Stop the fast track to war!
A World to Win statement
The official reason for sending British warplanes to support the US bombing campaign in Iraq is as much of a fraud as the pretexts put forward for the illegal, disastrous Anglo-American 2003 invasion.
The request by Iraq’s new president Haidar al-Abadi for military action is to provide a legal cover to attack Islamic State (ISIS) forces. Stories of ISIS plots to attack US and European subways are designed to ramp up hysteria. They are all fig-leaves to mask the bankruptcy of Washington and London when it comes to solutions.
The West’s policies in the Middle East have fuelled the rise of ISIS for a whole range of reasons. In the aftermath of the toppling of Saddam Hussein, the US installed the Nuri al-Maliki regime which openly favoured violent Shia militias, stoking up the sectarian Sunni-Shia divide which played into the hands of ISIS.
If President Obama, who has ridden roughshod over Congress to bomb in Syria without any legal mandate whatsoever, has a policy it is to shore up the reactionary regimes in the Gulf, led by Saudi Arabia.
Military experts are lining up to declare that bombing can’t defeat ISIS. But that has not deterred HM’s Loyal Opposition. Ed Miliband has ordered compulsory support for the ConDems as they launch the third war on Iraq without any thought to where it will lead. Only a handful of Labour MPs like John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn have spoken out against.
The 2003 occupation sponsored by Bush and Blair’s New Labour resulted in a catastrophic break-up of Iraq into warring factions. That hasn’t stopped former PM Blair from adding to his reputation as a warmonger. This week he declared that aerial bombardment will not suffice and that ground troops would be needed to root out ISIS.
This is truly a recipe for war without end which, naturally, is good for business and a handy, patriotic escapade to divert attention from pressing problems at home.
This week, the rest of the world, including Russia, has stood by while the territorial sovereignty of an independent state – Syria – is blatantly infringed. Putin remains silent in return for being allowed to annex Crimea and manipulate pro-Russian forces in east Ukraine.
Obama has warned it could take years to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. Echoing Obama, Cameron maintains that raids are justified on the ground that attacking IS was the only way to prevent “barbarism”. Cameron says that Britain and the West have to learn “lessons of the past”.
But what are the lessons from the past? The truth is that nothing is learned from the old mistakes – which are repeated over and over again – because they are incapable of making peace with the mass of the people in the Middle East.
By continuing to back the murderous Israeli regime with its horrific attacks on Palestinians, supporting despotic feudal regimes and endorsing the military coup that brought General Sisi to power in Egypt, the West has forfeited any claim to democratic credentials.
There is no “clear and present danger” (the same words used by General Colin Powell 2003 about Saddam Hussein’s fabled “weapons of mass destruction”) of ISIS fighters invading Britain or the United States.
Everyone now knows that the documents and reasoning behind the 2003 war were lies and concoctions by the secret state on both sides of the Atlantic. But the Chilcot inquiry into how Britain was led to war is still not published, and is unlikely to see the light of day before the 2015 general election.
Western intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere has been an unmitigated disaster, leading only to further break-up of states. The barbarism showed by ISIS is a ruthless copy of what other more “civilised” states have done.
Hundreds of thousands were killed or displaced after the 2003 invasion. Saddam’s regime, like that of Assad, was previously backed by the West, even after he used chemical weapons on the Kurds and launched a bloody war on Iran. Torture was routine in prison camps after the 2003 invasion. Guantanamo is still open for business. And now the random cruelty of the drone is a totally risk-free, long-distance form of barbarism.
The world's ruling élites are selective when it comes down to it – our barbarism, good – their barbarism bad.
The notion that ISIS, which operates in a mobile, hi-tech fashion using all forms of social media and vast monies earned from kidnappings, can be wiped out by bombing campaigns is cloud-cuckoo land. In reality, it is an opportunity for the powerful military-industrial complex in the United States to push Obama ever further into military actions and deploy its latest technological arsenals.
So far, a major effect of the US bombing, for example in the Syrian city of Raqqa, has been civilian casualties and a massive stream of Syrians into neighbouring Turkey, where there is now a huge refugee crisis. These are in addition to the three million Syrian refugees, and 190,000 dead (UN estimates) since the conflict there began in 2011.
In Europe and America, the surveillance state is clamping down in a bid to justify the bombing. Today’s New York Times warns that the “potential for exaggerating the terrorism threat and overreaching with criminal laws that encourage the use of racial profiling to target some citizens, like Muslims, or persecution of adversaries is very real both in democracies and authoritarian regimes.”
Huge police sweeps around Europe are already being used and abused to attack immigrants, asylum seekers and ordinary citizens. The hysteria is growing and we should stand up against it.
- A World to Win opposes the fast track to war led by the ConDemLab coalition
- we call for self-determination in Iraq, Syria and for the Kurdish people
- we should defend democratic rights and oppose mass surveillance and police sweeps for “terrorists”.
A World to Win editors
26 September 2014