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Are drone strikes doing more harm than good in the fight against ISIS?

DroneThe death by drone of Jihadi John earlier in the week again brought to the fore the increasingly fraught debate over such state-sanctioned killings, which would, in a time before the War on Terror, have been termed assassinations.

Jeremy Corbyn was predictably castigated by some for remarking that it would have been better for Emwazi to be brought to trial, but many have pointed out that similar sentiments have been expressed by David Haines’ widow, and Majid Freeman, a friend of Alan Henning.

Statements like these clearly stem from the powerful respect many in the West have for the rule of law, and judicial justice. But if the refugee crisis and the increasing risk of worldwide terrorism have shown anything, it is that these are extraordinary times. Clearly, there are some who believe that they call for extraordinary measures. Perhaps, we might think, this is not unreasonable. No one would mourn the passing of Mohamed Emwazi, and if his death can hasten the demise of the vile organisation for which he became something of a spokesperson, more the better.

David Cameron is clearly one of those who welcomes this new era of what the US calls “targeted killings”. He declared that Emwazi’s death was “a strike at the heart” of ISIS. Though the US and he both acknowledge the man’s relative unimportance to ISIS’ organisational capacity, his killing has been hailed as a symbolic victory.

It seems, then, that the first thing we should ask is whether drone strikes help us to fight ISIS. An entity of the Pentagon, the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Task Force (ISR), produced a top-secret study in 2013, leaked to The Intercept, which bemoaned the proliferation of drone strikes. It called for more terrorists to be captured and interrogated, and stated quite clearly, “Kill operations significantly reduce the intelligence available.”

This would suggest that drone strikes such as the one that killed Emwazi are not quite as effective in the fight against ISIS as the enthusiastic speeches given by figures such as the Prime Minister would suggest. Not only this, but it has frequently been suggested that they act as a sort of recruiting sergeant for ISIS.

The same ISR study criticised the faulty intelligence that underpins many strikes, but didn’t mention the deaths of innocents that such failures have led to. Civilians killed by drone strikes have included American and Italian hostages.

It is difficult to estimate the impact that drones have had on non-Western civilians, since the US defines “combatants” in such situations as all “military-age males in a strike zone”, unless evidence proves their innocence. But even by their own metric, the US has demanded a heavy toll from civilians in the region – the programme in Yemen Pakistan alone is estimated by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism to have killed between 400 and 1,000 civilians.

Such results, apart from displaying a staggering disregard for human life, must also surely indicate a powerful tendency for drones to fuel anti-US feeling in the Middle East, something Malala Yousafzai has tried to point out to President Obama.

But maybe these practical concerns about the ineffectiveness of drones in the fight against ISIS shouldn’t be our primary reason for opposing the programme. Perhaps, as Jeremy Corbyn, Majid Freeman, and Haines’ widow have suggested, we should be considering the implications for our own society. Because if ISIS has managed to change fundamentally the way we think about justice, it has surely won a great victory over us.

Bilal el-Berjawi lived near Mohamed Emwazi in north London. Berjawi was under surveillance by the British and the Americans for several years, during which time he travelled frequently between the UK and East Africa. However, instead of capturing him at any point during this time, the US hunted him down and killed him in 2011 with a drone strike in Somalia.

The man was a terrorist, like Mohammed Emwazi, and attended an explosives training camp in Mogadishu in 2006. So, in all likelihood, was his friend, Mohamed Sakr, who was killed in another drone strike a month later. Both men had their passports revoked shortly before their deaths, which has raised questions about the British government’s involvement in the killings.

Since 2006, the government has reportedly deprived at least 27 people of their UK citizenship on grounds of national security. Only a government minister has the power to do this, but the decision can be challenged in court. Cases based on national security, however, usually rely on secret evidence. In a haunting McCarthyite revival, this means that accusations against individuals are withheld from them and their lawyers.

