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Year 2000 No. 140, August 30, 2000 Archive Search Home Page

Clinton’s Visit to Africa:

A Strategy to Foster Proxy States

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Clinton’s Visit to Africa:
A Strategy to Foster Proxy States

News In Brief
Dudley NHS Staff Extend Action
Rover Faces "Fight for Survival"
Warning of Further Job Losses in Coal Industry

Reader's Forum: No. 4: What Stand to Take on the European Union

Appeal for Justice for Cemal Cakmak

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Clinton’s Visit to Africa:

A Strategy to Foster Proxy States

US President Bill Clinton began his four-day tour of Africa on Saturday with a visit to Nigeria, the country with the largest population in Africa and which is one of the world’s leading oil producers. Following his visit to Nigeria, Clinton also travelled to Tanzania and Egypt.

The news agencies have presented Clinton’s visit to Nigeria with his entourage as a landmark in US-Nigerian relations and as a vote of support for what he termed "the most important democratic transition since the fall of apartheid". But although it now has a civilian government after more than 16 years of military rule, Nigeria’s massive population, now estimated at over 120 million, has been slow to appreciate the difference. Clinton’s praise for the government of Olusegun Obasanjo is clearly linked to the interests of the US and other big powers, which wish to use it as their proxy not just in the region, but also throughout Africa and to continue to exploit Nigeria’s enormous human and material resources.

US imperialism has already designated Nigeria as one of four "key democracies" in the world on which it will focus attention, and Clinton spoke of it as "a pivot point on which all Africa’s future turns". Amongst other things, the US government plans to train and equip sections of the Nigerian army as a model African intervention and "peace-keeping" force, and has announced plans to send hundreds of military advisors to Nigeria. It is encouraging the Nigerian government to continue to play a key military role in Sierra Leone and elsewhere in Africa, despite criticisms that it has been guilty of human rights abuses not only abroad but also in Nigeria itself. The US government is thus planning to pursue its own aims in Africa indirectly and, amongst other things, avoid the debacle it suffered as part of the UN force in Somalia. It seems likely that the Nigerian army will be required to play an increasingly important military role in Sierra Leone, where attempts to control the lucrative diamond producing regions are now the major priority for all the big powers.

Clinton was also eager that Nigeria opens its economy even further to foreign and especially US penetration and that it plays its part both unilaterally and within OPEC to bring down the price of oil. Nigeria is one of the five most important exporters of oil to the US, which is its largest customer, while Nigeria’s oil industry is currently one of the key sectors of the economy that is being privatised. In a major speech in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, Clinton argued that Nigeria must continue to deregulate its economy and make it even more attractive to foreign investors if it wanted US support for the reduction of its massive debt burden. Nigeria’s foreign debt is currently $32 billion and annual debt servicing $1.5 billion. Clinton also announced other measures to encourage trade between the US and Nigeria and stressed the importance of diversifying Nigeria’s economy so that it could play a greater role in the global market.

Clinton’s visit to Nigeria and its designation as a "key democracy" in the world signals increased US interference in the affairs of a country that as a former colony was once viewed as firmly within the "British sphere of influence". It demonstrates that the US is seeking to further extend its influence throughout Africa and to fully establish the conditions for globalisation throughout the continent. It also confirms that Africa is becoming an area of intense rivalry between the big powers as the monopolies continue to pursue their aim of making maximum profits, and scramble amongst themselves for the control of the vast markets and human and material resources on the continent.

Article Index



News In Brief

Dudley NHS Staff Extend Action

Hospital workers are to stage a week-long strike from September 3 in Dudley. Around 550 non-medical staff are in dispute with the Dudley Group Hospitals Trust over plans to transfer their NHS jobs to a private employer.

A rally and march had been staged on August 19 through Dudley in order to raise public awareness and politicise the issue. This had come at the end of a four-day strike.

A spokeswoman for Dudley NHS Trust backtracked on an initial claim that it was impossible to rewrite the PFI contract for three new hospitals in Dudley. She said: "Yes, it could be renegotiated, but there would be a cost."

Rover Faces "Fight for Survival"

Jon Moulton, managing partner of Alchemy, the venture capital group whose agreement with BMW to take over Rover collapsed at the eleventh hour, said on August 16 that the Rover Cars group will be facing financial crisis and fighting for its survival by next March at the latest.

In a speech to the Marketing Society entitled "Rover and the coal industry", the head of Alchemy Partners compared the DTI’s efforts to provide £150m financial support for the Phoenix-controlled Rover to its unsuccessful efforts to save deep coal mining jobs in Britain despite pouring in £75m in aid. He said that "it is not an option for the government to bail Rover out in the future". He expressed doubts over the claims of the Phoenix group that it will become a viable producer of a family of Rover and MG models in volumes of up to 200,000 units a year. Jon Moulton claimed that "what has been done gives Rover very little chance of being viable".

In a separate development, it has been reported that Rover’s Longbridge plant could be used to create a new model car in partnership with Malaysian firm Proton. The project would be worth £1bn and the new model would probably be built in both Britain and Malaysia.

