On ITV this December
A timely expose of the stealth selloff of Britain’s most vital public asset.
The award-winning investigative journalist has produced over 60 films for ITV.
John Pilger’s new documentary, The Dirty War on the NHS, “goes to the heart of the struggle for democracy today”, he says. Britain’s National Health Service, the NHS, was the world’s first universal public health service. Designed to give millions of people “freedom from fear”, the NHS today is under threat of being sold off and converted to a free market model inspired by America’s disastrous health insurance system, which results in the death every year of an estimated 45,000 people. Now President Trump says the NHS is “on the table” in any future trade deal with America. Filmed in Britain and the United States, this timely, compelling documentary touches us all and reveals what may be the last battle to preserve the most fundamental human right.
Watch the trailer at https://youtu.be/ZTnIOh6yl6Y
Perks include your name in the end credits (£20). a copy of the DVD hand-signed by Pilger (£50), and a ticket to the London premier with Q/A and a chance to meet the legendary documentarian (£150).
My last film, The Coming War on China, was only completed because of the generosity and solidarity of the hundreds of people whose names appear in the end-credits. For me, watching those names roll is one of the proudest moments of the film.
Initially, I was reluctant to crowd-fund and said so in the preamble on the crowd-funding site; I believed most people needed the money in their pockets and it was up to me and my colleagues at Dartmouth Films to convince likely institutions or rich donors with a conscience (yes, they exist) to impart their loose change.
But when one of the major funders of the film suddenly pulled out, it looked like the film and its editing would grind to a halt.
The crowd-funders came to our rescue: people who gave a fiver or what they could afford (and often couldn’t afford). What struck me was the entirely gracious way people offered to help. They weren’t giving charity, they said; they were delighted, even honoured, to be partners in the making and success of a film they considered important.
Today, I am again making an appeal for support – this time for a film whose urgency touches all our lives, literally.
It’s about the NHS, the last bastion of a truly people’s institution without which so many of us would stumble and fall and perhaps not survive.
The film is certainly a tribute to the NHS; but, above all, it’s a warning.
Under our noses, often secretly and deceptively, our National Health Service is being undermined and sold off: piece by precious piece to the likes of Richard Branson and the giant American health insurance companies that are at the root of the misery that is American healthcare.
The privatisation of the NHS has been mostly insidious – by “stealth”, as one of Mrs Thatcher’s cohorts once advised. But since 2010, the “reforms” have speeded up. It’s got to the point that if we don’t act now, we’ll wake up one day to an unrecognisable health service that is no longer ours.
As with my previous films, this film will be in cinemas and on network TV, bringing a vital public message, and warning, to a mass audience.
With this urgency in mind, please support this work – again, with whatever you can afford. Your name will appear with special honour as the credits roll… https://igg.me/at/Pilgerhealthdoc
This week I saw a rather blatant piece of BBC propaganda designed to legitimate Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s expansion of police powers on the pretext of combating knife crime in the UK. As the propaganda piece’s own victim interviews indicate, the recent knife crime epidemic is very real. But the aim, by presenting the working-class testimonials, is to channel public sympathy behind the expansion of police stop-and-search powers as a remedy to the problem.
It is noteworthy that no one has sought to consider what documented impact stop-and-searches actually have on UK crime. The impact, according to the latest study, is literally 0%. Conversely, according to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, this year’s UK knife murders are almost the exact same amount as those following contact with police. This is why the right-wing press, with its newly found concern for working class people, has to rely on emotions rather than facts.
That London is one of the world’s safest cities (and we’d do well to compare it to, for instance, cities in Yemen we’ve helped ravage) does not prevent racist tabloid headlines from branding it a lawless “Wild West” overrun by black gangs, a thinly veiled slur on the capital’s multiculturalism. Nor for that matter does it prevent opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose Blairite councillors continue to obey his dictum that they stick to May’s budget cuts, from lamenting the withdrawal of 21,000 police officers from the streets, vowing in his manifesto to finance an additional 10,000.
