Monday, January 15, 2018

Foreign multinationals are driving attacks on workers

Danny O.


A quick look at recent industrial disputes around the country reveals a common thread running through them all. Foreign-owned multinational corporations have been deeply involved in all the major disputes around Australia in the last six months.


Workers’ wages and conditions everywhere are coming under sustained attack by the capitalist class, and the current draconian industrial relations laws has meant that attempts by workers and their unions to resist these attacks has often resulted in somewhat untraditional campaigns, as well as long and protracted battles. These attacks on the Australian working class are being orchestrated by the foreign multinationals that increasingly dominate Australia’s economy, especially our resource sector, and dictate industrial policies to the major parliamentary parties.


Milestones tumble as disputes drag on

In Longford, Victoria, maintenance workers have been on strike for over 200 days now in their struggle against US multinational oil and gas giant ExxonMobil. The workers’ direct employer, UGL, was taken over by the German and ultimately Spanish owned CIMIC Group in December 2016. This ongoing dispute has now far out-lasted the CUB dispute which lasted 185 days in 2016 and saw the entire union movement mobilised. (For more on the Longford dispute see here: http://www.cpaml.org/articles3.php?id=600)


Meanwhile, nearly 200 coal miners at Queensland’s Oaky North coal mine have been locked out for over six months now by British-Swiss multinational owners, Glencore, one of the world’s largest coal mining companies (see photo at top). This is the longest lockout of miners in Australia’s history.


In the coal mining town of Collie in Western Australia, maintenance workers at the Griffin Coal Mine have been on strike for over 150 days to protect their wages and conditions. Griffin Coal was bought by Indian conglomerate Lanco Infratech in 2011. 


Attacks keep coming

In November last year, unions called for a national boycott of ice cream brand Streets, as factory workers in Sydney attempted to defend their agreement after the owners of the brand, British-Dutch multinational giant Unilever, applied to the Fair Work Commission to have the agreement terminated. The boycott worked with workers and the company reaching a new agreement within a month.


At Webb Dock in the Port of Melbourne, a two-week continuous picket at the gates of union busting company VICT (Victoria International Container Terminals) was maintained by community and union support in December last year after attempts to undercut hard fought for pay and conditions of maritime workers. VICT is owned by notorious anti-union Philippines based company ICTS (International Container Terminal Services Inc.). (For a more detailed look at that dispute see here: http://www.cpaml.org/posting1.php?id=591)


Finally, just last week 60 workers were locked out for five days at the Port Kembla Coal Terminal (PKCT) in New South Wales in an unprecedented escalation by the multinational leaseholders in the ongoing dispute with the union over the EBA. The website for PKCT lists six equal shareholders as operators of the terminal. They are South32, who manages the terminal on behalf of the other shareholders, Glencore, Centennial Coal, Wollongong Coal, Tahmoor Coal, and Peabody Energy.


Glencore is British-Swiss. Centennial Coal has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Thai mining and energy company Banpu since 2010. Wollongong Coal is owned by Indian conglomerate Jindal Group. Tahmoor Coal was owned by Glencore until the start of this year when it was sold to the UK based GFG Alliance. Peabody Energy is American and one of the largest coal companies in the world. Only South32 is an Australian company, having been spun out of BHP Billiton in 2015. 


For an independent and socialist Australia

It is no coincidence that six major industrial disputes from all parts of the country in the last six months have all had foreign multinationals at their heart. We have long maintained that foreign multinational corporations constitute the decisive core of Australian monopoly capitalism.


The oppressive, anti-working class laws of the unFair Work Commission and the corporate taxation system that favours and enables big corporations to avoid paying tax are designed to maintain the exploitative system of capitalism solely for corporate profiteering. More and more this stark reality is becoming apparent to working people around the country.  Workers in the front line of attacks from the multinational corporations have a sharp awareness of the domination of Australia by the multinationals.


In opposition to this foreign dominance, we put forward the position of fighting for a truly independent and socialist Australia led by the working class. This would see the multinationals taken over and run by the working class to meet the needs of Australia’s society and its people, not for the profit of a few corporations and shareholders around the world.


