Covid-19: The Looming Shadow of War

Australian warship HMAS Parramatta joins the US in hostile sweeps of the South China Sea. Image from The Maritime Executive

Covid-19: The Looming Shadow of War

02-05-2020: As the coronavirus chicanery of the Western ruling classes begins to unravel, the real agenda behind the “pandemic” emerges from the shadows. Some restrictions enforcing the lockdown mania slowly begin to be lifted in some countries, giving working people across the planet some breathing space. The partial easing of some restrictions is NOT because manic lockdowns are “working” or “stopping the spread”. This is laughable. As Rob Slane demonstrates, there is NO correlation between the demand for soul destroying nation-wide lockdowns and a reduction in total deaths. Assuming all the reported “Covid-19 deaths” are correct (a huge IF), Sweden – with no lockdowns save very large gatherings – is actually doing a better job of reducing deaths than other European countries which have imposed lockdowns.[1] The lockdowns are beginning to be lifted by US and European countries for two main reasons. One is that there have been important protests against lockdowns and economic shutdowns. The other is that their legitimacy is falling apart at the seams and is being openly questioned by swathes of medical professionals and other workers.

The game is being exposed

A hot microphone in the US White House press briefing room caught an exchange between Fox News reporter John Roberts and a technician during set up. He jokes to the technician to take of his face mask, because a recent study in Los Angeles had confirmed a Covid-19 mortality rate of only 0.1% to 0.3%. To his credit, John Roberts asked the health official about this study in the press conference – who promptly dodged the question.[2] This may not have been reported if the people there had known that the microphone was on. Think about the significance of this – White House press reporters are joking about the real mortality rate of Covid-19 being “like the flu”, while millions across the globe have been thrown on the unemployment scrapheap AND placed under effective house arrest, on the spurious grounds that a deadly plague is trawling the globe.

The rubbery figures of Covid-19 “deaths” continue to be hyped by politicians and the compliant corporate media. Yet even their coverage sometimes cannot avoid revealing real howlers. The Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr Ngozi Ezike, was emphatic in a recent interview that even “if you die of a clear alternative cause, it is still listed as a Covid death”.[3] In other words, there has been pressure by health authorities to vastly overinflate Covid-19 “death numbers”. The numbers are phony. While this is going on, critical health care is being halted, resulting in delayed treatment, prolonged suffering and even death from the foregoing of vital cancer screening, tumour biopsies and treatment for stroke and heart attack victims.[4] The reason? The clearing of entire wards of hospitals, and the suspension of “non-essential surgery” to make way for a supposed flood of Covid-19 patients – who never arrive.

Cover for war

It did not take long for one of the diabolical reasons for the over-hyped coronavirus neurosis to emerge. On April 19, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne publicly called for an independent investigation into the spread and origins of the coronavirus[5], with the strong implication that the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was lying. By “independent” she of course meant it should be conducted by anyone but China. The PRC immediately rejected these calls, which were a transparent provocation. This was followed days later by the news that the Australian frigate HMAS Parramatta had joined US warships in yet another incitement, sailing through the South China Sea.[6] If anything reveals the unwritten agenda of the Covid-19 hoodwinking, this is it.

As we have previously reported[7], Red China is also targeted by imperialism which hypocritically claims to defend the “human rights” of the Rohingya people in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. While US allies such as the Saudi Arabian monarchy fund and arm Rohingya separatists with open links to Al Qaeda, the Western “human rights” industry disingenuously accuse the Tatmadaw (the Myanmar military) of a genocidal attack on Rohingya in 2017. What actually happened were vicious attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on 30 police stations in pre-dawn raids, to which the Tatmadaw naturally had to respond. In the firefight, and also in fear of ultra-racist Buddhist “monks” bent on expelling Rohingya from Myanmar, many fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.

The US state has an intrinsic interest in fuelling murderous separatism in the Rakhine state, as it would supply the perfect pretext to send troops in to “protect” the Rohingya. In reality, it would be a beachhead to move US troops (or their proxy forces) close to the South Western border of the PRC. It would also potentially derail the China-Myanmar pipeline, which ends at the port of Kyauk Phyu in the middle of the Rakhine state. As if on cue, United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on human rights (don’t laugh!) claimed that the Tatmadaw is launching military attacks on the Rakhine and Chin states which MAY (they are sometimes careful not to lie too flagrantly) amount to “war crimes and crimes against humanity”.[8] In reality, with regard to the Chin state the Tatmadaw is responding to a long running armed anti-government insurgency by the Chin National Army (CNA) which works alongside US backed fronts such as the Free Burma Rangers.[9] Lest one imagine that the CNA is a “liberation” force backed by its people, even the US based Human Rights Watch has to admit that the CNA “extort money and commit other abuses against Chin civilians”.[10]

Washington (backed by Canberra) also targets the PRC via the Philippines. Recently the overwhelmingly popular President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte terminated the Visiting Forces Agreement with America[11], which gave US troops almost unfettered access to Filipino soil. This is part of a deliberate tilt away from the US and towards the PRC (and also Russia) which riles the Pentagon. It also marks the slow and steady decline of US hegemony in the Asia-Pacific, something Wall Street is desperate to reverse. Again, as if prompted, liberal Western media target President Duterte for….harsh coronavirus lockdowns!!  Knock us down with a feather. In a classic case of projection, Australian state media cites the aforementioned Human Rights Watch to criticise Filipino authorities of “taking a step too far” in policing the rules.[12] Yet it is plain that Australian police arresting people for sitting down in public parks is the same thing, or worse. The article also criticises one Filipino policeman for locking curfew breakers in a dog cage, but then has to admit that the officer will face disciplinary charges for doing so.[13]

