Where do the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn Stand on War and Peace? – Reveal Collective

“This is a critical analysis of current Labour Party foreign policy; focus on keeping Trident, firing instructions to Trident commanders by Jeremy Corbyn, confirmation of a general nuclear strike policy (“no first use”), consent to air strikes on Syria, consent to drone strikes, promotion of the arms trade (which includes Israel), promotion and support for US imperialism and NATO, sanctioning retention of British troops overseas in Estonia and preparedness to deploy more troops abroad and retention of neo-colonialism possessions……”

On Trident and nuclear weapons…

Jeremy Corbyn, during the debate on Trident renewal, June 2016:

“Mr Corbyn gave a defiant speech at the Despatch Box as he called Trident an “indiscriminate weapon of mass destruction” and said he would be voting against its renewal… I do not believe the threat of mass murder is an adequate way of dealing with international relations,” he added.

(Source: ”MPs vote to renew Trident: Jeremy Corbyn suffers biggest rebellion of his leadership as Britain’s nuclear deterrent backed by 472 to 117”).

Jeremy Corbyn’s statement after the EU Referendum result:

“When I was elected Labour Leader nine months ago it was first of all on the basis of opposition to austerity, secondly, in support of a more democratic politics and, thirdly, for a foreign policy based on human rights and peace”.

(Source: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/146453034384/full-speech-from-jeremy-corbyn-on-the-result-of 25 June 2016)

Where does he stand now?

“I am often asked if as prime minister I would order the use of nuclear weapons…Labour is committed actively to pursue disarmament under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and we are committed to no first use of nuclear weapons”.

And what does “no first use” mean? It means that his Labour Government (if elected) would use nuclear weapons and commit what he previously condemned as “mass murder”. And, just so as to avoid any misunderstanding, in the same paragraph, Jeremy Corbyn goes on to state emphatically:

“But let me make this absolutely clear. If elected prime minister, I will do everything necessary to protect the safety and security of our people and our country. That would be my first duty….”

(Source: The Spectator; Jeremy Corbyn Chatham House speech, 12 May 2017)

And just to be totally clear, he has signed up to fully endorse Trident in Labour’s manifesto which says:

“Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent”.

(Source: Labour Party Manifesto 2017, page 122).

Whatever his personal or private views may be, he is now promoting support for what he once called an “indiscriminate weapon of mass destruction”. That is his public policy now, whether or not there may be yet another Labour Party review on Trident in the future – a review which like the last one, Labour Party opponents of Trident cannot win due to the overwhelming support for Trident among Labour MPs and certain union leaders.

The signs of Jeremy Corbyn’s accommodation with a pro-Trident policy were already visible back in March. When interviewed on The Andrew Marr Show, despite his considerable evasiveness, Jeremy Corbyn eventually confirmed he would instruct Trident submarine commanders to launch nuclear missiles.

“AM:… have to say something to the commanders. You have to say fire or don’t fire. And you can’t dodge it. You have to give them in those letters a strict instruction.

JC: A strict instruction, follow orders when given”.

(Source:  The Andrew Marr Show, BBC TV, Transcripts, 23.4.17)

Also, NATO policy and control has to be borne in mind too:

“Trident is assigned to NATO which apparently imposes a first use policy”.

(Source: CND press release, Kate Hudson, May 12, 2017,)

On the arms trade…

“Exports, trade and investment play a vital role in creating jobs and growth in Britain, and Labour supports the considerable contribution that a responsible, world-leading defence and security industry makes to the UK economy”. However, we also believe that strong export controls have a vital role to play in sustaining a legitimate trade in arms, while protecting UK jobs and R &D”. (Labour Party Manifesto 2017, page 121)

and

“The UK defence industry is world-leading, and Labour will continue to support development and innovation in this sector and to ensure that it can continue to rely on a highly skilled workforce. We are committed to a procurement process that supports the British steel industry and defence manufacturing industry, which in turn provide good jobs throughout the supply chain”. (Labour Party Manifesto 2017, page 122-3)

This is in no way a “foreign policy based on human rights and peace”.

