Red Reading: Spectrezine's latest picks from recent publications

Asylum Policy

Foreign Territory: The Internationalisation of EU Asylum Policy
"measures the fast-moving ‘internationalisation’ of EU asylum policy against the very principles of refugee protection to which the EU has publicly re-affirmed its commitment," write Oxfam of this in-depth study. "We trace asylum policy from EU territory to its borders and periphery, then from nearby transit countries to host countries in regions of origin, and finally to refugees’ own countries."

Stock Market Shenanigans

"The pessimists who have long forecast that the US economy was in for trouble finally seem to be coming into their own. Of course, there is no glee in seeing stock prices tumble as a result of soaring mortgage defaults. But it was largely predictable, as are the likely consequences for both the millions of Americans who will be facing financial distress and the global economy." Read the rest of
A Day Of Reckoning For Americans Who Lived Beyond Their Means by Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz. For his part, Stephen Lendman argues that what we are witnessing is a "Slow Motion Train Wreck" .

Iraq: Ending the War

"Almost all intellectual energy, media coverage and writing about Iraq is devoted to how bad and
wrong everything is," writes Jan Oberg, Director of Sweden's Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research (TFF) "And it is! But there is far too little focus on what can and should be done during the next 10-20 years. TFF hereby makes a contribution to such a new perspective.

"Conflicts cannot be solved without views of a better future. As long as there is no alternative to the occupation it will continue. And we will continue to hear that Iraq will descend into even more darkness should the occupation troops withdraw. But it doesn't have to.

"Since 2003, the international peace movements worked against the war but have had surprisingly little to say about what should be a substitute for the occupation. The same goes for countries
that were against the invasion.

"This entire discourse is hopeless. Media, research and activists - and, thus eventually, decision-makers - must now supplement the pro/anti-war perspectives with a comprehensive pro-peace perspective.

"TFF believes that the occupation troops must leave but that we must then not forget Iraq and the immense plight of its people. They and we need a new type of presence, a true partnership to heal the wounds and rebuild the country.

"Some will find our proposals "unrealistic". However, it's "realistic" policy, media and analysis that has wrought hell on the people of Iraq. TFF believes that peace research and policies should be more daring. Our 10 Point Plan attempts to answer the question: What must the world do to reduce harm and create more good for and with the Iraqi people?

Peace is about making the desirable possible.

"Few fellow human beings on earth have suffered more than the Iraqis: dictatorship and wars, international sanctions and now invasion and more war. They and everyone else on earth will benefit from peace there and in the region rather than ongoing war. They desire it and certainly deserve it. That's why we need a new perspective.

"This plan is an open, evolving plan, an invitation to dialogue - with the Iraqis in particular. We need each other as concerned citizens in the struggle against violence and hatred and those who promote and profit from it."

See for yourself by reading "Towards Peace In and With Iraq": A Constructive Proposal from The Transnational Foundation"

Basque struggle

"Thirty years after the reintroduction of democracy to Spain, and the granting of substantial autonomy to the Basque provinces, the central problem in the politics of Euskadi remains what it was three decades ago: the armed campaign waged by ETA. ETA has continued to call for the full independence of Euzkadi and has persisted in maintaining the claim to Navarra, despite the fact that everyone knows that the great majority in that province do not consider themselves Basques. As with Sinn Féin and the IRA in Northern Ireland, ETA historically mobilised political support through an allied political party, Herri Batasuna, which (again like Sinn Féin) regularly won 15%-20% of the vote: more than enough to sustain a mass political base, and provide flexible and compliant political cover, for the armed movement.

"Herri Batasuna (HB) was banned before the last municipal elections, but much of its support went to another party, the Acción Nacionalista Vasca (ANV), until then a relic of a split from the PNV of the 1930s, but recently strengthened by the award of 700,000 euro in compensation for property seized during the civil war. It is hard accurately to read the results of the May regional and municipal elections in terms of ANV support, because of a high level of abstention and disqualification of candidates (for being associated with HB); but it would seem that the pro-ETA vote largely held up. In some municipalities, the ANV is now the governing party.

"Ibarretxe's problem is that while ETA is condemned by most Basques, and has suffered major blows as a result of arrests in Spain and France, the underground nationalist group continues to be able to dominate, if not control, the political agenda, not only in the Basque country but, because of the inflamed nature of the debate on ETA within Spanish politics as a whole, on the national level. His own party, the PNV, is split at least three ways: one wing favours (without saying so too loudly) Basque independence, but by democratic means; another, led by Imaz, is opposed to independence; while Ibarretxe, himself inclining against independence, believes the best way to weaken ETA is to put the question of independence to the vote, something the Imaz wing believes will only legitimate ETA's intransigence.

"This is, however, only part of the problem: for the question of ETA, and the related issue of Navarra, are at the centre of national - Spanish - controversy and denunciation. Even more than the other "hot" questions of contemporary Spanish politics - compulsory citizenship education in schools, gay marriage, and the "law on historical memory" relating to the Franco repression - the issue of ETA is the one that the opposition Partido Popular (Popular Party / PP) uses to berate the government.

"Although the Jose Maria Aznar government did hold talks with ETA during an earlier 441-day ceasefire in 1998-99, the position of the PP now is to denounce all negotiation and to mobilise rightwing opinion and the families of ETA victims to oppose any such talks. At the tenth anniversary celebrations of the killing by ETA of Miguel Ángel Blanco, a PP local councillor in the Basque town of Ermus, the PP sought to exclude representatives of the government and to use the ceremony to stake a partisan position.

"On his side, Spain's prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero took a risk in June 2006 when he followed his cautious welcome of ETA's March announcement of a ceasefire with a pledge to open discussions with the organisation's representatives; Madrid's emissaries are reported to have met five times with ETA in Geneva in ensuing months. But a bomb in the the four-storey car-park of Terminal 4 of Madrid's Barajas international airport on 30 December 2006, in which two immigrant Ecuadorian workers were killed - as well as ETA's continuation by of recruitment, training, reconnaissance and intimidation - suggest that the organisation was, at best, divided on the wisdom of the ceasefire.

"The announcement of an end of the supposedly "permanent" ceasefire, laced with mendacious and self-serving attacks on the Zapatero government, was timed for 6 June 2007 - a week after the municipal elections, but two days short of the 441 days of the "indefinite" ceasefire of 1998-99. From what can be made out of the murky internal politics of the abertzale (the pro-ETA political world), those who genuinely wanted an exploratory dialogue with the socialist government have been overruled by a new, younger and harder, generation of militants. The latter holds the democratic process, the tolerance of other parties and the massive social protests that their actions have occasioned within the Basque country in contempt." Read the rest of Fred Halliday's ">"Eternal Euskadi, enduring ETA"

'War on Terror'

“Terrorist lists” still above the law: The EU's reform of its terrorist lists amounts to little more than window dressing. Secret intergovernmental committees continue to act as judge and executioner and those listed are denied their basic human rights. Until they are granted a fair hearing - in which the substantive allegations against them can be reviewed by a competent, impartial tribunal - the terrorist lists will continue to represent a legal vacuum and a betrayal of the EU's commitment to the rule of law. Read the rest of this analysis by Ben Hayes of Statewatch.