The US is expected to start bombing imminently against the Assad regime’s forces and infrastructure in Syria.
Based on recent history, the Tory government and adventurist so-called Labour ‘moderates’ will wish to join in – and will paint anyone who opposes the move as unpatriotic and, almost certainly, as a ‘Kremlin stooge’.
Those opponents will almost certainly include Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Those who care about truth more than jingoistic propaganda should be aware of the following.
Corbyn not only has a track record of opposing the Syrian and Russian regimes in Parliament, as the SKWAWKBOX detailed on Sunday – but has also called for action against Russia and Syria and has laid out steps a Labour government under him will take to curtail their abuse of international law:
The gas attack
The video footage of distressed children and adults being given inhalers and oxygen in Douma has been powerful – but has not been verified.
Russia has said it found no trace of a chlorine attack in Douma when its personnel visited the town. Many will immediately and understandably dismiss that statement – but the Russians may not have been the only ones to visit.
Russian media claim that the Red Crescent – the equivalent of the Red Cross in Muslim areas – also visited the city and found nothing to suggest a chemical attack had taken place. This information can currently be found only in Russian sources – but should be easily verifiable if true. The SKWAWKBOX has sent a press enquiry to Red Cross headquarters to ask whether the organisation will verify or deny the claims.
Horrific incidents in the Middle East have been fabricated on at least one occasion. The ‘Nayirah testimony’ to US politicians in 1990, for example, helped to cement the case for the 1990-91 invasion of Iraq.
‘Nayirah’, a Kuwaiti ‘nurse’, told the US Congress that invading Iraqi soldiers had stolen incubators, leaving a large number of premature Kuwaiti babies to die:
I volunteered at the al-Addan hospital with twelve other women who wanted to help as well. I was the youngest volunteer. The other women were from twenty to thirty years old. While I was there I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators and left the children to die on the cold floor. [crying] It was horrifying.
Amnesty International at first corroborated the story and the media in the US and UK treated it as fact – but it turned out to have been completely fabricated – and the tearful witness to be the 15-year-old daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US.
Amnesty International subsequently accused President George HW Bush of,
opportunistic manipulation of the international human rights movement.
Cynical manipulation of the natural human instinct to protect children to justify military action.
The footage of the distressed children is horrific, but the UK public – and our politicians – should be wary of any attempt to use it to justify military action before it has been verified that it does indeed show a chemical attack in Douma and who was responsible.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) – the same organisation that is analysing the toxin that hospitalised the Skripals in Salisbury – has only just begun a preliminary analysis of the attack in Douma and has not yet confirmed that it considers a chemical attack took place.
Action now, before such a confirmation has been received, will certainly be premature – just as the former head of the organisation stated clearly that the UK’s actions and allocation of blame were premature and unrealistic.
Not only that, but according to the BBC Russia – which has troops in Syria supporting the Assad regime – has offered to escort OPCW personnel to Douma to ensure their safety while they inspect the site and analyse any chemicals found.
“The threshold for military action must always be high
Many observers have today been comparing Jeremy Corbyn’s measured, evidence-based approach to events in Salisbury and to events in Syria to the stand taken by Robin Cook in 2003, when Tony Blair’s fabricated claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were used to justify the second invasion of Iraq.
Cook, then the Leader of the House of Commons, resigned from the Cabinet over the unevidenced rush to discard international law and convention to pursue military action – and has been rightly lauded ever since:
Cook – closely watched, coincidentally, by Jeremy Corbyn – spoke with gravity and prescience of:
- the justified calls of other nations for more time for inspections
- the UK’s disregard for the basics of proper international procedure
- the diplomatic weakness the UK brought upon itself by rash action
- the astonishment of history at the ‘diplomatic miscalculations’ that led to such weakness
- the need for proper consultation and consensus among nations for military action
- the importance of the rule of international law for not only the UK’s national interest but that of every nation
- the contrast between the rash, unilateral action the UK was proposing alongside the US and the multilateral agreement to take action in Kosovo
And with chilling foresight, he anticipated the unknowable toll in civilian deaths that would follow – according to the Huffington Post, the toll in Iraqi lives had reached five hundred thousand five years ago. It has only risen since.
Cook spoke of the proposed invasion of Iraq – which cost huge numbers of civilian lives and played an enormous part in destabilising the Middle East. But the stakes now are higher still, because of the involvement of Russia and Iran in Syria.
Iran – which many observers consider to be the ‘end-game’ of US moves around Syria – possesses around ten percent of the world’s verified oil reserves.
And Russia is still a nuclear power with a president who will wish to show strength against any challenge.
US President Trump is a narcissist and could not be further from the concept of a statesman.
The possible consequences of a potential clash between two nuclear superpowers with egotistical leaders in a Middle East cauldron are hard to exaggerate.
If Trump proceeds to order US airstrikes against the Syrian regime – as Israel has already done in Homs – the Establishment in this country will attempt to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ by using twisted ‘patriotism’ to improve its standing and to attack Jeremy Corbyn.
The people of the UK must remember the lessons of the past and the cost we have already incurred for ignoring them – in reputation, in international solidarity and in lives lost.
Many of us are already thankful to have a leader of the Opposition who sees that ‘big picture’ and has the courage, integrity and understanding to stand up for it. Many more may well soon be wishing the UK’s Prime Minister had those qualities in even a fraction of the measure Corbyn has already demonstrated.
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