Where Are You? Campaigning For True Peace And The Coming Iranian War.

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Where Are You? Campaigning For True Peace And The Coming Iranian War.

[ Posted by Lara Keller 5/1/2020 Updated 9/1/2020] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

[Also See: Good Intervention In Syria And MENA Generally Collection.]

The death of Qasem Soleimani this week may well be a turning point for the clerical dictatorship in Iran. Soleimani (and his Quods force) was responsible for the growing  malign military interference of the Iranian dictatorship in neighbouring countries. He expanded, created and supplied sectarian fundamentalist Shia militias throughout the region, from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq to Yemen; which have been responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths. Soleimani and the Quods force have been a major supporter (along with Russia) of Assad’s genocide in Syria. Soleimani was a terrorist warlord whose death was well deserved.

It would be better if Soleimani had been put on trial like any other psychopathic criminal, but in the circumstance he got justice. It was sickening to see UN spokesperson being so concerned about whether the action sanctioned by Trump was legal? The UN has shown little concern about doing anything meaningful about the illegal deaths of his hundreds of thousands of victims. Damn the other hypocrites in the West who claim to be progressive and yet seek to appease the fascistic Iranian regime.

Iran is not a democracy. Like a South American right-wing dictatorship from the 1970s, there are elections but candidates who meaningfully try to represent the interests of ordinary people are vetoed by the clique really in charge. In Iran the clique are an increasingly nepotistic group of high ranking clerics and soldiers. This means there is no public opinion capable of curbing the reckless aggression of the regime. There is no chance of internal reform, because the kleptomaniac families at the center of power, have a powerful security force to endlessly prevent it. The regime is creating long range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, while having close military links with North Korea, and notoriously attempting to develop abundant weapons-grade enriched uranium.

Progressives in the West have to be honest that neither appeasement or diplomacy is  going to halt the aggressive policies of the Iranian Dictatorship. A war with Iran lead by the United States appears to be highly likely.

You could attempt to protest against this, which like Iraq will have little effect. Anti-war rhetoric will not effectively answer the evidence of Iranian Regime’s aggressive warmongering policies or its nuclear  intentions. Appealing to previous exaggeration over Saddam Husein’s capabilities in Iraq is not going to be nearly enough.

A different tack which would really worry the Western elites promoting this war, would be to not allow them to ignore the Iranian People. Campaign for a war directed at the regime not the people. Campaign for a reconstruction policy driven by the non-Shah supporting Iranian opposition. Campaign to demand a clear reconstruction plan that rebuilds physical security;  food, medical and housing security; and local representative government. Taking a bottom up approach to harness community bonds. This approach has a long history, and was applied to European reconstruction after the defeat of Nazism.

The tweet put out by President Trump is concerning, and is a misdirection I hope rather than policy. The approach of a force neutralizing the Iranian Regime must be to ensure the empowerment of the Iranian People. This means protecting Iranian Cultural and Shia Religious sites. This means ensuring protection for Shia minorities in the region, to undermine and replace the power of Iranian backed Shia Fundamentalist Militias. The enemy is the nihilistic fundamentalist “black” Islamist faction of the late Ayatollah Khomeini who stole the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The enemy is the nepotistic clerical elite he spawned. The enemy are the generals at the top of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) whose sole purpose is to protect the corrupted Iranian Dictatorship. The allies are the large non-Shah supporting Iranian Opposition, ordinary Iranian People, and the majority of Shia Muslims dedicated to genuine Islamic values.

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Targets should be confined to the security and property assets of the Iranian Regime.

It is not pacifism or anti-war waffle that is needed, instead it is a realistic progressive commitment to humanity and peace making, recognizing that this involves the controlled use of force when the criminals are in charge of the state.

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The Prospective Foreign Policy of a Corbyn Government and its U.S. National Security Implications.

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The Prospective Foreign Policy of a Corbyn Government and its U.S. National Security Implications. By Dr. Azeem Ibrahim (Hudstone Institute,Sept 2019)

[ Posted by Lara Keller 2/11/19 Updated 14/4/2020 ] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents  ]
[ Source=https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.hudson.org/Ibrahim_The%20Prospective%20Foreign%20Policy%20of%20a%20Corbyn%20Government.pdf ]

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Sec 1. Author.
Sec 2. Foreword by Rt. Hon. Sir Malcolm Rifkind.
Sec 3. Acronyms and Names.
Sec 4. Political Movements and Groups.
Sec 5. Executive Summary.
Sec 6. Introduction.
Sec 7. Models and Practice of International Relations.
Sec 8. Corbyn’s International Relations Framework and Its Pro-Soviet Influences.
Sec 9. Traditional Models and Universal Human Rights.
Sec 10. Intellectual Strands behind Corbyn’s Model.
Sec 10.1 From the Labour Left.
Sec 10.2 From the Communist Party of Great Britain.
Sec 10.3 From the “New Left”.
Sec 10.4 From Eurocommunism.
Sec 11. Corbyn’s Political Actions across Various Regions.
Sec 11.1 Bosnia.
Sec 11.2 Kosovo.
Sec 11.3 Syria.
Sec 11.4. Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Sec 11.5. Russia.
Sec 11.6. Venezuela.
Sec 11.7. Scotland & Northern Ireland.
Sec 12. Nuclear Weapons.
Sec 13. Multinational Institutions: The European Union and NATO.
Sec 14. Implications for the U.S.
Sec 14.1 Relations with the Republican and Democratic Parties.
Sec 14.2 NATO.
Sec 14.3 Security.
Sec 14.4 Israel and Anti-Semitism.
Sec 15. Summary.
Sec 16. References.
Sec 17. Endnotes.

Sec 1. AUTHOR.

Dr. Azeem Ibrahim is a Research Professor at the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College and member of the Board of Directors at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at the Department of War Studies at Kings College London University. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge after which he completed fellowships at the universities of Oxford, Harvard and Yale.

Dr. Ibrahim has published hundreds of articles in the likes of The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Foreign Policy, Chicago Tribune, LA Times and Newsweek. He is also the author of “The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Hidden Genocide” (Hurst 2016) and “Radical Origins: Why We Are Losing the War Against Islamic Extremism” (Pegasus 2017).

Outside academia, Dr. Ibrahim has been a reservist in the IV Battalion Parachute Regiment and an award-winning entrepreneur. He was ranked as a Top 100 Global Thinker by the European Social Think Tank in 2010 and named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

Sec 2. FOREWORD BY RT. HON. SIR MALCOLM RIFKIND.

Dr. Azeem Ibrahim has developed a well-deserved reputation as a thoughtful analyst of the threats and challenges facing modern society.

His study of Jeremy Corbyn’s foreign policy beliefs and prejudices will add to that reputation and deserves to be read by all those interested in, and concerned by, contemporary political developments in the United Kingdom. Dr. Ibrahim not only offers his own views and conclusions but backs them up with copious factual extracts from Corbyn’s own statements, speeches, and actions over many years, during a time when he must have had little expectation of taking leadership of the Labour Party and being seen as a potential prime minister.

Dr. Ibrahim demonstrates how Corbyn’s worldview is warped and lacks any ethical foundation. He provides numerous illustrations indicating that Corbyn has no belief in universal human rights and is prepared to excuse atrocities and persecution if they are carried out by governments he approves of, such as Maduro’s Venezuela or Putin’s Russia.

He concludes that Corbyn, if he were to obtain power, would do grave damage not only to the United Kingdom and the West but to the cause of democracy and liberal values throughout the world.

Dr. Ibrahim acknowledges that if Corbyn became the UK’s prime minister there would be serious limits on his power to deliver the kind of foreign policy he believes in. A substantial majority of Labour members of Parliament would disagree with any attempt to take Britain out of NATO and would not share any enthusiasm for tolerating the Kremlin’s aggression in Ukraine.

It is also highly unlikely that any Corbyn-led government would have a majority in the House of Commons, and it would thus need the support of at least some opposition MPs to win votes in Parliament.

However, President Trump has shown how much can be done simply by a combination of tweets, speeches, and executive orders. That is how he has pursued much of his policy on international trade, on climate change, on China, and on Russia.

Corbyn as prime minister would have little of the global power of a US president, but serious damage he could do. His speeches and statements would be reported throughout the world and bring comfort to unpleasant regimes in Moscow, Caracas, Tehran, and Beijing. He could also weaken the UK’s impressive intelligence agencies by depriving them of funds and ordering them to change their investigative priorities.