Needless to say, regardless if it is at the hands of foreign or Australian owned big businesses, the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) stands with all workers around the country against the onslaught by capital on their hard fought for wages and conditions.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Korean Peninsula: a crisis in US imperialist policy

(Contributed)

 

United States “diplomacy” is in crisis over the Korean peninsula. The Trump administration is unlikely to achieve any realistic diplomatic success.

 

The election of President Moon Jae-in in the southern Republic of Korea (ROK) has confronted the US presidency with an administration pledged to prioritise Korean interests at the expense of unquestioning diplomatic compliance with Washington and the Pentagon.
 
Hostile US diplomacy toward the northern Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has raised the threat of nuclear war.
 
Behind the scenes the rise of China has continued to challenge traditional US hegemonic positions together with that of their regional allies.
 
The administration of President Moon Jae-in in the ROK has presented the US with a major challenge with policies which are 'keen to foster relations with both North Korea and China' as both countries are subject to US-imposed sanctions. (1) The US imperialists have historically used ROK military facilities for rapid deployment with their Defence of Japan doctrine. The Trump administration is now, however, confronted by President Moon Jae-in, a former Special Forces military official solidly backed by a centre-left administration elected on a pledge to re-open the Kaesong Trade Park. The park was a former joint ROK-DPRK venture largely financed by China. It was closed when further sanctions were imposed on the DPRK by the US.
 
The sanctions also included the closing of a joint ROK-DPRK 'hot-line' operating from Panmunjom with 'operators from both countries checking it twice a day' in the 'truce village'. (2) The hot-line has now re-opened. President Moon Jae-in has been noted for a position which has included 'long favoured engagement' with the DPRK while the US has imposed conditions upon all dialogue between the two countries. (3) Proposed dialogue between the ROK and DPRK, however, is re-commencing as of today, January 9, without pre-conditions.
 
Under such circumstances it is likely, therefore, diplomatic relations between the US and ROK will enter into a period of prolonged tension as the former attempts to influence the latter, with little success. The reasons are obvious. For over two decades, the ROK has been drawn closer to China through favourable trade relations. The election of President Moon Jae-in was the outcome of fundamental changes in the ROK political climate which would have been unthinkable in previous Cold War terms; Moon Jae-in, for example, was born in the DPRK.
 
The political situation has also played into the hands of those who oppose traditional US hegemonic positions on the Korean peninsula. The ROK National Intelligence Service (NIS) were long regarded as a major conduit for US involvement in South Korean politics. They have a murky past, based in state repression and corruption. Soon after the December, 2012 election of President Park Geun-hye allegations surfaced that 'the NIS played a part in Park's election'. (4) Several NIS agents were subsequently charged with posting thousands of tweets discrediting then opposition figure Moon Jae-in. He was not the US favoured candidate to win the presidential election.
 
Recent moves to charge Park Geun-hye 'with accepting millions of dollars’ worth of bribes from the state spy-agency' has further rebounded upon the US. (5) The fact that financial support from the NIS was apparently used 'to bankroll supporter groups' has revealed the nature of deep US-led intelligence penetration of ROK politics. (6) In true covert operation style, the illegal financing of a servile political support group was made possible by NIS agents delivering an estimated 50-200 million won every month 'in uncrowded car-parks or in back allies near the presidential Blue House'. (7) The election of President Moon Jae-in was, in part, a protest vote against traditional US diplomatic positions toward the ROK.
 
The US now has a tarnished image in the ROK, a position which will be useful for the Moon Jae-in administration as they pursue their own policies rather than the dictates of Washington. 
 
