imperialism

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The US Empire Isn’t A Government That Runs Nonstop Wars, It’s A Nonstop War That Runs A Government

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 01/06/2024 - 11:20pm in

Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

https://medium.com/media/c72cd210300b30dadaeaa4460774fbdc/href

It clears up a lot of confusion when you understand that the US empire is not a national government which happens to run nonstop military operations, it’s a nonstop military operation that happens to run a national government.

The wars are not designed to serve the interests of the United States, the United States is designed to serve the interests of the wars. The US as a country is just a source of funding, personnel, resources and diplomatic cover for a nonstop campaign to dominate the planet with mass military violence and the threat thereof.

This campaign is not waged to benefit the American people or their security, but to benefit the loose international alliance of plutocrats and unelected empire managers whose wealth and power are premised on the world order of continuous violence, exploitation and extraction which the campaign of global domination upholds. This campaign of global domination and its manifestations as a whole may be referred to as the US empire, which has very little in common with the US as an individual nation.

Until you understand this, nothing the US government or the US war machine does will make sense. You won’t understand why military operations are being waged which don’t seem to benefit the American people in any way, and which if anything actually harm the national security interests of the United States. You won’t understand why US foreign policy remains the same no matter who’s in office, regardless of party or platform. You won’t understand why the US and its allies do crazy things that otherwise make no sense for governments to do, like backing an increasingly unpopular genocide in Gaza, starting a cold war with China, or tempting nuclear armageddon with Russia.

And the answer is that these aggressions are not happening because they benefit the US as a nation, or even because they serve the political agendas of any elected officials. The nonstop violence is a means to a completely different end, and is almost an end in and of itself — benefiting war profiteers, shoring up geostrategic control, and expanding the sphere of the US empire’s particular brand of global capitalism.

There’s the nonstop worldwide military operation, and then there’s the theatrical set pieces of an official government slapped together in the foreground which we’re all meant to pretend has something to do with all the wars and militarism we are seeing. In reality the war machine just does what it’s going to do while the official elected suits in Washington put on these performances where they argue about abortion and Donald Trump to make it look like the US has a real government that’s making real decisions.

It was decided long ago that war is too important to be left to the will of the electorate, so now there’s this fake dummy political system that the American people are given to play with so they won’t meddle with the gears of the imperial machine. The local inhabitants of the hub of the globe-spanning empire are kept too propagandized, entertained, distracted, busy, poor, and sick to have a truth-based relationship with what’s being done in their name around the world, and if they do make some space in their life to become politically engaged they are herded into a kayfabe two-party system where both factions support war, militarism, imperialism, plutocracy and ecocidal capitalism but put immense amounts of energy into empty culture warring over issues that nobody with any real power cares about.

Trying to talk about this to people who are still plugged into the mainstream imperial worldview is like if Amazon had a children’s cartoon show called Andy Amazon & Friends, and the public believed the cartoon show was Amazon — they didn’t know anything about the sprawling trillionaire megacorporation that’s devouring the global economy. You’d try to talk about the gargantuan e-commerce company and they’d think you were talking about the cartoon, and object that what you’re saying doesn’t line up with what they know about the show and its characters.

Once you see the corporation behind the cartoon, once you see the empire behind the performative puppet show of official politics, you see it everywhere. You see it in the movements of the imperial war machine. You see it in the news headlines. You see it in the phony justifications and narratives that are being spouted by the western political-media class. You see it in our education system. You see it throughout our vapid mainstream western culture of interminable diversion and capitalist indoctrination.

And you stop caring about the puppet show. You stop caring about presidential elections, about Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump, about the culture war wedge issue of the day and the latest hot topic that everyone’s saying you need to take a position on. It becomes as interesting to you as some Youtube video your kid has on in the background when you’re busy dealing with a home emergency.

And the behavior of the empire absolutely is an emergency. The escalations against Russia and China that these freaks are pushing have the world on a trajectory that’s going to get us all killed, and the horrors they are inflicting in Gaza and elsewhere are creating a nightmare on earth right here and now. The empire is only getting crazier and more violent as its planetary domination becomes more challenged, and until people can see it for what it really is, it’s going to be very hard to build up the necessary public opposition against it to use the power of our numbers to force them to stop.

______________

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece here are some options where you can toss some money into my tip jar if you want to. Go here to find video versions of my articles. Go here to buy paperback editions of my writings from month to month. All my work is free to bootleg and use in any way, shape or form; republish it, translate it, use it on merchandise; whatever you want. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. All works co-authored with my husband Tim Foley.

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US Congress passes Act to defund Defense, State Depts and NSC unless Israel gets all arms

US political insanity regarding Israel in a nutshell as politicians move to cripple their own government unless it enables foreign regime’s genocide

The US Congress has passed a bill that will de-fund the Defense Department, State Department and National Security Council if Joe Biden does not immediately agree to send Israel any and all weapons it wants, with no strings attached.

Biden had delayed some shipments of the largest and most indiscriminate bombs, in a token effort to show that he is not enabling Israel’s genocide, after polling showed many usual Democrat voters will not back him in November’s presidential election because of his support for Israel despite its slaughter of tens and tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians, mostly women and children and its deliberate creation of famine in Gaza. But it seems even that token show of resistance is intolerable to Zionist groups.

More than a dozen Democrats colluded with Republicans to pass the new Act titled “To provide for the expeditious delivery of defense articles and defense services for Israel and other matters” by 224-187 votes. The text of the Act reveals the genocidal insanity of a majority of US politicians, most of whom will have received significant funding from pro-Israel groups, or else been threatened that the same groups will fund their opponents at the next election. It mandates the defunding of the three key government departments if Biden does not submit and send Israel :

The world has not gone insane in the fact that so many western politicians – including in the UK – are prepared not just to turn a blind eye to genocide, but to actively enable it. It has long been insane, but the madness has been exposed by apartheid Israel’s nakedly genocidal ambitions.

Biden is said to be prepared to veto the legislation if the Senate does not block it.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

Frantz Fanon—Decolonisation and violence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/05/2024 - 12:17pm in

Frantz Fanon’s writings on racism and the difference between colonial violence and violent resistance to it remain valuable today, writes Miro Sandev

Frantz Fanon was an extraordinary anti-colonial and anti-capitalist fighter.

He put his life on the line to fight French colonialism. As Israel’s genocidal war rolls on, Fanon’s uncompromising vision of resistance to racism and colonialism holds key lessons.

Fanon was born on the Caribbean island of Martinique in 1925. The French had colonised it and ran coffee plantations with Black slave labour. Fanon studied medicine in France and later specialised in psychiatry.