Azeem Ibrahim has a distinguished academic background. His report should be read in the White House and the State Department and in other capitals. Hopefully, it will be read in the United Kingdom as well and help ensure that Corbyn is never entrusted with power.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind was a Minister at the UK Foreign Office from 1982-86. He then served as Defense Secretary from 1992-95 and as Foreign Secretary from 1995-97. From 2010-15 he served as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, with oversight of the UK’s intelligence agencies.

He is a Visiting Professor at the Department of War Studies, Kings College, London.
[LK= He was also a leading cabinet minister in the Conservative Thatcher and Major governments of the 1980s and the 1990s. Politically diametrically opposed to Corbynism.]

Sec 3. ACRONYMS AND NAMES.

The information below provides a short list of individuals and groups mentioned in the paper who may not be immediately recognizable to readers.

AAM = Anti-Apartheid Movement.
CND = Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
CPB = Communist Party of Britain (successor to the CPGB).
CPGB = Communist Party of Great Britain.
EC = European Community.
EEC = European Economic Community.
EU = European Union.
IRA = Irish Republican Army.
KLA = Kosovo Liberation Army.
NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
OPCW = Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
PCE = Communist Party of Spain.
PCI = Italian Communist Party.
SDLP = Social Democratic and Labour Party.
SNP = Scottish National Party.
StWC = Stop the War Coalition.
SWP = Socialist Workers Party.

Robin Cook:
Labour foreign secretary from 1997 to 2001 and leader of the House of Commons until 2003. Tried to introduce the concept of an “ethical” foreign policy with an emphasis on human rights. Resigned over opposition to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Tony Benn:
A leading left-wing politician in the British Labour Party in the 1970s and 1980s. His supporters were often called Bennites.
Seumas Milne:
Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman and influential advisor. Previously a member of the hardline, pro-Soviet elements in the CPGB and has a long record of supporting Russian president Vladimir Putin’s actions, both within the former Soviet Union and more widely.
Len McCluskey:
Leader of the British trade union Unite. Very influential over Corbyn, not least as Unite provides most of the funding for Corbyn’s private office and has provided him with a number of policy advisors who previously worked for the union.
John Pilger:
Australian journalist who made his reputation exposing the crimes of the Khymer Rouge in Cambodia. Now writes predictably antiWestern, anti-“imperialist” articles, often cited by Corbyn in support of his positions.

Sec 4. POLITICAL MOVEMENTS AND GROUPS.

The Tribune Group:
A left-wing grouping in the British Labour Party, important from the early 1960s to the early 1980s, which lost influence after that.
New Left:
An umbrella term for a wide spread of left-wing groups that emerged in the 1960s. Most had concerns about the USSR and tended to make anti-imperialism their core policy. Some were openly Trotskyist in their politics, others more eclectic.
Eurocommunism:
The policy developed in the 1970s by the Italian and Spanish Communist Parties, which became very critical of the USSR and adopted a focus on universal human rights. Both parties backed opposition movements within the Warsaw Pact states.
Scottish National Party:
Now a broadly left-of-center party that argues for Scotland to be independent of the UK. On other electoral issues it has similar policies to the Labour Party, so the two are effectively competing for the same segment of the Scottish electorate, leading to strained relations between them.
Social Democratic and Labour Party:
The Northern Irish sister party of the Labour Party. Notionally supports the nonviolent unification of Ireland, and its MPs used to sit with (and vote for) the Labour Party in the UK House of Commons. It competes with Sinn Féin for the vote of the Catholic nationalist communities in Northern Ireland.
Sinn Féin:
The political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). In the period from 1968 to 1991, its senior membership overlapped with that of the IRA. It contests UK parliamentary elections but refuses to send MPs to the House of Commons, as it believes the 1922 partition of Ireland to be illegal. In practical terms, it has come to supplant completely the SDLP in the voting preferences of the nationalist segment of Northern Ireland.
Communist Party of Great Britain:
Founded in 1920 and formally dissolved in 1991. By the 1970s, it was largely irrelevant in UK politics but remained important in some trade unions and in the type of organizations and campaigns set up by the wider British left at various times.

Sec 5. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY.

Given the current state of UK politics, with the Conservative government focused almost exclusively on Brexit and the resulting electoral uncertainty, the likelihood of a government headed by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has increased substantially. The last UK -wide elections— in 2019, for the European Parliament— suggested that in England and Wales, the vote was spread relatively evenly across four political parties (in Scotland, the nationalist SNP dominated, meaning that each seat was contested by five main parties). In addition, with the “first past the post” electoral system, predictions of who might win a general election are problematic. The UK electoral system means the party with the largest number of votes in each constituency gains the seat in the House of Commons and it is feasible for a party with an overall lower share of the vote to win more seats than this would indicate depending on how evenly their votes are spread across the country. With two major parties, this is rarely a problem, with four (or five) more or less evenly sharing the vote, there is a real risk of an outcome (number of MPs) that is very different to the actual share of the votes.

[LK: In the December 2019 General Election, first past the post benefited the Conservatives who won 365 seats, as opposed to the projected 283 under a basic proportional system.The Liberal Democrats won just 11 rather than 75. In a different election clearly other parties could benefit disproportionately, as the author argues.]

On this basis, it is essential to consider what might be the foreign policy choices of a Corbyn government and how this might affect the United Kingdom’s allies, especially the United States. Corbyn seeks to present his foreign policy as one of support for the oppressed, of opposition to wars and invasions, and as an extension of former Labour foreign secretary Robin Cook’s “ethical” foreign policy. As this paper makes clear, this framing is deceptive—and consciously so. Corbyn has a long record of supporting human rights abusers, as long as they are, in his terms, on the right side, and opposed to U.S. or Western imperialism. Even his vaunted support for the Palestinians falls away when they are attacked by the Bashar al-Assad’s regime rather than Israel. Equally, while it is true that he would seek to end the UK’s current support for Saudi Arabia, he would simply replace it with support for Iran.

If a Corbyn foreign policy will not be an attempt to promote human rights and international cooperation over issues such as climate change, then what will it be? This paper argues that in Corbyn’s worldview, a small number of anti-imperialist states (Russia, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and China) and a larger number of anti-imperialist movements (such as Hamas and Hezbollah) are threatened by the United States and the “West”. The latter is a rather amorphous concept but appears to include the major states and shared institutions of the post–World War II international order (including military alliances such as NATO and diplomatic and economic alliances such as the European Union). As shown below, Corbyn has tended to assume an automatically pro-Russian stance over a range of issues, including tensions within the former Soviet Union, Syria, and how the Vladimir Putin regime in Russia describes bodies such as NATO and the EU.

If Corbyn’s foreign policy is enacted, this suggests the Corbyn government will play a disruptive role. Some of this will be defended as a correction away from Saudi Arabia and Israel (but toward Iran instead). In other ways, his models of international politics and international trade mean he sees little value in multilateral organizations, so there will be another force pulling apart these longstanding alliances. This is not to argue that such bodies should be beyond criticism, or that they would not benefit from reform, but the key is that Corbyn has no interest in such nuances. These organizations support imperialism and capitalism and must, to use his own words, be defeated.

To explore these issues, this paper takes two approaches. First there is a consideration of the underpinnings and logic behind Corbyn’s view of international relations. That this largely focuses on the debates and disputes between relatively small sections of the British left in the late 1970s may be a surprise to some. However, the views held by Corbyn and his close advisors were all formed in this milieu, and to understand their likely future choices it is essential to explore the intellectual underpinnings. This is followed by brief discussions of Corbyn’s actual response to a number of international issues. These provide evidence for what his views actually mean in practice, and a number of themes recur:

1. He has a binary worldview, with imperialism and capitalism on one side and opposition to them on the other.

2. He condemns human rights abuses by those he sees as supporting imperialism but is dismissive of the abuses carried out by regimes he himself supports. He tends to see any domestic opponents of such regimes not as legitimate protesters but as agents of Western imperialism.

3. He identifies a number of states (such as Russia, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, and, sometimes, China) as the core anti-imperialist states and seems to believe they are constantly being threatened by the U.S. and the wider West.

4. There is never any nuance in his positions, so the messy, brutal civil war in Syria is reduced to an anti-imperialist Assad government struggling against jihadi and Western-sponsored opposition groups. Missing is any reflection of the peaceful initial revolt against Assad or why over 11 million people have been forced from their homes and many have fled the country.

