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Politics

Labour Must Resist the Dash to War in the Middle East

chicago-leftists-obamaThe UK parliament is to be asked to authorise British air strikes against the so called Islamic State (IS) tomorrow (Friday). The best argument that Sir Christopher Meyer, former UK Ambassador to Washington could make on the Today Programme this morning was basically we need to be involved to prove our place in the world, and stay close to the US.

There are a number of reasons why the UK should not be involved. Firstly there is no strategy about what to do after strikes. What about Assad? What about the fact that Iraqi civilians have suffered quite enough at our hands and it never ends well? 1.5 were killed by “genocidal” sanctions (Denis Halliday, former UN Under Secretary who resigned over the issue) between 1991/2003.

 Then came the criminal invasion of 2003 and its botched aftermath. The Lancet, a respected medical journal said in 2005 that the invasion had caused 654,965 deaths. UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw described these figures as, “robust”.

How can we have any moral authority in that region (or anywhere else for that matter) with such a dreadful track record?

Air power was used to lever Gaddafy form power in 2011 and the aftermath has not been a raging success.  This from Reuters news agency yesterday; “war planes attacked a port in Benghazi on Wednesday in a strike claimed by forces loyal to former general Khalifa Haftar, bringing their battle against Islamists to the heart of the eastern Libyan city. Libya is a country struggling with anarchy three years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi”.

The Saudi’s are the biggest players in this arena. We have rightly been shocked and sickened by IS and their beheadings. But did you know that in August the Saudi Kingdom beheaded (“a medieval practice”, says Cameron) eight of its people. One was charged with sorcery. Saudi women cannot drive, be educated beyond the basics or be outside their homes without appropriate male company. If they are raped it’s obviously their fault so they get punished again.

Cameron and Blair before him have not had one single qualm about doing business with this vile regime. The Guardian reports that we sold £1.6 billion worth of arms to the Kingdom last year. If they are so tooled up, why do they need us at all?

The answer is the usual one. The Saudis could end the suffering of the Palestinians with one stroke of a pen if they so desired. Their petro chemical trillions could also do similar work in Iraq and other regions in their sphere. But that is the last thing they want to do. Instability and uncertainty drives oil prices up, and means the West turns a blind eye to their hideous way of running a society.

No doubt the usual tired arguments will be trotted out. If you don’t support action then you are somehow an apologist for IS or not living in the real world. Hogwash.

IS and the whole mess in the region has to be solved by the people themselves. There is no possible way in which local people could look up and welcome the RAF reigning hell from the skies. These people have enough trouble with IS and trying to eke out an existence. Besides IS can just point to our record and wonder how things could get any worse.

 The leaders of the Arab World are at least consistent. If any of their brethren, be it the Algerian people in 1993 whose democratic Government was ousted by the Military, to the continuing grinding but solvable poverty endured by the Palestinians and now the brutal suppression of the Syrian people, the Arab World looks resolutely the other way. No our problem Guv’ The Arab Leaders know that the best way to control their citizens is to keep them down, keep them ill educated, keep them poor and above all present them with the bogeyman of American and Israeli anti Islamism.   This is an issue created by Capitalism with its divide and rule, pro religion-in-the-guise-of-freedom agenda. 

Ed Miliband should have nothing to do with air strikes, and have the courage of his convictions to stand up to the Tories and their war mongering leaders. Labour stopped the Syrian air strikes on well argued moral grounds. Can they do it again? Their lives are in our hands.

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About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.

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