The Fight for an Anti-War Government
Becomes Ever More Necessary
5-10,000 people protesting in Downing Street on Saturday, November 28.
The House of Commons voted on December 2 by 397 votes to 223 to extend the bombing by Britain from Iraq to Syria. The government’s resolution was for taking “military action, specifically airstrikes, exclusively against ISIL in Syria”.
What is behind the government’s determination to press ahead with the bombing? Is it not its aim for bringing about regime change in Syria? Britain’s actions take no account of the sovereignty of that country. The Commons debate took scant account of Syria’s sovereignty. It is if a legitimate and popularly elected government did not exist in Syria.
The Commons resolution speaks of “the requests from France, the US and regional allies for UK military assistance”. It will be noted that not once does it mention Syria’s government, nor the sovereignty of nations, nor the rights of the people, nor any request from President al-Assad. The component parts of the Commons resolution, replete with high-flown sentiment, are hypocritical at best in these circumstances. How is it going to ensure its airstrikes are “exclusively against ISIL”? Its first strikes were announced to be against an oil-field allegedly controlled by ISIL. Who is the legitimate owner of these oil-fields? Britain does not say. Might not the rightful authority in Syria have a view?
It is well known that it has been the actions of NATO, the US, Britain and their allies which has been the root cause of anarchy and violence in the region. Indeed, one can trace back the sordid trail that British colonialism and imperialism has left in the Middle East to the Balfour Declaration, propounded in the midst of the inter-imperialist First World War, and well before. It is high time that a Britain in the 21st century should repudiate and draw a line under these intrigues, aggression and war and not add to them and intensify its agenda for war which serves the ruling elite, not to mention the manufacturers of all the military hardware.
Where does ISIL itself get its funds and weaponry? The government does not seem to want to address this question and ensure that ISIL is deprived of funds and weaponry which it does not conjure up from thin air. Furthermore, who are the 70,000 so-called “moderates” that Cameron claims Britain will ally with? Much scorn has been poured on these phantom battalions, allegedly of the “Free Syria Army”, and they have been likened to Blair’s “dodgy dossier” that was produced as a pretext for the armed aggression against and invasion of Iraq. Even should they exist as a force in a Syrian civil war, the British government has no business siding with a force whose quoted aim is the overthrow of the Syrian government.
MPs, particularly the Labour MPs, have to answer for their actions. With a “free vote”, there is no hiding place. The Labour leader opposes in principle the use of force to settle conflicts internationally, and has pointed out that the government had not made its case to overcome this principle. Would the establishment, the state forces, ever allow him to constitute an anti-war government? This is a moot point. In this situation, the establishment put their money on Hilary Benn to shamelessly promote war while speaking in the name of anti-fascism. This is disinformation of the first order. Here was a Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary in a Corbyn-led party doing the work of the ruling elite. Meanwhile, the monopoly-controlled media, along with the government front benches, cheered and applauded this warmongering intervention while targeting Jeremy Corbyn as the cause of Labour at war with itself. What arrogance and disinformation!
The point is that all intervention by Britain and other NATO forces, military or otherwise, in Syria must end. To compare such criminality, as did Hilary Benn, with the intervention of the International Brigades in Spain after Franco staged his fascist coup and the Republicans called the international working class to arms is not only to disinform but to dishonour the memory of those brave proletarian internationalists who were in the vanguard of those who fought against the fascism and state terrorism which international monopoly capitalism had set in motion and unleashed on the world’s people. What Britain is doing with its military intervention actually goes against any progressive trend, itself attempts to take the world back to medievalism and creates the most dangerous situation.
As Workers’ Weekly pointed out on November 29: “Recent history has shown that stability and security in the world have not been produced by the military intervention of Britain and the other big powers; quite the contrary. The danger of even greater crimes against the people looms large. What is required is an end to all foreign intervention and interference by Britain in the affairs of other countries. There must be no further military intervention in Syria or in other countries. We call on the movement against Britain’s intervention to redouble its efforts to establish an anti-war government.”
Protests in Newcastle (left) and Oxford (right) on eve of vote in Parliament, December 1