In the month of January, actions of the working people will take place across Ontario outside what the Ontario government calls "pre-budget consultations," with a culminating rally at Queen's Park on February 1. The Ontario Health Coalition is calling on everyone to oppose health care cuts and the privatization of Ontario's health care system and make the rallies a great success.
A major concern of people in Canada is the deterioration of health care. At a time when society has given rise to tremendous advances in health technology and techniques are promising solutions to address the serious health problems that exist, we have privatization, cuts to public health care funding and attacks on health care workers. Governments cater to pharmaceutical monopolies and private providers who want public funds for their private profit, not for health care.
In addition, instead of addressing the crisis, the Ontario Liberal government has created the office of the Patient Ombudsman to address complaints. On December 10, Health Minister Eric Hoskins announced the appointment of former Progressive Conservative MPP Christine Elliott to the position, effective July 1, 2016.
As a result of Elliot's appointment, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is expected to call a by-election by February 28 in Whitby-Oshawa. Besides the rallies to be held outside the "pre-budget consultations," the by-election will also be an opportunity for the working people of Ontario to express their opposition to the privatization of health care. They can do this by ensuring that the Liberals do not take the seat and the PCs do not retain it. This will also make a clear statement that the working people oppose the overall neo-liberal austerity agenda which violates their rights.
Join the rallies in Ontario to oppose the privatization of health care! Affirm the demand "Health Care Is a Right!"
Cuts and Privatization in Ontario Health Care
The Ontario Health Coalition reports that funding for hospitals in Ontario is now at the lowest rate of any province in the country. Local community hospitals are at risk of complete closure, while birthing and emergency departments and other services are constantly under threat. Thousands of hospital staff positions have been eliminated. They also point out that all the services cut from hospitals are being rapidly taken over by private interests including in-home care.
These cuts are carried out by decreasing overall spending, for instance "increasing" health care spending growth by 1.2 per cent in 2015, well below inflation and population growth. With the funding not sufficient to even maintain current services, hospital boards and health care administrations cut beds, services and staff in order to balance their budgets, as they are required to do under Ontario's Public Sector Accountability Act. The Ontario Nurses' Association cites the more than 1,700 nursing positions that have been cut across Ontario in the past three years.
Most of the 825 independent health facilities in Ontario are owned and operated by for-profit companies according to a 2012 Auditor General's report. One trend under the Ontario Liberal government is to destroy hospital services, such as surgeries, through systematic cuts, providing a pretext for the privatization of those services. The Ontario government has been looking for ways to expand the role of independent health facilities including through the further devolution of hospital surgeries. Where the expansion of hospitals has taken place it is often on the basis of public-private partnerships.
One of the main features of the transformation of health care in Ontario is the transfer of publicly-funded health care to the control of private authorities. Despite numerous scandals, including deaths and possibly tainted equipment, the Ontario government has refused to bring privately-delivered health care under a public authority and has affirmed that it is up to clinics and professional bodies to regulate themselves. Private expenditures now account for 32 per cent of Ontario's total health care expenditures.
Investigations by the Toronto Star and other media found a large number of Ontario's private health care providers to be substandard and put patients at serious risk. Investigations by the Ontario Health Coalition have found many clinics regularly impose user fees, extra charges and unnecessary testing. They have even found instances of double billing, which was made illegal across Canada during the 1980s.
(Ontario Health Coalition, Toronto Star, Defend Public Healthcare)
The Role of Ontario's New Patient Ombudsman
The Patient Ombudsman position was created in
December 2014 with the adoption of Bill 8, the Public Sector and
MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014. Bill 8 added the
Patient Ombudsman position to the Excellent Care for All Act, 2010
which sets out oversight of Ontario's health care system. The new role
is said to have been created after recommendations by the Quality
of Care Information Protection Act review committee called on the
province to establish a mechanism to investigate critical health care
incidents. The Patient Ombudsman is not an independent officer of the
Legislature, but is appointed by the government and considered an
employee of the Ontario Health Quality Council, a government-appointed
Join the rallies in January and February organized by the Ontario Health Coalition to oppose privatization and demand that the right to health care be provided with a guarantee! Call for public delivery of health care, including adequate staffing and affirming the rights of health care workers, not self-serving definitions of what is medically necessary and health care as a hollow policy objective.
