Corbyn – no convincing case for UK bombing of Syria

Written By: - Date published: 9:40 am, November 27th, 2015 - 27 comments
Categories: International, Syria, uk politics - Tags: , ,

18661_Jeremy-Corbyn-Fabian-Society

The UK press is unanimous that Jeremy Corbyn’s recent comments on the proposal for the UK to engage in the bombing of Syria is a further example of how out of touch he is.  But when you actually read what he said you have to question who is out of touch.

The BBC has been leaked a copy of the letter.  In it Corbyn said this:

We’ve all been horrified by the despicable attacks in Paris and are determined to see the defeat of ISIS.

Our first priority must be the security of Britain and the safety of the British people. The issue now is whether what the PM is proposing strengthens, or undermines, our national security.

I do not believe that the PM today made a convincing case that extending UK bombing to Syria would meet that crucial test. Nor did it satisfactorily answer the questions raised by us and the Foreign Affairs Committee.

In particular, the PM did not set out a coherent strategy, coordinated through the UN for the defeat of ISIS. Nor has he been able to explain what credible and acceptable ground forces could retake and hold territory freed from ISIS control by an intensified air campaign.

In my view, the PM has been unable to explain the contribution of additional UK bombing to a comprehensive negotiated political settlement of the Syrian civil war, or its likely impact on the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK.

For these, and other reasons, I do not believe the PM’s current proposal for air strikes in Syria will protect our security and therefore cannot support it.”

Unnamed MPs within his party are predictably outraged at what he said.  Remember this was a letter sent to Labour MPs.  Again from the BBC:

A leading shadow cabinet member said his intervention – which puts him at odds with half of his front bench – would lead to resignations.

“There will be resignations among senior members of the shadow cabinet over this,” the shadow cabinet member told BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith.

He said Mr Corbyn’s letter had led to a breakdown of trust within the shadow cabinet, which had not been consulted before it was sent.

And without a shred of irony this MP also criticised Corbyn for playing politics with the issue.

A British serviceman would be “insulted” by Mr Corbyn’s “ridiculous party games” he said, adding: “We are becoming a complete joke.”

Leaks to the Telegraph suggest that a majority of the shadow cabinet support air strikes.  I would be careful about the ability of the leakers to count.  It is not unknown for anonymous leakers to overstate the strength of their support.

And how wrong would it be to bomb Syria?  The bombing of Paris was totally inhumane and unforgivable and the death of 129 people a scarring tragedy.  The United Nations estimated that by January of this year 220,000 people had been killed in the Syrian war.  The comment has been made again and again and again that the continued destabilising of the Middle East has created the conditions under which ISIS and Al Qaeda have thrived.  Further bombing will only increase the misery.

Of course the issue is not easy and under the white hot blast of public opinion many politicians would waiver.  Even Nicola Sturgeon has indicated that the SNP is prepared to consider the issue rather than rule it out of hand.  But the proposal is hopelessly inadequate and will inevitably fail the same way that repeated military interventions in the area have.

 

27 comments on “Corbyn – no convincing case for UK bombing of Syria”

  1. savenz 1

    It is clear that ISIS wants the bombing, that is their recruitment strategy!

    Quote from Nicolas Hénin

    “I was held hostage by Isis. They fear our unity more than our airstrikes”
    Nicolas Hénin

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/16/isis-bombs-hostage-syria-islamic-state-paris-attacks

    Corbyn is right to stick to his position and oppose air strikes.

    • Mike the Savage One 1.1

      Corbyn speaks common sense and with intelligence, which the elite and establishment running many of our “friendly” allied countries hate, as it does not fit in with their agenda.

      But the truth looks more like this:
      http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/12/us-mideast-crisis-syria-kurds-idUSKCN0S60BD20151012#ZG5AquPG6WpLPeK0.97

      “The alliance calling itself the Democratic Forces of Syria includes the Kurdish YPG militia and Syrian Arab groups, some of which fought alongside it in a campaign that drove Islamic State from wide areas of northern Syria earlier this year.

      The Arab groups in the new alliance are operating under the name “The Syrian Arab Coalition” – a grouping which U.S. officials have said would receive support under a new U.S. strategy aimed at fighting Islamic State in Syria.”

      And so far the outcomes of US involvement have been a totally embarrassing shambles:

      http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/sep/16/us-military-syrian-isis-fighters

      “A $500m effort to train Syrian forces against the Islamic State has resulted in only a handful of fighters actively battling the jihadi army, the top military commander overseeing the war has testified.

