Massacre in Uzbekistan

The White House’s instant response to news of the deaths of over 500 people killed by Uzbek troops in Andijan on 13 May was that they included ‘Islamic terrorists’. It took the BBC a few more days to discover that those resisting the Karimov regime were ‘Islamic militants’. This is consistent with a policy of support for this most vicious government, excusing everything it does for it is a member of ‘the coalition of the willing’. Uzbekistan is a strategic ally with a large US military airbase used in 2001 to bomb Afghanistan. It has oil and gas reserves and is adjacent to existing and proposed oil pipelines from the Caspian Basin and Middle East to China and the Indian Ocean. Uzbekistan borders Afghanistan and is less than one hour’s flight to Iran and China for US war planes. That is why the torture regime of Uzbekistan is supported by the US and British governments in their battle for global supremacy.

Just three days before the slaughter in Andijan President Bush was in Georgia praising a ‘beacon of liberty in the region and the world…a free and democratic Georgia’. And what is more, ‘You increased your troop commitment in Iraq five-fold’. US Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld, former Secretary of State Powell and numerous congressional delegations have visited Uzbekistan. None ever called for freedom and democracy in Uzbekistan. The United Nations says there is ‘widespread systematic torture’ in Uzbekistan. The US is the Karimov regime’s chief financial backer.

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European Union: not so cordiale

Last year Prime Minister Blair and President Chirac celebrated the centenary of the Entente Cordiale, an agreement settling disputes over colonial possessions and paving the way to Franco-British co-operation in the lead-up to the First World War. A year on and the celebrations are for Britain’s triumphs at Trafalgar (1805), Waterloo (1815) and, to cap it all, Singapore (2005), where London triumphed over Paris for the 2012 Olympics. It was all too much for President Chirac to stomach; he sneered at English cooking, insulted the haggis and remarked that the Olympic committee could ‘trust France’, implying that Perfidious Albion was untrustworthy. TREVOR RAYNE reports.

This descent into national stereotyping might be mildly amusing if it were not for the very unfunny ruling classes that it serves. With European capitalism in crisis its ruling classes are tempted to retreat from pan-European collaboration to national chauvinism. In the context of rivalry with the dominant US ruling class this is unsustainable.

The French voted No to the European Union constitutional treaty on 29 May, followed by the Dutch No on 1 June. The British government then said it would defer a referendum. Chirac had campaigned for a Yes vote. The Labour government breathed a sigh of relief at the No votes, pleased at not having to choose between a consolidated EU and a less integrated alliance favoured by the US. Blair was happy not to campaign for a Yes vote which he would most likely lose.

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Georgia global tensions erupt

The Georgian attack on South Ossetia and Russia’s military response demonstrate that we are in a period of intensifying inter-imperialist rivalry. As in the 19th century’s Great Game, played out primarily between Britain and Russia over central Asia, old and new powers now contest an area stretching from Eastern Europe and the Caucasus to the borders of China. Control over this region and its oil and gas supplies are critical to the US ruling class’s attempt to achieve global supremacy. Domination of this region should ensure that Western Europe, the Middle East and the Far East are made dependent upon it. By occupying Georgia, Russia’s new rulers have shown their intent to resist and reverse the US encroachment into the territories of the former Soviet Union. It is a serious blow to the US ruling class’s project and comes amidst a series of reversals of the US and British oil multinationals’ plans for the region. TREVOR RAYNE reports.

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