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Corbyn’s Isis Crisis

Written By: - Date published: 9:25 am, November 27th, 2015 - 89 comments
Categories: defence, International, iraq, Jeremy Corbyn, Syria, uk politics, war - Tags: , , ,

New UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faces a difficult test of his leadership over the next few days. He has made a reasonable case that the Tory proposal to join the bombing campaign in Syria is vague in its aims and uncertain in its outcome, but it appears that the majority of the shadow cabinet believe that there is no alternative to joining the fragile coalition.

In a letter to his MP’s, Corbyn states:

“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 a 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.”

However, only three members of the shadow cabinet are believed to be likely to support Corbyn’s position.

The Labour MP’s will decide on Monday what their response will be. They have three options:

  • Support the airstrikes
  • Oppose the airstrikes
  • Conscience vote

Corbyn’s best move would be to accept a conscience vote. To have the majority of his MP’s choose to make support for the bombing campaign the formal Labour Party position would a disaster for his leadership. Far better the soft option of each MP going with their hearts.

In an unusual case of cross border lobbying, pressure is being put on UK Parliamentarians by their French counterparts. In an open letter in the Guardian,  France’s defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian calls on the UK to show immediate solidarity:

“Isis is not just present in Iraq. It operates across the border in Syria, where its headquarters are located, in Raqqa. It is from Raqqa that some of the main threats against other countries are planned and orchestrated. That’s why it is now crucial to strike Isis in Syria in order to degrade and, ultimately, to destroy it.

Today, for the very first time since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, diplomatic efforts seem to be converging in Vienna. Western countries, Russia, Iran, Turkey and the Gulf states have agreed to combine their efforts against the threat posed by Isis. We have to jointly seize this opportunity to broaden the coalition that is needed to defeat Isis.”

Corbyn is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Stick to his pacifist principles or accept that he is offside with the majority in caucus, and indeed, with the UK populace. If he gets this wrong, his leadership may take a fatal hit.

Oh, and if you were wondering what the position of the third biggest party in Westminster was, you’ll be comforted to know that double dipping Westminster MP and Scottish MSP Alex Salmond had a hard choice to make. Participate in the vital debate over Syria or … unveil a portrait of himself in a Scottish gallery. Priorities, priorities.

Of course, the coalition against Isis is a far from solid thing. The shooting down of a straying Russian jet by Turkey has made getting an agreed plan significantly harder. Odd how alike Turkey’s Erdogan and Russia’s Putin are. Both populist nationalists, not afraid to shed blood to make themselves look stronger. Hopefully this incident is a one off, but don’t hold your breath.

Finally, an interactive map of the current state of play in Syria. ISIS appear to have moved their main fight west, away from Iraq and toward the Syrian capital, Damascus. Their areas of control in Iraq and the Kurdish areas appear to be thinning. I’m guessing that’s a combination of small gains by the Iraqi Government and their Western backers, and substantial gains by the Kurdish forces, coinciding with Isis prioritising the immediate opportunity to put pressure on the Assad regime. If Isis have peaked in Iraq, that’s good news. I’m glad New Zealand is doing it’s small bit to help.

 

 

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89 comments on “Corbyn’s Isis Crisis”

  1. savenz 1

    Totally disagree. Corbyn as all politicians should be going with their beliefs not some sort of half baked chicken strategy. like “Oh I will vote for war, because it might make me look weak if others do not agree”.

    I doubt Corybyn will cop out like that.

    I agree with his analysis and think he should vote NO!

    More bombing of Syria will make things worse for Britain!

    He is right!

    • NZSage 1.1

      “More bombing of Syria will make things worse for Britain!”

      I agree and those Labour MP’s willing to back the Tory warmongers should listen to their own conscience… if that means resigining then good riddance to them.

    • Grantoc 1.2

      When it comes to matters relating to the protection of the populace in times of serious external violent threats, a major political leader’s first consideration is to ensure the electorate’s protection and well being.

      Corbyn is entitled to be guided by his pacifist principles in determining a policy position accordingly.

      However what he should not do is to adhere so rigidly to principle, when, in doing so he neglects his greater responsibility to provide that reassurance and protection to the nation that the times demand.

      So far he has not put up a convincing case for the principled position he is taking on the threat of isis terrorism to Britain. He is therefore failing in his duty as a major political leader in the UK. He is also failing to read the mood of nation (and indeed his own shadow cabinet).

      While he may be admired for sticking to his principles; sticking to his principles on this issue will turn out to be a major step towards his downfall as the leader of the British Labour Party.

  2. Ad 2

    Corbyn is sounding very “Peace in our time”.

    I really don’t care any longer what caused ISIS or their desire to spread. They have to be faced, fought, controlled, and degraded. I really do believe if they are left to their own devices they will seek to conquer Turkey, Jordan, and Israel.

