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Left Internationalism

Written By: - Date published: 8:55 pm, December 5th, 2015 - 39 comments
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Hilary Benn and Maria Eagle have invoked “Labour’s proud internationalism” to support their votes for bombing ISIL in Syria to keep Britain safe! As Michael Chessum points out in the LRB, this view of Labour’s internationalism is statist rather than socialist. We can be proud that Kirk, Lange and Clark have all shown a different  version of left internationalism that is much more genuinely “labour’s answer to capital’s global power.”

As for Hilary Benn’s oratory applauded so effusively by the Conservatives, Orwell would have recognised the distorted language as he cloaked his rhetoric under the flag of the International Brigade. Christians would  wonder why he used the parable of the Good Samaritan when Christ’s invocation to do good to those that hate you might be considered a more effective counter to what is clearly an ideological campaign waged by Isis.

Kirk sent a frigate to Mururoa, and while the French committed their own act of state terrorism in bombing the Rainbow Warrior we no longer have nuclear experimentation in the Pacific. Lange refused to allow the Americans to send us warships with nuclear weapons and that policy has now prevailed. Clark refused to join the “coalition of the willing” in invading ( and destroying) Iraq which means that Labour in New Zealand is not shamed and divided as is UK Labour, still reeling from the disastrous legacy of the lickspittle Blair.

Chessum’s article is worth quoting:

Benn and Eagle’s understanding of internationalism belies a deeply institutionalised understanding of Labour’s purpose. When Jeremy Corbyn and others on the Labour left oppose war, it is not just because they deem the case weak and the civilian casualties unjustified – it is also because they understand that ‘we’ will not be bombing Syria at all: the British state will be. For Benn, as for most other front bench Labour politicians over the past century, the Labour Party is part of the sensible establishment that runs the state. It is only under this assumption that it makes sense not only to maintain a nuclear deterrent and an interventionist foreign policy, but to establish it as a funding priority above schools and hospitals, even when the public oppose it.

Benn’s case for war is weak, which is why the focus has gone on to the oratory. Left internationalism has always been more about supporting the cause than the state, and sees more war as the last resort, not the first option.


39 comments on “Left Internationalism”

  1. Mike the Savage One 1

    I hate to say it, but generally “internationalism” is dead, it does not exist, apart from empty words. The majority middle classes of “western” nations have long decided, they can live with slave like labour in other, poorer countries, preferably NOT at their door-step, to deliver the cheap or affordable goodies they desire, be this clothing made in Bangla Desh, software made in Bangalore, cheap electronics made in some special economic zone in Mainland China, or perhaps now in Vietnam or Malaysia.

    If people, and that should include left voters, would really think and act as “internationalists”, they would show solidarity with workers in those places, and afford them a living wage also, and a decent environment to live in.

    But too many have fallen for various shades of neoliberalism, sometimes coloured with BS feel good labels like “clean green” and “free trade” or whatever comes to mind.

    As for Syria and the UK Parliament voting to now bomb ISIS there, I think it is just more hypocrisy, it will not solve anything, but there is a deep conflict of course, doing nothing means you’d be damned, doing something will result in the same.

    I would agree though that we are better advised to not fall for “statist” or other misguided solutions, that will not deliver, and try different approaches. Sending a frigate to Syria will be ridiculous if not mad, but what about NZ’s seat on the Security Council? What did we get told by Murray McCully and the PM, they wanted to try and reactivate the peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. What has come of that, I ask? We were told how “important” it was for us to be there. Perhaps now put in an effort to bring the real big powers and other nations represented on the Security Council to make harder decisions about Syria and also Iraq? But has little NZ got the guts and clout to do it? Not under the present PM and government I fear, the shower urinator, as he exposed himself, the fool.

    But I fear it is all a lost game, as borders there were drawn in colonial times, where the British and French took over from the Turks or Ottomans, and then split their bounty then. Oil is still in the game, it seems, but are we not trying to get rid of dependence on it in Paris?

    Suddenly it seems oil is a big factor in Syria also, ISIS and others trading with it, on a smaller and not so small scale. But should they not focus on a fossil fuel free future?

    I think we are stuck in yesteryear again, we are tied up in new and not so new conflicts, that keep us from doing what is most urgently needed. If internationalism still existed, and played a role, we may have a chance to get somewhere, but I see damned little of that kind of spirit anywhere.

