel Larison has a great article out mocking and debunking the foam-brained hysterical shrieking about how the completely unsubstantiated US intelligence claim that Beijing is trying to establish a military base in Equatorial Guinea “some six thousand nautical miles away from the US mainland” poses any threat to the United States.

“The US faces very few serious threats from other states, and the United States is extraordinarily secure from physical attack,” Larison writes. “To make other states seem remotely threatening to US security, the government and cooperative media outlets have to exaggerate the power of other states and inflate their ability to threaten Americans. Because of the huge mismatch between the demands of propaganda and the less alarming reality, this often creates absurd results.”

Absurd results indeed.

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“China already has a naval base in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa,” Tisdall writes. “It is said to be considering an island airbase in Kiribati that could in theory threaten Hawaii. Meanwhile, it continues to militarise atolls in the South China Sea. A Pentagon report last month predicted China will build a string of military bases girdling the world, including in the Arctic. CCP ‘target’ countries include Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, the United Arab Emirates, Kenya and Angola, it said.”

So, one single foreign military base in the whole entire world, plus a bunch of imagination and conjecture by military and intelligence operatives. This compared to the 750 military bases that the US actually, physically has around the world. Some “empire” you’ve got there, Xi.

Not only is it laughable to claim that the US is no longer imperialist, there’s not even any evidence that China seeks to replace it as the unipolar global hegemon. Western spinmeisters have been churning out think pieces for years claiming that China is trying to rule the world, but if you actually examine the basis for those claims all you’ll find is evidence that China wants a multipolar world of multiple powers as opposed to a unipolar one where the world is dominated by the US or any other nation.

As we discussed previously, it’s not like the floundering US empire has been making the business of planetary domination look sexy. The idea that every nation wants to dominate the world the way the US does is just a dopey projection by propaganda-addled western minds who’ve been programmed to believe the game of unipolar conquest is normal and desirable.

Tisdall also inserts the obligatory accusation of “genocide” that every western propagandist is required to bleat whenever the Chinese government is under discussion, which has been thoroughly discredited by many people and even the western media have been forced to walk back from as tourism surges in Xinjiang.

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Tisdall also cites a quote by Xi Jinping saying that China will defend itself from those who try to bully, oppress or subjugate it as evidence that the leader has “combative ideas” and believes “imperial might makes right”:

“We have never bullied, oppressed, or subjugated the people of any other country, and we never will. By the same token we will never allow anyone to bully, oppress or subjugate [China],” he said. “Anyone who tries will find themselves on a collision course with a steel wall forged by 1.4 billion people.”

It is very revealing how many empire propagandists keep interpreting a warning that China will defend itself from aggressors as a menacing and aggressive act. Almost like they believe it is their right to bully, oppress and subjugate all nations without opposition or resistance.

Agreeing with Simon Tisdall on any foreign policy issue is nature’s way of telling you to revise your media consumption habits.

The mass media have been growing astonishingly forceful in their efforts to manipulate the world into being so terrified of China that they’ll consent to any agenda no matter how insane and dangerous. The more forceful they become with their manipulations, the more important it is to counter their lies.

We’re being shoved in a very bad direction at an increasingly frenetic pace. This is being done for a reason. Be alert.

___________________

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here.

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The Assange Case Is The US Defending Its Right To Lie: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 12/12/2021 - 1:58am in

Listen to a reading of this article:

https://medium.com/media/c314c25dd1db62acef887ad7a7cd7968/href

The Assange case is the most powerful government in the world defending its right to lie to you.

Q: What’s the difference between how the US deals with journalists it hates and how Saudi Arabia deals with journalists it hates?

A: Speed.

The US is currently building a network of long-range missile systems on a chain of islands near China’s coast for the explicit purpose of threatening China. You can tell who is the aggressor in US-China tensions by asking yourself what would happen if this situation was reversed.

Per Washington’s own logic it would be perfectly reasonable, and indeed responsible, for China to set up military arsenals along both US coastlines to “contain” it and “deter” attacks on Latin American nations, as the US has an extensive history of launching such attacks and will surely try to again. But we all know what the US response to such behavior would be.

It’s a bit annoying living in a world that’s ruled by a dying empire whose increasing desperation to retain control could lead it to initiate a dangerous military confrontation with a major power at any time.

