Saturday, April 29, 2017

Australian Anti-War Activist Joan Coxsedge's April 25, 2017 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.
“April 25, 2017

“Dear Comrades,

“Hope you’re all OK, but it’s hard to be OK when the entire planet has gone bonkers and the most powerful man in the world is a dangerous blowhard who likes dictators and autocrats and whose finger hovers over the Red Button.

“Three presidential war criminals preceded Trump. Between them, Clinton, George W and Obama bombed Yugoslavia (twice), invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, attacked Pakistan and Yemen, destroyed Libya and sent in mercenaries to bugger up Syria. Not enough space to detail all Washington’s other coups and destabilizations but its lust for violence lies at its very core and as a vassal nation we are part and parcel of it. Having exported its manufacturing base and run down its industry (like us), the US has been left with little else but brute force, not only bombing and destabilizing much of the world, but messing up their own citizens, where police forces are out of control and commit more ‘gun violence’ than anyone else.

“But Trump isn’t the anti-establishment outsider he purported to be. His economic program looks like neo-liberalism on steroids where US corporations continue to behave like Kings over feudal serfs. They buy candidates, overwhelm governments with well-heeled lobbyists and spend a motser on PR and much else. The war lords and his silly daughter Ivanka persuaded Trump to unleash missiles on a Syrian airstrip and drop a $314 million massive air blast bomb on a few dozen ‘terrorists’ in some Afghanistan caves without the benefit of any valid intelligence. A display of machismo that got swift establishment approval. ‘I think Donald Trump became president of the United States last night’, gushed a CNN journo with raves about ‘the beauty of our fearsome armaments’. The rest of the Global Empire joined in the cheer squad, especially Australia

“In 2011 alone, the US spent $US845+ billion dollars on ‘defense and security’, with massive funds to covert Special Ops forces in more than 100 countries, while ’we’ shelled out a $195 billion war arsenal, including splurging more than $15 billion for American F-35 fighters exposed as hi-tech turkeys. In July we’re taking part in one of the biggest US-led naval exercises through China’s sea lanes, already encircled by 400 US military bases. John Pilger warns that Australia is sleepwalking into confrontation with China.

“No joy from Labor. Its defense spokesman Richard Marles thrilled US admirals and generals at a recent conference in Hawaii by virtually demanding that Australian commanders be given the authority to provoke nuclear-armed China in the disputed South China Sea.

“Trump’s Secretary of State Tillerson has been sent to Russia. Why? He’s spent the last few weeks peddling lies that Assad with the help of Russia used sarin gas against civilians. The world’s media immediately ran with the story without checking the facts or asking who put them out, when all the information in the video came from two dodgy outfits - the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the White Helmets, both openly supporting al-Qaida - and was doctored and was a scam.

“The US had been fully briefed there was a target in Idlib that the Russians believed was a weapons/explosives depot for Islamist rebels. The Syrian Airforce hit the target with conventional weapons, expecting to see a secondary explosion. Instead, smoke billowed out indicating it was used to store organic phosphates and chlorine, not sarin, but was still deadly. A strong wind blew the cloud to a nearby village.

“The video showed workers at the site 30 hours after the attack wearing clothes bearing the logo ’Idlib Health Directorate’ putting dead birds from a birdcage into plastic bags. The same workers were shown inside the crater without any protection of any kind against either sarin vapors or sarin aerosol. Had it been sarin, they would have died. One of the treating doctors who appeared in the video had been arrested for kidnapping two western journalists as a ‘committed jihadist’ and was struck off the Medical Council in 2016. The male victims were clean-shaven despite living in al-Qaida land.

“I could go on but the whole episode makes no sense. Pro-government forces were winning on the ground using more effective conventional tactics. They’re also under intense scrutiny, thus using chemical weapons would be a strategic blunder serving no purpose whatsoever.

“But US war fever waits for nothing. Once the war frenzy was unleashed, reasoning went out the window. That Syria used chemical weapons to bomb civilians became absolute truth within less than 24 hours. As the old saying goes: ‘A lie has travelled half-way around the world while truth is still putting on its shoes’. “The truth is that the CIA has spent more than a billion dollars arming anti-Assad ‘rebels’ and makes no bones that its main target is the Syrian Government.

“The US is now turning its sights back to North Korea. A strange regime but more understandable when you read about its recent past. I thank Paul Atwood for the following material, but of course it’s only part of the story.