5. The views of his advisors are very important and there are important issues where it is clear they have led him to change his position as a result of their influence. With Putin, Corbyn was initially critical but has increasingly come to support the regime and repeat its arguments. Over nuclear disarmament, he has moved from lifelong opposition to the UK possessing nuclear weapons to support for renewal of the UK’s Trident missile system. If we are to understand how Corbyn will frame a given issue, we need to understand the likely views of his close associates.

In turn, this offers insights into the likely foreign policy of a Corbynled government:

1. In economic terms, he will support a degree of autarky and the UK’s removal from the world economy so he can carry out his desired economic reforms.

2. In terms of international organizations, we can assume the UK will withdraw from the EU (despite opposition from most of the Labour Party) and will play a negative role in organizations such as NATO, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. Outright withdrawal from all these bodies is unlikely due to opposition both within the Labour Party and elsewhere in the British political system.

3. We will see a clear break with the traditional Western preferences for Israel and Saudi Arabia in Middle Eastern policymaking. This may be a much-needed rebalancing, but, in reality, it will be replaced by close support for Iran.

4. We can expect a greater tolerance for the Putin regime’s actions and worldview, and presumably, backing for Russian actions in Ukraine and possibly other former Soviet republics.

How far any of this can be converted from rhetoric to practical action is debatable. There are constraints within the British political system and, in reality, these positions lack majority support among Labour Party members of Parliament. But even if it remains rhetorical, it will represent a major shift in UK foreign policy. And even if the change is limited to the words used, the U.S. will find a Corbyn-led government’s choices and attitudes a major departure from the UK’s traditional views.

The implications for security and possible military cooperation are substantial. Some of Corbyn’s close advisors were long-term supporters of the USSR and seem to have decided that Putin’s Russia is an acceptable successor. Here, they may not be able to implement an active policy change (toward open support for Russia or Iran), but they can be expected to act to stop any attempts to challenge Russian expansionism. In addition, in the sharing of security information, the UK government will cease to be a reliable partner. Again, the practical issue is less that a Corbyn-led government would actively side with Russia (or its allies) and more that it might block or undermine any actions it sees as inimical to Putin’s interests.

In light of the above, it would be prudent for the U.S. national security establishment to give serious consideration to downgrading or even suspending a Corbyn-led government from the Five Eyes intelligence alliance and temporarily demoting its NATO membership. There is a serious risk that any information passed to either Corbyn or his close allies could be compromised, especially if it involves Russia or Iran.

Sec 6. INTRODUCTION.

This paper considers what a Labour government in the UK led by Jeremy Corbyn might mean in terms of international relations and U.S. national security. It starts from a consideration of the ideas that have informed his worldview and then looks at how he has responded to events over the last two decades. The final section looks at how his responses reflect his theoretical underpinnings and what might be the practical implications for UK foreign policy and, by extension, U.S. national security.

Corbyn’s view of international relations closely follows the debates and disagreements of a very small section of British politics from the late 1970s—within the Labour Party the ideas of the Tribune Group and those MPs closely associated with Tony Benn; the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB); and what can be clustered together as the New Left (a spread of views developed by various Trotskyist groups and those who had no formal party identification). As we will see, there are important differences among these groups, but some themes emerge consistently. All had a preference for a model of economic relations that tended toward isolationism and autarky (for some this was seen as a needed response to weaknesses in the UK economy, to others it was a desirable outcome in its own right). This made them hostile to the European Economic Community (EEC), the forerunner of the current European Union (EU), both on economic grounds and because they believed it was a political project designed to support wider U.S. imperialism. In turn, all these groups tended to view specifically the U.S. (and, more generally, the “West”) as the root cause of all international problems and to align themselves with what were seen as anti-imperialist movements (even if they disagreed as to which movements met this criterion).

This had implications not just in orientation but in their approach toward human rights abuses. As we will see, they were willing, rightly, to expose and condemn such abuses by the U.S. or its client states, but this did not indicate any commitment to universal human rights. When a movement or state they supported carried out abuses, they either ignored them or carefully placed them into context—usually stating that the abuses were a response to some form of provocation or imperialist action. [1]

As this paper shows, in the main Corbyn closely reflects this mindset. There are states and movements he supports, and he is usually blind to their human rights abuses, even while he is prepared to criticize such actions by states he does not support. In effect, if your abuser is one of his supported regimes, then you have no rights and should have no expectations. So Corbyn, often rightly, has condemned this or that action by Israel toward the Palestinians but remains silent when Palestinians are massacred by the Assad regime. [2]

Thus, to understand Corbyn’s approach to foreign policy, we have to revisit the debates and ideas of what was a very small spectrum of the British political process from the late 1970s and early 1980s. In no other modern setting do the divisions and analyses of groups that mostly no longer exist and that mostly had no mass appeal even at that stage, matter. This alone should be a warning about what his ideas will mean in practice and the extent to which they try to fit the global changes in the last forty years into a very narrow model.

Consequently, Corbyn’s model and practice for international relations are not particularly based on a theoretical development.[3] They more directly reflect whether regimes and movements are considered anti-imperialist. The group of anti-imperialists (states such as Iran, Syria, Russia, Cuba, and Venezuela) is deemed to be under threat by the “West,” which wants to overthrow them for all kinds of nefarious reasons. This is not a policy framework but more akin to the type of conspiracy theory that so often takes root within populist political movements. Supporters of this view tend not to want to deal with any facts but rather to obfuscate them. In particular, any crimes that are carried out by “anti-Western” states in their own geopolitical interests are to be supported, regardless of whether their own population, or those who live in the countries they have invaded or meddled in, might actually be opposed to these actions. In a number of instances—such as the wars in Syria and the former Yugoslavia and the current chaos in Venezuela—Corbyn seems uninterested in the messy details, preferring to deal in broad generalities. [4] [LK= It is not credible to ignore long term cynical immoral monomania in the Western elite’s distortion of foreign policy, that very often can be termed “nefarious”. Author partially makes this point below.]

The core of his beliefs is that if you are oppressed by an anti-imperialist state that he supports, then you have no rights. As a result, he has a consistent record of support for Serbia in the Balkan Wars (it was seen as socialist[5]) and for Assad in Syria (anti-imperialist), and supports the actions and interests of what are seen as the primary anti-imperialist states: Iran, Russia, and Venezuela. [6] In practice, this makes him every bit as cynical in his formulation of international relations as those he claims to see as callous, self-interested supporters of regimes such as Saudi Arabia.

This is not the ethical foreign policy of the Labour foreign secretary in the late 1990s, Robin Cook, redesigned and updated. It [Corbyn’s] is a foreign policy that accommodates dictators, aligns with human rights abusers, and denies human rights to those who oppose these regimes. This is the key concern; it is not a nuanced critique of, say, liberal interventionism or other models of Western foreign policy—it takes the most cynical aspects of the latter but picks a different group of friendly states.

In addition to a deep suspicion of U.S. motives in Corbyn’s longtime policy circles—again not always incorrect—there is also an enduring suspicion of most post-1945 multilateral bodies. Thus, opposition to NATO was standard and shared even in those sections of the left that had concerns about the motives and actions of the USSR. Equally, the EEC was seen as a capitalist club and something to “defeat.” [7] There has usually been limited support for the UN, but this is selective, generally in an obstructive rather than affirmative way. When it comes to Syria, this has meant denying Russian involvement in some attacks, [8] and Corbyn did not accept Assad’s and Russia’s responsibility for an attack on a UN convoy until the UN had conducted an investigation. He also did not want to accept Russian responsibility for the Skripals’ poisoning in March 2018 until the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had conducted its investigation. [9] However, since it was completed (and supported the view of the UK government), Corbyn has been silent. Running through many of his speeches is an insistence on a state’s right to act as it sees fit domestically [10] —if it is a state he supports. In many ways this is a return to a nation-state model of international relations, but his list of favored and rejected states is different from the list promoted by those on the right who tend to share this view of the international order. [11]

In turn, U.S. officials can expect a very different response from the UK in respect of Russian actions, Middle East policy and more generally within various multinational bodies such as the UN and NATO. Some of these changes may reflect the mindset of the Trump administration and its greater tolerance for Putin’s regime and suspicion of international bodies. On the other hand, Corbyn’s pro-Iran, pro-Venezuela attitudes will provoke significant differences. Equally—though this is outside the scope of this paper—his domestic economic policy will be the total opposite of that promoted by the Trump administration. Even a Democratic administration, if it wins the 2020 elections, will find the UK has become a less predictable ally.