There are very serious suggestions, then, that the British government is colluding with the US in a programme that has been condemned as counter-productive by elements of its own instigators, and had its legality questioned under international law. Not only this, but it has engaged in processes that undermine some of the aspects of our legal system that we traditionally take for granted – openness, fairness, and accountability.

If we continue the alienation, vilification, and murder of people both in Britain and in the Middle East, we are playing right into ISIS’ hands. In order to survive, the terror group needs to radicalise Muslims on a vast scale, and when we turn on each other and reject our traditional feelings around justice and fairness, we are pushing potential recruits right into the jaws of death.

25 Comments

  1. Robert says:

    I think taking out these people is the only thing we can do, we started all this with Iraq and Afghanistan and now we have no choice but to carry on the fight.

    This is now a war but not against a country but a faith a religion of hate.

    John should have been arrested , how would you do this wait until he surrenders or the war is over.

    Who would arrest him and how many more people would he have killed before Scotland yard could get in and get him.

    We are now at war and that means kill or be killed.

  2. Richard Tiffin says:

    It’s a matter of means and ends.

    If the end is simply assasination on a case by case decision basis then this means will have its appeal due to the absense of risk to ‘our’ forces and the almost video game quality it brings to us as non combatants.

    However, if the end is also political then the ruling elites need not simply question the means (drones) but the ends (assasinations).

    Assassinations seem almost natural to us now with our diet of Hollywood film and a slow acclimatisation to the use of drones in a number of theatres of conflict. But they not only run counter to the liberal philosophy of the rule of law, they run the risk of debasing and diminishing us in our own eyes, neutrals eyes and those of the enemy. How are ‘we’ better than ‘them’ if this is our strategy?

    We can state ‘we’ are better than ‘them’, but if our actions run counter to our values and philosophies by which will we judge or be judged, actions or words?

    To be concrete, we rightly condemn beheadings as medieval and barbaric, but is this not hypocrisy if at the same time we send drones to assassinate? The means may differ but the ends are the same, the elimination of a perceived enemy or criminal.

    You might at this point argue that ‘we’ are justified whilst ‘they’ are not, we kill the ‘bad’ guys, they don’t. Well that is subjective and political and from an ethnocentric point of view ‘we’ usually see ourselves in the right. But this is not necassarily so for ‘neutral’ observers (if such a thing exists). Do we need to care about neutral observers? Well if our ends are political then we just might. For example, the people in Raqqa care little for ISIL from what I understand, but they will have a view on the assasination of Jihadi John and the fallout from it and we might just need them one day soon.

    This is not to exclude the means or the ends at all times and forever. I could imagine a situation where the assassination of an individual by drone or other means could bring about a desired end (Hitler), though the worlds graveyards are full of indispensable people, so replacement will happen, for better or worse. However, like Corbyn, under most circumstances I believe the better ends are achieved by a trial.

    To move on to means, drones. There are many examples of drone and other air strikes going disastrously wrong or causing ‘collateral damage’. Sounds nice and clean as the newscaster tells us about it, but once again, what about the ‘neutrals’.

    If we in the ‘west’ are atrempting to convince others of the superiority of our way of life, values and philosophies this is not a good way to convince people. The bombing of innocent people as we target the enemy who, in all likelihood, will be replaced as the ‘collateral damage’ acts as recruiting sergeant simply inconveniences them. For all we know we might assassinate an incompetent leader who is rapidly replaced by a superior one.

    I am no pacifist, war can easily be justified, but this is not war we are discussing, it is assasination by drone attack. As part of a war, a concerted effort to victory, then drones would have a significant part to play in any strategy as they protect forces who can be a continent away from the explosion. But under these circumstances then all this attack has achieved is a political good in the west as the military are congratulated on ‘doing’ something, but heaven knows with what negative political consequence elsewhere.

