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The strange world of UK Stop The War statement for 2016.

[Last Updated by Lara Keller 7/6/17]

Looking at a statement from Stop The War Coalition (STWuk) to mark the beginning of 2016:

It states: “15 years of permanent war: Time to end it.  Stop The War will continue its campaigning with renewed vigour in 2016 because civil society resistance to never ending war and misery is as necessary now as it was in 2001.”

The article states that STWuk was founded to oppose the US right-wing “War on Terror” following the 9/11 attacks. It then states:

“The war on terror began in Afghanistan, spread to Iraq and destabilised the whole region, created the conditions for ISIL to wreak their havoc and misery, has now spread to Syria and is looking set to spread once again into Libya …. We are in war without end. And it is not without consequences. It hasn’t just destabilised the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has greatly increased the threat of terrorism in western countries, a point made by the former head of MI5, Eliza Manningham Buller.

There is no mention in the whole statement, about 2011 and the “Arab Democratic Uprising”.  No mention of the genocidal war being waged by Assad against the Syrian people. No mention of the nature of the Gaddafi or the Assad regime. There is something very strange here with the leadership of STWuk. Is this racism or just political extremism (or even as far fetched as it seems partly a form of resourced public relations dressed up as politics)?

The STWuk statement also invites a reassessment of the criminally negligent interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, that goes beyond their bland rejection. The brutal nature of the Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime in Iraq (a mirror of Assad’s Syria) and Taliban rule in Afghanistan has been airbrushed out of the narrative. The “War On Terror” was a disastrous, ignorant, counter productive and racist  response to the 9/11 attacks. This does not mean questions should not be asked about what could have worked in Afghanistan and Iraq?  Could partnerships ( instead of intervention ) with Afghans and Iraqis opposed to dictatorship have worked better? How could this have be done? If this was possible, how could Western governments be pressured to takes this approach?

Note that according to the STWuk statement, the former leader of MI5 (UK domestic intelligence agency) agrees with the STWuk assessment. This is very strange given the traditional right-wing tendencies of the leadership of UK intelligence agencies. Indeed in 2010 Tom Sawyers the retired head of MI6 (UK foreign intelligence agency) said:

“There is no one reason for the terrorist phenomenon. Some blame political issues like Palestine or Kashmir or Iraq. Others cite economic disadvantage. Distortions of the Islamic faith. Male supremacy. The lack of the normal checks and balances in some countries. There are many theories.

I’ve worked a lot in the Islamic world. I agree with those who say we need to be steady and stand by our friends.

Over time, moving to a more open system of government in these countries, one more responsive to people’s grievances, will help. But if we demand an abrupt move to the pluralism that we in the west enjoy, we may undermine the controls that are now in place and terrorists would end up with new opportunities.”


Behind the elitist language is a chilling parallel to STWuk. Lord Sawyers is making a veiled criticism of the impending “Arab Democratic Uprising”. The UK’s friends at the time included Assad and Gaddafi, because official relations with Syria and Libya were radically strengthened after 9/11.

You could say that the right-wing elite in the UK intelligence services and STWuk are both responding to the same reality, but you could also see them as instruments of interconnected global elites, with the same disinterest in representative government?

When the UK intelligence agencies look at STWuk do they put them in the asset or liability category? STWuk is a relatively popular movement that encourages those on the Left in the UK to demand a blanket rejection of all Western intervention in the Middle East. Much smaller groups centered around  people with close connections to the region, such as the Syrian Activist groups, provide detailed criticisms of existing intervention and call for different types of intervention (effectively partnerships) by the West. The type of organization represented by STWuk is the least threat to the intentions of elites in the West who largely shape foreign policy, in the absence of effective popular pressure.

Just to end this article. The activities of groups like STWuk would cost millions of pounds if authoritarian regimes had to pay public relation companies for them. Many of the officials who effectively run STWuk, came from the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). Apart from notably John Rees, the SWP is notorious for it’s ex Public School ex University ruling clique. It is a strange world.

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