Friday, 20 November 2015

Cameron's Hypocrisy Over Syria

David Cameron says he will make the case for bombing Syria.  He says that he wants to bomb ISIS. Yet, this is the same David Cameron, who two years ago wanted to bomb Assad, whose forces are currently fighting ISIS!  It seems that Cameron isn't bothered who he is supposed to be bombing, provided he can be seen to be bombing somebody, so as to be seen to be doing something, for electoral purposes.

He says he wants to be bombing ISIS, because of what a terrible menace they are. No socialist would disagree that they are, but the reality is that ISIS were created, like Al Qaeda and other Sunni jihadist groups, by the West, and they continue to be financed, trained, and equipped by the West's allies in the Gulf feudal monarchies.

In the early 1980's, it was the CIA which provided finance, training and weapons for Osama Bin Laden, for him to attack the USSR, and its allies in Afghanistan, which eventually led to the establishment of Al Qaeda.  It has been a tried and tested modus operandi of the CIA, which maintained plausible deniability, by using proxies to do the fighting for it, and by supporting those proxies via third parties.  In Afghanistan, they fought the USSR, using Bin Laden, who, in turn, was supplied via Pakistan.  The same approach has been seen with the CIA's creation of the KLA, in Serbia, in which Bin Laden himself played a role, in the Iran/Contra deal and so on.

And that has been the method of the US, and other western powers, in Libya and Syria too.  They have given support to the Gulf Monarchies, who they provide with weapons, and other logistical support, despite their vile reactionary nature, the existence of which, in other cases, they would use as a basis for intervening and overthrowing, rather than sustaining, the regime.  In the case of Saudi Arabia, it is the source of the Wahabi ideology that stands behind all of the Sunni jihadists, and it is through their global network of madrassas that the jihadists are recruited.  These gulf monarchies then also provide the financing, training and weapons that the jihadists require to undertake their attacks in Iraq, Libya, and Syria.  The cost of that, for the US, is that those same jihadists then freelance to attack targets in Europe and elsewhere, but it is a cost that the US and its allies are prepared to pay, in order to obtain their wider global strategic objectives.

It is totally ridiculous, therefore, for organisations, such as the AWL, as they have done in the past, for example, in relation to Libya, to argue that those same feudal gulf regimes, are the means by which bourgeois democracy was to be brought to states such as Libya and Syria.  Besides the fact that it is ludicrous even to suggest that bourgeois democracy is going to be spread by feudalist regimes - if that were the case why didn't those regimes first spread bourgeois democracy within their own state - but a look at the facts, of what transpired in Libya, and Syria disproves it.

If Cameron, or any other western politician, really wants to deal with ISIS, or any of the other Sunni jihadists, they should start by addressing the root of the problem.  That is a) the continued role in general, and persistence of religion in the modern world, b) the role of Saudi Arabia in promoting Wahabism across the globe, c) the role of Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf Monarchies, in creating, financing and equipping Sunni jihadists to act as mercenaries to undertake its battles, d) the role of Turkey, which seeks to re-establish itself as a neo-Ottoman, sub-imperialist power in the region, e) the role of Turkey in supporting ISIS, by providing safe passage and refuge, and by bombing Kurdish fighters, who have been the most effective forces on the ground.

Yet, Cameron, Obama and others refuse to address any of those issues, because, in the end, all of those forces are the means by which they implement their global strategic objectives.  Those objectives involve undermining the influence of Iran, and its supporters in the region, because behind them stands Russia, and increasingly China.  Of course, what has been said on one side, likewise applies on the other.  Russia uses Iran in the same way that the US uses Saudi Arabia.  Socialists should give no succour to either of these competing forces in the new great game.

We should not allow ourselves to be drawn into the idea that simple solutions exist by bombing Syria, any more than such simple solutions of bombing Iraq, Serbia, or Libya, provided any progressive solutions.

The same politicians, both Tory and Blair-right, who argue that austerity must be imposed on workers in Britain, are quick to argue that billions must be wasted on weapons to bomb Syria, or some other country, and some of them will even admit that a solution would require billions more being spent on investment, in the target country, to develop the economy and so on, so as to provide stability.  So, how is it that they argue the need to spend these billions, in some other country, to provide the necessary development, and so on, but argue that there is no money for such investment in Britain itself?

Of course, they are right that expecting a modern bourgeois democracy to simply spring into existence in any of these countries will not happen without such long-term investment.  That is why the ideas of liberals, including those such as the AWL, who think that you can just argue for bourgeois democratic demands and institutions, in these states, irrespective of the underlying material conditions, are not just utopian dreams, but they are dangerous folly, because they can only result in a collapse into the kind of chaos and barbarism that has, in fact, resulted in Iraq, Libya and Syria.  It is the reason these states had bonapartist regimes in the first place.

Its not to say that these countries, or the people of the region, are incapable of bourgeois democracy. It is to say that they, just as Britain, France, Germany and other European countries, in the past, can only sustain such a bourgeois democracy on the basis of sufficiently developed economies, and the social classes and institutions that arise from them.

Of course, as Labour MP, John Woodcock, said on TV, earlier in the week, that would require a long term commitment to investment in those countries.  But, the point is that all experience shows that no such commitment exists.  Indeed, they cannot even commit to it in Britain, or in Greece, where it would be the sensible course of action.  Instead they insist on the need for the imposition of austerity.

But, in the case of the Middle East, and elsewhere, any such programme of nation building, would, in fact, require something like a return to the introduction of colonialism, so that a strong state power was able to exercise power and order, whilst such investment and economic and social development took place.  Yet, the advanced industrial powers abandoned colonialism, in favour of imperialism, nearly a century ago, because there was no point in running expensive colonial regimes, and maintaining colonial slaves when what they needed was free wage labourers, who produced large amounts of relative surplus value!  Imperialist powers today only use colonialism, as a short term measure, for military-strategic purposes, such as in Iraq after 2003.

So, it is all very well, conservative politicians justifying their intervention by putting forward all these high-sounding objectives, but the reality is, and experience has shown, that they have no intention of actually carrying out any of those longer-term requirements.  Just as with the attack on Iraq and Libya, it will be a case of say anything to get permission for the bombing and the overthrow of the current regime, and then forget the rest, leaving the country in chaos.

We should have no part in supporting it.  Rather as Trotsky set out a century ago, when he opposed intervention in the Balkans, it is the duty of socialists to oppose it.  When conservative politicians attacked Trotsky and other socialists for opposing such intervention in the Balkans a hundred years ago, calling him a doctrinaire, Trotsky responded.

“To speak of the 'liberation' of Macedonia, laid waste, ravaged, infected with disease from end to end, means either to mock reality or to mock oneself. Before our eyes a splendid peninsula, richly endowed by nature, which in the last few decades has made great cultural progress, is being hurled back with blood and iron into the dark age of famine and cruel barbarism. All the accumulations of culture are perishing, the work of fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers is being reduced to dust, cities are being laid waste, villages are going up in flames, and no end can yet be seen to this frenzy of destruction...Face to face with such reversions to barbarism it is hard to believe that 'man' is a proud sounding word. But at least the 'doctrinaires' have one consolation, and it is not small: they can with a clear conscience say, 'Neither by deed nor word nor thought are we guilty of this blood'” (Trotsky - The Balkan Wars 1912-13, p 332)

See Also:  Trotsky v The Interventionists and Lessons Of The Balkans

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