March-April 2013
Number 77

Publication of the Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA

Sad State of the Union

Wall Street Gives Obama’s Second Term Its Vote of Confidence!


Also included in this issue:
The Massachusetts “Budget for All” Referendum
Hugo Chavez Presente!
AFRICOM, Mali and U.S. Imperialism’s Military Expansion into Africa
“If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention”


“Future generations will acknowledge their debt to the Red Army as unreservedly as do we who have lived to witness these proud achievements.”

Hint: Neither a communist nor a pro-communist!
--Still stumped? See answer..

On Tuesday, February 12, 2013, shortly after his inauguration for a second term, President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union address. His honeyed words expressed sympathy for the many among the 99% who “still can’t find full-time employment.” And he admitted, about the 1%, that “corporate profits have rocketed to all-time highs.” He even uttered the words: “our unfinished task [is] to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few...”

U.S. opportunist forces in the leadership of the AFL-CIO, the NAACP and like-minded Latino organizations as well as the revisionist Communist Party (CPUSA), Committees of Correspondence (COC) and other organizations of the rightist “left,” writers in periodicals like the Nation magazine, etc. had waxed euphoric about the re-election of “the country’s first Black president.” For these petty bourgeois and bourgeois apologists for the U.S. Empire, strongly connected to the Democratic Party, much of the rhetoric in Obama’s speech was “music to their ears.”

In opposition to the opportunists’ view, our assessment of the 2012 election had been based on two important facts:

“First, political rule on behalf of Wall Street finance capital, the ruling class of the USA, is carried out by the ‘Republicrats.’ The Democratic and Republican Parties (some tea party forces excluded) operate, they fight and cooperate, as a dialectically intertwined single force in defense of the U.S. Empire at home and abroad. ...

“Secondly, this was the first U.S. election conducted during the Citizens United era of unlimited, untraceable corporate cash. A whopping six billion dollars was spent, mostly by Corporate America and Wall Street finance capital, the U.S. monopoly capitalist and imperialist ruling class. And they got what they paid for. For there was no political fall-out, no sweeping out of either the incumbent Congress, with its record low popularity, or the incumbent president, presiding over the ongoing economic crisis plaguing the 99%, because of their ‘Republicrat’ bail-outs of Wall Street, their failure to provide any relief for Main Street, and their ongoing efforts to increase their austerity measures aimed against the 99% of us, and especially against the U.S. working class and oppressed nationalities. Watch out for the ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations and revival and implementation of Obama’s bipartisan (i.e. Republicrat) Simpson-Bowles Commission austerity plan recommendations in 2013!” (“The 2012 U.S. Election Results: The U.S. Empire Wins and We Lose,” Statement of the Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA, November 10, 2012)

Even before Obama’s inauguration, however, a new fiscal cliff “crisis,” another “cliffhanger,” came and went on the last day of 2012. And, closely following it, the long “dreaded” “sequestration” went into effect on March 1st.

The monopoly capitalist-controlled mass media, buttressed by the opportunists, had continued to portray this as a “fierce battle” between the Republicans, led by Speaker of the House John Boehner, blocking tax increases for the wealthy, on the one hand; and the Democrats, led by President Obama, on the other, fighting valiantly to defend the so-called “entitlement” programs that have served as a limited social safety net for the 99% of us for generations. But a week or so before sequestration was to go into effect, it became clear that neither Obama and the Washington Democrats nor Boehner and the Washington Republicans were dreading sequestration at all!

—Wall Street Welcomes Sequestration With New Dow Jones Record—

Just three weeks after Obama’s State of the Union address, Wall Street gave its assessment of the prospect of four more years with the Obama-Biden Regime. It was a resounding Wall Street vote of confidence. On Tuesday, March 5th, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the day at 14253.77,  topping the previous record set in October 2007,  just before the financial crisis hit. As this was also just a few days after sequestration went into effect, it was absolutely clear that Wall Street not only did not feel threatened by sequestration but had welcomed it.

Why did Wall Street embrace it?! Because sequestration means that it is “open season” on the social safety net for the working class and the oppressed nationality folks in the USA. The rights and social gains of the toiling masses achieved through more than a century of struggle against U.S. capital can now be wiped out by the Republicrats on behalf of the Wall Street ruling class of the USA.

