Corbyn must back Labour’s policy – not Stop The War’s

November 30, 2015 at 12:46 pm (Champagne Charlie, fascism, internationalism, islamism, labour party, Middle East, MPs, Stop The War, SWP, Syria, terror)

The last Labour Party conference passed fairly clear policy on Syria, setting down four essential requirements that must be met before any UK intervention can be supported. The four requirements are set out below, in bold, followed by the arguments as to why these requirements have not, to date, been fully met:

  • Clear and unambiguous authorisation from the United Nations – it is not clear that this requirement has been “unambiguously” met: a Chatham House expert has argued UN Security Council resolution 2249 does not provide a legal basis for military action as it does not invoke Chapter VII of the UN charter authorising the use of force. David Cameron claims to justify it on the basis of the collective self-defence of Iraq and of the UK, but that does not meet the condition.
  • A comprehensive EU-wide plan to provide humanitarian assistance to the consequent increase in the number of refugees – In fact, the EU refugee plan has been frustrated by isolationist governments within the EU (including the UK) and no comprehensive plan exists. There are already 4m refugees in countries bordering Syria and 6.5m displaced internally. This would increase if the bombing escalates.
  • That bombing is exclusively directed at military targets directly associated with ‘Islamic State’ – this is inevitably problematic  as it is known that ISIS/Daesh is using human shields.
  • That any military action is subordinated to international diplomatic efforts, including the main regional powers, to end the Syrian civil war – this requirement remains elusive, and the shooting down of a Russian plane by Turkey has been a major setback to diplomatic efforts towards ending the civil war.

So it is clear that, on the basis of  Labour Party policy, Jeremy Corbyn would have little difficulty in motivating his opposition to Cameron’s plan for Britain to join the bombing campaign. Unfortunately, all too often Corbyn’s approach seems guided not so much by Labour Party policy, but by Stop The War’s. This means that he comes over as opposing any military action against ISIS/Daesh under any conceivable circumstances – and indeed, often gives the impression of doubting that they need to be fought at all.

The Stop The War Coalition position is at best bourgeois isolationist/anti-internationalist and at worse – as exhibited  in this article by a founder of Stop The War  ‘defeat imperialism, not isis‘ and by Stop The War tame celeb Mark Rylance – on ISIS not being enemies and “sitting down with them” – simply apologism for the fascists.

Equally, the idea that if only we only left “them” alone “they” wouldn’t attack “us” at home (put forward in one form or another, by Stop The War, Diane Abbott, and Corbyn himself) not only ascribes rational motives to these demented fascist nihilists but also ignores and insults the thousands of Syrians, Kurds and Iraqis murdered, enslaved and raped by ISIS.

Corbyn should break with the bourgeois isolationism and appeasement of  Stop The War, and make it clear that if the conditions set out by Party policy were met, he would not rule out military action. In addition (as John McDonnell has very wisely advocated) he should allow a free vote to avoid a damaging split in the PLP and Shadow Cabinet over the wrong issue.


  1. Steven Johnston said,

    Yet 60% of the UK public oppose military intervention in Syria and can you blame them?

    Appeasement in the UK is nothing new and was not invented by Stop the war. I would hardly think Neville Chamberlain would have been a member!
    I was no fan of the Vietcong but glad that Wilson kept the UK out of the Vietnam war, the bombing there never worked.
    As for STWC I doubt they have much influence over the Labour party as there has not been a war, that the UK entered that the Labour party has yet opposed

  2. mark taha said,

    Corbyn should follow his conscience-as should everybody else.

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Who cares? As socialists the one thing we don’t believe in is leaders! We won’t need men or women like him under socialism.

  3. Andrew Coates said,

    Exactly, everything that needs saying now: well said.

  4. Glasgow Working Class said,

    Corbyn is appealing to the 3 quiders who got him in to pressure their MPs.
    I would appeal to Corbyn, McDonnell to resign gracefully today and let our party rebuild.

    • Political Tourist said,

      If anybody deserved getting bombed it should be the Saudi gangsters but the Brit Establishment and their allies would never allow it.

      • Steven Johnston said,

        How, pray tell could they stop it? The British Establishment were fans of Hitler and yet they bombed him.

