Le Clem, French patriots affectionately call it. The Clemenceau Aircraft carrier has finally come to rest at Graythorpe in England where it is to be scraped. But this ship’s post marine twilight is likely to be of more historical significance than its heyday when it patrolled the Middle East.
Serving from 1961 to 1997, the Clemenseau took part in several missions to protest French interests. Most notably, Saddam Hussein’s war on Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when Western powers supported the Bagdad Butcher in his quest for regional supremacy, providing their puppet dictator with weapons of mass destruction. The USA was particularly generous to Sadam, offering him chemical weapons which he used to commit atrocities in Iran and even in his own country. The French provided significant aviation technology, while the Clemenseau took care of French ‘commercial interests’ in the Persian Gulf, protecting its capitalist looters from Iranian military boats.
The ship also played a distinguished role during the First Gulf War. Saddam hoped to regain control over the oil fields of Kuwait, a kingdom which he felt, with some justification, was part of Iraq. The American ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie brought up Saddam’s plans for Kuwait when she met him just before the war, expressing ambiguous concern but then assuring the dictator that America has “ no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America." Saddam, himself a creation of the CIA, should have known better. He fell for the trap and the US-led Western imperialist criminals went on another killing spree to ‘liberate’ the oil fields of Kuwait. The French made sure they played their part in America’s bogus war. Le Clem came in handy when it transported 40 helicopters (SA-341F/ -342 Gazelles, SA-330 Pumas), three Br-1050 Alizés and trucks to Iraq during 'Desert storm & Desert shield'.
After such a noble career of collusion in mass murder and looting, the French authorities decided it was time to dismantle their precious Clem. As the 27 ton ship contained so many noxious toxins such as lead, PCB, mercury and asbestos, there was only one option open to them: ‘outsource’ the problem to India. “The workers of Alang have nothing. Who cares if they fall seriously ill or die from our toxic waste. It’s cheaper for us and it gives these people a job.”
Outsourcing is the euphemism the plutocracy employs to cover up their despicable exploitation of the world’s poor. Sure, many of them like their sweat shops and scrap yards; are happy to have a job, buy more commodities, become credit-slaves etc. They are just like the African-American slaves who sang happy ditties in the cotton fields of South Virginia before the US Civil War. Exploitation works much better if you make the exploited believe they are free.
It was Greenpeace, the bete noire of the Elysée Palace, who exposed Alang scandal, once again. The last time they messed with the French government was 1985 during their war on Iran. President Mitterand had enough of their moralizing and got the secret service to blow them up! However, due to legal pressure from within India, the French were forced to concede and the Clem was sent to England where it lies today.
Working conditions in the Alang shipyard in India are to be expected: appalling. These people are the lumpen proletariat of the New World Order, salvaging and recycling the components of capitalism’s shipwreak. We live in a world of pathological externalization. The capitalist powers continue to grow by outsourcing labour and war. It’s the only way financial capitalism can continue to reward the few and enslave the many. There are two billion children in the world. Over half of them are living in poverty. Neither charity nor plutocratic philanthropy will do anything to change this. Mass poverty is the sine qua non for the globalisation of capital.