The final section of this paper considers what all this means. It clearly does not set the UK on a road toward an ethical foreign policy; instead it reshuffles the diplomatic pack. We could expect the UK under Corbyn to be less tolerant toward Saudi Arabia but instead turn a blind eye to the actions of Iran (both domestically and internationally). We can probably expect less engagement with the international bodies that regulate the world economy (admittedly not always very well). We can also probably predict what Corbyn will say on most issues, as he has a clear list of those he supports and those he opposes. How this can be turned into practical diplomacy or international economic relations is more opaque.

Sec 7. MODELS AND PRACTICE OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.

The use of a model or frame of reference to inform foreign policy is not unusual. Nor, unfortunately, is it rare for such a frame to lead to poorly judged decisions. The British state managed to create the disaster of Suez in 1956 using a model of its self-adopted imperial role and importance in the world. New Labour in the UK and the George W. Bush presidency in the U.S. used the model of liberal interventionism to justify the invasion and post-conflict management of Iraq. [12] More recently, the belief that there is no formal international legal framework, so states must act in their perceived self-interest, has made a return—with predictable consequences.

Thus it is not, in the abstract, a problem that Corbyn and his advisors have a model of international affairs and use this to inform their decisions. The consequences can be severe, however, if such a model sometimes fails to generate an appropriate policy in a particular environment. The sensible question is, does it vary based on the circumstances? There is a case to argue that the Bill Clinton/New Labour foreign policy model worked in ending the conflicts in Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone even if it also informed the heavily criticized decision-making in Iraq. [13] [LK= Iraq intervention was an invasion that willfully failed to respectfully or progressively engage with the Iraqi population or the established threats Iraq-Iran and Sunni-Shia conflict. Difficult not to see this aspect as nefarious.]

Sec 8. CORBYN’S INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS FRAMEWORK AND ITS PRO-SOVIET INFLUENCES.

Corbyn’s understanding of international relations can be best described as a combination of the New Left’s framing of international politics and a Bennite framing of international economic relations. Thus, opposition to Western “imperialism” tends to be his dominant approach, and this also tends to see him offering support to any regime or group that can be characterized as anti-imperialist. [14] However, there is evidence that he has taken on a more pro-Soviet (in the sense of pro-Kremlin) stance in recent years. As noted below, while still a backbencher (in other words a Member of the UK Parliament who has no formal role in the Government or the Opposition), he was happy to sponsor “early day motions” criticizing Putin’s wars in the Caucasus. [15] Such motions are often used in the House of Commons by backbench MPs as a means to raise issues relevant to their own constituencies, to signal their opposition to an aspect of current political policy, or to raise an issue they feel is particularly important but is being overlooked. They almost never influence government policy, meaning that they are popular with those MPs who are on the fringes of their particular political group.

The contrast between this criticism and Corbyn’s current approach to the wars in Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, and use of chemical weapons in the UK is stark. This shift reflects the background of some of those around Corbyn who came from a pro-Soviet, Stalinist political tradition, and this has had a direct impact on his current set of international policies. It also reflects the deliberate choices by the Putin regime to stress the importance of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany as a means to create a link back to the USSR and the extent that current regime generally presents a favorable view of Stalin in popular media.

Corbyn has managed to unite disparate strands of the UK left around him, in part because he offers them a route to influence but also because their old debates about the nature of the USSR, and about reform or revolution, have largely been rendered obsolete by events. Thus, the political and economic strategy of the CPGB (now the Communist Party of Britain, CPB) and the traditional interest of some of the Trotskyist movements in gaining a foothold in the mainstream Labour Party find renewed relevance with Corbyn in charge. Usefully, Corbyn leads a major political party and, at least for a while, seems to have support from people focused on pragmatic concerns such as austerity or tuition fees, allowing them to draw on a much wider electoral base than would ever be attracted to their own policies.

These varying elements came together in a British political campaign, the Stop the War Coalition (StWC), which emerged shortly after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. It was founded by individuals with links to the CPB and the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party and supported by left-wing Labour MPs such as Corbyn. As such, it was a typical example of the type of organization set up by parts of the British far left to campaign on a specific issue. However, the substantial public opposition in the UK to the planned Iraq War briefly gave the group wider support and, by early 2003, it was able to mobilize over 1 million people to march in London and Glasgow.
[LK= STWC is one of a series of front organizations for the UK far-left.]

Since then, the StWC has shed most of this wider support and returned to the type of arguments typical of the New Left’s interpretation of anti-imperialism. Contentiously, some senior members have indicated support for groups in Iraq (like al-Qaeda) attacking U.S. and UK forces, and backing for the Muammar al-Qaddafi regime in Libya from 2011 to 2012. Since 2012, the StWC has offered support for Assad in Syria. Corbyn remained a committed member even as the StWC reverted to the simplistic anti-imperialism of the New Left. In many ways, the intellectual strands in the StWC leadership encapsulate the core of Corbyn’s approach to international relations. Equally important, the ability to claim that he was right in opposing the war in Iraq allows Corbyn to claim that taking a similar anti-Western approach in every other situation is equally correct.

Thus, Corbyn’s model of international relations is one of anti-imperialism and support for states such as Russia, Iran, and Syria, combined with visceral dislike of Israel as the classic imperialist state. This “Zio-centric” worldview is one reason for the anti-Semitism that Corbyn’s Labour is riddled with, as anyone who is Jewish and fails to sufficiently renounce any support for Israel is by definition a supporter of imperialism. Yes, there is support for Palestine and the rights of Palestinians, but only when these are threatened by Israel. Massacres of Palestinians by Assad (both the current Syrian dictator and his father [16]), when they are allied with the opposition in the Syrian civil war, are not condemned, [17] and indeed, not even mentioned. [LK= Simultaneously opportunistic pro-zionism is also being forced into definitions of anti-Semitism by Zionist PR groups. Corbynism effectively excluding Jews has to be seen partly as a reaction to hard line Zionist triumphalism.]

Sec 9. TRADITIONAL MODELS AND UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHTS.

This framing by Corbyn is at variance with the more usual models of international relations. Very broadly, the main academic debates in traditional models of international relations have tended to be between how state-centric the international order really should be and the dispute over whether there are meaningful extra-national legal systems, [18] the human rights/liberal interventionist model, [19] and its more useful critics. [20] The human rights model, in turn, has tended to cause a divide between those who believe it should sit at the center of any international order and those who believe it should replace the traditional interests of nation-states. [21] The latter tend to argue that issues such as climate change and the growing international refugee crises need to be dealt with because these are now the real threats to the established states and their existing elites. The former draw on post–World War II decisions to enshrine the idea of universal human rights in the UN charter and related documents. [22]

This was a response to the crimes of Nazi Germany (and its allies), Stalin’s Soviet Union, and the deliberate targeting of the wider civilian population by all the powers involved in the war. [23] At its core, it sought to keep states from declaring that rights were possessed only by particular sections of their population (whether this distinction was made on the basis of ethnicity, religion, social class, political allegiance, or gender). However, the concept was rejected by the USSR (and in practice ignored by many states) on the grounds that such a framing of rights was based on liberal capitalist norms and not on the realities of social class and society. [LK= United States also ignored this during monomania on anti-communism, notably in Vietnam. Author partially says this below again.]

Even if only the closest adherents of the USSR in the UK fully accepted this interpretation, the view that rights were inalienable was not widely accepted on the far left. A classic defense of the universalist tradition in human rights was written by Leszek Kolakowski in response to the British communist historian E. P. Thompson. Kolakowski noted that Thompson always had an explanation for any crime by the Soviet Union, seeing it as a product of excessive zeal or an unfortunate overreaction to Western pressure. On the other hand, similar acts by the U.S. and its allies were readily condemned, with no equivocation. Kolakowski wrote that:

“When I say ‘double standards’ I do not mean indulgence for the justifiable inexperience of the ‘new society’ in coping with new problems. I mean the use, alternatively, of political or moral standards to similar situations and this I find unjustifiable. We must not be fervent moralists in some cases and Real-politikers or philosophers of world history in others, depending on political circumstances. [24] ”

[LK= Does philosophical integrity have importance to extremists beyond a means of obscuring unreflective group identity fetish? (See Orwell “Notes on Nationalism” 1945)]

Models of international relations are useful; they can provide a tool for understanding and action, but they can always be flawed in application. [25] Both the traditional “realist” models and those based around liberal interventionism have been criticized for their assumptions and their practical implications. However, simply saying you reject these models is not enough; what matters is what you intend to replace them with. This means we need to understand Corbyn’s model and consider the sort of actions and approaches to which it leads.