Jeremy Corbyn stated after the Manchester terrorist attack that:

“We will also change what we do abroad. Many …have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home…”.Source: Jeremy Corbyn, speech Central London, 26.5.17,

http://press.labour.org.uk/post/161089328659/jeremy-corbyn-speech)

But there has been no change to his manifesto to end Britain’s role as one of the biggest international arms dealers, fuelling foreign conflicts and endangering peace and security in Britain and the world. The Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn are fully endorsing British arms dealers, the merchants of death, as a “…world-leading defence and security industry…” and “…a legitimate trade in arms… protecting UK jobs and R &D.”

Here is just one example, of what Jeremy Corbyn calls a “responsible, world-leading defence and security industry”, in action:

“At present, two thirds of UK arms exports are going to the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is by far the largest buyer. The UK has licensed over £3 billion worth of fighter jets and bombs since it began its bombardment of Yemen two years ago…“

(Source: Campaign Against Arms Trade press release, “NATO summit: more weapons, war and interventionism will not make the world more secure”, 25 May 2017,).

In their manifesto, The Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn have committed to continue the arms trade; will they halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia in light of their bombardment of Yemen? No. Only that these arms sales will be “suspended”:

“In particular, Labour will demand a comprehensive, independent, UN-led investigation into alleged violations of IHL in Yemen, including air strikes on civilians by the Saudi-led coalition. We will immediately suspend any further arms sales for use in the conflict until that investigation is concluded”. (Labour Party Manifesto 2017, page 121).

Here are some more facts on Britain’s deadly trade, which Mr Corbyn refers to as “a legitimate trade in arms”:

Government figures, compiled by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), show that the UK has licensed over £4.1 billion of arms to the Middle East since the last election in May 2015. Government figures show that two-thirds of UK arms exports go to the Middle East…. The UK has licensed arms to the following regimes:

  • Saudi Arabia: £3.3 billion
  • United Arab Emirates: £265 million
  • Turkey: £175 million
  • Qatar: £139 million
  • Israel: £105 million
  • Oman: £71 million
  • Egypt: £65 million
  • Jordan: £19 million
  • Bahrain: £19 million
  • Kuwait: £13 million
  • Lebanon: £2.8 million
  • Yemen: £266,000

(Source: Campaign Against Arms Trade press release, Last UK government licensed £4.1 billion of arms to Middle East since election in May 2015, 2 June 2017.)

And what of “strong export controls”? This is no different to what happened under both New Labour and Conservative governments:

“The Governments’s talk of responsible rules on arms exports is a smokescreen for business as usual, with the “rules” used to legitimate, not limit,sales…Almost 10 years ago…CAAT was warning that “the Government’s arms export licensing system creates the image of control and benevolence” whilst allowing the Government to get on with business as usual…”

(Source:CAAT News, “Export Control? Facilitating Business As Usual”, April-June 2017,issue 244).

On Palestine…

“Labour is committed to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution – a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine. There can be no military solution to this conflict and all sides must avoid taking action that would make peace harder to achieve. That means both an end to the blockade, occupation and settlements, and an end to rocket and terror attacks. Labour will continue to press for an immediate return to meaningful negotiations leading to a diplomatic resolution. A Labour government will immediately recognise the state of Palestine”. (Source: Labour Party Manifesto 2017, page 119-120)

Putting to one side the Labour Party’s neo-colonial dictate of “a two-state solution”, the Labour Party are painting Israel and the Palestinians as equals in the conflict when in reality Israel is by far the dominant party with its overwhelming and devastating military superiority and its systematic subjugation of the Palestinians. What does Labour Party support for “…a secure Israel” mean?  A “secure Israel” is the accepted diplomatic code for support for the current Israeli state; a state based on apartheid, which stands against a real “diplomatic solution”.

