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America’s Scramble for Africa
| October 19, 2017 | 9:03 pm | Africa, Analysis, China, Donald Trump | No comments
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America’s Scramble for Africa

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The ugly row over whether President Trump disrespected the young widow of a fallen American soldier has overshadowed a bigger issue. That is, the increasing number of US military operations across the African continent.

Two weeks ago, Sgt La David Johnson (25) was killed along with three other US special forces troops when Islamist militants ambushed their patrol in the West African country of Niger. Trump got into hot water this week about reported offhand comments he made to the widow of Green Beret Johnson. The president denies he said anything disrespectful. Although the dead soldier’s family says otherwise.

In all the media controversy over what Trump said or didn’t say, questions about what US troops are doing in Niger are unfortunately overlooked. Not just Niger, but in dozens of other African nations.It is reckoned from US army data that there are thousands of special forces and other military personnel carrying out up to 100 missions at any given time in some 24 African states. That’s nearly half of all the countries comprising the African continent.

US special forces and surveillance drone operations are deployed in Niger, Chad, Mali and Sudan which all run along the southern Sahara desert. Further south in sub-Saharan Africa, US military are operating in Nigeria, Central African Republic, Uganda, Ethiopia and, of course, Somalia, where they are involved in a state of war against Islamist al Shabab militants.

The deployment of US troops in Africa was first stepped up under President GW Bush when his administration formed AFRICOM in 2007, a whole US command dedicated to the continent. Subsequently, under President Barack Obama, the American deployments increased further. Now under President Trump, the US force presence is reckoned to be at its highest level yet.

The official explanation is that American soldiers, Navy and air power, as well as CIA clandestine operations, are there to counter terror groups, who could plan and mount strikes on Europe and North America.True, there are several dangerous terror networks active in various African states, from al Shabaab in Somalia, to Boko Haram in Nigeria and al-Qaeda in the Maghreb. The latter has affiliates in Algeria, Mali, Chad and Niger where the US troops were killed recently along with a number of  local forces they were supporting.

But there is more than a suspicion that the US is using the cover of combating terrorism to conceal and project its real objective, which is to exert its influence over African nations. One observation for raising doubts is that the problem of these terror groups has actually grown more rapidly after the US troops started to be deployed in larger numbers under President Bush. Echoes of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria here.

When Trump hosted several African leaders last month in New York during the UN annual congress he told them that his American investor friends were hotfooting it to the continent “to make a lot of money”. Typical of Trump, everything is reduced to filthy lucre. Now he may have been trying to charm his guests with a little light-hearted banter, but there’s much more to the joke. Africa is indeed seen as the continent of the future owing to its prodigious and still largely untapped resources.

The trouble for America and other Western powers is that China has stolen a march on them in terms of cultivating investments and harnessing resources across Africa. Under President Xi Jinping, China has investment projects worth an estimated $60 billion in dozens of African countries. This is way ahead of what the Americans or Europeans have invested.

Earlier this year, China opened its first ever overseas military base, in the East African country of Djibouti. That’s still small news compared with the reported 46 military bases that the US has across the continent.Beijing said its new military facilities in Djibouti are to secure vital shipping routes against piracy in the Gulf of Aden. That may be partly true. But there is also the factor of China wanting a security foothold in a continent where it has staked so much of its future economic growth plans.

The big difference between the US and China is that while Beijing has devoted most of its resources to developing trade and industry with African states, Washington’s emphasis is on military relations.

China has gained much respect from African nations for its genuine commitment to partnership. It is bringing capital and technology to Africa and gaining access to natural resources of oil and gas, metals and other minerals. Unlike the old European colonialism, China’s involvement in Africa is based on partnership and mutual development. For access to raw materials, China has built schools, universities, telecommunications and transport networks, which are all helping the continent reach its huge potential.

The Americans like the Europeans are stuck in an “extractive mentality” when it comes to Africa. But today, American capitalism is broke. It can’t even invest in its own nation never mind Africa.

Trump speaks for American capitalism. Knowing the rich resources possessed in Africa’s earth and its people, Trump salivates over the prospect of making big bucks. But the Americans aren’t prepared to spend the investment money needed to harness the rewards.That’s where the US military muscle comes in. In place of proper economic investment, diplomacy and political partnership, Washington is using its military edge to encroach on Africa — under the guise of “fighting terrorism”.

