Mounting anti war sentiment needs to be mobilised to stop a fourth disastrous war in 12 years, writes Lindsey German
David Cameron’s speech in defence of Britain at the end of the G20 was a bizarre indication of the state of mind of a prime minister who expected to be riding shotgun alongside the US president in the newest Middle east war.
Instead he has found himself ruled out of any action because of the vote in Parliament on August 29th, which defeated both main party motions.
Cameron could barely conceal his wrath then and now tries to maintain an impossible position, of publicly ruling out military involvement, while at the same time is desperate to endorse Barack Obama’s push for a vote in the US Congress to launch military action.
It is surely inappropriate that Cameron should sign up to Obama’s war aims when parliament clearly rejected them, or that he should keep making the case for war after being defeated, or that he should allow the use of British airfields and bases as he will obviously try to do.
It demonstrates his contempt for democracy, a contempt shared by the BBC, which is campaigning as hard as it can against this majority vote in the British parliament.
The statement from a new ‘coalition of the willing’ of 11 nations, which signed up to support Obama included the name of Britian alongside France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Japan among others, but was opposed by China, Russia, Germany and Brazil.
Even then, the statement fell short of endorsing the military action that Cameron and Obama so desire.
Obama is, nonetheless, having some of the same problems that faced the British prime minister in the Commons vote.
Public opinion is heavily against the intervention, as it is in Britain, and many in both houses of Congress are wary of backing action.
They recognise that their electors are heartily sick of the wars of the past more than a decade.
They know that the supposed aim of those previous wars, to protect lives and human rights, has never been achieved.
The net result in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya has been the loss of more lives, greater numbers of refugees and higher levels of instability.
These horrors are little recorded in the western media, unless it suits the warmongers.
The fear of losing a Congress vote has forced Obama to delay, spending perhaps another two weeks lobbying and pressurising until, he hopes, he can win and launch a war.
The need to win over Republicans has led him to increase the scope of the war. When Cameron argued for intervention in parliament, he played down its impact: the war was not about regime change, it wasn’t even about taking sides in the civil war, and it would be a short ‘punishment’ strike. It was almost as if it would hardly happen.
But Obama is now clearly planning a substantial war, with plans to ‘degrade’ Assad’s military capability and so change the balance of forces in the war.
The G20 did not go as he planned, but there will be a relentless campaign in the next days and weeks to back a war.
John Kerry is banging the war drum in Europe, getting EU foreign ministers to condemn the chemical weapons attack as a war crime, describing the crisis as ‘our Munich moment’ which draws the ludicrous comparison between Assad and Hitler (as Western leaders have done repeatedly to their enemies since Nasser was so described during the Suez crisis in 1956).
Journalists in the Middle East are being told that the war will last for weeks and will involve the annexation of parts of southern Syria.
If this is what is already being planned, the likelihood of the war becoming much more substantial across the Middle East clearly grows.
Anti war sentiment is mounting as well, sceptical of past records and frankly disbelieving that any attack would help to deal with the terrible humanitarian crisis now facing the Syrians. It needs to be mobilised to stop a fourth disastrous war in 12 years.
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
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