First written March 2017
The reek of insincerity typical of Stop the War Coalition ideologues runs right through everything Chris Nineham writes. Elsewhere in StWC propaganda, Trump's missile strikes are written off as 'senseless' and that they 'achieve nothing'. The war, six years long, should just stop and that it has not is only important if the US or Britain acts.
In fact, they obviously have achieved 'something' in repositioning Trump as a staunch and messianic opponent of Russia in Syria, prepared to stand up and defend human rights and international law while before he posed as an isolationist. It's a myth, of course, but important in order to stake out the moral high ground.
The missile strikes were especially useful for Trump from a domestic perspective as it could well lead to his Democrat and Republic enemies dampening down their attempts to prove 'Russian connections' or destroy his 'credibility' by portraying him as a Kremlin stooge. There was a frear Trump was not playing the game.
Clearly, the alleged Assad gas attacks were seized upon as a pretext for the US to justify muscling back as a Great Power that could use missile strikes to try and drive a wedge between the Syrian state and Russia. When former StWC Corbyn claimed there was a 'need for a political settlement', he failed to notice Trump's team said the same.
Whether that will succeed is unclear but this is the ambition and it was entirely omitted from STWC articles. It's too early to mechanically write that off, as Nineham does, in the secret hope it does not succeed, even if it leads, by accident or design, to advancing the urgency of another round of Geneva peace negotiations.
It is actually highly unlikely Russia would 'drop' Assad or demand he must 'go'. The fear Russia might would certainly be annoying to those who are reflexively anti-American and revolving all concerns not around whether Syrians live or die but in seeing US aims thwarted. Even so, that was the stated intention of the strikes.
It's quite clear Nineham fears such a forced peace because his only real interest is in ramping up hatred towards one power block, the US and the West. There is no other consideration at work beyond a wholly fake concern for dead Syrians in so far as the West could be considered 'the root cause' of 'all the deaths' past, present and future.
Consequently, the fact the war continued to rage on with or without the missile strikes, and made no real difference to the war on the ground, is simply not considered as different from the supposed 'message' of the gunboat diplomacy sent out as a warning shot across the bows. Nineham simply is not interested in the reality of the war.
On the contrary, the Trump 'intervention' is only analysed from the perspective of how it could be portrayed, in some unspecified and generalised sense, to upping the level of carnage so that Nineham and the StWC can use it to score propaganda coups later. From a Leninist SWP, position this is the only real concern at stake.
In fact, the StWC are as phoney, in this sense ,as the hypocrites leaping on to the image of gassed children to justify direct military intervention and rebranding Trump as some sort of genuine humanitarian. or that the missile strikes were about them as opposed to their use value as little corpses slain by 'WMDs'.
Boris Johnson's use today of such language as a 'game changer' pretty much summarises the real agenda as being one of Great Power politics and using gassed children as a counter in a geopolitical maneouvre on the Syrian chessboard in particular and the Middle East in general.
Nineham's question is actually very similar to the one being asked by Boris Johnson. He writes,
'The chemical attack at Khan Sheikhoun was horrific, and outrage is the only human reaction. But the question is, has Trump's response really helped to limit future killing?'
In actual fact, the question is really first why this outrage is being selected and why with this timing as both regards the Assad state's alleged decision to use it and the fact Trump used it as and when he did. 'Outrage' is not the 'only human reaction'. It's one among many, such as incredulity, puzzlement, pity and, at best, scepticism.
The necessary reaction, if anything, is best an objective one of standing back, taking in to account horror at this as among many others in Syria and the way in which it has being selected to advance political point scoring. That it 'ought' not be that way is a different question from the fact it 'is' the case.
Trump's 'response' cannot be calculated according to whether it has 'really helped to limit future killing'. Killing is going on anyway; so the question is really whether it would achieve what is claimed by those supporting it: whether it would compel Assad to stop using chemical weapons. ( if he has ) and if it is 'limited and proportionate' to its aims.
Nineham wouldn't countenance the idea the missile strikes were part of a strategy that 'might' at a certain future stage compel Russia to rein in Assad and push it wards peace negotiations as some justifying is argue it could. In his view, accepting that as an objective possibility could only be an attempt at warmongering justification.
Missile strikes might well deter Assad from using chemical weapons again, without escalating the war and push Russia and America towards brokering a deal. Even if one is sceptical, that was the stated claim. Any individual or organisation genuinely interested in peace rather than war would have analysed it.