Since austerity began in 2010, UK child poverty has gone from 25% to 33%, while mental health problems have increased in tandem with government mental health cuts. Meanwhile, just 1000 people in the UK control 33% of the country’s wealth while £69.9 billion is annually dodged/evaded by corporations and the super-rich.
Despite 2,400+ children killed or disabled by road accidents in David Cameron’s first year, no equivalent calls for extra road safety have been made by the Tories, who have undoubtedly exacerbated the problem by closing 760-odd youth centres in the name of austerity.
The ruling elites see France’s Yellow Vest revolt and tremble. Still reeling from the economic crash of 2008 and the impact of austerity, they are seeking to militarise their societies in order to contain the damage the capitalist system is generating. Any doubts about the real agenda can be seen by the intervention of Tony Blair into the phony debate.
See my book on the New Cold War https://www.amazon.com/Eurasian-Tinderbox-Buildup-against-Russia-ebook/dp/B076VVH3CR/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=eurasian+tinderbox&qid=1554844133&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull
The UK has no sovereignty! The UK must resist!
These were the words shouted by Wikileaks’ Julian Assange while being dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy by British police on Thursday. The cowardly Ecuadorian government invited the cops in to arrest him and take him away, betraying seven years of refuge they had provided him.
Assange’s fear that the British would extradite him to the US (directly or via Sweden) were he to set foot out of the embassy has been vindicated. A UN body classed him as a political refugee and he has received the support of millions around the world for his courageous exposure of Western imperialist machinations and atrocities.
Whatever Assange’s faults, the moral contrast between himself and his persecutors could not be more stark at this point. All those involved in his arrest and extradition to the US are debased cowards who unconscionably prostitute themselves to Washington. Where indeed is the UK’s sovereignty?
This event is a disgrace in modern legal history, and demonstrates multiple things. One, that elite politicians are amoral, unprincipled cowards who are willing to “kill any number of people to stay in power”, to quote Daniel Elsberg, the first modern Assange who exposed the lies that led to and dragged on the genocidal Vietnam war.
The judge branded Assange, a seven-year political refugee whose physical and mental health has clearly deteriorated for the crime of journalism, a “narcissist” driven by “selfish interests”. This “judge” is a coward.
Chelsea Manning refused to testify against her fellow cyber-insurgent, landing her in prison. Resistance of the kind she embodies entails the courage and conviction that her and Assange’s persecutors will never understand.
Chelsea Manning, Assange’s accomplice in cyber-op against US empire
Whatever Assange’s fate, he has made a massive contribution to the struggle for information, journalism and the right to know. Even if most Westerners are content not to know how much blood is shed in their name in far-off brown countries.
Assange’s arrest sets a dangerous precedent that highlights elite contempt for democracy and the subversive nature of journalism. May its practitioners persevere!
Our silence is our shame
Last year, legendary reporter and documentarian John Pilger received the Order of Timor-Leste in recognition of his remarkable undercover reportage of the brutal Indonesian occupation of East Timor between 1975 and 1999. “In my experience”, he writes, “East Timor was the greatest crime of the late 20th century. I had much to do with Cambodia, yet not even Pol Pot put to death as many people – proportionally – as Suharto killed and starved in East Timor”.
After the invasion began following an explicit go-ahead from America’s Henry Kissinger, Australian ambassador Richard Wilcott secretly cabled that Indonesia’s atrocities must be publicly suppressed, and that the Department for Minerals had a far greater chance of acquiring the vast oil and gas riches lying beneath the Timorese seabed by “siding with Indonesia” than with “an independent East Timor”.
Genocide: 0.2m East Timorese (a third of the population) perished
So ferocious was the slaughter that, within three years, Indonesia ran out of arms. The Carter Administration quickly shipped them $115m’s worth, predictably escalating the slaughter.
In 1989, Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans sipped champagne with his Indonesian counterpart after signing a piratical “treaty” – illegal under international law – to effectively steal the aforementioned resources of the Timorese Sea. “This is a uniquely historical moment”, Evans declares giddily to the cameras, expecting “zillions” in profits.