That’s not to say that American troops aren’t confronting terror groups. They are, as the deadly firefight in Niger shows.

But the real purpose for increasing US military strength in Africa is about securing American strategic economic interests “on the cheap” by using military power as opposed to deploying financial commitment in the way that China has.

The Americans want to have military firepower in place across Africa in the event of a sharp confrontation with China. China is seen as the global rival to failing US economic power. If relations turn really nasty — as they could over any number of issues, from North Korea to territorial disputes in the South China Sea — the US wants to have military ways to cut China off in Africa.

Like the Europeans in a previous century, the Americans are in a “scramble for Africa”. This time the scramble is all about cornering countries and resources from China’s legitimate expanding bilateral interests with African nations.However, America’s militarism in Africa will bring no benefit to the countries. As in other parts of the globe, the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, the pattern clearly shows that terrorism burgeons where US military operations occur.

Besides, American capitalism is not motivated by developing Africa for its people. It’s about making profits for Wall Street and rich investors like Trump.

The real danger is that this militarism will lead to another point of confrontation with China if the latter’s economic interests are threatened, as they were when US and NATO forces bombed Libya in 2011 for regime change.

It’s such a crying shame that American widows are having their hearts broken for a mission that is totally fraudulent — and getting no thanks for it from a callous Commander-in-Chief.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Georgi Dimitrov: An Antidote to False Prophets and Naysayers

A new posting –

Georgi Dimitrov: An Antidote to False Prophets and Naysayers

– from Greg Godels is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/

By Zoltan Zigedy (Greg Godels)October 16, 2017

Marxists have been prolific correspondents, engaging others in polemics and collective ideas. The Marx and Engels correspondences, for example, number 1,386 letters! Marxism is, or should be, a collaborative effort.

Thus, I read the recent Sam Webb/Max Elbaum correspondence with some interest. Webb was the National Chairperson of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) for fourteen years until 2014. Elbaum was a sympathetic chronicler and active leader of the so-called “New Communist Movement” (NCM) in the 1970s. It is important to note that the CPUSA and the NCM were bitter rivals at that time.

So, it is strange that they exchange warm emails today, sharing the pleasantries of senior life–swimming, camping, time with grandkids, and marathon running– while adding their voices to the chorus calling for an all-out effort on behalf of the Democratic Party in the 2018 elections.

Or is it strange?

Webb holds the dubious distinction of leading the CPUSA down the rabbit hole of irrelevance. After the death of long-time CPUSA leader, Gus Hall, Webb and his cohorts transformed the CPUSA into a social democratic organization, eschewing both the legacy of the Communist Party and much of its organizational structure. Webb further entrenched the “lesser-of-two-evil” electoral strategy that began with the panic over the Reagan victory in 1980. The final years of Hall’s chairmanship and the Webb era snuffed out the last measures of the CPUSA’s political independence, turning it into a servile handmaiden to the Democratic Party.

Webb resigned from the eviscerated CPUSA the year after he gave up the national chair.

Elbaum’s career emerged very differently, but landed in nearly the same place as Webb’s. Elbaum, like many other veterans from the 1960s student movement, moved away from the radical democratic reformism of that era in the direction of a more anti-capitalist ideology, Marxism-Leninism. Unable to overcome their infection with the anti-Communist virus of the Cold War, many were drawn to the militant rhetoric of the Communist Party of China (CPC) that was simultaneously befriending Nixon’s administration and roundly condemning the Soviet Communists and most of the World Communist Movement. With amazing chutzpah, Elbaum and the New Communist Movement found no contradiction in the two positions. But by the end of the 1970s, the opportunism of the CPC was more than even the most faithful could hold their noses and swallow. China’s Communists had sided with the US against every legitimate liberation movement in Africa, including the ANC. The Red Guard anarchy and the Gang of Four excesses tested the conviction of the devoted, leading to defection for all but the most cultish.

Elbaum’s political journey continued, but swung sharply away from Leninism. The hyper-sectarian model embraced by NCM generated a sharp reaction, an extreme swing away from the classic Leninist notion of a vanguard party with a centralized, but democratic structure. Having little or no experience with Leninism apart from the brief heyday of the NCM, Elbaum began a steady retreat towards social democracy, a trend expressed in the US by investing in the perceived positive, progressive potential of the Democratic Party. Where Webb argues for unquestioned conformity to the Democratic Party leadership, Elbaum opts for a more critical attitude with the hope of steering the Democrats leftward.