As a Black man, his direct experience of racism in France and the hypocrisy of the French liberal ideals shaped his thinking.

Fanon asserted the right of colonised peoples to resist their oppression by any means necessary—the same stance we should apply to Palestinian resistance against Israeli genocide. Brutality is a necessity of colonial domination, therefore anti-colonial violence is an inevitable response.

Fanon argued that we can never equate the violence of the oppressor with the violence of the oppressed—the violence of oppressed peoples is righteous and usually much more limited. He also wrote about the transformative effect that revolutionary violence can have on colonised peoples, helping them see the potential for victory and to overcome deep feelings of inferiority.

Occasionally Fanon did elevate armed resistance to the status of the sole “real struggle” that would “radically mutate” the oppressed. This tendency was influenced by the twists and turns of the anti-colonial struggle in Algeria.

Algerian struggle

French occupation of Algeria led to the genocidal extermination of almost three million Algerians (half of the population) through massacres, disease and poverty.

The National Front for Liberation (FLN) started in 1954 as a small minority in the national movement that was committed to armed resistance against the French. It established a militant agenda, calling for a “social” republic after independence, with serious social and economic reforms.

Fanon moved to Algeria and threw himself into the anti-colonial movement. He helped write and edit the FLN paper and was a spokesperson for the organisation. 

A year after he got involved, the Battle of Algiers broke out in 1956. The FLN employed both workers’ strikes and terror attacks against French settlers in the capital, where many Algerians lived.

An eight-day strike paralysed the city in January 1957, but was broken by repression.

The French managed to put down the FLN’s insurgency in Algiers in 1957 and its leaders were hunted down, murdered or forced into exile. But the brutality of the French repression won new support for the rebels. The revolution pulled in and radicalised wider layers of society.

Fanon’s book about the Algerian struggle Studies in a Dying Colonialism has as its theme the Marxist idea that people’s consciousness changes in struggle. Marx wrote that people join movements with a variety of contradictory ideas; it is during collective struggle that people become confident and open to new possibilities.

The years 1956 to 1960 showed all the signs of this. The struggle that had been launched in 1954 by a small group had become a mass movement that pulled in urban and rural areas, men and women, in the armed struggles and city demonstrations, riots and strikes.

Men and women were forced to re-examine their relationships. The post-independence government estimated that 11,000 women had actively participated in the fight for liberation, with about 3 per cent of these fighting in combat.

However, after the Battle of Algiers the FLN strategy shifted to focus solely on military confrontation. The “revolution” became controlled from above. Radical urban trade unionists and students were encouraged to leave their places of work to fight in the countryside. Partly this was driven by the fact that the European settlers were concentrated in the cities.

This shift by the FLN had a profound effect on Fanon’s thinking, and he increasingly looked to the peasants as the agent of revolution. The other influence on him was the failure of the Stalinised French Communist Party (the PCF) to support the anti-colonial struggle in Algeria.

Working class

The PCF did not support independence until 1959, as it was trying to form governing coalitions with right-wing parties in France that strongly opposed independence.

The Communist Party of Algeria was initially not much better. When the FLN began armed attacks, it put out a statement condemning violence “on both sides”, as many on the left today have done in relation to the violence of Israel and Hamas.

Fanon was disappointed and angered that most of the French left had either fudged the question of fighting for Algerian liberation or outright opposed it. This fanned Fanon’s disillusionment with working class politics as a whole.

Fanon became influenced by Maoist interpretations of socialism, which emphasised the central role of the peasantry in revolutionary struggle while holding a deep suspicion towards the working class (the proletariat).

He wrote, “The proletariat is the nucleus of the colonised population which has been most pampered by the colonial regime. The embryonic proletariat of the towns is in a comparatively privileged position.”

Fanon accepted the widespread argument that the organised working class had been effectively “bought off” with the profits of imperialist exploitation, and that revolutionary action against the new African ruling classes would only come from the poorest rural masses and the unemployed and poor in urban areas.

But the actual history of decolonisation in Africa reveals a powerful working class, often leading the struggle for national liberation. Workers were able to paralyse the colonial machine by their position at the heart of the system’s profit-making in factories, mines and docks.

There was a wave of working class militancy after 1945 in Egypt, Syria and Iraq.

In Algeria, the working class demonstrations in the cities and towns across Algeria in December 1960 forced the French to accept that they would have to leave—this was a movement that was not controlled or organised by the FLN.

In 1964 in Nigeria thousands of workers joined a general strike for a pay rise after MPs awarded themselves a big increase. After 12 days of struggle, the parliamentarians gave in. Nigerian workers were to use the tactic repeatedly, with oil and dock workers soon on the front lines of the struggle.

The example of Nigeria was followed by Black workers in apartheid South Africa. Waves of mass strikes there shook the system so greatly that eventually, it was forced to seek peace with its opponents, and apartheid was dismantled.

But there were also important weaknesses. There was an absence of any working class party within these strikes and protests that could provide the leadership of the national liberation movements. What was needed was an urban and worker-led movement can could fuse the national and socialist revolution into a single and ongoing process linked to the countryside.

Limits of national liberation

By 1961 Fanon had been made ambassador of the Algerian provisional government to Ghana, where he met leaders of the national liberation movements from Africa.

He was still giving his all to the FLN, but was critical of some of the decisions the leadership was making and starting to grasp the limitations of national liberation struggles that do not challenge the capitalist system.

In his final book The Wretched of the Earth he highlighted the way upper classes of the colonised people began to manoeuvre to gain advantage after independence and to impose a new system of exploitation—not a colonialist one but still a capitalist one.

He brought a much-needed class analysis to the struggle for power following national liberation. Post-colonial power was caught between a weak national capitalist class and the limitations of global capitalism imposed on any newly developing nation.

In this context it was inevitable that these new Global South capitalists would act to suppress their own people when their demands could not be met within the existing capitalist system.

Fanon detailed much of this suppression. He saw how the Algerian FLN itself was developing in a similar way to other nationalist parties. His book was an attempt to pull back the FLN and prevent the development of this “caste of profiteers”. 

Unfortunately, for much of Africa the nationalist revolution hardened into one-party states dedicated to protecting the property of the new ruling class.

This was also true of post-independence Algeria. The FLN banned the Communist Party of Algeria and made itself the only legal party in 1963. Two years later the dictator Houari Boumediene took over in a military coup.

Fanon didn’t live to see an independent Algeria, but he would have been scathing of the FLN’s policies and of Boumediene.

Fanon correctly diagnosed the trap of national liberation within a capitalist global system but he could not provide a solution.

His focus on the peasantry meant he could not advocate for working class tactics like the mass strike and workers councils that are necessary for an anti-colonial revolution to grow over into a socialist one.