Two years later, mourners were brutally gunned down by Indonesian troops at Santa Cruz cemetery. Evans dismissed the massacre, exposed to the world by reporter Max Stahl’s secret footage, as a mere “aberration”. “The world is a pretty unfair place”, he pragmatized, “riddled with examples of acquisition by force”.
If you think THAT statement was callous, consider more recently discovered records in the Australian archives quoted by Pilger:
In their own handwriting, senior officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs mock reports of the rape, torture and execution of East Timorese by Indonesian troops. In scribbled annotations on a memorandum that refers to atrocities in a concentration camp, one diplomat wrote: “sounds like fun”. Another wrote: “sounds like the population are in raptures.”
…another diplomat sneered: “If ‘the enemy was impotent’, as stated, how come they are daily raping the captured population? Or is the former a result of the latter?” The documents, says Sarah Niner (of Monash University, Melbourne), are “vivid evidence of the lack of empathy and…that this culture of cover-up is closely tied to the DFA’s need to recognise Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor so as to commence negotiations over the petroleum in the East Timor Sea.”
The episode of East Timor is the West’s eternal shame. Yet a similar episode has been unfolding over the past three years. And, although the Internet has certainly made people a lot less ignorant of the Yemen case than they were of East Timor (which literally received zero coverage for years), there is still general unawareness of our governments’ arming of the ongoing slaughter in Yemen.
In March 2015, Saudi Arabia launched an attack on Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, to stamp out a Shiite insurgency (‘Houthis’) that threatened to advance Iranian influence in the strategic energy-rich region at the expense of Western-Saudi hegemony. The result has been a humanitarian catastrophe killing thousands and threatening millions with famine. Saudi warplanes have bombed countless civilian targets from factories and markets to hospitals and villages.
US Assistant Secretary John Kerry soon confirmed US support for the war, including “intelligence sharing, targeting assistance, and advisory and logistical support for strikes against Houthi targets”. Riyadh’s command and control centre includes both American and British military trainers/advisers with access to target lists, though they are said to not be directly involved in selecting targets.
Catastrophe: Saudi-led war has killed thousands, threatens millions with famine
The UN soon reported 2300 civilian deaths due to airstrikes alone. The following month, Obama pushed for a series of arms deals with the Saudis worth $115b. Apparently, his previous $60b arms deal with the medieval monarchy, the biggest in US history with its 154 F-15s and Apaches, was insufficient in satisfying the Kingdom’s bloodlust. Ditto Britain’s delivery of 500lb Paveway IVs a couple months earlier…
Following the Saudi bombing of a wedding that killed nearly 50, a PR-conscious Washington was forced to back off from most of the proposal due to pressure from human rights groups. A billion-dollar deal, however, did go ahead. On his visit to the Great Democracy, the Four Seasons literally laid out a (blood?) red carpet for the King and his royal entourage.
Deal in blood: Six months into Yemen slaughter, a billion dollar arms deal
Wsws.org comments on the tacit AQ-US alliance throughout this period and ongoing, a hardly surprising fact given Washington’s covert CIA activities in Libya and Syria:
…The only areas which have escaped coalition airstrikes are those parts of the country controlled by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has proven itself an effective ally of the US in the effort to defeat the Houthis. US drone strikes continue to target individual AQAP leaders, but their fighters have been free to move throughout the country unmolested.
As for Trump, he followed up his $15b arms sale last October with a $110b series of deals plus an optional $350b extra over the next ten years. This all seems to be hoopla, but Trump has made his point: he, like his ‘liberal’ predecessor, is proud to serve his country…by helping to kill children.
“This is peanuts for you”: Prince Salman and President Trump
UK arms sales, meanwhile, have increased fivefold since the Saudi war began. In May, the Daily Telegraph cited Saudi military sources as saying that, of the 100 warplanes it is using round-the-clock, “about 50 percent are British-made Tornados and Eurofighters that have been sold to the Saudis over the past 30 years…”.
In defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2286, the British government is immunising the Saudis by allowing them to conduct their own war crimes investigations. On October 13, it disclosed that Saudi Arabia had used five different UK bombs and missiles in Yemen.