      “We’re talking four or five,” General Lloyd Austin, commander of US Central Command, told a dissatisfied Senate armed services committee on Wednesday.

      The training initiative is Barack Obama’s linchpin for retaking Syrian territory from Isis. The Pentagon anticipated in late 2014 that it would have trained 5,000 anti-Isis Syrian rebels by now.”

      It seems the US government has run out of answers, and has switched its support away from the FSA to other groups, only with the aim to get into ISIS held territory to beat ISIS. What would come after that is leaving a huge question mark.

      And I wonder how arming and supporting the Kurdish YPG is going down with the NATO ally Turkey, being rather afraid of Kurdish groups with arms, especially the YPG? This is a recipe for future conflict and disaster, I bet.

      So David Cameron wants to join the air bombings with those “allies” on mind, being “ground forces” that fight ISIS?

      Cameron thinks that the British people and voters are idiots, or he is indeed the idiot himself!

  2. Karen 2

    “the PM has been unable to explain the contribution of additional UK bombing to a comprehensive negotiated political settlement of the Syrian civil war, or its likely impact on the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK.”

    Corbyn is absolutely correct in his assessment that bombing Syria will not achieve the objectives claimed and in fact will make the situation worse.

  3. Gosman 4

    If Corbyn is so in touch with reality on this position why doesn’t he demand all his Labour MP’s support him on it?

    • RedLogix 4.1

      Because if I demanded you vote for my position, and threatened you with consequences if you didn’t … makes you change your mind and whole-heartedly support what I say?

      Hell why didn’t I think of this tactic before?

      • Stuart Munro 4.1.1

        It would work with Gosman & his trolls though – they have this need to be dominated by a strong leader – classically the mark of a weak mind – though it may be a kind of surrogate B&D fetishism.

    • savenz 4.2

      @Gosman – maybe Corbyn is not a dictator so doesn’t feel he needs to demand support.

  4. Ad 5

    Just wondering if the authors MS and TRP could have one main post on such a similar topic? Give each other a call or something? Maybe an editorial meeting on a Monday morning?

    • Ha! Cooperation between authors on TS? That might go against the free wheeling, anarchic spirit of the site, Ad. And if we are going to have editorial meetings, somebody’s going to have to pay for them. Despite the rumours, we’re merely gifted amateurs around here.

      However, ms did try and contact me while I was writing my piece, but I was off line. I think there are enough differences in the POV’s in the two posts to make them both worth commenting on.

    • RedLogix 5.2

      Where there are such opposing views on the same topic, it makes sense to have them posted separately. While the discussion threads may well overlap considerably, it has the merit of providing some balance and equal weight to both perspectives.

      • Ad 5.2.1

        Oh You Guys!
        Eyeroll Emoji!
        It’s the same bunch of softie wusses on both streams!

      • DoublePlusGood 5.2.2

        It’s also a nice way of showing that there is diversity of opinion on the site. It helps counter the ridiculous nonsense tropes that the right trot out about the Standard.

  5. savenz 6

    Funny enough though, the most commented posts in TS are those in disagreement not agreement.

    If you agree with a position, what more can you add?

    The contentious articles seem to have the most comments.

  6. johnm 7

    ‘Cameron’s claims on anti-ISIS airstrikes are deceit’: fmr ambassador to Syria

    Cameron is in serious trouble at Westminster after overreaching himself by the claim that there are 70,000 “moderate rebels” willing to take up the ground war with Isis. Quite literally not one single MP believes him. There are those who believe the lie is justified. But even they know it is a lie.

    There is a very interesting parallel here with the claims over Iraqi WMD. The 70,000 figure has again been approved by the Joint Intelligence Committee, with a strong push from MI6. But exactly as with Iraqi WMD, there were strong objections from the less “political” Defence Intelligence, and caveats inserted. As the Head of Defence Intelligence, Major-General Michael Laurie, told the Chillcot Inquiry: “we could find no evidence of planes, missiles or equipment that related to weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It was clear to me that pressure was being applied to the Joint Intelligence Committee and its drafters. Every fact was managed to make the dossier as strong as possible. The final statements in the dossier reached beyond the conclusions intelligence assessments would normally draw from such facts.”

    In other words Cameron is a ruthless lying U$ toerag. No surprises there just as Teflon Tony Bliar was.