Functions and Powers of Patient Ombudsman
The Excellent Care for All Act, 2010 defines the functions of the Ontario Patient Ombudsman as follows:
"(a) to receive and respond to complaints from patients and former patients of a health sector organization and their caregivers, and from any other prescribed persons;
"(b) to facilitate the resolution of complaints made by patients and former patients of a health sector organization and their caregivers, and by any other prescribed persons;
"(c) to undertake investigations of complaints made by patients and former patients of a health sector organization and their caregivers, and by any other prescribed persons, and to undertake investigations of health sector organizations on the Patient Ombudsman's own initiative;
"(d) to make recommendations to health sector organizations following the conclusion of investigations; and
"(e) to do anything else provided for in the regulations." (2014, c. 13, Sched. 5, s. 4.)
The Patient Ombudsman is to receive complaints from patients, investigate the issue and cause and attempt to resolve the complaint with the health service provider which in most cases is a local health integration network. The Patient Ombudsman has discretion as to whether to investigate or take action on a complaint.
The definition of patient or former patient under the legislation is:
"(a) a patient or former patient of a hospital,
"(b) a resident or former resident of a long-term care home,
"(c) a client or former client of a community care access corporation,
"(d) any other individual provided for in the regulations, and
"(e) in respect of an individual mentioned in clause (a), (b), (c) or (d) who is or was incapable with respect to a treatment or another matter, a person with the authority to consent to the treatment or the other matter on behalf of that patient or former patient in accordance with the Health Care Consent Act, 1996." (2014, c. 13, Sched. 5, s. 4.)
The legislation does not provide a definition for "caregiver."
The ombudsman can also commence an investigation of the actions or inactions of one or more health sector organizations on their own initiative without a complaint "in any case where the Patient Ombudsman believes that the matter should be investigated."
The ombudsman also has the power to question under oath anyone who has made a complaint or "any officer, employee, director, shareholder or member of any health sector organization, or any other person who provides services through or on behalf of a health sector organization." This extends to entering the premises of health sector organizations with a court warrant.
The Toronto Star reports it is "a $220,000-a-year post."
Urgent Need for Canada to Establish Just Relations with Indigenous Peoples
Call for Long Overdue Public Inquiry into Canada's
Paramilitary Operation at Ts'Peten
Bison armoured personnel carrier supplied by Canadian army and used by RCMP at Ts'Peten.
The assault, Canada's largest paramilitary operation ever, was carried out in 1995 under Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Overwhelming force was used against the Ts'Peten defenders by the RCMP and Canadian military. A police note by RCMP Superintendent Murray Johnston stated: "There are 6 hardliners in the camp WHO WILL REQUIRE KILLING."
For twenty years, the Ts'Peten Defenders have been calling for a national public inquiry. From Gustafsen to Kanesatake and Elsipogtog, state violence has been unleashed on Indigenous peoples asserting inherent rights to protect their lands. "We cannot be afraid anymore, the time for this inquiry into Gustafsen Lake has come and to let the people know what happened to us and continues to happen to us," Wolverine said on January 4 when the letter was released to the public. The text of the letter is published below.
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
The Honourable Jody Wilson
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
December 30, 2015
Dear Mr. Trudeau,
My name is Wolverine. I am also known as William Jones Ignace. I am an 83-year old father, grandfather and great grandfather, and an Elder of the Secwepemc nation in what is called British Columbia. I am a farmer. This past summer I cultivated 8 acres of organic food to nourish the people in my nation and other nations as well. I am a long time defender of the inherent jurisdiction of Indigenous peoples to steward our traditional homelands.
Today I am writing to you to request that you initiate a federal public inquiry into the events surrounding the month long standoff at Ts'Peten (Gustafsen Lake), British Columbia in 1995, an event which cast a deep shadow on the relationship between the Canadian government and Indigenous nations, which to this day has not been adequately investigated.
In 1995, after a long history of peaceful attempts to have Secwepemc sovereignty respected, Indigenous people from the Secwepemc nation and their supporters took a stand on sacred Sundance lands at Ts'Peten, aka Gustafsen Lake. The incident began after a local white rancher, Lyle James began demanding that the sacred Secwepemc Sundance Camp leave land to which he claimed ownership. Approximately 24 Sundancers set up camp to defend Ts'Peten. I was one of those people.
Beginning in August 1995, the Royal Canadian Mounted
(RCMP) surrounded the Ts'Peten Defenders. Over the next month police,
politicians, and media escalated the situation to make the siege the
expensive and largest domestic military operation in Canada's history:
armoured personnel carriers, .50 calibre machine guns, land mines, and
astonishing 77,000 rounds of ammunition were directed at the land
defenders. In the course of the standoff, RCMP shot at unarmed people
and at people in negotiated no-shoot zones. RCMP Superintendent
Murray Johnston expressed the belief that a resolution to the standoff
would "require the killing" of the defenders, including myself.
this thankfully did not come to be, the unjust and violent actions
out against the Secwepemc people during the siege remains strong in our
memories to this day.