    Well-assembled post BTW TRP.

    Corbyn should change his mind and unite his party, and unite with the Conservatives on this vote. Not the right moment for a conscience vote.

    • RedLogix 2.1

      And the last time the West charged in bombing the Middle East without a coherent strategy, or plan to hold the territory peacefully afterwards – tell me – just how did that work out?

      • Ad 2.1.1

        I believe President Obama is showing all the same signs of a constitutionally educated liberal trying if at all possible not to leave a further legacy of incoherent large scale war (he prefers it proxy and/or hands-off).

        It’s understandable. And on balance good.

        It’s not enough. I don’t believe we will finally defeat ISIS. I think they will now be with us always. And there’s a lot of truth to what CV and other commentators say that at base the US should share a lot of the causal blame.

        That’s still not enough. A good question to answer is: what would unite the Russians, Chinese, and all other members of the UN Security Council to vote against the spread of ISIS? Corbyn should ask himself why his no doubt noble reasoning is better than their collective vote?

        • RedLogix 2.1.1.1

          Does no-one actually read what Corbyn is asking for?

          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 a credible and acceptable ground forces could retake and hold territory freed from ISIS control by an intensified air campaign.

          You tell me how it’s all going to work, you explain how your bombing campaign (that even the military don’t believe in) is going to make anything better. You answer Corbyn’s implied question – and then I’ll support your fight to defeat ISIS.

          But I’m not going to reflexively tick your box for more of the same mindless, unintelligent slaughter and chaos we’ve already seen far too much of.

          • Ad 2.1.1.1.1

            If the UK’s intention is solely to degrade and destroy ISIS, then it must request authorization from the Syrian government to participate in a coordinated military campaign that could help speed up the task.

            If Western (and allied Arab) leaders can’t stomach dealing with the Assad government, then by all means work through an intermediary – like the Russians – who can coordinate and authorize military operations on behalf of their Syrian ally.

            The Syrian government has said on multiple occasions that it welcomes sincere international efforts to fight terrorism inside its territory. But these efforts must come under the direction of a central legal authority that can lead a broad campaign on the ground and in the air.

            We are still short of the UN Security Council authorizing the use of force. Just. For that to happen, the Russians to persuade Syria’s Assad that the air bombing campaign really is working. Which in part it seems to be. Following that, for Russia and Assad to propose a coordinated attack effort against ISIS, and go to the UN for the full force authorization resolution.

            • RedLogix 2.1.1.1.1.1

              So why then is Corbyn taking flack as an ‘idealist’ and ‘pacifist’ – when all he has asked for is pretty much the same as what you have outlined above? It’s a reasonable question Ad.

              • Ad

                The British media are not good at principled nuance. That’s his first mistake.
                After the sustained terrorist attacks in Europe over the past few years, most citizens aren’t up for rational diplomatic exchanges either.
                The other problem for Corbyn is the British experience of Islam, which ain’t great in a lot of suburbs.

                It would be great to see a post-NutjobMuslim Marshall Plan. But I no longer think it’s possible.

                The best we can now hope for (terrible way to think) is to squash ISIS into something smaller.

                Red I do not think that you’re some moist hippie. And a few years ago when ISIS were just a handful of mad dogs escapes from Iraq who got fed by the CIA, I would probably have agreed with you.

            • Pascals bookie 2.1.1.1.1.2

              Problem with that AD, is that a very large proportion of Syria will not accept any ‘solution’ that works with Assad’s regime.

              They have a veto on whether or not the civil war continues. Any international intervention that restores Assad’s control over the country will be met with an insurgency once any ‘peacekeepers’ are deployed. That insurgency will be funded by the smae ‘private’ financiers from Saudi, UAE and the other gulf states that fund the Sunni Islamists now. If you take the ISIS badge away, they will just reform into a new group that is more platable to those financiers.

              To the Arab Sunni world, the ‘Russia plan’ is the ‘Persian shia-dog plan’.

              The international community can’t just wish the underlying politics that are driving this war away, and think it will fix itself.

            • Mark 2.1.1.1.1.3

              Hard to reconcile that with Cameron advocating Assad be overthrown in his speech to Parliament.

    • savenz 2.2

      @ Ad 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.

      • Ad 2.2.1

        I don’t care what ISIS wants. Nor should you. They are the enemy, and we are theirs.

        I’m also realistic enough to believe that there will not be ‘boots on the ground’ large scale armies from NATO forces to confront them, until there is a territorial threat to Europe, Turkey or Israel.

        So yes the best that NATO and Russian forces will do is degrade them with air strikes and bombing. We are many years off from an alternative set of countries being formed out of the Syrian mess.

        Of course, we could all just hold still, and let ISIS take over the whole of Syria. Wouldn’t take long.

        • RedLogix 2.2.1.1

          ISIS is widely regarded as one of the consequences of the last time we bombed the Middle East.

