Issue Number 4: Price
: $2.50 September 1998
On 20th August, just a few days after his embarrassing admission of perjury regarding adultery, and possibly suborning of a junior intern to adultery - President Clinton seized on a way to restore his image. Two weeks earlier there had been the bombing of the USA embassies in both Nairobi Kenya and Dar-es-Salaam Tanzania. The bombings had taken mainly the lives of poor unknown local people rather than USA citizens. Responsibility for these had been accepted by the group centered on Osama Bin Laden. The slightly belated USA response was devastating, consisting of A75 Tomahawk cruise missiles.. the largest ever American military assault against a private sponsor of terrorism. The attacks - left 21 dead and 30 injured in Afghanistan and at least 10 injured in Sudan@ That the USA has taken a new strategy, one even less regulated by international law than its previous strategies, was made clear by General Shelton Chairman of the joint chief of staffs, who said: @We are in a different ball game today. We=re going against a terrorist organisation, and that calls for.. different techniques.@' Two targets were chosen by the USA. One was in Khartoum, Sudan: AThe US claims that the Al-Shifa Pharmaceuticals Industries plant was producing the ingredients for the deadly VX nerve. But Sudan=s assertion that it produced 50 per cent of the country=s drug requirements is much closer to the truth.@ The other site was in Afghanistan where Bin Ladin himself was encamped.
Bombs or Medicines in Sudan? Clinton Knew No Evidence Existed of Sudan Nerve Gas:
Evidence printed in the Guardian (UK) makes it clear that: APresident Bill Clinton knew he was bombing a civilian target when he ordered the United States attack on a Sudan chemical plant.@ It was not secret & produced antibiotics, medicines for malaria, rheumatism, TB etc The evidence for this includes:
1. US forces flew a pre-bombing reconnaissance mission to test for traces of gas and reported none. Nevertheless Clinton authorized the attack. He was also told that the absence of gas would avoid the horrifying spectacle of civilian casualties. Sudan has said 10 people were injured, five seriously.
2. Irish film-maker Irwin Armstrong, visited the plant last year, to make a film & said: AThe Americans have got this completely wrong..I was allowed to wander about quite freely. This is a perfectly normal chemical factory with the things you would expect - steel vats and technicians.@
3. Tom Carnaffin, of Britain worked as a technical manager from 1992 to 1996 for the Baaboud family, who own the plant. "I have intimate knowledge of that factory.. it just isn't equipped to cope with the demands of chemical weapon manufacturing.@
This evidence, makes the bombing clearly cynical and blatant sabre rattling. The Sudanese Government has insisted upon an independent UN enquiry, but the arrogant USA certainly controls the UN to a great extent. They have made their intention to stone-wall clear: AIn New York, the US deputy ambassador to the United Nations brushed aside demands for an international investigation into US claims that the bombed pharmaceutical factory was a chemical plant linked to terrorist groups. "We don't see any point to it," said Peter Burleigh, who declined to elaborate.