Judging by the odyssey of Sam Webb and Max Elbaum, many roads lead disillusioned radicals, Marxist short-timers, and weak-kneed Communists back to the Democratic Party. Of course, many of the privileged (and violence-prone), elite-school New Lefties have been welcomed back to the Democratic Party as well.

In retrospect, two notions have provided excuses for disillusioned Marxists to retreat to the social democratic camp: first, the perceived threat of fascism as present or around the corner and, secondly, the firmly held conviction that resistance to fascism necessitates some kind of broad, anti-fascist front. Both notions, though widely cited, belong to the theoretical legacy of the Marxist-Leninist left. And both were elaborated most clearly and authoritatively by the Communist theoretician of fascism, Georgi Dimitrov.

Dimitrov on Fascism and Anti-fascism
Hardly a day goes by without someone on the left raising the shrill alarm of fascism. As Diana Johnstone reminds us in her brilliant essay on Antifa, “…historical fascism no longer exists.” What does exist, however are movements, formations, and personalities that bear various common features with historical fascism. Of course, we should not diminish the active role of these movements, formations, and personalities in their vicious attacks on the democratic and economic gains won by working people.

But these elements have always been a part of the political landscape of the US, both before, during and after the era of historical fascism– the Know Nothing Party, the Ku Klux Klan, the Liberty League, Father Coughlin, Joseph McCarthy, Barry Goldwater, the John Birch Society, George Wallace, the Tea Party, Trumpets and Trumpettes, etc. It is far harder to identify a time in US history when the fascist-like elements did not exist as a significant force. For that reason, vigilance and militant resistance is always important. But that is a far cry from urging that something identical with historical fascism is now imminent. If the wolf is always lurking in the shadows, is it helpful to cry “wolf”?

This should in no way be construed as a dismissal or underestimation of many of the forces arrayed around and unleashed by President Trump. They, like their predecessors, are present as a reserve army for the ruling class should political matters get out of hand. They should be met with the same resolute resistance as the left has mounted in the past against rabid hate-mongers and right-wing terrorists.

Historical fascism arose as a response to the success of revolutionary socialism, in Dimitrov’s words: “Fascism comes to power as a party of attack on the revolutionary movement of the proletariat, on the mass of the people who are in a state of unrest…” Clearly, there are, with perhaps a few exceptions, no serious threats to capitalist rule today, certainly not in the United States; there are few revolutionary movements contesting state power. There can be no counter-revolutionary “open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital” when there is no revolution to counter.

While Dimitrov warns of the dangers of fascistic tendencies and urges their resistance, he reminds us that: “The accession to power of fascism is not an ordinary succession of one bourgeois government by another, but a substitution of one state form of class domination of the bourgeoisie — bourgeois democracy — by another form — open terrorist dictatorship.” Few of the harbingers of fascism today acknowledge this point. Since the right in the US manages its agenda well within the confines of a corporate dominated two-party system, why would it need to move to an open terrorist dictatorship?

In a real sense, the premature cry of “fascism!” disarms the revolutionary left, the advocates of socialism. Instead of building an alternative to the failed two-party system, a system that demonstrates a constant rightward shift, Webb, Elbaum, and far too many on the left argue for compromise with those who have been fully compliant with this rightward drift. They misunderstand or distort much of what we have learned about historical fascism.

Contrary to the vulgar distortion of Dimitrov’s views, fascism did not come to power in Germany because sectarian Communists refused to work with Social Democrats. Dimitrov is clear on this: “Fascism was able to come to power primarily because the working class, owing to the policy of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie pursued by Social Democratic leaders, proved to be split, politically and organizationally disarmed, in face of the onslaught of the bourgeoisie…” and owing to “…their campaign against the Communists and [failure] to accept the repeated proposals of the Communist Party for united action against fascism.”

Webb and Elbaum neither understand the historical basis of fascism nor grasp the Marxist theory of united front designed to meet the fascist danger when it arises. Rather than viewing the united front as a specific historical response to a specific historical development, they generalize the united front tactic to a universal response to the ascendency of the right.

