Socialist Worker

Condoleezza Rice rachets up the tension in the Pacific

Issue No. 1944

We caught a glimpse of the real face of the Project for the New American Century last weekend when Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, sent a sharp warning to China.

“It is American forces here in the Pacific that have played the role of security guarantor,” she told a press conference in Beijing. She also rebuked EU leaders for suggesting they might lift an arms embargo against China.

The US’s belligerence starkly demonstrates how George Bush’s Middle East policy is destabilising the entire world. Far from spreading “democracy”, it threatens to kick off a renewed global arms race.

The White House increasingly sees China as one of the largest threats to US economic dominance. China’s economy is heavily dependent on Middle Eastern oil—which is one of the reasons why the US is so determined to control Iraq.

But economic and military competition has its own relentless logic. China has responded to the US by increasing pressure on Taiwan and seeking new partnerships with EU arms dealers.

This global drive to war can only be stopped by a global drive against war. The anti-war movement — which also showed its strength last weekend — is the one force that can break the deadly cycle of war and occupation that our rulers are locked into.


School meals

Kick the privateers out of our canteens

TV chef Jamie Oliver has exposed the disgrace of junk food school meals put together for just 37p a head. But the government’s response this week was pathetic.

It failed to commit any new money to improving our children’s dinners. And the new Schools Meals Trust will include representatives from big food companies — the same companies that make profits from serving up what Jamie Oliver described as “scrotum burger shite”.

School meals have been getting worse since the 1980s. Privatisation has driven down costs and cut staff hours. Private firms now provide 40 percent of school dinners, while school meals staff are paid an average of just £82 a week.

North of the border, the Scottish Socialist Party is campaigning to get free, nutritious school meals for all children. We should demand the same in England and Wales. And we should kick out the privatisers and bring back properly funded school kitchens with well paid staff.


Afghanistan

The warlords are back in Bush’s ‘democracy’

Hamid Karzai, the US-sponsored president of Afghanistan, has appointed his new military chief of staff — General Abdul Rashid Dostum, a warlord best known for executing people by crushing them under tanks.

Dostum fought for the Communist regime in the 1980s, but allied with the US military against the Taliban in 2001. During that war, he let hundreds of Taliban prisoners suffocate to death in transport containers after their capture.

One of Karzai’s chief election pledges last October was to disarm and disband Afghanistan’s warlords. Now he is cosying up to them. Chalk this up as another success for Bush’s “freedom on the march”.


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What We Think
Sat 26 Mar 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1944
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