(The following letter from Australian anti-war and Latin American solidarity activist Joan Coxsedge—who is also a former member of the Victoria state parliament--originally appeared in an Australian-Cuban solidarity group’s newsletter)
"These are extremely stressful times for those with a conscience and political nous, so if you can, take a walk in the hills or along a beach or try out the Yarra Valley wineries, any place where you can get a lungful of fresh air and give your brain a rest from the daily assaults from what passes as `news'. It's almost impossible to be at peace with our troubled world.
"Today we're assailed with market fundamentalism where we're told the `market' will resolve all our social, economic and political problems and that the less the state taxes and regulates us the better off we'll be, with public services privatized, public spending cut and businesses freed from any form of social control.
"At the heart of this bull-shit is a no-holds-barred philosophy where the rich are the righteous and the poor are the social parasites, but instead of `liberating' us, it has given us isolation and penury, except for those at the very top of the heap. Whether we're working or unemployed, we must live by the same set of rigid rules or perish. Our major political parties sing from the same sad song sheet, leaving us without a political voice and being controlled by a heavy-handed faceless bureaucracy. So if you feel betrayed by our current set of circumstances, that's fine. I means you have kept your humanity.
"But we're stuck in the present and facing the consequences of America's reckless and criminal interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria, where various sects once lived in peace under the rule of Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi and Assad and are now butchering each other. And where a new more extreme group, ISIS, a creation of Washington's meddling, is trying to create a new state out of the remnants of Iraq and Syria.
"The Clinton regime's onslaught on Serbia set the pattern, which was picked up by George Bush mobsters who unleashed appalling aggression against Afghanistan with the Orwellian slogan `Operation Enduring Freedom', bringing anything but. After 13 destructive years, Washington is now pulling out, having been beaten by a couple of thousand Taliban, leaving behind utter devastation while refusing to accept any responsibility, and barely two years after U.S. forces left Iraq, they're back, this time claiming `humanitarianism' for yet another military intervention.
"The idea that those responsible for up to a million deaths, million refugees, mass torture and ethnic cleansing have the gall to present themselves as having a `responsibility to protect' Iraqis is beyond belief. The same screwed-up mindset came from the mouth of the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. who said that after 2000 Palestinians in Gaza were slaughtered, the Israeli army should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its `unimaginable restraint', when most of the world believed they should be charged with war crimes.
"But Israel is protected by Big Brother Washington which, since 1962, has kicked in $100 billion to its coffers. For the past few decades, Israel has been given $3 billion annually solely for `defense' purposes. Both refuse to accept anyone else's laws and turned their back on diplomacy a long time ago, preferring to bully and coerce and threaten.
"Today we're on the cusp of commemorating the horrors of WWI (one media nong said `celebrate',) a catastrophe that wiped ou a generation of our young, destroyed much of Europe, and precipitated WW2. And yet we're seeing a new repugnant form of fascism emerging today in Ukraine where Washington is using the Kiev junta to attack Russia and provoke war in Europe to maintain world domination. If ever we needed strong radical voices to speak out against these dangerous trends, it's now.
"An English academic laments that for the first time in 200 years there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the `western way of life:' No Shelley speaks for the poor, no Blake for utopian dreams, no Byron damns the corruption of the ruling class, no Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin reveal the moral disaster of capitalism. William Morris, Oscar Wilde, H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw have no equivalents today. Harold Pinter was the last to raise his eloquent voice. And among the insistent voices of consumer-feminism, none echoes Virginia Woolf who described the `art of dominating other people...of ruling, of acquiring land and capital'.
"It's impossible to fully understand Cuba without also understanding the economic sanctions levelled against it by the U.S.. For over 50 years, these sanctions have been upheld by every presidential administration and at times intensified by individual presidents and acts of Congress.
"They are a key part of the U.S. government's ongoing campaign to undermine the Cuban Revolution and stand in egregious violation of international law. Most importantly, the sanctions are cruelly designed to harm the Cuban people, which is why we are members of the ACFS. And why we give three cheers for the wonderful young Cuban woman, Aili Labanino-Cardosa, who travelled around Australia to highlight the plight of five courageous Cubans--one her father--who had entered the United States in 1998 to monitor the actions of extremist groups in Miami. But instead of clamping down on the criminals, the FBI arrested the Cubans and after trumped-up charges and a politically-motivated trial, gave them horrendously long jail sentences in often brutal conditions. Two were released after serving their full time, but three are still incarcerated. And three cheers for the two unions--the CFMEU and MUA--who organized her tour and for the ACFS branches from around Australia who gave it their full support.