Military

The privatisation of military power

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Over the past 15 years a creeping process of outsourcing has been taking place inside the military. John Newsinger argues that the use of mercenaries and contractors undermines democracy.

The Iraq war will be seen as a turning point in the history of warfare. Not because of the illegality of the invasion or the unprecedented incompetence of the occupation, important though these were, but because it was the first modern public-private war.

Kick over the statues

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“Theory is grey my friend but the tree of life blooms forever green”, as Lenin put it quoting Goethe. It means that society, class struggle and politics do not develop in simple linear ways but in surprising and unforeseeable forms requiring new tactics and analysis.

History does not move at a uniform pace and in direct ways: it jumps, stops and doubles back on itself. At times it feels less like a tree and more like a bramble patch. Not only that but new movements and social developments do not express themselves directly but often in old forms and languages.

He's a right royal knockout

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10 September. Write that date in your diary NOW. If you can afford it, book a holiday; if you can't, stock up with sick-bags. You will need them because on that day the Invictus Games will begin. You have been warned.

If you believe the hype, these "Games" were the brainchild of Prince Harry, but in reality they are a copy of the "Warrior Games" held in Colorado last year. Men - there are no female "heroes" apparently - who have been mutilated in the NeoCons' wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will have a run around and a kick about.

Egypt: Revolution contained?

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The 30 June military coup marks the gathering strength of the counter-revolution in Egypt.

Egypt is under threat from "terrorists" and "murderers", says General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. Justifying the army's assault on the Muslim Brotherhood in August, he used rhetoric familiar from decades of repression under ex-president Mubarak. Blink, and it could have been Mubarak, with his talk of national unity and a mission to act as "guardian of the people's will", coupled with chilling threats about the fate of those who resist.

Egypt: the Muslim brotherhood under pressure

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In recent months thousands of Egyptians have protested against President Mohamed Morsi. Sameh Naguib, a leading Egyptian revolutionary socialist, argues that the liberals and Muslim Brotherhood are losing their influence over the movement in the streets and workplaces

The starting point for our analysis has to be the crisis which has engulfed the Muslim Brotherhood and the so-called "secular" liberal opposition forces. In part, this crisis stems from both camps' misunderstanding of the nature of the Egyptian Revolution. Liberal writers, for example, refer to the democratic transformation which took place in Spain in 1974, or the democratic transition in Eastern Europe and the "colour revolutions".

Egypt: State in flux

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The waves of strikes that have swept Egypt since the overthrow of Mubarak have fractured the state machine, giving a boost to reformist forces. Anne Alexander looks at how revolutionaries should relate to these new forces, especially those emerging around Hamdeen Sabahi.

The stifling heat of summer makes Cairo hell for its poorest inhabitants. The rich turn up their air conditioners, while hundreds of thousands in the "informal" neighbourhoods suffer water shortages and power cuts. This year the people of the Saft al-Laban area took matters into their own hands. On 22 July, after weeks without water, they stormed the Giza governorate buildings and locked the gates. On 11 August they took their protests to the Ministry of Water and Sanitation. At one point protesters cornered the minister, putting down a glass of filthy brown water in front of him.

Rehabilitating the military

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In 2007 General Richard Dannatt, head of the UK armed forces, complained, "The British public do not support the troops enough." Within weeks a range of support the troops initiatives materialised including a new annual Armed Forces Day, homecoming parades, Help for Heroes, Tickets for Troops, concerts for heroes, on X Factor "song for heroes" (twice), and various military-inspired album releases.

Most recently we've seen the introduction of the government's Military Covenant accompanied by a £30 million sweetener to be shared among councils who agree to produce military-related propaganda initiatives. These multi-agency practices and invented traditions bear a remarkable similarity to the propaganda-centred activities of the US and Canadian governments' programmes "Operation Tribute to Freedom" and "Operation Connection" which both seek to "re-connect" civilians to the military.

Under pressure

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After Mohamed Morsi's victory in Egypt Phil Marfleet looks at the fractures in the Muslim Brotherhood's base and the challenges that face the left

Egypt has a new civilian president, but one shackled by the army and the Mubarak state. Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood takes office without a parliament and with the country's generals breathing down his neck. He is also under intense pressure from the revolutionary movement, which expects results promptly from an elected leader.

The generals, the Islamists and the Egyptian Revolution

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After the recent election Egypt's parliament is dominated by Islamists, especially representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood. But, argues Phil Marfleet, the Brotherhood faces immense pressure from Egyptians to deliver real change and break with the military

Egypt's new parliament, which convened on 23 January, is overwhelmingly Islamist. Seventy three percent of the People's Assembly, the lower house, is composed of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Nour Party. This suggests a stunning electoral performance by the Islamists and a tricky time ahead for revolutionary activists who do not embrace their agendas. But the picture is much more complicated - as Islamists discovered only 48 hours after the Assembly convened.

Could we win the army to revolution?

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Mariam Green looks at how a revolution can split the army


Events in the Middle East and North Africa make the question of the role of the army in revolution more than just a matter of academic interest. If the army is not won over it remains a tool for counter-revolution, capable of drowning a revolt in blood. How the army responds to such a situation can decisively affect its outcome.

As the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky put it, "The fate of every revolution at a certain point is decided by a break in the disposition of the army."

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