US still seeks the destruction of the Middle East

Washington has not given up its attempts at regime change in Syria, despite suffering a heavy defeat via its ISIS proxies in the years from 2011 to 2019.  Russia, Syria, Iran and Hezbollah joined forces to defeat the deranged Al Qaeda mercenaries, which arguably led to the first defeat of the US in war since the liberation of Vietnam in 1975. This setback in turn fuelled desperate US attempts at regime change in Iran, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon and the DPRK – all of which went nowhere. This is one reason why the Western ruling classes decided to latch on to the opportunity presented by the discovery of a new (but essentially very weak) virus. They could not start the global war which MAY have saved Western capitalism, being stymied by a combination of the non and anti-imperialist states. Now, not only is patent coronavirus dishonesty being used to justify self-destruction of economies, it is also being used as a wafer-thin pretext for yet more imperialist war. Recently, a joint Russian and Syrian statement claimed the US was influencing the United Nations (UN) to accuse the Syrian Arab Republic of being unable to contain Covid-19,[14] over the issue of sending aid to the Rukban refugee camp. The implication being, of course, that US troops would be needed to “deliver aid” inside Syria, giving another faux justification for their continued (illegal) presence.

Nor has Washington’s 40-year long campaign for regime change in the Islamic Republic of Iran let up, even for a second. Not only had did the US government increase already crushing sanctions against Iran,[15] US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has even attempted to claim that the US still remains a participant state of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal – from which it unilaterally withdrew in May 2018. This would, at least in the head of Mr Pompeo, lead to a “snapback” of the UN enforced sanctions against Iran which were in place prior to the JCPOA. The Iranian ambassador to the UN, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, in response had little option but to label the attempt of the US to claim it was still a signatory to the JCPOA as “similar to a joke”.[16] This comes after the US blatantly assassinated leading Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq in January.

NATO to “fight coronavirus” ?

Once again NATO tries in vain to justify its existence, this time by jumping on the coronavirus bandwagon. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg absurdly claimed that Russian military exercises in western Russia was a reason for NATO to be on its guard during the coronavirus crisis.[17] That is, NATO threatens the world with a nuclear war because Russia is conducting military exercises  – on its own soil. There is little else that exposes NATO as an anti-Russian Cold War relic. Meanwhile, hack anti-Russian journalists blame the Russian government for what appears in the Russian media, and conflates it with the position of the Russian government.[18] Yet what they are “accused” of in this case has some substance. Some in the Russian media speculate that the coronavirus was a US attempt to kneecap the Chinese economy, which certainly cannot be discounted. And in fact, the Chinese Ambassador to Russia made the announcement that the genome sequence of the coronavirus indicates that it was introduced to the Wuhan seafood market by an infected person – it was not the origin. Zhang Hanhui stated, after extensive research by five reputable Chinese scientific organisations, that the “grandpa” and “grandma” H13 and H38 haplotypes were never found in Wuhan, whereas the “father” H3 was found there, but not in the seafood market. Therefore, the H1 haplotype (Covid-19) had to have been introduced from elsewhere. The gene sequence cannot lie, stated Mr Zhang.[19]

Regardless of its origin, what is not in doubt is that the coronavirus could well be used by Washington and their allies in Canberra, Wellington, London, Paris and Berlin to launch a catastrophic global war against China, Russia, Iran, Syria, the DPRK, Venezuela and more. There was nothing spontaneous about the controlled demolition of parts of the national economies of the West – this was part of an ideological and political preparation in case the Western ruling classes found a (false) justification for launching civilisation threatening bloodshed. Hence the absurd dictums of “staying at home” and “social distancing”. Along with the openly illegal “temporary” elimination of civil and democratic rights, the imperialists were doing little else than testing the limits to which they could prevent political organising and social resistance by working people.

Of course, the imperialists did not do this themselves, but through their agents – which is how they constantly rule in the West. The number one agency they rely on for the political suppression of workers are the ultra-conservative Trade Union officials (not members) – who played their part in the Covid-19 buffoonery. Some of these careerist bureaucrats called on their own members to applaud the work of the frontline health workers – many of whom were themselves confronted with empty hospitals. The “crisis” was not Covid-19 – it was the clearing and vacating of hospital wards for coronavirus patients who never turned up. When it became obvious that the justification for lockdowns and a catastrophic shutdown of the economy was on shaky grounds, and was being questioned by many workers, the overpaid Union officials doubled down and sent out “reminders” to members about just how dangerous Covid-19 supposedly was. Like all claims based on fabrications, however, they fell flat.

Also assisting capitalist politicians and the corporate media were the centrist “left” parties, all of whom stridently defended the lockdowns and effective house arrest of entirely healthy people.[20] Many of these groups, who claim to be “revolutionary”, are already on board with the Anglo/US empire’s agenda of war against China, Russia, Iran and so on. However, so powerful is corporate state propaganda, it has even fooled some individuals amongst the usually anti-imperialist left. Needless to say, it defies logic that the same imperialists who annihilated Iraq and Afghanistan, who destroyed Green Libya, who waged atrocious proxy wars of regime change against Syria and Yemen, could then turn on their heels and – overnight –  be overwhelmingly concerned with the public health of “their own” people. Workers must be clear: a Marxist vanguard party can only be forged from the most advanced sections of its class, i.e., those who remain consistent in their rejection of bourgeois ideology. Such a party is needed to lead working people out of the Covid-19 abyss and onward to the disarming of the ruling class which is planning World War III. AUST/US troops: get out of the South China Sea! No to the Coronavirus wars!