The slaughter in East Timor stopped only when public awareness peaked after two decades of ignorance. Had people known of it from the start, the Western aid that sustained the genocide could not have gone on for 25 years. The longer we remain in the dark about Yemen, the likelier that country will be completely destroyed, like Iraq and nearly Syria. Our silence is our shame.
Of the estimated $50b Riyadh has spent exporting its extremist Wahabi brand of Islam around the world, 15-20% has been diverted to Al Qaeda and other terror groups[Source]. A leaked 2009 cable signed by then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton identified Saudi Arabia as their top financial source, criticising its “limited action” against wealthy private donors.
In an email leaked in 2016, her election campaign organiser went further, accusing the Saudi and Qatari governments directly of having funded and logistically supported ISIS, the Iraq War’s ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’. Indeed, following the terror group’s capture of Mosul (Iraq) in June 2014, ex Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told US Secretary of State John Kerry: “Daesh (ISIS) is our response to your support for the Da’wa (Shia government in Iraq)”.
Before its official ban on ISIS, Riyadh pummelled billions to Syrian rebels with the full knowledge of US and British officials. General Jonathan Shaw, a former Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff, has described the Saudi-Qatari “wahabbisation of Sunni Islam” (Patrick Cockburn) as a “time bomb…that must stop.
Britain armed and funded Saudi Arabia’s founder Ibn Saud during WWI and, under a signed treaty in 1915, recognised his rule of Nejd. In his work “Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam”, which documents the West’s utilisation of Islamist forces as a counterweight to secular/left nationalism in the Muslim world, British historian Mark Curtis writes:
Ibn Saud established ‘Saudi’ Arabia in an orgy of murder. In his exposé of the corruption of the Saudi ruling family, Said Aburish describes Ibn Saud as ‘a lecher and a bloodthirsty autocrat … whose savagery wreaked havoc across Arabia’, terrorising and mercilessly slaughtering his enemies. The conquest of Arabia cost the lives of around 400,000 people, since Saud’s forces did not take prisoners; over a million people fled to neighbouring countries. Numerous rebellions against the House of Saud subsequently took place, each put down in ‘mass killings of mostly innocent victims, including women and children’. By the mid-1920s most of Arabia had been subdued, 40,000 people had been publicly executed and some 350,000 had had limbs amputated; the territory was divided into districts under the control of Saud’s relatives, a situation which largely prevails today.
In 1921, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill described Ibn Saud’s Wahabi followers to the House of Commons:
They hold it as an article of duty, as well as of faith, to kill all who do not share their opinions and to make slaves of their wives and children. Women have been put to death in Wahabi villages for simply appearing in the streets. It is a penal offence to wear a silk garment. Men have been killed for smoking a cigarette…the Wahabis are a distinct factor which must be taken into account, and they have been, and still are, very dangerous to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and to the whole institution of the pilgrimage, in which our Indian fellow-subjects are so deeply concerned.
Despite this, he went on to provide a cynical defence for Britain’s continued support for Ibn Saud:
The Emir Bin Saud has shown himself capable of leading and, within considerable limits, of controlling these formidable sectaries. He has always shown himself well disposed towards Great Britain and has long been in intimate relations with Sir Percy Cox. Under the advice of Sir Percy Cox, and of my counsellors here at home, we have arranged to continue the subsidy which Bin Saud has hitherto received from the British Government of £60,000 a year, together with a lump sum of £20,000.
…deprived of these funds, he would soon lose control of the nomadic and predatory tribes which are brought under what is after all a restraining influence…we desire to live on friendly and amicable terms with this potentate and not to be disturbed by him, particularly at a time when we are seeking to withdraw so large a proportion of our garrison from the country.
“…my admiration for him was deep”, Churchill later wrote, “because of his unfailing loyalty to us”. With help from the RAF and troops despatched from Iraq, Ibn Saud put down an internal anti-British rebellion in 1929.
One of Britain’s own diplomats Jonathon Allen told the UN Security Council that “the conflict creates ungoverned spaces in which terrorists can operate, poses security threats to countries in the region and international shipping, and fuels regional tensions”.