  7. Mike the Savage One 8

    I watched both Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn live on Al Jazeera late last night, when they broadcast the speech by Cameron from the British Parliament, and Corbyn (responding to Cameron, the UK PM) came across as a very sensible, thoughtful and objective man, asking very valid questions to the UK PM.

    David Cameron though was busy using spin and already endlessly repeated arguments to fight the evil of ISIS, and claiming the “ground troops” that the Brits would support (along their US and French allies, who are already bombing from the air) are the various fighter groups like the Free Syrian Army fighting on the ground in parts of Syria.

    David Cameron did not convince me one bit, as the Free Syrian Army fighters have contrary to his claims been not been that successful at all in areas where they operate, they even have formed a kind of alliance with Al Nusra Front and other groups (such alliances sometimes change by the week of not the day), who are rather “jihadist” and more extreme in their views. Without such alliances the FSA would have had to retreat from areas they hold.

    And then there is the threat that may come in the form of retaliation for air attacks. Dangers do though not only loom in the form of more terror at home, there is the high risk of clashing or crossing paths with Russian forces also now bombing rebel held parts o f Syria.

    All the talk about a greater alliance against ISIS is also just total BS, as the differences remain, between the western powers involved in Syria, and Russia, and also with the Arab Gulf nations having their interests there. No way will the Gulf states accept that Assad will hold even just a temporary role in leadership during a transition, nor will the US warm to that. And Russia and Iran will not want to make any deals with the Sunni groups fighting Assad, hence Russia is also bombing various other groups besides of ISIS.

    This includes also Turkmen groups, who have some ties to Turkey.

    And for the various rebel groups Assad is the MAIN enemy, not so much ISIS, which they do though fight against also, considering them either as terrorists or as infidels (pretending to fight for an “Islamic State”). Most refugees that were asked about why they fled Syria stated that it was Assad’s regime and bombings were the main reason for the fleeing, and I remember having heard repeatedly on Al Jazeera’s broadcast, that most considered that the greater threat than ISIS.

    Jeremy Corbyn spoke out clearly the concerns there are, but Cameron tried to justify the UK getting involved with arguments like alliances and bla, bla, bla, stuff that led to WW1, if we bother looking back at that.

    So Jeremy Corby has taken a cautious, critical and considerate position in my view, as simply bombing from the air will not beat ISIS, it will only strengthen their resolve, and further spread the war or terror to more places over Europe and elsewhere.

  8. Bill 9

    Must admit to scratching my head a bit on the take ascribed to the SNP in both posts on this today.

    I know it was before Paris, but the SNP conference voted overwhelmingly against bombing Syria.

    Meanwhile, Alex Salmond, in concert with the rest of the SNP has basically said “convince us”. Given that he went to Edinburgh having been advised by the Privy Council of what was in Cameron’s speech, I think we can safely assume that there was a certain lack of “convincing” going on. (Robertson – the SNP leader in Westminster – , not Salmond nor anyone else responds to PM statements in the house)

    Nicola Sturgeon saying that she’ll listen to what’s being said is no more an indication of any backing for bombing, than would be you or I signalling a willingness to be swayed by saying we’ll listen to what the kid with the chocolate stains around his mouth has to say about how he didn’t raid the biscuit tin.

  9. sabine 10

    Just came across this little cartoon from 1958

    http://www.sott.net/pic-of-day/284647

    ‘Odhalená agresia’, a cartoon published in popular Czechoslovakian satirical magazine ‘Roháč’ in 1958 following the ‘Syrian Crisis of 1957’, in which Soviet Russia prevented a joint US-Turkish military operation to overthrow the Syrian government

    and there is this

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Crisis_of_1957

    Quote: The Syrian Crisis of 1957 was a period of severe diplomatic confrontations during the Cold War that involved Syria and the Soviet Union on one hand, and the United States and its allies, including Turkey and the Baghdad Pact, on the other.

    The tensions began in August 18,[1] when the Syrian government presided by Shukri al-Quwatli made a series of provocative institutional changes, such as the appointment of Col. Afif al-Bizri as chief-of-staff of the Syrian Army, who was alleged by Western governments of being a Soviet sympathizer. Suspicion that a communist takeover had occurred in Damascus grew larger, prompting neighboring Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon to consider supporting an Arab or Western military intervention to overthrown the Syrian government. Turkey was the only country to step in by deploying thousands of troops along the Syrian-Turkish border. Nikita Khrushchev threatened that he would launch missiles at Turkey if it attacks Syria, while the United States said that it could attack the Soviet Union in response to an assault on Turkey. The crisis ended in late October, when Turkey agreed to cease its border operations following pressure by the United States,[2] and when Khrushchev made an unexpected visit to the Turkish embassy in Moscow.[1]

    The events are widely seen as a major failure of the Eisenhower Doctrine, which stressed that the United States could intervene militarily on behalf of a Middle Eastern ally to fight “international communism”.[2]

    ———————————————————————————————————————-

    replace Commie with terrorist. rinse, repeat, and the people are dumb enough to be afraid, cause communis….errr terroris errrrr sociall…..errr fuck just add what ever.