The rise of China crashing into the Washington doctrine that US unipolar hegemony must be preserved at all cost is an unstoppable-force-meets-immovable-object situation that could very easily end in nuclear armageddon.

If the preservation of US unipolar hegemony requires continually escalating military brinkmanship against nuclear-armed Russia and China as well as powerful forces like Iran, then the claim that US unipolar hegemony makes the world a more peaceful place is plainly false.

You currently have a much higher chance of dying as a result of a nuclear war instigated by your government or its allies than as a result of someone else refusing to take a Covid vaccine. You hear about the latter threat but not the former because the mass media exist to protect imperialist agendas from scrutiny.

You know you’re getting scammed when your government ends a long and expensive war and then the military budget goes up.

There is no sector of US government policy more significant and consequential than the command of the most powerful military force ever assembled. There is also no sector of US government policy with less oversight, accountability, or press scrutiny.

Besides a brief window after 9/11 the US has never really been able to sell the narrative that governments it wants to ramp up aggressions against are about to attack its easily-defended shores. So instead it does ridiculous things like claiming those governments are about to invade Ukraine and Taiwan.

The US empire never attacks, it only “defends”. All its aggressions are always about “defending” freedom and democracy, “defending” human rights, “defending” nations that can’t defend themselves, etc. Often it even “defends” preemptively, before the attacker has done anything. Sometimes the attacker is the last to find out that they were planning an attack.

Ever since getting our eviction notice I’ve struggled to be creative because my mind is so focused on the daunting task of finding a nice yet affordable place for my family to live, and it really makes me feel for everyone for whom housing security is a chronic creativity drain. All to pay for the privilege of living on the fucking planet we were fucking born on.

I mean, think about how much creativity and innovation our species is missing out on because our dopey, primitive societal models force people to spend so much brainpower just figuring out how to stay fed and housed. That brainpower could have gone toward improving our world.

Really I’m just a mother. I’m just a mum who wants a healthy planet and a healthy society for her kids, and I advocate the things I believe will facilitate that. You can add whatever -ists and -isms you want on top of that, but my true ideology is motherhood.

Right now being smart and informed is a detriment to happiness because things are shitty and the more you understand the harder it is to be happy. Once we create a healthy world this will reverse; the more you understand about the world the more uplifted and optimistic you’ll be.

_________________________

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here.

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US Hegemony Doesn’t Make The World More Peaceful, It Makes It More Dangerous

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/12/2021 - 1:26am in

Listen to a reading of this article:

https://medium.com/media/001ccbaff7ed98672b0065ad074b33d9/href

A Republican senator who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee stated on a Tuesday Fox News appearance that he strongly supports keeping US military action on the table if Russia invades Ukraine, up to and including a first-use nuclear attack.

“I would not rule out military action,” Senator Roger Wicker told Fox News host Neil Cavuto. “I think we start making a mistake when we take options off the table. So I would hope the president keeps that option on the table.”

“What does military action mean, senator?” Cavuto asked.

“Well, military action could mean that we standoff with our ships in the Black Sea and we rain destruction on Russian military capability,” the senator replied. “It could mean that. It could mean that we participate — and I would not rule that out — I would not rule out American troops on the ground. You know we don’t rule out first-use nuclear action. We don’t think it will happen. But there’s certain things in negotiations — if you’re going to be tough — that you don’t take off the table.”

Wicker emphasized that his position was entirely bipartisan.

“To the extent that you’ve had Democrats on the show right before me saying that we should be tougher, I support that and I appreciate that,” Wicker said. “I think they represent the fear that we have, the realization that we have in the Congress, that losing a free democratic Ukraine to Russian invasion would be a game-changer for a free Europe.”

https://medium.com/media/07d5b7afe30b1ffeb620cee1582c22bf/href

Top Biden administration diplomat and neoconservative Ukraine coup plotter Victoria Nuland didn’t go quite as far, but did assert that a perceived attack on Ukraine would see Russia financially cut off from the entire world.

“What we are talking about would amount to essentially isolating Russia completely from the global financial system, with all the fallout that would entail for Russian businesses, for the Russian people, for their ability to work and travel and trade,” Nuland told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.