  3. John Penney says:

    Whilst agreeing with you that the barbaric clerico-fascist movement of Islamic State has to be utterly crushed, Robert, it is how this can be done that is the crucial issue. Simplistic “we are now at war” rhetoric is no use if a rational route to conflict resolution is to be found. So many powers are now involved on the many warring sides to this now region-wide conflict that the potential for a 1914 type global conflict being ignited through rash acuion is all too real.

    the medievalist barbarism of Islamic State, and Islamic Fundamentalism as a whole, is the outcome of the final collapse ( the actual specific “detonator” being the destruction of the
    “stability” provided by the Saddam Baathist Sunni dominated fascistic state in the last Gulf War) of the dictatorship maintained unstable states across the Middle east set up by the British and French after the Collapse of the Ottoman empire after 1918.

    The Western mass media are never willing to explore the deep rooted Western culpability for the “carnival of reaction” now playing out in the ever widening amphitheatre of slaughter across the collapsing states in the Middle East. The press and European politicians are also totally unwilling to deal with the central issue of (“our Western allies”) Turkey and Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States in funding, arming and through their support for extremist religious institutions, ideologically arming the Sunni side of the deeply historical now open war between their proxy armies (including Islamic State – as much a tool of Turkey and Saudi Arabia as the Taliban are of Pakistani Intelligence), and the proxy armies of the other local imperialist power, Shia Iran – and Shia dominated Iraq (and their wider re-emerging imperialist backer , Russia).

    This is why Jeremy Corbyn is quite right to constantly try to shift the focus away from what are , by our politicians and mass media, deliberately blinkered limited tactical issues . ie, more or less bombing of Islamic State, more or less use of assassination drone strikes. The big issue is the collapse of the entire post 1918 French/British colonial state structures and their always unstable mutually antagonistic internal religious/ethnic population divisions. It looks as if
    eventually new state structures on very different geographic boundaries – with massive population transfers akin to those in 1947 with the breakup of British India , or post 1945 Eastern Europe, will be a key feature of the restabilisation of the entire region. To get to a new stability all the directly involved factions which can be part of a solution (and that of course can’t involve crazed clerico fascist warlordist death cults like Islamic State) and surrounding powers have to be got round the table to hammer out new structures and solutions.

    Restricting the debate to limited tactical issues about the use of drone strikes or less or more bombing runs on Islamic state targets by the RAF, is simply to fail to grasp the huge scale of the tragedy in the Middle East.

    1. gerry says:

      Good analysis – a few more bombs will never deal with the scale of depth of the crisis, which is also a crisis WITHIN Islam. As a socialist, one is often tempted to look at the Sunni jihadis and the shia jihadis (and all their backers both regional and global) and say: I wish success to both sides!

      On one point you are wrong, though. Jeremy Corbyn does not really grasp the scale or even identify Islamic fundamentalism as the major agent of destruction, sectarianism, apocalypse. The organisation he chairs, Stop the War, is sickeningly partisan, siding with whichever side in the middle East defines itself as “anti Western” or “anti imperialist”. This means he/Stop the War always side with Putin’s Russia, the murderous theocracy that is Iran, its proxy clerical-fascist militia Hezbollah, the genocidal Assad, the equally genocidal late Saddam…whereas, as any decent socialist knows, we should be consistent and condemn all imperialism, be it US or Russian, all religious fundamentalism be it Saudi, Turkey, Qatar, Pakistan, Hamas or Hezbollah or Al Nusra, and all reactionaries and tyrants. We should ally only with democratic socialists or secular progressive forces: these are tiny in the middle East, but that is a morally consistent middle Eastern policy, and one JC should try!

      1. Richard Tiffin says:

        Not sure why we cannot align with religious groupings on our terms. Even Lenin was of the view that religion cannot be wished from people’s minds, it would only vanish once the conditions that give birth to it are no more, so perhaps we need a more persuasive position than you suggest.