Who Is Osama bin Laden? Bin Laden, is an exiled Saudi millionaire worth $300 million, inherited from his family of engineering magnates. He was AOnce hailed by the CIA as a freedom fighter.. for his role as a fighter, financier and recruiter of the Mojahedin guerrillas who fought the Soviet army occupying Afghanistan during the 1980's. His forces were supplied with weapons by the CIA, and with British-made blowpipe anti-aircraft missiles by MI6.@ But after the USSR social-imperialists were ejected from Afghanistan, Bin Laden turned against the USA, operating out of Sudan. ABin Laden arrived in Afghanistan in 1982 ...He built a following of between 4,000 and 5,000 Arab devotees, who stayed behind after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989.@ There can be no doubt that bin-Laden is a terrorist, with no progressive role. Bin Laden has been involved in several terrorist attacks: AMr Bin Laden and his followers have since been implicated in a series of terrorist attacks, according to Western intelligence. These include the bombings of a Saudi National Guard training center in Riyadh in 1995 and of a military barracks near Dhahran a year later - in which 19 Americans died. He described the Dhahran attack as >a laudable kind of terrorism= though denying responsibility. He has been linked to Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind behind the 1993 bombing of New York's World Trade Center; and his followers have been linked to the massacre of tourists in Luxor, Egypt, last November. A When the USA pressured Sudan, in 1996 by a threat of US sanctions, Bin Laden returned to Afghanistan, where the Taliban Islamicists have protected him proclaiming: AEven if all the countries of the world unite, we would defend Osama by our blood,@ said supreme leader of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar.@. Among the latest goals of Mr Bin Laden is the reactionary February statement of the Islamic International Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders : AWe - with God=s help - call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God=s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it,= it said. This dictat was signed by Islamic militant leaders in Egypt, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.@
Especially noxious and reactionary about this AFatwa@ is the licence contained to attack any USA citizen - whether military or not. If Joe Hill was next to Teddy Roosevelt - both would be legitimate targets for bin-Ladin: AThe Front united militants throughout the Muslim world, including two of fundamentalist Islam=s most dangerous groupings - the Egyptian Gam='a al-Islamiya, and Islamic Jihad, responsible for attacks on government officials and foreign tourists & ... issued a Afatwa@..(which) asserts that no distinction should be made between American civilians and servicemen. It is a licence for carnage..@
The Heart Of The Problem - USA & Israel Attempted Genocide of the Palestinian People
The climate in the Middle East is certainly anti-American, as it is seen in the light of the Israeli refusal to honor Oslo. The USA is rightly seen as the power behind Israel: AThe impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.. In the Arab and Islamic world, Israel is blamed for the collapse of the Oslo process and the US is accused of allowing it to happen by failing to put effective pressure on the Jewish state.@ Until at the least, a state of Palestine that accords to the Oslo Agreement is allowed, hostility to the USA-Israeli axis will continue. The only Middle Eastern states that are pro-USA states, & in some way support the anti-Bin-laden affair are Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran. For Egypt, recent warfare with Sudan and territorial disputes fueled its approval of the USA sanction. As for Saudi Arabia, they are against bin-Laden but support the Taliban. But Iran is: Aon the other hand, is bitterly hostile to the Taliban militia, who were providing protection for Mr Bin Laden. Iranian newspapers even helpfully published geographical details of his camps.@ The recent rapprochement between Iran and the USA makes sense of these later developments.
What Is The Progressive Position Here?
Marxist-Leninists have long repudiated individual terrorist acts. Following Lenin they argue that such acts facilitate the capitalist and imperialist suppression of basic democratic freedoms. Under these basic freedoms, it is far easier to organise mass political activity, indeed mass class actions that far surpass the value of individual terror. Individual terror, committed in secrecy and by a few Aelite@ insulated individual heroes and heroines, cannot serve to foster class consciousness; especially when individual workers and peasants are killed or maimed by these actions. Clearly American imperialism, assisted by its stooges in the Middle East - primarily Israel, but also including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and possibly Iran - must be brought down. The USA cynical war-mongering must be stopped. But, again it must be repeated that individual terror is counter-productive to the aspirations of the workers and peasants. What is needed is a Marxist-Leninist party and mass movement in both the Middle Eastern countries and the Western Imperialist home countries. This puts an especial responsibility upon the advanced workers of the USA. It also puts workers in Canada, so close both geographically and politically to the USA. Down With American Imperialism! Down With Israeli Fascism!
Down With Reactionary Islamic Obfuscation!
CANADIAN PREMIERS HEALTH CARE FUNDING STATEMENT: MYOPIC, MANIPULATIVE, AND HYPOCRITICAL
For some time, provincial governments have complained about federal actions in the health policy arena. Their recent focus has been on inadequate federal funding for health care. They are right. The Liberal government has cut back on transfers to provinces for social funding in all categories -- the magnitude of the cut between 1994/5 and 1998 is 33% -- and health care has been one area to suffer. This cut has put huge pressure on provincial health care budgets. The Premiers are justified in calling for one use of the coming budget surplus to restore funds to health care. BUT: Do the Premiers really care about the health of Canadians? A close look at their behavior suggests they do not.