But despite these shortcomings, his contribution was enormous. He understood that liberation could not come simply through kicking the colonisers out, but needed a total social revolution.

Fanon wrote that a, “rapid step must be taken from national consciousness towards political and social consciousness”.

The mass protests that ousted the Algerian dictator Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 2019 were a reminder that this social revolution is not yet finished. Recent strikes in the Egyptian textiles factories hark back to the Arab Spring revolts and point to the continued power of the working class as a force for fundamental change.

In a time of revolt in the region and of brutal, imperialist war on Palestine, Fanon’s work is more important than ever to us.

The post Frantz Fanon—Decolonisation and violence first appeared on Solidarity Online.

Blood for oil—Why the West arms Israel

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/05/2024 - 12:11pm in

Control of the Middle East has been a key focus for the world’s big powers due to its immense reserves of oil, and Israel remains vital to preserving it, writes James Supple

There is an overwhelming reason behind the US’s dedication to arming Israel, and the importance of the wider Middle East—oil.

For the last century, the world’s imperialist powers have scrambled to control it.

As the US emerged as a superpower following 1945 the State Department described Middle East oil as, “a stupendous source of strategic power and one of the greatest material prizes in world history”. And the US set out to ensure it had control—using brutal violence whenever necessary.

Even today the Middle East produces just over 30 per cent of the world’s oil, and sits on half of proven reserves.

Oil is the lifeblood of every advanced economy and is central to modern capitalism.

It powers both road and air transport, and is also key to modern manufacturing.

Plastics derived from oil are found in everything from computers to packaging, pens, car tyres, toothbrushes and mobile phones. Oil and gas are also used to produce fertilisers and pesticides, clothing, detergents, cosmetics and paints.

Oil also powers the fleets of fighter jets, tanks and shipping that the world’s most powerful states use to project military force.

It was the First World War that showed decisively the role of oil for the military machines of the great powers.

“The Allies were carried to victory on a flood of oil”, Britain’s Lord Curzon noted in the aftermath. The efforts to cut off Germany’s oil supplies had hindered production of aircraft and trucks, contributing to its defeat.

Much of this oil came from the US, the first country where it was drilled on a large scale.

Britain, lacking oil supplies of its own, stuck the secret Sykes-Picot agreement to divide the Middle East with France, to help to get its hands on sufficient reserves.

At first the West took control of the Middle East’s oil directly.

A handful of US and European companies known as the “Seven Sisters” controlled 85 per cent of world oil production until the 1970s.

They worked together to exploit the oil fields of Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The seven companies later merged into four: BP (British Petroleum), Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon-Mobil and Chevron.

All of them remain enormously profitable. The world’s five largest listed oil companies, including one more major European firm, TotalEnergies, have made over $400 billion between them since Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022.

Their dominance in the Middle East ended when the oil producing countries established the OPEC consortium and took control of oil for themselves in 1973.

Today state-owned oil companies including Saudi Aramco, PetroChina, and Brazil’s Petrobras are some of the world’s biggest producers.

Despite the beginnings of a shift globally to renewable energy in the face of the climate crisis, the world’s ruling classes are not contemplating the end of oil any time soon. The International Energy Agency predicts a peak in oil demand by 2030, but says global consumption will remain above 50 million barrels a year by 2050.

A UN report in November showed oil producing countries are on track to increase production, with plans to pump out 29 per cent more oil and 83 per cent more gas by 2030.

This would “throw humanity’s future into question”, producing 70 per cent more carbon pollution than needed to push global heating past two degrees.

But while there are still profits to be made oil companies are not going to stop cooking the planet.

US control

US efforts to dominate the Middle East have produced a string of invasions and interventions, including the coup in Iran in 1953, the dispatch of 14,000 troops and the US Sixth Fleet to Lebanon in 1958, backing Iraq with arms and support during its war against Iran in the 1980s, then invading Iraq twice, in 1991 and 2003.

Support for Israel has also been one of the pillars of US control, with Israel proving its worth as a military power able to keep the Arab states in line and protect Western interests.

As the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz put it in 1951, “Strengthening Israel helps Western powers maintain stability in the Middle East. Israel is to become the watchdog.”

Israel proved its worth to the US decisively in the 1967 war, when it defeated Egypt, Jordan and Syria simultaneously, checking the rise of Arab nationalist regimes that had threatened the assets of Western companies.

Since then the US has given Israel enormous sums of military aid, designed to ensure its has a “qualitative military edge” in terms of arms and technology over all the other states around it.

Israel’s interests do not always coincide exactly with those of the US. Its actions are often so aggressive and extreme they go beyond even what the US thinks is wise. The scale of the current genocide in Gaza is just one example.

Even as he declares his “devotion” to support for Israel, US President Joe Biden has sought to restrain it from plans to send troops into Rafah, threatening a massacre among the 1.4 million Palestinians crowded in there, and to prevent a wider Israeli war against Lebanon, Syria and Iran.

The US has also opposed plans floated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to expel Palestinians from Gaza into the Egyptian desert, in another wave of ethnic cleansing that would destabilise the regime in Egypt.

Israel is a settler-colonial state and a highly militarised society that is hell-bent on domination over both the Palestinians and its near neighbours.

The US, on the other hand, also wants to ensure the alliance and support of nearby Arab governments.

The autocratic regimes in Jordan and Egypt receive billions in US economic aid to help them police their own populations and hold onto power.

But the US will always ultimately back Israel as its most dependable ally in the region.

Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy with the largest oil reserves in the whole region, has also been a key US ally since 1945.

The discovery of huge oil reserves there from 1938 led US President Franklin Roosevelt to meet King Abdul Aziz directly in 1945, with the US declaring the protection of Saudi Arabia as of vital interest to the US.

US wars

The US war on Iraq in 1991 was fought partly to show the US’s willingness to guarantee Saudi security. Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait and fired missiles at Saudi Arabia, which borders the country.

The broader aim was to ensure the “free, uninterrupted flow of oil from the Gulf”, as US state department official Robert Kimmett put it at the time. The US wanted to prevent a single hostile state from controlling too much of the valuable commodity.

Or as Lawrence Koth, a former US assistant defence secretary, put it, “If Kuwait grew carrots, we wouldn’t give a damn”.

But the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq after 2001 proved disastrous. The US was unable to establish the stable client regime it had hoped for in Iraq, and eventually withdrew with its tail between its legs.

In Iraq it left over one million dead, unleashed vicious sectarianism, and reduced the whole country to ruin.

The main beneficiaries of the wars was Iran, the state most hostile to the US in the region.

The Iranian regime now has significant influence in Iraq’s government, and sympathetic militia groups across the country.