This support for Israel is in fact a confirmation that Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party oppose a meaningful “state of Palestine”. Likewise Corbyn and the Labour Party do not oppose the sale of British arms to Israel – arms which can be used by the Israeli state, to suppress the Palestinian struggle, for a genuine solution to the denial of their national rights. This is rank dyed-in-the-wool imperialism.

On British imperialism’s colonial possessions…

“We will always stand up for the rights, interests and self-determination of Britain’s overseas territories and their citizens…protecting the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands against anyone who would seek to challenge it…”. (Labour Party Manifesto 2017, page 120)

Here we have the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn openly espousing jingoism; the nationalistic, chauvinist and racist poison of the ruling class (“We will always stand up for… Britain’s overseas territories… against anyone who would seek to challenge it…”).

Jingoism is the war cry of British imperialism. It was prevalent during the Falklands War of the Thatcher era, (which Jeremy Corbyn is defending here) and New Labour’s wars. Jingoism is the enemy of the workers unity and struggle for their rights. Jingoism seeks to induce workers to abandon their independent outlook and struggle and line up behind the class aims of their enemies, the rich, and become cannon fodder in imperialist wars. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party have accepted this role on behalf of the rich, as their own privileged position within society, is dependent on a share of the imperialist loot flowing into Britain, and from the exploitation of the working class here in Britain.

On US imperialism…

“Since the Second World War, Britain’s most important diplomatic relationship has been with the US… that special relationship is based on shared values”. (Labour Party Manifesto 2017, page 119).

“….A Labour Government will want a strong and friendly relationship with the United States. But we will not be afraid to speak our mind. The US is the strongest military power on the planet by a very long way. It has a special responsibility to use its power with care and to support international efforts to resolve conflicts collectively and peacefully.

(Source: The Spectator; Jeremy Corbyn Chatham House speech, 12 May 2017)

Jeremy Corbyn’s criticism of the US or Donald Trump, is mere window dressing. In reality he is offering the US “…a strong and friendly relationship” as a junior partner in crime, in pursuit of US imperialism’s quest to dominate the world. Like previous Labour and Conservative governments, this path will only increase tension and conflict in the world. This policy poses a real threat to the world’s people and us here in Britain. Do we really believe that US imperialism will “…use its power with care and to support international efforts to resolve conflicts collectively and peacefully”?

Here is a succinct comment on these “shared values” of US and British imperialism and there devastating consequences:

Whether it is the destruction of Iraq or the breakdown of Libya, it is civilians who suffer in war. The last 16 years of interventionism have not made any of us safer. They have failed in their own terms; having further destabilised an already unstable region while killing hundreds of thousands of people and contributing to the spread of extremism. The summit follows Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, in which he signed-off on an arms deal worth over $110 billion. Many of the NATO countries are among the largest arms exporters in the world

(Source: Campaign Against Arms Trade press release, “NATO summit: more weapons, war and interventionism will not make the world more secure”, 25 May 2017).

On NATO/EU… NATO military bases around the world are used to launch aggression against other nations and peoples. NATO bases also pose a threat to the safety and territorial sovereignty of the British people. Despite Jeremy Corbyn’s link with Stop the War and previous campaigning for British withdrawal from NATO (as part of the Campaign for Non-Alignment); he is now a firm supporter of NATO, the war-mongering US-led military alliance.

“Alongside our commitment to NATO, we will continue to work with the EU on a range of operational missions to promote and support global and regional security”. (Labour Party Manifesto 2017, page 122).

“The last Labour government consistently spent above the NATO benchmark of 2 per cent of GDP. Conservative spending cuts have put Britain’s security at risk… Labour’s commitment to spending at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence will guarantee that our Armed Forces have the necessary capabilities to fulfil the full range of obligations, and ensure our conventional forces are versatile and able to deploy in a range of roles.” (Labour Party Manifesto 2017, page 123).