None of this seems to deter ongoing UK policy: it, after all, knowingly risked the blowback that materialised in Manchester last year by backing Al Qaeda-linked forces in Libya and Syria this past decade for the sake of regime changes in those countries. In this, they were following Washington’s lead, just as they did in 1980s Soviet-occupied Afghanistan when the CIA and MI6’s Operation Cyclone – the longest covert op since WWII – armed, trained and funded today’s generation of terrorists, including Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.
Along with Pakistan’s then Islamist dictator Zia ul-Haq, Saudi Arabia was the financial conduit for Cyclone and, according to a classified section of the 9/11 Commission report, the September 11 2001 attacks. This role has been revitalised in Libya and Syria, contributing to the destruction of both nations, a European refugee crisis and a spawn of terror attacks in Europe.
The reaction – intensifying the very “war on ISIS” that ostensibly motivated said attacks to begin with – fits Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same over and over (bombing the terrorists, in the process spawning more of them), expecting different results.
“We reserve the right to bomb the niggers!”
“We reserve the right to bomb the niggers!”
Such was how then Prime Minister David Lloyd George defended the indiscriminate bombing of Kurdish villages by the Royal Air Force during the 1920s. Through a deal with France to carve up the post-WWI Middle East (Who is Responsible for Today’s Middle East?), Imperial Britain created Iraq and annexed its former province of Kuwait in order to landlock Iraq and thus maintain the flow of oil to the West.
When the Kurds bravely revolted against this oppression, they paid with their lives. “If the Kurds were going to misbehave”, recalled a pilot, “we would smack their bottoms”. Containing similarly callous veterans as well as elderly Kurdish survivors, the Channel 4 documentary from which this quote is taken – “Birds of Death” – is available on YouTube and worth watching.
To avoid international notoriety, then War Secretary Winston Churchill’s eager request to deploy mustard gas against these “recalcitrant tribes” was fortunately denied. But the campaign proved no less ruthless. “The attack with bombs and machine guns”, ordered one RAF commander, “must be relentless and unremitting and carried on continuously by day and night, on houses, inhabitants, crops and cattle”.
Lionel Charlton resigned after visiting a local hospital full of injured civilians. But other RAF commanders such as Arthur “Bomber” Harris showed no mercy. “The Arab and Kurd now know what real bombing means, in casualties and damage”, Harris intoned. “They know that within 45 minutes a full-sized village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured”.
This soon became standard RAF practice in the Middle East, explains British historian David Omissi:
Schemes of air control similar to that practiced in Mesopotamia were set up in the Palestine Mandate in 1922 and in the Aden Protectorate six years later. Bombers were active at various times against rioters in Egypt, tribesmen on the Frontier, pastoralists in the Southern Sudan and nomads in the Somali hinterland.
Like the Palestinians the following decade (put down with comparable savagery that murdered thousands), the lightly armed Kurds were crushed and defeated. Likewise the Omani rebels in the 1950s, when Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson personally selected RAF targets: water treatment facilities, villages, and other civilian infrastructure. Read historian Mark Curtis’ research based on internal government files.
Ali Abbas: a symbol of the US-UK “Shock and Awe” blitz on Baghdad, March 20 2003
This all provided the precedent for the more recent holocaust in Iraq. During the 1991 Gulf War, the USAF and RAF decimated the civilian infrastructure of a country that once boasted, despite the formerly Western-backed Saddam dictatorship, one of the highest living standards in the Arab world.
Echoing Lloyd George, the Ministry of Defence justified one of its many attacks on civilian targets (in this case, a herd of sheep) documented by a UN report in the late 90s: “We reserve the right to take robust action”.
This, on top of an economic embargo that starved more than half a million children to death (“We think the price is worth it”, a US official explained at the time).
Curtis refers to “the RAF’s secret drone war, which involves a fleet of “Reaper” drones operating since 2007 to strike targets in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria… The targeted killing of terrorists (and the use of force generally) is only lawful in self–defence or following UN authorisation, and thus the drone programme is widely regarded as illegal”.