It has been noted that the US imperialists are now worried about their 'economic and security interests' in the region due to the Moon Jae-in presidency seeking a 'more conciliatory leadership in South Korea that threatens to sideline the US'. (8)
 
A further problem confronting the Trump administration remains the anti-Japanese sentiment within the ROK, still running strong from the occupation of the peninsula during 1910-45. (9) Japan has become in recent years a major northern hub for US regional interests with Australia as a counterpart in the south. The triangular defence and security plan was designed to contain and encircle Chinese influence in the region and elsewhere. Recent increased Japanese defence budgets together with the re-interpretation of its pacifist constitution has been accompanied by a plan to move 'the Self Defence Forces closer to a conventional military' as part of US-led militarism across the region. (10)
 
China is also a major trading partner with the DPRK. The three-way relationship has also recently included an additional Russian Federation developing strong relations with the DPRK. Chinese diplomacy toward the Korean peninsula has shown no sign of drawing back; in fact it would appear to have been strengthened through time with favourable trade and the incompetence of the Trump administration. The US diplomatic position has shown no skill whatsoever at dealing with the complicated chessboard-like position of their adversaries. The failed US diplomatic position has also been accompanied by a similarly inept statement by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that 'responsibility for tension and instability on the Korean peninsula lay solely with North Korea'. (11) Bishop made no reference to the changing balance of forces across the peninsula and wider region.
 
Threats, by Trump, to 'totally destroy' Pyongyang with a nuclear attack appear to have backfired upon the US. (12) In reality, Trump has been made to look foolish by not being able to deal with the DPRK and having no realistic options other than attempting to maintain the existing status quo.
 
The existing status quo, however, is slowing slipping from the grasp of Washington and the Pentagon with far-reaching implications for regional allies. Recent statements from retired General Jim Molan that the 'US is too weak to defend us', have raised serious questions about Australian defence and security planning. (13)  While Molan has claimed 'the US remains the centre of our defence policy', he has also acknowledged 'we need to defend our national interests independently' together with 'the US desperately needs strong allies'. (14) Traditional US power has now been eclipsed.
 
With Molan now set to become a Senator in Canberra next month his views are likely to be taken seriously. Australia, as a result, will then be in a position where tax-payers will be expected to pay for a larger defence budget to police 'US interests' in the region with Japanese assistance. It does not take a great deal of political imagination to envisage a scenario where the US will sit in the Pentagon and plan wars for their lackeys to fight in the Asia-Pacific region. 
 
With estimated GDP growth in China virtually tripling that of the US this year, the likelihood of US-led military hostilities in region is a very real danger.
 
We should be on our guard!

1.     Arms Sales, The New Daily, 3 January 2018.
2.     North Korea reopens hotline to the South, Australian, 4 January 2018.
3.     Ibid.
4.     Koreans voice discontents, The Guardian Weekly, (U.K.), 17 January 2014.
5.     South Korean president 'took bribes from spies', Australian, 5 January 2018.
6.     Ibid.
7.     Ibid.
8.     New Daily, op.cit., 3 January 2018.
9.     Ibid.
10.   Chinese alarm if Japan rearms, Australian, 28 December 2017.
11.   Kim vow to mass produce warheads, Australian, 2 January 2018; and, New Daily, op.cit., 3 January 2018.
12.   Ibid.
13.   US too weak to defend us: Molan, Australian, 4 January 2018.
14.    A stronger Australia can be a more useful U.S. ally, Australian, 4 January 2018.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The re-militarisation of Japan and the likely implications

(Contributed) 

An announcement by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that an increase in the defence budget was taking place is a further step toward the re-militarisation of the country as a bulwark of US imperialist-led western military planning.

The positions taken by Abe have been coordinated through Australia as part of US-led regional defence and security provisions aimed at encircling and containing China.

 

The moves draw the Asia-Pacific region ever closer to diplomatic hostilities with the threat of war.

 

In October, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won the required two-thirds majority in elections to revise Section 9 of the country’s post-WW2 pacifist constitution, enabling the country to move away from a client-state of the US to a fully-fledged regional hub for 'US interests' in the Asia-Pacific region. (1) The military planning has formally linked Japan with Australia as the regional hub in the south. The tripartite relationship with the US has also included high-level diplomatic contact.