Sec 10. INTELLECTUAL STRANDS BEHIND CORBYN’S MODEL.

Corbyn’s model of international relations (and, critically, that of his advisors) can be traced to three strands that were relatively common on the British left from the 1960s to the 1980s. These have overlapping elements but also some key differences, and the strand that dominates may have significant implications in its practical policy application. The strands can be roughly grouped into the views of the Labour Party left, the CPGB, and the more fragmented “New Left.”

Sec 10.1 FROM THE LABOUR LEFT.

One strand is drawn from the concepts of the Labour Party’s own left from the 1970s and 1980s. Practically, this is often associated with the leading politician Tony Benn. However, it can be more validly seen as the basic framework of a number of Labour politicians who were also part of the then-powerful Tribune Group. In international relations, this strand tended to support calls for nuclear disarmament (unilateral, if needed, by the UK). It called into question the motives and role of the U.S. but also criticized the Soviet Union, especially for human rights abuses and military adventurism. Of particular relevance, there were Labour MPs who supported some multilateral institutions, like the UN, but were often critical of bodies like NATO or the EEC, [26] while some others were in favor of both. It should be noted that Corbyn personally had few links to this tradition at its height, having only been elected to Parliament several years after Tony Benn failed to become deputy leader of the Labour Party in 1981. [27]

This strand also had an economic model that tended to be suspicious of close engagement with wider trading blocs (again, such as the EEC). This had various intellectual strands behind it, including that of the New Cambridge economics group, [28] which argued that the UK economy was so weak that only a degree of protectionism could safeguard jobs and the standard of living. This analysis was subsequently reflected in the Alternative Economic Strategy jointly developed in the early 1980s by Labour politicians and individuals associated with the CPGB. [29]

Sec 10.2. FROM THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN.

The next strand relevant to understanding Corbyn’s worldview is the legacy from the CPGB itself. A number of former members are now his close advisors, and all have a background in the CPGB factions that were most vocally pro-Soviet. This group tended to see the world as a clash between the U.S. (which was always wrong) and the USSR (which they did sometimes criticize but saw as basically correct and, at worst, responding badly to U.S. pressure). They also opposed multilateral groups such as the EEC and NATO, which they believed were effectively fully aligned with the U.S. Clearly, their support for the USSR meant some affinity for states both inside and outside the Warsaw Pact that were broadly pro-Soviet, and for any anti-imperialist struggle, as long as the opponent was the U.S. or one of its allies. Many members of this group came to support the Putin regime from the end of the 1990s, seeing it as some form of legacy regime of the Soviet state.

By the late 1970s, the CPGB no longer had any practical influence over UK politics. Electorally it was completely marginalized, but it retained a role in some British trade unions, and organizationally it played a leading role in some of the wider groups that drew together the British left. The relative importance of these groups changed over time, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s two of them, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM), were supported by a substantial minority of the UK population and drew support from most UK political parties. In each, the CPGB provided a significant degree of organizational support. Equally, and typically for many on the British left at the time, Corbyn was heavily involved in both movements. [LK= See far-left “front” organization strategy.]

The CPGB itself was dissolved in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. It produced several contending successor movements, and one, the CPB, secured ownership of the CPGB’s buildings and its newspaper, the Morning Star. CPB membership was made up of those who regretted the fall of the USSR, often describing it is a major tragedy.

As we discuss below, former CPGB members have come to have disproportionate control over how Corbyn frames foreign affairs, and he has become notably more supportive of the Putin regime’s actions as a result. A long-standing aim, set out in the CPGB’s British Road to Socialism, [30] was to realign British foreign policy to one of “co-operation with socialist states and progressive forces in the capitalist world, and support for the national liberation movements. It should … withdraw from NATO.” More pertinently, the CPGB was committed to influencing the Labour Party to move to the left, so it adopted an “Alternative Economic and Political Strategy” that would remove the UK from NATO and the EEC, creating the basis for a more profound shift to what was often described as “Actually Existing Socialism” (the form of economic, social, and political order in the Warsaw Pact countries). [31]

Sec 10.3 FROM THE “NEW LEFT”.

A more disparate strand comes from the ideas and groups that emerged from the 1960s New Left. [32] This incorporated individuals who were members of various Trotskyist groups and those who remained outside the formal structures of the British far left. The legacy is complex, but it can be summarized as a greater or lesser degree of opposition to the Soviet Union (and to the CPGB), along with a focus on the importance of anti-imperialism and anti-Americanism. If the CPGB saw the world as split into two camps, the Soviet bloc and the bloc dominated by the U.S., the New Left tended to split the world into imperialist and anti-imperialist nations (or movements). In this, one side was good (anti-imperialism) and the other bad (imperialism); the U.S. was the primary actor, and the other side was responding to its aggressions. Thus, any anti-imperialist movement was seen as desirable and worthy of support simply due to this designation.

The ready conflation of Zionism with imperialism and the resultant blurring of the lines between criticism of the Israeli state and anti-Semitism flows from this binary understanding. This has led to the anti-Semitism that is prevalent among a number of Corbyn’s supporters, as, by their definition, anyone who is Jewish and does not fully reject Israel or Zionism falls outside the “community of the good.” [33] This binary belief is important and is shared by many around Corbyn. In this view, a criticism of this or that act of the Israeli state is not enough—any hint of tolerance for it is sufficient to invalidate any other views held by that individual or group. As we will discuss below, this has serious implications for the framing of international policy and the retention of a commitment to universal human rights. [LK= Orwell’s far-left or far-right politics of group definition again. also Israel’s connection to Middle East Western imperialism is an historical reality of survival and convenience.]

Of less importance in terms of international relations is that some of those around Corbyn have also been influenced by the arguments of Italian theorists such as Antonio Negri, whose non-Marxist strand of left-wing thinking draws heavily on the ideas of anarcho-syndicalism that were important in the early years of the twentieth century. [34] As such, it has more of an impact on the economic ideas of these Corbyn associates (in particular, the role of automation). [35] In terms of international relations, Negri’s views are mostly a indistinguishable from the standard New Left approach.
[LK= Unsure if “autonomism” is referred to here, which is a sort of leaderless disruptive tactic (in recent times Occupy). How the far-left love opaque jargon to apparently lend significance.]

Sec 10.4 FROM EUROCOMMUNISM.

In the UK left in the 1970s and 1980s, there was little reflection of some wider trends in the thinking (and practice) of the European left, as befits an essentially Anglocentric, insular, political project. [36] Given their absence, there is no need to say much, but we can draw out one important issue. When the Italian (PCI) and Spanish (PCE) communist parties were developing their ideas of what became known as Eurocommunism, [37] this had little impact on the CPGB (apart from a small group of writers around the magazine Marxism Today) or on the Bennite left. This is problematic for two reasons. First, the PCI, in particular, returned to the concept of universal human rights (as opposed to the class-based approach that underpinned the Soviet legal system) as they steadily dropped any remnants of orthodox Marxism-Leninism. The practical effect was that the PCI and the PCE supported the Helsinki Accords and the Czech dissident group Charter 77. [38] This support actually was more important than it seems, as it stressed the idea that all have rights, not just those deemed to be suitable by a ruling regime (with this subject to change at any time). Second, the PCI (and even more the PCE) came to the view that the Soviet Union was a greater threat to stability and peace in Europe than the U.S. or NATO. To them, the division of Europe into two competing blocs was a major issue that had to be resolved, in part by the Soviet Union reducing its military threat to Western Europe. [39] This position varied over time, but it saw the PCI offer practical and moral support to dissident movements such as Solidarity in Poland [40] and condemn the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Sec 11. CORBYN’S POLITICAL ACTIONS ACROSS VARIOUS REGIONS.

It is useful to explore the practical meaning of an intellectual model that prizes support for anti-imperialist states (or movements) above all else and has no commitment to universal human rights. This section covers Corbyn’s approach to a range of international issues and related themes, such as the UK’s retention of nuclear weapons. It also discusses his differing approaches to nationalist movements in Northern Ireland and Scotland. It ends with a discussion of his approach to the European Union, as that seems to draw together both his economic and political framing of how the UK should interact with the wider world.