As Obama himself described “sequestration” in his State of the Union address, “In 2011, Congress passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach our deficit goal, about a trillion dollars’ worth of budget cuts would automatically go into effect this year. These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would devastate priorities like education, energy, and medical research. They would certainly slow our recovery and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs. That’s why Democrats, Republicans, business leaders and economists have already said that these cuts, known here in Washington as ‘the sequester,’ are a really bad idea.” (My emphasis-ROL) In this portion of his speech, Obama also mentioned that “those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms.”

Notice that according to Obama no one liked sequestration! But – somehow it happened! Notice also that what Obama called “a really bad idea” was actually his own!!

Glen Ford, Black Agenda Radio (BAR) executive editor, in reminding us that “Sequestration was Obama’s idea,” points out that, “The Obama administration has been very skillful in framing itself as the good guy in the latest looming fiscal disaster … President Obama is fully complicit in the corporate-imposed charade … most culpable for infecting the nation with austerity fever. The Republicans are his partners, not his opponents.” Glen Ford continues: “These waves of austerity crises were not inevitable, but they are the inevitable result of President Obama’s calculated statements and actions since Election Day 2008.” The BAR executive editor concludes: “He’s outsmarting what passes for a Left in the United States at every turn. They cheer him as he effectively consummates his grand bargain with the GOP, in a cacophony of manufactured crises, exhausting what little opposition remains. That’s why we at BAR call him the more effective evil.”

For those that doubt the power of the “Republicrats” to wipe out one hundred years of social gains in this country over the next four years of an Obama-Biden Regime in league with the “Republicrat” Congress, ponder these facts:

Regarding the Economy: A recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial explains the record Dow Jones number, as follows: “The market’s great wild card is the Federal Reserve’s monetary easing [dollar creation]. The Fed’s explicit goal has been to lift asset prices as a way to create a ‘wealth effect,’ which is supposed to boost consumer and business confidence. Much of this money creation is going into stock prices …” (WSJ, 3-6-13)

The two lead articles on the front page in the same 3-6-13 WSJ issue make the point even more clearly. Writer Tom Lauricella observes: “Since the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve’s aggressive efforts to prop up the economy and financial markets kept stocks moving higher in the face of a troubled global economy. By pumping trillions of dollars into the financial system, the Fed has convinced investors it will provide a safety net for any further market shocks.” (“Dow Leaps to Record”) In other words, while the safety net for the 99% is being ripped to shreds by the Obama/Republicrat government, the Federal Reserve is providing a safety net for the Wall Street ruling class.

E.S. Browning goes even further. “More than any other time in history, this bull market owes its strength to the Fed.” (“History Lesson: Buying High, Selling Low”) And Browning reminds us that Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke was first appointed by Republican President George W. Bush in 2006. Democratic President Obama then reappointed Bernanke. Thus, the Wall Street rulers have the “Republicrats” to thank for Bernanke and the Federal Reserve, the saviors of the Stock Market.

On the issue of the “cacophony of manufactured crises,” as Glen Ford so wonderfully describes it, this writer had been under the mistaken impression that little or nothing of the failed deficit reduction agreement that Democratic President Obama and Republican House Speaker Boehner had put together in the summer of 2011 had been implemented. During the entire presidential election season, Obama and Romney and everyone else including the tea party candidates seemed in agreement that no substantial agreements had been reached with regard to the fiscal crisis facing the U.S. government.

My erroneous view, certainly shared by most of the 99%, was recently corrected by Alan Blinder, former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve and, like Bernanke before him, a Princeton University professor. Professor Blinder’s article, “A Silver Linings Deficit Playbook,” argues that “the federal budget picture is improving.” (WSJ, 2-25-13) Blinder explains that, while the Obama-Boehner grand bargain which goal was to chop about $4 trillion off the deficits projected for the next 10 years was blocked, it led to the Budget Control Act of 2011. According to Blinder, this Act “cut spending by over $1.9 trillion once you include associated interest savings …” In case anyone missed Blinder’s point, he repeats, “That was all spending cuts, no tax increases.”

If the Democrats and the Republicans were mainly functioning as competitors rather than collaborators on behalf of Wall Street rule, the Republican Party and its candidates would have been basking in self-congratulations for having won this decisive 2011 victory with no tax increases for the rich while getting almost half the spending cuts they were looking for. Yet there was virtual silence on this issue during the 2012 election. But that’s not all.