If fascism is on the horizon, they argue, then we need to adopt a united front policy that brings together any and all forces willing to stand in its way. But that is not the lesson that Georgi Dimitrov– the Communist who stood against and defied the Nazi judiciary when charged with the Reichstag fire– drew from the experience of historical fascism:

Whether the victory of fascism can be prevented depends first and foremost on the militant activity of the working class itself, on whether its forces are welded into a single militant army combating the offensive of capitalism and fascism. By establishing its fighting unity, the proletariat would paralyze the influence of fascism over the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie, the youth and the intelligentsia, and would be able to neutralize one section of them and win over the other section.

Second, it depends on the existence of a strong revolutionary party, correctly leading the struggle of the working people against fascism. A party which systematically calls on the workers to retreat in the face of fascism and permits the fascist bourgeoisie to strengthen its positions is doomed to lead the workers to defeat… [my italics]

Both Webb and Elbaum have long given up on building “a strong revolutionary party,” either for its own sake or for a battle against fascism. Instead, they take their lead from the Democratic Party, a pathetic answer to the rightward shift of the last four decades.

They fail to grasp the application of the united front strategy to US conditions. Rather than tail the Democrats, Dimitrov, writing specifically in 1935 about the US, called for the creation of a third party and for a decisive break with the bourgeois parties (the Democrats and the Republicans):
It is perfectly obvious that the interests of the American proletariat demand that all its forces dissociate themselves from the capitalist parties without delay. It must find in good time ways and suitable forms to prevent fascism from winning over the wide mass of discontented working people. And here it must be said that under American conditions the creation of a mass party of the working people, a Workers’ and Farmers’ Party, might serve as such a suitable form. Such a party would be a specific form of the mass People’s Front in America and should be put in opposition to the parties of the trusts and the banks, and likewise to growing fascism. Such a party, of course, will be neither Socialist nor Communist. But it must be an anti-fascist party and must not be an anti-Communist party.

Of course, this was written at a moment when historical fascism was at its zenith internationally. Today, without the imminent threat of fascism, the prescription for a break with the Democrats is even more urgent.

It is not simply a question of stopping fascism, but a question of winning people away from it with a peoples’ program.
Those who confuse the anti-fascist united front with capitulation to the leadership of liberals or social democrats often see the problem of united action as left-sectarianism. Certainly, sectarianism, characterized by Dimitrov as finding “…expression particularly in overestimating the revolutionization of the masses, in overestimating the speed at which they are abandoning the positions of reformism, and in attempting to leap over difficult stages and the complicated tasks of the movement…” was then and remains a significant obstacle to building a Communist Party or a third party.

But Dimitrov gave equal attention to the dangers of right opportunism:
…we must increase in every way our vigilance toward Right opportunism and the struggle against it and against every one of its concrete manifestations, bearing in mind that the danger of Right opportunism will increase in proportion as the broad united front develops. Already there are tendencies to reduce the role of the Communist Party in the ranks of the united front and to effect a reconciliation with Social-Democratic ideology.

Nor must we lose sight of the fact that the tactics of the united front are a method of clearly convincing the Social-Democratic workers of the correctness of the Communist policy and the incorrectness of the reformist policy, and that they are not a reconciliation with Social-Democratic ideology and practice. A successful struggle to establish the united front imperatively demands constant struggle in our ranks against tendencies to depreciate the role of the Party, against legalist illusions, against reliance on spontaneity and automatism, both in liquidating fascism and in implementing the united front against the slightest vacillation at the moment of decisive action.

Thus, it is a mistake to surrender the revolutionary program to appease tactical alliances or coalitions. Joint action is possible, maybe essential at times, but without sacrificing the integrity and revolutionary ideology to tactical partners. This is a nuance lost on those rushing to uncritically embrace the electoral slates of the Democratic Party and to hide the goal of socialism under a basket.

Those abandoning the struggle against capitalism, for socialism, should be honest about their change of heart. They should not hide behind an inflated threat or a misrepresented tactic.

Historical fascism was a mortal, worldwide threat in the 1930s and 1940s. Communists devised special tactics to broaden and deepen the fight against it. They did so without illusions about the commitment of other forces or without corrupting or compromising their principles. They led and won that fight, except, unfortunately, in Spain.

A similar threat may arise again when revolutionary forces present an existential challenge to the conventional rule of the capitalist class.
Or it may not. That will depend, as Dimitrov points out, on the balance of forces between revolutionaries and their adversaries.