Sec 11.1 BOSNIA.

Corbyn himself has said little directly about the wars in Croatia and Bosnia that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia after 1990. To most observers, [41] the main driver of the ethnic cleansing was Serbian president’s, Slobodan Milošević, willingness to adopt a narrow Serb nationalist perspective, [42] created the dynamics which led to massacres in eastern Croatia and across Bosnia to buttress his rule in Serbia and that of his allies in eastern Bosnia. However, to some of Corbyn’s supporters, the wars in Yugoslavia were an attempt to destroy a socialist state [43] and, according to Katie Hudson, then chair of CND, “the truth is that Milošević was no hardcore Serb nationalist but a lifelong socialist, whose commitment was always to a multiracial, multi-ethnic Yugoslavia.” [44]

Corbyn expressed support [45] in a parliamentary early day motion for Hudson’s book, “Breaking the South Slav Dream”. [46] Hudson’s thesis was that Milošević was acting reasonably to keep Yugoslavia together and was not guilty of any war crimes. Equally, the breakup of the Yugoslav state after 1990 was due to Western intervention, not the actions of regional leaders. U.S. pressure for economic liberalization in the decade after Marshal Tito’s death had encouraged Croatia and Slovenia to weaken their ties with the Yugoslav state. In turn, this led to their secession and to Milošević’s efforts to hold the old state together.

Corbyn has since met individuals such as Marcus Papadopoulos, [47] who claimed that “there was no siege of Sarajevo, there was no genocide at Srebrenica,” and who uses Islamophobic language to describe the Muslim communities in Bosnia. The denial of Serb war crimes was a major element of this discourse, and later, Seumas Milne, now Corbyn’s press secretary, asserted that the post-Milošević Serbian regime dug up bodies unrelated to the war in Bosnia to provide the evidence needed for Milošević’s conviction at The Hague. [48]

Sec 11.2 KOSOVO.

Concerning the conflict in Kosovo, Corbyn was much more vocal. This conflict had started as a low-level process (compared to events in Bosnia) of resistance to remaining in Yugoslavia on the part of the Muslim majority and of some ethnic cleansing by the Serb authorities. By the late 1990s, it had escalated to something approaching full-scale civil war. One problem was that the main resistance group to Serb control, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), was widely seen as also engaged in substantial criminality and this, combined with the region’s relative isolation, limited outside support as intervention was geographically much harder than it had been in Bosnia. [49]  Nonetheless, as part of the wider peacemaking process in the former Yugoslavia, a cease-fire was agreed upon in October 1998, and this was formalized in the 1999 Rambouillet Accords. [50] The standard response on the far left was to denounce this as another attack on the “socialist” state of Serbia designed to do little but provide a pretext for a subsequent NATO-led assault. [51] Instead, Serb-led ethnic cleansing carried on (to be fair, there were plenty of attacks on ethnic Serbs, too), and some 300,000 Kosovars were displaced from their homes and about 2,000 killed before the NATO military intervention started. [52] During the military operations, many more Kosovars were displaced from their homes by Serb forces, and 13,517 were killed or went missing.

Corbyn called for the NATO intervention to be stopped because of the risk of civilian casualties, because it violated state sovereignty, and because it was not endorsed by the UN Security Council. [53] Subsequently, left wing journalist John Pilger published an article claiming that the death toll was just 2,788, an assertion he has maintained since then, arguing that this includes those killed by NATO bombs and by the KLA. [54] Russia Today (RT), in effect the Kremlin’s main international propaganda channel, continues to repeat this claim. [55] Corbyn then signed an early day motion supporting Pilger’s contention that there were no mass murders in Kosovo in the period up to 1999 and noted the ongoing pollution caused by NATO’s use of depleted uranium. [56] That Pilger’s views about the death toll have been comprehensively rebutted was of no apparent concern to Corbyn.[57]

In combination, Corbyn’s responses to the events in Bosnia and Kosovo point to several core themes in his foreign policy model. Fundamentally, he sees the Milošević regime as some form of socialist, anti-imperialist state, and the various conflicts that arose after 1991 as products of Western attempts to undermine it. This is the view promoted by Katie Hudson, which rejects any argument that the root causes of the war include Milošević’s use of Serb nationalism to create a basis for his own regime. [58] In contrast, yes it is true there was a residual attachment to the ideals of a multi-ethnic united Yugoslavia, but it was found among those trying to sustain the idea of a multi-ethnic Bosnia and not among the Bosnian Serb nationalists engaged in ethnic cleansing. In neither Bosnia nor Kosovo has Corbyn shown identification with the Muslim population, and his associates downplay or deny that Serb war crimes took place in Srebrenica or in Kosovo.

This is not to say that criticizing either the wartime resistance by forces supporting both the Bosnian state and the KLA is invalid. [59] Elements of both have been found guilty of war crimes since the conflict ended. Equally, it is valid to criticize Western diplomacy, especially the appeasement of Milošević in the early stages of the wars with Croatia and Bosnia. [60] But this nuance is not the point of Corbyn’s critique, which views Serbia as a socialist state and believes that its opponents, the West and the Muslim communities, became the enemy and were wrong. In this view, once you are wrong, you have no rights.

Sec 11.3 SYRIA.

Corbyn’s opposition to the U.S.-UK invasion of Iraq is well documented and was shared by a substantial segment of the UK electorate at the time. The long-running “Chilcot Inquiry” definitively refuted the Tony Blair government’s arguments for the war and the conduct of postwar restructuring. Corbyn’s policy toward Syria draws heavily from this experience: He was right then, so he must be right now. But there is a subtle twist to his position. In the run-up to the Iraq War there were very few in the UK who actually supported Saddam Hussein; the debate was on the wisdom of the George W. Bush administration’s chosen course of action, which was backed by the UK. On Syria, it is less that Corbyn is opposed to Western actions and more that he is supportive of the Assad regime and its backers in Russia and Iran.

This has meant demonizing the Syrian opposition as stooges of the U.S., allies to the Saudis, and jihadis. His close policy advisor, Seumas Milne, managed to extend this to an argument that the United States was responsible for ISIS: “A year into the Syrian rebellion, the US and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of ‘Islamic state’ — despite the ‘grave danger’ to Iraq’s unity— as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria.” [61] In a similar manner, Corbyn intervened in a debate in May 2013 on the EU arms embargo on Syria to warn against “supplying arms to people [the Syrian rebels] we do not know” and made a link to “the way the USA raced to supply … arms to [the] opposition in Afghanistan in 1979, which gave birth to the Taliban and, ultimately, al-Qaeda.”

Since then, senior members of the StWC [LK=UK Stop The War Coalition] have followed the arguments of people like notionally pro-Palestinian polemicist, Max Blumenthal and linked the Syrian White Helmets to al-Qaeda or ISIS rather than treating them as an unofficial humanitarian group doing its best to offset the impact of regime (and Russian) bombing. [62] The White Helmets openly acknowledge they have received U.S. funding for their work and, predictably, that is enough for them to be described by the far left as a tool of U.S. imperialism laying the groundwork for a U.S. invasion. [63] The Russian state-sponsored news agency Sputnik has since described them as “Soros sponsored.” [64] But acceptance of U.S. funding was not unusual for many humanitarian groups, at least before the Trump presidency; even the Palestinian Red Crescent has taken such support and used it to treat Palestinians wounded in Israeli actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

After the Assad regime used chemical weapons on a suburb of Damascus in 2013, Corbyn appeared on the Russian state TV channel RT to express openness to the theory that the Syrian opposition had actually dropped the chemical weapons. [65] At the same time, his now-key advisor Seumas Milne was writing that:

“the trigger for the buildup to a new intervention — what appears to have been a chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta — certainly has the hallmarks of a horrific atrocity. Hundreds, mostly civilians, are reported killed and many more wounded, their suffering caught on stomach-churning videos.
But so far no reliable evidence whatever has been produced to confirm even what chemical might have been used, let alone who delivered it. The western powers and their allies, including the Syrian rebels.rebels, insist the Syrian army was responsible. The Damascus government and its international backers, Russia and Iran, blame the rebels.” [66]

The reality, of course, is that the Assad regime had been using chemical weapons before the August attacks and continued to do so afterward. [67]

Corbyn’s approach to Syria repeats some of the themes noted earlier. Once a regime is deemed anti-imperialist, its victims retain no rights to dissent or resist. The reality—of a messy, nasty civil war that was spawned from a peaceful revolt against the Assad regime but saw war crimes by every faction and became an international arena for the wider Iranian-Saudi conflict—is missing. [68] Equally, the almost 6 million refugees who have fled the country, [69] and the further 6 million internally displaced, [70] go missing from Corbyn’s narrative. Instead, we are given a narrative of imperialism and anti-imperialism, one that glosses over the role played by Russia and Iran, with the Russian presence deemed acceptable as long as it is for peacekeeping purposes. [71] After an attack by Russian planes on a UN aid convoy in September 2016, Corbyn could not actually bring himself to blame the Russians for the attack directly, instead presenting it as some awful, random accident. [72]

As noted above, in the context of Syria, StWC ceased to claim that its concern was the impact of wars on other countries and, in the context of Syria, became apologists for the Assad regime. In its view, Western intervention in Syria was not questionable because it was ill thought out or badly implemented but because it was an attack on a regime the StWC supported. Attempts by Syrian refugees living in the UK to challenge this narrative or alignment have been silenced by the StWC and its supporters. [73]

Sec 11.4 IRAN AND SAUDI ARABIA.

