Socialist Worker

The US as global supercop

Issue No. 1998

The US, reveals the Washington Post this week, is engaged in planning military operations in 20 countries across five continents as part of its “long war” against terror.

The Pentagon says that to “counter extremist ideology” it is necessary to dispatch special forces to 20 countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Their presence in Latin America shows that this is not simply about targeting Islamic groups.

This build-up is all part of the Pentagon’s National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism, launched three months ago.

The guidelines for retaliation, or pre-emptive action against a supposed attack, bypass conventional diplomatic procedures. If these plans had been in place on 11 September 2001 they would have prompted the US to launch an immediate strike on Iraq.

The US Special Operations Command charged with implementing this strategic plan has 53,000 personnel and next year its budget will swell to $8 billion.

This plan is another step, under cover of a “war against terror”, to ensure the US continues as world policeman deep into the 21st century.


Nepal

After the crown slips

Even as the celebrations took place in Nepal’s capital Katmandhu this week, the Nepalese army fired on the crowds.

The seven opposition parties had called off the three week long general strike. They said they had succeeded in gaining elections for a special assembly to write a new constitution which would curb King Gyanendra’s powers. That concession was won by the strikes and heroic street protests.

Yet whatever the outcome of elections the military will remain in place, as will the king who seized absolute power last February. The military remain accountable only to the king.

There has been massive pressure on the opposition parties from the US, Britain and India to accept a deal which keeps the king on the throne. But the Maoist rebels who control swathes of the country denounced the seven opposition parties for agreeing a compromise which keeps the king in place.

The danger now is that a compromise involving fresh elections can buy time for the old order. In the coming months the old royal power will remain alongside the new revolutionary movement. But in a revolution either the new conquers the old or the old order triumphs and enacts a terrible revenge.


Gate Gourmet

Pickings for bosses

Nine months on from the outbreak of the bitter dispute Eric Born, managing director of Gate Gourmet UK, gloats, “We are now seeing real improvements in productivity at Gate Gourmet. The changes we’ve been making to working practices are clearly paying off. ”

The union-busting multinational has increased its productivity by 56 percent and the number of sick days taken by workers is minimal.

The reality of working Britain is not “partnership”. It is ruthless management backed by a government that is wedded to big business and prepared to inflict mass sackings and pension cuts on its own workers.

Either the trade union movement can preside over a stagnating membership linked to New Labour like a ball and chain. Or it can launch a vigorous fightback based on securing decent pay, conditions, job security and pensions.


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What We Think
Sat 29 Apr 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1998
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