Groundhog day in Syria as Mr Benn goes bombing
On the 4th December 2015 Stop the War published an article on the decision to extend air strikes against Islamic State from Iraq to Syria.
The case is made. There is no doubt that the extension of strikes – the extension of the operational area of eight Tornado jets a handful of miles across a border that IS don’t recognise –is the right thing to do.
We need not rehearse the arguments here. We need not talk about the Paris attacks, or the direct appeal made by the government of France to the people of Britain. We need not talk about the treaty relationships or fundamental friendships invoked in order to fight a terrible wrong in the world; the UN mandate; the UN mandate, or the successes against ISIL in Iraq that had driven IS back to Syria in the first place.
In one year of RAF air strikes there, ISIL have been broken up and driven back. They have lost 25% of their land, half of the prestige they derive from establishing a caliphate in the lands of Islam’s origins.
And that, at last, will be all they have.
This is the time of ISIL’s vulnerability – as StW patrons admit. Diane Abbot says now that she would not stop the Iraq strikes, only those in Syria. The argument is legal, and spurious.
So no trouble with war then, from Stop the War’s leaders: no refusal of strikes, just the strange argument of Syria’s uniqueness.
But not on Stop the War’s website. No, there Hilary Benn’s extraordinary speech was a speech of blandishment. There the fine parliamentary debate about the extension of strikes was nothing more than “much talk of ‘our values’, ‘evil’, ‘our way of life’, ‘national security’ and ‘the need to keep our country safe.”
Well yes, because it was talk of ISIL.
And so, dismissively, to Hilary Benn’s extraordinary speech.
It is not possible to sell that profound, moral recognition for a lie. Benn placed a pin through ISIL and he named them for fascism, invoking Labour’s century long fight against the brutish and the cold, against the perversion of our shared humanity and a ‘government’s duty of care.’
It took the prejudice of Stop the War to see Benn’s speech as a false prospectus, as blandishments and lies.
To Stop the War, ISIL are not the fascists, we are. Our ordered forces are.
In the world of Stop the War, the spirit of the International Brigades – the ghosts of those extraordinary brave anti-fascist fighters than Benn invoked, and those who backed them; the ghosts of Orwell and of Atlee – they march with ISIL.
Let StW be damned by the words they published and deleted.
‘The jihadist movement that ultimately spawned Daesh (ISIL) is far closer to the spirit of internationalism and solidarity that drove the International Brigades than Cameron’s bombing campaign.’
Most of ISIL’s victims are Muslim, and enslaved. No choice of internationalism, or of historical parallel for them.
What do the dead care for why they died? What do the history lectures and the equivocation of the Stop the War hold for them?
Benn invoked the ghosts of the International Brigades for Labour and in the name of our responsibility. He invoked Orwell and Atlee for us.
Stop the War did so to tell the dead that they were wrong – again.
Always, with StW, the victims and the blame. Always, the victims made victims twice.