April 11, 2013
Most mainstream reporting on events in Mali included various tropes, such as that Europe is under threat from Islamic fundamentalism, that the invasion of French troops was about freeing the local people, and the involvement of French troops was defended as being an undesirable but necessary outcome resulting from a bad situation. The defence for the invasion has been remarkably similar to that made for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq at the time.
As with Iraq and Afghanistan the reality is that the occupation of Mali has come about as part of an imperialist contest for political power and resources. Although the French government may be assuaged by the ease of its military’s entry into Mali, in operations such as these the invasionary period is one of the less difficult phases of an occupation.
During the first phase airpower was used effectively against fixed and clear rebel positions. Now the situation has developed. Already recent kidnap victims have reported of hideouts hacked into the side of caves, as well as petrol and ammunition dumps hidden in various parts of the north. There is now a transition to the type of irregular guerilla warfare that has proven so hard for the occupiers to deal with in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In a recent article on the French adventure, long-term Middle East/North African correspondent Patrick Cockburn made a similar point:
This was one of the many lessons of the US takeover of Iraq and Afghanistan. Most Iraqis and Afghans were glad to see the departure of the previous regimes. Iraqis wanted an end to Saddam Hussein’s rule, but this did not mean that they welcomed foreign occupation. Similarly, in Afghanistan, foreign forces were initially popular and the Taliban discredited. But in both cases foreign forces soon behaved like colonial occupiers, and were resented as such. Read the rest of this entry »
April 25, 2012
This article by Alastair Reith was originally published here in 2008.
Every year we are told that the young men whose lives were snuffed out at Gallipoli died gloriously for our freedom. We are told that the “liberties” we supposedly enjoy in New Zealand today exist only because of the sacrifice of these soldiers. The message is that the soldiers’ deaths were worth it, and that the cause they died for was just.
There is no nice way to say this: it’s all lies.
War about territory, not freedom
In 1914, war broke out between the major imperialist powers of the world. They divided up into two blocs. On one side, the Allies, primarily made up of France, Russia and the British Empire, as well as the smaller countries allied to them and their countless colonies throughout the world. The ruling classes of New Zealand and Australia took this side. On the other side, the Central Powers, primarily made up of Germany, Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, along with a number of smaller countries and the various colonies they controlled. Read the rest of this entry »
December 14, 2010
Tens of thousands of members and supporters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine gathered on December 11, 2010, in Gaza City’s Palestine Stadium, marking the forty-third anniversary of the PFLP’s founding in a mass rally.
Palestinians from all sectors – men and women, elderly and children, workers and farmers, attended the rally from all sectors of Gaza City, and traveling in groups from throughout the Gaza Strip, waving red flags that filled the stadium.
Read the rest of this entry »
March 23, 2010
New Zealand’s involvement in the occupation of Afghanistan has been commonly perceived as a humanitarian role. John Edmundson demolishes that myth and looks at what the occupation is really about.
The Situation so far
On 10 August 2009, Prime Minister John Key announced that the SAS (Special Air Service) would return to Afghanistan. This announcement had been predicted for some time so came as no surprise. The troops are being deployed in three rotations over 18 months and the full deployment involves 70 soldiers over that time period. At the same time, over that 18 months the NZ Army’s Provincial Reconstruction Team – NZ’s major commitment to the war – are being gradually reduced and eventually withdrawn, their work to be replaced by civilian work on agriculture, health and education. But the SAS deployment may in fact last much longer. The war in Afghanistan is going badly for the US -led coalition and few military people or civilian analysts are prepared to go public with an estimate of how much longer it could go on. A time frame as short as 18 months seems unlikely and if the war continues for years, there will be further requests for extensions to the troop commitment. With the Obama administration massively expanding the war effort, not just through increased troop numbers in Afghanistan, but an increasing involvement in Pakistan also, the war could well drag on for years. read more
March 22, 2010
Well done the three antiwar activists from the Ploughshares group, and the jury who found them not guilty of burglary and intentional damage in the Wellington District Court. The not guilty verdict relates to charges laid when the men deflated one of the domes at the Waihopai spy base near Blenheim two years ago. Read the rest of this entry »
March 20, 2010
Activists gathered in Auckland today outside the US consulate to protest the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Marking the anniversary of the Iraq invasion 7 years ago the protesters demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all foreign troops, including and especially the NZ SAS and other military in Afghanistan.
The Workers Party had a PFLP banner, as part of a solidarity campaign with the Palestinian liberation movement
Workers Party with the PFLP banner
The protested ended on a fitting note, with old shoes being hurled at the Consulate.
February 4, 2010
John Edmundson The Spark February 2010
The recent devastating earthquake in Haiti has put a rarely noticed country back in the headlines. Suddenly, it is the focus of everyone’s attention, from world leaders to celebrities. And that is hardly surprising – with a body count of over 150,000 in Port au Prince, the nation’s capital alone, the death toll in this one tiny and desperately poor country may come close to exceeding that of the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. The capital was almost completely destroyed and the poor infrastructure meant that it was difficult to get aid to the survivors, or to organise the relief operation. The Haitian government was almost completely unable to act and threw itself on the mercy of the United States and other First World countries. Images of the disaster have been touching and, in the main, sensitive, but underlying the coverage of the quake has been the same lack of curiosity about the cause of the tragedy that typifies media stories about the Third World. Read the rest of this entry »
November 9, 2009
The SPARK interviews long serving anti-imperialist activist and Workers Party secretary Daphna Whitmore
Spark: It’s been 8 years since New Zealand troops were sent to Afghanistan – why did the Labour-Alliance government send them in the first place?
It needs to be understood in the context of New Zealand’s involvement with US and British imperialism. New Zealand is a partner in this bloc, and Labour enthusiastically signed up to the so-called War on Terror. When it comes to involvement in military adventures Labour governments have been just as warmongering as National.
Daphna Whitmore (left)at May Day march 2009
The Alliance Party split over the issue of support for the invasion of Afghanistan, with the majority of its members rejecting the war. It highlighted the problem of being in government with an outright capitalist party like Labour.
Spark: New Zealand companies aren’t trying to make major sales in Afghanistan – why all the risk and expense over such a long period of time?
In its last term the Labour government did scale back the involvement, recalling the SAS and sending instead “reconstruction” forces. This tended to obscure the reality – that these are military forces, participating in an occupation. It dressed it up to look like it was simply a humanitarian mission. Read the rest of this entry »
August 22, 2009
Around 50 people protested outside Auckland’s Papakura army base, against the deployment of SAS troops to Afghanistan.
The protest was organised by Global Peace and Justice Auckland
August 10, 2009
Picket outside of the Court of Appeal, corner of Molesworth and Aitken St WELLINGTON 8AM – 9.30 AM
The picket coincides with the Court of Appeal hearing for an anti-war protester convicted of burning the NZ flag at anti-war protest in 2007. It also coincides with the government’s announcement of the return of the SAS to combat in Afghanistan. All welcome…and please pass it on…
Organised by Peace Action Wellington