First, the Premiers ignore the broad determinants of health. Health status is strongly linked to the gradient between rich and poor, to the adequacy of social services, and to the education of the populace. The Premiers' News Release included statements in a wide variety of areas, but not a word about federal support for social welfare programs outside of health and education. Mike Harris has been instrumental in cutting such programs. We have seen the consequences in increased homelessness, increased reliance on food banks, and a deterioration in the health of the most vulnerable in our society. The Premiers know that political support for health care spending is high. The Canadian public is not fully aware of the links between social spending and health, and support for social maintenance programs is much lower. The Premiers are taking the low road of political expediency.
Second, the Premiers are pressing for more autonomy. They want to be relieved of the burden of spending money as mandated by the federal government, and of adhering to federal standards. A look at recent history provides insight in to these demands. Some provinces have chafed at the application, or threatened application, of the Canada Health Act. The Canada Health Act specifies that provinces will be penalized on a dollar-for-dollar basis for all user fees charged to patients for insured physician and hospital services.
Recent events in Alberta show us the dangers of increased provincial autonomy. The Klein government allowed private facilities to collect public money and still charge patients directly for procedures such as cataract removal and lens implants. Those who could pay received quicker, sometimes better, care. After a delay of approximately two years, the federal government decided to enforce the Canada Health Act, and Alberta backed down. Since then, the provincial premiers have pursued a campaign to limit federal government influence on health care. Ralph Klein and Ontario premier Mike Harris have been the most aggressive advocates of a provincial take-over of health-care standards. It is no accident that these two premiers have led the charge: they would then be free to introduce user fees and move toward privatized, two-tiered medicine, consistent with their political philosophy. It is sadly ironic that, on the one hand, the Premiers push for more money for health care spending. At the same time, they push for changes that will compromise the national maintenance of universal health care of a high standard.
Third, the Premiers agree that funding for "core health services" should be stable and adequate before new health care programs are established. The Premiers' vision of core health services is extraordinarily narrow. Patients can see doctors, but not afford the drugs those doctors prescribe. Is access to pharmaceuticals not core health services? Parents can take their child to a doctor without paying user fees, but not support adequate dental care for their children. Is dental care not a core health service? Provincial governments have cut back on hospitals. The Harris government has been particularly aggressive in this area. The home care supports necessary to conduct these cuts without damage to Canadians' health have not been put in place. In a health care system where hospital cuts continue apace, is home care not a core health service? The Premiers are resisting federal initiatives in pharmaceutical and home care services. They would surely be equally resistant to a federal initiative in dental care.
Fourth, funding of adequate health and social services costs money. A number of provincial governments are calling for tax cuts. The Harris government is particularly aggressive in making this call. We won't find the dollars needed for expanding, or even maintaining, broad access to all core health and social services if we pursue the tax cuts advocated by the Harris government.