Despite the twenty years that have passed since the
the core issues that so forcefully clashed against each other remain at
forefront of the hearts and minds of Indigenous people. That is our
to self-determination, autonomy and protection from the dispossession
our lands and territories. According to the Royal Proclamation of 1763,
Aboriginal Title to land exists inherently and will continue to exist
has been ceded by treaty with the Crown. The land on which the Ts'Peten
standoff occurred was, and remains to this day, unceded territory. The
land at Ts'Peten was never handed over by the Secwepemc Nation to
Canadian control through treaty or otherwise, and is therefore land
cannot have been sold to settlers by the Canadian or British Columbian
governments. The use of Canadian paramilitary forces against the people
of the Secwepemc nation asserting our inherent jurisdiction and title
our own territories therefore is a serious abrogation of the Nation to
Nation relationship between the Canadian government and the Secwepemc
This abrogation has yet to be properly investigated, and remains one of the largest stains on relations between Indigenous nations and the Canadian state. A public federal inquiry is long overdue into the actions of the RCMP, the Canadian government and the provincial government of British Columbia.
In recent months, Mr. Trudeau, you have called for a renewed Nation to Nation relationship with Indigenous nations, promising a new era of recognition, rights, respect, cooperation and partnership, rooted in the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. According to that Declaration, Indigenous peoples have the right to be safe from being forcibly removed from their lands and territories. Even now, aggressive resource extraction and the destruction it inevitably brings regularly occurs on Indigenous lands without the consent of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous lands which, according to the very agreements that founded the nation of Canada, do not belong to Canada to be given away without the free prior and informed consent of the Indigenous people of those lands who never relinquished their rights. In order to build this Nation to Nation relationship, Indigenous peoples must know that they can continue to pursue peaceful processes for protecting their sovereignty, without the threat of state sanctioned violence being used against them. The use of police and RCMP intimidation and force as a method to settle land claims in favour of the Canadian national and provincial governments is antithetical to the creation of a healthy and just partnership between nations. If Indigenous people are prevented from asserting their rights to sovereignty, true reconciliation cannot occur.
The time has come to honour your commitment to Indigenous people, and to a reconciliation between our nations. An inquiry into the Ts'Peten standoff would demonstrate that the Canadian government is truly committed to a new era of respectful, Nation to Nation relationships in which the wrongs of the past are thoroughly understood and acknowledged, ensuring that threats, intimidation, defamation and force are never again used against Indigenous people in Canada.
Wolverine, William Jones Ignace
(Photos: Warrior Publications, H. Walia)
Holding Japan to Account for War Crimes
At the end of December 2015, a bilateral deal between the Shinzo Abe government of Japan and the Park Geun-hye government of south Korea was concluded that purported to provide justice for the "comfort women" enslaved by the Japanese imperialists in Korea from 1932 to 1945. This deal was brokered by the U.S. and negotiated in secret, excluding the very women who were victimized and is in contempt of their demands for restitution that set the bar for justice regarding these grave crimes. As well, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was not invited to the negotiations even though these crimes were committed before the partition of Korea and there are "comfort women" survivors living there as well.
"Overnight, the South Korean government erased the progress that the former comfort women and civic groups had made over the past 25 years toward settling the issue of the comfort women," said Yoon Mee-hyang, co-representative of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (Jeongdaehyeop).
"We are going to tell people around the world that the settlement does not reflect the will of the former comfort women, and we will also review legal options for invalidating the settlement," Yoon told south Korean newspaper the Hankyoreh on December 29.
Yoon took particular exception to the fact that Jeongdaehyeop and the former comfort women had not been told anything during the negotiations about what was being discussed.
"We felt positively about the fact that the South Korean government had carried out 10 rounds of bureau chief-level talks with the Japanese, and we trusted that the government understood the perspective of the former comfort women. I was a fool to trust the government," Yoon said. She added, "Our partner organizations outside the country are sending us congratulatory messages, mistakenly thinking that the former comfort women agreed to the settlement. We will inform them that this settlement was made without the consent of the former comfort women and without any acknowledgement of legal responsibility, and we will undertake a legal review of whether the settlement can be nullified."
The bilateral agreement, which the Abe government
insists will be the
final word on the matter, will have the Japanese government pay a
billion yen or U.S.$8.3 million of "hush money" to the 46 survivors in
Korea, make a token apology and expect the matter to be settled.
Furthermore, the Japanese government has also arrogantly
the statue of a young woman, symbolizing the fight of the "comfort
for justice, be removed from the front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul.