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH QLD 4012

 

[1] http://www.theblogmire.com/the-undeniable-correlation-between-lockdown-and-the-unprecedented-destruction-of-economies-jobs-and-lives/ (29-04-2020)

[2] https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2020/04/hoax-fox-news-john-roberts-caught-hot-mic-discussing-covid-19-mortality-rate-technician-like-flu-video/ (29-04-2020)

[3] https://nworeport.me/2020/04/26/if-you-die-of-a-clear-alternative-cause-its-still-listed-as-a-covid-death-dr-ngozi-ezike/ (29-04-2020)

[4] https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/494034-the-data-are-in-stop-the-panic-and-end-the-total-isolation? (29-04-2020)

[5] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/australia-and-china-clash-over-independent-inquiry-into-coronavirus-pandemic (30-04-2020)

[6] https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/04/22/australia-joins-us-ships-in-south-china-sea-amid-rising-tension.html (30-04-2020)

[7] https://redfireonline.com/2018/09/13/myanmar-rohingya-manipulated-for-the-wests-drive-to-war/ (30-04-2020)

[8] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/29/myanmar-military-may-be-repeating-crimes-against-humanity-un-rapporteur-warns (30-04-2020)

[9] https://www.freeburmarangers.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2018-FBR-Annual-Report-Web.pdf (30-04-2020)

[10] https://www.hrw.org/report/2009/01/27/we-are-forgotten-people/chin-people-burma-unsafe-burma-unprotected-india (30-04-2020)

[11] https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/manilas-defence-split-with-washington-will-be-dutertes-lasting-legacy/ (30-04-2020)

[12] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-29/philippines-social-volcano-threatening-to-erupt-amid-covid-19/12193188 (30-04-2020)

[13] https://www.philstar.com/nation/2020/03/21/2002637/barangay-captain-faces-raps-locking-curfew-violators-dog-cage (30-04-2020)

[14] https://nation.com.pk/22-Apr-2020/us-launches-campaign-to-accuse-syria-of-inability-to-curtail-coronavirus-claims-syrian-russian-joint-statement (02-05-2020)

[15] https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/iran/u-s-increases-iran-sanctions-seeks-release-of-americans-amid-coronavirus-outbreak-1.8685134 (02-05-2020)

[16] https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/05/02/624394/Iran-Majid-Takht-Ravanchi–arms-embargo (02-05-2020)

[17] https://www.rferl.org/a/with-eye-on-russia-nato-stresses-readiness-during-coronavirus-crisis/30523705.html (02-05-2020)

[18] https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/02/14/russia-blame-america-coronavirus-conspiracy-theories-disinformation/ (02-05-2020)

[19] https://tass.com/world/1146127?utm_source=tass.com_internal&utm_medium=internal&utm_campaign=tass.com_internal&utm_content=33196922&utm_term=309113 (02-05-2020)

[20] https://redfireonline.com/2020/04/25/the-left-and-the-coronavirus/ (02-05-2020)

Philippines Says Yes to BRI, No to VFA

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte Image from Thai Visa Forum

Philippines Says Yes to BRI, No to VFA

07-03-2020: In a ground-breaking move, in February the popularly elected Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte followed through on his previous indications he would downgrade the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the government of the United States of America (US). He gave the US formal notice of his decision to scrap the long standing bilateral agreement.[1] The VFA, signed in 1998, had given the US a virtual free hand to rotate its troops throughout the Philippines, the main purpose of which was to conduct joint “military exercises”. In reality, the VFA ensured legal immunity for the actions of US troops on Filipino territory, while integrating the Philippines into the web of US imperialist threatened assaults on the Pacific region. Thanks to stirring bravery shown by President Duterte – standing up to the US despite possible threats to his own life – for the first time the Philippines is breaking from its former colonial power, and on to more productive and beneficial relations with other powers which show it respect – particularly the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Decline of US as regional hegemon

Although this decision was ostensibly in response to the US revoking the visa of Philippine Senator Dela Rosa, there are deeper moves afoot. Senator Dela Rosa was the former National Police Chief who headed President Duterte’s war on drug dealers and pushers, which liberal (and US backed) NGOs have criticised for alleged abuses of “human rights”. Yet most Filipinos strongly support President Duterte as well as his declared determination to deal with the drug problem in the country. They are aware that liberal (conservative in practice) opposition to the drug war is linked to the fake “human rights” industry, wielded by the West to bring Third World countries to heel. And in fact, President Duterte’s war on drug dealers has been backed by US President Donald Trump several times.[2] On this and many other issues, President Trump differs to the US deep state and his liberal Democrat opposition.

Incredibly, the cancellation of the VFA ends legal immunity for US troops operating in the Philippines.[3] Many people in Japan have protested for decades demanding the ending of legal immunity for US troops operating there. This is another strong sign that President Duterte is leading the push to pivot the Philippines away from the US and towards the PRC – and Russia – for the first time in history. This can only be welcomed by workers in the Philippines and internationally. US imperialism has been gung-ho recently, potentially preparing for a military conflict with the socialist giant of the PRC. President Duterte’s “pivot” away from the US and towards China and Russia throws another spanner in the works of US plans to use the Philippines as a staging post to a possible war with the PRC. It is a move which could give the Philippines some protection in case of a Washington launched World War III.[4] It is also another indicator that US imperialist power is declining in the Asia-Pacific, thanks to links nations there can forge with China and Russia. As neither China nor Russia are imperialist, these links are not ones of domination or plunder, but ties of mutual benefit.