But those who imagine a world without capitalism should not be misled by false prophets who pretend to find a road to socialism through the Democratic Party. Those who aspire to socialism should not be seduced by naysayers who insist that the struggle for socialism should be postponed until all of the specters and ghouls of the right are exorcised.

PCPE: The right of self-determination is unviable within the Spanish capitalist framework

Monday, October 16, 2017

PCPE: The right of self-determination is unviable within the Spanish capitalist framework

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/10/pcpe-right-of-self-determination-is.html

The Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain (PCPE) issued a statement on the last events in Catalonia.
The statment of the Political Secretariat of the PCPE discussed the last events in Catalonia and decisions of the Council of Ministers. It  reminded that since the beginning of these events the Party had been “warning for months about the invalidity of the independentist process in Catalonia“. The Party underlined the reasons “why the exercise of the right of self-determination is unviable within the Spanish capitalist framework”.
The statement said “Capitalism has nothing to do with democracy, but with the monopoly of violence, which is today exclusively in the hands of the Spanish Government. The statement made yesterday (October 10, 2017) by the President of the Generalitat proves that the direction of the independentist process does not count, nor can count, on the strength to impose indenpendence. Large sectors of the Catalan people have been lead to a dead-end road which will generate a huge feeling of frustration.
It was observed that the contribution of some sectors of the Catalan nationalist left was “remarkable“. The Party assessed that this is due to the wrong strategy to struggle under the flag of those who “brutally repressed the workers’ struggle and approved ruthless capitalist policies together with the Socialist Party and the Popular Party in the past.” It stated that the independentist process which has suffered a harsh political defeat is represented by the Catalan bourgeoisie as part of the “Spanish dominant class clear since October 1“.
The PCPE criticized the supporters of the independence movement of not understanding “the class structure in current Spain” and warned that “the division among workers has alarmingly grown, the reaction has increased and fascist hate demonstrations have multiplied“. The statement underlined that “The Spanish bourgeoisie has been given the perfect excuse to keep going on the reorganisation of the State, currently in process, under a deeply reactionary sense.” The Spanish State is forcing the Government of Catalonia to submit, rejecting any mediation or negotiation which means that bourgeois politics on both sides “dwells on the popular feelings and the lives of millions of workers.”
The Communist Party called all workers and the popular strata, especially women workers and the youth “to defend their common interests beyond any nationalist division”. The call included to stop the advance of reaction and fascism, to stop the repression on the Catalan people, to defend the popular and workers unity beyond any national difference and to join together under the common goal of defeating the Spanish Capitalism, “in order to open the path to the proclamation of the Socialist Republic“.
The call added that in the Socialist Republic of Spain the power would be in the hands of the working class, finding its “territorial basis in the union of free peoples, democraticly exerting their right to self-determination.” The statement concluded with the slogan, “For the independence and unity of the popular and working class!
The 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution was honored in Athens (+Video)

Monday, October 16, 2017

The 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution was honored in Athens (+Video)

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/10/the-100th-anniversary-of-great-october.html

“Long live the October Socialist Revolution! Long live Marxism-Leninism and Proletarian Internationalism! Our future isn’t capitalism; it is the new world, socialism!”.

 
Under these slogans and with the presense of representatives of Communist Parties from various countries, the Central Committee of the KKE honored the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution. The event, which took place at the KKE’s headquarters in Perissos, Athens, consists part of the celebrations organised by the CC of the KKE for the centennial of the 1917 October Revolution. 
 
The major speech was delivered by the Secretary General of the CC of the KKE Dimitris Koutsoumbas, while greeting messages were delivered by representatives from other Communist Parties, incuding the Communist Party of Turkey, the Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain (PCPE), the Communist Party, Italy; the New Communist Party of Yugoslavia, the South African Communist Party, the Hungarian Workers Party, the Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan, the Socialist Party of Latvia and the Russian Communist Workers Party. 
 