          Now I Ioath ISIS and all they stand for as much as anyone. Search this site for “RedLogix fundamentalist” and you’ll find me banging on about the dangers of religous bigots going back to 2008. So don’t for one instant paint me as a sympathiser or peacenik.

          But if there is one lesson the West should have learnt in the past 12 years, surely to God, is that initiating military action absent clear moral authority, coherent strategy and a plausible end-game – is always doomed to total failure.

          Even the US military has learnt this lesson the hard way.

        • Anno1701 2.2.1.2

          “Of course, we could all just hold still, and let ISIS take over the whole of Syria. Wouldn’t take long.”

          the conflict in Syria has already been going on for years and IS may take small parts of syria piecemeal but they are totally incapable of holding them against the myriad of opponents they face

          Yes they are a credible light infantry force with strong motivation/esprit de corps

          but they also a bunch of tweaking/speed freak religious nutters that have a toxic philosophy which isnt wanted by the majority in the region

          • Colonial Viper 2.2.1.2.1

            but they also a bunch of tweaking/speed freak religious nutters that have a toxic philosophy which isnt wanted by the majority in the region

            Except for certain highly monied and powerful types in: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Turkey, Israel.

        • One Two 2.2.1.3

          Your comments indicate high levels of confusion

    • dialey 2.3

      If the west put as much effort and resources into cutting off the funding stream, cutting off the arms supply and scuttling the IS oil trade, there might be a very different outcome. As it is the arms military supply traders are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of yet another boost to their profits.

  3. BM 3

    This is the problem you get when you pick a idealist to run the show.

    Total failure.

    • savenz 3.1

      @ BM Yep the blairites did such a good job of winning the election! NOT!

      • savenz 3.1.1

        Maybe the neoliberals hawks in the UK Labour party want to blow up the Labour party more than they want to blow up Syrians.

        Sounds like ABC’s in NZ!

        So disciplined, so devoted to the Labour party leadership…..

    • RedLogix 3.2

      So ISIS represents the ‘total success’ achieved while you ‘realists’ have been in charge?

      OAB is right – you right wing dickheads NEVER take any responsibility for the shitty consequences of your actions.

      • McFlock 3.2.1

        heh

        The continued existence of ISIS/L/Daesh and al qaeda are prime examples of the victory of [warped] idealism over pragmatic realpolitik.

        • RedLogix 3.2.1.1

          Being also prime examples of the consequences of ‘pragmatic real-politik’ meddling.

        • DoublePlusGood 3.2.1.2

          Actually, they’re prime examples of what happens when you go around wrecking countries by invading them.

  4. tinfoilhat 4

    I was surprised to see some ‘realpolitik’ honesty in an editorial in todays SMH.

    http://www.smh.com.au/comment/no-military-answer-to-islamic-state-which-prospers-as-big-boys-squabble-20151125-gl8af3.html

    Which tends to mirror my assessment of the situation so I might have some bias as to the article.

    As for Corbyn I agree with many of his stated positions but am realistic that he has little to no show of being voted into power in the UK.

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    If the UK had bombed Assad last time around, ISIS would be in charge of Damascus right now.

    • DoublePlusGood 5.1

      If they’d bombed, there’d be even more refugees moving across Europe, displaced by even more structural instability in the region.

    • Ad 5.2

      That was probably the US calculation when they took out Ghaddafi in Libya.
      I agree that specific executions are a whole bunch better than waves of aerial bombing, but I think we are beyond curing it by a few executions in Syria now.

  6. Gosman 6

    How is allowing a conscience vote on matters of National security in any way a sign of a strong leader. Either the airstrikes are bad for the UK’s National securitity and shouldn’t go through or they are necessary to show solidarity with the UK’s allies. There should be no middle ground wishy washy position. UK Labour will look foolish and weak allowing a conscience vote.

    • Sanctuary 6.1

      The left is about peace. Those who vote for war will be marking their own card for further action at an electorate level.

    • It’s not a sign of a strong leader, Gosman. It’s a reflection of the situation Corbyn finds himself in. If he insists on caucus choosing between support or opposition to the UK joining in the bombing, he will lose. The shadow cabinet and wider caucus appear to overwhelmingly support taking action. So allowing a conscience vote would be clever politics and avoid a leadership crisis.

      • Gosman 6.2.1

        He’s an ineffectual leader if he can’t enforce a position that is principled and right (according to people here any way) amongst his own MP’s.

      • Sanctuary 6.2.2

        I am not sure if I agree with your summation TRP. Corbyn is being actively undermined and white-anted by a revanchist gang of Blairites and neoliberals that have no support in the wider membership. The chances of rapproachment between the Bairite rump and the Corbynistas are zero. Sooner or later, they are going to pull the trigger and either roll Corbyn – which will mean the end of the British Labour party and the end of true democratic choice in the UK for a generation or more – or if they fail they’ll defect at a time of their choosing, designed to cause the maximum damage to the Labour party. Surely if a showdown is judged inevitable then it is better for Corbyn to preempt the crisis, seize the initiative and force their hand?