“Why did this tiny nation of 24 million invest in nuclear? Because of its turbulent history, with its four decade long occupation by Japan, its forced division after WW2 and the later devastating war with the United States from 1950-53 that ended in an uneasy armistice.

“Korea is an ancient nation with its own unique language and traditions but its independence came to an end in 1910 after five years of war and occupation by Japan. A nationalist resistance movement emerged in the form of ‘people’s committees’ and it was from these deeply committed village and city groups that guerrilla forces took on the Japanese during WW2.

“August 1945 saw the end of Japanese rule when Russia occupied the northern peninsula. The Soviets agreed to the division between Soviet and American forces because they were allies back then. Dean Rusk (later to become Secretary of State) arbitrarily drew a line across the 38th parallel ensuring that the capital city Seoul remained in the American zone.

“The Soviets could easily have occupied all of Korea but chose not to do so. A pity, because the US immediately began favouring Koreans who had actively collaborated with the Japanese while directing the government to root out the people’s committees. The Soviets supported Kim Il-Sung who had led the guerrilla army against the Japanese.

“In 1947, the United Nations authorised elections but as the monitors were all US allies the Soviets and Communist Koreans declined to take part. By then the Cold War was in full swing and the US only supported candidates approved by Washington. Extremist anti-communist Syngman Rhee was appointed head of the Korean government in 1945 before later winning the country’s first presidential election. Many of his senior army officers had served in the Japanese occupation. Both Russian and American troops withdrew but left ‘advisers’ behind. Rhee’s forces attacked Kim’s supporters and in 1948 a guerrilla war broke out against the corrupt Rhee regime but was suppressed with the help of American agents who later became part of the CIA.

“In 1950, Washington released its National Security Paper-68 that outlined the agenda for its anti-communist crusade, requiring a tripling of its defense budget. And set the reactionary political tone that is still in force. Given Washington’s post WW2 plans for global access to resources, markets and cheap labour, any form of national liberation movements had to be opposed.Truman authorized the UN to instigate a full-scale military intervention, bypassing Congress. The war went badly at first, despite the US having more troops, but this was swiftly reversed and North Koreans were forced to retreat into the mountains.

“Right from the outset, China had made it clear that any foreign troops approaching their border would ‘result in dire consequences’, which was dismissed outright by General MacArthur. MacArthur then ordered airstrikes under the command of the notorious General Curtis Lemay that laid waste to thousands of square miles of North Korea, worse than anything seen in WW2, short of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. ‘We burned down every town and village’, said Lemay. And he wasn’t exaggerating.

“In November 1950, hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops crossed the border and overwhelmed US forces. There was panic in Washington with A-bombs on its agenda. MacArthur also wanted to use chemical weapons, including gas and radioactive cobalt.

“By June 1951, UN troops were forced back across the 38th parallel and the fighting became a war of attrition like the trench warfare in WW1. The US was accused of dropping bombs laden with cholera, anthrax, plague and encephalitis, all of which turned up among the north’s population. Some American POWs admitted to such war crimes but were never allowed to talk to the media. Napalm was also used extensively and completely destroyed Pyongyang. At that time, the US was engaged in top secret germ warfare research using captured Nazi and Japanese warfare experts. The US was also experimenting with sarin gas despite it being banned by the Geneva Convention. Interesting, in view of the current situation in Syria.

“In the spring of 1953, US warplanes hit five of North Korea’s largest dams inundating and destroying Pyongyang’s rice harvest. They were followed by flash floods that destroyed the soil and killed untold numbers of farmers.

“At Nuremberg after WW2, Nazi officers who carried out similar attacks on Holland’s dykes that created a massive famine were tried and some were executed. It’s had to imagine, even after all this time, that after such intense suffering and bloodshed North Korea would ever agree to submit to any ultimatum by the US of A.
“Last Tuesday we commemorated Anzac Day when we heard a great deal about fighting for freedom and democracy to justify the obscene death toll in that terrible war and seem to have learned nothing. Still far too much jingoism. Less than a week later many of us celebrated May Day to honour the struggles and victories of working class people.

“Australia led the world when on April 21, 1856 stonemasons at Melbourne University downed tools and marched to the Victorian Parliament and inaugurated a movement which won the Eight Hour Day for building workers in Victoria. The victory became an international landmark in the history of the labour movement throughout the world. But oh to be in Cuba for May Day, a fabulous celebration when millions march waving their red flags and singing and dancing. Viva!

“Joan Coxsedge”

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