So the question is what could have compelled Russia to have an advantage in doing so without Trump having felt he had to rush into a military intervention, albeit a very limited missile strike, in order to do so and if , after the attack in Syria came to light, whether forceful diplomacy would have worked just as well.
This is especially the case given the negligible military advantages of the strikes in affecting the war. that Nineham and other StWC hacks insinuate is true. After all, they claim it's 'senseless' and just bound to 'escalate' the war, though it's not clear whether they mean the war on the ground or some New Cold War with Putin's state.
Nineham is not interested as he is simply indifferent to reality. The purpose of 'stop the war' propaganda is to manipulate and ratchet up inchoate domestic anger against the US and so Britain. The StWC has no real way and not even much intention of 'stopping' wars because they are inevitable products of 'the system'.
The line has less to do with genuine pacifism and more with resurrecting their own otherwise redundant careers, as leading Trotskyite activists dedicated to mobilising the masses and 'building the movement' which, in alignment with a Corbynist Labour Party, could help promote the revolutionary class war against the British state.
To that extent, any setback, any humiliation and disaster for Britain in its foreign policy, the better. After all, Assad is supported by Hizbollah which is ranged against Israel and so the US and this global capitalism and imperialism. Britain is either a villainous imperialist or a mere poodle of the US or it is both as a warlike 'attack dog'.
In the crude ideological mindset inhabited by Nineham, 'the interventionists' and 'intervention' means only ever the Western Powers and 'imperialism' ( at a stretch that could even mean Russia in order to pose as being 'objective' ). There is no genuine compassion for the victims of war, only a desire to use their deaths as counters in a game.
It's really old stuff, though rebranded for the modern propaganda consumer, that comes directly from Vladimir Lenin's strategy of 'revolutionary defeatism' in Russia during the run up to and course of World War One until the old regime fell. The position is, if the slogan is even remembered from the Iraq War protests, 'regime change begins at home'.
With 'imperial war', therefore, the more deaths, the more slaughter, the better. Once this is grasped, explaining why phony lip service paid to humanitarian arguments, either their own or that of others, becomes clear. The leading StWC ideologues are not much bothered about arguments against war and violence. Just Lenin's 'who-whom ?'
They crave violence t so long as it is directed against the US and Britain. 'Anti-war' means only 'their wars' meaning the wars of the 'class enemy', the apparatus of state capitalism and so Western imperialism. This line of 'thought' goes back to Leon Trotsky and was outlined in polemics such as Their Morals and Ours.
'Stopping' war means furtively aligning, at one level, with any power capable of humiliating 'the West', thus harnessing the very justified anger directed at Britain's establishment in its drive to war in Afghanistan and Iraq and Libya into forms they could manipulate. This was very obviously the case with George Galloway and his 'Respect' Party.
It's instructive that neither it, fragmenting as it did during the Syrian Civil War, nor the StWC have had much of a coherent position over this struggle because it could not be portrayed simplistically as one of 'Western Imperialism' vs some Global Islamo-Leftist Resistance because of the sectarian Sunni and Shia enmities involved.
After all, certain now forgotten Islamists who once graced StWC protests ( e,g Soumaya Ghannoushi) went on after the "Arab Spring" to support Islamism and democracy both in Tunisia and, curiously, Erdogan's Turkey, despite his clear neo-Ottoman ambitions. Maybe some imperialism is more imperialistic than others.
But most in the leadership circles of the StWC, self important windbag hypocrites and howling knaves tthat hey are, would not notice or actually care that much. It's only ever the hypocrisy of their designated enemies, those up there in power accused of their evil with pointy fingers that matters not their own.
The StWC leaders, Lindsey German, John Rees, Chris Nineham, Tariq Ali, Andrew Murray et al are actually one of a piece with the pro-war set in the establishment they rail against in espousing positions that are beyond mere hypocrisy and which amount to purest Orwellian doublethink in word and deed.
The only difference is that they have no power and won't acheive it or substantially influence any organised political opposition capable of determining a shift in British foreign policy. What they do acheive is getting in the way of a credible and principled opposition to the new post Cold war era of conflict from emerging.
They make it so easy for the establishment to dismiss those opposed to wars as cranks or tankies or hard left 'sympathisers' for any regime opposed to 'stopping' Britain and the US as 'Global Players'. That image is one destined to stick now, not least to Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party in the 2017 General Election.
Unfortunately, for Corbyn he is irredeemably associated with these sinister figures after having been Chair of the StWC during the years of the 9/11 Wars. The need for a principled opposition to Britain's unconditional shoulder to shoulder stance with the US has never been so badly needed. Regrettably, these creeps have ensured it won't happen.