Socialists need to discuss what to do about Syria, other than just saying please don’t bomb it.
Defeat for David Cameron is wonderful. It is obvious that the Commons vote, the Prime Minister’s response to his defeat, and the preceding hours of debate further shifted opinion in the USA against giving President Obama a free hand to do what he likes in Syria. A byproduct of Obama’s paralysis is that the French government’s warmongering plans have also been put on hold, potentially indefinitely.
It looks increasingly likely to me that Republicans’ hatred of Obama will trump their hatred of the United Nations. It is no less likely that many Democrats will join Republicans in voting down Obama for the very sensible reasons spelt out by many Tory backbenchers, and establishment figures in the military, media and elsewhere.
But what should socialists do? What demands should we raise? Clearly we cannot simply encourage voters to switch channels when the news comes on. There are a great many arguments in the peace movement that we need to address, as mistaken, and counterproductive to the anti-war movement, however well meaning.
Some peace campaigners argue that arming the Syrian Rebels is wrong in principle as giving weapons in a civil war can only make matters worse. The Spanish Civil War reminds us how wrong that is. The problem now is who would get the weapons handed over by western governments. Those in the front of the queue of Hague and Obama’s proxy army in Syria are definitely not those socialists would would want to arm: they are just soldiers for the next generation of NATO puppets. Thanks, but no thanks.
Those among the Syrian Rebels that socialists would arm would be bombed to kingdom come willingly by Obama and Hague, and if they can take them out alongside Assad in the next few weeks, they’ll be over the moon, despite shedding crocodile tears at such ‘unfortunate’ collateral damage.
Then there is Al Qaeda. They could easily benefit from President Obama’s illegal bombing just as the genocidal Pol Pot benefited from President Nixon’s illegal bombing.
The strengthening of Al Qaeda is an inevitable consequence of President Obama’s strategy, the strategy proposed by David Cameron, unintended consequence though that obviously is. This is, therefore, likely to lead to the majority of the US Congress voting Obama down. But if socialists can’t arm the good guys in Syria, or only with great difficulty, what can we do?
We need to accept that in a mess like Syria today, other than extending humanitarian aid, including to the states on the borders of Syria, the most progressive demand we can raise is for welcoming of refugees from a civil war sparked by President Obama’s friends in the region: Saudi Arabia etc.
Standing up for refugees from Syrian and other civil wars will necessarily mark us off from Nigel Farage, the Tory dissidents who have more in common with UKIP than with their own government, and from Ed Miliband as well.
In addition to helping us expose the hypocrisy of Cameron, Hague and Miliband (who all want to close the borders to refugees), it allows us to remind everyone about the role of the western leaders in arming bloodthirsty psychopaths, on both Assad’s side and on Al Qaeda’s side in Syria. And it also reinforces our case by compiling a very long list of the crimes of Tory Britain and the USA – including giving satellite intel to Saddam to help him use chemical weapons on thousands of people in 1988. This was done cynically to help Saddam win the Iran-Iraq War. This is a war crime which BBC Chair (and one-time Tory Party Chair) Chris Patten didn’t care about at the time any more than he cares today, transforming as he has the BBC into an arm of Tory Party propaganda. 24-7.