Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2033

Ethiopia’s bloody allies

I agree with the argument of your article about the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia (Ethiopia joins Bush’s imperialist crusade, 6 January).

In Ethiopia we are aware of the motives of the Meles Zenawi dictatorship. As part of its rule over Ethiopia, the global financial authorities such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have set strict limits on Ethiopia’s military spending.

Now, acting as a mercenary for George Bush and Tony Blair, Ethiopia will get those limits lifted and that will encourage more expansionist moves against Eritrea. I also fear that Ethiopians will get stuck in a long war in Somalia.

I do not hate Somalis, I do not hate Eritreans. Yet I fear my country is going to become great enemies of those people, greater than they are already.

Meles Zenawi came to power after a struggle against former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, who was a pawn of the superpowers. How tragic and how costly that Meles has now made himself into such a pawn as well.

As Ethiopia’s troops swept into Somalia, the US navy stood offshore penning in militants of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC).

We should not be in bloody alliance with the butchers of Iraq.

Abeynesh Desta, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Your article about Ethiopia joining George Bush’s imperialist crusade is wrong. Ethiopia has nothing to do with the recent invasion and occupation of Somalia by the hated tyrant Meles Zenawi.

Unlike George Bush and Tony Blair, Zenawi is not elected and does not represent Ethiopia.

The people’s representatives are in jail on trumped up charges.

Ask any Ethiopian about Zenawi’s adventure and they will tell you that the main reason for the invasion of Somalia is to divert the public away from domestic politics so that he could continue human right violations.

Mesfin Kokeb, North London

Gilad Atzmon is not racist

As the organisers of the Cultures of Resistance event we were disappointed to see Michael Rosen claiming that Gilad Atzmon is an antisemite and should therefore not have been invited to perform (Letters, 6 January).

We would never give a platform to a racist or fascist. Our entire history has been one of fierce opposition to fascist organisations and antisemitism.

Faced with such accusations, Gilad has issued a personal statement making it clear that he is not a racist or a Holocaust denier. It is also worth noting that papers like the Morning Star and Guardian have also run articles refuting these claims.

Gilad has now played around a dozen fundraising events for the SWP and we can say categorically that he has never made any offensive/racist comments – in fact every performance has been one of supporting the civil rights struggle and opposing war.

While defending Gilad’s right to play, that in no way means we endorse all of Gilad’s views. However it is worth noting that he is a Jewish exile from Israel who was a member of the Israeli army.

As part of his struggle to break from his Zionist upbringing he has become an angry and bitter opponent of Israel. For the record we have publicly challenged and argued against those of his ideas we disagree with.

Instead of banning him shouldn’t socialists be celebrating his undeniable musical talent, and at the same time challenging those ideas that he holds that we disagree with?

Hannah Dee and Viv Smith, London

I was sorry that Michael Rosen feels that antisemitism “doesn’t matter as much” to some people as other forms of racism today.

It should matter, because all racism has to be opposed. But in the current context, two further points should be made.

The state of Israel and its policies towards Palestinians lead some people to equate Jews with Israel’s ideology of Zionism. We have to constantly explain that not all Jews are Zionists, and not all Zionists are Jews (some of Israel’s strongest supporters are the neocon Christians in the US).

We also have to recognise that in Europe today the main form of racism, taken up and propagated by governments and media, is against Muslims. This scapegoating has direct parallels with the situation of the Jews in the 1930s.

Of course other groups suffer racism as well. The Nazis were humiliated by the black athlete Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, whose performance didn’t fit in with their views of Aryan supremacy.

But the main form of racism was still against Jews. Today the caricatures and demands to integrate are not directed at Jews but at Muslims.

While it’s a mistake not to recognise racism in any form, it’s at least as big a mistake to fail to understand the main form of racism at any particular time.

Let’s not make any of these mistakes.

Lindsey German, East London

Carbon rationing could help to solve global warming

Global warming is undoubtedly the biggest issue of our time. Carbon rationing is gaining support from the public as the most effective and equitable way of dealing with global warming.