Turning to the New Year’s Day agreement that averted the fiscal cliff, Blinder states: “The headline number then was about $600 billion in tax increases. But if you add in the spending cuts and the associated decrease in debt service, it came to another $850 billion [added to the $1.9 trillion from 2011].” The mass media portrayed the New Year’s Day agreement as if Obama had cleverly compelled the Republicans to finally surrender to tax increases on the top 2% with no spending cuts, which would have represented a great victory for Obama and the Democrats (and for the 99%). And the Republicans went along with this charade. Whining and complaining about having agreed to any tax increases, the Congressional Republicans restated their determination to make spending cuts without any more tax increases. Using Blinder’s figures, however, on top of the “headline number” of $600 billion in tax increases, there were an additional $250 billion in spending cuts that once again went basically unreported by the media and unremarked upon by the Republicans and Democrats!

Blinder concludes that, “Adding these up, the two budget agreements have taken us more than two-thirds of the way toward the $4 trillion deficit-reduction target. Close enough, in fact, that the sequester, if it happens, will nearly finish the job.”

Now the ten year $850 billion dollar sequester has kicked in. This year’s $85 billion in spending cuts is being rolled out over several months across the USA throughout the federal government. Trickling down through federal subsidies to state and eventually local government programs,* it will be impossible to determine what spending cuts came about through the sequester and what cuts came through the earlier agreements or through no agreements at all!**

* Evaluating the impact of the sequester, the confusion and uncertainty of the Baltimore, Maryland city government where roughly 12% of the city’s revenue comes from the federal government is highlighted in a 3-9-13 article in The Economist. According to the British magazine, the situation is “equally muddled” for Baltimore’s largest employer, Johns Hopkins University.

** This Wall Street victory is reminiscent of the Bush-Pelosi-Paulson initial $700 billion dollar bailout of Wall Street finance capital, blessed by presidential candidates Obama and McCain. Secretary of the Treasury Paulson was given a carte blanche. He later came back and reported to Congress that he had not used the money for what he had originally planned to. Paulson offered no explanation of what he actually did with the $700 billion dollars and, apparently, no Republicrat politician in Washington, D.C. even asked him!

President Obama has now put together and announced his second term economics team. In his first term, he seamlessly transitioned from George W.’s Paulson-led Goldman-Sachs employees to “his own” Geithner-led Goldman-Sachs employees. Obama’s second term economics team is led by new Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew, like his mentor, Robert Rubin, a Citigroup employee. In fact, Rubin, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of the Treasury, mentored all the key new team’s members. These include, in addition to Lew, Sylvia Burwell, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Gene Sperling and Jason Furman, the director and deputy director of the White House National Economic Council.

Clearly, Wall Street has nothing to worry about with Lew at Treasury. The Wall Street Journal was even embarrassed by the cozy relationship between the giant Wall Street firms and the federal government revealed by the disclosure during Lew’s Senate confirmation hearing that he had received a real payday from Citigroup for leaving the private financial firm specifically because he landed “a senior-level federal government job.” A Wall Street Journal editorial even criticized Lew and Citigroup for having that clause in his employment contract.

Indeed, with the labor, Afro-American and Latino “liberal-left progressive” groups and leaders and what Glen Ford described as “what passes for a Left in the United States,” tied through the Democratic Party to U.S. imperialism, the most publicized criticism of the Obama Regime on economic policy is coming from the Right. For example, Mortimer Zuckerman, chairman and editor in chief of U.S. News & World Report, recently wrote a Wall Street Journal article entitled, “By Any Measure, the Jobs Disaster Continues.” Zuckerman, sounding more like a leftist than three-quarters of the current U.S. left,  states that, “After four years America remains in a jobs depression as great as the Great Depression.” He points to the 12.3 million officially fully unemployed compared with 12.8 million in 1933 at the depth of the Depression. He observes, however, that, “the jobless are much less visible than they were in the 1930’s because relief is organized differently.”

Zuckerman cites the following statistics: “More than 48 million Americans” on food stamps “… 15% of the total population compared with 7.9% participation in food stamps from 1970-2000.” “More than 11 million … collecting Social Security checks for disability, also a record. In 1992, there was one person on disability for every 35 workers; today it is one for every 16.” Beyond that, Zuckerman exposes the massive amount of involuntary underemployment and how “discouraged workers” are eliminated from the unemployment stats. He states: “The broadest measure of unemployment today is approximately 14.5%, way above the 7.9% headline number.”

Zuckerman concludes: “Ordinary Americans are looking for leadership and renewal. They know that a job is the most important family program, the most important economic program, and the most important national program that America could have. They also know that, by this standard, we have failed.”