Philippines joins the New Silk Road

In November 2018, President Duterte and PRC President Xi Jinping signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) linking the Philippines as yet another country to have signed on to the PRC’s trillion dollar trade and infrastructure Belt and Road Initiative (BRI – sometimes referred to as the New Silk Road). In the MOU, the Philippines and the PRC agree to co-operate in infrastructure, trade, investment development, and interconnectivity in the transportation, telecommunication and energy sectors.[5]  This gels with President Duterte’s recent slogan of “Build, Build, Build”, which aims to lift the infrastructure of the Philippines finally from Third World status. It is the PRC’s gargantuan socialist economy, predominantly state owned and controlled, which enables it to launch such a vast project across some 60 countries. President Duterte sought to take advantage of the BRI and links with the PRC because he is one of the leaders who can see that the rise of China offers tangible benefits for other countries which the US is not in a position to offer, given its long term economic, and therefore political, decline.

US imperialism (backed by Canberra) is the number one enemy of working and oppressed people worldwide. This is one reason why workers internationally should welcome the moves by President Duterte to tilt the Philippines away from the US and towards the PRC for mutual economic benefit. It ensures that the Philippines will not aid, nor be a staging post, for a US led war against the PRC. In addition, the tilt towards Russia for security issues adds a vital counterbalance to the ever-present danger of US military provocations, so workers must not stand in the way of this either. The majority of Filipino workers strongly support President Duterte, regardless of his liberal critics, internally and externally. This is a crucial factor which Marxists must take into account – as it cannot be denied.

Despite this, the only permanent solution to the problem of economic underdevelopment in the Philippines and the threat of US led imperialist war is the triumph of the workers through proletarian revolutions in the region. Workers’ power in Australia, Japan and the US would be a vast step towards socialism. The PRC, on the other hand, requires a real re-alignment of its political leadership towards genuine Leninism. Key to this perspective are the forging of vanguard parties to guide workers to realise their potential. In the meantime, such parties should strategically defend Filipino sovereignty against US imperialism, and its alliances with the non-imperialist powers. This means a temporary bloc with the Duterte administration against those who would join with non-Trumpist Washington – US backed NGOs, the “human rights” industrial complex, and assorted social-democrats.

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireoline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box  66   NUNDAH   QLD  4012

 

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/11/philippines-to-terminate-troop-agreement-with-us

(07-03-2020)

[2] https://fortune.com/2018/02/26/trump-dealth-penalty-capital-punishment-drug-dealers-duterte/

(07-03-2020)

[3] https://www.sott.net/article/428847-Duterte-counter-sanctions-by-terminating-US-militarys-immunity-from-prosecution-in-the-Philippines (07-03-2020)

[4] https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/02/23/philippine-patriots-say-no-to-wwiii-and-yes-to-the-new-silk-road/

(07-03-2020)

[5] https://cnnphilippines.com/news/2018/11/27/philippines-china-memorandum-of-understanding-belt-and-road-initiative.html

(07-03-2020)

Philippines: Liberals Cry Foul After Crushing Defeat

Supporters of President Duterte rally in Manila. Image from http://www.channelnewsasia.com

Philippines: Liberals Cry Foul After Crushing Defeat

25-05-2019 – The May 13 midterm elections in the Philippines delivered an unprecedented victory for the overwhelmingly popular President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies. At the time of writing, it is likely that allies of President Duterte will sweep all 12 Senate seats which were up for election[1], which represents a history making effort. Virtually all mid-term elections in the Philippines run against the incumbent government – but not this one. President Duterte, first elected President in 2016, is by now the most popular President in Filipino history.

Elections in the Philippines use a unique mixed-member majoritarian system, where a part of the legislature is elected through proportional representation and another part are elected from local districts. Unusually, candidates for the Senate compete against each other for a spot, even if they are members of the same party. This can lead to a situation where Senators transfer their political loyalties according to political developments. This partially explains how many elected members switched their allegiance to President Duterte’s party PDP-Laban (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng-Bayan) in 2016, creating the so-called supermajority in the House of Representatives.[2]

Defeated parties claim “fraud”

In Australia, some left parties – in defiance of their usual strident defence of “democracy” – line up with particularly unsavoury political elements in order to oppose President Duterte. The Socialist Alliance (SA), in its newspaper Green Left Weekly, retailed the claims of electoral fraud by the Partido Lakas Ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses – PLM). In the wake of their defeat, the PLM called for the dissolution of the Philippine electoral commission COMELEC and its replacement with an “independent” body. Independent from whom? The overwhelmingly popular President !  They bleated that COMELEC should be replaced by a “genuinely independent” body which is accountable to the people, not the President, which includes representatives of “grassroots people’s organisations, not the elite”.[3]

It takes some chutzpah for SA in Australia and the PLM in the Philippines to accuse President Duterte as being part of the “elite”. President Duterte’s commanding popularity amongst Filipino workers and poor masses occurs precisely because he is NOT seen as part of the elite. Certainly he is not a “trapo” (traditional politician), who for generations have been involved in direct or indirect corruption, and have come from wealthy backgrounds. President Duterte is the first President to hail from southern Mindanao, what was a poorer region in comparison to the industrialised northern Luzon region. And he is decidedly not in any way linked by any relations to wealthy Manila families such as the Aquinos. President Duterte reportedly doesn’t wear socks, and doesn’t know how to tie a necktie. He doesn’t appear to covet material wealth, and lives in a modest house. These idiosyncrasies are only just a part of why poor and working class Filipinos see him as one of their own, and back him so strongly.