Warning of Further Job Losses in Coal Industry

AES Drax, the US-owned group that operates Britain’s biggest power station, has warned that there may be further job losses in Britain’s coal mining industry. The US monopoly says that environmental restrictions on sulphur dioxide emissions must be eased to avert the further disaster in the industry.

Article Index



Reader's Forum

No. 4: What Stand to Take on the European Union

(WDIE reply to reader’s query, continued from issues Nos. 130, 133 and 136, dated August 9, 14 and 17.)

This is the fourth and final part of our reply to the reader who was asking about the Party’s stand towards the European Union, and why we differed from his view that socialism throughout Europe could only be achieved by working for a united Europe.

If one analyses the struggles that are going on in society, one is led to the conclusion that on every front the struggle is between on the one side the crisis caused by what is moribund and holding society back, and on the other the movement to sweep away everything that is anti-human and to fundamentally renovate society. It is in this context that the big powers of the European Union are pushing for the EU to be strengthened as an economic/political/military bloc. At the same time they are pushing the values of globalisation and the free market economy, as if they were something modern, while in reality they represent the anachronistic and obsolescent "solutions" of the 19th century, which transformed themselves into factors for the imperialist first world war. Why are they being pushed? Because these big powers stand for the old relations of production. They stand against the principle of the independence of nations, of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, of the peaceful coexistence between different social systems.

Thus, in our view, it is neither working for a united Europe, nor spearheading all the people’s struggles against the European Union, that is the primary task facing the working class in Britain. The primary task is to consciously and in an organised fashion strike out on the line of march to a new society. How to do this is not an abstract or empty question. It is both a practical political question and a theoretical question. The fighting programme of the working class within which this line of march will take shape includes the demand for the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union and the dismantling of the EU. Theoretical considerations show that it is the working class which must take the lead in this struggle for a new society.

No problem facing the people in Britain will be victoriously resolved without at the same time the working class engaging in its project to constitute itself the nation, and going for socialism in Britain. To engage in this project and bring it to fruition, the working class has to be prepared to withstand all the activities of the reactionary bourgeoisie to wreck the new. These wrecking activities come not only from the big monopolies of the European Union, but also from the reactionary bourgeoisie in this country, especially from them. Indeed, one of the fundamental ways the bourgeoisie tries to prevent the emergence of the new basis in society is to deny to the working class its independent and leading role. The job of everyone in the communist and workers’ movement must be to pro-actively foster and develop, insist on, the independent programme of the working class and its leading role in extricating society from the crisis which the bourgeoisie’s insistence on the status quo is deepening and broadening.

One point we think should not be overlooked is that the European Union is a further factor compromising the sovereignty of the peoples of Scotland, Wales and England. Just as in the wider context of peoples fighting to exercise their sovereignty against the programme of the big powers of the European Union to impose their will, so in the context of Britain, the peoples of Scotland, Wales and England must fight against the unitary state which denies this right to them. If in the context of this struggle for sovereign states on a new basis, the working class and peoples voluntarily decide on a free and equal union which will put the English bourgeoisie in its place, then this is all to the good. It can also be said that should the countries of Europe under the leading role of their respective working classes be victorious in establishing modern sovereign socialist states, their internationalist unity against the world bourgeoisie can also be strengthened, without in the least limiting their own sovereignty.

In conclusion, we would like to re-emphasise the importance of all human persons formulating their own stands, and affirming their individual and collective rights. For our part, we advocate that the agenda, the programme, that the Party is putting forward should be given serious consideration, not as something which is of benefit to ourselves, but as conclusions which have been drawn from the experience of the working class and communist movement as a whole. In this respect, we believe they embody what is new and consistent with the struggle for the emancipation of the working class and all humanity. We do not put forward the fighting programme for adoption by the working class as a set of demands which we campaign that the government should accept, and that will be the end of the matter. There can be no illusions that any force other than the working class can lead society out of the present crisis and open up the way to a new and socialist society. Rather we advocate the adoption of the fighting programme of the working class to bring into play the human factor/social consciousness so as to build a revolutionary movement of a mass character which will give rise to the revolutionary transformation of society to socialism.

Article Index



Appeal for Justice for Cemal Cakmak

WDIE has received the following appeal, dated August 18, 2000, from the Campaign for Human Rights in Turkey. The campaign was launched by the Liverpool Dockers’ Shop Stewards’ Delegation to Turkey, July 1996.

Cemal Cakmak, aged 34, a political prisoner first arrested in 1992, now awaits the death penalty after grotesque torture which has left him partially paralysed.

In 1999 during the Ulucanlar Prison massacre when 10 prisoners were killed by security forces, Cemal was nailed through the leg.

He was then beaten on the chest until his ribs broke, had his scalp pulled with pliers and was left for dead. Recovering consciousness, he was then sent through a series of other prisons (Yozgat, Burdur and Bursa) where he suffered further beatings.

Disease is gradually causing him blindness. His family has applied on numerous occasions to the Ministry of Justice for their son to be given medical treatment, but to their knowledge he has not received any, in spite of once being taken to hospital.

For further information and to send protests to Turkey, contact the Campaign for Human Rights in Turkey: e-mail: campaign@daymer.org

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