Despite these facts, the opportunist AFL-CIO labor leadership and other liberal and social democratic apologists for the monopoly capitalist and imperialist system in the USA, have thus far failed to attempt even the most mild mass mobilization of working people to demand JOBS from the Obama Administration and the Republicrat Congress. No wonder Wall Street has experienced not only record high stock prices but record high profits during these Obama years.

Regarding the Repressive Apparatus of the U.S. imperialist state: In defense of the U.S. Global Empire, Obama as President seamlessly continued the George W. Bush-led criminal war of terror against the peoples of the world. He has continued to prosecute the major U.S. imperialist wars of occupation and plunder of Iraq and Afghanistan and launched his own war against the North African country of Libya and is today providing crucial logistical support for the French imperialist invaders of Mali.

The Obama-led invasion of Libya, in coordination with the British, French and Italian imperialists, traditional colonial powers in Africa, opened up the African continent once again to naked imperialist intervention that has been the curse of the world’s richest continent at a level not seen since the end of the Second World War. In the follow-up to this vicious war, AFRICOM, a relatively new U.S. military command has spread into 35 African countries. Today, in Mali, for example, the Obama-led U.S. military is providing French imperialism logistical support without which the traditional colonial power in Africa would be unable to militarily intervene at all. How tragic that it is the first U.S. president of African descent who has spearheaded the U.S. imperialist penetration of the one continent not previously dominated by the U.S. Empire. And how clever of the U.S. imperialist ruling class to use Obama as its front man in its penetration of Africa.

Currently, Obama is trying to compel the U.S. installed Karzai government to allow the U.S. military to remain a lethal presence in Afghanistan long after U.S. troops are scheduled to be officially pulled out. But the anger of the Afghani masses against U.S. imperialism does not permit Karzai to do his masters’ bidding. In fact, Karzai is even accusing the U.S. government of being responsible for the Taliban attacks now afflicting Afghanistan in the Obama Regime’s effort to stay beyond the pull-out date!

As befits an Evil Empire, U.S. imperialism, under Bush and now Obama, have carried out this naked war of terror unceasingly for well over a decade now. As we have repeatedly pointed out, as the world’s number #1 terrorist, U.S. imperialism is waging war not only on the peoples of the rest of the world but also on the masses of the people of the USA.  From the USA PATRIOT Act and the round-up and detention of immigrant Muslim men by George W. Bush to the National Defense Authorization Act and the massive ICE deportations of Latino families by Barack Obama, the rights of the people of the USA have become more and more restricted and suppressed.

John Brennan, having already served as a key Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official under Bush, served for the past four years as Obama’s counterterrorism chief. In the Senate hearing to confirm Brennan as Obama’s new CIA Director, Brennan’s crucial role in the establishment and expansion of the CIA’s drone program and in keeping the notorious U.S.  prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba open came under scrutiny.

As with the issues of the economy, on the issues of the repressive state apparatus and our civil liberties, these days it is a few right wing personages that have been willing to at least raise some questions. Brennan had earlier been unwilling to rule out the use of drone strikes within the USA. Responding to Senatorial concerns about targeting U.S. citizens for assassination within the USA with no due process, Attorney General Eric Holder’s letter commented on the matter, as follows: “It is possible … to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”

Right wing libertarian Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) condemned Holder’s statement and delayed the confirmation of Brennan at least a day with an old fashioned filibuster on the floor of the Senate. His action (and the support of progressive Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)) helped bring some much needed attention to the rapid loss of liberties that began under George W. Bush and has accelerated under Barack Obama.

But the bottom line is that the U.S. imperialist government is ready, willing and able to militarily suppress the working class, the oppressed nationalities and the 99% of us when we are finally unwilling to take it anymore.

No wonder Wall Street has given Obama’s Second Term a Vote of Confidence!


This is the sad state of the union. But the situation facing the workers and oppressed peoples in the USA is not a hopeless one.