Labour are boasting of their past, so-called defence spending.Note the Labour Party commitment to “…ensure our conventional forces are versatile and able to deploy in a range of roles”. What “range of roles” have the Armed Forces carried out recently?…..invading and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq are two; the occupation of Iraq, shows how the Armed Forces are used to brutally impose a sectarian political process and state power on another nation, depriving people of their right to a livelihood, peace and security, to facilitate imperialist plunder by the rich and their corporations.

What about the 800 British troops recently deployed in Estonia as part of NATO rivalry with Russian imperialism?

“AM…we’ve got 800 troops have just been sent to Estonia because of worries about the Russians on the border. You were against that deployment. As Prime Minister, would you bring them back?

JC: Listen, we’d keep those troops there for the moment, but we would use the opportunity of a newly-elected government to say, look, we want to reduce tensions on the borders of Europe…

(Source: The Andrew Marr Show, BBC TV, Transcripts, 23.4.17)

Jeremy Corbyn has changed his position from opposing to supporting their deployment.

Air Strikes on Syria…

“AM: And when you speak to President Trump will you be telling him that we will no longer be taking part in air strikes in Syria and Iraq?

JC: I will tell him that I want to see a process that brings about the end to the conflicts in both those countries, and at the end of the day –

AM: Sorry, do you suspend those strikes or not?…

JC: I want us to say, ‘listen, let’s get people around the table quickly. And the way of achieving that, suspend the strikes possibly, that’s one way…

Again, like with troop deployments, Jeremy Corbyn goes to some length to obscure his support for air strikes; his ruse is to appear to oppose air strikes by painting himself as a man of peace, while being highly ambiguous; he claims he will “suspend the strikes” but only, “possibly”.

(Source: The Andrew Marr Show, BBC TV, Transcripts, 23.4.17)

On drone strikes…

“AM: Well, the gentlemen in suits walk in, they said, ‘Prime Minister Corbyn, we’ve got good news for you. Al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, we know where he is, we can take him out with a drone strike, can we have your permission?’ What do you tell them?

JC: What I’d tell them is give me the information you’ve got, tell me how accurate that is and tell me what you think can be achieved by this. But the point –….

AM: Alright. Do you think killing the leader of Isis can be helpful for a political solution?

JC: I think the leader of Isis not being around would be helpful…”

(Source: The Andrew Marr Show, BBC TV, Transcripts, 23.4.17)

Jeremy Corbyn acknowledges that drone strikes kill civilians but is consenting to their continuation. Clearly his ‘political solution’ for Syria does not put the lives and well-being of ordinary Syrians centre stage but dovetails with the regime-change agenda of US-led imperialism, whatever the tragic consequences for the Syrian and British people.

What does CND say about drone strikes?

“International laws are being challenged as people are being targeted and killed in countries on which war has never been declared (e.g. Pakistan). Those targeted by drones are deemed to be guilty of acts such as terrorism and are killed with no opportunity to make a case for their innocence or their lives. Thousands have now been assassinated in this way. Many civilians, including hundreds of children, have become casualties after being caught up in the attacks…

CND is concerned that the use of drones threatens existing economic, political, legal, moral and humanitarian constraints on the conduct of war, and increases the likelihood of military interventions. We are also very concerned about the development of autonomous killer robots of any kind and call for national and international steps to ensure that these systems are outlawed. CND calls on governments and companies to end the secrecy around military drone technology. We condemn the use of drones for targeted assassinations and call for an end to their use. It’s time to end this barbaric form of high tech killing”.

(Source: CND, “Armed drones –a human rights violation?” January 2015,)

In Conclusion:

Despite Jeremy Corbyn’s association with CND/Stop the War and his past anti-war activism, his current foreign policy agenda does not represent a break from the Conservatives or New Labour – it is the continuation of their pro-war agenda on behalf of the rich, the kleptocracy. In these circumstances, all those who are continuing to promote the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn as anti-war are helping to spread dangerous illusions, particularly amongst the youth and workers. This only helps the imperialist ruling class to neuter and disrupt the anti-war movement. For their own opportunistic reasons these forces are trying to prevent any discussion of the facts or analysis of Labour Party policy, and insist that all politics must be reduced to “Tories Out!”.