        Clearly, we cannot leave ourselves open to criticism by forging alliances that will later bite us in the arse but the alliance might be required. As an example, if there was ever to be a ground offensive in Syria then where will this come from, or, more accurately, which Religious country?Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel or Jordan? Where is the secular progressive force to be aligned with there? Sometimes, to achieve a goal we have to adopt the best of two evils, unpleasant, but that’s politics.
        Please don’t take this to suggest that this makes any and all compromises and alliances acceptable, that is not my position. I am simply stating that purist principles are problematic, and even have the very tone of the zealots we would both condemn.

      2. James Martin says:

        Except Gerry Russia is not by any meaningful socialist (as opposed to superficial liberal) definition ‘imperialist’ (for starters what finance capital does it export and impose worldwide, what military occupation and domination does it export and impose outside a handful of immediate neighbours and one long-term ally in Syria?), while Hezbollah fighters are in the front line and dying in very large numbers against ISIS fascists and the Syrian regime is both secular and, whether comfortable western socialists like it or not, has the support internally of a number of leftist forces that include at least two communist parties (who have MPs in the Syrian parliament), a smaller Syrian trotskyist group and at least two Palestinian exile organisations/militias (who are also in the front line against ISIS). And in the mess that is Syria for now at least it comes down to who is capable of defeating ISIS, and the answer is to be found only in those already fighting it on the ground at such huge cost – including the Syrian Arab Army that has bled so very much but has not disintegrated.

        1. gerry says:

          James – your position on Russia, Putin and Assad is not mine, as you know. Its a real shame that socialists – which I know you are – are forever compromising principles and getting into bed with reactionaries, tyrants, dictators and murderers on the “lesser of two evils” line. I never understood this Hitler-Stalin type approach, but I know your views are shared by many, like Stop the War. Shame.

          1. Robert says:

            I will back Cameron on this I think Corbyn is way out on this one. The Tories were right to end this blokes life.

  4. Hazel Malcolm-Walker says:

    Far better to have tried him in a court of law FIRST!!!
    Rather than make a martyr of him, humiliate him by enumerating his crimes against humanity and Islam.
    By being scrupulously fair on the imparting of justice is the ONLY way we can defeat these immoral apologies for religious people ( because truly pious Muslims DO NOT behave like this).

    1. Robert says:

      Do you not think blowing your self up for your believe is Pious then.

      But how do you take him prisoner , send in Scotland yard , send in the SAS they then get killed and you can add more deaths to this bloke.

      Cameron was right if you can target him from distance and take him out do it.

      What this bloke did and I saw what he did, he deserves all he got.

      But France is not without it’s problems look at the Muslim slums in France, You treat people like they are second rate they will find a way of hitting back.

  5. gerry says:

    What planet are you on? And how do you know ISIS are not “truly pious Muslims”? The killers in Paris, Madrid, London, New York, Kampala, Mumbai, Bali, Beslan, Beirut, Sinai, Tunisia, Libya, Brussels, Boston and everywhere else believe that they are doing Allah’s work, ” avenging”or defending Islam, and are going straight to Paradise.

    Face facts, Hazel…Jihad is holy war, and if you know history, Islam today (and since its beginning)and Christianity (for most of its past) have used murder, violence, terror, and oppression to spread their ” faith” and to impose their will. And they always do it in God’s name. Stop sugarcoating religion, especially virulent ones like Islam.

    1. Richard Tiffin says:

      I think you are correct Gerry, jihad is holy war and those hell bent on a caliphate and sharir law through violent means are behaving just as you suggest, despicably falls way short as a description, no sugar coating here.

      The question next is how might we defeat them?
      Hazel was, in the context of the assassination of jihadi John, taking a political as opposed to a military position. She in no way suggested that this was a generalised appeasement which your response suggested.

      And this is the problem, a military solution has to be combined with a political solution at some stage unless we kill every last Muslim, at home and abroad. For it seems to be that the more we attempt to beat an ideology militarily whilst there is fertile ground in other places for it to grow then the idea will not be defeated.

      Think about the blood and treasure expended on defeating the ideology of communism, of socialism, and of Trotskyism. Are they any closer to having destroyed it?

