Military Resistance 8B9
Inside Marjah, Marines Encountered “What
They Called The ‘Death At Every Corner’ Crawl”
“Basically, If You Hear The Boom, It’s
Good. It Means You’re Still Alive
After The Thing Goes Off”
“As Marines Pushed Deeper Into Town, Gunfire
Forced Them To Take Cover In Buildings And Compounds Not Yet Cleared Of Booby
“They Know How To Use Our ROE Against
“A Top Marine Commander In The South
Predicted It Could Take 30 Days To Clear Marjah”
A U.S. soldier returns fire as others run for
cover during a firefight with insurgents in the Badula Qulp area, West of
Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Feb. 14, 2010. The area
is near Marjah, where U.S. Marines are conducting an offensive against the
Taliban. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
15th February Associated Press
Inside Marjah, Marines encountered
“death at every corner” in their second day of a massive offensive
to capture this bleak mud-brick city filled with booby traps, hardcore Taliban
fighters and civilians unsure where to cast their loyalty.
Marines confronted a fierce sandstorm as they
ducked in and out of doorways and hid behind bullet-riddled walls to evade
sniper fire. To the north, U.S. Army
troops fought skirmishes with Taliban fighters, calling in a Cobra attack
helicopter against the insurgents.
Taliban attacks were escalating, with small
bands of fighters firing rifles and rocket-propelled grenades at troops moving
slowly through the bombs and booby traps hidden in homes, residential compounds
and along the rutted streets.
“It seems these guys want to get a bit
closer,” Lt Carl Quist said as bullets whizzed overhead.
Brig Gen Larry Nicholson, a top Marine
commander in the south, predicted it could take 30 days to clear Marjah because
of all the hidden explosives.
Marines said they would have preferred a
straight-up fight to what they called the “death at every corner”
crawl they faced as they made their way through the town.
“Basically, if you hear the boom,
it’s good. It means you’re still alive after the thing goes
off,” said Lance Corp Justin Hennes, 22, of Lakeland, Florida.
As Marines pushed deeper into town, gunfire
forced them to take cover in buildings and compounds not yet cleared of booby
In one compound, a dog trained to detect
explosives discovered a massive bomb hidden in a pile of trash.
Some troops complained that the
strict rules issued by McChrystal to spare civilians were making their job more
difficult and dangerous.
U.S. soldiers operating near
Marjah said the Taliban can fire on them, then set aside their weapon and walk
freely out of a compound, possibly toward a weapons cache in another location.
A few crafty, determined
insurgents can keep a larger force engaged for hours with some degree of
“The inability to stop
people who don’t have weapons is the main hindrance right now,”
said 1st Lt. Gavin McMahon of Brooklyn, N.Y. McMahon.
“They know how to use our
ROE against us,” referring to the Rules of Engagement.
Twelve Afghan Civilians Killed Sunday When U.S.
Rockets Hit A House:
Rockets Used After Enemy Fire Made It Impossible
For Helicopters To Come In To Evacuate Two Wounded Soldiers;
Marine And Afghan Units Still Under Fire, More
Than 10 Hours After The Engagement Began
February 14, 2010 Saeed Shah, McClatchy
KABUL, Afghanistan — Twelve Afghan
civilians died Sunday after U.S. rockets mistakenly hit a house during the
much-trumpeted offensive to clear the last Taliban stronghold in Helmand
province, a loss of life that is likely to seriously undermine the operation
and the renewed American-led mission to win the trust of the population.
The use of the rockets has been suspended
pending a "thorough review" of the incident, the U.S.-led
International Security Assistance Force said in a statement.
An Afghan soldier and a Marine were injured
in the firefight that preceded the rocket attack, on the second day of an
operation to take control of the town of Marjah and the surrounding district of
A combined force of U.S., Afghan and British
soldiers continued to come under sporadic fire Sunday, while facing constant
danger from Taliban-laid mines, roadside bombs and booby-traps.
Marine unit embedded with Afghan soldiers,
which came under sustained fire from two directions, called in a strike from
heavy-duty munitions known as a Himars, which is a rocket system fired from a
truck. Two rockets landed some 300 yards
off target, killing the 12 civilians and wounding one.
At issue is whether the use of the rockets
was proportionate to the threat and why the weapon went so far wide of its
intended target. The wrong co-ordinates could have been fed into the rocket
launcher, or it suffered some technical failure, military officials believe.
An ISAF official, who could not be named
because of the sensitivity of the issue, said that the rockets were used after
enemy fire made it impossible for helicopters to come in to evacuate the two
As evening fell in Afghanistan on Sunday, the
Marine and Afghan unit were still under fire, more than 10 hours after the
engagement began, he said.
