Cameron plans to extend UK involvement in the wars raging in Iraq and Syria, while mounting an hysterical attack on British Muslims
Last week's hike in the military budget was not symbolic. Today David Cameron has proved he wants to take Britain back to a lead military role in the Middle East.
He has called for a 'fresh assault on Isil'. As the extra 2.5 billion pounds voted for the military in the budget kicks in, he has called on the top brass to organise more SAS troop deployments, drone attacks and RAF bombing missions, not just on Iraq, but in Syria too, despite the parliamentary vote in 2013 explicitly ruling out such an attack.
David Cameron makes the extraordinary claim that his experience over the last five years has proved that drone attacks, spy plane flights and special forces are 'vital in keeping us safe'. But this is precisely the period which has seen the emergence of Isis and constant warnings from the government about the growing threat of terrorism.
The whole history of the 'war on terror' suggests in fact the precise opposite. From the attack on Afghanistan in 2001 to the invasion of Iraq two years later and the Cameron lead assault on Libya in 2011, the war has devastated the Middle East and beyond, creating a series of failed states in which violence has flourished.
Since 2001, jihadist organisations have been able to spread from isolated pockets in Central Asia to a vast swathe of the world from Pakistan through the Middle East and into sub-Saharan Africa.
Last time the British people were being asked to back attacks on Syria, it was to support an (illegal) attempt to remove President Assad. Though Cameron was stopped by popular and parliamentary pressure, continued Western intervention in Syria and the renewed bombing of Iraq have plunged the region further into chaos. Infrastructure, both political and physical, has been further pummelled.
The West's main allies in the conflict, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, have been backing violent jihadist groups in Syria for years, including al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra,. The outcome has been a catastrophic unravelling of whole societies. In the words of Patrick Cockburn
'In both countries, the collapse of central government has exposed and sharpened differences between arab and kurd, Sunni and Shia, Muslim and Christian, secular and religious. And as Syrians and Iraqis live in a permanent state of war, these differences are almost always settled violently'.
Now, our government wants to intervene on the opposite side, attacking one of the horrific forces that the West's policies have helped conjure up. Forget the promises that bombing Iraq or Syria would not lead to further military involvement. Today's open commitment to deploying special forces is not mission creep, its a brazen admission that Cameron wants to go back to full spectrum war in the Middle East.
The terrifying thing is that in this context, failure to learn the lessons of history will not just lead to repetition, but to a cycle of violence that threatens to consume whole regions of the world.
And this is a war abroad that will be accompanied by hysterical attack on the Muslim population at home. If the only foreign policy they can conceive of is escalating violence, domestically they can't see beyond threats, intimidation and scapegoating.
In an utterly depraved move, the government have accompanied claims that unidentified Muslims who won't condemn Isis are driving people into their hands with youtube footage showing the carnage created by British bomb attacks in Iraq. Apparently this is supposed to scare young Muslims from joining Isis. It is more likely to look like bringing the war home.
Worryingly, it looks like the Labour leadership is set to fall in with this march to war. The party's acting leader, Harriet Harman, has been invited to a high-level security meeting on Isis on 14 July 2015. 'Indications' have been made that Labour is re-thinking its position on attacking Syria.
In 2013 anti war opinion and protest derailed Cameron's war plans. Now, Jeremy Corbyn's Labour leadership campaign takes on a new significance, but campaigning against a new front in Britain's war in the Middle East has become a matter of urgency.
Chris Nineham is a founder member of Stop the War and Counterfire, speaking regularly around the country on behalf of both. He is author of The People Versus Tony Blair and Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukacs.
More articles from this author
- Anti-capitalism reborn – why Genoa still matters
- 'Our motto is: strength in unity': how Hovis workers won
- Afghanistan: the humiliating end of the US’s longest war
- Wins on the bins: an organiser on the secrets of successful struggle - video
- Talking peace, making war: the dangers of Biden’s Iran gambit
- Culture under capitalism: Why art is alienated – The Dialectics of Art review
- Britain's war machine: imperial fantasies and the tilt to China