You Can’t Fight Trump and Turnbull with Shorten and Di Natale! Defend Refugees by Opposing Imperialist War!

11-02-2017 – Selective outrage is flavour of the week. In the wake of US President Donald Trump’s executive order banning the entry of people from 7 Middle Eastern and African Muslim majority countries, protests have materialised at US airports and other locations around the world. Claiming to oppose racism and Islamophobia, these actions have focused attention on the first weeks of the Trump Administration. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s phone call to the US President, where presumably the PM attempted to get Trump to honour the deal he signed with Obama to take refugees from Manus Island and Nauru, turned into a running joke.[1] One could argue that if President Trump refuses the sordid deal, more pressure can be placed on the Turnbull government, to bring the refugees, who are enduring unbearable suffering, to the Australian mainland.

Yet, as US comedian Jimmy Dore noted, why is it ok to bomb the seven Muslim majority countries, but it’s not ok to ban them from entering the country?[2]  Where were these people – who are now protesting the ban on some Muslim immigration – when Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton were either bombing or arming and funding “Islamic” mercenaries in an open war for regime change in the seven proscribed countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen? Why is it fine to send drone bombs, as well as high technology “ordinary” bombs, and to arm ISIS and Al Qaeda, and funnel them into an overseas country to overthrow their government and behead innocent men, women and children – yet to ban refugees fleeing from those same countries is somehow beyond the pale? Murder, torture, slaughter – no problem. Not stamping passports? That’s outrageous!

Behold the logic of the liberal. Any crime, no matter how heinous, can be excused, justified, or even lauded, if it is carried out by the liberal side of capitalist politics. When the conservative side of capitalist politics does exactly the same, the liberals throw up their hands and shriek in horror. The hypocrisy is limitless. Especially considering the work of Seth Frantzman, who found that, in fact, there was a “Muslim ban” before the 2017 “Muslim ban”. The Trump executive order does not mention six of the seven countries – it only specifically mentions Syria. The other six countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen – were selected by the previous Obama administration. The “Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015”, was signed into law by the US Congress on December 18, 2015, as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of FY (Fiscal Year) 2016.[3] The only reason why this two year old law was not fully enacted was that it was attached as a rider to the spending bill. Yet, the list was drawn up, and placed in the drawer, by the Democrats, led by Obama, with Hilary Clinton at his side, two years beforehand. All Trump did was to add Syria, and voila!

It is not just another example of liberal logic – it is a spin-off of what we have experienced here for some time – a pro-war refugee rights movement. Of course this is a direct contradiction in terms. Yet this is what has occurred. Some left parties – such as Socialist Alternative (SAlt), Socialist Alliance (SAll) and Solidarity (Sol), which have been behind the “fight Trump” actions thus far, have also helped organise the refugee rights movement – while at the same time standing strongly behind the imperialist wars which have created the current refugee crisis. Unfortunately, some in the Refugee Action Collective have fallen in with the pro-war “left”, and have joined in the calls for regime change – in Libya and Syria – alongside Canberra, which is responsible for the detention and torture of refugees in off-shore prison camps. As we have stated previously, it is impossible to defend refugees without opposing the imperialist wars which create them.

No to war on Iran, Russia, China

To be sure, there is plenty about the first two weeks of the Trump administration that working people should oppose. For example, on February 3, Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn announced new sanctions on Iran, targeting 25 individuals, in response to a ballistic missile test carried out by Tehran.[4] Also, the new US Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Nikki Haley, asserted that US sanctions on Russia will remain until Crimea is returned to Kiev.[5] The fact that over 95% of Crimeans voted to re-join Russia after the US and NATO powers helped install a fascist backed coup government in Kiev in early 2014, doesn’t seem to enter the equation. These moves counter Trump’s campaign rhetoric, where he gave every indication he would work with Russia to fight ISIS in Syria, and maintain peace generally. In addition, Trump’s newly sworn in Secretary of State and recently retired Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, made provocative statements about not only attempting to stop China “building islands” in the South China Sea, but also blocking China’s access to them.[6]

Any of these actions could precipitate the unthinkable – war against Iran, Russia and China. In effect, this will be a third world war. World War III – one would think that not only left parties, but the entire liberal intelligentsia and their organisations – such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Get Up! etc., would step up and speak out against such potentially civilisation-threatening conflagrations. One might expect this – if one forgets the liberal compendium. Contained within it are strict allegiances to the wars of the US Empire, especially against those nations which have been, or are, anti-imperialist. Iran, Russia and China are demonised by the entire Western ruling classes for this reason. Liberals, from Amnesty International through to Medicines Sans Frontiers through to some left parties, cannot be relied upon to oppose such wars. In fact, they may well be their loudest backers.