Nor are the US’s ties with Saudi Arabia as firm as in the past. The US remains important to the Saudis’ military security but its rulers are increasingly economically tied to China.

The biggest importers of Middle Eastern oil are China, India, Japan and South Korea.

Japan gets 90 per cent of its oil from the Middle East, South Korea 59 per cent, India around half, and China a third.

The sheer size of the Chinese economy however means it that it dominates these flows.

As political economist Adam Hanieh has noted, “By 2019, around 45 per cent of all the world’s oil exports were flowing to Asia—with more than half of these destined for China alone.”

Nonetheless the US is still determined to exert influence through the use of its enormous military power. There remain around 30,000 US troops stationed in bases across the region.

The US itself does not need Middle Eastern oil.

It produces enough oil to meet its own needs domestically, and can also rely on supplies from Canada and Latin America.

But its military power means it can guarantee oil supplies to its allies, and potentially cut them off to adversaries in the event of war.

This is exactly the way the US responded to the challenge of Japan in the lead up to the Second World War. Japan faced a crippling US embargo on oil and other imports that threatened to paralyse its economy and its capacity to wage war.

Japan’s response was to seize oil supplies in Indonesia and to bomb Pearl Harbour.

Its decline in power and influence makes the US even more reliant on Israel than in the past.

In the face of military defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its declining economic leverage, it needs to ensure its other major asset in the Middle East—Israel’s military might—remains secure.

That means Joe Biden continues to arm Israel so it can carry out its massacres in Gaza, even as he mumbles criticism of its efforts to deliberately starve the population.

US imperialism wants to focus on China as the major threat to its power. But it is still determined to hold onto its influence in the Middle East.

The oil, and Israel’s role in protecting it, could also prove to be a weapon against China.

The US support for genocide in Gaza is part of preserving its global power.

The post Blood for oil—Why the West arms Israel first appeared on Solidarity Online.

Q and A with Nick Couldry and Ulises A Mejias on Data Grab 

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 30/04/2024 - 6:30pm in

In this interview with Anna D’Alton (LSE Review of Books), Nick Couldry and Ulises A Mejias discuss their new book, Data Grab which explores how Big Tech ushered in an exploitative system of “data colonialism” and presents strategies on how we can resist it.

Nick Couldry and Ulises A Mejias will speak at a public LSE event to launch the book on Tuesday 14 May at 6.30pm. Find out more and Register.

Data Grab: The New Colonialism of Big Tech and How to Fight Back. Ulises A Mejias and Nick Couldry. WH Allen. 2024.

Data grab by Ulises Mejias and Nick Couldry book coverQ: What is data colonialism and how does it relate to historical colonialism?

Data colonialism, as we define it, is an emerging social order based on a new attempt to seize the world’s resources for the benefit of elites. Like historical colonialism, it is based on the extraction and appropriation of a valuable resource. The old colonialism grabbed land, resources and human labour. The new one grabs us, the daily flow of our lives, in the abstract form of digital data. And, crucially, this new colonialism does not replace the old colonialism, which very much still continues in its effects. Instead, it adds to the historically enduring process of colonialism a new toolkit, a toolkit that involves collecting, processing, and applying data.

The old colonialism grabbed land, resources and human labour. The new one grabs us, the daily flow of our lives, in the abstract form of digital data.

We are not saying there is a one-to-one correspondence between the old colonialism and the new, expanded one. The contexts, the intensities, the modalities or colonialism have always varied, even though the function has remained the same: to extract, to dispossess. And violence continues to reverberate along the same inequalities created by colonialism. We personally may even benefit from the system. We might not mind giving up our data, because we are the ones using gig workers; we are not the gig workers themselves. We are the ones who don’t get to see violent videos on YouTube, because someone in the Philippines has done the traumatising work of flagging and getting those videos removed (while working for very low wages). These are not the same kinds of colonial brutalities of yesterday, but there is still a lot of violence in these new forms of exploitation and the whole emerging social order of data colonialism is being built on force, rather than choice.

Q: Why is it important to frame Big Tech’s extraction of data to form “data territories” as a colonial enterprise? How is data territorialised and extracted?

Something central to colonialism (and capitalism) is the drive to continue accumulating more territories. Colonisers are always looking for new “territories” or “frontiers” from which to extract value. Lenin once said something to the effect that imperialism is the most advanced form of capitalism: once you run out of people to exploit at home, you must colonise new zones of extraction that also become new markets for what you are selling. That is the strategy behind data colonialism, seen as the latest landgrab in a very long series of resource appropriation.

Once you run out of people to exploit at home, you must colonise new zones of extraction that also become new markets for what you are selling. That is the strategy behind data colonialism

Data colonialism is a system for making people easier to use by machines. Corporations have, in many cases, managed to monetise that data by using it to influence our commercial and political decisions, and by selling our lives back to us (the platform can “organise” your life for you and even track and predict your health and emotions). And even where data cannot be directly monetised, accumulated or anticipated data still generates value in terms of speculative investments that build stock market value.

We are not saying that all extracted data necessarily becomes a valuable commodity. Data markets are complex and still developing: much data retains greater value when kept and used inside corporations, rather than being sold between corporations. But value has been extracted all the same through the process of abstracting human life in the form of data.

Q: Data extractivism or “social quantification” is being embedded into our lives in sectors from health and education to farming and labour. How is it reshaping society?

When the internet was not yet controlled by a handful of corporations, we were told that it could be the ultimate tool for democratisation, because it allowed the sharing of information from many to many. Today, what we have is a monopsony, a market structure characterised by a handful of “buyers” (the platforms that “buy” our data or rather acquire it for free). So many-to-many communication cannot happen without first going through a many-to-one filter, concentrating power in a few hands.

In addition to this, the people who manage this system have become quite adept at fragmenting the public into communities that mistrust and hate each other (often called filter bubbles, or echo chambers, though some prefer to think in terms of wider forces of polarisation). The original intent was to make it easier to market to these individual communities, and to do so by targeting ever more personalised content which, because it is more personalised, is more likely to generate the response that advertisers desire. But the system has spiralled out of control because it rewards the circulation of sensationalist misinformation that appeals to base emotions and promotes an us-vs-them parochialism, all while also encouraging addiction and increasing time spent on the platforms.

Q: Have there been any meaningful attempts to regulate the extraction and commodification of data? What are the dangers in it going unchecked?