It would be a good thing if the federal government increased health care transfers. It would be equally good for the health of the Canadian public if the federal government increased transfers for Social welfare spending, and instituted national programs in pharmaceutical services, dental services, and home care, and if they had the tax base to take all these initiatives. The Premiers policy in calling for adequate health spending while pursuing policies directly detrimental to Canadians' health is profoundly hypocritical. From The Medical Reform Group of Ontario. PREFACE TO ANAFTA AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH- THE CASE OF MMT@:
The MRG is a group of progressive non-party affiliated physicians. One of the MRG=s Principles is that health is a political issue; since it results from a number of Abroad social determinants@. We publish their letter - which was not published by the Globe - which attacked one of the fall-outs (literally speaking!) of NAFTA. Canadian Class Struggle has previously written of the reactionary basis of NAFTA. NAFTA, is the USA response to the imperialist Are-carving up@ of the world=s markets. For the coming war between imperialisms, to capture the ever-diminishing market for the ever increasing goods - the economic battle between the European Common Market & NAFTA is merely a prelude. Canada=s people have been duped into acquiescing to the USA elephant. There have already been immediate impacts from NAFTA. The most obvious has been unemployment, which contrary to the smooth politicians= false promises, rose as jobs went South after NAFTA. Another is environmental health protection. This prompted a riposte from the Medical Reform Group of Ontario to the Globe And Mail. The Globe had again trumpeted its capitalist-white-washing role, in attacking the attempt of Canada=s Government to outlaw MMT- an additive to motor car gasoline. Previous additives to make cars run Asmoother= were lead - which has been responsible for untold numbers of children suffering from diverse neurological and learning problems. MMT is another unknown - but very likely toxin. Yet for the Globe, this is Aunproven@, and attempts to ban it are foolhardy. We notice the Globe=s adherence to Clinton=s policy on bombing drugs factories in Khartoum, and wonder how come its= standards for Aproof@ seem to vary so suddenly! We print first a background to the issue; then an abbreviated Globe leader; finally we print the riposte from the MRG:
The Background To The MMT (methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl) Story
On Feb 17, 1995, President of General Motors of Canada Ltd., Ms Maureen Kempston Darkes, wrote to then Environment Minister, Ms Copps: @It is with deep regret that I must inform you of the decision we have made to disconnect [emission system] warning lights on our products for the model year,@. The assertion was that MMT used by Canadian refiners would interfere with the red light that flash when a car='s emission control system is malfunctioning. GM threatened to refuse warranties on critical pollution-control hardware that it claimed was hampered by MMT. Ms. Copps then moved the Manganese-based Fuel Additives Act, prohibiting the importation and interprovincial sale of MMT, (produced by Ethyl Corp. of Richmond Va, USA ); which took effect in June, 1997. Why Did ABig Auto@ square off against ABig Oil@? As McCarthy puts it, the reason was: AThe costs of pollution abatement.@ GM and the other car manufacturers had already invested in one technology of emission controls. To re-vamp for a new gasoline would entail either increasing prices to consumers or a loss of profit. Naturally GM decided to tough it out with the oil companies. As for Big Oil: They had switched from using tetraethyl lead as a fuel enhancer, in 1977. Why? Because it caused serious brain and other organ damage in children. An alternative was MMT. They did not want an expensive search for an alternative. The Oil companies led by Esso Petroleum, Petro-Canada and Shell Canada Ltd, called for a review of GM=s claims. Leaving aside the inter-capitalist rivalry, MMT is most likely also toxic: ABy the early 1990s, evidence was mounting that MMT... caused nervous-system damage to workers exposed to relatively high levels.@ Canada was in 1995, the only industrialised nation that allowed a Manganese based additive to gasoline. In the war between Oil and Auto Capital, the GM letter worked & Ottawa moved under its power to regulate international trade.
But.... :@ The government had agreed under NAFTA to provide national treatment to foreign corporations -- meaning they had to treat U.S. companies much like domestic ones. In an attempt to satisfy NAFTA, the government prohibited both the importation and interprovincial trade in the additive@. A bill banning MMT was put. Ethyl challenged in the courts and via NAFTA procedures. NAFTA gives foreign corporations: AThe right to seek arbitration when a government passed regulations harmed their business. Ethyl sought about $250-million (U.S.), damages@. The ban on the cross-border sale of MMT finally went into effect in June, 1997. The Alberta Government filed grievance on behalf of its oil producers. When a panel of five, :@ that Ottawa had contravened the federal-provincial internal-trade deal and recommended that the interprovincial ban be suspended.@; Ottawa started negotiations with Ethyl. Ottawa has now agreed to: Arepeal the cross-border ban, pay $13-million (U.S.) in damages to Ethyl and provide an admission that there is no scientific evidence to back automakers' claims that MMT interferes with emission-control equipment or poses a health threat. In return, Ethyl drop all trade and court cases.@ This in spite of : Aincreasing scientific evidence that low-level exposure to airborne manganese is linked to nervous-system problems and attention-deficit disorder among children.@