        • te reo putake 6.2.2.1

          The difficulty is that on this issue, he’s also offside with most Labour members, supporters and voters. Support for intervention has risen since the Paris attacks. If he pushes it, he risks going down in flames. And I think he’s wise enough to play the long game, rather than just go for the ego boost of self imposed martyrdom.

          • Pascals bookie 6.2.2.1.1

            Just to be clear, are you saying he should support military action that he thinks is unwise, purely for domestic political reasons?

            EDIT:Ok, I see now you aren’t saying that, sorry.

            • te reo putake 6.2.2.1.1.1

              No worries, P’s b.

              If Corbyn finds a way through this I reckon his leadership will be strengthened. He’s made his personal position clear, and that will go down well with his supporters.

              If he can provide leadership that doesn’t antagonise or motivate those who oppose him within the party to push for a coup, then he will gain a bit of moral authority. A good leader doesn’t have to win every time and its no bad thing to allow democracy to prevail.

              btw Corbyn’s had a tough week already, with a key ally going off message and quoting Mao in parliament. Not a good look, no matter how well intentioned.

              http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/nov/25/john-mcdonnell-mao-zedong-little-red-book-george-osborne

  7. Sanctuary 7

    This is what politics was like when the Suffragettes made bombs and threw stones, when striking workers fought police and army with guns and bricks – in otherwords, this is what happens when you truly challenge the deep state and it’s institutions.

    The violence of the establishment reaction to Corbyn in the UK is in line with that sort of history, and the divisions in Labour are symptomatic of a revolutionary party that was set up by those who wished to challenge the deep state but has now been captured and institutionalised by that very deep state.

    Labour will not survive as a tweedle dum alternative to the Tories – why vote Labour when you can have the real thing – and it needs to detach itself from the establishment and become truly reformative again in order to survive. Sticking to their position over a antidote that proposes an Orwellian constant war supported by constant war mongering and an increasingly repressive surveillance stae is in the finest traditions of a broad left that believes in true freedom for all, and contains everyone from Quakers to anti-imperialists to radical socialists.

  8. maui 8

    New Zealand should be ashamed of itself for being involved in Iraq. All we’ve done is paint a target on our backs for the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization.

    Europe is suffering from millions of people on the move and huge domestic conflict, its like the consequences of World War 3 are here already. That’s the repercussions of Europe not standing up to your bullying friends like the US and saying no you’re not f-ing destroying the Middle East. New Zealand is in on this game too and the bad far outweighs the good we might achueve.

  9. Colonial Viper 9

    I posted this yesterday but it deserves a re-run.

    Dr Nafeez Ahmed details out how western powers have been right at the heart of the rise of extremism and terrorism in the Middle East:

    View at Medium.com

    In 2008, a US Army-commissioned RAND report confirmed that the US was attempting to “to create divisions in the jihadist camp. Today in Iraq such a strategy is being used at the tactical level.” This included forming “temporary alliances” with al-Qaeda affiliated “nationalist insurgent groups” that have fought the US for four years, now receiving “weapons and cash” from the US.

    The idea was, essentially, to bribe former al-Qaeda insurgents to breakaway from AQI and join forces with the Americans. Although these Sunni nationalists “have cooperated with al-Qaeda against US forces,” they are now being supported to exploit “the common threat that al-Qaeda now poses to both parties.”

    In the same year, former CIA military intelligence officer and counter-terrorism specialist Philip Geraldi, stated that US intelligence analysts “are warning that the United States is now arming and otherwise subsidizing all three major groups in Iraq.” The analysts “believe that the house of cards is likely to fall down as soon as one group feels either strong or frisky enough to assert itself.”

    • Ad 9.1

      The interview with the US Intelligence Commander in there is particularly tart.

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        And a “senior Iraqi official” is quoted as saying

        “The Americans allowed ISIS to rise to power because they wanted to get Assad out from Syria. But they didn’t anticipate that the results would be so far beyond their control.”

        • Ad 9.1.1.1

          Arguably that makes an even greater moral imperative on the US (with a UN SC mandate for force) to finish what it started.

          And by ‘finish’, I mean precisely Obama’s phrasing of “degrade” first. I don’t think they are ever going to go away now.

          • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.1.1

            It seems to me they still want to use these groups to get rid of Assad however, so I don’t think very much has changed. It seems like a US supplied TOW missile was used by one of the anti-Assad groups to destroy a Syrian Army search and rescue helicopter looking for the downed Russian pilots. I imagine this kind of thing is going to continue.