It is estimated that up to 400,000 women and girls were abducted by the Japanese military between 1932 and the end of the Second World War in 1945 to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese occupying armies in China, Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and other countries. The deal, with no input from the victims of this violence and terror, has been contemptuously rejected by the surviving victims in south Korea as a sham and a fraud and an insult to the dwindling number of elderly women who have been seeking acknowledgement, justice and compensation from Japan for the acts of terror and violence perpetrated against them and their families. It is reported that 40 per cent of the women and girls who were enslaved by the Japanese Imperial Army died or committed suicide -- a mortality rate much higher than front line combat. Since the time this issue came to light there has been a concerted effort by the victims in all the Japanese-occupied countries to demand justice.
In Tokyo on January 6, a protest was held outside the Japanese Foreign Ministry to reject the agreement. Protesters chanted "We are opposed to the bilateral deal! Do not hurt the dignity of the survivors any more!" They called for the agreement to be scrapped, reiterating their original demands:
- Full acknowledgement of the military sexual slavery implemented by the Imperial Armed Forces of Japan from 1932 to 1945;
- Thorough and complete investigation to fully chronicle the scope of the crime;
- Formal, official apology from the National Assembly (Diet) of Japan;
- Legal and full reparations to all victims;
- Full and ongoing education;
- Building of memorials to commemorate the victims and
history of sexual slavery by the Japanese Military; and
- Prosecution of the criminals responsible for the crime.
Protests were also held in Seoul, Toronto, New York,
Paris and other
cities. In Manila, Philippines, where more than 1,000 Filipino women
were forced to serve the Japanese military as sex slaves between 1942
1945, a group of remaining survivors held a protest to denounce
Japan-south Korea deal and oppose the militarist Abe government. They
demanding that the Aquino government of the Philippines take up their
justice instead of toadying up to the U.S. and Abe governments as part
military alliance against China.
The DPRK pointed out the illegitimacy of the agreement in a January 2 item in Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the Workers' Party of Korea: "The recent agreement to cover up Japan's hideous acts of sexual slavery in return for a spurious 'apology' and a few pennies can never be tolerated as it is a product of political bargaining defying international justice and the just demand of victims.
"What is noteworthy is that the U.S. extended 'congratulations' and touted 'support for overall implementation' of the recent agreement. The U.S. has egged south Korea on to 'strike' the deal over the 'issue of comfort girls for the Imperial Japanese Army' in order to keep Japan and south Korea in a triangular alliance for aggression [...]
"The crime related to the sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army is neither an issue which can be settled with the help or control or mediation by a specified country nor an issue that can be settled by coaxing the half-witted [south Korean government] with a few pennies.
"The crime related to sexual slavery which Japan committed against women of various countries of the world, including 200,000 Korean women, is a hideous international crime against humanity, and the victims are also in Asia and Europe, not only in the north and the south of Korea.
"The victims have consistently demanded the assailant Japanese government acknowledge its state legal and moral responsibilities, make a heart-felt apology and reparations and take [immediate] measures for the reinstatement of the honor of the victims and for the prevention of the recurrence of similar crimes. The issue can never be settled unless this demand is met.
"Japan has to acknowledge state and legal responsibilities for the war crimes and other heinous crimes against humanity including the crimes related to sexual slavery of the Imperial Japanese Army and make thorough-going apologies and reparations understandable by all the victims."
The Hankyoreh elaborates the major objections of the comfort women and their supporters to the deal in a December 30 editorial:
"The people who tried to achieve historical justice for the former comfort women are furious, while those who wanted to cover up the issue are smiling. This is the aftermath of the 'final settlement' for the issue of the comfort women -- women forced to serve as sex slaves for the Imperial Japanese Army -- reached by the governments of South Korea and Japan on Dec. 28. Though this was a humiliating diplomatic move that is comparable with the Korea-Japan basic treaty that restored diplomatic relations with Japan in 1965, the South Korean government knows no shame.
"From the time that the comfort women issue was first raised, the key to a solution has been for the Japanese government to acknowledge its legal responsibility. But the South Korean government dispensed with this altogether.
"While the government boasts that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged 'responsibility' for the first time, the Japanese immediately clarified that this was not 'legal responsibility.' There is a world of difference between simple responsibility and legal responsibility.
"For Japan to take legal responsibility would mean that it acknowledged that it had committed war crimes in the past and would have to take the necessary measures that this entails. This would include a thorough investigation, prosecution of the guilty parties, a clear apology based on the facts, compensation for the victims, disclosure of related documentation, discussion in textbooks, and memorial projects designed to prevent such crimes from reoccurring.
"But nothing of the kind appears in this settlement. All that Japan has to do is pay 1 billion yen (US$8.30 million) to a foundation that the South Korean government will set up for the comfort women. And even this is not reparations, but financial assistance. The South Korean government is basically selling Japan indulgences for its sins.