It is difficult to avoid a conclusion that parties such as the PLM are claiming fraud in the elections not due to fraud occurring, but because they lost. They claim all kinds of voting irregularities to do with the vote counting machines, but the Philippines changed from a manual voting system to an automated voting system in 2007 – more than ten years ago. All of a sudden, after an election in which they rail against the supposed “tyranny” of President Duterte, they suffer a huge electoral defeat – and promptly claim “fraud”. In reality, the vast majority of Filipinos endorse and support their President who has been elected with a huge majority, and do not regard him as a “tyrant” at all.

SA in Australia, and the PLM in the Philippines, despite their claims of advocating “socialism”, line up with the real elite bourgeois opposition to President Duterte. For example, the Otso Diretso electoral ticket openly fanned the flames of chauvinistic anti-communism against Red China. Otso Diretso tenders baseless claims of Chinese “imperialism” in the South China Sea, and ludicrous declarations of a Chinese “invasion” of the Philippines. They claim that President Duterte is a stooge of Beijing – for not being willing to go to war against China !!  During the election campaign Otso Diretso members attempted to sail to the Scarborough Shoal in order to plant a Philippine flag – an act of blind anti-communist ultra-nationalism. They were not able to do so, having not gained permission from the Philippine Coast Guard. Instead they brought their flag-waving bigotry to the coastal town of Masinloc in Zambales.[4]

Fascism?

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) join in with other left parties they usually criticise for reformism, such as SA, in denouncing President Duterte as “fascist” or using “fascistic” measures. In an article about the May 13 elections, the SEP incredibly compared the Duterte Youth to the Hitler Youth. They claim that the Duterte Youth declared in an election statement that they would “finish” those who worked with “rapist, criminal and terrorist comrades”.[5] The Duterte Youth are chasms away from being a fascist youth group who are targeting “communist” youth from a right-wing standpoint. They are certainly nationalist, and backers of President Duterte.[6] However, the armed “communist” groups in the Philippines are Maoists, rather than “communists”. This means they display no solidarity, and in fact engage in bitter enmity, with the Chinese workers’ state. In the context where it is the US state department which is provoking China in the South China Sea, and even attempting to use ISIS to destabilise President Duterte, it is the Maoists and the liberal “socialist” groups which form a right-wing bloc, rather than the Duterte Youth.

Liberals in the Philippines and internationally also use the label of “fascist” to describe President Duterte’s use of the police force in order to combat the drug problem in the Philippines. They use the universal “human rights” card in order to whip up a largely false scare campaign against President Duterte’s war on drugs. But this reeks of hypocrisy, especially when the campaign is backed by such fronts for US imperialism as Human Rights Watch (HRW).[7] HRW is the very same US state department backed organisation which prosecuted Washington and Riyadh’s barbaric war for regime change against Syria over the last 8 years. HRW repeatedly referred to Al Qaeda and ISIS elements as “rebels” fighting a supposedly just cause – when in fact they were death squads carrying out regular atrocities.

President Duterte’s war on drugs takes no prisoners, certainly. But it is a war against the drug dealers and the drug pushers, not those who become addicts as a result. And what the liberal opposition cannot dispute is that despite what seem to be harsh police measures, the majority of Filipinos recognise the problems hard drug prevalence was causing, and back Duterte’s stern measures to deal with the problem. Many Filipinos now recognise that the streets are safer at night, now that the heavy police measures have scared off many of those involved in the drug trade. Some employers are grateful, because some employees were telling them they didn’t want to go home late from work at night, for fear of being accosted by the drug pushers, some of whom were the tricycle drivers themselves.[8]

From any objective analysis, let alone a Marxist one, President Duterte’s administration cannot be described as “fascist”. Fascism means a precipitous environment where a capitalist ruling class has decided to dispense with the normal trappings of “democracy”, and forcibly disbands opposition – most especially trade Unions, socialist and left parties. Nothing of the sort is occurring in the Philippines. Liberals and fake left parties, combining with ruling class opposition to Duterte, are labeling something “fascist” out of desperation. This is because despite their hosannas to “democracy”, they are loathe to admit that in fact it is they who are in a minority, and the majority is behind the President. What is in fact occurring is that the domestic and international critics of President Duterte – such as the PLM in the Philippines, SA and SEP in Australia – oppose the Philippine government from the right.

Sinophobic and Russophobic opposition

Today’s New Cold War includes Sinophobia (fear of China) and Russophobia (fear of Russia). Both are forms of racism and anti-communism, even despite the overthrow of socialism in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) through capitalist counter-revolution in 1991-2. Reformist left parties in Australia, the Philippines and internationally are united with US backed NGOs and mainstream liberals in their bitter hostility to anything which approaches real socialism. Or, for that matter, political independence from Washington – which Moscow demonstrates in spades. This is why their political positions, despite denials, line up with the Pentagon and Wall Street. President Duterte, on the other hand, is immune from the illness of Sinophobia and Russophobia, and like many others, can see the declining economic and political power of the former “sole superpower”.