In terms of regulation, governments have until recently done very little to prevent or even regulate this. Partly because it took them a long time to understand what was going on, but also because most governments have actually pursued policies of media deregulation, interfering less and less in the “free market” and giving corporations more power to act unhindered. Let’s not forget that governments are often very happy to get access to the vast datasets that commercial corporations are amassing, as for example Edward Snowden revealed a decade ago. Many think that recent EU legislation (the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), new legislation such as the Digital Services Act and the recently approved AI Act) provides counter-examples, but we have some doubts. The GDPR depends on the mechanism of consent, and our consent is often obtained through market pressures. Meanwhile the newer EU legislation, when it comes fully into force, while it will impose significant inconveniences for Big Tech companies, especially the largest, is not designed to challenge in a fundamental way the trend towards ever more data extraction and the expanding use of AI. Its goal rather is to help data and AI markets work more fairly, which is very different.

Unless we do something to stop its advances, the emerging social order will ensure that there is no living space which has not already been configured so as to optimise data extraction and the wider operation of business logics.

There is no doubt a role for regulation, but it is unlikely ever to be enough, because it does not think in terms of changing how we live, of reimagining a whole interlocking social and economic order that favours corporate over human interests. Unless we do something to stop its advances, the emerging social order will ensure that there is no living space which has not already been configured so as to optimise data extraction and the wider operation of business logics. As such, it will be just the latest stage in the ever-closer relations between colonialism and capitalism.

Q: What are the inequalities or power asymmetries that data exploitation introduces, and how do they connect to or reinforce existing inequalities?

Data colonialism entails a form of data extractivism that has one main purpose: the generation of value in a profoundly unequal and asymmetrical way whose negative impacts are more acutely felt by the traditional victims of colonialism, whether we define them in terms of race, class and gender, or the intersectional of those categories.

In traditional Marxist terms, we think of exploitation and expropriation as something happening to workers in the workplace. In data colonialism, exploitation happens everywhere and all the time

If we think in traditional Marxist terms, we think of exploitation and expropriation as something happening to workers in the workplace. In data colonialism, exploitation happens everywhere and all the time, because we don’t need to be working in order to contribute to this system. We can in fact be doing the opposite of working: relaxing and interacting with friends and family. But the extraction and the tracking are happening nonetheless.

The reason why increasingly fewer areas of life are outside the reach of this kind of exploitation is because the colonial mindset tells us that data, like nature and labour before it, are a cheap resource. Data is said to be abundant, just there for the taking, and without a real owner. In order for it to be processed, it needs to be refined with advanced technologies, just like previous colonial resources. So, our role is merely to produce it and surrender it to corporations, whom we are told are the only ones who can transform it into something useful and productive. The more data we surrender, for instance, the smarter AI can become, and the more capable of solving our problems. This premise is of course deeply flawed, because it is based on an extractivism model, and because it results in an unequal order where a few gain, and most of us lose. But it is a premise that is being installed increasingly into how the spaces of everyday life (from the home to the workplace, from education to agriculture) are being organised.

Q: Taking inspiration from existing movements, what strategies of resistance can citizens mobilise against Big Tech’s commercialised datafication?

In the final chapter of Data Grab, we discuss many examples of these kinds of movements. One such example is Los Deliveristas Unidos, a group of gig food delivery workers, mostly immigrants, who work in New York City. They successfully organised to demand better working conditions and a minimum wage. Not all their demands have been put into action, but their example demonstrates that people can confront platforms and push for reform.

The project of decolonising data must be able to formulate solutions that are not only technological but social, political, regulatory, cultural, scientific and educational.

Examples like this suggest that a decolonial vision of data is already being mobilised, and it requires encompassing not one mode of resistance, but many. The project of decolonising data must be able to formulate solutions that are not only technological but social, political, regulatory, cultural, scientific and educational. And it must be able to connect itself to struggles that seemingly have nothing to do with data, but that in reality are part of the same struggles for justice and dignity. That is why many creative responses to data colonialism are coming from feminist groups, from anti-racist groups, from indigenous groups: we can and must learn from these rich responses. And with the Mexican feminist scholar Paola Ricaurte we have set up a network, the Tierra Común network that aims to do just that.

We are hopeful, that decolonising data can become not a movement that is co-opted by certain parties and individuals for political gain, but a larger, pluriversal, global movement of solidarity where regular human beings can reclaim our digital data and transform it into a tool to act on the world, instead of a tool for corporations to act on us.

Note: This interview gives the views of the authors, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Read an interview with Nick Couldry about the book, “Are we giving away too much online?” from March 2024 for LSE Research for the World.

Watch a short video, What is data colonialism? with Nick Couldry on LSE’s YouTube channel.

Main image credit: Andrey_Popov on Shutterstock.

 

It Is Everyone’s Responsibility To Help Save Gaza

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 29/04/2024 - 12:36pm in

Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

https://medium.com/media/dadba7b91b1c008bac17c57d52d22093/href

I think one of the reasons it took so long for student protests against the Gaza genocide to kick into high gear in the US might be because it took some time for the collective realization to dawn that nobody in charge is interested in ending this nightmare.

If Trump had won in 2020, it may not have taken so long for this to occur. Progressive-minded students would have understood from the beginning that the president is an immoral Israel-coddling imperialist, and we may have been seeing these campus protests that are freaking out the empire managers today a lot sooner.

But because it was Biden and not Trump, there was this background assumption that surely the grownups in charge would take care of this thing. Surely they won’t let this go on for very long. Surely they’re just walking a careful diplomatic line while negotiating a ceasefire in the near term, as any government that cares one iota about human rights would be doing.

It took half a year for that illusion to be dispelled. Half a year for people to really start going, “Oh shit. They’re really just going to keep these atrocities going. Nobody in charge cares about stopping this.”

Half a year to see that nobody in the White House is going to save Gaza, none of their elected lawmakers on Capitol Hill are going to save Gaza, nobody anywhere in their government is going to save Gaza — not even the ordinary members of the public in the older generations are going to save Gaza.

Half a year to see that the responsibility for ending an active genocide had been passed all the way down to a bunch of wide-eyed college kids.

Which would of course be a horrifying thing to realize, and would in fact be a profoundly jarring indictment of our entire civilization. But that is indeed what has happened. And you can see how it would take some time for young people to come to understand and process such a thing.

And to be clear, no part of this should be accepted by anyone. The fact that nobody in the world’s most powerful government is taking any responsibility for ending the continual mass atrocity in Gaza proves that government does not deserve to exist, and that it needs to be completely dismantled from top to bottom — including and especially the unelected aspects of that government which are not officially acknowledged. The fact that it has fallen to a bunch of university students to begin causing any meaningful problems for this genocidal regime is obscene, and should never have happened.

Those university students should not be responsible for standing against this genocide, and in truth the responsibility is NOT all theirs — it is ours as well. Each and every one of us are responsible for doing everything we can to end this horror.