    Who will be the sudden Messiah that may turn all this around, I wonder, it cannot be the leaders of the US, Russia, the UK, France and Germany that we have, they are all stuck in the trappings of the past, historic failures to be repeated. What a shame, I wish we had some reason for hope, in “internationalism”, it is just nowhere to be seen, not even within Labour in NZ, I fear.

  2. Ergo Robertina 2

    Good post. The reaction to Benn’s speech was a bit weird. Well executed, sure, but no-one should need convincing of the evil of Daesh. He made no rational case for the course of action proposed, and why it won’t make the situation worse.
    The Daily Mail’s Peter Oborne reckons
    Corbyn won the debate

    ”Mr Corbyn performed the role which every leader of the Opposition is expected to perform, according to British constitutional textbooks: he held the Government to account.”

    Incidentally Oborne is not the only conservative commentator giving Corbyn some credit lately.

    • Manuka AOR 2.1

      From that conservative commentator link:
      “But what has Corbyn said that is so stupid or dangerous? In the wake of the attacks in Paris, he declared that Britain ‘must not be drawn into responses that feed the cycle of violence and hate’. He has urged his country not to ‘keep making the same mistakes’ in the Middle East, something he has been saying for decades. ‘Enthusiasm for interventions has only multiplied the threats to us,’ he says, not unreasonably. He has said he will not support airstrikes in Syria unless it is clear that military action will help us achieve our strategic objective of defeating Isis.

      “If you look at Corbyn’s actual words — rather than the Twitter feeds of the organisations he is affiliated with or the outbursts of his crazy fans — his response to the difficult and frightening problem of terrorism has been sensible, cautious and moral.” – The Spectator deputy ed Gray

  3. Wainwright 3

    Your examples show that left internationalism has always supported the little guy against imperialist violence. Voting to murder civilians in the name of the Queen is clearly the opposite. Pity the scum who applauded Benn don’t gety that.

  4. Bill 4

    From the quoted article…

    it is also because they understand that ‘we’ will not be bombing Syria at all…

    Yup. (But this, unfortunately, is not what the article was saying), ‘we’ is only an identification with an idea; a particular construct we call ‘the state’. And Syria is no more real either.

    The simple reality is that people in planes will be dropping bombs on people on the ground with the intention of killing them. But it was a fine speech. And I’m sure that the variously widowed and bereft will understand that their loved ones had to die because, well, it was a fine speech.

    • Mike the Savage One 4.1

      I suppose we all die “in honour”, with a stiff smile on our face, made of tough material, just like once the Hitler Youth, sorry for the Godwin. “Blood and honour”, was it not? I am sickened, truly sickened.

      Then, I am sorry, does not even address the “collateral” damage does it?

  5. Ad 5

    God there’s so many things wrong with this post I don’t know where to begin.

    The invocation of the left’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War was a way of telling the current left to wake the hell up. Prior to the Spanish Civi War, the left’s concerns were with capitalism. What they had to deal with was an alteration to their standard class-war values by being forced to face Facsism. They woke up to this new and very under-theorised threat, and the world would have been far better for it if they had heard what the left were saying.

    Same applies here.

    It would also be lovely if the great madness occurring in the middle east was a tidy war between law-abiding states, in which it all gets a ribbon around it at the end like some Bismarckean fantasy. Hobbesbaum could then opine on the 2021 Treaty of Tel Aviv. Because that way, there would be nice hand-shaky rules. History is no guide to the applicability of rules. We have already seen France deliberately not invoke the NATO clause requiring all signatory nations to fight, despite France declaring war. The complexity of alliances has prevented that.

    You have to accept that Corbyn would never fight, no matter what. I can see he’s principled. But a pacifist cannot be Prime Minister. Not in this era, or any. Comparing Lange’s anti-nuclear stance is nonsensical. It would have been far better for Corbyn to have set out what a just war would look like. But Corbyn would be incapable of that, because he’s a pacifist.

    I doubt even the upcoming invasion of Jordan and hence Israel joining to defend Jordan would even wake Corbyn up.

    The left need to figure out what they stand for. This war is not tidy, it’s not about class or corporations, nor is it primarily about sexual identity, or vegetarianism, or climate change, or public transport, or ethnic identity, or any of the things that the left have allowed themselves to assent to defending over the last three decades.