"The declaration that this is a 'final and irreversible settlement' to the comfort women issue is even more perplexing. The government is effectively muzzling itself.
"The case is never closed on serious historical crimes. [...]
"In principle, the perpetrator must keep their head bowed until the victim is satisfied.
"The declaration of a 'final and irreversible settlement' for the comfort women issue is a carbon copy of the 'complete and final resolution' of all claims for damages associated with Japan's colonization of South Korea that appeared in the 1965 treaty. For many years, that treaty has proven an obstacle to the efforts of Koreans forced to work as conscripted laborers under the Japanese Empire to receive compensation for their work.
"Now the Japanese are even promising to keep a close eye
on South Korea
to see if it keeps its word. This settlement has enabled the
perpetrator to talk
back to the victim."
Besides exonerating Japan for its war crimes, the misbegotten agreement aims to strengthen the Japan-south Korea military alliance that is part of the U.S.-led military build-up (i.e., the "Pivot to Asia") for purposes of regime change in the DPRK and the containment of China. The Hankyoreh elaborates on this point:
"Since the settlement was announced, Japanese and American government officials have openly called for more cooperation on security between South Korea, the US, and Japan. The US is not concealing its hopes that the settlement will add momentum to its policy of rebalancing to Asia, which is targeted at China. It is frequently assumed that US influence played a major role in the agreement.
"Last year, South Korea was the world's largest importer of weapons, the majority of which were manufactured in the US. As South Korea is entangled in a security and cooperative relationship led by the US and Japan, it is losing ground on the comfort women and other important historical issues and shouldering greater financial and political burdens."
China, which suffered grave crimes by the Japanese imperialists, also expressed its objections in a series of editorials. "It is regrettable that the settlement was less the result of voluntary contrition on the part of Japan than a political decision influenced by pressure from the US," China's official Xinhua News Agency wrote.
English-language Chinese daily the Global Times said, "The comfort women deal doesn't mean South Korean society has endorsed the attitude of the Japanese government over history, and it in no way impairs the legitimacy of China's demand for Japan to introspect on the history of aggression."
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated on
December 28 that
it will continue to urge Japan to show remorse for its past, regardless
deal between south Korea and Japan. "The position of China continues to
that Japan ought to squarely face its history of aggression and to take
appropriate and responsible action to deal with the related issues,"
Japan's refusal to be held to account for its past war crimes is all the more worrisome given the new security laws it passed in 2015 that amended the constitution to permit Japan to send its troops abroad for aggressive purposes. These laws were introduced in the context of the recently renewed U.S./Japan military agreement and its bogus concept of "collective self-defence" that is also used by the U.S.-led aggressive NATO alliance to justify illegal wars.
(With files from Xinhua, Hankyoreh, www.4thmedia.com, Japan Times, Counterpunch. Quotations edited slightly for grammar by TML. Photos: Xinhua, Hankyoreh)
Today's [December 28, 2015] meeting between the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan concluded with an agreement on the resolution of the military sexual slavery issue. The survivors of the "Comfort Women" system as well as Korean citizens sincerely hoped for the just resolution on the issue through this meeting, in the year which marks the 70th anniversary of Korea's independence.
The Agreement specified that: first, the Japanese government feels its responsibilities for the military sexual slavery; second, Prime Minister Abe apologizes as the representative of the Japanese government; and third, the Korean government establishes a foundation where the Japanese government provides the funding while the two governments collaboratively manage initiatives.
Although the Japanese government announced that it "feels [its] responsibilities," the statement lacks the acknowledgment of the fact that the colonial government and its military had committed a systematic crime. The government had not just been simply involved but actively initiated the activities which were criminal and illegal. Also, the apology was not directly made by the Prime Minister himself as the official representative of the government but was read by a diplomatic representative, while it was unclear to whom he was actually apologizing. Hence it is hard to believe if that was a sincere apology.
In addition, the announcement specified that the Korean government will be responsible for establishing the foundation, despite the fact that the Japanese government must be actively involved in follow-up initiatives, including acknowledgement of its criminal responsibilities and legal reparations. It appears that Japan will pass the future responsibilities on to the government of the victims' country after simply paying the money. Also, it is notable that the Agreement did not specify anything on preventative initiatives such as truth seeking and history education.
The Korean government's attitude towards this Agreement, which is vague and incomplete, is rather shocking. The government concurred that this Agreement represents a "final, irreversible" settlement of the issues, as long as the Japanese government is committed to due diligence in the future. Meanwhile, the Korean government promised that it will seek a resolution for the matter of the Peace Monument in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul in order to maintain the dignity of the Embassy, and will limit its criticism against the Japanese government internationally. This is a diplomatic humiliation.