      The same with militant Islamism. If we kill in what appears an unjustified manner we create a cause celeb, a justification for retaliation, a reason to fight. And if social conditions are such that people need to fight anyway to change them then we have handed them a flag around which to rally.

      As socialists we always argued that what mattered was ensuring the soil was not fertile and this is an issue of ensuring that we change the conditions that breed the need for violent opposition. This is first and foremost an economic question, then an ideological one, then education, then time.

      I am not naive, I realise that there will always be groups out there calling for extremism, however, much like the calls from revolutionary groupings or fanatical religious groupings in our society, the call will fall of deaf ears.

      If you have another way of defeating ISIL short of nuking them then I am all ears. Until I hear a reasonable solution however, I think Hazel has a point, we need to also think politically.

      1. gerry says:

        Richard – yours is a considered response, very thoughtful. Like my reply to James Martin, I just say its a shame that socialists, which I know like me you are, are always compromising and contorting their core principles – in the face of Islamic fundamentalism and on so many other issues. I have no easy answers to defeating Islamic extremists, of which there are many millions, but I know that it must NOT involving jettisoning class consciousness or working class unity…and that where the Left has got into bed with Islam (Iran 1979 , the Arab Spring, and a million other examples) it ends in tears, the total defeat of the Left and the victory of Islamic fascism.

        1. Richard Tiffin says:

          We start with starving them of arms ammunition and money. At this time ISIS are selling oil to Turkish capitalists though the longest minefield on earth, so heaven knows how they are getting it through past the authorities of what is supposed to a NATO ally.
          The other suppliers of arms and money are Saudi Arabia, another supposed ally who are destroying Yemen right now, Quatar and Kuwait. If they won’t play ball then surely sanctions are appropriate. But I understand that with air drops it would be fairly simple, check where the flights are and blow them up, the donors will soon learn.
          Every other route is a land route, but where? Well I don’t control the satellites but my guess would be from Saudi through Iraq, there are no other obvious routes unless the Turks are playing games.
          Fact of the matter is if we went into a proper war with ISIS we’d have to start with these actions in any case.
          ISIS will soon run out of ammunition without every more risky raids but where? The Kurds? Turkey, Syrian depots?
          Second is care of the opposition. Carpet bombing people in places like Raqqa where the people hate ISIS as much as they hate the regime they rose up against in 2011, they need to be utilised. Of course workers actions will not be supported by the US/uk/etc., but, as socialists, we cannot support the indiscriminate annihilation of the people there. ISIS are the enemy, not the people.
          This is the main trouble with the way the propaganda is going, it’s as if every Muslim is a terrorist or Islamist. But they are not, and it is these who we will need if this conflict isn’t going to perpetuate itself.
          With regard to your comment about the alliances and mistakes of the past, I agree, we need to be careful. But think back. The Iranian revolution was initially a workers revolution, many believed that the regime would not become theocratic, including many in Iran. And, unfortunately the regime became reactionary. But these things rarely run in straight lines, it is a tough contradiction to resolve principles and practical needs, but it needs discussion else we simply be a morally pure talking shop. Even Lenin have Brest Litovsk and the kulaks NEP. I’d rather go down having made mistakes rather than do nothing with ideological purity and lose anyway.

  6. Sue says:

    How do we know who was killed? How do we know what he did and why he did it? A man has been executed —— thats all we really know for sure. No trial to enable us to understand anything re why an englishman felt compelled to join ISIS (if this was in fact what happened). This wasnt any sort of justice. It was an assassination which destroyed evidence? Why? And how scary that most of the population now seem to think it’s fine!