As a nationalist, Duterte is seeking what he sees as the best way forward for the Philippines. China’s gigantic socialist state backed economy is rising so rapidly that it is offering trade and investment partnerships to neighbouring and regional countries of mutual benefit. The US former hegemon is not in any position to offer anything remotely comparable, so its influence in the Pacific is waning. Duterte recognises this, and positions the Philippines to take advantage of it – and is denounced as a “Chinese agent” by the opposition. Worse than this, the liberal opposition castigate Duterte for taking measures to avoid a war with China! Hence, in the same way in which Obama and Clinton liberals in the US condemn US President Trump for avoiding a war with Russia, the liberal pro-US opposition condemn Duterte for avoiding a war with China. If there is any indicator that liberals (and fake “socialists”) in practice work for the opposite of the very values they claim, this is it.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the new parliament in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Duterte stated: “I am being criticised about the South China Sea. Am I prepared to go to war? I am not. Will we win the war? No. It will just create a massacre. I would lose my soldiers and policemen. If you attack China, its closest missile will hit Manila in seven minutes. Those fools want me to… We can’t do anything about it. That’s how it is. The United States will help???”[9] Not only is President Duterte determined to avoid a war with China (provoked by US imperialism); he is determined to ensure that the Philippines takes advantage of China’s economic largesse.

President Duterte has thus signed the Philippines up to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, or New Silk Road). At the recent Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, President Duterte inked a deal which would see China inject 12.2 billion US dollars into the Philippine economy.[10] Rather than conflict with China in the South China Sea, a deal was struck in which both the Philippines and China will cooperate to explore and utilise resources in the area. One can see how news of this would be received in Washington. In return, Washington politically and materially aids fronts posing as NGOs to in turn mount campaigns against the “tyranny” of President Duterte. Dutifully, reformist left parties follow suit.

If this wasn’t enough to cause consternation in the Oval Office of the White House, President Duterte has also tilted the Philippines towards Russia. Trade ties with Russia have been increased, with the Duterte administration actively enabling the Philippines-Russia Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation (JCTEC).[11] In addition, for the first time in history, the Philippines and Russia have engaged in military cooperation, in areas of international defence and security. Last month, Russian warships docked in Manila for a four-day friendly visit in what was the latest round of military cooperation.[12] This took place under President Duterte’s “friend to all, enemy to no one” approach to international relations. This means that while the Philippines will not ditch the traditional relationship with the US (somewhat fractious at times due to US colonial history in the Philippines); non-traditional allies will be sought and engaged. All of this sounds normal to rational people. Unfortunately, in an era of the decline of US economic and political power, Washington and their liberal allies are scarcely rational.

Defend Filipino sovereignty

There are other areas where the Duterte administration breaks new ground.  President Duterte seeks a Pan-Philippine federalism, where areas such as the Muslim south can take part as equals. To this end, the Bangsamoro region now has its regional parliament. He has sought to integrate Muslim Filipinos into the national dialogue, and win them away from extremism. President Duterte has also emphasised the freedom of religion which is guaranteed by Filipino law. The practical effect of this has somewhat undermined the authority of the Catholic Church in what has historically been a deeply Catholic country. To be able to confront the power and influence of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, without losing overall popularity, is a measure of the depth of support President Duterte commands.

Nevertheless, the aim of socialism is workers’ power in the Philippines, the Asia-Pacific and beyond. To this end, Marxists in the Philippines should remain in a temporary bloc with the Duterte Adminstration, while continuing to recruit to their own banner. This would take account of the popularity of the President, while seeking to forge the vanguard party needed to advance socialism internationally. Marxists internationally need to tread the line between defending Filipino sovereignty and striving for revolution.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

 

[1] https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/3010065/philippine-midterm-elections-unofficial-count-shows-all (25-05-2019)

[2] https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/05/13/1914710/fault-our-system-how-fix-elections-philippines (25-05-2019)

[3] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/philippines-election-dirtiest-decades (25-05-2019)

[4] https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/04/08/19/otso-diretso-bets-barred-from-scarborough-shoal (25-05-2019)

[5] https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/05/15/phil-m15.html (25-05-2019)

[6] https://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/03/06/17/voice-of-change-a-closer-look-at-the-duterte-youth (25-05-2019)

[7] https://www.hrw.org/tag/philippines-war-drugs (25-05-2019)

[8] https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2179753/his-silent-supporters-philippines-president-duterte-man-who-can (26-05-2019)

[9] https://eurasiafuture.com/2019/04/01/duterte-completely-rejects-war-against-china-and-calls-for-further-cooperation/ (26-05-2019)

[10] https://news.cgtn.com/news/3d3d774e79497a4d34457a6333566d54/share_p.html (26-05-2019)

[11] https://www.dti.gov.ph/exports/1071-main-content/moscow-news/11957-philippines-and-russia-follow-through-jctec-and-pv-initiatives (26-05-2019)

[12] http://www.arabnews.com/node/1478236/world (26-05-2019)

 

Philippines: Bogus Narratives Pushed by Western Powers

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Image from http://www.casino.org

05-10-2018 – The people of the Philippines today are suffering under a tyrannical fascist dictator who terrorises and murders anyone who opposes him – or so the story goes. Who tells this story? Filipino workers enduring a loss of political rights? Filipino trade Unionists having their organisations dispersed by armed gangs? Left-wing anti-war activists?  Hardly. The portrayal of Philippine President Rodrigo (“Rody”) Duterte as a “fascist” is spun most of all by a slew of US backed NGOs, many of whom are inevitably linked to the notorious CIA front the NED (National Endowment for Democracy). Under the 1987 compromise Philippine constitution brought in after the movement against then President Ferdinand Marcos, NGOs were given outrageous entitlements, and even a tax exempt status under Section 30 of the National Internal Revenue Code. As a consequence, the number of NGOs operating in the Philippines are estimated to number up to 100 000.[1] Today, the activities of a list of them are reduced to fomenting conservative opposition to the administration of President Duterte, who was elected in 2016.