The Korean government accepted the Japanese government's absurd condition on the Agreement which demanded the removal of the Peace Monument. Moreover, the attitude of the former which declared that it will not even mention the military sexual slavery issue in the future is shameful and disappointing.
The Peace Monument cannot be a condition or means for any Agreement. It is a public property and a historic symbol representing the peaceful spirit of the Wednesday Demonstrations, which has been continued by the survivors and citizens for over a thousand Wednesdays. The Korean government cannot mention anything about the removal or moving of the Monument. While the survivors and the civil society cannot accept the Agreement, the governments cannot push their own agenda. Such an act of arrogation only adds to the pain of the victims even more.
All these years, the survivors, supporting civil society organizations and citizens demanded that the Japanese government acknowledge its national, legal responsibilities clearly and commit to due diligence in order to recover the dignity and human rights of the survivors and prevent any such tragedy in the future. However, the Agreement today is only a diplomatic collusion which betrays the demands of all.
The military sexual slavery issue must be resolved to bring true friendship and peace between Korea and Japan while more survivors are still alive. However, this cannot be rushed while defying proper principle and common sense.
In 2012, the 12th Asia Solidarity Conference for the
Resolution of the
Military Sexual Slavery by Japan Issue adopted recommendations for the
Japanese government to commit to its governmental, legal
order to make such a commitment actually happen, the Korean Council
continue to work tirelessly with the survivors and domestic and
international civil society.
(December 28, 2015. Photos: Xinhua, duggaduggug, F. Saptel. Edited slighty for grammar by TML.)
U.S. Nuclear Blackmail
The Anglo-American anti-communist hysteria against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s announcement on January 6 that it has successfully tested a hydrogen bomb is aimed at covering up the crimes being committed by the Anglo-American system of states around the world against other countries in violation of their right to be.
What mechanisms exist for DPRK to defend itself under the circumstances of threats from the U.S. imperialists, Japan and others? Smaller nations are subject to the whims and machinations of the big powers at the UN Security Council. So too the U.S. and its allies are once again manipulating the issue of human rights to absolve themselves of their crimes and attempt to isolate countries that take an independent stand. If the UN and other institutions established to prevent threats of aggression do not function, how can the victims be blamed for trying to defend themselves?
The only reason there is a nuclear arms race in the first place is the U.S. imperialists' irrational development and criminal use of nuclear weapons, so as to be able to "prevail" in any conflict of its making despite the risk of wiping out all humanity. The unfathomable war crimes against Hiroshima and Nagasaki through the use of nuclear bombs were carried out to establish U.S. hegemonism over world affairs following World War II. The U.S. imperialists took up the doctrine Might Makes Right in direct opposition to the verdict of World War II, the demand of the peoples for peace based on justice and the establishment of the United Nations on the principles that all countries are sovereign and equal and that force or the threat of force cannot be used to sort out problems between nations and peoples. Contention between big powers led to the further proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, the serious threat of nuclear annihilation by the U.S. has led countries like the DPRK to also develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent. It is a matter of the historical record that the U.S. threatened to use an atom bomb to end the Korean War when it was facing imminent defeat at the hands of the DPRK. The U.S. continues to use nuclear blackmail to threaten the DPRK with a pre-emptive nuclear strike. The DPRK cannot but take these threats to its sovereignty and independence, as well as the security of the whole Korean peninsula, into account. It has stated numerous times and re-iterated on January 6 that its nuclear "deterrent" force is to ensure its security and stability to allow its citizens to conduct their daily lives peacefully.
Unless the key role of the U.S. imperialists and the big powers in the proliferation of nuclear weapons is grasped, people fall prey to all manner of disinformation.
The manufacture and testing of nuclear weapons as well as nuclear weapons proliferation is a grave concern for all humanity, but to single out one small independent nation that is fighting for its right to be cannot be accepted. The hydrogen bomb test by the DPRK must be seen in the context of the stubborn refusal of the U.S. to end its hostile policy toward the DPRK, including the signing of a peace treaty with the DPRK to end the Korean War. This hostile policy includes the ongoing U.S.-south Korea-Japan annual war games aimed at invading the DPRK and overthrowing its government. There is also the increasing concentration of U.S. military forces in the South China Sea and around the Korean peninsula that carry nuclear missiles and other weapons of mass destruction to threaten the DPRK and China as part of the Obama administration's "Pivot to Asia."
The government of the DPRK pointed out in its January 6 statement that the hydrogen bomb test "is a measure for self-defence the DPRK has taken to firmly protect its sovereignty [...] from the ever-growing nuclear threat and blackmail by the U.S.-led hostile forces and to reliably safeguard peace on the Korean peninsula [...]"