    Nope. There’s no taming this one. You won’t be turning these jihadists into civil, modern secular people, with modern political concerns, wearing medieval religious disguise—and make it fit a new future member of the UN called Islamic State. We should be fighting against a sincere, carefully considered commitment to establishing a seventh-century legal and religious environment, and preventing their goal of bringing about the apocalypse. They have not yet stopped to consider our principles, nor will they ever.

    • RedLogix 5.1

      At some point in the not too far distant future, when the consequences of this tangled chain of madness become bitterly apparent, I think you may look back on this moment and wonder why we didn’t choose to put more effort into preventing wars, than we do to prepare for them.

    • Pascals bookie 5.2


      you run into the problem the rhetoric you are using runs well away from the fight anyone is suggesting.

      If you mean what you say here, if you genuinely think ISIS is a WW2 level threat, then where is the WW2 level plan?

      What would that even look like?

      I tell you what it wouldn’t look like;

      ‘Some bombing runs to degrade ISIS capacity to expand’.

      What is the actual plan for post ISIS?

      The vienna talks have produced ideas to restore the integrity of Iraq/Syria, while deciding from the outside who will be allowed to gain representation. Jordan, ffs, is being tasked with determining which rebel groups will be allowed to run in any election, should the victorious power on the ground actually decide to allow one. How well has banning groups from elections worked out in Egypt, or Iraq for the matter?

      The people who do the ground fighting will have the strongest claims on the ground. That will most likely be Shia in Iraq, and God knows who in Syria. The Kurds will be shafted, again.

      What will be the result 2 years hence? Will what is proposed deredicalise the sunni?

      You want to talk ww2 and ‘being serious’, come on then, talk serious to me.

      Shall we moblise the West into a war economy? Will we need the draft? Do we need to deploy millions of troops to occupay the entire area ISIS may expand into?

      Shall we exterminate the sunni in those areas? Drive them out? Or is the left wing position one that starts from a first principles of self determination and that governments derive legitimacy from the consent of the governed?

      Show me an actual plan, that takes into account the actual facts on the ground. Everyone agrees ISIS sucks, that isn’t the question, the question is whether or not the trick we have been using for the last few decades is still working. Evidnece suggests not, so we either go really hard on that trick, ww2 style, or we try something else to see if we can reduce the drivers of radicalisation.

      • weka 5.2.1

        That and what Ad’s ‘just war’ would look like. And the plan for the something else to reduce fundamentalism.

      • nadis 5.2.2

        And yet Wahhabi-ism which infects mainstream Islam has been around for more than 200 years, well before the colonial and post colonial meddling of England/France/US etc.

        There have been radical Islamists who see anyone outside their sect as a cancer that must be killed, and who want to impose a strict, pre-medieval Sharia law society on the world. Good-bye to non-wahhabi muslims, non-muslims, gay rights, womens rights, human rights, scientific thought, education, freedom of speech and all the other accoutrements of modern Western society.

        Yes, the West has given oxygen to this extremism, but it was always around, the West may have encouraged conditions for its growth but the West did not create it. As long ago as the 18th century Wahhabi clerics were calling for the death of all non-muslims, and the conversion or death of all non-Wahhabis.

        I don’t confuse the Wahhabi thinking with the vast majority of Muslims, but there is no accommodation with these zealots. I have no idea what the answer is, but its not negotiation or accommodation.

        And they were killing the opposition in great numbers before Western meddling – the birth of Saudi Arabia (before they discovered oil) came along with 40,000 public executions and 350,000 amputations. And the initial impetus for the export of Wahhabi thinking was not a reaction to US/English meddling but outrage with Nasser’s concept of secular nationalism and the embrace of socialism with all of its unhelpful equality and fraternity wrongheadedness. Nasser was and is a source of inspiration in the Arab world for his pan-arabism, social justice efforts and his non-aligned movement efforts (Egypt didn’t become a US vassal state until Sadat took over in the 1970s) – all things that made him a snake in the eyes of the Wahhabi Saudis and the Wahhabi inspired muslim brotherhood. Yet he was the last Arab leader with the ability to lead the Middle east in a modern manner. My point is, if the Wahhabis can’t tolerate a leader in a Muslim country like Nasser – what can they tolerate?

        Trying to think of where a modern, tolerant Islamic society exists and there aren’t many candidates – maybe Malaysia but even they have their issues. Indonesia – in some regards. Turkey perhaps, cant think of any other Muslim majority countries where all citizens have the full range of human rights protections. Perhaps that’s why so many emigrate to Europe and the USA.