Of the more than one million deaths caused during the Iraq War, 2% (20,000) were caused by American and British aircraft[Opinion Research Business]. Up to 90% of the dead were civilians, meaning US and British pilots slaughtered up to 18,000 innocent men, women and children. What heroes!
And then there’s Libya, where the RAF killed thousands at indiscriminate targets such as water and food facilities, schools, homes and other civilian infrastructure. This is documented by the International Legal Assistance Consortium, the Arab Centre for Human Rights and the Palestinian Centre of Human Rights. The “Shock and Awe” bombing of Baghdad on March 20 2003 followed the exact same procedure, taking some 10,000 lives.
Boasting the highest living standard in Africa, Libya’s greatest achievement (among many others) was the Great Manmade River Project, its deliberate bombing by NATO reflecting a broader campaign to terrorise and demoralise the Libyan people: with forbears like anti-Mussolini insurgent Omar Mukhtar, the West knew it was up against a brave and proud nation who do not accept colonization.
An Obama-sponsored genocide of blacks ensued via Al Qaeda-linked terrorists, including a group whose members included the eventual Manchester bomber. Chalmers Johnson: “blowback”.
2011 NATO assault on Libya was illegal, spawned Europe’s refugee crisis
In addition to 2-3000 civilians killed by airstrikes on Iraq and Libya since 2014[airwars.org], the longest war in US history continues in Afghanistan and has witnessed horrifying civilian casualties resulting from Western (incl. RAF) airstrikes. Targets have ranged from weddings and funerals to villages and hospitals. This is all documented and systemic.
Prince Harry, a member of the 1% in whose interest imperialism is waged, is the veritable poster boy for the MoD as it seeks to revive jingoism amidst a country suffering from “Iraq War syndrome”. Harry, who once dressed up as a Nazi at a “colonels and natives” party, has likened shooting “raghead[s]” and “paki[s]” to playing a video game. Again, what a hero!
There is no pride in the most lethal weapon in Britain’s imperialist arsenal. There is no pride in a force that specialises in slaughtering children and women from high above, commanding the skies of other countries like a foreign overlord. With the exception of World War II, the British homeland has never faced a military threat.
All of Britain’s wars have been imperial endeavours to defend and advance the interests of the very same corporate elite that we rightly damn at home for dodging billions in tax every year while austerity and privatisation continues unabated on their behalf. The real enemy is at home, not abroad!
Air Power and Colonial Control: The Royal Air Force 1919-1939
2. Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq ITV (1999); watch at johnpilger.com
3. American School of Public Health (2006); cited in The War You Don’t See ITV (2010), watchable at johnpilger.com
On the centenary of the First World War, German chancellor Angela Merkel questioned the future survival of European integration, a project designed to consolidate and salvage European postwar capitalism and close the nationally-divided ranks of its imperialist bourgeoisie.
The absence of a unified policy response to the global financial crisis in 2008 marked the beginning of the end of the project’s modern constitution, the European Union. Never without its dissenters within the bourgeoisie, the project’s divisions have come to a head with crises like the Eurozone, the refugee crisis engineered by US-EU wars, and now the very question of continued membership of EU states: in effect, the spectre of a nationalist breakup of the Brussels empire.
Brexit: Behind the Immigration Smokescreen
A turning point in the European crisis, the slender “no” vote in Britain’s EU referendum defied the dominant Europhilic section of her ruling class and plunged the nation into perhaps its greatest political crisis since the English civil war in the 17th century. A blow to imperialism and its insane war drive against nuclear-armed Russia, its official nationalist articulation by arch-reactionary UKIP did not withstand its progressive left-wing core: a defiance of Europe’s neoliberal priesthood in Brussels.
City of London: Home of British imperialist finance
The Remain camp, however, got overwhelming support from Britain’s corporate sector, for whom Europe is the single most important market. The majority of the business and political elite also backed Remain on the grounds that the interests of British imperialism are best served, as they generally have been since WWII, by dovetailing Britain’s foreign policy with America’s foreign policy: the so-called ‘special relationship’.