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        Pt, you are a prick and should read history. Kissinger threatened Saudi. The West do business treaties which are then International Law. Saddam tried to break this arrangement and wis hung fur it.

  5. peteybee said,

    why exactly is categorical opposition bad? Isn’t the lesson learned from Iraq war 2 that what seems like a righteous deed at the time, is later revealed to be based on vast exaggeration or simply fraud? Why waste time with ambiguity?

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Ok just let people be killed and bundled into mass graves while you swally your wine. Ok comrades it iznae me blah.

      • peteybee said,

        You presume that the only two options are direct fighting and doing nothing.

    • Jim Denham said,

      If by “categorical opposition” you mean ruling out any form of military action against ISIS, under any circumstances (ie the StWC position), I should have thought the answer is obvious: you’re saying “do nothing” unless you seriously believe negotiations are possible with these fascists. The only negotiations socialists favour with fascists is over their unconditional surrender.

      • peteybee said,

        That’s a pretty impressive lack of imagination. How about… (1) let someone else do something, as is already happening, and support them. (2) withdraw support from IS’s allies (gulf states, Turkey, Saudis, neoconservatives within the US government, etc) (3) provide support for ideological alternatives within IS’s recruitment population – i.e., disaffected islamic youth (4) cut off economic ties with IS — ask NATO countries such as Turkey to stop buying their oil ….

  6. jschulman said,

    Suggested reading:–-there-are-alternatives

    Corbyn should speak to his friend Peter Tatchell for advice.

  7. Political Tourist said,

    Take Saudi mobsters and the Zionists out the story and build a better world.
    Did i mention the Brits.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Ah, I wondered how soon it would be before someone brought “Zionists” (sic) into it…

      How, exactly are “Zionists” (sic) the main obstacle to “a better world”, or relevant to the situation in Syria?

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        Pt, is a Nazi Lover. Has gone so far too the left and turned right.

  8. Rilke said,

    A comprehensive and negotiated strategy that either includes or at least does not attack and undermine the Kurds should be supported. Such a strategy would include hard economic sanctions against oil trading with and funding of IS, medical and safe zones, a plan of arrests for warcrimes and a social plan for reconstruction and an end to droughts in the region with elections earmarked for 24 months down the line in order for Assad to be pushed out. All this makes sense, but cannot be achieved without military backing, thus military action is supplementary to, not the basis of, intervention against IS. Airstrikes and simple area bombing = the cheap and easy route to more human catastrophe and strategic failure (even the right wing air marshals think so). Stay out and keep your moral soul beautiful (the Corbyn, SW, STWC, pacifist and Quaker road to redemption) = the same result as bombing but probably worse misery and longer fighting for the Kurds and Yazidis with Iran becoming more involved and the conflict actually getting wider.
    These idiots on the keep out at all costs ‘left’ should stop posing and start thinking. I recall one of these peaceful souls who actually supported the miners during 84/85 telling us that she felt sympathy for us and our families but it was ‘really wrong to hurt the police horses’! Let the ‘nice people against nasty things’ go back to gardening and petitions.

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Who is offering such a strategy? With Russia and China supporting Assad he is going nowhere. They are attacking his enemies and not him so why would he stand down? It’s no longer 2 sides in this war, it’s hard to keep up with whom is fighting whom and what their aims are.

  9. Political Tourist said,

    Kumbaya my Lord Kumbaya.

  10. Glasgow Working Class said,

    We will fight Islamic fascists on land sea and air. Up the closes and anywhere they raise their heads. And if it takes decades so be it. Never surrender. Corbyn and his ilk are appeasers but not pacifists. They have an agenda. See No 7 above.

  11. Steven Johnston said,

    “I recall one of these peaceful souls who actually supported the miners during 84/85 telling us that she felt sympathy for us and our families but it was ‘really wrong to hurt the police horses’! Let the ‘nice people against nasty things’ go back to gardening and petitions”

    They sound almost as bad as the Polish government for selling cheaper coal and for the conservative government for buying it, thereby making the strike totally pointless. As why keep the mines open when you can import cheaper coal?

  12. Rilke said,

    As in why bother employing semi-educated adults such as Steven Johnston when we can get twelve years old super exploitable child surplus labour from Bangladesh to perform his work? Have the courage of your convictions and bargain with your employer (if you are actually have one and are not in fact simply a member of the lumpen chronically unemployable) and have yourself replaced. I do hope you are not a hypocrite.