The binary, non-reflective model can also be seen in Corbyn’s response to the tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, two powers whose relationship has formed the major dynamic in the Middle East since 1979. [74] Western policy has tended to share the Saudi antagonism toward Iran, going as far as to offer fairly open support to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein during his long war with Iran from 1980 to 1988. [75] [LK= US gave extensive military support to Saddam Hussein to attack the Iranian Revolutionary Islamic Regime. The Iranian Regime’s vigorous undermining of post Saddam Iraq was thus absolutely predictable.] Equally, there has been a willingness among Western leaders to overlook domestic repression in Saudi Arabia while condemning the brutality of the Iranian regime. Furthermore, it is true that both Western States, and bodies such as the IMF, have overemphasized the recent reform agenda of the Saudis while enforcing sanctions against Iran that have caused domestic reforms there to falter. [LK= Iranian Regime clerical-military elite have absolute control of the regime and are embedded in extensive corruption, that makes sustained internally driven reform improbable.]

This strongly suggests that a human rights–based foreign policy by a Western power should aim for some degree of equivalence, holding both Iran and Saudi Arabia responsible for their actions domestically and internationally, offering support for democratic reform movements in both, and equally accepting that both regimes do have their own dynamics, concerns, and worldview.

This is not what Corbyn does. Yes, he has been very critical of Saudi Arabia, but this is not matched by a similarly critical approach to Iran, for which he has expressed support. [76] In effect, for Corbyn, Iran has joined Russia and Venezuela as a key state resisting Western imperialism and has become worthy of support regardless of its actions. The Scottish writer Sam Hamad has suggested that:

“Corbyn could easily be described as a lobbyist for the Iranian regime. In the same sleazy manner as the Tory politicians, so hated by Corbyn and his supporters, who claim to support ‘human rights’ in Saudi Arabia before selling them weapons and the means to maintain their domestic tyranny, Corbyn has strongly advocated that such relations be transferred from Saudi’s brutal theocracy to that of the Iranian regime.” [77]

Hamad’s 2016 article was written several years after the Iranian regime had crushed internal dissent (the Green Revolution), and its own Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and proxy militias were involved in sectarian violence in Iraq and Syria. [78] Corbyn’s criticism of the Saudis may represent a needed balance against the foreign policy of Conservative and Labour governments, but his interest in human rights does not extend to the victims of the Iranian regime or its proxy states. [79] Thus, as above, the crimes of a state he supports go unchallenged, certainly downplayed, while the crimes of a state he opposes are clearly labelled as such. Again, we come back to the same argument: He is not making a case for a different approach to UK foreign policy—unlike, say, Robin Cook —but is simply replacing near- unconditional support for one authoritarian regime that engages in domestic and international repression with support for another. [80]

This repeats the contradiction noted by Leszek Kolakowski in the mid 1970s. Fundamentally, one either accepts the logic of universal human rights or replaces it with a framework of rights only for those who meet particular criteria. In the first framing, one cannot selectively apply principles of opposition to oppression in one area while supporting or ignoring it in another. But this is what Corbyn has done: While he wants a British government to end the oppression of Palestinians and end Saudi Arabia’s vicious war in Yemen, he has also been one of the most consistent voices in advocating that nothing be done to aid Syrians fighting for democracy (and their lives) against Assad and in backing Iran’s domestic and international policy.

Sec 11.5 RUSSIA.

One common criticism of Corbyn is that he rarely changes his mind and that his entire intellectual framework remains stuck in the 1970s. However, there is evidence that he has changed his views toward Putin’s Russia. In the late 1990s, he signed a number of early day motions condemning Putin’s war in Chechnya and the resulting human rights abuses, but over time this has shifted. [81] Now, with Syria and with the use of chemical weapons in the UK against the Skripals, he is happy to match the rhetoric of RT [LK= “Russia Today”]. In the latter case, he was prepared to call into doubt Russia’s involvement in the poisoning, and Milne told the UK press:

“I think obviously the government has access to information and intelligence on this matter which others don’t; however, also there’s a history in relation to WMD and intelligence which is problematic to put it mildly. … So I think the right approach is to seek the evidence; to follow international treaties, particularly in relation to prohibited chemical weapons, because this was a chemical weapons attack, carried out on British soil. There are procedures that need to be followed in relation to that.” [82]

Critically, Milne quite deliberately linked the failures of British intelligence in the run up to the invasion of Iraq (where their findings had been used to support claims that Hussain had weapons of mass destruction) to the verity of their findings after the attack in Salisbury.

Even after the OPCW had indicated that the likely source of the nerve agents used was Russia, Milne and others continued to demand further proof while supporting the arguments advanced by RT and other pro-Kremlin news outlets. At the same time, Corbyn demanded that any intelligence that implicated Russia be shared with them. In his view, since the Western intelligence agencies had been wrong about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction, they must be wrong now. However, even if the intelligence information had been partly redacted, providing it to Corbyn would have made it easy for the Russian security forces to understand the processes used to gather the information and the likely sources.

As leader of the opposition, he could make such demands but not do much more. He was, no doubt, briefed on confidential terms as to what the UK government knew, but the government could have presented this information in a manner that would have been hard to pass on (and of limited use if it was). If he were prime minister, then in a similar situation, he would determine what should happen, and the risk is that such intelligence would indeed be shared with the Russians. This calls into serious question the extent to which routine intelligence-sharing with the UK could be sustained during a Corbyn led government.

This shift toward Russia is important. As noted earlier, a key group around Corbyn has a background in the hard-line, pro-Soviet factions of the old CPGB. One of these, Seumas Milne, has written extensively — and invariably supportively — about Putin’s actions in Crimea, Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria. In isolation, some of his claims may have some validity, but taken together they present a very consistent view, and one that Corbyn has embraced. For example, about the annexation of Crimea, Milne wrote that Russia’s actions were “clearly defensive” [83] and that “western aggression and lawless killing is on another scale entirely from anything Russia appears to have contemplated, let alone carried out — removing any credible basis for the US and its allies to rail against Russian transgressions.” [84] In effect, Putin was right, and even if he was not, then at least he is not as bad as the Western leaders.

Milne framed the earlier attack on Georgia as a legitimate response to U.S. expansion: “By any sensible reckoning, this is not a story of Russian aggression, but of US imperial expansion and ever tighter encirclement of Russia by a potentially hostile power. That a stronger Russia has now used the South Ossetian imbroglio to put a check on that expansion should hardly come as a surprise.” [85] By 2015, he wrote about the war in eastern Ukraine:

“Russia has now challenged that, and the consequences have been played out in Ukraine for the past year: starting with the western-backed ousting of the elected government, through the installation of a Ukrainian nationalist regime, the Russian takeover of Crimea and Moscow-backed uprising in the Donbass. On the ground, it has meant thousands of dead, hundreds of thousands of refugees, indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas and the rise of Ukrainian fascist militias.” [86]

Again NATO (and/or the EU) is held to be clearly to blame, as “NATO’s eastward expansion was halted by the Georgian war of 2008 and Yanukovych’s later election on a platform of non-alignment,” he wrote. “But any doubt that the EU’s effort to woo Ukraine is closely connected with western military strategy was dispelled today by NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who declared that the abortive pact with Ukraine would have been ‘a major boost to Euro-Atlantic security.’” [87]

In a way, this is different from Corbyn’s original mindset of imperialism against anti-imperialism. As with Assad’s Syria, this has morphed into open support for a state, and one that has engaged in aggressive actions against the other independent republics that emerged from the fall of the Soviet Union. What is similar, though, is the lack of concern for the human rights of those who are deemed to be on the wrong side. Members of the Muslim Tatar ethnic community in Crimea reported that their citizenship had been revoked and their rights denied shortly after the Russian takeover, but this has not been challenged by Corbyn or his advisors.