The statement also affirmed that the DPRK is a "genuine peace-loving state which has made all efforts to protect peace on the Korean peninsula" and that it would not use its nuclear weapons to commit aggression against another country nor would it suspend its nuclear weapons program unless the "U.S. rolled back its vicious hostile policy" towards it.
A question that must be asked is why the U.S. has sabotaged all attempts at peace talks and instead has created such a tense and hostile atmosphere that the DPRK has been forced to resort to such drastic measures to defend itself.
It must also be kept in mind that the original five members of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 (NPT) -- the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China -- are the countries with the largest nuclear weapons stockpiles and it is they who are cynically objecting to the DPRK's hydrogen bomb test, along with NATO.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reported in 2015, that it is estimated that Russia has 7,500 nuclear weapons, the U.S. has 7,200, France has over 300, China has 250, and Britain has 225. Pakistan, India and Israel, who are not signatories to the NPT, have 120-130, 110-120 and 80 nuclear weapons respectively. The DPRK is reported to have less than 15. The anti-communist hysteria against the DPRK's testing of the hydrogen bomb is aimed at covering up who has the largest stocks of nuclear weapons and who are the real threats to world peace and stability.
The nuclear hysteria of the U.S. and its allies aimed at the DPRK should be opposed. It is the countries with the biggest nuclear stockpiles which must disarm their nuclear arsenals and remove all their weapons and troops from foreign soil. This is the pre-condition for a nuclear-free world which is the demand of all humanity. When the U.S. and all other nuclear weapons states give up their nuclear weapons, there will be no need for the DPRK to develop a nuclear weapons program either. Furthermore, the U.S. must remove its 28,000 troops from south Korea, remove its non-nuclear and nuclear weapons from Korean territory, immediately end its annual joint military exercises against the DPRK and sign a peace treaty that commits to end the Korean War. This would ensure peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and permit the people of Korea and East Asia to live in peace.
Furthermore, the hypocrisy of the nuclear powers can also be seen in the announcement of a new nuclear summit, where the aim will be to sell nuclear material to the countries in their own spheres of influence while they claim to oppose nuclear proliferation. The Canadian Press reports that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "is expected to attend U.S. President Barack Obama's Nuclear Security Summit" at the White House, March 31 and April 1. At the summit, "Canada plans to kick-start a long-stalled international effort aimed at ridding the world of the key ingredients needed for nuclear weapons." CP adds that there is a "renewed push [...] by Canada's United Nations ambassador to Geneva to spearhead the creation of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty or FMCT."
Ultimately, the issue for Canadians when it comes to the January 6 nuclear test by the DPRK should not be whether one agrees or not with nuclear weapons. The issue is of taking up social responsibility to fight for anti-war governments which will act as a block to wars of aggression, threats and blackmail, including nuclear proliferation, and eliminate the need for the victims of aggression to take extraordinary measures to defend themselves. Here at home we should demand that Canada permit the DPRK to open its embassy in Ottawa as a step to building friendly relations between our two countries and peoples and contribute to undermining U.S. attempts to isolate a small nation which cherishes its independence.
1. A memo to the prime minister, obtained under the Access to Information Act states that "An FMCT has been on the UN's agenda since 1957." Reports indicate that in 1995, Canada brokered an agreement on a negotiating mandate for the treaty, "but in the intervening years, the effort stalled." "Since 2008, Pakistan has blocked work on an FMCT," the memo states. "But Canada has also worked with Germany, the Netherlands and Australia to make progress."
"Canada got the ball rolling again in 2012, when it sponsored a resolution at the UN General Assembly establishing a commission of experts to push the matter forward. More meetings and reports followed. Trudeau now plans to support another process -- Obama's fourth and final nuclear security summit, an effort he launched in 2010 after a landmark speech in Prague a year earlier. In that speech, Obama highlighted the threat posed by nuclear terrorism, as he announced an initiative aimed at securing nuclear materials and cracking down on the illicit trafficking in them. Trudeau said last fall he wants to look for ways to work with Obama on major international issues in the president's final year in office."
(With files from Korean Central News Agency, Ploughshares.org, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, CP)
The U.S. National Security Archive
recently released a declassified
report on the U.S. Strategic Air Command (SAC) Atomic Weapons
Requirements Study for 1959, produced in June 1956. The report is a
reminder of the depths of depravity and irrationality of the U.S.
who with their doctrine Might Makes Right, are willing to annihilate
humanity in the name of containing communism and establishing global
hegemony, aims which they continue to pursue today. What they achieved
the imposition of their irrationality on the world, based on the
everyone else surely shared their depravity. These declassified
documents are a sobering reminder that it is the U.S. which is the main
culprit for nuclear proliferation and the major threat to peace and
humanity in the world today.
