Saturday, 31 August 2013

Syrian Crisis: On the Usless British 'Stop the War Coalition'.

Thursday's vote by MPs to bar the way to British involvement in a war against Syria is a vindication of the mass anti-war movement in this country over the last decade. Parliamentarians of all parties claimed that they had "learned the lessons of Iraq". Better late than never, of course.
The problem with the Stop the War Coalition is that it is led by the dregs of the hard left who have rigid ideological motives for opposing any war other than those which are against 'imperialism'. The very term 'anti-war' is deeply Orwellian as nobody wants to to be 'pro-war'.

Official dissimulation and spin from governments is as inimical to a democracy as the depressing fact the StWC leadership is less interested in war because it means 'more death' but because it is a great propaganda opportunity to harness in support of its underlying hard left agenda.

Andrew Murray remains a supporter of one of the world's most lethal totalitarian regimes in history the USSR which throughout its brutal and democidal existence brought militarism, the one party state, labour camps, political repression to an apogee and an unwanted empire to Eastern Europe after 1945.

If that had no bearing on the leadership of the StWC or the desire to channel 'outrage' at wars branded as 'liberal intervention' by those for the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars towards 'anti-imperialist' agitation, then the propaganda of the StWC could just be seen as mere populist annoyance at 'warmongering'.

But the fact is that those pursuing wars of 'humanitarian intervention' are not pantomime style villains 'concealing' their 'imperialism' with pleasant sounding words. All Murray has done as a leader in the StWC is demonstrate the spin doctors obsession with framing and fixing the debate.

Take this,
'The "special relationship" and "liberal interventionism" have alike been exposed as preoccupations of the establishment – indeed, only a section of it now – with no democratic mandate underpinning them. The possibility is now open for Britain playing a different role in the world, breaking with the policies and preoccupations of imperialism'.
The US is an imperial power but Britain is not. Moreover, many nations participated in the 'liberal intervention' in Afghanistan for reasons that have never been completely understood. No war is ever only about one thing but much evidence points to most wars since 1990 being resource wars.

Murray hypocritically condemns wars as being only a product of establishment preoccupations and 'imperialism'. But it seems clear most of the liberal interventions were partly about bringing democracy to countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq. These were wars advocated according to enlightened self interest.

No foreign policy ever has an exact 'democratic mandate' as if all people should be given a direct vote on whether war should happen or not. It is also difficult to understand why that is so important to Murray in any case given the StWC leaders have a history of supporting dictatorships.

Yet foreign policies based on 'democracy promotion' are intended to promote democracy and open access to the resources that enable the vast majority of consumers in the West to enjoy their high octane lifestyles. In order to criticise foreign policy one first has to understand what is really at stake.

The myth that military interventions are only 'all about oil' and corporate profit is a comforting one because in means the political elites-or Them-are wholly responsible and those who are not members of an elite would not benefit from stable or falling oil prices and gas.

Many people probably really value the economy more than morality. Where do you think the gas is going to come from ? As North Sea gas depletes, Qatar has become a main supplier to Western economies of LNG. Qatar backs the anti-Assad insurgents as do Saudi Arabia so the West supports them.

If they at least knew the facts, they might change their mind. But that the geopolitics of energy resources and pipeline routes are a major factor in the calculations of the main regional and global players in the Middle East is just not mentionable in front of the children.

The StWC also has no interest in an intelligent consideration of what military interventions are about. It had no clear 'position' on Syria and did not even care much until it seemed possible that Britain might join the US in intervening. As such the StWC had zero influence in the Parliamentary vote on Syria.

That is why Murray is attempting to take the credit for 'stopping the war'. As usual, self important StWC leaders are trying to justify their usefulness as any careerist politician, spin doctor or hack journalist does. There is no chance of averting future conflicts unless people understand how the world actually works.

That means going beyond rant filled embittered diatribes about 'warmongering' and 'hypocrisy' because in some sense unless a person is prepared to live without a car, not fly Easy Jet, never buy out of season fruit or advocate nuclear power then the possibility of conflicts over access to oil and gas resources is set to stay.

As Tolstoy wrote “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” The constant finger jabbing accusations about the 'hypocrisy' on the political elites' as opposed to 'ordinary people' is a common populist one made by those outside the established political system

Anyone can oppose wars whose origins are, in fact, not all identical or reducible to 'our imperialism'. The StWC was set up to 'stop' the 2001 Afghanistan War and, in fact, any war, But the proposed missile strikes, whatever one thinks of them would not amount to a war in themselves.

Murray does not understand the nature of the Syrian Crisis. That becomes quite obvious when
'This is the case in Syria, too, where the crying need is not for more bombing by anybody, but for a concerted drive for a Syrian-based political solution. The starting points have to include the west abandoning its cynical policy of basically prolonging a civil war which it wants neither side to win.'
This is not the situation.

The entire foreign policy of Washington on Syria has been and is about taking sides in the civil war and supporting its allies in Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia who are backing the militias fighting against Assad. The only reason it does not want Assad 'to go' is that Washington fears chaos and Al Qaida.

The intention behind the threat of missile strikes is to convince Assad that he will never win the civil war and to compel him to negotiate from the position of weakness at any forthcoming Geneva Conference. That would ensure, so the idea goes, that more pro-Western members of the SNC take power.