        • Pascals bookie

          Well for a start we need to note that the Sauds are Western allied and propped up. That, along with the oil money, is where they derive theri ‘laeadership’ of Sunni arabia. We tolerated the Sauds spreading wahhibism because it was useful to us as a counter to pan-Arabism.

          But this is all history. Right now, non-whaibbist reformists are imporsoned in the gulf states, all our allies imprison, torture, kill and expel modernist reformers (and example would be https://twitter.com/iyad_elbaghdadi , a palestinian who spent most of his life in the UAE til he was expelled for pressing for arguing for reforms). We need to strongly pressure them to stop doing that.

          We don’t, because we worry that with reform we may lose the gulf states as clients. But given that as clients they push wahhibism, or at the least are sympathetic to it, then what exactly are we gaining?

          All this flows into the AQ doctrine of near enemy/far enemy. the gulf states, who are our allies, pay a lip service to wahhibism, selling it and similar forms of Islam as the jusitfication for their rule, while at the same time they are propped up and supported by the west. that tension , selling a philosophy that radicalises the population, and justifies radical interpretation, while not living up to it is part of the problem. It defines their rule as illegitimate in the eyes of radicals.

          But if the existence of whaibbism makes self deterination untenable, then what? What is the long term alternative?

          AQ and related groups have developed a style of warfare now that has proven its staying power, they have proven they can survive, even under the full occupation of Iraq (don’t make me laugh about the ‘surge’, by definition that was a shoirt term programme that could not be sustained, so everyone waited it out).

          We have made so many mistakes it’s not even close to funny. but yes, islamists are a massive problem, but keeping them from power means forever war at this point, or providing an alternative.

          So what it’s to be?

          • nadis

            I didnt say I had the answers.

            I was just pointing out that in addition to all the points you make that I agree with there is this. Wahhabi inspired muslims have wanted to chop your head off, enslave your children, and impose a pre-medieval code of justice on you and me since about 1780. That’s never gonna change no matter what the West does, we can only influence how successful they are at gaining recruits from outside Saudi Arabia. I believe we are in an existential war with them – if they win we convert or die.

            So yes, we have to find a way to fight and destroy them – accommodation or negotiation is not a viable option – without going to war against wider Islam. Without any functioning civil societies in the Muslim world there is no pressure from the silent majority withi Islam to marginalise the extremists. Tricky.

            • RedLogix

              So yes, we have to find a way to fight and destroy them – accommodation or negotiation is not a viable option – without going to war against wider Islam.

              That being the truly terrifying possibility here. On the whole I agree with your position on the Wahhabi sect. I’ve personal, first-hand reason to understand this is a belief system which cannot be negotiated with, nor accommodated.

              Without any functioning civil societies in the Muslim world there is no pressure from the silent majority withi Islam to marginalise the extremists.

              Which is why the inevitable mistakes and chaos of bombing campaigns is so extremely risky; it only dismantles functioning civil society.

              While I do not subscribe to the ‘it’s all the West’s fault’ meme here, it’s also true our interventions have so far only made a bad situation worse. The uncoordinated assaults we are undertaking at present; motivated by little more than retaliation, no exit strategy, and worse, the merest fig-leaf of global legitimacy … are a repetition of the same mistakes.

              While I firmly sit in the anti-war camp generally, I’m not a pacifist in the sense that I disavow a role for the military completely. Even the most civil, stable and developed nations, universally operate police forces; equally a global society would logically demand something comparable. But what we have now is little better than a ‘shoot first, questions later’ Wild West mentality. And with all the various actors operating covert and contradictory strategies, the risk of catastrophic unintended consequences is very, very real.

              The exercise of unconstrained national sovereignty has run it’s course. The only logical, consistent model that represents any kind of progress is the establishment of a federated, global authority which supersedes it. The results of nations being armed to the teeth, is no more sane than what we see when a population – eg the USA – does the same.

              • nadis

                That’s not a solution because a federated global authority will never happen. Ever.

                (Not saying it’s a bad idea just that it has zero chance of ever occurring).

                • RedLogix

                  And I’d concede that anyone who puts a timetable on such a thing is a fool. But equally, imagine yourself say a Victorian at the height of British Empire. And then a magical TARDIS transported you to the modern world.

                  How many ‘impossible’ things would you suddenly be confronted with?