  10. Colonial Viper 10

    And let’s not forget about the totally destructive war Saudi Arabia, the gulf’s richest state, is now waging against Yemen, the Gulf’s poorest state. If the Saudis succeed the result is likely to be another extremist Salafi militant base in the ME.

    And of course, the Saudis are conducting their massive war campaign using American supplied weapons and training.

  11. Hami Shearlie 11

    Jumping into striking Isis in Syria based on gung-ho emotion over Paris is a mistake in my view. George Bush and Blair did the same thing when the Towers were struck in NY and look how that’s turned out?Aghanistan and Iraq are still total disasters after all these years and probably will be for decades to come. A good deal more cold hard analysis with more spies on the ground or in the air using drones, and other types of surveillance both in Syria if possible, and the West, should be done before any moves are made. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Where Isis is getting their funding from should be a top priority to examine. Only by cutting off their money and lines of support can you hope to defeat them – as we saw on the news, tunnels they are using go for miles and miles underground. Targeting their supply lines such as those tunnels would severely curtail their activities. That’s how the Allies defeated Rommel in WW2!

    • savenz 11.1

      Hello it is not really a bit secret that some of the terrorism money comes from Saudi Arabia! U know the place where most of the 9/11 bombers came from! They are America’s official ‘friend’ and John Key can’t get enought of them so much so he has to send plane loads of sheep to be inhumanely killed and pay 11 million in bribes for a free trade agreement.
      Saddam hated muslims in Iraq it is his downfall and the destruction of Iraq through bombing than led to ISIS creation and uprising. USA used to fund the Taliban as well!

      The reality seems that the USA seems to be the key creator of terrorist groups so maybe they need to have a look at history, listen to some very intelligent people (not currently in the military) and have a strategy to bring their country back from the brink of both drowning in debt and funding groups that eventually hate the USA so much they want to bomb them in terrorist attacks.

      • Colonial Viper 11.1.1

        The article by Dr Nafeez Ahmed details out how 10 of the 15 Saudi 9/11 hijackers got their US visas through the US consulate in Jeddah. And how the visa office was staffed by CIA agents who let through Islamic militants who did not qualify for US visas.

    • dave brown 11.2

      As CV points out the US has deliberately used proxies, both its Arab state proxies and the Islamist cults that are backed by them, to advance its interests in the MENA and Afghanistan.

      However, today, on the other side is Iran, now backed by Russia and China.

      The main imperialist proxies (leaving out Israel a US tool), SA on the US side and Iran on the Russia/China side, happen to be Sunni and Shia respectively, so the battle lines have increasingly taken on a sectarian form to rally and discipline their forces.

      Since it was kicked out Iran by the revolution in 1979 followed by the counter-revolutionary Khomeini, the US and and its Israeli stooge has aimed its ‘axis of evil’ policy at Iran. The US backed Saddam in the Iraq/Iran war which Iraq lost. Saddam began to challenge the US in 1991 which responded to the first Gulf war killing over a million Iraqis in that war or by starving them with sanctions.

      After 9/11 Bush launched the war on terror and smashed the Baathist regime because it began to swing towards Russia. He took out the largely Sunni army leadership. It turns out that many of these leaders formed the beginning of what would become ISIS while in jail.

      The rise of China and Russia as born again imperialist powers in the 90s and 2000s forced the US to compromise in MENA tolerating Shia regimes in Syria and Iraq that did not rock the boat. Israel, SA, and it turns out Turkey, did not share this equanimity. When in 2011 the Arab Spring broke out and the popular masses had to be contained this created openings for AQ to emerge to prove itself as willing to take on that task against its rival radical Shia sects backed by Iran, and now by the China/Russia imperialist bloc.

      While NATO and SCO lined up with their Islamic proxies for control of oil in MENA, their main enemy was now the Arab revolution picking up momentum and threatening to overthrow their client dictators. Instant repression such as in Bahrain, or fake democracy followed by military dictatorship as in Egypt, or NATO intervention as in Libya, held the revolution at bay.

      Only in Syria did an armed popular revolution threaten to overthrow a dictator. The US intervened mainly to keep the popular uprising and the FSA without heavy weapons (as it had done in Libya) in the hope that Assad and the FSA would fight to a bloody draw. When after 4 years the FSA was making inroads on Assad despite the backing of Russia and Iran, the US and its proxies began arming their own sects. Waiting in the wings to fight the Shia aligned regimes was ISIS/Daesh. But Daesh was not prepared to act merely as a proxy for the US bloc, its origins in the former Iraqi regime meant it wanted to rewrite the old imperialist borders and stake out a nation state.

      All of this proves that all the lying rhetoric coming out of both imperialist blocs about a ‘war on terror’ is bullshit to mask their own rotten role in screwing over MENA for at least a century, and their power grab today when the global crisis is pushing the US to aggressively challenge both Russia and China, neither of which will back down if strategic interests are involved. Daesh is not a problem because it cuts throats and rapes women, but because it is not prepared to bow down to either imperialist bloc.

