Friday, January 30, 2015

Australian Anti-War Activist Joan Coxsedge's January 26, 2015 Letter

(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)

"January 26, 2015,

"Dear Comrades,

"The world has gone bonkers, completely bonkers without any moral compass. So a happy new year and the best of luck!

"But the rich are laughing even if the rest of us are not. I like the message handwritten on a poster. `Dear Capitalism, It's not you. It's us. Just kidding. It's you.'

"It sure is. Capitalism is off the leash and destroying our earth and everyone on it.

"The Charlie Hebdo assassinations of the 17 French civilians were horrific and symptomatic of a much deeper malaise. The passionate chants of `Je suis Charlie' expressed a defense of the right of free expression even if what is said is hateful.

"But there was nothing in Charlie Hebdo that comes even close to the daily onslaught of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and hatred exhibited by commercial television and media that continue to bombard us without any trace of Charlie Hebdo's criticism of organized religion and the political right.

"Our media barely mentioned that the Paris killers were `radicalized' by the incredible atrocities committed by US forces in Washington's brazenly racist, criminal, petrochemical invasion and occupation of Iraq.

"Certain world leaders who pushed their way to the front of the march to express their outrage at the assault on `freedom of speech' have few freedoms in their own countries and turned the genuine outrage of millions into a photo opportunity.

"Turkey's PM attended the rally to tell President Francois Hollande he must treat Muslims kindly and protect their mosques. But Turkey also supports Islamic extremists in Syria who are recruiting Frenchmen to become terrorists. Hardly a model of freedom and tolerance.

"One of the worst hypocrites? Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Neither invited nor wanted. Netanyahu was explicitly asked by Hollande not to come. But come he did--along with two of his ultra-right ministers. Placed in the second row, this odious man shoved aside a black African president and installed himself at the front beaming and waving along the way as if he was part of a victory parade.

"Another contender, Saudi Minister Nizar Madani, also took part in the march. He represented a nation every bit as sickening. Both support the most extreme form of Islam and think alike on crime and punishment.

"Paul McGeough compares the two and writes: `Homosexuals? Kill them. Adulterers? Stone them. Stealing? Chop off a hand or foot. Step out of line? Flog them. But nothing beats a beheading, 87 last year in Saudi Arabia, with 11 this year alone.'

"Like ISIS, Saudi Arabia strongly supports the fanatics in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan who slaughter journalists and aid workers, destroy ancient monuments and enslave women.

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave. The two Paris killers had reportedly been influenced by the atrocities committed by US forces in their brazenly racist, criminal, petrochemical invasion and occupation of Iraq. They spent the summer in Syria fighting with the `rebels' seeking to overthrow President Assad, just like the US and France--which has spent the past four years training and equipping fighters to do just that. In other words, it seems the pair were on `our' side and might have even used American or French weapons while fighting there.

"A slice of recent Middle Eastern history wouldn't hurt. Between 1950 to 1980, Islamic fundamentalism had been extinguished and was virtually non-existent--unless you count US support for the last bastions, Saudi Arabia and later Qatar.

"Before the 1980s, the dominant ideology was pan-Arab socialism, most notably in Egypt, Syria, Libya and Iraq, where Islamic fundamentalism was seen as regressive. But when the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, destroyed Libya and waged a ruthless proxy war in Syria, fundamentalists used the invasions and the destruction of these once-proud nations to show that the West was at war with Islam itself. Tailor-made for Saudi-style fundamentalism.

"Where were the millions marching against these war crimes and when Israel launched its murderous assaults on Palestinian civilians in the open-air apartheid prison that is the Gaza Strip?

"And let's hope we see even bigger marches when the UN Climate Change Conference takes place in Paris next November. Especially here with our atrocious environmental track record and lousy track record during our two-year tenure on the UN Security Council. On December 29, Australia was one of only two nations to vote against a Jordanian draft resolution designed to hasten a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian catastrophe. Our last vote.

"A couple of weeks ago it was widely reported about a thaw in US/Cuban relations centered around the release of Alan Gross, a US spy claimed by Obama to be one of their `most valuable deployments against Cuba.' We celebrated because Cuba's `most valuable deployment,' the remaining three of the Cuban Five, were swapped for Gross and reunited with their families in Cuba.

"It was also reported as if the only thing wrong with US policy over the last five-plus decades was that `it didn't work.' It sure didn't. Washington's cruel, vindictive terrorist war, its scandalous economic blockade and failure to return Guantanamo Bay to the Cuban government isolated itself and elicited contempt and ridicule throughout the world.

"Incredibly, Obama announced the changes with these words: `Proudly, the United States has supported democracy and human rights in Cuba through these five decades...policy rooted in the best of intentions.'

"What audacity! You'd need a very long spoon to sup with these people.

"Obama recently signed legislation that freezes the assets and revokes travel visas of Venezuelan officials on the trumped-up charge that they had violated the human rights of US-funded ultra-right protesters. And only last April USAID (Washington's covert foreign affairs arm) was busily distributing a social media program in Cuba designed to foment unrest.

"Its methods might change. But the core goal of undermining Cuba lives on. Cubans know this and will be on their guard. Raul told Cuba's national Assembly about their profound differences and that Cuba is a sovereign state whose people chose a socialist path. Viva!

"Joan Coxsedge"                                              

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