It remains to be seen whether tensions between NATO powers and Moscow over Ukraine will improve or get worse after a two-hour talk between President Biden and President Putin on Tuesday, but it is already abundantly clear that we are as usual being aggressively deceived about the situation. As the Moon of Alabama blog explained the other day, the narrative that Russia is poised for an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is flimsy at best, and could easily be designed to frame Russia as the aggressor should a future attack on rebel-held territories in eastern Ukraine by US, NATO and Ukrainian forces cross one of Putin’s red lines and provoke a military response from Moscow.

Whatever’s happening, hawks in the US political/media class keep trying to amp the public up for a direct military confrontation between nuclear superpowers.

“If Russia invades a non-NATO partner vital to US-led operations in Iraq/Afghanistan, whose integrity we guaranteed in 1994 and defense we materially support, so soon after the abandonment of our allies in Kabul, the damage done to US credibility and hegemony will be immeasurable,” tweeted MSNBC’s Noah Rothman in contribution to the Ukraine controversy.

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There’s a lot going on in that post, like the ridiculous claim that Ukraine played a “vital” role in US-led operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the bizarre suggestion that Washington guaranteed it would militarily defend Ukraine’s integrity in 1994. But what’s most interesting is Rothman’s refreshingly honest admission that if the hawks get their way in the event of a Ukraine conflict, people’s sons and daughters would be sent to kill and die in a war over something as stupid as “US credibility and hegemony.”

Indeed, all US wars in recent memory have been over US hegemony. When they occur they are always portrayed as heroic acts of defense against evil hostile aggressors; self-defense, defense of human rights, defending freedom and democracy, defending populations which can’t defend themselves, etc. In the imperial doctrine of the US political/media class, the empire never attacks, it only “defends”.

But if you break down the underlying causes of those military interventions they always boil down to preserving US unipolar hegemony, i.e. undisputed planetary domination. It’s not an accident that US military interventionism is consistently most concentrated in areas of high geostrategic value, focused on maintaining the ability to control the world’s crucial resources and shipping lanes, militarily surrounding disobedient governments, and continually expanding the ability to quickly launch devastating attacks on any population which acts against the will of the empire.

That’s the real reason you’re hearing so much hysterical shrieking about China lately, as well as governments which cooperate with it like Russia. It’s got nothing to do with Ukraine or Taiwan or election meddling or human rights concerns in Xinjiang, it’s because China is the head of a rising bloc of non-empire-aligned governments which threatens US hegemony. It’s because Russia and China have been getting closer and closer after western empire managers predicted the exact opposite would occur.

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Bloomberg New Economy Forum last month that she’d “heard for years that Russia would become more willing to move toward the west, more willing to engage in a positive way with Europe, the UK, the US, because of problems on its border, because of the rise of China.” But that’s not what occurred.

“We haven’t seen that,” Clinton said. “Instead what we’ve seen is a concerted effort by Putin maybe to hug China more.”

Had the predictions of US empire architects proved correct, the Russia-China tandem described in 2017 by Gilbert Doctorow would never have come to be, and China would have been far weaker and far more vulnerable to US subversion as a result. All the panicked consent-manufacturing you’ve been seeing from empire managers these last few years is due to the frantic need to course-correct after those forecasts fell flat.

As Noam Chomsky recently observed, the real “threat” China poses is that it cannot be bullied into complying with the will of the US empire.

“The U.S. will not tolerate the existence of a state that cannot be intimidated the way Europe can be, that does not follow U.S. orders the way Europe does but pursues its own course. That is the threat,” Chomsky told Democracy Now last month.

Whatever your opinions on Chomsky at this point in his life, you cannot deny that he is correct here. Beltway empire managers determined after the fall of the Soviet Union that the US must prevent the rise of another rival superpower at all cost, and all the attempts you are seeing to undermine China and its geostrategic support system are simply the effects of that resolution playing out exactly as intended.

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But what are the consequences of that resolution? What does it mean when history’s first ever unipolar planetary hegemon must maintain that unipolar hegemony even if it means risking a third world war against an alliance of nuclear-armed nations? What does it mean when the decline of an empire meets with the imperial doctrine that planetary domination must be held in place by any means necessary, and when we now have US senators talking on national television about launching a nuclear first strike on Russia if it invades a nation hardly any Americans could even find on a map?