The event included an exhibition of Soviet banners, as well as Vladimir Lenin’s post-mortem mask made by the prominent Soviet sculptor-monumentalist Sergey Merkurov
 
Below, you can see the whole video of the internationalist event, as it was published by 902 portal.
KKE comments on Tsipras’ visit to the US: The SYRIZA-ANEL government confirms its loyalty to NATO-USA

Saturday, October 14, 2017

KKE comments on Tsipras’ visit to the US: The SYRIZA-ANEL government confirms its loyalty to NATO-USA

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/10/kke-comments-on-tsipras-visit-to-us.html

Regarding the five-days long visit of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to the United States, where he will have a meeting with President Donald Trump, the Press Office of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece made the following comment:
“The trip of the Prime Minister to the USA- regardless of any communication tricks by the government- has one basic aim: The upgrade of the US-NATO bases in Greece and the deeper involvement of the country in the murderous plans of USA-EU-NATO in the broader region.
Whatever “quid pro quo” the SYRIZA-ANEL government asserts in this abject and dangerous bazaar, do not concern the Greek people but the investments and the profits of business giants, also through the sale of public property and energy wealth.
The SYRIZA-ANEL government can well be one of the most “law abiding”- towards NATO and the USA- governments.
Source: 902.gr / Translation: In Defense of Communism.
European Communist Initiative: “Education should be a right, not a privilege-commodity for the few”
| October 17, 2017 | 9:01 pm | Analysis | No comments

Friday, October 13, 2017

European Communist Initiative: “Education should be a right, not a privilege-commodity for the few”

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/10/european-communist-initiative-education.html
 
The European Communist Initiative, which rallies 29 communist and workers’ parties in its ranks, highlights the major issue of education which concerns school and university students, parents and teachers, the peoples as a whole. Education should be a right, not a privilege-commodity for the few.
In reality, it has been demonstrated that the education system under capitalism does not provide real education and is very expensive. It reflects and reinforces the dominant ideology of the society on which it is based.
The mission of the education system under capitalism is to ideologically prepare the workers of tomorrow so that they are assimilated into the exploitative system at a young age, so that they adapt to the needs of the profitability of themonopolies.In capitalist society education systems are critical tools in the maintenance of a class based societyin the interests of the ruling capitalist class designed to perpetuate exploitation. 
The reactionary reforms being promoted by the EU and the bourgeois governments reinforce the penetration and intervention of businesses into all levels of education, state spending is being reduced, the commercialization of education is flourishing and the content and results of research are controlled by these forces.
The anti-scientific and even obscurantist theories about nature and society, such as the attempt to discredit and conceal the theory of evaluation, to reproduce unequal relations between men and women. that dominate the education system, the fragmented knowledge and “skills”, impede the development of critical thinking and scientific understanding.
The experience that has been accumulated underscores the fact that a plan is under way which aims to co-opt and convert the children of the working class and popular strata into supporters of the EU and NATO through designated programs and funding for lessons, projects, trips that propagandize the “values” of capital and its organizations.
In every country the working class and the families of the popular strata and their children are paying for the grave consequences of the anti-people political line of the bourgeois governments. The lack of teachers and infrastructure continues and is intensifying.
The education system in capitalism has a deeply class character and aims to produce obedient workers who will not challenge the exploitative system. The poison of anti-communism is utilized in many school books. Socialism and the history of the communist movement are distorted and slandered, as are the history and struggles of the labour-people’s movement. There is a devious and ahistorical attempt to equate communism with the monster of fascism. This year we honour the 100th anniversary of the Great October Revolution which brought to the fore a superior organization of society, socialism, which abolished the exploitation of humankind.
The radical eradication of the terrible legacy of illiteracy, the safeguarding of high-level exclusively public and free education for all, the development of educational theory and practice and the elimination of unemployment are amongst the great achievements of socialism. Problems that are related to educational infrastructure, the provision of meals, student accommodation etc, which remain unsolved under capitalism, were resolved by socialism.
The European Communist Initiative emphasizes the need to strengthen the struggle against the reactionary changes that are being promoted by the imperialist centres and the bourgeois governments, against the chronic underfunding of education, the falsification of history, the promotion of anti-scientific theories in schools.
We call on school, university and college students, their parents and teachers, the labour-peoples movement to fight alongside the communists to intensify the struggle for the right of children to real education in line with the requirements of our time, so that education becomes a means to improve the life of humanity and not a tool to perpetuate capitalist exploitation and the profitability of the bourgeois class.
Lithuania’s Yesterday Fears – And Today’s Corruption
| October 17, 2017 | 8:55 pm | Analysis | No comments

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201710031057913111-lithuania-fears-corruption/

Lithuania’s Yesterday Fears – And Today’s Corruption

Lithuania

Lithuania’s Yesterday Fears – And Today’s Corruption

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Dmitry Babich
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It is hard to impress people in the Baltics with Russophobia since fear of the “big south-eastern neighbor” has been the backbone of the foreign policy of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia – for the last 25 years. But over the last few days, Lithuania’s have politicians managed to stand out even in this very competitive market.