 

Shinzo Abe visited Australia last January following the presidential election victory of Donald Trump. The timing was not coincidental. It will soon be accompanied by a visit of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to Tokyo early in 2018 'to facilitate joint military exercises'. (2) The diplomacy between Japan and Australia took place with President Trump approving the Abe government receiving 'massive amounts of the most sophisticated military equipment'. (3)    

 

Japan had established a 'special strategic relationship' with Australia in 2014 which was elevated following the visit of Abe to Canberra. The two countries then signed a 'cross-servicing agreement to exchange support at various levels between their militaries'. (4)

 

The moves have also been accompanied by the Japanese government approving a record defence budget of 5.19 trillion yen ($59.61 bn). (5) The defence budget was the sixth consecutive increase under Abe. (6) In fact, the budget figures tend to be misleading taken out of context. Whereas most NATO countries allocate two per cent of their GDP to defence, Japan already spends more than four per cent. The latest increase also amounts to a further 2.5 per cent increase over the previous budget. (7) The developments leave little to the imagination about the role of Abe and his role in the rearmament of Japan. The country already has a defence force composed of 247,000 active military personnel. (8) It is set to expand still further.

 

The increased Japanese defence budget has also coincided with a proposed massive increase in US military spending. In November, Congress sent President Trump 'a sweeping defence policy bill authorising a $700 bn. budget for the military, including billions of dollars more for missile programs'. (9) The proposals are not required for standard defence provision but more in line with pursuing an aggressive foreign policy. Further information included in the statement, for example, specified 'the funding boost pays for more troops, jet fighters, ships and other weapons needed to halt an erosion of the military's combat readiness'. (10)

 

What is significant about the rearmament, however, is the inclusion of 'an aircraft carrier to provide the capability to strike enemy bases' together with the US deployment of sixteen F-35B stealth fighter planes. (11) The development has also coincided with Australia's new carrier HMAS Canberra which has been designed for 'combat missions'. (12) Official defence department media statements from Canberra have already stated that 'given the deepening defence ties between Japan and Australia, and also trilaterally with the US, the possibility of more integrated air-sea operations using the world's most advanced planes and ships is on the horizon'. (13)

 

The moves also include the US selling Japan land-based Aegis Ashore missile defence systems linked into bigger electronic warfare systems with real-time military planning provision with the Pentagon. (14) The likely scenario with the military planning is that the US will command hostilities from the Pentagon while allies will conduct battle-scenes.

 

There is also little ambiguity with the military planning despite it tending to be hidden within defence department media releases emphasising their role 'for humanitarian emergencies'. (15) It is aimed at China which has had a meteoric rise to prominence, presenting a credible challenge to the traditional hegemonic position of US imperialism. In a recent statement, Peter Varghese, former Secretary to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said 'there is a real risk that South-east Asia is becoming a Chinese sphere of influence'. (16) Similar commentary has also included a statement from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) that, 'since last year's defence white paper, Australia's circumstances have deteriorated, with a continuing shift in the balance of power in the region in favour of China'. (17)

 

In the Asia-Pacific region an escalation of militarism has entered a dangerous phase. Western military strategists are planning for real-war scenarios. One military plan, which included a 'Pentagon strategy designed to knock out an enemy's long-range surveillance radar and precision missiles, followed by a blistering air and sea assault' would now appear to have become standard practice. (18) Defence Department sanctioned media releases about the planning also included the statement, the 'Air Sea Battle is unofficially acknowledged in Washington as the central tenet of US plans to deal with China' and 'the real target of the Air-Sea Battle is China'. (19)

 

What was not acknowledged was that while such real-war scenarios were planned by the US, they expected Japan and Australia to take a leading role in hostilities. Progressive-minded people across the region should take note of the problem before hostilities begin.

 

1.     Abe aims at Kim after poll win, Australian, 24 October 2017.

2.     Japan, Australia mull agreement on closer military ties, Australian, 27 December 2017.

3.     Editorial, US backs Japanese rearmament, Australian, 8 November 2017.

4.     Asia's New World Order, Australian, 24 October 2017.

5.     Harder sanctions for N Korea, The Weekend Australian, 23-24 December 2017.

6.     Japan Boosts Defence Budget, The Guardian (UK), 22 December 2017.

7.     Website: cdr salamander, Welcome Re-militarisation of Japan, 26 December 2017.

8.     Asia's New World Order, op.cit., 24 October 2017.

9.     $924 bn defence bill sent to Trump, Australian, 18 November 2017.

