Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Cowards in the face of Iraq

I don't really normally have much time for the team around Spiked magazine, but Brendan O'Neill hits the nail firmly on the head when he notes that, for the Labourites, their care is not for the people of Iraq but their own positions of power:

'In the ranks of the Labour party, and among its supporters in the press, many are covering their backs on Iraq by claiming they were conned, misled or downright duped by Bush and Blair's pre-war claims. They seek to blame Blair and his coterie of advisers for the war in Iraq, when in truth a majority of Labour MPs voted for the war and most of the Labour party membership went along with it with a kind of shoulder-shrugging indifference to what its consequences might be. Never has Labour members' slavish acceptance of the leadership's line been so deadly as it was in 2002-2003. Those who claim to have been duped should bear in mind the words of American historian Carl Becker: "One of the first duties of man is not to be duped, [but] to be aware of his world."

Harman is disavowing responsibility for Iraq in a desperate bid to save Labour's skin. She says: "Party membership has halved and people are disillusioned ... The symbol of that has been our foreign policy, particularly Iraq." She is opportunistically distancing herself from the Iraq debacle in order to gain credibility amongst the disorientated members of her party. Gordon Brown is attempting a similar trick. His proposal to allow critics of the war to demonstrate outside parliament is largely a sop to Labour party members, an attempt to show them that, although he also backed the war to the hilt, he's a little bit apologetic so please, please forgive me!

Others are urging Brown to go further. They have called on him to "lance the boil of Iraq" in order to save Labour from oblivion. John Harris, author of So Now Who Do We Vote For?, has complained that "no one under 25 [will] join the Labour party until it [has] lanced the Iraq boil". Note this is not a demand to end the war and occupation, much less to challenge future military interventions; rather it is a call to squeeze the "Iraq boil" that sits like an ugly, pus-ridden blemish on the most important thing of all: Labour's reputation. The concern is to save Labour, not Iraq.

Writing in the Guardian before the last general election, Madeleine Bunting was even more explicit. She called on Labour under Brown to execute a "surgical strike" and "lance the Iraq boil before the left is irrevocably split": "Lance the boil and let Blair pay the price for Iraq. Prime Minister Gordon Brown would then reposition the line on Iraq ... It would liberate the next election from endless questions about trust that have dogged Blair's political career. It would give a fresh impetus to New Labour's political project, which would give it a fighting chance of two more terms."

Some on the Labour left are clearly more concerned with "liberating" British politics from pesky questions about Iraq than they are in liberating Iraqis from endless western meddling. The reduction of Iraq to a "boil" - how inhumane! - sums up what is motivating much of the Labour-left criticism of Blair over the war: a self-serving desire to repolish Labour's image, and thus secure re-election, rather than a desire to kickstart a debate about war and democracy.'

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At 2:17 am, Anonymous Vinod Moonesinghe said...

Just an indication of the difference in viewpoint between Britain and one of its former colonies: political columnist Ameen Izzadeen had this to say in Sri Lanka's RIGHT WING "Daily Mirror" :-

Britain has a new prime minister - Gordon Brown. He spoke of change, a change in direction. His rhetoric was indicative of a new foreign policy. Brown appointed David Miliband, Environment Minister in the Blair Government as his Foreign Minister.
Miliband, a Blair confidant, who was encouraged to challenge Brown for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party, is known to have opposed the Iraq war.
His elevation as foreign minister could be a reward for resisting moves early this year to challenge Brown for the Labour Party leadership. But whether the appointment will signal an end to British involvement in Iraq is not known.
But it is not the personal views of any politician that counts. Whether it is Blair, Brown or Miliband, it is the national interest of Britain that finally shapes foreign policy.
Britain's defence is intricately linked to that of the United States. The two countries may differ on various issues such as global warming and the International Criminal Court, but when it comes to defence matters, they speak in one voice.
Blair's Britain was a frontline promoter of the United States' missile defence shield. It was a strong voice against the Iranians' uranium enrichment programme - a development which the United States says poses a threat to its security. Blair and George W. Bush stood together supporting Israel when the Jewish state last year invaded Lebanon in a bid to punish Hezbollah militants, ostensibly for kidnapping two Israeli soldiers.
Blair also backed America's war on terror and its criminal extension to Iraq, drawing international ridicule as Bush's lap dog or poodle.
And it is Iraq and nothing but Iraq that will haunt him to the grave and beyond, for it is on Iraq that he made the biggest mistake of career as politician. His blind devotion to the hawkish policies of Bush, on the basis that Britain stood to gain by aligning with the US, made him to lose his moral high ground and lie to the British public. The people of Britain were told that Iraq's then dictator Saddam Hussein could assemble a weapon of mass destruction in 45 minutes and these weapons were a threat to Europe's security. He sexed up intelligence which was only half true to whip up support for his decision to join the United States in the invasion of Iraq. He not only joined Bush in invading Iraq but tried to give credibility to baseless claims which the American president presented as solid intelligence backed by hard evidence.

In the words of London's mayor Ken Livingstone, the biggest long-term successes of Blair is bringing peace to Ireland, but the most catastrophic error is the war in Iraq.
A recent survey shows that seven in ten Britons believe that the Iraq war will tarnish Blair's legacy. They would even forgive him for his Cash for Peerages scandal where his government was accused of offering life peerages to those who made donation to the Labour Party. But Iraq was more serious.
Blair said his decision to go to war against Iraq was to make Britain safe for its people. But many Britons believe that the decision has made Britain unsafe -- with homegrown 'terrorists' blasting bombs in London.
Elsewhere activists say Blair should be hauled before the Hague tribunal for war crimes. Till he quit his job on Wednesday, Blair remained unrepentant. He sent the British army to Iraq to find and neutralize Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. When they could not find a single WMD, Bush and Blair said their mission was to bring democracy to Iraq. Last week, the Blair government which agreed to scale down its military presence in Iraq, said the British troops were in Iraq to bring peace to that country.
Blair's unstinted devotion to Bush and his cause has finally won him a mediocre job which makes him subordinate to four powerful international forces — the US, the UN, the European Union and Russia.
The terms of reference of the job as West Asian envoy do not give him much weight to work out a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. His job was largely that of an administrator, carrying out decisions of the quartet. He has no power to arbitrate. What can poor Blair do sitting in Jerusalem when Israelis carry on with the building of the so-called security wall, which is a ruse to grab more Palestinian land? What can Blair do when Israel sends its tanks to Gaza and house-demolishing bulldozers to the West Bank? Has he got power to force Israel to release the money that belongs to the Palestinians? Will he compile a report annually and list out the hardship the Palestinians face at the hands of occupiers?
The answer to all these question is not affirmative.
Blair's successor Brown won't be a blind supporter of Bush. He cannot afford to commit the mistake that Blair made because he will have to defend the Labour Party at the next elections where he will face the Conservative Party's rising star David Cameron.
Upon assuming the leadership of the Labour Party on Sunday he said his government would be based on the values of "duty, honesty, hard work, family and respect for others".
If he meant what he said, then he should appoint a committee to scrutinize the statements Blair made to justify his decision to go to war. He must also say why he did not oppose Blair's decision.



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