None of us can end it single-handedly, but we can all do something every day to help end it collectively. The machine is far too big and powerful for any one person to deal it a fatal blow, but we can all throw sand in its gears to make it harder and harder for it to continue.

We can do this by making our opposition known in every way possible, and by drawing public awareness to the sadistic savagery that’s being perpetrated in Israel with the help of its western allies we live under. Using any medium and platform we can make use of, we can help people understand the ways the imperial media have been manipulating public understanding of this genocide and minimizing their own government’s responsibility for it so that they can really understand the severity and urgency of this issue.

The US-centralized empire is heavily dependent on soft power, which means it needs to maintain a good public image in order to continue functioning — that’s what all the mass media propaganda, Silicon Valley information control, and mainstream culture manufacturing in New York and Hollywood is all about. If enough people start working to destroy the empire’s public image by spreading awareness of its depravity in Gaza, it will be forced to retreat or risk losing the credibility of the soft power manipulation systems it has put so much energy into maintaining over the years.

All positive changes in human behavior of any scale are always preceded by an expansion of consciousness. By spreading consciousness throughout our society about what’s happening in Gaza, we throw sand in the gears of the imperial murder machine and make it harder and harder for it to keep rolling forward. And it is our responsibility to do exactly that, in every way we can.

This world is so sick because nobody takes responsibility for the things that are happening in it. The rich and powerful shore up more and more wealth and power while offloading the responsibility for it onto others. They destroy the biosphere while offloading the consequences onto ordinary people, while telling us we just need to ride our bikes more and consume less in order to fix the problem. They start wars and back genocides abroad while refusing to provide for the needful at home, and if you complain they tell you you just need to vote harder next election. They take all of the power and none of the responsibility.

We can’t have a healthy world until we reverse this dynamic, and like all matters concerning responsibility that means it begins with the face in the mirror. We all need to step up to the plate and take responsibility for turning this catastrophe around, and in 2024 that means starting with the genocide our own governments are actively facilitating.

__________________

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece here are some options where you can toss some money into my tip jar if you want to. Go here to find video versions of my articles. Go here to buy paperback editions of my writings from month to month. All my work is free to bootleg and use in any way, shape or form; republish it, translate it, use it on merchandise; whatever you want. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. All works co-authored with my husband Tim Foley.

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No path to peace in Ukraine through this fantasy world

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 23/04/2024 - 4:05am in

Tags 

imperialism

A critique of recent campist discussions of the Ukraine war.

Read more ›

The post No path to peace in Ukraine through this fantasy world appeared first on New Politics.

How Indonesia’s people fought colonial rule

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 11/04/2024 - 5:08pm in

Tags 

imperialism

A new book by author David Van Reybrouck reveals a fascinating history of resistance to colonialism in Indonesia, writes Simon Basketter

Revolusi is the epic story of Indonesia’s independence struggle, in particular the four-year fight from 1945-49 that took on British and Dutch troops. The bravery of the freedom fighters enthused anti-colonial movements around the world.

David Van Reybrouck has produced an ode to revolution. He argues the declaration of independence in 1945 stirred and divided a world debilitated by war.

The revolution was no bolt from the blue. Its events were direct consequences of the racism and brutality that characterised Dutch-occupied Indonesia.

The Dutch East Indies were initially conquered by the Dutch East India Company (known by its Dutch initials VOC), which sailed to the archipelago in the early 1600s to hunt for natural resources such as spices that would make it a corporate giant.

For three centuries the VOC—and then the Netherlands—fed off Indonesia with ruthless exploitation, massacre and genocide. The mercantile project became territorial as the VOC took possession of swathes of spice-growing terrain.

It took territory by force, meting out genocidal “punishments” to people who got in the way. Van Reybrouck captures the hypocrisy of the venture when assessing the directors of the 17th century VOC.

He writes that these, “seventeen pipe-puffing white-collared worthies who expressed themselves in baroque sentences would have preferred the monopolies to be acquired with a little less bloodshed”.

But it backed slaughter because it, “was good for the bottom line”.

When the company went bankrupt, the islands fell prey to state colonialism of the British, French and Dutch. The Java War of 1825-1830 saw 200,000 killed and devastated the land. As they did later in the Middle East, imperialists drew lines on maps to divide up the spoils.

For the next half-century, with over another 100,000 killed, the Dutch seized the rest of the archipelago.

By 1914, a nation of less than six million controlled more than 40 million people. But it could not hold onto it.

For Van Reybrouck the sinking of a passenger ship in 1936 was symbolic. The passengers were a microcosm of the stifling race and class divides in the colony.

On the lowest deck were the masses—a dehumanised and brutalised workforce.

One deck higher, barred from rising but looking up, were those categorised as “higher” classes and races. On the first deck, languorously soaking up the sun, those who ruled were waited upon by virtue of being European.

Nationalist struggle

It was emigre intellectuals that founded the first nationalist organisation in 1908.

The socialist Indies Social Democratic Organisation (ISDV) was formed in 1914. Sarekat Islam (SI) was founded in 1911 to protect merchants but soon became more militant.

By 1916 SI had hundreds of thousands of members, was raising self-government, and the socialists joined it. This transformed it into an Indonesian organisation that could lead struggles.

Rail worker and Marxist Semaun led the Semarang branch of the SI, which in 1916-17 grew from 1700 members to 20,000.

There were a series of strikes and protests. But after a soldiers’ and sailors’ revolt, the Dutch expelled ISDV leaders and gave soldiers’ leaders 40 years imprisonment.

Membership of SI peaked at over two million in 1919. At the same time a union federation consisting of 22 unions and 70,000 workers was formed.

In 1920 the Communist Party of the Indies (Perserikatan Kommunist di India, PKI) was launched. But in the unions and in the SI tension between right and left came to the fore as several strikes were defeated. Conservative religious forces withdrew from militant politics.

By 1925 Dutch repression reduced the communists’ legal role to vanishing point. So communists launched an insurrection without much backing. Over 13,000 people were arrested, though it took the Dutch 18 months to quell the risings.

Eventually some 3000 communists were banished to the malaria-infested Boven Digul penal colony. The nationalists filled the vacuum somewhat ineffectually.

World War

It took the Second World War to transform the situation again.

The colony had become an even more treasured part of the Netherlands’ economy, not least given the discovery of rich deposits of oil.

The Japanese were welcomed at first as the occupation supported the nationalists. But during Japan’s four-year rule, four million civilians died mainly from starvation and disease.

During the war the most popular of the nationalists, Sukarno, headed a Japanese-imposed puppet regime.

In August 1945, following the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when the Japanese surrendered and no allied “liberator” had yet arrived, Sukarno proclaimed independence.

