Not In Our Name! Britain Urgently Needs an Anti-War Government!
Yesterday, September 26, MPs voted by 524 to 43 to sanction British air strikes in Iraq, putting Britain squarely as the number one ally of the US. This is another day of infamy in the record of successive Westminster administrations as pro-war governments. It is another day of infamy for the loyal opposition whose leading lights backed the Coalition government to the hilt. As a whole, the cartel parties at Westminster stand exposed as at one with the warmongering imperialist system of states as they collude and contend for global hegemony.
The motion debated in the House of Commons was framed as following the highest ideals, of defending peoples, responding to Iraqi government requests, and defending international security. But it gives no clue as to the source of the problems that Iraq and Syria are facing, no clue that US and British armed intervention and aggression, open and covert, have been the well-springs of the violence and anarchy which the Middle East and North Africa, as well as elsewhere in the world, have been subjected to.
Even some of the voices in the Commons who spoke implacably against this latest criminal motion were not able to take the principled stand that further intervention from whatever source is not the answer, and that it is an urgent necessity of the day to work to bring about an anti-war government in Britain.
It was clear from the Commons debate also that the motion is a step further towards the aim of intervention in Syria and removing President al-Assad in favour of a regime which is more compliant to Anglo-US hegemony. The Coalition spokespeople made it clear also that to act swiftly in future, the government would not require the recall of Parliament.
So, despite the lessons of the past 13 years, and stretching back to the “Great War” of 1914-18 itself, the British government is determined to perpetrate further untold tragedies on the world. This underlines the most salient lessons of this history, that the people themselves must strengthen their organisations and their resolve to take government out of the clutches of these warmongers, further fight for their own empowerment, and put an end to these crimes against peace.
No to Military Intervention in Iraq and Syria
The government must be condemned for its preparations for involvement in a renewed and intensified US-led military intervention in Iraq and Syria, using as a pretext the activities of what it refers to as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
One of the significant features of these preparations is that the Prime Minister has signalled that in response to the threat of ISIL and “Islamist extremism”, the government plans to step up the defence of its neo-liberal “values”, as well as combat what he called the “ideology of extremism”, including “non-violent extremism”. At home the government will therefore use the pretext of ISIL recruitment to introduce new powers to make it easier to remove the rights of British citizens to travel within and outside the country and to freely cross its borders and step up its surveillance and harassment of all who do not share its values. The Prime Minister has made it clear that there is the expectation that this new offensive will last for many years. All the signs point to a new “war against terror”.
In his speech to the UN General Assembly earlier this week Cameron openly announced that the government’s immediate aim is to create and consolidate governments that uphold its values in both Iraq and Syria by military and other means. The government claims that it and the UN Security Council have received a request for military support from the Iraqi government, that therefore there is a legal basis for military action and recalled Parliament to seek its approval. The motion before Parliament makes much of this request and the declared aim of “supporting the government of Iraq in protecting civilians and restoring its territorial integrity”. Meanwhile the government of Iraq, which can hardly be called a sovereign body, lays great stress on the fact that ISIL has created a “safe haven” outside its borders, thus providing the pretext for illegal airstrikes in Syria. The British government is clearly mindful of its previous parliamentary defeat and so has not yet sought approval for further military intervention in Syria. However, Cameron has again reiterated that he does not recognise the legitimacy of the al-Assad government in Syria and the US government has already carried out illegal airstrikes violating the sovereignty of that country.
David Cameron made clear in his speech to the UN that the government’s strategy at the moment is to encourage its allies and proxies to be the “boots on the ground” in Iraq and Syria, while it and the other big powers provide the “technology and the other assets necessary for success”. Even Iran has now been encouraged to join the new US-led coalition. However, Cameron also made it clear that by these means the government intends to continue and strengthen its military intervention in Nigeria, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere.
Even before the parliamentary vote the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, pledged his party’s support for military intervention in Iraq and both he and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, mindful of public opposition, made much of the fact that there is as yet no proposal to send British ground troops to Iraq or to openly intervene in Syria. Yet clearly the government’s intention is to take all necessary action to realise its aims with the compliance of the Westminster consensus.
All the evidence shows that it is the previous illegal military intervention of Britain, the US and the big powers in Iraq and Syria that have created the current situation of instability, weakened major states in the region, caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and led to the emergence of ISIL, which moreover is linked directly or indirectly to the big powers and their allies in the region. The efforts of the NATO powers and their allies to effect regime change and create proxies in the region will continue to create such conditions of instability and are part of the contention between the big powers. Russia, for example, has already indicated that it too is committed to defending Iraq but not as a member of any US-led coalition.
All the big parties must again be condemned for their support for war and regime change and the struggle to establish an alternative must be stepped up. Now is the time to build and strengthen the popular movement against crimes against peace with its aim of establishing an anti-war-government.