Over the last few days, Lithuania’s have politicians managed to stand out even in this very competitive market. It’s no wonder the Russian diplomats had to walk out of the hall during the speech to the UN’s General Assembly by Lithuania’s president Dalia Gribauskaite. In her speech, she accused Russia of abusing its veto power at the UN and “invading” Georgia and Ukraine.

For Russians, it was nothing new since they remembered her previous statements describing Russia as a “terrorist state” and Ms. Gribauskaite’s decision to deliver some of Lithuania’s Soviet-made weapons to the Ukrainian leadership when it was bombing and shelling its own protesting city of Donetsk in 2014. But still, it was symbolic that the detractors of Russia chose the heads of Ukraine and Lithuania to deliver their “criticism” of Russia in New York. This “criticism” is especially impressive against the background of paranoia and ensuing corruption which is now engulfing both Lithuania and Ukraine and which will be touched upon in this article.The President’s Short Memory

The Lithuanian president’s subordinates are doing their best not to lag far behind the “red Dalia,” as Ms. Gribauskaite is referred to by her compatriots for her communist past. She does not like to reminisce about it, but the most anti-Russian president in NATO, Dalia Gribauskaite, happens to be a former instructor at the CPSU’s Higher Party School in the 1980s. She also calls herself  Dr. Gribauskaite, because she is a holder of a scientific degree in political economy from the now defunct Academy of Social Sciences – a Soviet “think tank” of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Now a staunch anti-communist, Ms. Gribauskaite is at pains explaining why she preferred to outlive the communist regime at its top, rather than surviving at the lower depths of anti-communist resistance.So, just like his president, Lithuania’s defense minister Raimundas Karoblis did not just happily survive the Soviet Union and the much-feared Russian military exercise Zapad-2017 which ended on September 24, 2017. Just like his ex-Soviet and now anti-Soviet president, Mr. Karoblis continued to make alarmist statements even after those dangerous periods of his life.

Post-Factum Fears of the Minister

After the Zapad’s mock battles in Belarus ended, Minister Karoblis continued to beat the drums, even though, contrary to the expectations of the NATO countries’ media, less than 13,000 Russian and Belarusian troops during their training did not attack Poland, Finland, or even the Baltic states for that matter. Several days after Zapad-2017 ended, Mr. Karoblis revealed to the world how close the universe was to a disaster. Not only did “one hundred thousand” Russian troops participate in the exercise (we had already heard this lie before the drills from president Gribauskaite’s speech at the UN), but the whole drill was a preparation for an attack against the defenseless (albeit expanding) West.

“The most important detail about this exercise was Russia’s simulated attack against all the Baltic states,” Karbolis said at a conference in the end of September.  He also added that Russian troops imitated the use of conventional weapons in a conflict with technologically developed countries, and that means “they [Russians] were preparing for a war with NATO countries.”

Who Threatens Whom?

This indeed would have been most unfortunate, if Russia’s exercises were not a response to some much more hostile attitude from those “technologically developed countries.” The data from NATO’s own information resources indicates that in the last year alone NATO and its allies conducted about 80 military exercises near Russia’s border, with 120,000 troops participating and the government officials of those countries calling Russia “a hostile nation.” But these facts are obviously not considered by Mr. Karbolis to be worthy of even a mention.

Interestingly, Mr. Karbolis made exactly the same statement against Zapad-2017 almost 5 months ago, in May 2017. The only change was the tense of his statement (from future to past – not “Russia will simulate,” but “Russia simulated” an attack) and the number of the presumed victims of Russia’s actions. In May he mentioned not only the Baltic states but also Poland, which “evidently” could also be targeted by Russian “aggression.”Now, after the end of the exercise, Poland is intact, no “aggression by mistake,” which Mr. Karbolis had anticipated, ever happened. But he does not apologize, he makes the same statements as before. In these unchangeable opinions, Mr. Karbolis is supported by none other than the commander of US troops in Europe, general Ben Hodges. By saying that Russia was “equal” to NATO militarily, this American general, perhaps unwittingly, leads us to believe in NATO’s ineffective use of public money.

