The ‘Stop The War’ Coalition called an emergency rally at short notice tonight outside Downing Street in response to the news that Parliament is recalled tomorrow to vote (or as the Guardian put it, “endorse”) air strikes on Iraq.
This time we have apparently been invited to bomb by Iraq itself, and the urgency is due to the uber-violence of ISIS/ISIL who are marauding across oil-rich areas and taking control by wiping out opposition.
The issue seems to have split some of the usual anti-war activists and the Left, who are joining in the mantra that “we must do something”, and with the only “something” on offer from our decrepit leadership being air strikes, then this is what we must do, in order to stop the bloodshed.
I have no doubt that the so-called Islamists (who seem to have left all spirituality behind), are committing terrible acts of genocide, but there are three issues I have a problem with. The first is that ISIS/L has come out of the same groups that “we” were arming, training, funding, and cheering on in their fight against the evil dictator Assad in Syria. Second, they are so successful at recruitment, because they can point to the Iraq war, and to the atrocities committed by Israel towards which the West not only turn a blind eye, but actively continue to support, with massive aid and military equipment. And third, the West often turns a blind eye to genocide (take the Congo for example), but for some reason (erm, let me think, could it be strategic and oil-related) this one demands immediate intervention.
Something must be done, yes, and if the real “we” who would like the right thing done, had control of the military might of the US, France and the UK, then just maybe, some strategic air-strikes might be a temporary and stop-gap answer of sorts. But to believe for one second that what “we” want done, in any way aligns with what the US military-industrial complex wants done, is naive and dangerous.
Their air strikes will be to protect their interests, not civilians, and even if for one second we believe they want to wipe out ISIS/L, they won’t be able to, because like Al-Qaeda, ISIS/L is an idea as much as it is a physical movement, and it is an idea that is ever more reinforced by Western military intervention. And let’s not forget, in the Orwellian dystopia being created, perpetual war IS the real aim, so it just won’t suit the US and its allies to actually wipe out their enemy, just be seen to carry on fighting them, while bringing in more and more control and surveillance on their populations at home in the name of security (see for instance today’s vote and likely passing into law next Tuesday in Australia of the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill).
So what CAN we do. Well, how about cutting off military and other funding and aid to Israel until it is brought to account for its broken UN resolutions and its war crimes. And how about cutting off aid and military equipment to Turkey until it sorts out its human rights abuses on the Kurds. And how about moving away from fossil fuel economy, and moving the massive subsidies currently given to oil over to renewables, creating jobs and clean energy and energising Western economies with sustainable growth in these areas.
If we started truly doing those things, ISIS/L would find it a lot lot harder to recruit, and we could start replacing the morally bankrupt UN and NATO with a proper International Court of Justice based on Universal Human Rights and strict adherence to the International laws of war.
It won’t save those currently facing aggression in the Middle East, but Obama’s bombing strategies can only lead to more bloodshed too.
So for me, the message, “Don’t Bomb Iraq’ is as right now as it was in 2003, and people should not be beguiled by the ‘we must do something’ rhetoric of the warmongers.
The Stop the War coalition (of which I am not a member) have called for a Central London protest on Saturday. As usual there is no suggestion of civil disobedience, so it will further sap the energies of the people who come along, and is extremely unlikely to stop any wars. History has shown over and over again, that only when the powerful are truly challenged through creative and disobedient mass movements, can change occur. So while I support their message, I can’t support their tactics. It didn’t stop the Iraq war last time, and there are even fewer of them this time. Time to step up. Yes, “we” must do something!
For what it’s worth, some pics from tonight’s protest opposite Downing Street – some good people there.