Corbyn’s pro-war agenda will only deepen austerity as resources will continue to be siphoned from social programs and handed over to the arms companies, the arms trade, the military and military contractors, further distorting the economy and deepening the economic crisis. It represents a threat to peace and security, to people everywhere including Britain. We need to continue to build opposition to all imperialist war-mongering, including Corbyn’s pro-war agenda, and fight for a peaceful and democratic foreign policy, for a genuine anti-war government, for an economy and society based on defending the rights of all.

Reveal Collective – July 2017 e-mail: revealcollective1@gmail.com“.

Corbyn supporters – have a word! The Working Class won’t fight the bosses wars for them.

Left Forum 2017: Rojava

Who’s Beating Back ISIS in Syria? Talk by Rahila Gupta in Letchworth Garden City 12th July 2017 7:30pm.

Predominantly Kurdish defence forces, led equally by women and men commanders, are in the forefront of the fight against ISIS. Unnoticed by most of the world and its media, in the middle of a war zone in Rojava Northern Syria, a radical secular experiment in class and race equality and direct democracy with women in the driving seat is taking place. It could provide a model of governance for the rest of Syria but are its ideas too radical for both its allies and its enemies?

Wednesday 12th July, 7:30pm, at David’s Bookshop, Eastcheap, Letchworth Garden City, SG6 3DE. £3 entry. www.davids-bookshops.co.uk.
Organised by the North Herts Friends of Rojava. Contact: nhfor@outlook.com.

Red And Black Telly: TRUMP BOMBS SYRIA – LIBERALS APPLAUD!

Documentary Of Rojava Revolution “ROZA – THE COUNTRY OF TWO RİVERS”

It’s raining women in Rojava; Bread and Roses TV

Statement from the London Anarchist Bookfair Collective 6th November 2016

Via Kurdish Solidarity Network, by e-mail.

Amir Taaki contacted us a week or so before the Bookfair asking that he be given space to speak about Rojava. Below is the statement we sent out in respect of this on the Friday before the Bookfair.

Leila Al Shami would define herself as an anarchist. Robin Yassin-Kassab would not. They co-wrote a book “Burning Country, Syrians in Revolution and War” and it was because of the issues in this book that we asked them to speak at this year’s London Anarchist Bookfair. We stand by this decision. Leila and Robin also asked Shiar Neyo, a Syrian Kurdish anarchist, to speak as well.

Amir Taaki and around 15 others decided to occupy the stage at the start of this meeting. We are still unsure if this was on the false accusation that we wouldn’t let him speak or his accusations that Robin Yassin-Kassab supports fascist groups.

There were a large number of people present who wanted to hear the speakers, so to progress the meeting those present let Amir could speak for 10 minutes at the start of the meeting. This he did. But this wasn’t enough for Amir and his followers. They still refused to let the meeting continue and silenced anyone who tried to speak except for Amir. Robin left the room although Leila stayed.

The Bookfair has a policy of “no filming” at the Bookfair and when we saw one of Amir’s group filming we asked her to stop. This she constantly refused to do even though people in the room were asking her to stop as it could compromise some people’s security. Eventually someone took the filming equipment from the woman which led to a very short scuffle lasting no more than a few seconds.

We asked Amir and his associates if they would now leave the stage and let Leila speak and the meeting continue. Amir refused stating that Leila is also tainted as she is connected to Robin. As it was obvious Amir considered himself to be the only legitimate voice of what’s happening in Rojava we, as the Bookfair organisers, cancelled the meeting and asked people to leave. We left the room to Amir, his group of (we assume) supporters and 2 or 3 other
people.