The reason is that the Western powers, primarily the US, France and Britain are strong allies and 'strategic partners' of Qatar and Saudi Arabia who support anti-Assad insurgents absurdly referred to as 'the rebels' against 'the regime'. Qatar supplies a large proportion of LNG to the West.

Iran, of which there is no mention here, is the regional enemy of Saudi Arabia and supports Assad and Hizbollah in the civil war. Washington does not want Iran to extend its influence through Iraq and Syria towards the Mediterranean, not least by building a gas pipeline from the South Pars gas field in the Gulf.

Ultimately, the geopolitical wrangle is crucially about the oil and gas supplies and regional influence. Qatar wants to build a gas pipeline between the same gas field that it shares with Iran. The US does not want Iraq moving towards Tehran through the proposed construction of its pipeline.

It is not possible to have a credible organisation that opposes the drive towards military intervention unless its leading figures understand the nature of these geopolitical struggles. If Britain cannot produce better and more sensible opponents to the drift towards a future of resource wars they will go ahead regardless.

It is lamentable that Murray is the deputy leader of a 'Stop the War' movement with a 'stance' on Syria does not even mention the alleged chemical weapons attack which, if it were proven to have been used by Assad, is the justification being used by Washington for why it should intervene militarily.

The suspicion that Cameron was leading Britain into 'Another Iraq' by preempting the findings of the UN inspectors does not, thereby, mean that the situation is directly the same as Murray is trying to pretend. The spin was similar but the actual situation is hardly 'the same'.
'It is now clear, as indeed it was in 2003, that most people have no wish to embroil Britain militarily in the Middle East, that they want the government to abide by international law and the authority of the UN, and that standing "shoulder to shoulder" with the US come what may has no purchase on their views or feelings.'
Obviously, 'most people' did not want Britain to invade Iraq or to by dragged in to a potential region wide conflict. Nor did they seem to want even the idea of a 'limited' and 'proportionate' response using cruise missiles. But, most of all, neither they nor many MPs thought the evidence was there.

However, the Labour amendment was about, among other considerations and conditions, about waiting for the findings of the UN inspectors. 'Most people' were not convinced of Cameron's case for war and the same id true of Labour, except Miliband did not actually rule out military intervention if CWs were used.

The fact is Murray would have opposed any military strike irrespective of the specific issue of chemical weapons but he does not want to draw attention to that. Even so, unless a person is a complete pacifist ( and nobody who supports the ex-USSR or dictatorship is ) then his stance on CWs is needed.

The reason for this is that no organisation can be a 'Stop the War' coalition' unless it understands what the case for the war they actually want to stop is. Murray nowhere engages in whether the case for intervention is valid or invalid, justified or unjustified. Other leading figures he works with, though, do have views on CWs.

The StWC also has George Galloway MP as a prominent member of a group absurdly termed a 'broad coalition' by Murray. On Iran's Press, TV George Galloway claims 'his theory' is that Israel gave Al Qaida the chemical weapons so that they would use them and bring in the West to destroy Syria.
"If there has been use of chemical weapons, it was al-Qaida. Who gave al-Qaida chemical weapons?...Here's my theory. Israel gave them the chemical weapons..If there has been any use of nerve gas, it is the rebels that used it."
Now this sort of conspiracy theory mongering may well advance Galloway's media career as a left wing shock jock but it discredits sensible opposition to wars that need to be based on evidence and making a strong case against wars on the rationales being given for them.

This includes countering official 'public diplomacy' with another form of misleading propaganda that relies upon distortion, a vision of the US as representing some cosmic power of Evil that can manipulate events to its exclusive and malign will, where protests to 'Stop an Iraq' War have 'stopped' it in Syria.

I have dealt already with this distortion of fact with regards what Washington's foreign policy is and it certainly is not about deliberately and intentionally prolonging a civil war that it has not a great deal of control over. To pretend the US does have control over it is, ironically, to accept the idea the US is omniscient.

This is the basis for the line about 'the West' which is said to be 'basically prolonging' the Syrian Civil War because it 'cynically' wants neither side to win. As this is factually untrue, the cynicism is Murray's because he is simply not interested in the Syrian Civil War for any other reason than to blame the West for it happening.

The reason for this crude propaganda line is that Murray just must 'prove' that the Syrian Civil War is not about sectarian enmities between Shia and Sunni Muslims or ethnic tensions that are present in Syria itself because that might upset the supporters in the Muslim Association of Britain.

So in order to formulate the Correct Public Doctrine, Murray spins the line that the civil war can only be solved politically if 'the West' stops trying to 'prolong' as if that were, in fact, 'Western' policy' without mentioning the fact that it is Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Iran who are backing the rival sides directly.

Using casual phrases such as the West 'basically prolonging' the civil war is a propaganda assumption designed to pathetically keep up the 'Islamophobic West' line ( despite a number of Syrians wanting Western intervention ) and to give the false hope that if protest can stop intervention it stops the problem.

Yet the entire way a very serious matter of war has been hijacked by the same well organised dreary fanatics in the StWC is one obvious reason why there is no intelligent alternative to the ever greater move towards military engagement in volatile oil rich lands or those strategically adjacent to them over the past decade.

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