It means the world has gotten a lot less safe.

The main argument you’ll hear from those who support the continued existence of a US-led world order is that if it wasn’t Washington ruling the world it would be Beijing or Moscow, which is just silly “If I don’t steal it someone else will steal it” nonsense that isn’t substantiated by facts. The planet never had a unipolar hegemon until three decades ago; there’s nothing inscribed upon the fabric of reality which says there needs to be one, and all the evidence coming from Beijing and Moscow is that those governments want a multipolar world, not to dominate a unipolar one. Besides, it’s not like the US has been making global domination look sexy during that time by rapidly burning itself out and teetering on the brink of collapse.

The other main argument you’ll hear in favor of US unipolar hegemony is the claim of “Pax Americana”; that it makes the world a more peaceful place. But, again, how true is that if US unipolar hegemony must be held in place by endless violence and is now forcing humanity toward a world war between powerful nuclear-armed nations?

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After all, “Pax Americana” has already killed millions of people and displaced tens of millions in US wars of geostrategic domination just since the turn of this century. The US-backed assault on Yemen alone will have killed 377,000 people by the end of this year, and the horrors show no sign of stopping. Unilateral starvation sanctions on disobedient populations are deliberately murdering civilians around the world. And now, no longer able to make due with simply smashing weaker nations, we are being fed the usual “defense” propaganda about Ukraine and Taiwan to gin up support for world war in the nuclear age.

The western media have been screaming that Russia is about to invade Ukraine any minute now for years on end. The narratives we’re being fed about Taiwan are blatantly propagandistic. All they’re doing is brainwashing the public into consenting to aggressions which are so dangerous that, all by themselves, they completely invalidate the argument that US unipolar hegemony makes the world safer or more peaceful.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There’s no reason nations can’t just cooperate with each other for the common good instead of waving armageddon weapons around over the ideas held by a few idiots about the need to dominate an entire planet. There’s no reason the US needs to imperil us all with these insane unipolarist aggressions, and everyone should stop supporting it in doing so.

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France tries to smother Kanak resistance in New Caledonia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 05/12/2021 - 12:34pm in

The recent stoush between Scott Morrison and French President Emmanuel Macron has raised the profile of France in the Australian media. France claims sovereignty over a group of Melanesian islands less than 1500km from Brisbane, closer to the Queensland capital than Melbourne.

New Caledonia sends representatives to the French Parliament, uses a currency that’s fixed to the value of the euro and hosts sections of the French army, navy and air force.

The Indigenous people, known as Kanak, have been fighting for independence for decades. Their struggle led to the 1998 framework agreement, known as the Noumea Accord, which conceded up to three referendums to decide whether New Caledonia should become independent.

France has now announced that the third referendum will take place on 12 December, angering independence parties, which have called for a delay until late 2022.

Nic Maclellan is a journalist and activist who’s worked in the Pacific region since 1986 with not-for-profits and the ABC. He’s the winner of the 2020 Sean Dorney Grant for Pacific Journalism and reports for Islands Business magazine, Inside Story, The Guardian and others. He spoke to David Glanz for Solidarity.

Can you give us a brief overview of the struggle for independence so far?

New Caledonia has gone through a colonial process very similar to Australia. The Indigenous Kanak people, a Melanesian people, were colonised in 1853. It was a prison colony originally, indeed people from the Paris Commune of 1871 were deported to New Caledonia, including the famous revolutionary Louise Michel.

Later, in the 1890s and beyond, there were free settlers arriving to take the land, particularly on the fertile west coast of the main island. And at the turn of the century people discovered nickel, a crucial strategic metal.

The Kanak population resisted this process of colonisation and theft of land right from the beginning. There were major revolts in 1878 and 1917.

Today’s Kanak nationalist movement harks back to those earlier revolts. Most recently there were violent clashes in the mid-1980s, particularly between 1984 and 1988, and a national liberation front, the FLNKS, the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front, called not for greater autonomy within France but full sovereign independence.

Clashes between the Kanak movement, armed settlers in the right-wing fascist groups and the French army ended in 1988, with a number of peace agreements.

The most important of those, a decade later in 1998, was the Noumea Accord. That set the country on a path to a series of referendums on its political status. And that’s where we’re up to today.