In March 2010, we wrote: “Barack Obama is well suited for the difficult task of presiding over an orderly march of the U.S. population to impoverishment in the desperate effort of the U.S. monopoly capitalist and imperialist ruling class to save itself and its hegemonic position in the world capitalist system. … This march to impoverishment, however, is still only in its beginning stages. And the challenge to the U.S. monopoly capitalist and imperialist ruling class and President Obama to lead the masses of working people and oppressed nationalities in the USA to poverty without us opting to revolt, without us turning to socialist revolution for the way out of our difficulties, will only get more difficult.” (pp. 8-9, “The Tea Party Movement, the Obama Regime and the Growing Fascist Danger in the USA,” Ray O. Light Newsletter #59)

Since then, about two years ago, the militant uprising of public sector union workers in Wisconsin emerged against Tea Party Governor Walker’s frontal attack on collective bargaining, inspired by the Arab Spring and, in turn, inspiring other positive union-related political actions in Ohio and Indiana and elsewhere in the Midwest. Not long thereafter, we witnessed the very positive emergence of the Occupy movements around the USA. But most of these groups largely disappeared in the past year or so, especially under the impact of the long election season. For this reason, the successful Chicago Teachers Strike against the Democratic Party Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the eve of the 2012 election was especially encouraging. Following that strike, Walmart workers have begun to stir. These facts indicate that the masses of people in the USA are learning about the nature of the system but are still heavily influenced by the parasitism, bribery and corruption of six decades of U.S. Empire.

Proletarian revolutionaries in the USA and around the world need to help the working people in the USA to recognize that we have no choice but to militantly resist the Wall Street finance capitalist ruling class and its “Republicrat” imperialist state apparatus. Moreover, the proletarian revolutionary movement in the USA and internationally needs to help the working people of the USA understand that short run resistance to the monopoly capitalist and imperialist offensive, to its unrelenting effort to place and keep the burden of the world-wide capitalist economic crisis on the shoulders of the workers and oppressed, can only be effective when it is dialectically interconnected with the long run aim of socialist revolution


Answer: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
In the Spring of 1945, when the Soviet Red Army drove the previously undefeated German fascist military machine back across Europe into Germany, the unparalleled heroism of the Soviet army and people compelled the lifelong anti-communist to utter these words of appreciation.

Packed with Potential

The Massachusetts “Budget for All” Referendum

by MIKE S.

A three-one victory, a 75% “Yes Vote” is a landslide vote by any standard.

This was the margin of victory for the Massachusetts “Budget for All” Referendum initiative that was on the ballot in 91 Massachusetts cities and towns in the November 2012 presidential election. Regardless of the socio-economic and demographic make-up of the various cities, this non-binding ballot referendum passed everywhere it was on the ballot with the total vote of 623,128 for, 209,725 against!

The referendum read as follows:

“Shall the state Representative (or Senator) from this district be instructed to vote in favor of a resolution calling upon the Congress and President to:

  1. Prevent cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans benefits, or to housing, food and unemployed assistance;
  2. Create and protect jobs by investing in manufacturing, schools, housing, renewable energy, transportation and other public services;
  3. Provide new revenues for these purposes and to reduce the long term federal deficit by closing corporate tax loopholes, ending off-shore tax havens, and raising taxes on incomes over $250,000; and
  4. Redirect military spending to these domestic needs by reducing the military budget, ending the war in Afghanistan and bringing U.S. troops home safely now.”

Why was this such a noteworthy and positive initiative?

Opportunity awaits! Neither the Democrats nor Republicans will fight to address the burning concerns represented in the referendum. Serious efforts to win the demands of the referendum will expose the “Republicrats,” and especially the Democratic Party, and point the way forward for needed independent political action on the part of the 99%.

Opportunity awaits!  The momentum around the referendum movement: getting it on the ballot, organizing for a yes vote and creating a base of 623,000 yes voters, can be built on to run candidates for public office and possibly build a “Budget for All”-type statewide political party or entity with the referendum principles as its core.

Opportunity awaits! The coalition of 75 or so organizations can be nurtured and strengthened to help lead the continuing fight in all arenas – city council meetings, lobbying, letter writing, street demonstrations, etc. – to make the call of the referendum a reality. 

For those of us everywhere in the USA – millions of working people are moved into political participation around elections. This referendum initiative serves as a positive example for progressive and revolutionary forces around the country on how to mobilize workers and the oppressed around electoral politics even within the system of a wretched capitalist democracy, a democracy for the Wall Street rich to sustain their rule. 

In the backward political situation of the 2012 election where “Republicrats” ruled the day, corporate money bought and paid for elections (a la Citizens United) and the working class movement was too weak and disoriented to provide even a bourgeois “labor party” type of alternative to corporate rule, the Massachusetts “Budget for All” referendum battle advanced the cause for independent politics and working class power.


