It is 8 years since NZ troops joined the US led invasion of Afghanistan

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

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 more…]

Troops out now!

Papakura army base

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

Stop the SAS return to Afghanistan

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-warwpbanner 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

Australia builds military capacity

The Spark August 2009
Joel Cosgrove


Continuing a precedent followed over most of the last decade, the Australian government has increased the military budget well above inflation, with a 56% increase in the last seven years and 9% in the last year, to $25.66 billion dollars, with expectations that it will rise to $29.47 billion in 2010, a rise of 12.9%.

This is an important development in the attempts by the Australian ruling establishment in their move away from the traditional Australian defence position of border control and response to one of regional projection and incursion to maintain and develop Australia’s interests. [Read more…]

Pacer Plus:New Zealand and Australian exploitation in the Pacific

Byron Clark
The Spark
July 2009

New Zealand and Australian trade ministers met with their Pacific counterparts in Samoa to negotiate an “enhanced version” of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) dubbed “PACER Plus”. The negotiations have been controversial for two reasons, one is the exclusion of Fiji, which New Zealand and Australia currently have sanctions against. Fiji has been officially suspended from the Pacific Forum but not from PACER, which is a separate treaty.
The other reason is the likely possibility of increased exploitation of the Pacific by the regional powers. As Solomon Islands opposition leader Manasseh Sogavare told the Solomon Star News;

“As far as Solomon Islands is concerned, the arrangement would amount to opening up one-way traffic of trade benefits from here to Australia and New Zealand, which in any case is already in favour of these countries without the PLACER-PLUS arrangement” [Read more…]

The flag is symbolic, imperialism is real

Victoria university members of the Workers Party are facing charges of serious misconduct after burning the New Zealand flag. This leaflet explains the political background to the act.

Why burn the New Zealand flag?

The New Zealand flag is a symbol of imperialism. This is most obvious in its design, a tribute to the British Empire. This design was adopted after the Second Boer War, which devastated South Africa but resulted in a surge of Kiwi patriotism.

Lest we forget

Lest we forget

A simple re-design, while reflecting our emergence from the shadow of the British Empire, would not change the imperialist nature of the flag. It’s a tool of the ruling class, inseparably linked with militarism. From the Boer War through WWI and II, right through to armed involvement in Vietnam and Afghanistan, the flag has marked New Zealand’s presence. Flags mark military conquest, the subjugation of nations.

Flags and borders divide the working majority. ANZAC soldiers had more in common with their Turkish counterparts than with the bureaucrats who sent them to Gallipoli. The working majority has interests in common worldwide, including an end to imperial war. Ruling class nationalism is a barrier to recognising this.

What purpose does ANZAC day serve? [Read more…]

Obama – managing the US war effort

John Edmundson

During the lead-up to the 2008 US election, Barack Obama made much of his plans to end the war in Iraq. His bold declaration – that “on my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war”. Across the world, many people pinned their hopes on this promise.

Obama’s policy was never really about ending America’s imperialist war policy. It was always about managing the US war effort more effectively. [Read more…]

Free the Cuban Five!

Below we republish a statement put out recently by the Christchurch Cuba Friendship Society calling for the release of the 5 Cuban government agents currently incarcerated in the USA for spying on right-wing Cuban exile groups in Miami who are guilty of engaging in terrorist attacks against the island nation:

Meeting calls on President Obama to release the Cuban Five

The Christchurch Cuba Friendship Society (CCFS) has called on President Barack Obama to free the Cuban Five.

The CCFC meeting, held in the city Thursday night, welcomed President Obama’s decision to close the Guantanamo torture camp and urged that he take the next logical step and abandon the facility altogether to its rightful owner the people of Cuba.

The meeting also resolved to write to Mr Obama seeking justice for the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters held in US prisons for the past 10 years.

“Much has been said on the issue of change by President Obama now is the time for action” CCFS spokesperson Paul Piesse (above) said. “Guantanamo should not simply be closed but returned to the people of Cuba along with the anti-terrorist fighters unjustly imprisoned in the US.” Mr Piesse added.

The five, Gerardo Hernández, René González, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino and Fernando González were gathering information about terrorist groups that operate on US soil “Their actions” Mr. Piesse noted “helped prevent terrorist acts and protect innocent civilians. Their continued imprisonment is a travesty of justice”

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has ruled that the men’s imprisonment is in breach of article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“Mr Obama” Piesse noted “is now in a position to demonstrate his commitment to ‘honesty, courage and fair play’ – it’s time to walk the talk.”

The meeting also called on Unions, Churches and all those who seek justice to also petition the new US President for the Cuba Fives immediate release.

“Two States” – a Zionist solution

Below we publish the text of a talk given by Mike Walker at a recent Workers Party public forum in Christchurch.

If we are to believe the hype true liberation and self determination for the Palestinian people will be forthcoming with what is commonly referred to as the “two state solution”. This supposed “solution” would leave the racist structures of the Israeli state in place and therefore the fundamental cause of the ‘conflict’ also in place. This proposal would confine Palestinians to less than twenty per cent of the land mandated by the British in 1947 and would leave the situation of Palestinians driven from their homes in what is now Israel unresolved. It would render invisible the alienated enclaves divided by checkpoints, barriers, the annexation wall and a brutal military occupation in the West Bank; combined with the Gaza strip, which has been called the largest concentration camp in the world. This represents the Palestinian Bantustan.

It is crucial as we look at the current situation in Palestine to keep in mind the “two state solution” and to contextualise the history with an emphasis on the history of Zionism and the conduct of Zionist leaders since the creation of the state of Israel.

[Read more…]

Barack Obama – another Martin Luther King?

– Don Franks

The son of murdered black civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. has often been asked: did you think you’d ever live to see a black US president?

“People are surprised when I say yes”, says Martin Luther King III. “But I’m sure my father would have said the same if he was alive today. Without that faith and that sense of possibility he would have had no reason to fight in the first place.”

A spirit of faith and hope has accompanied Obama’s election campaign. A Gallup poll on announcement of Obama’s victory shows that a massive 70% of Americans believe they will be better off by the time the new president finishes his term in four years time.

Seldom has the election of a capitalist politician aroused such euphoric public celebration. Obama’s inaugural speech drew a record crowd of close on two million. In the afterglow of the inauguration ceremonies floods of Obama memorabilia continue to be snapped up at three times the volume of the previous record setter Bill Clinton. [Read more…]