AMad Ministers Thwarted@; From Editorial Globe and Mail; Tuesday, July 21, 1998
It appears that a whole series of Canadian ministers of the environment failed... Ottawa=s attempt to ban the gasoline additive MMT is a case in point. The concerns about MMT were environmental: There were suspicions that it might be toxic. Additionally, the auto industry claimed that MMT Agummed up@ its pollution-control devices. ..these were no more than suspicions and claims. No convincing scientific evidence has yet been adduced that MMT puts toxic levels of manganese into the air or is otherwise environmentally harmful. ..Nor was any evidence ever made public that MMT in fact damaged pollution-control equipment in cars. Unable to offer a rational justification for its policy, Ottawa might have dropped its opposition to MMT... The feds fastened on trade legislation as the handiest wrong tool around. Knowing that an outright ban on MMT would not succeed, Ottawa just made it illegal to import or export it across provincial or national boundaries. .. In the event, several provinces dragged Ottawa before a dispute panel, in part because the ban harmed Alberta's and Quebec=s refiners more than Ontario's. The provinces won. MMT's manufacturer, U.S.-based Ethyl Corp., took the view that no one had established that its product was harmful, and therefore the government's policy was a simple case of protectionism. Ethyl was on the verge of getting a NAFTA dispute-panel ruling, which almost certainly would have gone against Ottawa. To save face, and major damages, Ottawa, it appears, is poised to lift the ban, admit the lack of a scientific case against MMT, and compensate Ethyl for its costs.
A Rejected Letter to the Globe editor: From The Medical Reform Group (MRG) of Ontario
AYour editorial on the MMT fiasco suggested that Ottawa was incompetent, and that there is no problem with NAFTA restricting Canadian autonomy. If we adopt a philosophy that, when we suspect environmental toxicity, we wait for a body count before we act, you may be right. The government set a different threshold for action: responding to evidence of possible harm, they chose to act to protect Canadians against exposure to a non-essential product. For those who place a high value on human health relative to corporate freedom, Ottawa=s approach was appropriate. The episode makes it vividly clear that NAFTA prevents Canadian governments from making such reasonable judgements, and acting on them. The Globe may endorse a permissive approach to potential human environmental hazards. For those who do not, the MMT incident vividly demonstrates the power over Canadian public policy that NAFTA gives to American companies.@
INTERNATIONAL DEBT CRISIS MOUNTS
In the last issue of CCS, we discussed the new international problems facing world capitalism. We argued that neither Keynesian nor Monetarist Afixes@ for Capital=s crisis could any longer be effective.We also showed that the AAsian Crisis@ was a two edged sword. Although it was, at least in part - deliberately fostered by Western capitalism, in order to undermine its Asian rivals for world control of markets - it carried a dangerous negative potential for the imperialists by affecting world trade by a downward spiral. This later danger has become more acute recently, with Latin America feeling the brunt. Brazil is the largest Latin American economy, & the Brazilian currency, Athe real - fell 3 per cent against the dollar yesterday, despite efforts by the authorities to head off the crisis by selling $858 million of bonds linked to the value of the dollar.@ But the problem is not confined to Brazil: AStock markets throughout the region have those of Asia into free fall, with the Brazilian market down 33 per cent this year and Venezuela tumbling 63 per cent as it too fights the battle against devaluation. Shares have also been falling in Mexico, which went through a serious cash crisis in 1994/95.@ All this has affected the imperialist heartland stock exchanges with Anervous trading@. In turn, all this has been provoked by Russia, where: Adevaluation and the moratorium on repayment of some $40 billion of rouble-denominated loans have provoked fears of a debt crisis such as that of 1982, when banks around the world were threatened by a series of defaults. AThe comparison with 1982 is not inappropriate,@ said Dan McGovern, director of emerging market research at Merrill Lynch, in the City last night. AThe experiences.. on external and domestic debt do bear a real similarity.@ Crisis Of Capital Can Be Fixed By Only One Solution: The Socialist Revolution!