      The question of whether this particular proxy war will blow up into a world war depends on whether vital interests are at stake as in the Crimea, or stupid adventurist actions, like Erdogan shooting down a Russian plane, will lead to further misguided actions. But more importantly it depends on whether a mass anti-imperialist movement in the West and the East can halt the drive towards WW III.

      You can be sure that the only thing that will stop the imperialists or their client states from dragging the popular masses into a widening war sooner of later is popular resistance. That is why it is essential to oppose imperialist warmongering on both sides and not to be diverted by the ‘war on terror’. Only by stopping imperialism at home from intervening directly or indirectly in MENA and by backing the popular secular forces fighting for democracy against imperialist and Islamic reaction, can the Arab revolution rise again with any prospect of victory.

      Corbyn is taking a classic social democratic stand against the right wing Blairites backing of imperialist war, by arguing that a war under the aegis of the UN is somehow not imperialist. For him imperialism is not in the DNA of capitalism, rather its a disease that is “not nice to have”. The left including those inside the LP should be calling for the open resistance to Britain taking any part in any military intervention and out of NATO end of US bases, Trident etc.
      Instead the labour movement should be calling on workers to treat the Syrian civil war as today’s Spanish civil war, and send volunteers and arms to defeat Assad and and to reinforce the secular armed masses of MENA to to overthrow their reactionary regimes and kick the imperialists out.

  12. Tiger Mountain 12

    well a few labourites are finally posting on Corbyn, when he is in a very difficult situation of course, when he was first elected it seemed the cone of silence had descended upon the NZ Labour party, President Haworth has not uttered a public word about Jeremey Corbyn’s ascension as far as I am aware

    so any comment from the right of the NZLP should be taken in that spirit

    as for what should Corbyn do?–social media poll of Labour members and conscience vote for the MPs, very hard for a new leader not supported by many MPs to successfully say no to war of any kind in pommy land

  13. b waghorn 13

    Blanket bombing will achieve fuck all more than kill more innocents and create more enemies of the west.
    I don’t care how moral someone’s reasons are for bombing if you kill a persons kids they will oppose you till their last breath, l would.
    Boots on the ground to dig Isis out of its strongholds and either capture or kill the leaders is the only way.

    • greywarshark 13.1

      “I don’t care how moral someone’s reasons are for bombing if you kill a persons kids they will oppose you till their last breath, l would.”

      This is such an obvious point that I am surprised it gets overlooked. Israel happily keep their war of attrition going by always killing and destroying more than anything that the Palestinians do so they are always on the back foot with big losses of people and environment to retaliate against.

      Same with every country and people.

    • ZTesh 13.2

      But then you end up sacrificing thousands of our own soldiers and leaving their families and communities bereft.

      The only effective strategy is the one that kills the most ISIS and the least amount of innocents be they civilians or our own soldiers.

  14. Wayne 14

    The reason why this is difficult for many Labour MP’s (though not Corbyn) is that they know the issue is more than just about ISIS and Syria.

    It is also about how the UK is generally positioned alongside its principal allies.

    So if the US, France (and Russia for that matter) have decided that ISIS needs to be dealt to in Syria, if the UK declines to be involved they are fundamentally stepping back from a leadership role in the West and in NATO.

    Of course that is no concern to Corbyn, in fact he would welcome it. But it will worry quite a few Labour MP’s. They won’t want to be associated with such a strategy.

    So while it is an internal struggle for the soul of Labour, it is also about how the Left are seen to perceive the role of Britain in the world.

    For the Hard Left it is to back out of western leadership in a traditional sense and become something like a Nordic nation. For the Middle Left they consider that Britain should be able to be counted alongside their key allies of France and the US.

    • Pascals bookie 14.1

      God you talk some shit son.

      • Tracey 14.1.1

        And is paid quarter of a million to be a law commissioner. He can obviously magic away his deep seated biases… I am surpised Boshier got the Oversight of ombudsmen not Wayne, but perhaps that would be too obvious. 😉

    • Bill 14.2

      You serenely over-looking the last UK Commons vote on bombing Syria?

      Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Greens etc all against. Some defecting Tory’s against too. Now sure, Cameron sent the RAF off to drop bombs on people in spite of losing the vote, but that’s another story.

    • Pascals bookie 14.3

      So if the US, France (and Russia for that matter) have decided that ISIS needs to be dealt to in Syria, if the UK declines to be involved they are fundamentally stepping back from a leadership role in the West and in NATO.

      This is just amazing, frankly.

      As is this:

      So while it is an internal struggle for the soul of Labour, it is also about how the Left are seen to perceive the role of Britain in the world.

      I think it deserves a fisking in fact, given it comes from a former Minister of Defence who one would think would have the benefit of least some residual knowledge from briefings that the rest of us aren’t privvy to.

