Iraq war still damaging democracy in Britain

This video says about itself:

Iraq War Soldier Punished For Not Killing Civilian | Interview with Ryan Endicott

19 March 2014

Abby Martin speaks with [United States] Iraq War veteran Ryan Endicott, discussing the lasting legacy of the war on the 11th anniversary of the US invasion.

By Jeremy Corbyn in Britain:

Sins the Iraq generation can’t forget

Friday 6th February 2015

While foreign policy doesn’t dominate election debates, the so-called ‘war on terror’ has permanently damaged politics, writes JEREMY CORBYN

AS WE draw closer to a general election, international affairs and foreign policy tend to take a back seat in public debate. Typically they are barely mentioned at all during the intensity of the four-week re-election campaign.

Labour would do well to remember that the Iraq invasion of 2003 produced a huge swing against Labour two years later — and in the longer term, much more significantly, a huge loss of party membership.

An “Iraq generation” has not forgotten the deception and lies by which Parliament voted for war. The Chilcot report is apparently topping a million words, and six years after its appointment has still not reported.

In last Thursday’s parliamentary debate on the report, the government came under pressure from a number of us who queried the delay, but claimed that it wasn’t caused by instructions from the Cabinet office, the US State Department, Tony Blair or George Bush.

If this is the case, it’s very hard to see why there is any delay, unless there are negotiations going on about what is deemed to be “security” and what is deemed to be in the “public interest.”

In reality, the failure of Parliament to extract the report from Chilcot is as damnable as Parliament’s naive belief in 2003 that Tony Blair was reporting accurately when he claimed Iraq had WMDs and was an ever-present threat to Britain.

On Tuesday, shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander made a lengthy speech at Chatham House on the foreign policy issues facing Britain over the next few years, and pronounced a new doctrine called “progressive internationalism.”

I am not exactly sure what this doctrine is, but the opening points of his speech were that we must consider a recalibration of America’s rule, understanding the complex range of threats from the wider Middle East, and the budgetary constraints across Europe.

While he did acknowledge that there were lessons to be learned from the Iraq conflict, he did not seem able to acknowledge that we are still living with the consequences of the war on terror from 2001, which created the conditions under which al-Qaida grew and spawned Isis, Boko Haram and al-Shabab.

Unless we understand the causality of this, we’re set for decades of wars all over the Middle East and North Africa, but also ever-more restrictive anti-terror laws in all of the Western countries.

Douglas Alexander pointed out that there has been a dramatic drop in extreme poverty, occasioned by Asian economic growth, but also that there has not been a global shift of resources towards the poor.

Alexander skated over the issue of nuclear weapons, advocating “supporting multilateral disarmament by looking at ways in which a minimal credible deterrent can be delivered most efficiently.”

Sadly he then went on to uncritically praise post-war foreign secretary Ernest Bevan for the creation of the UN, the independence of India, and then, without drawing breath, the fact that Britain was a founder member of Nato in 1949.

The three issues should not be linked. Nato was a cold war creation by the US to bring its troops back into Europe, and thus delivered four decades of an arms race across the whole continent.

He then called for the defence of the communities of Nato, the EU, the UN and Commonwealth, as though they all have equal value in the world.

The election result is obviously unknown, but it is very clear that public cynicism of politics springs partly from the decision to go to war in Iraq, but also because of the growth of inequality during the time of austerity and the obscenity of tax breaks and tax havens for the super-rich around the world.

In the next parliament some key decisions will need to be made on the replacement of the Trident nuclear missile system, as well as the levels of arms expenditure. The P5 are meeting in London to discuss their stance before the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty review conference in May.

If Britain announced that it was not going ahead with Trident renewal, thus not committing Britain to £100 billion of expenditure, this would have an enormous effect both economically and politically throughout the world, as for the first time a declared nuclear weapons state would have fulfilled its obligations under the treaty. Political data publishers Dods have produced an interesting briefing on MPs’ views on Trident.

A quarter of those interviewed fundamentally disagreed with renewal. But perhaps more appositely, on the January 20 motion on Trident replacement, 250 MPs did not vote — presumably because they didn’t wish to be associated with this particular policy.

If we are to not be a nation perpetually at war and spending more than £35 billion a year on armaments, then there has to be a rethink of our foreign policy.

A good first step would be the non-replacement of Trident, followed by a challenge to Nato’s strategy and its demand that 2 per cent of all government expenditure go on defence.

While the headlines focus on the appalling acts by Isis, Boko Haram and the wars being fought in Iraq, Syria and Nigeria, we have to understand how these organisations grew. Vast amounts of arms across both of the regions have been sold or given by Western countries and immense oil wealth can sustain these forces.

People quite rightly condemn the beheadings by Isis and Boko Haram, but it is odd that every Western leader rushed to send representatives to the funeral of the late king of Saudi Arabia — a country that routinely publicly beheads people and is poised to intervene in Yemen, just as it has in the past.

A better foreign policy would be one where we stop trying to recreate the colonial influences of the 19th century, cease to join wars for resources and instead pursue trade and economic strategies that reduce inequality around the world.

Europe believes itself to be immune to consequences by its combination of draconian anti-terror laws and the military presence in the Mediterranean.

But the thousands of drowned refugees who are themselves victims of wars in Somalia, Eritrea, Palestine and Libya present the gruesome reality of the brutality of Western foreign policy.

Jeremy Corbyn is the Labour MP for Islington North.

11 thoughts on “Iraq war still damaging democracy in Britain

  1. ” A better foreign policy would be one where we stop trying to recreate the colonial influences of the 19th century, cease to join wars for resources and instead pursue trade and economic strategies that reduce inequality around the world”- I completely agree with this statement.

    Is as if we have not advance at all. A scarced gov’t mindset can only take the nation so far and the American gov’t only shows how weak minded they’ve become recycling old world views. This is 2015, it is time to alter the tattered point of views in correspondence with foreign policy, poverty, and inequality.


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