Photo: Wikimedia Commons Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Trump tweets his way to nuclear confrontation with North Korea and military action in Venezuela while fascists wreak carnage in Charlottesville

I have watched in horror the developments over the Korean peninsula in recent days. Donald Trump has promised to do things not previously done since President Harry Truman threatened Japan towards the end of the Second World War. Then, the result was the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now, the current US president, presiding over a country whose economic decline and failing world hegemony are going hand in hand, is threatening nuclear war again. His opponent, North Korean leader Kim Jong un, is retaliating in kind, stoking nationalism, fear of war and anti-American feeling to win him support in his beleaguered and economically isolated country.

The immediate trigger for this has been North Korean testing of missiles that can fire nuclear warheads to the US mainland. That’s the theory anyway, although some expert opinion says that the missiles, once armed with any effective military payload, couldn’t even reach the Alaskan capital, Anchorage, let alone Chicago as is claimed.

The UN security council has imposed further sanctions on North Korea in response to these missile tests, but China and Russia would also like the removal of the THAAD missile defence shield in South Korea (as would many Koreans), and a freeze on testing and military manoeuvres on both sides. The US is so far refusing to go down this road, instead allowing Trump to escalate his twitter threats. There are major military exercises involving South Korea and the US coming up from next week, a situation where tensions can again rise – especially since one of the exercises involves the testing of the assassination of Kim Jong un! 

The threat of nuclear war is probably greater than at any time since the Cuba missile crisis in 1962, and needs to be immediately deescalated. This involves talks and negotiations, not the idiotic statements from Trump we have seen. Longer term, there has to be an end to nuclear weapons. As was shown in 1945, there are no winners in a nuclear war. Indeed, few of us would be here to witness its aftermath. All the major powers talk non-proliferation and disarmament but do the opposite. The US and Britain are the two worst offenders here.

Meanwhile, the people of Korea, north and south, must be terrified. They lived through a war which saw millions killed, carpet bombing, use of napalm and misery for three years. They have lived with partition and an uneasy peace ever since. Our solidarity with them must be to stop any further escalation of this crisis. I was part of a delegation to the US embassy on Friday calling for this, organised by Stop the War along with CND. They wouldn’t even accept our letter, but told us to put it in the post!

The deafening silence from Switzerland

Trump also threatened military action over Venezuela this week. His shooting off at the mouth is clearly a worry even for the US ruling class and for some of his advisers. Hillary Clinton would have been a much safer pair of hands. But if these wars and interventions don’t happen, he can begin to look like a braggart in the pub who is all talk but then backs off. That of course might make him even more determined to hit someone, somewhere. We are in dangerous times indeed.

Meanwhile from deepest Switzerland…. silence. Where is his hand holding friend Theresa May? Has the British government got anything to say as the world hurtles towards war?  It appears not. Yet, while Jeremy Corbyn was berated by the Tory press office and its close friends in the BBC and print media for being on holiday and not commenting on the situation in Venezuela, I haven’t seen a single question on why May is not commenting on Korea. Wonder why?

Let’s call this what it is: fascism  

A young woman, Heather Heyer, was killed on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, by a man deliberately ploughing his car into a crowd of anti-fascist protestors. He was presumably part of the demonstration called by a motley array of fascist and far right groups, quite openly displaying Nazi and KKK regalia, who were protesting at the removal of the statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee from a local park. This could have been a far worse incident, and condolences to Heather’s family, friends and comrades in the IWW and DSA. I was disgusted to see so many references to these marchers as ‘white nationalist’ which suggests a certain level of legitimacy and an equivalence with black nationalists who have historically opposed racism.

These people are not ‘white nationalists’, whatever that is supposed to mean, but fascists who want to destroy black and Jewish people (there were chants of ’Jew, Jew’, when reference was made to the local mayor), and the democratic rights of us all. They cannot be tolerated or allowed to spread their poison because they will use this ability to march to spread their hateful views and actions. 

Two things here have given them sustenance: the local ideology in much of the state and the racist ravings of the present occupant of the White House. I went to Virginia some years ago and was shocked at the constant references to the Civil War. One major road was called the Jefferson Davis highway after a leader of the Confederacy. The place was littered with statues and Lee was regarded as a hero. Let’s remember this Confederacy fought a war to defend slavery and subsequent generations have supported segregation and discrimination against the descendants of the slaves.

Trump is truly culpable here. He has condemned violence on both sides (!) and has given moral support to backward and racist ideas. He cannot now pretend that it has nothing to do with him. Trump isn’t a fascist but he is allowing fascism to grow. We have seen from the 1930s where this can end. And it can only be confronted in the way that those demonstrators against it did in Charlottesville – on the streets and in the working class movement.

It isn’t brave to repeat racist myths  

Sarah Champion is a Labour MP and is the shadow equalities minister. What on earth possessed her to write an article in the Sun which repeats lies about Pakistani men? We know the reason it happened last week, of course: the conviction of a number of men of Asian origin, including Pakistanis, of rape and other abuses of vulnerable young women and children. This case was in Newcastle but there have been others in northern towns such as Rochdale and Rotherham, where Champion is an MP. You would think from the coverage of this and other cases that most sexual abuse was carried out by Asian men on white girls. It isn’t: 89% of such cases are carried out by whites on both whites and non-whites. Most sexual abuse and violence takes place in and around the home and family. These ‘grooming’ cases tend to be the subject of special circumstances, including neglect of young women and children by police, authorities and the ‘care’ system, and often relate to men working in the ‘night time economy’ – fast food outlets, taxis and so on. It is the disregard of these young women’s rights and ignoring of their problems by people who are supposed to protect them, rather than supposed ‘political correctness’, which has led to the number of cases that there are.

Yet Champion’s article starts by agreeing that these crimes happen because we won’t talk about race. The first sentences read: ‘Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls. There, I said it. Does that make me a racist?

Get the whole structure of this: I’m saying something no one dares to say because they will be accused of racism. Aren’t I brave? No, to say this in the Sun means you fit right in. Anyone who reads the media will know that all sorts of people say this sort of thing all the time, that it is commonplace, not daring. A really brave Labour MP would have written an article telling the truth about sexual abuse. Shame on Champion for not doing that.

Lindsey German

As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.

Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.