14 February 2010 BBC:
Marines were fired upon during a ceremony to
raise the Afghan flag in Marjah.
February 12, 2010 By Alfred de Montesquiou
and Christopher Torchia, AP:
A Taliban spokesman dismissed the
significance of Marjah, saying the NATO operation was “more propaganda
than military necessity.’’
AFGHANISTAN WAR REPORTS
U.S. Soldier Killed In Marjah
14 February 2010 BBC
On Saturday, a US soldier was killed by
gunfire in Marjah.
“Service Member” Killed Somewhere Or
Other In Afghanistan;
Nationality Not Announced
14 February 2010 BBC
On Sunday, a service member was killed in an
Soldier From 6 RIFLES Killed Near Forward
Operating Base INKERMAN
14 Feb 10 Ministry of Defence
It is with regret that the Ministry of
Defence must announce that a soldier from 6 RIFLES, serving as part of the 3
RIFLES Battle Group, was killed in Afghanistan today, Sunday 14 February 2010.
The soldier died from wounds received as a
result of an explosion near Forward Operating Base INKERMAN, to the north-east
of Sangin in Helmand Province, this afternoon.
Slain Navy Corpsman From Cordova Was On 1st
January 25, 2010 By Don Wade, The Commercial
Xin Qi, 25, of Cordova, was a Navy hospital
corpsman on his first deployment to Afghanistan when he died in the line of
duty Saturday from injuries suffered that same day.
"All we know is that he was out on
patrol and was killed," said Maj. Paul Greenberg, the media officer for
the Marine Forces Reserve Public Affairs Office in New Orleans. "We really
don't like to say too much about the location."
Thirteen days ago, Army Staff Sgt. Daniel
Dewayne Merriweather of Memphis, also 25, was killed in Afghanistan when the
Humvee he was driving triggered a roadside bomb, his family members said.
Qi's death makes at least 14
Memphis-area soldiers killed in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Early Monday afternoon at the home of Qi's
family in Cordova, a family friend answered the door.
"Right now, they just want to keep
quiet," the friend said. "It's really hard for them. We hope you
Greenberg identified Qi as a Petty Officer
Second Class and said he had been deployed about three months ago. Qi was assigned to the 4th Light Armored
Reconnaissance Battalion, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan. Qi's awards include the Navy and Marine Corps
Achievement Medal. He joined the Navy on June 8, 2006.
"If you go into a World War II or Korean
War Museum, you'll see that corpsmen have been fighting right alongside the
Marines for 60 or 70 years," Greenberg said. "It's not uncommon for a
corpsman to lose his life. They're right
there, they just have their bag and kit alongside."
Greenberg said that Navy corpsmen who go into
Marine units receive additional training.
"It's a tougher life," the major
said, "but they get to be with the Marines."
Mike McLellan, external media manager for the
Navy Personnel Command in Millington, said a Casualty Affairs Officer notified
the family of Qi's death at 1:30 Saturday afternoon.
"In all instances, it's a face-to-face
to contact," McLellan said.
"They're there basically to lead them through the grieving as best
they can" and to help with funeral and other arrangements as needed."
Convoy Held Up “For Hours” As Mine
Clearing Vehicles Damaged By Bombs
February 10 By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU and
CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA, The Associated Press [Excerpt]
To the north, a joint U.S.-Afghan force, led
by the U.S. Army's 5th Stryker Brigade, pushed into the Badula Qulp region of
Helmand province to restrict Taliban movement in support the Marjah offensive.
But bombs planted along a canal road slowed
progress of a convoy Wednesday, damaging two mine-clearing vehicles and
delaying the Stryker infantry carriers and Afghan vehicles from advancing for
ALL HOME NOW!
A U.S. Army soldier on guard duty at Forward Operating Base
Blessing, in the Pech Valley, Kunar province, northeastern Afghanistan, Jan.
29, 2010. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
U.S. Army soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division, and their
interpreter, right, on a patrol in a village West of Lashkar Gah in Helmand
province, Southern Afghanistan, Feb. 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
U.S. soldiers of the 562 Engineer Company, 5th Brigade, 2nd
Infantry Division, work on a bridge over a canal west of Lashkar Gah in Helmand
province, southern Afghanistan, Feb. 11, 2010.
(AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
2.13.10: A sniper
with US Marines 1/3 Charlie company crosses a rooftop on the northeast of
Marjah. (AFP/Patrick Baz)
U.S. Marines from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment walk
past a mud wall they blew open as they enter Marjah in Afghanistan's Helmand
province Feb. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/David
PAKISTAN WAR REPORTS
Parents: Soldier Killed In Pakistan Was From
Mark Stets Jr., 39, was killed in Pakistan on
Wednesday, his parents said. The military has not released names of the dead
soldiers. (WVEC photo)
February 5, 2010 By Corinne Reilly, The
Mark Stets feared the worst for his son as
soon as he read the first reports online Wednesday morning: Three Americans had
just been killed in an explosion in northwest Pakistan. They were there to
train local paramilitary forces, and though they were soldiers, witnesses said,
the Americans were dressed like civilians.
The names of the victims weren't given, but
the descriptions were all too familiar.
"I knew that's what he was there to do,
and I knew that not too many people are doing jobs like that in Pakistan,"
said Stets, who lives in Virginia Beach.
"I thought, 'It's Mark. He's coming home early.' "
By the next morning, Stets and his wife,
Nancy, were on their way to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to meet the casket
carrying their only child, 39-year-old Mark Stets Jr. His body was to arrive
Thursday night. The Department of
Defense hasn't released the names of the soldiers who died in the explosion, but
Stets' family has confirmed that he was among them.
A Cox High School graduate who grew up in
Virginia Beach, he'd been working in Pakistan since November. The Taliban has taken responsibility for the
bomb attack that killed him and at least six other people.
Stets and the two other American victims were
part of a psychological operations detachment based at Fort Bragg, N.C. They'd been serving near the Afghan border
with a special operations team that trains Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier
Corps in counterinsurgency tactics, such as humanitarian and intelligence
work. They were on their way to a
ceremony marking the reopening of a girls school rebuilt with U.S. aid money
when a suicide attacker struck their vehicle, the military said.
"We know that what he was doing was
important," Stets' father said Thursday. "And we know he was good at
it. We're taking comfort in that right
A staff sergeant, Stets had followed in his
dad's footsteps and joined the Navy out of high school in 1989. He served in the Persian Gulf War and spent
four years as a sailor before eventually switching to the Army, where he stayed
for the rest of his career, his family said.
As a soldier, Stets served in Korea, studied
Arabic and trained as a paratrooper. He joined psychological operations about
six years ago, his father said. Around 2006 he broke a vertebra during a
paratrooper training jump but recovered. He once appeared in uniform in a
Lockheed Martin TV commercial. "He
absolutely loved the military and he loved his job," said Gwen Odum, a
family friend. "And by all accounts, he was very good at it."
For the past 12 years Stets had lived in
Fayetteville, N.C., his family said. With his wife, Nina Stets, he had three
daughters, ages 14, 18 and 21. "His
girls adored him," Stets' father said.
After his family and the military, relatives
said, Stets' biggest love was his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He was part of a
motorcycle club in Fayetteville that's now planning a ride in his memory.
Stets' father said he and his wife talked
frequently with their son while he was in Pakistan, though he spoke only in
vague terms about his work there. Relatives said he dressed like a Pakistani
civilian for many of his missions and that he described his job there as
"marketing to the enemy." "He
was trying to sell them on our way of life and on peace and democracy,"
his father said. "He was proud of what he was doing."
Stets is among the first known U.S. military
fatalities in nearly three years in Pakistan's Afghan border region, where
militants are being pummeled by U.S. missile strikes and struggling to regroup
after the loss of a key stronghold in a recent Pakistani army offensive.
The blast that killed Stets also claimed
three girls at a nearby school and a Pakistani paramilitary soldier traveling
with the Americans. Two more U.S. soldiers were wounded, along with about 100
other people, mostly students at the school.
Reports differed over whether the Americans
were the targets of the bomber, an apparent suicide attacker who drove a car
packed with explosives into Stets' convoy. Witnesses said his vehicle took the
brunt of the explosion.
Stets' family said he was scheduled to return
from Pakistan this July. They plan to cremate his remains and hold services in
Fayetteville and in Virginia Beach, though they've not set dates.
NOT ANOTHER DAY
NOT ANOTHER DOLLAR
NOT ANOTHER LIFE
Marine Sgt. David J. Smith at Arlington National Cemetery Feb. 9, 2010. Sgt.
Smith was critically wounded Jan. 23 by an attack in Helmand Province,
Afghanistan. He died of his injuries three
days later. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
“At a time like this,
scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh had I the ability, and could reach the
nation’s ear, I would, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule,
blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke.
“For it is not light that
is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder.
“We need the storm, the
whirlwind, and the earthquake.”
Frederick Douglass, 1852
“Hope for change doesn't cut it when
you're still losing buddies.”