Most popular President ever

The overwhelming majority of the Filipino people, however, certainly do not share Western angst towards their President. Quite the contrary. Rodrigo Duterte is, by far, the most popular President in Philippine history, and his sky-high approval rating has remained above 80% virtually since his election. While there is a history of high approval ratings for Presidents in the Philippines, which some say results from a somewhat deferential Filipino culture, Duterte’s approval ratings have officially been significantly higher than any other government since approval ratings first were collected in the 1980s.[2]  A recent poll put Duterte’s approval rating at a staggering 88%, which is only marginally down from the 91% approval rating he gained on the assumption of the Presidency after the 2016 election.[3] What is it about Duterte in particular which produces such jolting statistics?

An answer to this question must cover several aspects. Firstly, Rodrigo Duterte is not seen as one of the “trapos” (traditional politicians) that the Filipino people have endured for decades. The former mayor of Davao is genuinely seen as a man of the people, as one of them. He is certainly an outsider, and not at all one of the millionaire Manila elite, like many of his predecessors. He reportedly doesn’t wear socks, doesn’t know how to tie a necktie, and lives in a modest house rather than a mansion. While he likes fast cars, there are few signs that he cares about making money.[4] While corruption has played a huge role in the downfall of previous Presidents from Marcos to Estrada to Arroyo, Duterte is thus far untouched by this, and, given his apparent lack of interest in living a high life, it doesn’t seem that he will be tempted into it either. In a country with a history of sell-out politicians, Duterte is largely seen as a rebel with a cause.

Defending Filipino sovereignty

Another aspect of Duterte’s popularity stems from the fact that he is the first President in the Philippines who has not been ultimately subordinate to Washington. US domination in the Philippines is pervasive given its history of colonisation by them, even taking into account US assistance against Japanese occupation during World War II. No Filipino political leader before Duterte has stood so strongly against US colonialism towards his or her country, even given some of Duterte’s later statements indicating a compromise. In October 2016, President Duterte visited Beijing to meet with the People’s Republic of China’s Premier Li Keqiang. During a speech at that time, he uttered the following extraordinary statements:

I announce my separation from the United States… I have realigned myself in your [China’s] ideological flow… I will be dependent on you for all time.” “I will not go to America any more. We will just be insulted there. So time to say goodbye my friend.” “There are three of us against the world – China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.[5]

No wonder Washington was alarmed !!  It’s the worst nightmare for a US Empire which is in decline economically, politically and diplomatically. President Duterte’s bravery and boldness, expressed with trademark irreverence, is a refreshing relief for many Filipinos, one quarter of whom live from hand to mouth. The Philippines was meant to be cornerstone of Washington’s attempts to “contain and roll back communism” in the form of Red China. Yet Duterte’s brash-sounding statements above also reflect a reality which the Filipino ruling class is realising, along with other countries in Asia – the US no longer has the economic or political resources to dominate large sections of the planet. It is being overtaken by the gargantuan state-led economic power of socialist China, which has the financial resources to offer mutually beneficial development. The People’s Republic of China (PRC), as a non-capitalist power, does not seek to exploit and plunder neighbours and other countries in the manner that we are familiar with from the US, Great Britain and France historically in the Asia-Pacific.

Filipino sovereignty is vitally important, in a country which has been dominated for over 100 years by Spanish and US colonialism. To prosecute sovereignty, President Duterte has indicated that he has an obligation to look outside the traditional power of the US and its Western adjuncts. At the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Co-Operation) summit in 2017, Duterte met several times with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia donated thousands of automatic rifles, 20 trucks and helmets to the Philippines, to assist its anti-terrorist operations in Marawi. Putin stated that Russia and the Philippines has a common enemy in the fight against terrorism. In response Duterte stated that the Philippines will remember Russia for all time.[6] One can almost hear the jaws dropping in the Pentagon.

The US in Syria suffered arguably its first defeat in war since Vietnam, once Russia somewhat belatedly intervened, at the request of the Syrian government, in 2015. Russia, with its superior military air power, outplayed the US politically. They openly called for the US to join it in a fight against the terrorist death squads in Syria. The US could not intervene on the side of its Al Qaeda and ISIS patrons, and thus was forced to sit back while Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah went on to expel the deranged mercenaries. It was a humiliating defeat for the US, the UK, France, Saudi Arabia, Israel and others including the Australian government, who had been expending resources in a desperate attempt at regime change. President Duterte, along with a whole host of other countries not involved, no doubt noticed how the Russians outfoxed the US, politically as well as militarily. Duterte is not the only leader from a developing country who can see the military rise of Russia, which complements the economic rise of China.

Defying liberals, foreigners, the church

Many progressive minded folk throw up their hands in horror when hearing of President Duterte’s war on drugs – especially as “war” is not used by Duterte as a metaphor. Yet it is not as if Filipino drug dealers were not warned. Duterte explicitly made the case that drug addiction is a major problem; other methods used in the past have not worked, so his administration will take matters into its own hands in dealing with drug king-pins. “You destroy our country, I’ll kill you…you destroy our children, I’ll kill you..” Duterte proclaimed as he began his Presidency.[7] Like this approach or loathe it, it has the support of the overwhelming majority of Filipinos.  They agree with Duterte that around 4 million drug users who remain addicts for years represent a significant social problem. Despite the wailing from US linked NGOs, thousands of drug addicts have reportedly surrendered and asked for treatment.