Where does the Kanak movement sit in the broader context of other Indigenous movements in the region, including here in Australia?

There are political parties in New Caledonia that date back to after the Second World War. But more recently in the 1970s the Kanak movement began building links across the Pacific.

PNG had moved to independence in 1975, East Timor was invaded, similarly in 1975. The National Party in the New Hebrides, a British-French condominium, created the Vanua’aku Pati which led to independence in 1980.

The Kanak movement built links with these neighbouring political movements, and also with people in French Polynesia, another French dependency in the eastern Pacific famous for French nuclear testing at Moruroa and Fangataufa atolls. There have been strong links between Indigenous rights movements including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander movement in Australia.

The independence movement is a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, which links together the states of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia’s Kanak movement.

The Noumea Accord allowed for three referendums. The Kanaks lost the first two votes but there was a clear improvement in the Yes vote between the first and the second referendum. The French decision to hold the third referendum in December has been described by senior independence leaders as resembling a declaration of war against the Kanak people and they are calling on people not to vote. So why have the French decided to press on and why do the Kanaks want it postponed?

The idea of the Noumea Accord was to put off a decision on political status and get supporters and opponents of independence working together. New political institutions were created, France bankrolled affirmative action programs and powers were transferred from Paris to Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia. The local government got control over things like health and education.

The final unique element of this transition was that there were three not one referenda. People were asked to vote on whether New Caledonia should stay as part of the French Republic or become a fully independent country.

Because of migration and settlement the Indigenous Kanak people only make up about 40 per cent of the population. So to win, they have to get support from people who migrated from other French dependencies in the region or from the European community.

In the first vote in November 2018, the independence movement did much better than people were expecting. Predictions were they would only get 30 per cent support. In fact, they got 43 per cent. In the second referendum, which was held in October last year, they got almost 47 per cent. There was clear momentum behind the independence campaign.

The feeling was that this momentum would carry over to the third vote. However, the French government, instead of negotiating an agreed date for the referendum, unilaterally set the date for 12 December. Kanak leaders have said that there should be a deferral because there’s been a massive surge of COVID-19 starting in early September.

There have been hundreds of deaths and the toll has fallen disproportionately on Kanak and other Islanders, who are the poorer members of the community and have less access to health care. But France has refused and is rushing ahead with this vote.

Why is it so important for France to have the vote now?

There’s a hope that there can be a strategic defeat for pro-independence forces, and the belief that if they lose the third referendum, that the Kanak movement will give up.

It also comes in a particular geopolitical context, where there’s growing tensions between the United States and China within what’s been dubbed the Indo-Pacific region.

In recent years French President Emmanuel Macron has made a big show about France’s possible contribution to the Western alliance which is seeking to contain China’s rising economic and political influence.

In 2018 Macron talked about creating an India-Australia-France axis in the Pacific, part of which was based on arms sales in the proposal that the French corporation Naval Group would build submarines for Australia, and that New Caledonia’s military facilities would be a pivot in France’s presence in the Indo-Pacific.

Scott Morrison and his government ripped up the submarines contract with France in a blow to France’s strategic vision that it is a major power in the Pacific.

Going ahead with the referendum regardless is a signal to Australia, New Zealand and the Americans that France wants to be an Indo-Pacific power.

What does the AUKUS alliance between Australia, the US, and the UK mean for Paris and their position in the Pacific? How important are the military bases in New Caledonia to France in projecting military power across the Pacific?

The French actually don’t have many military assets in the region—a couple of ageing frigates, some helicopters and patrol boats.

The presence in Australia, for example, of US marine deployments in the Northern Territory and the possibility that US and British submarines will now use the Sterling naval base outside of Fremantle in Western Australia for forward deployment into the region mean French Polynesia and New Caledonia can’t play the same role.

France has been wanting to present itself as a major power given it has overseas dependencies in every ocean of the world. But all of this has been played out in the lead-up to the French presidential elections.

A lot of this is political theatre from Macron who faces a challenge from extreme right parties like Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National and a new neo-fascist named Eric Zammour. For Macron, there’s a crude party political interest in showing how tough he is and moving ahead with this referendum

What are the economic factors at play?