-- J.D. Englehart, Iraq Veterans Against The
I say that
when troops cannot be counted on to follow orders because they see the futility
and immorality of them THAT is the real key to ending a war.
Jaccoma, Veterans For Peace
country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to
time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.” Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith,
From: Mike Hastie
To: Military Resistance
Date: Feb 3, 2010
I took this picture at a county
fair in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in 1999.
The military recruiters were
putting war paint on small boys at the fair.
Normally I would have given the
recruiters a piece of my PTSD mind,
but the photo opportunities
were too important.
U.S. Army Medic
February 3, 2010
From: Mike Hastie
To: Military Resistance
Subject: Insanity #2
Date: Feb 3, 2010
I took this picture at a county
fair in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in 1999.
The flip chart just happened to
be in the background.
I added my personal comment
based on my PTSD from Vietnam.
On two occasions I was
hospitalized on a psyche ward for rage against
the machine--The Green Machine.
U.S. Army Medic
February 3, 2010.
captions from the I-R-A-Q (I
Remember Another Quagmire) portfolio of Mike Hastie, US Army Medic,
Vietnam 1970-71. (For more of his
outstanding work, contact at: (email@example.com) T)
From: Mike Hastie
To: Military Resistance
Subject: Insanity #3
Date: Feb 3, 2010
This picture was taken of a
little girl as she walked
down the ramp of a military
vehicle called an A.P.C.
That stands for, Armored
There were many of these
weapons in my unit in
This picture was taken near the
grounds of a
high school in Post Falls,
Idaho in 2002.
There were many other military
that day, along with a rock
for high school kids to show
off their skills.
Ever unzip a body bag?
The American soldier was shot
in the forehead.
It was a suicide.
Ever see an American soldier
die after he took
an M-16 and shot himself in the
Ever take a dead soldier off of
a helicopter who
was shot in the head?
Ever see a young Vietnamese
girl take her last breath?
Ever see an American soldier
with half his head gone,
because he got too close to the
recoil of an artillery gun?
Ever see an American soldier
receive shock therapy after
he got back from Vietnam?
Ever find yourself in a padded
cell of a psychiatric
hospital, screaming at the top
of your lungs that
you hate your government?
Ever hide in a closet and cry
your heart out?
These are just some of the bits
of reality that most
veterans take to their graves.
Because the American people
don't want to hear it.
"When you hide your limp,
someone else has to do
That's the next generation.
Ever see an Iraq veteran break
U.S. Army Medic
February 3, 2010
captions from the I-R-A-Q (I
Remember Another Quagmire) portfolio of Mike Hastie, US Army
Medic, Vietnam 1970-71. (For more of his
outstanding work, contact at: (firstname.lastname@example.org) T)
while I was in a bunker in Vietnam, a sniper round went over my head. The person who fired that weapon was not a
terrorist, a rebel, an extremist, or a so-called insurgent. The Vietnamese individual who tried to kill
me was a citizen of Vietnam, who did not want me in his country. This truth escapes millions.
“Two-Thirds Of Americans
Are ‘Dissatisfied’ Or Downright ‘Angry’ About The Way
The Federal Government Is Working”
February 11, 2010 By Jon Cohen and Philip
Rucker, Washington Post Staff Writer [Excerpt]
Two-thirds of Americans are
"dissatisfied" or downright "angry" about the way the
federal government is working, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News
poll. On average, the public estimates that 53 cents of every tax dollar they
send to Washington is "wasted."
The opening is clear: Public dissatisfaction
with how Washington operates is at its highest level in Post-ABC polling in
more than a decade -- since the months after the Republican-led government
shutdown in 1996 -- and negative ratings of the two major parties hover near
Quit Whining And Pissing On Everybody In Sight With Your Condescending
Bullshit About How Stupid & Apathetic Americans Are:
If You Don’t Spend Time In The Real World Reaching Out To Troops,
You Have Nothing Whatsoever To Sneer At Others About
“The single largest failure of the anti-war
movement at this point is the lack of outreach to the troops.” Tim Goodrich, Iraq Veterans Against The War
Zionist Terror Campaign Abducts More Than 150
Palestinians In 2 Days:
“A Barbaric Military Operation Most Violent
Since Years Ago”
13 February 2010 The Palestine Telegraph
The Palestinian Ministry of Detainee Affairs
said that the occupation authorities have stepped up recently abductions of
Palestinians from various parts of the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem and the
Gaza Strip, where more than 150 residents were abducted during the past two
Riyad Al-Ashqar, director of the information
department in the ministry, said that the Israeli occupation forces kidnapped
about 100 young men and children as they stormed Shufat Refugee Camp northeast
of Jerusalem, in a barbaric military operation most violent since years ago,
started two days ago and is still going on to date.