We are disgusted by the way that Amir and his associates behaved. Firstly, a number of people wanted to hear what Leila and Robin had to say. Many were Kurds, Arabs and Syrians and some had travelled to the Bookfair specifically to be part of this discussion. We apologise to all these people and to Leila, Robin and Shiar.

Secondly, we know some people wanted to ask Robin about the accusations being made against him by Amir.

Thirdly we find it ironic that in the end the only people who heard from Amir were a load of people who he already knew. Amir and his friends left the Bookfair immediately after the meeting and did not participate in further meetings.

The meeting about Rojava did happen later on at the Bookfair, as scheduled, and over 100 people participated in a good debate. The Bookfair collective welcomes this debate (as we have in previous years) and will do so again in future years if it’s appropriate.

We have seen emails stating that Amir and co’s actions could damage support for the Kurds and/or Rojava. From the London Anarchist Bookfair’s perspective we in no way blame any sections of the Kurdish community. These were the actions of a very small group of people (some Kurdish – some not) who decided (1) they wanted to close down any free discussion on the issues, and (2) only the word of Amir could be heard. Likewise, we hope our Kurdish comrades do not see the actions of Amir and co as having the support of most anarchists. He does not represent anarchism as we perceive it.

There were over 70 meetings at this year’s Bookfair and over 100 stall holders. Amir and co disrupted one meeting which most of those at the Bookfair didn’t even realise had happened. We need to keep this in perspective.

Many discussions were had with Amir before the event explaining he wasn’t being stopped from contributing – which was his initial request. At no time initially did he say Robin shouldn’t be allowed to speak. He only made this demand when we explained to Amir he couldn’t speak from the stage and the meeting wouldn’t be “his meeting”. We wonder just how much of this story those who supported Amir on the day knew.

Statement from the London Anarchist Bookfair Collective, 28th October 2016 (the day before the Bookfair)

The London Anarchist Bookfair has Leila Al Shami and Robin Yassin-Kassab speaking at this year’s Bookfair. As the description on our website states “Leila and Robin will discuss the current situation in Syria with a focus on grass-roots resistance to all forms of authoritarianism.” Leila would describe herself as an anarchist and we know Robin wouldn’t. However we have often had non anarchists speaking when we think they have interesting things to say. Amir Taaki has made allegations against Robin both to us and to Robin & Leila. Robin categorically denies these allegations.

Amir contacted us about a week ago telling us we needed to let him speak signing off by saying “I’d love to speak at the anarchist book fair, only if you give me a good speaking slot and advertise it properly”.

We explained to him that the programme was fully booked, all the publicity had now gone out and the programme printed but he, like anyone else, is welcome to attend the Bookfair and any meeting to participate in the debates. His reply to us was “I want 1 hour to talk from the Syrian and technology talks”. Again we explained that at this late stage it just wasn’t possible but again said come and take part in the discussion. We have also had a friend of Amir’s call us telling us we must let Amir speak. We have never said he can’t speak. We have said we are not going to change the main speakers but that doesn’t stop him participating from the floor as the meeting will be a general discussion. We have discussed this with Amir as well by phone. It is now that Amir is making allegations against one of the speakers.

Amir is also claiming “This event is not having anything about Rojava, even though their main talk is about Syria. They’re trying to sideline Rojava”. He also calls Robin “the main speaker” at the Anarchist Bookfair. Both of these points are untrue.

Firstly, we do have a meeting about Rojava and this is a separate meeting to the one we are having about Rojava. We also have a meeting about the situation in Turkey. Amir has been told this but decides to say something completely different.

Robin is not the “main speaker” at the bookfair. We have 70 meetings and as the organisers we see all the meetings and discussions have equal billing. We have a number of speakers coming in from outside the UK and we feel it is an insult to these and speakers from within the UK to describe one person, as Amir does, as the “main speaker”. We would question why anyone who would define themselves as an anarchist would “rank” speakers in order of importance.

We cannot, and would not, stop Amir expressing his views. However we don’t agree with them for the reasons stated above.