                  • nadis

                    Well that’s different. If you said it might happen in 150 years time who knows. In the near term (ie inside 15 years), extremely unlikely (or never for a non-statistician).

                    • RedLogix

                      I’m a little more optimistic than that.

                      On the other hand, the hurdle to be leaped is a great one … and the force that I believe will inevitably impel us over it will be equally great.

                      Which in the short-term is grounds for considerable pessimism.

                      On a more pragmatic note; decoupling the Western economies from Middle Eastern oil would be a very useful step. I’d suggest this cold calculation has become at least part of the motivation behind making the current Paris talks a lot more productive.

    • Bill 5.3

      Nope. There’s no taming this one. You won’t be turning these jihadists into civil, modern secular people, with modern political concerns…

      Thing is, until the west, through its various interventions and support of puppet dictators (eg, the Shah in Iran or Sadam in Iraq etc) precipitated a cleansing of all politically informed ‘leftist’ opposition, leaving religion as the sole vehicle to articulate grievance, the region was full of ‘modern secular people with modern political concerns’.

      Some who acknowledge that, are defeatist about the solution, likening it to un-boiling an egg…

      • weka 5.3.1

        what do you mean by cleansing there?

        • Bill

          What do I mean by cleanse?

          Disappearance, murder, detention, torture…probably a huge secondary tier involving denial of access to jobs/promotion/housing…

  6. Sanctuary 6

    The British establishment hates Corbyn, from the liberal latte sippers of the Guardian to the deepest Tory haw-haw crowd at over-priced Canary wharf pubs. They’ve got a vested interest in talking up Benn’s speech in the hope they can create a figure to rally the resentful Blairite rump around.

    But the British public has seen through them.


    The real winner from the Syrian bombing debate was not Cameron or Benn, it was Corbyn. Why? because it is a shit policy based on wishful thinking and being seen to be “doing something”. So when it all goes wrong Pete Tong, he’s the only one who will be able to say “I told you so”.

    • RedLogix 6.1

      Yes .. this and the Oldham byelection, for all the ways you can twist the meaning of the result, one of them is NOT that the British public are rejecting Corbyn.

      Personally speaking, I should by fact of birth, class, gender and income, be one of those liberal latte sippers. But increasingly I find myself isolated from an Establishment I loath, radicals I cannot abide and moderates who’ve given up.

      Mike Smith’s OP on the meanings of left internationalism are a reminder of from whence they came. In the aftermath of WW2 the people who had borne the brunt of the losses – and while the grief of them was still fresh – supported the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a re-casting of global governance in the form of the UN.

      Our grandparents were not fools. They understood that the only means to prevent such folly was for the nations to surrender part of their sovereignty to a federal global body.

      But so much for Lest we forget. It seems we have.

  7. “Christians would wonder why he used the parable of the Good Samaritan when Christ’s invocation to do good to those that hate you might be considered a more effective counter to what is clearly an ideological campaign waged by Isis.”

    How do we ‘do good’ to Daesh? How would they react?

    I think the parable actually works in the way Benn intended, if you think of the beaten man as the Syrian people.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      From the Wiki page:

      Jesus answered, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he travelled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’ Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbour to him who fell among the robbers?”

      He said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

      Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

      I see nothing about where the Samaritan then went on a bombing campaign. Maybe you can.

      • Yep, that’s covered in the parable. Jesus was suggesting that the neighbourly thing to do was to help the beaten man. If Syria (or more precisely, the Syrian people) is the beaten man, then according to the parable, we should offer what assistance we can.

        • RedLogix

          The ‘help’ mentioned in the parable, involved taking the beaten man to a place of safety and paying for his on-going care.

          Now I understand that by way of parallel you are proposing that the ‘Samaritan’ should then have armed himself to the teeth and gone off to pursue the ‘robbers’ to stop them beating yet more victims.

          But this could have never been something Jesus would have advocated. If asked He would have said this ‘was a task for the king’. In other words, not the Samaritan himself, but for the ‘authority’ of the day.

          The only effective means humans have ever devised to tackle lawlessness and violence has been to surrender our personal desires for revenge and retribution in favour of a higher authority to whom we entrust the task of establishing – by force where necessary – peace and justice.

          The parable does not speak to this. It speaks to a personal responsibility we all bear to be compassionate for those we find in trouble and are weaker than us. It means we DO have a personal duty of compassion for the victims of Daesh, but not the right to inflict more chaos in the name of ‘helping’ them.