The Israeli occupation authorities, during
the operation, used large numbers of soldiers, police dogs and helicopters,
drove the abductees to the investigation and detention centers, especially the
Compound, and extended the arrest of dozens of them until the completion of the
investigation on the pretext that they were 'wanted', according to the
occupation police spokesman.
Al-Ashqar pointed out that among the abducted
were 15 Palestinian civilians from the Gaza Strip, kidnapped after a raid by a
number of Israeli soldiers reinforced by military jeeps and bulldozers near the
liberated zone 'Dugit' north-west of the town of Beit Lahia in the northern
Gaza Strip, demolishing the citizens' lands, surrounding a group of children,
women and young people collecting gravel and rubble to be used to reproduce and
manufacture new stones to reconstruct what had been destroyed during Israel's
recent assault on the Gaza Strip, and taking them away to an unknown
destination inside the border.
Also among those abducted were 38 people from
the West Bank, including 15 children from Ramallah's al-Jalazoun refugee camp,
the youngest of whom were: Hussein Dib Hraikp,15, and Nasr Kamal Hraikp,
also15. Some other 6 people were also
kidnapped from Al-Khalajan village in Jenin district.
On the other hand, the Salem Military Court, near Jenin,
extended the arrest of the 19-year-old female prisoner Sanabel Nabigh Suliman
Brake, residing in Nablus, for the fortieth time consecutively, having been
held since 22.9.2008.
Israeli occupation courts extended, too, the
arrest of Mrs. Montaha al-Taweel, 45, whose husband is the mayor of El-Bireh,
who was kidnapped after Israelis broke into her home three days ago.
The ministry appealed to international
organizations for immediate intervention to protect the unarmed Palestinian
people from the transgressions of the occupation of international law, and put
pressure on Israel to stop the daily rabid arrests of the occupation against
[To check out what life is like
under a murderous military occupation by foreign terrorists, go to: www.rafahtoday.org The occupied nation is Palestine. The foreign terrorists call themselves
NEED SOME TRUTH?
CHECK OUT TRAVELING SOLDIER
Telling the truth - about the occupations or
the criminals running the government in Washington - is the first reason for
Traveling Soldier. But we want to do
more than tell the truth; we want to report on the resistance to Imperial wars
inside the armed forces.
Our goal is for Traveling Soldier to become
the thread that ties working-class people inside the armed services together.
We want this newsletter to be a weapon to
help you organize resistance within the armed forces.
If you like what you've read, we hope that
you'll join with us in building a network of active duty organizers. http://www.traveling-soldier.org/ And join with
Iraq Veterans Against the War to end the occupations and bring all troops home
DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK
CLASS WAR REPORTS
Comments, arguments, articles, and
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Public Sector Strike Wave Paralyzes Greece:
“Different Demos And Strike Related Protest
Marches Are Unfolding In Various Cities Of The Country”
workers use garbage truck to press against police blockade.
strike coincided with the release of a national statistics service report which
revealed that unemployment rose to a five-year high of 10.6 per cent in
November 2009, up from 9.8 per cent in October.
Feb 10 2010 By Taxikipali,Libcom.org & 11
February 2010 Morning Star [UK]
The 24h public sector general strike
supplemented by private sector strikes has brought Greece to a standstill with
no airplanes flying in or out the country.
It is the first big strike in Greece since
the announcement of the austerity measures by the socialist [translation: completely
capitalist] government last week.
And it has managed to bring the country to a
standstill: the 24h strike of the public sector under the union umbrella of
ADEDY has seen a complete freeze in the following fronts - all civil servants,
including tax offices, social security, municipal and county workers; all
doctors and nurses (except emergency personnel); all teachers at all school
grades and all university teaching staff and personnel; all archeological sites
(Acropolis shut); all air traffic control (no flights in or out of the
Also in the means of mass transport, rolling
stoppages of work are being performed in the National Railway System, and the
suburban railway system of Athens.
The public sector strike has been further
supplemented by strikes in the private sector. PAME the Communist Party
umbrella union has called a 24h strike affecting large sections of the private
sector, while at the same time several Autonomous unions have call a strike
further hampering the private sector. The latter include: the books and printed
material workers of Athens and the workers of Wind Telecom.
The PAME strike is affecting a big range of
private business that cannot be accurately reproduced here but include:
Carrefur-Dia workers, elevator maintenance workers and construction builders.
It is worth noting that all hydrofoil transport from Peiraeus and Igoumenitsa
to the islands has frozen due to the strike.
At the time of writing different demos and
strike related protest marches are unfolding in various cities of the country.
