Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents never cease to attack his unorthodox foreign policy stance. This has ranged from recently being called “irresponsible” and a “threat to our national security” by defence secretary Michael Fallon, to former Prime Minister David Cameron pettily labelling Corbyn a ‘terrorist sympathiser’. Let’s not forget the contribution that the pro-Tory media outlets have made to smearing Corbyn too – in an attempt to reinforce this image.
This almost endless assault on the man can be attributed to one factor: he threatens this interventionist, neo-imperialist vision that prevails in Britain and the West today. Looking at Corbyn’s political career – in recent months and going back several years, it is clear that he is the only option for promoting peace across the world – especially in volatile regions such as the Middle East.
To put it bluntly, Britain’s foreign policy under ‘New Labour’ and the Conservative Party has been a disaster. Such costly failures range from the Iraq war in 2003 – arguably the biggest humanitarian crime committed this century, to the fruitless and detrimental invasion in Afghanistan; not to mention NATO’s bombing campaign in Libya in 2011, which turned it into a haven for tribalism and even allowed ISIS to gain a foothold in the region.
This endangers Britain as a nation too. Many analysts have drawn a link between the emergence and spread of Islamic extremism, and Western intervention. In 2008, a former CIA agent argued that if Islamic ideology disappeared, then terrorism from the Arab world would still exist in a similar form. Even a wide range of militant Islamic factions – from Al Qaeda in its early days to Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Iraq – have claimed to be driven by opposition to the extensive US/Western interference in the region. Even Jack Straw, who had previously championed the Iraq War and defended the UK’s actions, has now finally admitted that the invasion had allowed ISIS to grow – who now threaten many parts of Europe, including the UK.
So not only has Western foreign policy caused chaos, but it has facilitated the emergence of radical forces that threaten its society. The UK has inevitably become caught up in this, after following America’s lead in its numerous expeditions.
Recently, Corbyn has once again lambasted this, as he has done throughout his political career. At a recent conference at the Chatham House, he denounced this ‘bomb first, talk later’ attitude that characterizes much of the West’s foreign policy. He also suggested that, within NATO, diplomacy could be used to protect an ally, rather than jumping straight into a war.
Of equal importance, he has pledged to stop arms sales to rogue nations in the Middle East that commit human rights abuses. This could be a step-in scaling back the Saudi-led onslaught in Yemen, which has transformed Yemen into a famine-struck state with many people killed or displaced. Despite this, our current defence secretary Michael Fallon has shockingly justified Saudi Arabia’s actions as “self-defence”. The Conservative government also has placed UK military advisors in control rooms helping the coalition plan attacks on Yemen.
If the Tories were re-elected, our country’s appalling foreign policy would continue. The Tories have even raised the possibility of a war against the Syrian government in the event they retain power. Obviously, this stance has led to chaos in past invasions, and will only bring a similar result in Syria. The Conservative party themselves had supported the Iraq war and led the UK’s efforts in the destruction of Libya. They enable Saudi Arabia to do the same in Yemen too, which makes them no better than the Saudi ruling family, in terms of moral culpability.
Corbyn and his supporters staunchly oppose this too. They stand against Britain following America’s horrific foreign policy. Now with Donald Trump taking an even more aggressive stance towards North Korea, Syria and Iran, and sucking up to the Saudis more than ever, it is crucial for Britain to withdraw itself from this, and work towards promoting positive diplomacy, instead of continuing with impulsive military actions that produce no positive results. The best hope we have for this is Jeremy Corbyn.
Besides these foreign policy decisions that I have mentioned, Corbyn strongly desires to scrap Trident. Trident not only costs Britain absurd annual fees, it is completely obsolete. Dismantling this contraption would not only save money, but would allow us to embark on a course of promoting nuclear disarmament, by setting a good example for the rest of the world.
If people got behind Corbyn’s vision – this includes potentially dissident Labour MPs and voters, Britain could withdraw from actions that have no benefit to Britain whatsoever, and only detriment our nation – with the result being excessive borrowing and a booming national debt. With this, and the human cost, it is essential to distance ourselves from these disastrous actions that are destructive to both sides in these conflicts. As an influential nation in the world, perhaps we could sway others too.
This article was originally published in Tribune Magazine.