“The hegemonistic pretensions of the American Empire are placing at risk the very existence of the human species.” (Speech at the UN General Assembly, Sept. 20, 2006)

Hugo Chavez, the beloved leader of the Venezuelan people, died on March 5th following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 58 years old. The former military commander from humble origins had modeled himself after the great Venezuelan-born liberation leader of Latin America, Simon Bolivar. With his respectful and comradely relationship with Cuba’s own heroic liberation leader, Fidel Castro, and taking advantage of the entrance into Latin America of other imperialist partner-rivals of U.S. imperialism, Chavez became the anchor of a new enlightened anti-imperialist core of Latin American governments, countries and peoples healthily independent of Yankee imperialism.

As the wonderful U.S. anti-war heroine Cindy Sheehan wrote: “I was with Chavez in Montevideo, Uruguay, for the presidential inauguration of Felipe Mujica. I was amazed that Chavez could just plunge into the crowds and interact with the people without a phalanx of bodyguards, anti-aircraft missiles and assault weapons. His security detail was prepared but not paranoid like up here in the Empire. Someone who is universally loved by the 99% need have no fear. Chavez had no fear.” (Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox, “In Loving Memory: Hugo Chavez Frias 1954-2013”)

—the Editor

AFRICOM, Mali and U.S. Imperialism’s Military Expansion into Africa

by MIKE S.

In his Inaugural Address of January 21, 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama declared, “A decade of war is now ending” and “enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”

As these nice words were being spoken, U.S. imperialism, with an African-American commander in chief, was ramping up its perpetual war machine in support of the French bombing and occupation of the North West African country of Mali – supplying the French military with full logistical and technical support including troop and equipment transport, refueling of fighter jets and U.S. drone intelligence gathering.  World news media concurred that without U.S. military backing and Obama and U.S. imperialism “leading from behind,” it would have been impossible for the French imperialists to carry out this invasion. Along with the wanton death and destruction by intense aerial bombardment, the UN estimated 30,000 civilians were displaced from their homes in the first week alone.

The U.S. role has been expanding ever since. In Niger, on the border with Mali, the U.S. has just opened a drone and military base with 350 U.S. troops deployed, including special operations units. In addition, the U.S. military is now actively identifying specific targets for bombing raids in northern Mali. Along with the expanded U.S. role, thousands of U.S. trained troops from neighboring African countries have joined the occupation in an effort to put an African “face” on the suppression of the people in Mali.*

* Glen Ford, editor of Black Agenda Report observed, “These days the so-called scramble for Africa runs through Mali ... The French are leading the charge into the desert in Mali, but the U.S. has much bigger plans for Africa. ... [Assistant Secretary of State of African Affairs] Yamamoto told reporters that the U.S. would like to see the Mali operation evolve into an African-led affair, like the African Union mission in Somalia. However, although 17,000 Africans do the fighting in Somalia, the operation is actually run by the U.S. military and the CIA, and paid for largely by the Americans. ...” (1/30/13)

So why military aggression against the people in Mali, one of the poorest countries on earth?  And why now?

The lead article in Ray O’ Light Newsletter #65, summed up U.S. imperialism’s general economic motivation in orchestrating the military onslaught against Libya in North Africa in 2011:  “And it [U.S. imperialism] continues to control the vast majority of the world oil supply and reserves, still the very lifeblood of the global capitalist economy. But the Arab masses are threatening to liberate their countries and seize control of the oil in their own national territory. This in turn would render U.S. imperialism a second or third rate power. Thus the need for U.S. imperialism to establish a military beachhead in Libya and a smokescreen behind which to increase its military protection for U.S. possession of the Middle East’s vast oil wealth.”  (“The Arab Masses are Taking their Future into their Hands!” Ray O’ Light Newsletter March-April 2011)

Mali is another African country rich in the vital resources of uranium, oil and natural gas – all critical for energy and armaments. In a January 15, 2013 interview on Democracy Now, Al Jazeera English reporter May Ying Welsh pointed out that, “... this whole area of northern Mali and northern Niger is a uranium rich area ... and the whole area has been divided up into exploration concessions, and there are a number of companies that are just waiting for the chance to get in there. And also gold and oil.” (Mali is the third largest African producer of gold.) 

Yet these valuable resources of Mali were quickly falling out of the grasp of western imperialism. In early 2012, the indigenous Tuareg nomadic peoples, who live and travel across northwest Africa and the imposed borders of Mali, Mauritania, Algeria, Niger and Chad, rose up in defense of their culture and lands for the third time in the last 50 years. Led by the secular National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MLNA), the people successfully seized the northern area of Mali and declared a liberated state of Azawad. However, in response to these advances of the Tuareg people, well-armed and previously U.S. trained Islamic fundamentalist forces apparently succeeded in pushing aside many of the secular Tuareg independence fighters, with the goal of implementation of reactionary strict Islamic Sharia law in Mali.