In Athens, tension built up
between protesters and the riot police forces (MAT) when the former tried to
break trough police lines with the help of a garbage collecting vehicle (see
Greek taxi drivers struck against the
government austerity programme cooked up in close collaboration with EU
The cab drivers are angry because the
austerity measures which will usher in a public-sector wage freeze and raise
the retirement age will also ramp up fuel taxes and oblige the self-employed to
Taxi owners' union general
secretary Efthymios Lymberopoulos said: "We deem they are wrong measures
that come from American-trained economists and neoliberal 'Golden Boys' from
Brussels who will bring our society to its knees."
Their strike coincided with the
release of a national statistics service report which revealed that
unemployment rose to a five-year high of 10.6 per cent in November 2009, up
from 9.8 per cent in October.
MORE: THE CONTEXT:
“In One Night Last Year, Former Prime
Minister Karamanlis Made Available For The Support Of Greek Banks A Colossal
Total Of 28 Billion Euros!”
“To Pay For These Bailouts, The Greek
Government Has Been Forced To Turn To Massive Borrowing”
Now, Facing Bankruptcy, They Plan To Freeze Wages
And Cut Pay In The Public Sector, Opening The Way For Bosses In The Private
Sector To Do The Same:
“It's Certain That There Will Be Mass
the public debt" in Greece is nothing than a way to rob the people,
depriving them of badly needed resources in order to serve the interests of the
banks and all the other loan sharks of the "international market."
February 10, 2010 By Antonis Davenellos,
Socialist Worker. Antonis Davenellos is
a member of International Workers Left (DEA) in Athens.
THE GREEK economy is the "weak
link" in the capitalist chain of the European Union (EU).
The term--used by the revolutionary Lenin to
describe Russia in 1917--was initially used in Greece by the radical left. But now, it's in broad use, even by Prime
Minister Georgios Papandreou Jr., who, as head of the social democratic party
PASOK, took office after the collapse of the right-wing New Democracy party in
elections held in October 2009.
Greece isn't the only weak link, however.
Other EU countries are under enormous
pressure from the economic crisis. The European press not so affectionately
refers to them as the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain).
The crisis is particularly sharp in Greece,
which has an annual budget deficit equal to 12.5 percent of gross domestic
product (GDP)--which is four times the 3 percent limit mandated under the EU's
Maastricht Treaty. Greek public debt stands at 130 percent of GDP, which is
double the EU limit.
Thus, articles in the European press point to
the likelihood of national bankruptcy in Greece.
Politicians and the media blame the crisis on
the supposedly generous Greek welfare state, which, they claim, must be slashed
to bring the budget under control.
In fact, the situation is the direct result
of the neoliberal policies that were followed by the social democratic
governments of the 1990s, and even more so by the right-wing government of
Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, as the leader of the New Democracy (ND) party
between 2004 and 2009.
For many years, Greek public
finances were based exclusively on the taxation of the wage-earning population
and the lower middle class.
Greece has one of the lowest
corporate taxes among EU countries, but even these low taxes aren't collected
properly--corporate tax evasion is at record highs. Even the sales tax isn't
fully collected by the government, but is left in business hands to further
raise their profits.
At the same time, Greece has
one of the highest taxes on wages among the EU countries.
What's more, employers and even
the state--the biggest employer--have stopped paying their contributions to
pension funds, creating a shortfall of more than 10 billion euros annually.
These factors are sufficient to explain the
bad situation of public finances up until now.
Today, of course, conditions have been made
even worse with the outbreak of the economic crisis that hit Greek capitalism
in its most crucial sectors. For
example, the bursting of the real estate bubble brought construction--a sector
considered the locomotive of the economy--to a complete standstill.
The crisis hit particularly hard in the
tourism and shipping industries.
And the supposedly strong Greek banks--used
to acting as the dominant players in the greater Balkans region--were forced to
admit not only that there is no more gold in the Balkan "El Dorado,"
but that many of their old speculative enterprises have also turned toxic.
The government budget problems
were made even worse last year by the decision of the former Greek government
to follow its European counterparts in carrying out a colossal bailout for
corporations at the onset of the crisis.
To understand why, consider the numbers.
The Papandreou government today
wants to extract 25 billion euros from the people over the next three years in
order to reduce the budget deficit from 12.5 percent of GDP to 3 percent.
Yet in one night only last
year, former Prime Minister Karamanlis made available for the support of Greek
banks a colossal total of 28 billion euros!
Similar support programs were
speedily put together for the tourist interests and other capitalist groups.