  7. Bazza says:

    Bombing IS in Syria is also a legal minefield; we were invited in, in Iraq but not Syria although Assad only runs half (and the richest part of the country) but bombing is killing human beings (and probably unitentionally includes innocents) and although I am not a pacifist I don’t want to kill one human being.
    So what can be done?
    All compassionate human beings were horrified at the recent attacks in France and you can understand the French Governments response in bombing Raqqa (the de facto IS) capital in Syria but let’s start at the beginning.
    We should not refer to IS as the Islamic State – it is not Islamic and is not a state (and apparently every time we do, it cheers their fighters) so it should be known as UINS – Un-Islamic Non-State.
    UINS are a tiny extreme faction (with a greatly distorted interpretation) of one perspective (Sunni) of Islam and they want to achieve global domination through violence – and this is non-negotiable, and there actions are comparable to Nazis, they are more SS than IS.
    But we are the many, of all religions and of none, and we need to unite the many diverse communities on the planet.
    But to beat them you have to get inside their heads; they see the territory they have grabbed (through their Imperialism) as their areas so attacks on our home areas are seen as a legitimate response (from their perspective) to the Western bombing of them.
    But destroying UINS in Raqqa could be their formal end, but if I was a World Leader I would bomb Raqqa with leaflets (using the political) telling people that these could have been bombs but we don’t want to kill human beings.
    There could also be contact lines for locals who are trapped.
    We then warn UINS to surrender and they will face fair trials for war crimes but if they come out fighting they may pay the ultimate price.
    You could keep up drone patrols and leafleting (but no bombing) and then be patient (slowly, slowly, catchey monkey).
    I am trying to find a peaceful window of opportunity in a mad theatre of war predominantly led by men.
    But if I was a Muslim (alomg with others) I would help to set up something like Democratic Socialist Muslims for Peace to counter the right wing Muslim extremists of UINS whilst also democratically and peacefully giving Muslims a voice against Western Interventions/Imperialism (and why is so much of the oil assets for example in Iraq and Libya now owned by Western TNCS?) but also helping to unite human beings of all faiths and of none.
    And progressive and moderate Muslims getting organised should help, as someone said the extremists claiming to act in Islam’s name will essentially be beaten by Muslims (including the tribes in the region).
    Some well known middle class liberals recently described UINS fighters as being like the International Brigade in Spain, but the difference is that the original International Brigade was fighting for peace and democracy; UINS is fighting to smash it!
    We only have one life and I am proud to be an international democratic socialist; I love all of humanity – Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs et al, Black and White, LGBT, Disabled People etc. and we only find out the truth about religion (or don’t) when we all individually pass away; so we should respect difference, fight for equality, and enjoy life and our beautiful planet.
    Yours in peace, love & international solidarity!

  8. David Ellis says:

    Bombing ISIS in Syria when the only forces on the ground that can take advantage is the Putin-backed mass murdering maniac Assad whose sadism and murder rate makes the ISIS fascists look like mere amateurs merely makes the West look not like liberators but the bringers of genocide and that is without considering how many civilians the West’s bombing kills with complete impunity. If the West decides to join Putin in proppoing up Assad and if Corbyn agrees with that policy up to an including supporting bombing if it is sanctioned and legalised by a Russian motion to the UN will in the short run boost Assad but in the long run be a major boost for ISIS who will spread into Egypt and beyond.

    Did not Diane Abbott say today she would support bombing as long as the West made provisions for the masses of new refugees it would create as the people run from the bombs and from the advancing Assadist forces. Yes she actually said that. She will support bombing if we help the refugees and its supported by the UN.

    1. Robert says:

      Funny how labour thought Saddam was a hero, before the Americans offered Tony a nice earner.

      Gaddafi he even went and told him he was a hero and Blair kissed him on both cheeks to show his love, Blair then brought the Assad family to see the Queen as a hero of his people .

      These people were killing and murdering long before today. Saddam was a puppet leader put in place by the Americans to keep the peace in his country he did it his own way. Then of course Gaddafi did the same as did Assad and now for some reason they are all evil, good today evil tomorrow.

      We fought two wars to defeat what we thought was wrong and now look at the mess.