  13. Opposing British Intervention in Syria: A Democratic Socialist Stand. | Tendance Coatesy said,

    […] Important Comment from Shiraz Socialist. […]

  14. Rilke said,

    While committed and intelligent anti-fascists were putting their lives at risk to stop Franco and his fascist allies getting a grip on the Spanish state and Mussolini had already taken Italy there were peace-at-all-costs morons in the UK who were still babbling about ‘keeping war out of Europe’ and not ‘meddling in other’s affairs’. The war had already begun, they just had not noticed. I would really like to hear a series of proposals from SWP and STWC on how to stop IS and the killing and disaster in Syria other than ‘it would have been better if it had not occurred in the first place’. I did ask one of these ‘peace is good, war is bad’ simpletons that question. His answer? ‘Join’ their ‘party’. I bet IS are shitting in their pants at the prospect of that potentially crushing scenario. I am sorry to say this, but many of these ‘peace not war’ people are not ethical at all, they are disgusting opportunists and moral exhibitionists.

  15. Steven Johnston said,

    Isn’t bombing IS conservative, Russian & Assad policy?

  16. John R said,

    I posted this over at “Tendance”. It seems relevant here too –

    Beirut (AFP) Nov 26 –

    “US soldiers are in Kobane, the town in northern Syria nearly destroyed in fierce fighting with the Islamic State group, to train Kurdish forces to battle the jihadists, Kurdish sources said Thursday.

    Mustapha Abdi [Kobane Mayor], an activist in the town on the Turkish border, told AFP the American instructors had arrived “in recent hours”, in what is the first official deployment of US ground troops in Syria.

    A source with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) said the Americans would help plan offensives against two Syrian cities held by IS — Jarablus and the jihadists’ Syrian “capital”, Raqa.”

    I have to admit to being unsure about extending UK air strikes into Syria against Isis. However, if it is the case the air strikes are going to used to provide cover and support for the Kurds and other democratic, secular forces (as above) against Isis, then they should be supported. Why should the Kurds wait for Isis to prepare and re-group to attack them again, after all? A change of Govt in the US could well leave them dangerously isolated again in the next year or so.

    As I pointed out in another thread, Jeremy Corbyn’s solution to the siege of Kobane last year was to say the UK Govt should call on Turkey to provide “humanitarian aid” and “safe passage” to Kobane. This was his alternative to American air strikes.

    His “alternative” was screamingly absurd in its ridiculousness. Would he have suggested that Slobovan Milosovic provide “humanitarian aid” and “safe passage” to the Bosnian Muslims as Radovan Karadžić and his forces were slaughtering them? I hope not but who knows what he said at the time?

    Remember, Corbyn still opposes all air strikes in the region whether or not they defend the Kurds or anyone else. Maybe he will repeat this view today in the House of Commons.

    Perhaps he will also make his suggestion again that Turkey help the Kurds. That should be a cue for some grim laughter.

  17. Lamia said,

    Good posts, John R and Rilke (and some others).

    There is still a fair amount of talk on the left about ‘unconditional support’ for the Kurds, alongside complete opposition to airstrikes. That is dishonest. All of the Kurds’ significant victories have come with the aid of western airstrikes. A proportion of the UK airstrikes in Iraq have been doing precisely that. Had it not been for US airstrikes, Kobane would now be in ISIS hands and its inhabitants all dead. There would have been no Kurdish offensives this year. The Kurds would have been finished in Syria, not just as a fighting force but as a people. They have asked for, welcomed and asked for more of the sort of air support they have received from NATO countries – the same air support that the Corbynite left are dishonestly portraying as Dresden-type carpet bombing of cities.

    There are cases to be made for opposing UK airstrikes in Syria. There is no honest case for opposing UK airstrikes in Syria AND at the same time claiming to ‘support the Kurds’. STWC, Corbyn and the hard and far left wish to deny them the single thing that has most helped them survive and fight back against ISIS. If your principles put ‘no UK airstrikes in Syria’ ahead of that, okay. But be honest enough to admit that in doing so you are opposing the wishes and requests of, and making the fight more dangerous for, the very same Kurds that the British left keeps claiming to be ‘supporting’.

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