  10. Manuka AOR 11

    Public opinion cannot be assumed to be pro-bombing. A protest planned for today/ Saturday is drawing strong, rapid support, and ” dozens of actors, writers, academics and trade union chiefs .. have signed a letter telling David Cameron to keep British forces out of the air war on Syria.”

    “Nearly 8,000 people have so far indicated on Facebook that they will attend the emergency protest, which was called on Monday, while more than 20,000 have said they are interested in doing so. Very few recent protests have gathered such strong support so quickly, Stop the War has said.”

    The Letter to be presented Saturday, to the UK PM:
    “The current rush to bomb Syria following the terrible events in Paris risks a dangerous escalation which will inflame the war there and increase bitterness against the west. The US has been bombing Isis for a year and admits that Isis is as strong as ever and has continued recruiting.

    “The experience of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya shows that western military interventions lead to large-scale casualties, devastating destruction and huge flows of refugees.

    “Far from tackling terrorism, the last 14 years of war have seen massively increased jihadi terrorist organisations around the world.

    “Rather than ignoring this recent history by joining the long list of countries that have bombed Syria in the last year, we urge the government to stop arming reactionary and aggressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and Qatar that sponsor terrorist groups and look for political solutions as the only viable way to end the conflict.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/27/actors-academics-and-writers-sign-letter-urging-uk-david-cameron-not-to-bomb-syria

  11. NZSage 12

    A great piece with a refreshing perspective:

    “What strange people we Brits are. We spend years moaning that our politicians are cynical opportunists who don’t stand for anything. Then along comes an opposition leader who has principles — and appears to stick by them even when it makes him unpopular — and he is dismissed as a joke.”

    http://new.spectator.co.uk/2015/11/jeremy-corbyn-is-more-sensible-about-syria-than-david-cameron/

    • Manuka AOR 12.1

      From that link:
      “Jeremy Corbyn is mocked for calling for a ‘negotiated settlement’ with Assad and other parties in the conflict — how wet! — but at least he is trying to think about the future. Cameron’s Syria plan is to get himself worked up, throw a few more bombs at the baddies, and hope for the best. We have to ask: which leader is the more deluded?”

    • Mike the Savage One 13.1

      Problem is most love the Kardashians and other idiocy, they do not care, they are dumbed down by dumb down media. They live in their little urban flats and want milk shakes, chocolate bars, a flash hair dress and a good screw next weekend, that is what most people are about these days. We need a disaster before the idiots wake up, sorry to say so.

  12. Mike the Savage One 14

    I think Jeremy Corbyn will never be PM in the UK, he is too nice, honest and principled a man, to actually get there. Politics is “dirty” as we learned under this government in NZ, and to deal with rotten “leaders” like Key, you will never get him defeated with honest and decent means.

    It is like dealing with the Mafia in the past, sadly it will necessitate a decisive, somewhat brutal manner to get the evil dealt to.

    Jeremy Corbyn faces the UK version of Key, and Cameron is probably even more principled as a neoliberal jerk than the PM we have. But the rotten powers that keep both PMs in their jobs require a resolute attack by an opponent, who takes the gloves off, I fear.

    Corbyn is just too much a gentleman to do that, and being a nice guy is not enough to be voted in, as most voters these days judge politicians like boxers in the ring.

    We live in a NASTY world now, I am totally sure.

  13. Mike the Savage One 15

    Just more proof that FSA and Al Nusra have fought together:

    I do not blame them, as Nusra have the discipline and power to fight the Syrian Army, few others have. That does not make them angels though. The west has so far achieved stuff all in Syria, they are irrelevant, so will Russia be soon.

  14. Mike the Savage One 16

    This was confirmed by Al Jazeera News in English tonight, the Syrian Army and Russians are not winning, and the ground forces are any of the type the US and France and UK may dream of. They are all screwed, as not only does ISIL survive, many other groups adjust and fight on.

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