      1. Richard Tiffin says:

        We fought a the first world war to defeat what was wrong? Really? Interesting perspective to bring to a labour supporting website. Imperialist slaughter is closer to the perspectives of those on the left that I know.
        Perhaps you are not of the left, or even of the party. If you were you’d know that the left had been critical of links with Saddam
        long before the US decided to take action.
        In terms of Blairs infamous visit to Gaddafi, well George made something of a fool of himself, but once again there were those on the left who were critical.
        What you may not realise is that labour is not an amorphous mass, it has wings. The left are also tired of what you pointed out and much else beside, hence the life and death struggle that is taking place in the party just now, hence the election of Corbyn.
        Stop shouting from the sidelines if you are being more than provocative, come and help the left change the party.

  9. Jim Denham says:

    There is a serious problem that Corbyn’s (somewhat inconsistent) pacifism is making him appear soft on Islamist-fascist terrorism in Syria and elsewhere, soft on Russian imperialism in Crimea and elsewhere and indifferent to the genuine security risks workers face in the UK.

    1. David Ellis says:

      The West’s policy of linking up with Putin and Assad to go after ISIS will end in tears or more specifically in the likes of Egypt, Libya, Algeria falling to the fascist Islamists. A far bigger propaganda coup for ISIS than the Paris slaughter was David Cameron giving Egyptian tyrant Sisi the red carpet treatment two weeks ago. Western imperialist hypocrisy is the super food on which ISIS grows fat.

  10. John Penney says:

    A genuine question to anyone who actually thinks they really know the answer to this quite important point. Is Jeremy Corbyn an actual unconditional pacifist ?

    The capitalist press certainly constantly make this claim – but I have always understood that Jeremy simply disagrees with the all too frequent simplistic US /EU centric narrative on recent conflicts , and its background military/industrial complex thirst for “war as a business opportunity”. As exemplified by the cynical oil resources motivated Iraq war to overthrow the fascist tyrant , Saddam Hussein, who had previously been a very big pal of “the West” in the US led attempt to limit the political influence of the rising local Shia imperialist power, Iran. Another example being the recent and current aggressive Nato/EU intervention in Ukraine – backing an openly fascist militia-backed neoliberal western oriented coup – against the Russian oriented previous regime, and the continuing Russian sphere of influence in the ethnic Russian majority population eastern region. A classic example , not of any clear “right against wrong” – but two competitive unsavoury imperialisms squaring up to each other.

    In contrast I assume that Jeremy has no problem with the armed struggle against the Axis powers in WW II, or indeed with the past legitimate armed liberation struggles of the Vietnamese, or the ANC in South Africa, or indeed the Kurdish People today ?

    That even we on the Left aren’t at all clear whether Jeremy is a thoroughgoing pacifist , or is in fact just taking a principled socialist position on current conflicts – suggests he needs to up his game a bit in his speeches and explanations.

    I personally have no patience at all with unconditional pacifism – for me simply a morally bankrupt affectation by those fortunate enough to be living in comfortable circumstances – through the past or current sacrifices and physical struggles waged by others. I do not see Jeremy as that sort of man at all, and so I assume the “pacifist” slur is just that , an attempt to portray Jeremy as an unrealistic dreamer – as I am afraid the sincere but naïve short term Labour Leader George Lansbury was in the face of the rise of Italian Fascism.

    1. gerry says:

      John – you make some good points. Unrealistic dreamer or Jihad appeaser, JC is coming across abysmally after the jihadis attacks in Sinai, Beirut. Paris. We are losing many people who now won’t even listen to us about anything else…

    2. Richard Tiffin says:

      I’m not sure either..hope Corbyn gets to hear about this discussion and clarifies hi beliefs…we genuinely need so much more of him doing that.

  11. Jim Denham says:

    “or indeed the Kurdish People today ?”

    What evidence is there that he supports the Kurdish military campaign against Da’esh? Does he, for instance, support the Kurds’ repeated requests for air support, and thanks for it when its been provided (mainly by the US)?

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