The Lexit campaign was equally nationalistic, hinged as it was on the defence of the ‘sovereignty’ of the capitalist state and the international advancement of British imperialism (see articles at leftleave.org). It was mounted by ex-left opportunists who sought to advance themselves politically and financially by engineering the election of a Corbyn government.
The worst of the lot (unsurprisingly) was Labourite George Galloway, who shared a stage with Nigel Farage in the name of what he called – flashing his Stalinist credentials – a ‘Churchill-Stalin’-type tactical alliance.
Like the IMF and World Bank, and regardless of the fact that Soviet (state-capitalist, not socialist) economic life was worse, the EU dutifully transitioned to neoliberalism following the collapse of the keynesian consensus, swallowing up the economies of Eastern Europe with brutal policies of austerity and privatization.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the so-called PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain) countries, where the Brussels bureaucrats have imposed savage austerity cuts since the 2008 financial crash that have spelt disaster for the populations.
Brussels dismissed a majority “no” vote in a Greek referendum and continued to impose austerity cuts that have plunged the country into a devastating depression, followed through by a spineless government (Syriza) elected on the basis of its fake left credentials.
Betrayed: The anti-austerity vote by the Greek people
Article 63 of the TFEU prohibits restrictions on the movement of capital both within the EU and between the EU and the rest of the world, while article 53 prohibits the EU from enforcing labour rights such as the minimum wage or the right to strike or join a trade union.
Short of a unanimous vote by all member states to amend such pro-free market clauses, prospects of EU “reform” were always illusory. Ditto a unanimous vote by the Council of Ministers to reverse the EU’s extensive powers.
‘Kept the peace in Europe’?
As documented by John Pilger, this aggressive free market drive by the EU – part of a broader eastward expansion in tandem with imperialist NATO following the demise of the USSR – played a central role in the NATO attack on Yugoslavia in 1991 that murdered at least 500 civilians and became the model for even more murderous wars of aggression based on ludicrous lies about WMDs (Iraq 2003) and pending genocide (Libya 2011).
NATO’s indiscriminate terror bombing of Yugoslavia (1999)
Far from preventing a third world war, the EU has contributed to the prospect: when it tried to barge its way into Ukraine with an Association Agreement in late 2013, the EU and US helped engineer an illegal coup – led by neo-Nazis, no less – to oust the elected government after it cancelled the Agreement at the last minute. Since then, a civil war has wrecked the country, while NATO has carried out the biggest military buildup on Russia’s borders since the Nazis.
Under Article 42 of the Lisbon Treaty and protocols 10-11 of the Functioning of the EU, the EU must conform to NATO planning, a point reiterated by one of the protocols in the Association Agreement signed off by the new US-installed regime.
Despite official denials from Kiev that it had prospects of joining NATO, this partly prompted Russia’s “invasion” of majority-Russian Crimea, already home to Moscow’s crucial Black Sea Fleet with its treaty quota of 25,000 troops at the historic naval base.
The Return of Fascism
The betrayals of the liberal bourgeoisie and the absence of a genuine left-wing alternative and perspective in electoral politics has lead many desperate and confused voters into the arms of the extreme right: the only remaining anti-EU force. Thus Italy has gone right, Hungary has gone quasi-fascist and the betrayals of Syriza could mean Greece may elect neo-Nazi Golden Dawn too. Such is the consequence of the neoliberal and antidemocratic EU.
Fascism returns to Europe: Greek neo-Nazis exploit “left” capitulation to the Troika
As the EU collapses, Russia provides a common enemy against whom all member states can unite and salvage the European project, propelling the war drive against Russia that now threatens humanity’s survival more than any time since the Cold War. But being dependent on Russian energy exports, this aggressive campaign has only compounded internal division within the EU elites on whether to favour or oppose/moderate this campaign.
The EU thus finds itself riddled with seemingly irresolvable political and economic contradictions and crises that put the very future of the European project into question. Its very premise that Europe’s historic tendency for conflict between competing nation-states could be resolved without obliterating the national division of a globalised economy – capitalism’s central contradiction – is an absurdity highlighted every day. The struggle for a democratic Europe is part of the struggle for a democratically planned global economy of collective ownership of resources and industry to the benefit of all, not the few.