The case of the innocuous sounding Sister Patricia Fox, from Australia, is another issue which tends to alarm those with generally liberal political inclinations. Sister Fox is a 71 year old Catholic Nun who has headed up an order in the Philippines for the past 27 years.[8] While her work and the work of her order has primarily been based on assisting the many poor, in recent years she became involved in anti-government political actions and movements. In response the Duterte administration has sought to deport her. Yet this is not a case of a unilateral quashing of dissent, for Filipino law forbids foreigners from being involved in domestic Filipino politics. Regardless of the motivations of Sister Fox, by seeking her deportation, the Duterte administration is only applying Filipino law.

In a similar vein, there is also a law against foreigners owning outlets of the Filipino press. The “Rappler” news site has been criticised by Duterte as being US funded. And, despite repeated attempts to deny US funding, Rappler has been shown to be partially funded by the Omidyar Network, set up by Ebay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam. As if this was not obvious enough, Rappler is headed by Maria Ressa, who has spent the past 18 years as the bureau chief for the notorious CNN in both Jakarta and Manila.[9]  Applying Filipino law, there is a case against Rappler by the Duterte administration making its way through the courts.

The Catholic Church is deeply ingrained in the Philippines, and yet the popularity of President Duterte is such that he can openly question some of its public positions. For example, Duterte has stated that he will assist a movement in the Philippines which sought to legalise LBGTIQ marriage.[10] This is seemingly at odds with his tough guy image, and it is a stance which is conveniently ignored by his liberal critics.

“Communists” against Duterte

If the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) spruiks its opposition to President Duterte, this must mean that this is the view of the left – some would assume. In reality, the CPP and its off shoots such as the New People’s Army (NPA) and the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines), in practice join with the other ranks of liberal outrage – many of whom are linked to the bevy of US backed NGOs. For example, the NDFP strongly criticised President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao in May 2017,[11] drawing comparisons to the martial law period in the 1980s under Ferdinand Marcos. Yet the declaration of martial law was made to enable military operations against ISIS !!  ISIS appeared out of nowhere when President Duterte was in Russia signing trade and other agreements with President Vladimir Putin. It is not unreasonable to suggest that the US pulled the strings on the ISIS marionette in response. Moreover, President Duterte’s military operations against ISIS were overwhelmingly popular amongst Filipinos, as many of his other moves are. A sign of this was the unqualified support for the martial law declaration from world champion Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, who is also an elected senator. Pacquiao, regarded as a national hero for his boxing feats, said the country should be grateful for the strong leadership of President Duterte.[12]

The CPP/NPA has been waging a 50 year guerrilla war against the Filipino government, which flows from the Maoist theory of “protracted people’s war”. This sounds impressive, but in doing so the politics of Maoism outside the state where it achieved state power (China), means it constantly seeks allies amongst classes other than, and opposed to, the interests of the working class. It imagines that somehow, the capitalists, small proprietors and workers can put aside their class interests and form a bloc which will achieve a “national democracy”. This is of course impossible – there has never, and can never, exist a “democracy” across mutually antagonistic classes. All attempts in this direction will thus ultimately fail, and the politics of those prosecuting this strategy can never rise above base level reformism.

Rather than a fruitless struggle for cross class “democracy” in the Philippines, Marxists need to seek to organise and lead the working class in its struggle for the overthrow of capital. Rather than join the swamp of US backed opposition to Duterte, revolutionary minded workers need to recruit to their own banner while engaging in a temporary bloc with the Duterte administration against the encroachment of US imperialism and its intermediaries in NGOs and left-populist parties. The leadership of a Leninist vanguard party is the missing ingredient to the real revolution needed in the Philippines.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com
E: workersleague@redfireonline.com
PO Box  66    NUNDAH   QLD  4012

[1] http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2014/04/30/philippines-the-ned-the-ngos-and-the-cia/#more-9279 (23-09-18)

[2] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-duterte/survey-shows-filipinos-more-satisfied-with-duterte-government-than-any-other-idUSKBN1F70XA (23-09-18)

[3] https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/07/13/18/duterte-approval-rating-rises-to-record-in-second-quarter-pulse-asia (23-09-18)

[4] https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/2018/07/07/what-makes-the-philippines-duterte-popular/15308856006512 (23-09-18)

[5] https://www.marxist.com/filipino-president-rodrigo-duterte-leaning-towards-china-why.htm (30-09-18)

[6] https://globalnation.inquirer.net/161653/philippine-news-updates-vladimir-putin-russia-apec-marawi-siege-terrorism-russian-weapons-terrorism (30-09-2018)

[7] https://www.weeklystandard.com/christopher-caldwell/understanding-the-popularity-of-philippines-president-rodrigo-duterte (30-09-18)

[8] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/20/patricia-fox-australian-nun-who-angered-duterte-ordered-to-leave-philippines (30-09-18)

[9] https://www.techinasia.com/rappler-funding-omidyar-network (30-09-18)

[10] https://www.sbs.com.au/topics/sexuality/agenda/article/2017/12/18/rodrigo-duterte-says-hell-support-same-sex-marriage

[11] https://www.ndfp.org/on-dutertes-declaration-of-martial-law-in-mindanao/ (01-10-18)

[12] https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/05/philippines-pacquiao-backs-dutertes-martial-law/ (01-10-18)