So the British occupied Indonesia. In Semarang, this was met with fierce resistance that only ended after six days of street fighting.

In the port of Surabaya British troops threw grenades into a crowd of Indonesians and a full scale revolt broke out.

The British sent 20,000 troops to Surabaya and began a three-day bombardment of the city. It was only retaken after bloody street fighting that saw 900 British soldiers dead. In Indonesia it is known as Heroes Day to this day.

The ferocity of the resistance convinced the British military that effective reconquest and occupation was not viable.

So the British gave Indonesia back to the Dutch—it didn’t cross their mind to give it to the Indonesians. Armed by the British Labour Party the Dutch tried to hold on to Indonesia over the next four-and-a-half years. Some 200,000 Indonesians and 50,000 Dutch were killed.

The Australian government fully supported their effort at re-occupation, with the Dutch government-in-exile based in Australia during the Second World War.

But trade unions here imposed a ban on all Dutch shipping, paralysing the effort to reimpose colonial rule on Indonesia in the crucial early period after the war.

Indonesian, Indian, Chinese, Malay and Australian seafarers all united in an effort to support Indonesian independence.

Dutch soldiers committed appalling war crimes, repeatedly massacring civilians. The British-trained Captain Westerling would herd people into a village square. He’d force people to squat before they were shot in the head. The village would then be burnt to the ground.

But the Dutch colonial troops’ violence, summary executions, systematic rape and torture could not stop the revolt. The reason was the young fighters who made up militias.

One said, “We were starving a lot of the time. When we came to a village, we’d ask for food. If there were no villages, we’d look at what the monkeys were eating. If there were no monkeys, we’d fast.

“We couldn’t quench our thirst with coconuts, because if we’d climbed up into the trees, the Dutch would have seen us and shot us. We just drank water from the river.

“I didn’t have a uniform. Just a red-and-white headband. They patrolled on foot and were better armed than we were—automatic rifles, whereas we could only fire one shot at a time! But we had scouts everywhere.”

Suradi Surokusumo, who was 22, said, “I would have been ashamed not to fight the Dutch. I was proud of being a nationalist, proud of being Indonesian, proud of our national anthem ‘Indonesia Raya’.”

Toernowo Hadiwidjojo was 24 and worked as a telegraph operator for the railways. “I already had a two-year-old son but took part without a second thought… Independence was a must! I had no fear. I preferred war to colonialism!” he said.

According to Van Reybrouck, “The three-way split between Islamists, nationalists and communists was of lesser importance—the Revolusi had brought them all together.

“Some recited verses of the Koran during their improvised training exercises, others sang Indonesia Raya, yet others whistled The Internationale.”

Nationalist leader Sukarno was released from prison, and on 27 December 1949 he flew to Jakarta to deliver a triumphant speech on the steps of the governor-general’s palace.

Communists

Independence did not mean an end to protest and revolt. Despite having launched another disastrous coup attempt in 1948, the communists were on the rise again.

So when Sukarno replaced elections by “guided democracy” the communists accepted seats in the appointed parliament. Sukarno saw them as a counterweight to the military.

He rightly argued that the PKI “would be more controllable inside the government than outside”. By 1965, the PKI had a membership of three million.

At the same time Sukarno became a leader of the international Non-Aligned Movement of nationalists. In the eyes of the US government, nonalignment meant support for the “communist camp”.

So when a group of army officers attempted a coup in October 1965, Indonesian military leaders—under General Suharto with US backing—embarked on a bloody civil war against the PKI and the left.

As many as one million Indonesians were slaughtered. The army set out to destroy the base of the communists in the villages, and again, there were villages burned.

Francisca Pattipilohy was born in 1926. She lived through four different eras—the colonial era, the Japanese occupation, the independence struggle and the 1960s.

She ended up exiled to the Netherlands when her husband, a journalist, was arrested by the Suharto regime and disappeared.

She recalled, “No matter how well you spoke Dutch, how educated you were, how hard you tried, you were always a native. In court, a native always had to sit on the ground. That was a way of drumming that humiliation into you.”

She concludes, “We never actually became independent. We thought we could make things fairer, but we were three centuries behind. That makes it a difficult struggle.

“The other side was stronger, the capitalist system has established itself everywhere. But as long as this system carries on, the whole world will be wrecked and the environment devastated.”

Revolusi: Indonesia and the Birth of the Modern World by David Van Reybrouck, translated by David Colmer and David McKay Bodley Head, $36.99

Republished from Socialist Worker UK

The post How Indonesia’s people fought colonial rule first appeared on Solidarity Online.

Fallujah—how the US murdered a city

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/03/2024 - 3:29pm in

The US assault on Fallujah in 2004 was one of the US’s worst war crimes in Iraq. Angus Dermody explains how the US set out to crush resistance to foreign occupation

Twenty years ago US troops in Iraq launched the first of two bloody assaults on the city of Fallujah.

While the entirety of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq was criminal, the desolation of Fallujah in 2004 should stand as a reminder of the bloody nature of US power.

Fallujah, a city with a population of 300,000 sixty kilometres west of Iraq’s capital Baghdad, had become a symbol of the Sunni insurgency that took root in Iraq after the US invasion in March 2003.

On the evening of 28 April 2003 hundreds of Iraqi civilians assembled at a school housing US troops in Fallujah to demand that the troops withdraw.

The soldiers opened fire on the crowd, killing 17 civilians and wounding more than 70.

Despite US Vice-President Dick Cheney’s belief that coalition forces would be “greeted as liberators” by the people of Iraq, the summer that followed saw a significant increase in attacks on Western troops.

The motivations of the Iraqi insurgents were varied, but they were united in their opposition to the US. Many would have remembered the horrors of the US’s earlier war on Iraq in 1990-91.

Fallujah had been bombed in 1991 by coalition forces who struck its largest market, killing up to 150 civilians. Over the next decade the US bombed Iraq hundreds of times, imposing brutal sanctions that caused malnutrition and denied the population basic medicines.

Many more would have been compelled to resist by the immediate reality of the invasion and occupation.

The US occupiers allowed Iraq to descend into lawlessness, with widespread looting of government ministries, schools and hospitals.

They did little to reconstruct basic infrastructure, with the country left in ruins and unemployment rampant.

The revelation in April 2004 of the US’s horrific abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison discredited the occupation and radicalised a generation.

Iraq also had a proud tradition of nationalist revolts against British rule. Sunni and Shia Muslims united in revolt in 1920 against the plan to establish direct British control over Iraq.

This was followed by further revolts against the British-installed King that led to his toppling in 1958.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq was never about getting rid of Saddam Hussein and introducing democracy to Iraq, it was about US control of oil.