In the same way in which working people in the US cannot “fight Trump” using the Democrats and the Green Party, working people in Australia cannot “fight Turnbull” using the Labor Party and the Greens. Why? Because whatever disagreements the Liberal, Labor and Greens parties have, these parties represent and speak for the same class interest – that of the ruling class. This is why, despite whatever noises the Australian Greens make crying foul over the mistreatment of refugees, they do not desire, for example, working people led by Unions taking concerted action to end this horror. This could lead on to other areas of serious class struggle, which could shake the capitalist system. This type of action is the only one which can end the torture of refugees – not the making of fine arguments in favour of “human rights” or “decency”. Labor’s Bill Shorten and the Greens’ Richard Di Natale, despite whatever consoling words they may offer, remain part of the system which incarcerates refugees. The refugee rights movement generally recognise that the Labor Party cannot be an ally. Yet many of them still hold on to vague hopes that the Greens can fill the void. This is mistaken.

Many refugee rights supporters imagine that liberalism in general stands for fair treatment of people, and that “at least” they are not conservatives. Yet liberalism is just one part of the whole of capitalist imperialism – so it includes backing of wars, poverty, spying on citizens, the shredding of even basic democratic rights, capital’s relentless assault on jobs and working conditions, and everything else. This is one reason why we can expect that the entirety of the liberal establishment – from liberal corporate media such as the Sydney Morning Herald, through to Amnesty International, to Get Up!, to Oxfam, right through to left parties such as Socialist Alternative – will not oppose the imperialist war designs of the Trump administration against Iran, Russia (despite Trump’s pre-election words), or China. They may well be – as was the case during the wars of regime change against Libya and Syria –  ground troops for organising support for these wars – perhaps under the guise of “refugee rights”. Why? Because all liberals agree with conservatives that Iran, Russia and China are “repressive regimes”.

The Socialist Alliance brandish placards which state: “Resist Trump’s Agenda”.[7]  Yet the fact that they, along with the liberal establishment, agree with the Labor Party and the Greens when it comes to Iran, Russia and China, lets the cat out of the bag. To “fight Trump”, and to “fight Turnbull”, in any sense, requires a break with both the liberal and conservative wings of Washington and Canberra. This is the case for refugee rights as much as all of the other important issues the working class faces in 2017 – ironically the centenary of the world shattering event which was in the interest of the working class – the October Revolution in Russia in 1917. We state again, refugee rights will remain in the service of the US Empire, unless it opposes all of the wars, and potential wars, which the US Empire threatens. Further, it is axiomatic that those who came behind the wars of the Obama Administration cannot lead the fight against the wars of the Trump Administration. Nor can they lead a refugee rights movement.

For a class struggle against war and for refugee rights

Of course, the current predicament is not due solely to the misleadership of parties which call themselves socialist. A much, much larger slab of the blame falls on the top Union officials, from the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), down to the branch secretaries and other officials of localised Unions. To our knowledge, not one Union official has spoken out, let alone organised, any opposition to the refugee creating wars in Northern Africa and the Middle East over the last five years. This is to say nothing of actually organising workers, or even calling a meeting of Union members, to discuss and decide what to do about the world imploding. Nor did any Union official speak out when the Australian military admitted, on September 19 last year, that they were part of a bombing raid in Syria on the town of Deir Ez-Zor, which slaughtered at least 60 Syrian soldiers. Unfortunately, the top officials of the Union bureaucracy are solidly behind the foreign policy of Australian imperialism. So too are the liberal intelligentsia, and bringing up the rear are the opportunist “socialist” parties. The way we are trending, Trump could launch a war on Iran, and be applauded by the “left”, and by Union officials, for taking down a “totalitarian regime” !!!

Humanity is running out of time. It faces the imminent threat not only of nuclear war, but the potential termination of at least large slabs of civilisation through ecological collapse and runaway climate failure. Working people cannot afford being herded, once again, back into the arms of the liberal wing of what passes for politics under the corrupt influence of corporate-run “democracy” – whether that be the Democrats in the US, or Labor and the Greens in Australia. What is desperately needed is a class struggle fight against imperialist war and for the rights of refugees, in the course of leading the workers in a battle for their liberation. This entails a split with all liberal forces, not unification with them.

Working people should be clear of their role in the event of war being triggered by US recklessness, driven by the faltering economies of the West. If the US Empire starts such a war, working people would have a military brief with the anti-imperialist axis – Iran, Russia and China – but without writing a political blank cheque for the leaderships of such states. Of these states, only one – China – remains a workers state. The US Empire and its bloc, on the other hand, including the governments of the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Australia, as well as its Gulf allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, constitute the obstacle that working people must rid themselves of to eliminate the threat of war and to ensure decent living and working conditions for refugees worldwide.

For refugee rights, as for other issues facing working people, the key is to politically break from all liberal institutions. Rather than more Greens or Independents, what is required is a party composed of, and committed to, the workers of all lands. Such a party would use class struggle methods – large meetings, strikes, demonstrations and other forms of mass action, to empower working people themselves and build the class solidarity which can cut out the roots of the dire politics which produces the Trumps of this world. Such a party could not be formed without a series of battles with the well-paid Union officials who grow rich through preventing the rising of the workers. Refugees especially, cannot wait any longer. DEFEND REFUGEES BY OPPOSING IMPERIALIST WAR!


PO  BOX  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012


[1] (04-02-2017)

[2] (04-02-2017)

[3] (04-02-2017)

[4] (04-02-2017)

[5] (04-02-2017)

[6] (04-02-2017)

[7] (05-02-2017)

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