Using this civil conflict as an excuse to invade, the French imperialists, historic plunderers of Mali, claimed they were “liberating” the people from the grip of reactionary Islamic fundamentalists and “terrorists.” In fact the invasion of Mali is propping up the teetering military dictatorship of U.S.-trained military officer Sanogo, who took power in a coup d’etat last summer.

As Jose Maria Sison, Chairperson of the International League of Peoples Struggle (ILPS) observed, “The real objective of the imperialists is to seize the oil reserves in the center and north of Mali. Fighting the ‘Islamic terrorists’ is a mere pretext. In the aggression to overthrow Gaddafi in Libya, the imperialists armed even those they would otherwise call ‘Islamic terrorists’ because the objective was to seize the oil resources of Libya.”  (“ILPS Condemns Imperialist Aggression by France and Its Imperialist Allies in Mali,” Press Statement, January 17, 2013.)

Where does the little known U.S. Africa Command Center (AFRICOM), with a presence in 36 African countries, fit into this U.S. military expansion in Africa? 

The War Times newspaper in an article by Sasha Wright gives some helpful background: “After 9/11 the Bush administration sought to increase U.S. influence in the Sahara, using the pretext of fighting terror in the region despite the minimal presence of any terrorist activities. In 2005, Washington set up the Trans-Sahara Counter-terrorism initiative to provide military aid to Mali, Mauritania, Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Chad, Nigeria and Senegal. Under the program U.S. special forces led yearly military exercises with these countries in the Sahara called operation Flintlock. ... These initiatives were later incorporated into the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) launched in 2008. ... AFRICOM is growing all the time, with massive construction at their existing base in Djibouti [base to over 2000 U.S. troops in the Horn of Africa] and other infrastructure projects that will facilitate U.S. planes and drones across the continent.”*

* Pointed out in the “If you’re Not Outraged...” column in Ray O’ Light Newsletter #76, “The U.S. military has also announced that the U.S. Army will be sending teams into as  many as 35 African countries beginning in 2013 ... the Pentagon acknowledged that military operations can be conducted with simple approval from the Secretary of Defense. This intensifying military build-up in Africa will give the U.S. a ready and trained military force to dispatch anywhere throughout Africa as part of the endless U.S. imperialist ‘War of Terror.’” (January-February 2013.)

War Times continues ... “AFRICOM’s key goals are to secure African oil and contain China – both of which are crucial to maintaining the U.S. as a superpower. Oil from Africa now accounts for more that 10% of U.S. oil imports, the third largest percentage after Canada and Latin America and more than all oil imported from the Middle East. Meanwhile China has major investments in exploration and industry across the continent and has surpassed the U.S. as Africa’s largest trading partner.” (“Washington’s Wars and Occupations,” January 31, 2013)

This assessment is underscored by a Wall Street Journal September 2, 2011 article entitled “In Africa, U.S. Watches China’s Rise”:“China is expanding its economic and political ties with countries across Africa, resulting in a rapid rise in influence here that has sparked concern from the U.S. government.  Beijing’s investment and aid to African countries aims to tap both natural resources and a growing middle class. ... China is now the continent’s largest trading partner, edging out the U.S. Last year its trade with Africa reached $114 billion, up from $1 billion in 1980 ... On a continental scale, China’s deal-making pace far exceeds the U.S.’s.  Chinese firms accounted for 40% of the corporate contracts signed last year, to 2% for U.S. firms.”

Contrary to U.S. President Obama’s Inaugural address, from Africa to the South Pacific, from East Asia to the Middle East, U.S. imperialism is in a perpetual war mode against the worlds’ people in defense of its shrinking Empire. Often unreported in the corporate-controlled U.S. news media, tens of thousands of U.S. troops and private military mercenaries remain in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. Drone strikes against Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia continue to accelerate. The Pentagon is escalating U.S. Navy presence into the South China Sea and South Pacific region. New U.S. bases, large and small, are opening all over the world and the U.S. government is escalating its acts of war against Syria as a prelude to unprovoked war on the people of Iran.

 And on the home front – while the stock market and corporate profits soar, the people are sinking. In the deep economic crisis and a “jobless recovery” every war dollar spent for profits of the military industrial complex and oil/energy industries is another dagger in the heart of millions of good jobs rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure, decent public education and other vital public services, as well as protection and expansion of the limited safety net of social security, medicare and medicaid. Now with new “sequestration” austerity budget cuts aimed at the 99%, “we the people” need to wake up and fight back!