Iraqis were opposed to the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, but also to the US occupation that followed. As is the case in Palestine right now, Iraqis had a right to resist the invasion and occupation of their country.


Battle of Fallujah

A turning point came on 31 March 2004 when insurgents in Fallujah ambushed and killed four private military contractors from the American mercenary company Blackwater. Images of the mutilated bodies of the Blackwater contractors were broadcast around the world.

The response from the US was immediate. The next day the US’s deputy director of operations in Iraq, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, promised to “pacify that city”.

Operation Vigilant Resolve, as the assault on Fallujah was officially referred to, began on 4 April, when 2000 American troops surrounded and cordoned off the city.

Civilians were prevented from leaving, airstrikes levelled homes and mosques, and the two main hospitals were closed. Hundreds of civilians would be killed within the first week. One woman told the media that, “we knew we would be wiped off the Earth”.

As the Marines advanced further into Fallujah they were met with fierce resistance.

The horrific scenes rallied both the Sunni and Shia resistance throughout Iraq. Politicians including British PM Tony Blair, facing pressure at home, expressed their concern about the radicalising potential of the assault.

Sunni leaders on the occupation’s Iraqi Governing Council threatened to resign in protest.

Just six days into the offensive, on 9 April, US Central Command ordered the Marines to suspend all offensive operations in Fallujah. The fighting continued until 30 April, with the city still under the control of the insurgency.

At least 800 Iraqis were killed during the First Battle of Fallujah, approximately 600 of them civilians. Hundreds had to be buried in the former football field of the Fallujah Sports Club because Marines had occupied the main cemetery.

The assault lasted less than a month and ended in embarrassment for the US forces.

When they attempted to send the 2nd Battalion of the newly-formed Iraqi Civil Defence Corps to Fallujah they refused to go, saying that they had not signed up to kill other Iraqis. Part of the 36th Battalion mutinied after fighting in Fallujah for 11 days.

On 1 May the Marines withdrew from Fallujah and turned over operations to the Fallujah Brigade, a newly created unit made up of former Iraqi military personnel. They would eventually disband and surrender the weapons the US had provided them to the insurgency.

Bloodiest battle

The Second Battle of Fallujah, Operation Phantom Fury, was the single bloodiest battle of the Iraq War. After the withdrawal of the Marines in May, Fallujah was continuously bombed by the US and the number of insurgents there doubled.

On 7 November 2004, 10,500 US troops, 850 British troops, and 2000 Iraqi national guards launched a ground invasion of Fallujah in an attempt to drive out the insurgency and establish the Iraqi Interim Government’s control of the city following the Coalition’s transfer of power in June.

Before the assault was launched many civilians fled the city, but 30-50,000 civilians still remained. Men aged 15 to 50 were prevented from entering or leaving, warned by US forces that “if they do, they will become a target”.

US forces went from house to house killing Iraqis in their own homes where their bodies were left to rot. US snipers positioned on roofs gunned down anyone who wandered into the street. Troops were caught on camera executing wounded and unarmed insurgents.

One of the first targets of the assault was the Fallujah General Hospital, believed by occupation forces to be a propaganda centre due to the high number of reports of civilian casualties coming from the hospital.

The hospital was seized and health workers were prevented from leaving to tend to the wounded in other areas of the city, where the few remaining medical clinics had been bombed.

An aid convoy from the Iraqi Red Crescent was denied entry into Fallujah because the US military deemed that there was no need for it. The UN special rapporteur declared that the occupation forces were using “hunger and deprivation of water as a weapon of war against the civilian population”.

The US launched white phosphorus munitions into the city during the assault; a chemical weapon which melts the flesh down to the bone.

Despite clear evidence of its use, military officials denied it until 2005 when an official military publication described how it proved in Fallujah to be “an effective and versatile munition” and a “potent psychological weapon”.

Depleted uranium munitions were used in an attempt to clear bunkers, contaminating drinking water, food and soil. In total 1200 tonnes of depleted uranium were used on Iraq by the US following their invasion in 2003.

One eyewitness described a sickening incident where the Iraqi National Guard directed families to leave their homes bearing white flags and gather at a mosque, only for US troops to open fire from the nearby rooftops, killing many of them.

At least 800 civilians and up to 2000 insurgents were killed by the time the occupation forces withdrew from Fallujah on 23 December 2004.

When Doctor Salam Ismael visited the city the following month, he reported that, “A wave of hate had wiped out two-thirds of the town… in most of the houses, the bodies were of civilians.

“It became clear to us that we were witnessing the aftermath of a massacre, the cold-blooded butchery of helpless and defenceless civilians.”

City of ghosts

Fallujah had been referred to as the city of mosques. After 2004 it became a city of ghosts. Two thirds of Fallujah was made uninhabitable; as many as 36,000 of the city’s 50,000 homes were destroyed.

Entire neighbourhoods were bulldozed to cover up the crimes committed by the occupation forces. In some areas US forces were reported to be removing the soil and hosing down the streets to hide the use of chemical weapons.

While the US and British governments denied that they used depleted uranium, or that it could cause long-term health risks, its impact was clear.

In the years that followed, 14.7 per cent of all babies born in Fallujah had birth defects and the rate of leukaemia increased by 2200 per cent, significantly higher than the worst of the lasting effects in Hiroshima.

Babies were born with missing limbs, multiple heads and heart defects.

Nobody responsible for the crimes committed in Fallujah has been brought to justice.

Australia was directly implicated, with Australian general Jim Molan serving as Chief of Operations for the coalition forces in Iraq, and responsible for planning the Second Battle of Fallujah and the war crimes that resulted.

As a reward for his role in the butchery of Fallujah, he received the Distinguished Service Cross and was hand-picked by former PM Scott Morrison to serve as a Liberal senator in 2017.

The armed resistance movement that grew out of the despair of the occupation and the assaults on Fallujah humiliated the West.

But it was unable to grow into a unified national movement, and the West responded by creating divisions between Sunni and Shia Muslims to stoke sectarianism.

A unified movement from below could have driven the US out of Iraq and put a stop to the horrors of the occupation.

The horrific scenes that played out in Fallujah in 2004 are being repeated right now in Gaza, with the same forces backing it. Stopping the slaughter for good means building the sort of fight that can smash the imperialist system.

The post Fallujah—how the US murdered a city first appeared on Solidarity Online.

Ireland and Ukraine’s Struggle for Independence, 1916–23

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/03/2024 - 11:24pm in

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Ireland and Ukraine have some important parallels during the years 1916-1923

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The post Ireland and Ukraine’s Struggle for Independence, 1916–23 appeared first on New Politics.

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