Nickel is the key industry in New Caledonia, it’s the major source of export earnings and paradoxically the greatest market for exports of the raw nickel ore is China. A crucial part of the independence struggle has been control of the nickel industry, both in terms of mining and smelting.

One of the key successes of the Noumea Accord transition was that the northern province, which is dominated by pro-independence parties, negotiated to build a major nickel smelter at Koniambo. That smelter has been exporting nickel not just to traditional partners like Australia and Japan but to South Korea and China. That’s broken the stranglehold that France has had over the smelting of nickel.

The referendum is remarkably close. Can the Kanak movement carry off a boycott movement that is sufficiently united and strong that it makes the referendum, if it goes ahead, clearly null and void and is the movement strong enough to force a further referendum from the French?

I haven’t been back to New Caledonia this year because of the COVID restrictions, so it’s difficult to get a sense of what’s going on on the ground.

I was there in 2018 for six weeks reporting on the referendum and spent a lot of time, not just in the capital Noumea talking with pundits and politicians, but going out to rural areas and talking to ordinary people. And I came back believing that the polls, which said that the independence movement would get 30 per cent support, and the media common sense was wrong. And that was the case.

Many people were shocked and surprised that the Kanak movement got 43 per cent. I think you’ll find the same thing now, but in this case, the independence movement is calling for non-participation in the referendum on 12 December.

The previous two referenda, in 2018 and 2020, had a massive turnout, over 80 per cent. That’s unprecedented for elections in France where voting is not compulsory. So I think you’ll see a massive fall in turn out.

This is a challenge for France because neighbouring Pacific countries are speaking out and worrying about whether this will be a fair, credible and transparent vote.

I think there may be a period of some months [afterwards] until people wait to see what happens with the French presidential election. The Kanak movement ultimately may want to negotiate with a new incoming president, and then the new French government elected in mid-2022.

But the Kanak movement is strong. I believe they will want to continue with the quest for independence having got so close.

What is the Australian government’s view on this situation and how is its relationship with France, fractured as it is at the moment, playing out in this context?

The official stated position of the Australian government is that this is a matter for New Caledonians. But for a long time Australia and France have been developing an extended strategic partnership in the region related to the attempts to rebuild the Western alliance in the face of rising Chinese influence.

This is a bipartisan policy. Kevin Rudd signed an agreement with the French government; that’s continued through the Turnbull administration; and then on with the Morrison government. The centrepiece of this was the submarine contract, but it involved a whole range of activities around joint military operations to bring France into regional activities.

France was seen as a crucial player by successive Labor and Liberal governments. That’s been blown up to a certain extent and there’s quite a lot of scrambling going on in an attempt to rebuild the relationship.

Our engagement with the Pacific around nuclear issues, around climate issues, but most importantly around self-determination and political independence is a key issue for Australia and Australians, because there are parallels with Bougainville and with the struggle in West Papua.

What’s happening in New Caledonia is part of a movement right across the Melanesian region, and further abroad with French Polynesia, seeking to end 20th century colonialism, but also to address the environmental, political and social legacies of that time.

Listen to the conversation in full below.

The post France tries to smother Kanak resistance in New Caledonia appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Stop the march to war on China—join the protests against AUKUS

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 03/12/2021 - 11:22am in

The confrontation between the US and China is escalating. The world is now closer to open war between two nuclear-armed superpowers than for many decades.

This is a terrifying prospect. Yet the Australian government is helping boost the chance of war through belligerent rhetoric against China, alongside its largest military build-up since the Second World War.

In September the Morrison government announced the AUKUS pact with the US and UK, aimed squarely at confronting China. Building opposition to this warmongering is an urgent task.

Under AUKUS, Australia will acquire a fleet of nuclear submarines, becoming only the seventh country in the world to do so.

Australia will also see an increase to the 2500 US troops that already rotate through Darwin, building four new facilities there, plus deployments of US warplanes including bombers, and an increased US naval presence.

AUKUS will also lock in increased co-operation on artificial intelligence and cyber warfare.

Last week Defence Minister Peter Dutton used a National Press Club speech to further stoke anti-China hysteria. He warned that, “Every major city in Australia, including Hobart, is within range of China’s missiles,” and declared that Australia would join the US if it launched a war with China over Taiwan.