10.   Ibid. 
11.   Chinese alarm if Japan rearms, Australian, 28 December 2017.

12.   Military build-up in the Asia-Pacific could be the key to diplomacy, Australian, 2 December 2014.

13.   Ibid.

14.   Japan boosts defence budget, op. cit., 22 December 2017.

15.   Military build-up, op.cit., 2 December 2014.

16.   China's rise poses growing threat, Australian, 15 November 2017.

17.   Ibid.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Strange, Shadowy and Contradictory World of “Counter-Terrorism Experts”

(Contributed)

In early December a meeting of 'counter-terrorism experts' took place in Melbourne as the war in Syria was drawing to a close. Billed as 'the global fight against terror' which was noted as having 'entered a dangerous and unpredictable phase' the gathering was coordinated at the highest level through the 'Five Eyes intelligence sharing community with Australia, the United States, New Zealand, Canada and Britain'. (1)

Behind the scenes of the Leadership in Counter Terrorism conference and bean-feast at taxpayers’ expense, however, some murky forces were at work. While the conference appeared generally concerned about dealing with the problem of domestic terrorism, military planners, elsewhere, were actually promoting it.

 

The war in Syria which began in September, 2011, has led to tens of thousands of deaths and an estimated five million refugees. It was also started by western-backed forces with military planning to topple the government of President Bashar Al-Assad. Syria has always been central to the Arab world. The Syrian Alawite government is also strongly allied to Iran, the centre of Sh'ia toward which the US imperialists use a diplomatic Cold War-type position. One of the intended outcomes of the war in Syria, therefore, was increased diplomatic hostility toward Iran.

 

Despite allegations of US-led western connivance being denied, the subsequent leaking by Qatar of an official US National Security Agency (NSA) document reference (TS/SI/NF) S2E332 in October, has confirmed the armed opposition in Syria 'was under the direct command of foreign governments from the earliest days of the conflict'. (2) Furthermore, the NSA document confirmed collusion and coordination between four countries to destabilise Syria.

 

Further sections of the NSA document have provided accurate information about the so-called moderate rebels and the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Under the guidance of the Saudi Royal Family, the FSA were responsible for rebels firing 'several barrages of rockets' into Damascus including one aimed at the Presidential Palace on 18 March 2013. (3) The Saudi Royal Family, as a centre of Sunni Islam, have long held hostile diplomatic positions toward Syria and Iran. The targeting of the Presidential Palace and killing President Bashar Al-Assad was regarded as merely an extension of existing diplomacy.

 

The Syrian rebels also appear to have been well-financed and equipped with armaments provided by the US through contractors and their front companies in Eastern Europe. An estimated $2.2 billion Soviet-era weapons were actually made available by the Pentagon to rebel groups according to Scott Bennett, a former US Army Operations Officer. (4)

 

Fortunately for the Syrian people their country was saved by a large force of Russian Federation troops allied with Damascus. By November, the rebel stronghold of Deir ez-Dor had been captured by loyal Syrian forces. In the period leading to the liberation of Deir ez-Dor many rebels fled and attempted to hide among civilian groups. There are also credible reports of two evacuations of rebel field commanders by the US Air Force. The first, on 26 August, included two field commanders of European origin with family members. The second, two days later, using US military helicopters, included about twenty field commanders and militants. Both groups were thought to have been taken to northern Syria for future operations elsewhere. (5)

 

Further information about western involvement in evacuating jihadists from Syria was also released in December. It was noted an estimated 2,000 militants had left 'Manbij a town close to the Turkish border' with travel papers being purchased for 'as little as $200 to low level Islamic State members. For well-known emirs and foreign fighters, the price was inflated by several thousand dollars in some cases'. (6)

 

It was also noted in official military statements that some French and Algerian jihadists, 'some arriving from Syria', had been identified in northern Afghanistan. (7) They formed part of a larger group of about '200 foreigners' who had established a camp a short distance away from the village of Bibi Marian. They were identified wearing military clothing, riding motorbikes and responsible for training others in laying mines and suicide-bombing procedures. (8)