Excerpts from the National Security Archive's Electronic Briefing Book No. 538 on the SAC report are posted below.
The SAC study includes chilling details. According to its authors, their target priorities and nuclear bombing tactics would expose nearby civilians and "friendly forces and people" to high levels of deadly radioactive fallout. Moreover, the authors developed a plan for the "systematic destruction" of Soviet bloc urban-industrial targets that specifically and explicitly targeted 'population' in all cities, including Beijing, Moscow, Leningrad, East Berlin, and Warsaw. Purposefully targeting civilian populations as such directly conflicted with the international norms of the day, which prohibited attacks on people per se (as opposed to military installations with civilians nearby). [...]
The SAC document includes lists of more than 1100 airfields in the Soviet bloc, with a priority number assigned to each base. [The] Soviet bomber force [was] the highest priority for nuclear targeting (this was before the age of ICBMs [inter-continental ballistic missiles]) [...]
A second list was of urban-industrial areas identified for "systematic destruction." SAC listed over 1200 cities in the Soviet bloc, from East Germany to China, also with priorities established. Moscow and Leningrad were priority one and two respectively. Moscow included 179 Designated Ground Zeros (DGZs) while Leningrad had 145, including "population" targets. [...]
The report's detailed introduction explained that the priority given to Air Power (BRAVO) targets dictated the surface bursting of high-yield thermonuclear weapons [...] including airbases in Eastern Europe. That tactic would produce large amounts of radioactive fallout compared to bursting weapons in the air. According to the study, "the requirement to win the Air Battle is paramount to all other considerations." [...]
SAC planners placed "prime reliance" on blast effects, finding that thermal and radiation effects were "relatively ineffective." [...] The resulting "blast frame" of mind overlooked the significant devastation caused by other nuclear weapons effect such as radiation and mass fires.
Believing that a "favorable decision may be reached in the initial stages" SAC thought it essential to achieve high levels of damage. [...]
SAC laid out the numbers and types of nuclear weapons required to destroy each DGZ. The nuclear weapons information is completely excised from the report [...] In any event, SAC could anticipate a very large stockpile of nuclear weapons by 1959 to target priority objectives. This was a period when the nuclear weapons stockpile was reaching large numbers, from over 2400 in calendar 1955 to over 12,000 in calendar 1959 and reaching 22,229 in 1961.
[... I]f fighting continued once the air power battle was over, the second phase of the war was to be the "systematic destruction" of Soviet bloc war-making potential. The "final blows" in the bombing campaign would strike "basic industries" -- those industries and economic activities which most contributed to war-making capability. [...] Toward that end, SAC would drop atomic bombs, not H-bombs, on large numbers of specific installations in designated urban-industrial areas. [...] The explosive yields of these bombs were likely to exceed by far the requirements of destroying specific targets in the systematic destruction mission, such as power plants or transportation nodes.
Moscow, the number one urban target, had around 180 installations slated for destruction; some were in the air power category, but many involved a variety of industrial activities, including factories producing machine tools, cutting tools, oil extraction equipment, and a most vital medicine: penicillin. [...]
What is particularly striking in the SAC study is the role of population targeting. Moscow and its suburbs, like the Leningrad area, included distinct "population" targets [...] So did all the other cities recorded in the two sets of target lists. In other words, people as such, not specific industrial activities, were to be destroyed. [...]
[... A]ttacks on civilian population per se were inconsistent with the standards followed by Air Force leaders. While they were willing to accept mass civilian casualties as a consequence of attacking military targets, as was the case during the Korea War, they ruled out "intentional" attacks on civilians. Moreover, attacks on populations violated international legal norms of the day, which were summarized in the then-unratified Hague rules on aerial warfare (1923). Nevertheless, such targeting rules were not in force until the 1977 agreement on the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Convention (1949). The United States, however, has consistently refused to accept claims that the targeting standards of the Additional Protocols apply to the use of nuclear weapons. [...]
To view the National Security Archive's briefing in
full, click here.
1. The National Security Archive explains its purpose as follows: "Founded in 1985 by journalists and scholars to check rising government secrecy, the National Security Archive combines a unique range of functions: investigative journalism center, research institute on international affairs, library and archive of declassified U.S. documents ('the world's largest nongovernmental collection' according to the Los Angeles Times), leading non-profit user of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, public interest law firm defending and expanding public access to government information, global advocate of open government, and indexer and publisher of former secrets. [...]"
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