Shut Down AFRICOM –
Africa for the African People!

No to Perpetual War For Empire –
Bring the War Dollars Home!

“If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention”*

Get Angry, Get Active, Rise Up – 
Fight for Workers Power!

*A good bumper sticker reads, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” If you are paying attention, please send me the items that are enraging you. Thanks.

- the Editor

President Obama’s state of the union message included a call to raise the minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $9.00/hour – still a poverty wage, not a living wage! Four years ago, Obama mentioned a higher $9.50 minimum wage but then went silent.  If the 1968 minimum wage was tied to productivity increases (workers producing more per hour) of the last 45 years, the minimum wage would now be over $16.50/hour.

The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the gigantic bail-out of Wall Street, is the gift that just keeps on giving – for those at the top. The Inspector general of TARP recently reported that “once again, in 2012, Treasury failed to rein in excessive pay.”  The Treasury Department allowed annual pay packages of $5 million or more for more than 25% of the top executives at AIG, General Motors and Ally Financial, all recipients of huge government bail-outs at taxpayer expense.

And Wall Street profits are alive and well with mammoth CEO pay still ruling the roost. Richard Handler, the CEO of Jeffries Group, a midsize investment bank, topped Wall Street CEO pay with 2012 compensation package of $45.2 million. Goldman Sachs CEO Blankfein’s 2012 compensation came in at $21 million. JP Morgan Chase CEO Dimon at $11.5 million. Who says crime doesn’t pay!

The newly elected North Carolina Governor and Tea Party-dominated Legislature took immediate action to “fix” the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country (officially 9.2%) by attacking the unemployed! Newly passed legislation reduces the maximum weekly benefit from $535 to $350 and reduces the length a worker can be on unemployment from 26 weeks, to somewhere between 12-20 weeks. The Bill also rejected Federal aid for the long term unemployed denying these benefits for 170,000 currently unemployed N.C. workers. At the same time these politicians lowered business taxes.

In January, U.S. Postmaster General Donahoe, announced the elimination of Saturday mail delivery without legally mandated Congressional approval. This is the latest in a series of steps to destroy the public postal service and its hundreds of thousands of decent union jobs. Already, consolidation of mail processing plants, closing of post offices and drastic reduction in their hours of service have eroded the service. Doing the bidding of Wall Street, the Postmaster General’s action of reducing to five day delivery from six day further degrades the service and open the doors wide to postal privatization, at the expense of the peoples’ Constitutional right to a uniform and universal public postal service.

Stuck into the fiscal cliff deal at the end of 2012 was a gift to Big Pharma and especially Amgen, the world’s largest drug maker. A loophole placed into the final bill gives two more years of “relief” from Medicare cost controls for certain drugs associated with kidney disease and made by Amgen. This loophole will cost the taxpayers $500 million!  Amgen has 74 lobbyists in Washington, D.C. including the former chief of staff to Democratic Senator Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee who drafted the final bill.  A current top aide to Senator Hatch, the committee’s ranking Republican, used to work for none-other than – you guessed it – Amgen.  Amgen’s last few years of campaign contributions averaged around $60,000 each to Baucus, Hatch and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell.

The revolving door between Washington and Wall Street is omnipresent and almost entirely hidden from the 99%. Another example: Senate Majority leader Harry Reid just appointed Kathy Koch as his chief advisor for tax and economic policy as the Senate plans to examine the possibility of closing corporate tax loopholes. Senator Reid’s announcement touted Ms. Koch’s past government service as an advisor to the Senate Finance Committee but never mentioned that Ms. Koch comes directly from General Electric, the giant multi-national that made $14 billion profit in 2010 and paid no taxes – in fact got a refund!

“The great appear great to us
Only because we are on our knees:
Let us rise.”

 — Camille Desmoulins

Revolutionary Organization of Labor (ROL), USA is a revolutionary working class organization that fights for working class power and the elimination of all human exploitation. Ray O’ Light Newsletter is the regular publication of ROL, USA. We believe, with comrade Lenin, that the working class “… needs the truth and there is nothing so harmful to its cause as plausible, respectable petty bourgeois lies.” In the spirit of Karl Marx who taught that “our theory is not a dogma but a guide to action,” we welcome your comments.


Ray Light  —  Editor

607 Boylston St.
Lower Level Box 464
Boston, MA  02116


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