Sink the nuclear subs deal

The acquisition of nuclear subs is particularly dangerous.

The subs are part of an aggressive and dangerous strategy of encircling China. In the event of a war, they would aim to destroy or pin down China’s own submarines, including those armed with nuclear warheads, close to the Chinese coast. This makes fighting a war with China more attractive.

Nuclear subs are harder to detect than conventional submarines and can remain submerged on patrol for much longer, making them perfect for launching sudden missile strikes.

The subs will cost in excess of $100 billion. We face a climate crisis, record low wage growth and an ongoing global pandemic. But Morrison’s priority is to pour money into a destructive drive to war.

This huge military expenditure will mean schools, hospitals, universities and other essential public services will continue to be starved while arms manufacturers line their pockets.

Morrison claims the plan to build the subs in Australia will create jobs. But if the money was used to fund a rapid transition to 100 per cent renewable energy, it would create at least 130,000 climate jobs over ten years.

Every other nation that has nuclear subs also has nuclear power stations and nuclear weapons. So this opens the possibility of Australia pursuing them too. As Greens leader Adam Bandt says, AUKUS “puts floating Chernobyls in the heart of Australian cities”.

International solidarity, not nationalism

Some, including former Prime Minister Paul Keating, have opposed AUKUS on nationalist grounds, arguing that Australia is “forfeiting control” of its military and doing “the bidding of another great power”.

This is wrong. AUKUS is the latest instalment in a long history of Australian governments actively instigating and participating in conflicts, both local and far flung, in order to secure profitable trade and world-power backing for Australia’s regional mini-empire.

The Australian military dominates the South Pacific, dispatching troops and bullying the island nations such as East Timor, PNG, the Solomon Islands and Nauru. Its effort to steal Timor’s oil wealth following the 1999 intervention shows how it uses its power to boost the profits of Australian companies.

Some in the campaign against AUKUS have been reluctant to raise the demand of “no war on China”, arguing we may need to defend Australia in future.

This means accepting another version of Australian militarism—like that of defence strategist Hugh White, another opponent of AUKUS. He argues that we need a larger number of conventional subs, telling the Nine papers, “You would sink more enemy ships with 24 boats than you would with eight nuclear-powered ones.”

But ordinary people have no interest in fighting our rulers’ wars in defence of empire and corporate profits.

Nor does China have any interest in an invasion of Australia—or the ability to stage one.

We need to build common cause against militarism and war between workers in China and in Australia. Lining up behind our own government’s militarism only strengthens the hold of China’s rulers over their own people. The threat of external enemies has already been used as a pretext to crack down on union organising in China.

Any conflict with China could escalate into a disastrous exchange of nuclear weapons. Everyone should join the national weekend of protest against AUKUS, the nuclear subs and war with China taking place around the country on 9-11 December.

Unions, anti-nuclear campaigners and socialists need to fight to leave AUKUS and the push for war on China dead in the water.

By Adam Adelpour

Join the national weekend of protest

Wollongong Thursday 9 December | 6:30pm | 6-8 Wentworth St, Port Kembla
https://fb.me/e/VqkOm7lw

Brisbane Friday 10 December | 4pm | Reddacliff Place
https://fb.me/e/1f3TuPyJX

Canberra Friday 10 December | 5:30pm | Venue TBC

Melbourne Friday 10 December | 5.15pm | State Library of Victoria
https://fb.me/e/1aXyDbITM

Sydney Saturday 11 December | 12pm | Sydney Town Hall
https://fb.me/e/1jB35aogV

Melbourne Saturday 11 December | 1pm | State Library of Victoria
https://fb.me/e/3gSqywPkP

Adelaide Saturday 11 December | 2pm| Parliament House Steps, North Terrace https://fb.me/e/YGBjHaki

The post Stop the march to war on China—join the protests against AUKUS appeared first on Solidarity Online.

The Political Economy of Imperial Relations

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 25/04/2016 - 4:23pm in

Tags 

Blog, imperialism

Imperialism confronts us in a number of guises: either as formal or informal, a period of history, a type of state, or a monolithic institution, a thing-unto-itself, called an ‘empire’. These are all quite common views of imperialism in both popular and academic literature. In recent years, the study of imperialism has undergone something of a revival. This renaissance in its study has featured in many disciplines but has principally focused on the foreign policy of the United States and attempted to show how this is, as David Harvey famously called it, a ‘New’ Imperialism. Common to the study of the ‘New’ Imperialism is the idea that it is distinct from ‘old’ imperialism: it eschews colonies, long-term territorial conquest, and the state seems somewhat distant from the whole phenomenon.