          • weka

            “The only effective means humans have ever devised to tackle lawlessness and violence has been to surrender our personal desires for revenge and retribution in favour of a higher authority to whom we entrust the task of establishing – by force where necessary – peace and justice.”

            That’s the crux of it for me. Who should be the higher authority in this situation? Not the Brits (nor, needless to say, the Americans).

            • RedLogix

              Since the end of WW2 we have, for most practical purposes, been living in a single globalised society. The UN has been it’s, albeit imperfect, global governance. But for much of this period the balance of power has be stubbornly retained by the larger member nations, reducing it’s effectiveness, stifling it’s evolution and discrediting it’s reputation.

              If the pattern of history is to be learnt from in the aftermath of all great conflicts a civilisation either seeks to expand the scope and range of it’s governance, or it collapses. After WW1 we formed the long forgotten League of Nations, post-WW2 the UN. Post whatever we are facing, we will likely re-cast the balance of powers so as the UN becomes more capable.

              If an ordinary dumb-arse person like me can see this, so too can our leaders. They must already know this is the only option we have, yet they dare not say it out loud. Rationally we do have the choice of understanding the consequences of an all-out global conflict, and from fear of them, we could choose to act now. I just want to say this out loud.

              As history also depressingly demonstrates most of the time fear, greed and paranoia, being very powerful emotions, will likely rule the day. Only after the consequences our actions have been suffered, only after the disillusion of our folly is undeniable, are we open to making the rational choice we should have made. The choice we inevitably had to make right from the beginning, which was to sit down and talk.

        • Morrissey

          Except, Te Reo, to continue with your rather laboured analogy, what the British have done is to side with the people doing the beating. The man being attacked by the Saudi/Turkish/Qatari/U.S.-funded criminals (i.e. Al Qaeda, the al-Nusra Front and ISIL, AKA “the moderate opposition”) is the government of Syria.

      • mac1 7.1.2

        I believe you are right on the money, Redlogix.

        I have been thinking and reading a lot about this parable. Martin Luther King said
        that the road to Jericho also needs addressing, and the motivation for the

        The road to Jericho was a well-known road for brigandage since it was a
        lonely road with many opportunities for ambush. In Christ’s time it was
        known as the ‘way of blood’. Part of the teaching of the parable may well
        have to do with decreasing the opportunity for crime and harm by the
        authorities responsible for the road taking steps to make it safe.

        Applying this analogy, as ML King said, would mean that the state should be doing more to ensure that societies are safe.

        The role of the robbers was mentioned but not for the Samaritan to go
        chase and punish the robbers. ML King preached that society’s role in
        creating robbers and their need to steal should also be addressed.

        Further, my realisation is that people need to have travelled along a ‘way
        of blood’ to understand what needs doing, and why. Victims of state
        violence, just like victims of robbers’ violence, need to have their
        condition understood. What Benn and the Tories are espousing is more state
        violence, with more problems created.

        I recall reading about an English mediator called into Northern Ireland to
        help mediate between the communities. He was making little progress until
        he witnessed an encounter on the street between British rifle-wielding
        troops and a young woman with a pram. The result of this casual brutal
        encounter left him shaking his fist in the middle of the road at the back
        of the departing armoured vehicle. He then realised that he needed to
        understand more of what kind of ‘way of blood’ that these ordinary people
        had to endure.

        His advocacy and mediation then changed along with its effectiveness.

  8. Sanctuary 8

    There are two real reasons no one in power the West advocates the sort of action necessary to defeat ISIS. Firstly, it suits the power politics at play in thre region to not do so. The victims of the Paris massacre were indirectly as much victims of western political power games as they were directly the victims of their attackers bullets. The second reason is war weariness. Where has fifteen years of endless wars actually got the West? We (if “we” means the West rather than just our governments) invaded Iraq, funded the anti-Assad forces, turned a blind eye to Turkey, pretend Saudi is our friend, meddle in the affairs of other countries, fail to bring Israel into line, back brutal dictators in Egypt but seek their overthrow elsewhere – the damn mess is the making of meddling Western powers and public are sick to the back teeth of war, war, constant war and the hypocrisy of it all.

    So we are left with bombing. Why? Because we had to do something after Paris! Bombing is something! So therefore let’s do it! What a shithouse basis for making foreign policy and for deciding to re-arrange the rubble of Syria and heap more misery on its people.