A number of formulas have been put forward, but all assume that free trading amongst individuals will have to be allowed and that the price should be left to market forces.

Many already conclude that the less well off will lose out and that pollution will be controlled at the expense of the poor.

The aim of a carbon rationing scheme should be to reduce pollution overall – not to pass the right to pollute to a select minority.

To bring flexibility to a carbon rationing system people should be able to sell any unused carbon quotas, but only to the state.

The idea of a carbon tax is actively pursued by a number of green organisations. As a result people think that taxation is the only way to deal with this problem.

This is a crafty way of saying that the rich can make as much pollution as they like, with many modern amenities pricing out the poor.

It is clear that in this scheme, the biggest polluters will carry on polluting albeit at a high price.

It is clear that the government is in no hurry to do anything.

All the major parties are wasting time and are too concerned about protecting their “business” supporters.

Respect should take a lead and carbon rationing should be given serious consideration. Market forces should be kept out of any scheme which has anything to do with global warming.

This is far too grave a problem to be left to the mercy of supply and demand.

Sushma Lal, by e-mail

Another navy mutiny?

I was very interested to read your article on the Invergordon Mutiny (Mutiny at Invergordon, 30 September). I was in the Royal Navy for 22 years and a gunnery instructor for the last 11.

One small point. The plural of court martial is “courts martial”.

I can see the present navy almost ready to repeat the actions of the Invergordon crowd the way Tony Blair treats the servicemen.

That would teach the so-called socialist a lesson. He is no more a socialist than Margaret Thatcher was.

John Field, Portsmouth

Sever church and state

Giles Fraser makes some interesting points about the radical claims of Christianity (Cult of Christendom, 16 December). There is indeed a big gap between the teachings of Jesus and what Christianity has become today.

One reason for this situation developing lies in the Church of England being the “established”’ church. We need to change that situation, as it mixes up the state with the church. And that’s wrong.

We should separate church and state. That way Christianity can concentrate on its egalitarian aims, not propping up the royal family and the establishment!

Graham Kemp, Shropshire

Encouraging air sickness

I support the British Airways (BA) cabin crew grievances (British Airways cabin crew ballot for action, 6 January).

I would also add that “non-refundable, non-changeable” tickets, especially on long haul flights, force sick travellers to fly, in addition to ill cabin crew.

If this “you must fly sick or not” or lose your trip or your job edict continues, world health will continue to deteriorate abetted by Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA, and his like.

Yet British Airways remains my “favourite airline”. Best of luck to cabin crew!

Tony Bengert, Palm Springs, US

Saddam’s trial hides truth

No rational person would ever feel anything for Saddam Hussein. However, his trial and execution were nothing less than a perverse travesty of justice.

What luck Saddam will never be charged with the gassing of the Kurds. What luck former Tory ministers were not called to say what weapons they offered to sell Saddam when they visited him on government business in the 1980’s.

What luck Donald Rumsfeld can’t be called to say what he told Saddam on the two occasions he met him.

If the trial of Saddam had been about justice then these issues would have been covered.

The trial of Saddam was a warning to Third World dictators to toe the imperialist line of Britain and the US.

Saddam was brutal, but his crimes have been far surpassed by the illegal invasion of Iraq.

The gangsters such as George Bush, Tony Blair, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Geoff Hoon and Gordon Brown who are responsible for the slaughter currently under way in Iraq should be tried for war crimes.

Alan Hinndrichs, Dundee

Stop these cruel tests

Is there no limits to the cruelty of this government?

A recent home office document proposed that unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Britain should have to undergo x-rays of their wrist bones and teeth to check that they are not lying about their age.

Quite apart from questions as to the accuracy of such tests, this is yet another cruel and inhumane way New Labour treat some of the most traumatised children.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that children arriving here alone are very vulnerable and deeply distressed. We have to stop this scapegoating.

Ellen Harrison, Grimsby

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Article information

Sat 13 Jan 2007, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2033
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