SuttonMy new book The Political Economy of Imperial Relations offers an alternative view of imperialism, situating this view in an open Marxist account of the state. This account treats the state as a manifestation of capitalist society: the apparent political form of a crisis-prone society. The state, then, regulates and manages the crises and contradictions of this fractious and troubled society in order to sustain it. After all, capitalism is not just exploitative but also the means through which humans feed, shelter and clothe themselves. In this view, imperialism is a strategy available to states to overcome problems in sustaining capitalist society through the hijacking of another state’s ability to do so. As such then, the focus is very much on the specific imperial relationships between states and therefore historical analysis is essential in understanding how and why states engage in imperialism. Moreover, this work rejects the idea that imperialism today is meaningfully different from historical iterations since the phenomenon fundamentally derives from the crisis-prone society in which we still live.

The Political Economy of Imperial Relations offers an analysis of British imperialism in a profound crisis of capitalist society, in the years following the Second World War. In 1945, the British state faced a deeply unstable international economic climate, made all the worse for Britain by the decisions culminating in the organisation of the post-war international economy. This organisation committed Britain to, eventually, opening its exclusive economic area to free trade and to allow Sterling to become a convertible currency pegged to the US Dollar. Domestically, the British state had committed to a post-war plan of high levels of employment, large-scale intervention in the economy and the creation of a substantial welfare system. The structure of the post-war domestic and international consensus was therefore deeply taxing on the British state to manage its goals.

For Sterling to become freely convertibly, the British economy would need to be reconstructed and restructured after 6 years of intensive warfare. However, in order to do so, Britain would need vast quantities of dollars to pay for it as the goods needed to do so could only come from the United States. Of course, the British economy was unable to accumulate this precious foreign currency because of the damage done to it by warfare, through violence and state intervention, but also because Britain’s ability to sell goods to the United States had been diminishing for 50 years. As such, Britain came to rely on its exclusive economic area, the Sterling Area, to provide goods for British reconstruction but, more importantly, to provide dollars to buy essential goods from the United States for restructuring the British economy.

It is easy to see, then, how difficult navigating the post-war international economy might seem to a British state manager, especially given the domestic commitments made to prevent a return to the social problems of the inter-war period. Indeed, at the very moment Britain was tasked with re-opening its imperial preference system, it needed it more than ever. This imperial system was managed through the Sterling Area, which was a means through which Britain was able to dominate a number of other states.

It is with this historical and conceptual framework that The Political Economy of Imperial Relations seeks to understand British imperial strategy after the Second World War, focusing in particular on Britain’s relationship with Malaya. Malaya was the Sterling Area’s principal source of dollars, earning more than the rest of the other members of the Area put together. It achieved this through the sale of natural rubber and tin to the United States. These dollars were then pooled centrally into British foreign currency reserves and rationed out by the British state to pay for essential goods. Closing its analysis in 1960, three years after the independence of Malaya from the British Empire, the book covers various crises faced by the British state: the Convertibility Crisis, devaluation, the Korean War, the Suez Crisis, and the prolonged Malayan Emergency.

The goal of the book is to provide a detailed historical analysis, using archival documents, of Britain’s commitment to Malaya during the post-war period, as part of the Sterling Area and in terms of the difficulties facing both the British and global economy at the time. In purely historical terms, it challenges existing accounts of the relationship between Britain and Malaya by positing that it can best be characterised in terms of continuity rather than discontinuity. More broadly, however, it raises questions about the nature of imperialism, arguing that, by focusing on specific relationships between states, we can demystify imperialism without recourse to historical periodisation, the reification of empires, the typology of states, or such distinctions as ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ – all of which threaten to obfuscate our understanding of this phenomenon as well as its origins in global capitalist society. Through this view, then, we are able to see imperialism as a constant and persistent element of global society that has remained with us even today.

The post The Political Economy of Imperial Relations appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

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