 

By December the Russian Federation declared 'mission accomplished' in Syria, with the country being 'completely liberated' from Islamic jihadists. (9) The official Russian Federation military communique stated, 'Therefore, as of today, there is no territory controlled by ISIS in Syria'. (10)

 

Much of the political stability achieved and the military victory in Syria was the outcome of successful diplomacy between Moscow, Ankara and Tehran which all had vested interests in resolving the crisis. The tri-partite summit to enable the end of the war, took place in Sochi on 22 November. Washington, it was noted, was always on the backfoot 'because it lacked leverage and a coherent strategic aim'. (11) The US-led western backed forces merely wanted to topple the government of President Bashar Al-Assad although they had little, if anything, of serious credibility to replace it with.

 

The same US-led western military planners, now, however, are working on destabilising the tri-partite diplomatic support around Damascus with the reasoning 'any leverage that Washington is likely to possess in Syria is likely to come from exploiting those differences'. (12) They want to further weaken and undermine the peace initiative. That is, the US-led western backed forces are potentially responsible for creating a further round of terrorism in due course.

 

The issue of military planning elsewhere was not an agenda item during the Leadership in Counter Terrorism conference in Melbourne. In fact, official media releases appear to have concentrated upon delegates warning one another about the threat of renewed domestic terrorism, preventing people becoming radicalised and policing a growing problem of encryption through easily acquired apps which enable jihadists and their supporters with the ability to keep 'much of their communication beyond the Five Eyes view'. (13) At no time was any delegate reported as being critical of US-led western foreign policy, diplomacy and their military planning.

 

Those attending the Leadership in Counter Terrorism conference might have provided each other with more meaningful dialogue if they had listened and then discussed the report given to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly by Syrian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem. It provided a far sincerer approach to dealing with terrorism and challenging those actively responsible for supporting it in the corridors of power in western capital cities.

 

In his speech Walid al-Moallem said that 'our world is facing mounting challenges and dangers on the daily basis, and a persistent stand-off between two sets of forces: forces that seek to control and dominant nations and their riches, by turning back the clock, re-establishing a uni-polar world order, fuelling crisis and war, and violating international and humanitarian laws: and opposite forces that work tirelessly to create a more balanced, secure and just world, one that respects the sovereignty of the states and right of peoples to exercise self-determination and build their own future'. And, as a strong undertaking to challenge terrorism in Syria and elsewhere, Walid al-Moallem stated, 'We must all understand that terrorism and underlying Takfirist extremist ideology will continue to spread like a tumour throughout the world and haunt all of our people unless every one of us demonstrates a genuine will to cooperate to confront it altogether'. (14)

 

It is to the honour of the Syrian people that they have waited six years for peace in their country and the eradication of foreign financed and supported jihadists from within their midst.


1.     Terror experts warn there's life in ISIS yet, Australian, 17 December 2017.

2.     In Shocking Interview, Tyler Durden, Information Clearing House, 30 October 2017.

3.     Ibid.

4.     War Crime, Rodi Said, Sputnik/Reuters, 15 September 2017.

5.     US Aircraft Evacuates, Sputnik, 7 September 2017; see also, Rebuilding Syria, Adelaide Voices, December 2017-February 2018.

6.     Syrian forces 'sold safe passage' to fleeing ISIS fighters, Australian, 12 December 2017.

7.     French jihadists link with Afghans, Australian, 11 December 2017.

8.     Ibid.

9.     Russian military declares Syria 'ISIS-free' zone, The Weekend Australian, 9-10 December 2017.

10.   Ibid.

11.   The fight for Syrian peace, Australian, 12 December 2017.

12.   Ibid.

13.   Terror experts, op.cit, 12 December 2017.

14.   Website: 72nd Session, United Nations General Assembly; and, Quoted, Syrian Foreign Minister calls to defeat terrorism, scale up reconciliation, People's Voice, Vancouver, Canada, 16-31 October 2017.