  9. savenz 9

    +100 Mike Smith.

    Syria war (like the Iraq war) is partly about economic interest – namely the natural gas pipeline running through Syria coming from Saudi Arabia/Qatar through Syria and Turkey.

    The west want it, the east want it and poor Syrians are in the middle with multiple (mostly all equally bad options). What do they do, try to leave and become refugees, little kids washed up drowned on the shores trying to escape. It is horrendous.

    I applaud Corbyn for sticking to his morals and not letting popular blood thirst for war and retribution sway his vote!

    It is a pity he is betrayed by people in his own party.

    The public support Corbyn, the public support zero war, but what do the Blairites in Labour want to do, undermine their own party and be ConservativeLite.

    No wonder UK Labour lost the last General election!

  10. Morrissey 11

    Clark refused to join the “coalition of the willing” in invading ( and destroying) Iraq…

    Clark was bullied and browbeaten into sending New Zealand troops to participate in the destruction of Afghanistan. Their conduct there has caused New Zealanders immense shame and humiliation.

    People will also recall Clark’s endorsement of the bloody-minded, ruthless and utterly spurious campaign against the Algerian member of parliament Ahmed Zaoui.

    And after the Waihopai Three took action against the spy base at Waihopai in 2008, Clark’s anger and her expressions of stygian malice against those protestors would have been terrifying if they had not had the security of being in the right.


  11. KJS0ne 12

    The idea that we need to and more importantly that we CAN bring the Sunni’s on side from our current position, in order to defeat ISIS is wooley thinking. The coalition worked bloody hard to bring the Sunni tribes on side in Iraq during the surge, and credit where due, they by and large succeeded. The problem is that the Sunni tribes begged the coalition not to leave, correctly foreseeing what would happen in their absence with Malaki and the Shia running an oppressive and punitive sectarian regime that completely dienfranchised the Sunnis, much like Saddam had done to the Shia.

    The Sunni tribes always bet on the strong horse, when the coalition was boots on the ground and had proven it’s chops they bet on the coalition, but only after many promises were made and the coalition had showed it was acting in good faith. Then we up and left. Obama wanted a quick solution and exit strategy to a situation that required a much longer game plan to stabilize. The coalition pulled the life support, and the Sunnis felt completely betrayed by the US and it’s allies.

    So when ISIS started taking over these cities like Mosul and Ramadi, these same Sunni tribes that bet on the coalition, gave their support to ISIS, because even if it is outrageously extreme and barbaric in some ways, at least it’s not going to persecute them for being Sunna, at least they feel they will have some sort of stability, and are not nearly so disenfranchised.

    So short of actually invading again, I don’t really see how you’re going to displace ISIS. The first part of the thought – Needing to win over the Sunnis is correct. The second part – That we can actually do it by dropping bombs and diplomacy, is woefully ignorant.

    You need to go in there 500,000 strong and stay for 20 to 30 years, you can’t go straight to democracy, you need a gradual transition. You need the culture of liberalism to take organically and to do that, you need to be the strong horse, not the distant diplomat and moon-light bomb dropper.

    That’s a tonne of money, lives and investment, but just like with Nazi Germany, you’re not going to convince the people to rise up until they feel like there’s something worth putting their lives on the line for. ISIS are just as totalitarian as the Nazis were on the home front.

    A satirist on twitter summed up the ISIS situation quite nicely:

    • KJS0ne 12.1

      should post script that by saying i’m not actually advocating an invasion, just saying that that’s probably what is necessary to displace ISIS, and an occupation is probably what necessary to keep the next ISIS from immediately filling the void.

      Whether the ends justify the means here is another story entirely.

      • Morrissey 12.1.1

        Do you not think it would be far more effective to stop funding and supporting ISIS?

  12. Smilin 13

    Its obvious as hell that you dont win a war by being the instigator or purveyor
    Look at the result of Dunkirk, The Dardanelles, Bombing of Pearl Harbour ,and the contentious 9/11 Vietnam and the mess that has resulted from the Bush wars just mention a few
    And while all the if buts and maybes go on about all that, facts are facts
    Unless the world understand the full organisation of ISIS and all that goes with the middle east, the situation will never be resolved
    And when our own western system deliberately keeps that understanding from the people we will continue to have our political representation full of holes in its decisions which the “enemy” will always use

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