The pro-European Union EU-Observer Internet resource quotes a representative of Stockholm International Institute for Peace Research (Sipri) Siemon Wezeman as saying that “Russia’s defense spending in 2016 was only 27 percent of the combined total of European NATO members.”

Misuse of Public Money

So, if we believe general Hodges, NATO’s European member-states simply squander the money which their nations allocated for their defense. Otherwise, how can Russia keep its military capability on the par with NATO for an amount of money which is at least four times smaller? (In this equation, we have to ascribe “neutrality” to Americans and discount the military potential of the United States, which now keeps not only dozens of bases in Germany and former Yugoslavia but also a whole tank brigade of 3,500 men in Poland.)

Don’t forget that the deployment of four of NATO’s battalions (4,000 men at least) on the territory of the former Soviet Union (the Baltic states) goes against the spirit of the Founding Act on NATO-Russia relations (signed in 1997) and the European Security Charter, signed in Paris by Western leaders in 1990 and viewed by the then Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev as a guarantee against NATO’s expansion to the east. However, Mr. Hodges and Mr. Karbolis keep talking about Russia’s military equality or even superiority, even though, according to Sipri, in 2016-2017 Central Europe’s defense expenses increased on average by 2.4 percent, with Lithuania and Poland being the front-runners among NATO members in this increase of defense-spending.So, how can the Lithuanian officials be so ineffective in their government-financed defense projects? Probably, the answer is to be found in corruption?

Some Very Non-Russian Corruption

For decades, the Lithuanian authorities have called their corruption a natural byproduct of Lithuania’s membership in the Soviet Union and subsequent ties to Russia in 1940-1991. But how come corruption is evident even in those projects of the Lithuanian government which are aimed at getting rid of “Russian influence” in all spheres of the Baltic nation’s life?

Here is a good example. Lithuania was the first of the Baltic nations to declare itself no longer dependent on gas deliveries from the Russian energy giant Gazprom. Back in 2014, president Dalia Gribauskaite welcomed, with much fanfare, the huge vessel named Independence in the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda. The vessel was described by the New York Times as “a floating factory for converting liquefied natural gas into the burnable variety.” The NYT praised it as “an example of how to break Russia’s grip on energy,” saying that Independence “represents a direct challenge to the Russian way of doing business.”

A challenge it was indeed since now the Lithuanian investigative journalists are denouncing the project with the South Korean-owned Independence as a huge corruption scheme done via offshore bank accounts abroad. So, if the New York Times considers this project “a challenge to the Russian way of doing business,” then the Russian way is indeed clean.

“This vessel converting the Norwegian liquefied natural gas was supposed to serve the energy needs of not just Lithuania, but also of Latvia and Estonia,” explained Aurimas Drizius, the chief editor of Laisvas Laikrastis, a Lithuanian media outlet specializing in anti-corruption investigations in an interview to Vesti-24. “So, why do the Latvians and Estonians refuse to buy gas from it? Because it is twice as expensive as the Russian gas. But it was not supposed to be so! Someone just got Lithuania involved in this project, got the millions needed for the lease of the ship and later made off with the money. The whole affair was done by payments via offshore bank accounts somewhere on Bermuda islands.”

Despite the fact that Lithuanian businesses continue to prefer buying Russian gas, and the Latvian/Estonian businesses categorically refuted the “Independence” project as financially non-viable, the “Klaipeda variant” continues to be touted in the mainstream Western mass media as a way out of “energy dependence on Russia.”

In August 2017, Dalia Gribauskaite welcomed the first shipment of liquefied natural gas from the United States to that same Klaipeda port. This time, the Financial Times praised the development as a successful foray of the US gas “into a region Gazprom has long considered its own backyard.”Again, there is a talk about a “revolutionary liberation” from Russian gas, even though this revolution was supposed to happen back in 2014, when the Norwegian liquefied gas arrived in Klaipeda, for the first and last time.

With another warm welcome from Miss President, there is no reason to believe that Ms. Gribauskaite won’t crack on the US shale gas the same joke she did on the Norwegian gas and on the Soviet Communist Party’s academy. That joke is cooing her goodbye at the moment when the partner faces the first problems with the project she herself had ardently supported – some years before.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.