      “the US, France (and Russia for that matter) have decided that ISIS needs to be dealt to in Syria,”

      Look at how Russia is put in brackets there, as if it Russia is more of a bit player than NATO at the moment. Compare that to the actual facts.

      Russia is allied with Assad and Iran, and through them Iraq. ie. in the two theatres.
      The NATO led coalition of 60 or whatever they are calling it is sort of allied to Iraq, but wants Assad gone. That contradiction between the two theatres is what has paralysed them, along with the fact that the gulf states in the coalition don’t at all like Assad or the Baghdad govt. There is little real desire from those allies to restore Syrian or Iraqi state integrity, hence the big barrel of nothing that is being done.

      Russia, on the other hand (and I have no time for Putin, just calling what’s obvious obvious) has a strategy that makes sense. They don’t give a shit about what the gulf states think, and so are free to support the govts in Iraq and Syria. To that end they are hitting the non ISIS regime opponents in Syria first, this will have numerous effects but the mid game is to make ISIS the only alternative to Assad and thus put the west in a box.

      Now how the fuck does what Cameron is describing ‘deal to ISIS’? Seriously. How does it. Explain this to me in terms of assymetric warfare. All we are hearing is various forms of more of the same. That fundamental contradcition in what the west is trying to do in Ira and Syria remains in place, and it is that contradiction that is creating the space ISIS thrives in.

      Look at that last piece TRP linked to. ISIS has steadied itself in the Sunni areas, just as any half competent analyst would expect given there is a sectarian war being fought with outside support for the actors. Militia are primarily defensive. they can attack into areas with poulations that are like them, they struggle to take or hold areas populated by their sectarian opponents. The Kurds are making gains in areas that aren’t Sunni, for example.

      “if the UK declines to be involved they are fundamentally stepping back from a leadership role in the West”

      Leadership role in the west. News flash wayne. the west is following here. We have no coherent strategy to deal with the facts that exist on the ground. We are bound by our shitty little despotic gulf state alliances, states that are more than happy to ignore the shit out of our desires and fire up the funding for terrorist groups destabilising shia govts they don’t like. The govt in Baghdad is more than happy to take our training and then sit on their arses because they have no particular desire to fight to liberate a bunch of Sunnis who have no real desire to be governed by them.

      On what planet is this ‘western leadership’?

      ” it is also about how the Left are seen to perceive the role of Britain in the world”

      Andthere we have it. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that is how a bunch of Blairites see it, but I’m surprised that a former Minister of Defence sees it that way, or falls back on such morally vacous reasoning so quickly.

      that concern about perception, at the cost of ignoring actual reality, is telling to me. this isn’t about domestic partisan politcs, or it oughtn’t be. that’s not ‘leadership’ is the opposite, it’s arrogance and a complete failure to unnderstand asymetric warfre to boot. Whose ‘percetion’ are we talking about here?

      Whose perception matters, in an assymetric war, Wayne?

  15. Wayne Mapp 15

    Bill
    Obviously I am aware of the last vote and how it went. But circumstances have changed. Paris is the largest terrorist event since 9/11. The US, France and in a fashion, Russia are acting in concert.
    That is why Cameron is now putting a new case, and why it is a challenge for many UK Labour MP’s.
    Now I appreciate most commenters on The Standard are Corbynites, but that is not the only rational viewpoint. Obviously many UK Labour MPs are finding this is a challenging issue. And most of them are not fools and knaves as some commenters here seem to believe.

    • lprent 15.1

      Now I appreciate most commenters on The Standard are Corbynites

      Huh? How could you guess that? Some commenters actively support Corbyn. Others are mildly interested. But most would be in a wait and see mode. I know I am. And that doesn’t even count the right wing comment who uniformly think he is a pain.

      Where did you suck that bit of wisdom from? Your arse?

      • b waghorn 15.1.1

        I’m very wary of Corbyn due to the fact he made a radical vegan his shadow minister for farming,

    • Tracey 15.2

      Wow. You dont cout stuff in middle east countries?

      And remember when Obama denied the US bombdd MSF … 24 hours later? And how long til they admitted it?

      Biggest… what a vacuous measure you invoke.

      Do you support all opposition leaders in western countries who are “right”?

    • Ad 15.3

      Come on Wayne step the debate up and stop throwing bait out.
      You’re better than that.

    • DoublePlusGood 15.4

      “Paris is the largest terrorist event since 9/11”
      You cannot be serious. By what measure? Here are some terrorist attacks since September 11, 2001 where loss of life was greater:
      Bali?
      Moscow, 2002?
      Beslan?
      Madrid?
      The Ashura bombings in Iraq 2004?
      Sadr City, 2006?
      April 2006, Baghdad?
      Train bombing in Mumbai 2006?
      August 2007, Iraq bombing of Yazidi communities?
      Mumbai, 2008?
      January 2012 attacks in northern Nigeria?
      May 2013, Iraq?
      May 2014 attacks in northern Nigeria?
      The plane blown up over Sinai around the time of the Paris attacks?

