Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Corbyn, Labour Internationalism and Britain as a "Global Player".

“Those would not be policies I could support. I would not support a policy of leaving Nato. It would be highly irresponsible with the world as it is right now,”
No policy debate in British politics is as futile as the future direction of Britain's foreign policy. The Labour leadership race in particular makes that apparent. Andy Burnham claims he would not serve in a Corbyn cabinet if he insisted on scrapping Britain's Trident nuclear defence system or left NATO.
If politicians like Burnham are going to make assertions such as these they need to provide reasons. It is not immediately apparent how the attempt to expand NATO east is either wise or responsible. Nor is it obvious why renewing the Trident nuclear system is so important. For the Cold War ended in 1990.
'Establishment' politicians are fixated by Britain being a 'global player' and 'sitting at the top table' so that 'no options are off the table' and it thereby has 'credibility'. As a consequence of Britain's outdated and dysfunctional electoral system-and so leadership power hunger-none of these shibboleths is ever challenged.
If, as Tony Blair asserts, 'this is not the 1980s', then there is no reason why the existing 'defence' orthodoxies and policies need endure. The absurdity of Britain and France being Global Players in the UN, as a consequence of a international power political balance created 70 years ago, is quite evident.
Corbyn, of course, is no less deluded than the establishment he claims to confront. The idea Britain giving up nuclear weapons would set a 'moral example' and convince China or Russia to follow suit is as much a hangover from the last days of empire in the 1960s as is the hankering after a 'Global Role'.
The flaw in Corbyn's stance on Britain and the World is not due to him being an 'isolationist' as Yvette Cooper claims, in contrast to her standing in the tradition of the left's 'internationalism'. This word, which has resonance on the left, has been purloined by Cooper to mean Britain is a global power'.
Whereas Cooper thinks Britain has the duty to be a global social worker and using the military to install liberal democracy in Afghanistan, which is completely absurd, Corbyn seems to think that if Britain renounced 'imperialism' the world would be a better place and it would just give peace a chance.
There is a good case for Britain engaging with Iran and involving it in a political peace settlement over Syria. But with Britain having established diplomatic relations with Tehran recently, this is probably going to be the policy anyway. This was a result of the nuclear deal that the US led and Britain followed.
However, the war in Iraq and Syria is a Sunni-Shia conflict that has origins deep in history and which preceded Britain's imperial role and has little to do with either the US or Britain. That evident fact often leads StWC hacks to come out with paranoid nonsense about it being caused wholly by a "divide and rule" strategy.
The irony is that Corbyn's followers, weaned on Chomsky's texts, would appear to be wanting to claim the West has more power over events in the Greater Middle East than the US or it's junior partner Britain really has. No less than with the Blairites and New Labour, Britain has the power to remake the global future. 
This myth also applies with the idea Corbyn could force Israel to sit down with his 'friends' Hamas and Hizbollah and forge a political settlement. The fact that growing Sunni-Shi'ite enmity means Iran no longer backs Hamas-and that Hizbollah is not friends with Hamas any more-complicates that.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Corbyn is crowd pleasing, grab the Muslim vote in Britain as well as unify Muslim and non-Muslim as an empowered 'we' who can really force a nuclear armed superpower in the Middle East to negotiate with a resistance organisation that, for good or ill, is isolated and mostly defeated.
The other problem is that because Corbyn is opposed to nuclear power, as a consequence of his obsolete and unscientific worldview about the hazards they pose to humanity, Britain and EU states would be ever more reliant on gas. In turn that means that the 'energy security' dilemma remains.
Corbyn rightly points out that NATO expansion and war in Afghanistan were about energy security and geopolitics. But unless Britain finds real alternatives-or reduced its population and curtailed migration-it is bound to be set on finding secure energy sources such as Israel's planned EU pipeline via Cyprus.
Corbyn has been candid about 'energy security' involving a ramping up of militarism and conflict .i.e insecurity is good and much needed. The problem is he views that through his dated 'anti-imperialist' ideology and so it is bound to be mechanically written off as 'extreme', 'cynical' and 'anti-western'.

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