“Papandreou Aims To Substantially Raise
Taxes For Working People And The Lower Middle Classes, Without Touching The
Profits Of The Rich”
TO PAY for these bailouts, the
Greek government has been forced to turn to massive borrowing.
To meet its financing needs for
2010 alone, the government has to sell bonds--that is, borrow--some 55 billion
Investors are skeptical that
the government can repay those loans.
Thus, at the beginning of January, a report
by Germany's Deutsche Bank on the potential risks of government bonds sent
interest rates on loans to the Greek government through the roof. On January 25, with the first issue of Greek
bonds for a loan of 5 billion euros, there was surprising interest, with offers
for almost five times the asking amount. However, the bonds carry a stiff
interest rate of 6.2 percent, which, together with the bankers' commission,
raised the cost of the loan to 8 percent.
The head of the bank consortium that
organized this robbery was none other than Deutsche Bank, the same outfit that
warned the world about the riskiness of the investment.
All this highlights the fact that
"servicing the public debt" in Greece is nothing than a way to rob
the people, depriving them of badly needed resources in order to serve the
interests of the banks and all the other loan sharks of the "international
This giveaway to the banks is being organized
by the PASOK government that came to power in October 2009.
PASOK was elected as a result of a campaign
that promised resistance to a wage freeze proposed by then-Prime Minister
Yet in the few months that PASOK's Papandreou
has been in office, he has made clear that he is committed to pushing through
an austerity program even harsher than that of his right-wing
predecessor--which means an all-out attack on labor rights and social gains.
This government aims not only to freeze
wages, but to actually cut pay in the public sector, thereby opening the way
for bosses to do the same thing in the private sector.
A key aim of the Papandreou government is to
significantly reduce employment in the public sector by laying off big
proportions of temporary workers (who are employed in place of badly needed
permanent workers) and hiring just one new employee for every five (!) who
retire. This program completely ignores the dramatic jump in unemployment,
which is already estimated at 16 percent.
Overall, Papandreou is implementing a program
of drastic cuts in social spending that threaten an already resource-starved
public health care and education system with total collapse.
At the same time, the government wants to
turn public pensions and the social security system into a private and
semi-private system. It also plans a broad program of privatization of parts of
the public sector, including ports, energy, water, etc.
That's not all.
Papandreou aims to
substantially raise taxes for working people and the lower middle classes,
without touching the profits of the rich--especially big businesses and the
“The Balance Of Forces Between Capital And
Labor Must Be Tipped Towards The Benefit Of The Rich "So That The Country
Can Avoid Bankruptcy."
ONCE AGAIN, we have before us a social
democratic government with a program of harsh neoliberal policies. Papandreou aims to reduce the deficit over
the next three years in order to, he says, "rehabilitate the confidence of
the international market in the country."
The government's main asset in
enforcing these policies is PASOK's strength in the trade unions.
This explains the turn in
ruling class political support toward PASOK. The industrialists and the bankers
realized that the right had exhausted its credibility with the people. Thus,
they looked to social democracy, providing unprecedented support to the PASOK
via the corporate mass media.
Another element in PASOK's favor is the
paralysis of the opposition New Democracy party, which has been pressured into
providing unconditional support to PASOK's economic and social economic
program. In order to rally any popular
support at all, New Democracy has taken racist and nationalist positions to
appeal to its hard core--a traditional conservative audience. (It should be
added here that the recently elected leader of New Democracy attempted 15 years
ago to found an extreme right nationalist party.)
With the right incapable of effective
opposition, Papandreou has a free hand to sell his austerity program. In his
speeches, he often uses the punch line: "change or sink."
By that, he means that the
country must turn in a neoliberal direction--that the balance of forces between
capital and labor must be tipped towards the benefit of the rich "so that
the country can avoid bankruptcy."
Under this banner, the PASOK government used
its first 100 days in office to reverse Papandreou's election program. People were stunned--and public discontent is
already being expressed in many ways.
As this article is being written, protesting
farmers, using tractors and heavy equipment, have set up blockades in 30
different places along the main freeways, demanding fair prices for their
products. Public-sector temporary
employees, under the imminent threat of losing their jobs, are organizing
strikes in many services.
That's only the beginning.
Despite the betrayal by the
social democratic leadership of the unions, it's certain that there will be
mass resistance to Papandreou's program.
That's exactly why
"international investors" are expressing strong doubts about the
government's ability to impose its "reforms."
In recalling Greece's youth uprising of 2008,
a major European paper wrote: "In this country, there exists a very low
tolerance to modernizing reforms and very high tolerance towards radical
But the struggle is not going to be easy.
This time, the ruling elites know very well
that the defeat of their austerity policies will have immense consequences.