      Or did you just mean “Terrorist attack with the largest amount of attention from the West?”

    • Colonial Viper 15.5

      Wayne, your historically blind commentary showcases the “senility of the elites” afflicting western leadership at present.

      ISIS/Daesh territory is entirely landlocked.

      If NZ wants to stop ISIS/daesh, we should be protesting to the Turkish Government to shut down the border crossings used by ISIS to ferry men, materiel and oil.

      We should also insist that the legitimate government of Syria and its institutions and military forces be a key component of the fight against ISIS/Daesh in Syria.

  16. Ad 16

    A quandary I am coming to is that almost every action available about Syria would seem to make things worse, including Do Nothing. So we must choose the least damaging of options (Sounds very similar to the Climate Change debate!).

    I can’t for the life of me see anyone but the UN Security Council – fragile filament of political reality that it is – forming the super-coherence among world leaders that is needed.

    There is also very little alignment and very serious conflict among a wide-ranging group of powers that are allegedly in some areas working together. This list of collaborators at risk of coming to blows with one another includes the United States, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Israel, France, Iraq, and others. If they are going to shoot each others’ planes down, it gets pretty hard to form proper and mandated coalitions. Nut jobs like Trump don’t help either.

    Sometimes looking at the changing maps of the Middle East makes me think of a version of the Balkans prior to World War One. It’s a great Gordian Knot of interconnected and thorny problems that are getting worse. The more we struggle with it, the worse the problems become for us.

    But the great difference between history and present events is: the present doesn’t wait.

    • Pascals bookie 16.1

      https://crankville.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/what-is-the-un-even-for-though/

      “I think a solution won’t look like a simple military slice of the knot. The regional players, (not just the states, but the tribes and the patrons and all the rest), need to grapple with the borders and create states that are legitimate.

      That is going to be hard. It won’t be easy to get representatives around the table. But at least it will face the actual issues. Everything from a Kurdish state, to a new Sunni state in Anbar, to exile for Assad with a trial in absentia, protection of the Allawites and whatever all else, will have to be on the table.

      The international community will need to step in with peacekeepers, probably for decades. Syria will need to be rebuilt. The UN must play a massive role. It will not be cheap. I reckon the arms and oil cos should foot the bill myself, but it may be that tax hikes in the west (gasp) are necessary.

      Many people say this threat is like WWII, and if that’s true, then what I’m talking about shouldn’t be seen as an extreme response. I think it’s a more rational one than trying to work out who we should betray next. It will probably, despite it’s enormous cost, be cheaper than another 20 years of war.”

    • Anne 16.2

      I can’t for the life of me see anyone but the UN Security Council – fragile filament of political reality that it is – forming the super-coherence among world leaders that is needed.

      And just imagine if Helen Clark was running the show. Even Putin would be falling into line and doing what he was told. 😈

  17. Pascals bookie 17

    This is interesting too, from Iraq

    “WATCH: US-led coalition airstrike destroys ISIS bridge near Ramadi, Iraq.”

    “ISIS bridge”

    “Coalition airstrike destroys daesh bridge near Ramadi Iraq 18 Nov to protect Iraqi security forces from VBIED attacks”

    Who is on the deffensive?

    Destroying a pretty damn big bridge to stop VBIEDs?

    How long are we expecting Daesh to be in control of Ramadi?

    Is that bridge really of more use to them than us?

    hmmm.

    • Colonial Viper 17.1

      It’s tactical destruction of Iraqi infrastructure. I’m sure Bechtel will get a contract to rebuild the bridge in due course.

  18. Wayne 18

    Some of you seem to think I have extreme views on this issue. But if I do they seem to widely held among governments that we are normally quite close to.

    Obviously Hollande and Obama, neither of whom could be described as of the Right, hold them. It also seems that quite a few UK Labour MP’s also hold them.

    So they don’t justify the protestations of outrage they seem to have generated.

    And it hardly seems unreasonable for me to speculate on what many UK Labour MP’s will be thinking. I have met enough UK Labour MP’s over the years to know that many of them will be evaluating the issue in the manner I have described.

    But some of the responses do show the danger of me saying anything at all on The Standard, even if it is only on how I perceive that MP’s in another nation might be considering an issue that is of international interest.

    • Pascals bookie 18.1

      Hi Wayne.

      I don’t think you have extreme views. I simply don’t know what your views are, as you simply mouth weird meta statements about perceptions.

      I wrote a fairly long comment that you seem to be reponding to while avoiding any of the actual points or questions that I raised, which pretty much confirms my point I think.

      Have a good weekend though.

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