It's no accident that there are a growing number of establishment voices demanding
a "national salvation" government run by both PASOK and New
TO OVERTURN Papandreou's program, we will
need a serious escalation of these struggles.
The ex-chairman of the parliamentary group of
SYRIZA (Coalition of Radical Left), Alekos Alavanos, spoke of the need for a
new "worker's December."
He was referring to a broad uprising like the
youth revolt of December 2008--only this time, the struggle must be centered in
the labor movement. That could provide the continuity, demands and politics
necessary to bring victory for the resistance movement.
This slogan--for a "worker's
December"--has become increasingly popular, reaching even the pages of the
The fightback must also have a European
The case of Greece is proof that it is
impossible to defend workers' rights and social gains without confronting the
European Union's policies that prioritize cutting deficits and debts, no matter
how severe the impact on the people.
In that sense, Greece could indeed prove to
be "the weak link" of European capitalism--not only financially, but
Resistance in Greece could be
the signal for a new round of major labor struggles and strikes in Europe.
It should be clear that our goal can't be
achieved by mass social resistance alone.
The situation also demands a political struggle, in which the forces of
the radical left will have to play a crucial role. An important factor is SYRIZA,
a coalition in which our organization DEA (International Workers' Left) has
participated from the beginning.
Currently, SYRIZA has electoral support of
about 5 percent of voters. A crucial and rich debate is taking place inside
SYRIZA about: (a) for the need of radical left-wing policy to meet the
challenges of this critical period, and (b) the need for SYRIZA to become a
democratic and fighting organization that's capable of supporting the coming
struggles. DEA, together with other forces of the revolutionary left that
participate in SYRIZA, has focused our attention on this debate.
Whether in Greece, Spain,
Portugal, Italy, Ireland or elsewhere, one of these "weak links" has
to get broken.
The task now is to open the way
for mass demands for changes that meet the needs of working people and youth,
rather than satisfying the corporate greed of bankers and industrialists.
CAN’T BE COUNTED ON TO HALT THE BLOODSHED
TROOPS HAVE THE POWER TO STOP THE WARS
HAVE A FRIEND OR RELATIVE IN THE MILITARY?
Forward Military Resistance along, or send us the
address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly. Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the
USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from
access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the wars, inside the armed
services and at home. Send email requests to address
up top or write to: The Military Resistance, Box 126, 2576 Broadway, New York, N.Y.
10025-5657. Phone: 888.711.2550
Civilians Fleeing Helmand
From: June V [Greece]
To: Military Resistance
Subject: RE: good work
Date: Feb 12, 2010
Excellent war coverage (as far as I can judge
from outside). Keep it up.
Interested particularly in accounts of
civilians fleeing Helmand.
Foto coverage of a camp in the mud where they
end up (firewood for 12 hours if lucky), with luxurious US trucks passing on
the road, and small children dying from exposure, cold, lack of medical care in
Not that civilians anyone cares about,
however, hearts or minds.
OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION
ALL TROOPS HOME NOW!
WAR CRIMINAL ALERT!
“We Can't Let The Man Who Led The Attack On
Gaza Dine Pleasantly In NYC While People In Gaza Are Starving In The Rubble”
Sent: Feb 10, 2010
Subject: IDF Dinner Protest
This fundraiser for the Israeli
army at the Waldorf Astoria on March 9th, is gathering a protest.
The keynote speaker is IDF
Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who led the attack on Gaza last year.
We can't let the man who led
the attack on Gaza dine pleasantly in NYC while people in Gaza are starving in
the rubble. Please save the date and
plan to come.
The funds given to the Israeli army are tax
PLEASE JOIN US FOR A MOVING PROCESSION TO
PROTEST THE ANNUAL
FUNDRAISING DINNER OF
THE FRIENDS OF THE ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES (IDF)
AT THE WALDORF ASTORIA
WHEN--Tuesday, March 9, 2010 from 5:00 –
WHERE—Specific information about location to
WHY—TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT WE SAY:
NO TO THE IDF's BRUTALITY!
NO TO THE OCCUPATION AND SIEGE OF GAZA!
YES TO THE GOLDSTONE REPORT!
YES TO JUSTICE FOR THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE!
Co-sponsored by: Jews Say No!, Adalah-NY,
Gaza Freedom March, Judson
Church, Women In Black Union Square, Committee for Open
Zionism, CODEPINK, Brooklyn For Peace, Women
of a Certain Age, Center for
Immigrant Families, Wespac, Middle East
Crisis Response, Regeneración Childcare
NYC, National Lawyers Guild—NY Chapter,
American Jews for a Just
For further updates: firstname.lastname@example.org
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