Sec 11.6 VENEZUELA.

The success, or otherwise, of Venezuela’s social reforms during the Hugo Chávez era is probably one of the most contentious issues in both international politics and the assessment of social policy. To the George W. Bush presidency (and its supporters), Chávez was clearly wrong; the U.S. government made various attempts to end his presidency, seeing his regime not just as a close ally of Cuba, but also an attempt at a conventional Marxist-Leninist dictatorship. [88] On the other hand, the regime set itself the goal of gaining control over oil revenues (which had previously been taken out of the country and held by a small group of families) to fund a cluster of policies designed to alleviate poverty. [89] Drawing a balanced view of the outcomes of Chávez’s presidency is not easy, as the economy remained oil dependent, and there was high inflation. [90] However, education was expanded, [91] and the poverty rates dropped from 61 percent of the population in 1997 to 33 percent in 2007. [92]

Whether or not Chávez was redefining socialism away from the old Soviet model is debatable, but his failure to reform the economy in time undermined his other reforms when the price of oil started to collapse after 2010. Nonetheless, aspects of his approach attracted widespread support—and an interest in how to apply them elsewhere. Not surprisingly, his regime also attracted the support of those from the New Left tradition, since Chávez presented himself as anti-imperialist and as someone who rejects the Washington Consensus (that the only acceptable route for a developing economy was to open itself up to international competition and privatize key services) on development policies. [93] His successor, Nicolás Maduro, lacks his deftness at balancing these issues, and Venezuela’s state revenues, like those of other oil-based economies, have declined substantially. The result has been a shift to open authoritarianism, alliances with Russia and Iran, and an economic crisis that has seen over 3 million Venezuelans flee the country since 2014 and many more displaced from their homes. [94]

Chávez also consistently managed to obtain democratic mandates for his actions, whether by elections or referendums. While there have been doubts about the validity of some of these results, on balance he clearly had substantial domestic support and was prepared to abide by the outcomes. In contrast, Maduro first arrested the main opposition leaders in 2013 and then set up a “Constituent Assembly” in 2017 to bypass parliament after he had suffered an electoral defeat. [95] He then called a presidential election that was boycotted by the opposition due to fears of fraud and ongoing state-sponsored violence. The result was rejected by almost every other Latin American government, and Maduro has since called for fresh elections to his Constituent Assembly (currently only including members of the ruling party) in an attempt to legitimize his victory and further sideline parliament. [96]

By any reasonable definition, this is a coup and a destruction of conventional democracy, and it has been challenged as such by most external powers, though China, Russia, and Iran have stood with Maduro. Corbyn (and his supporters [97]) have ignored this assault on democracy and the domestic political violence by the regime, continuing to support it on the grounds that Venezuela is an anti-imperialist state. [98] As with the Balkans and Syria, Corbyn believes that if you are being oppressed by a regime he supports, then you have no rights and are most likely a tool of U.S. imperialism. That the Trump presidency has challenged Maduro seems to be sufficient reason to dismiss all the other states (and international bodies, such as the EU) that have not recognized the results of the 2018 Venezuelan presidential election.

Sec 11.7 SCOTLAND & NORTHERN IRELAND.

Corbyn’s approach to international relations can also be readily explored in his different responses to Irish and Scottish nationalism and their calls for either unity within Ireland or independence from the remainder of the UK. The issue here is not whether either goal is correct, but how Corbyn has responded.

In the context of Northern Ireland, he has a long history of sympathy for Irish republicanism, expressed politically by Sinn Féin, but also through the terrorism of the IRA and its various spinoffs. Corbyn has repeatedly argued that his contacts with hard-line Irish republicans were necessary, as to end a war one must talk to the other side. What is clear is that he made no effort to contact any of the loyalist groups that also were making a slow move from paramilitarism to democratic politics. In general, his record suggests that he was supportive of Sinn Féin’s policies but had no direct contact with the IRA—as such (but this is not a clear distinction given the cross-over of individuals between the two organizations). [99] However, there is equally no record of close involvement with the democratic nationalist party in this era, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), which sent MPs to Westminster and generally supported the UK Labour Party. In effect, he has been sympathetic toward Irish republicanism and seems well aware of the internal debates it has had about ending its terrorist campaign, but he has simply reflected the shifting position of Sinn Féin toward the peace processes in Northern Ireland. Thus, he opposed the mid-1980s agreements between the British and Irish governments, but enthusiastically accepted the Good Friday Agreement (which was negotiated with close attention to the wishes of Irish republicans, among others). [100]

In contrast, his approach to Scottish independence can be characterized as tone deaf. He has made no effort to engage with the Scottish National Party (SNP) and seems unaware of why that party holds the views it does. This cannot be simply because the SNP is an electoral competitor to the Labour Party, as Sinn Féin has also taken seats off the SDLP and thus reduced the wider non-Conservative bloc in the House of Commons (Sinn Féin does not sit in the UK Parliament, as it believes the 1922 partition of Ireland was illegal). On the peace processes in Northern Ireland, he has simply followed the shifting line adopted by Sinn Féin. There is now some evidence that his opposition to EU membership has caused problems with Sinn Féin, as it wishes the UK to retain membership in the EU and opposes anything that threatens the current all-Ireland arrangements. [101]

One explanation is that when Corbyn formed his political views, the issue of Scottish independence had little interest outside Scotland, while the IRA’s bombing campaigns made the issue of Northern Ireland very much relevant. More generally, the wider UK far left all supported some form or other of Irish republicanism, and it is likely he simply absorbed this. At the same time, most of the organized UK left was opposed to Scottish independence on the grounds it would fragment the British working class. Thus, Corbyn’s current worldview again reflects the norms of the 1970s British left, and he has a closer understanding of the dynamics of a political party with past involvement in terrorism than one with a long-standing commitment to democratic change.

[LK= The failure of the Northern Ireland Civil rights Movement of the 60’s and 70’s exposed a long established fanatical apartheid dynamic exploiting conflict between protestant and catholic working classes. Protestants saw the UK government as an ally, especially under conservative governments. A purely democratic solution was unlikely. In Scotland there is more cohesion due to the relative neglect from distant London based governments. The North Sea oil issue has declined. Independence would lead to a vitalized national dynamic, balanced against an even less accountable elite and insular arguments contrasting egalitarianism with growth.]

Sec 12. NUCLEAR WEAPONS.

Corbyn has been a lifelong member of CND, and several of his officials were previously senior members. Thus, one would expect that his first manifesto for a general election would at least challenge renewal of the UK’s nuclear missile deterrent, known as the Trident, even if it did not call for immediate abolition of the UK’s nuclear weapons. Instead, the manifesto actually, in contrast to the position of the SNP, supported renewal of the Trident. The SNP’s views are relevant here, in part because Britain’s submarines are based in Scotland, and in part because the 2017 general election included a contest between the SNP and Labour for votes in Scotland.

As with Russia, where Corbyn has changed his mind, one can trace the reason to his close associates. In this case, Len McCluskey, leader of the Unite union — Corbyn’s principal financial backer — is pro-Trident, as the renewal would benefit Unite members by creating some jobs. [102] In this respect, the issue is not whether unilateral nuclear disarmament or shifting defense spending from the Trident to conventional weapons is a good idea; it is how the change came about. A lifetime’s commitment was overturned due to the views of a powerful member of Corbyn’s inner circle. And, at least in Scotland, the policy probably cost him votes, as the SNP was able to stress that it was consistent in arguing for the Trident’s removal.

Sec 13. MULTINATIONAL INSTITUTIONS: THE EUROPEAN UNION AND NATO.

Corbyn has been a long-standing critic of the EEC/EU, forming part of a very small group of Labour MPs who have found common cause with the larger group of British Conservatives who have been obsessed with this issue for many years. [103] In reality, he goes beyond the Eurosceptic tradition in British politics; in a speech in 2010, he called for the EU to be defeated. [104] Here, the EU was grouped with bankers and the IMF as a threat to living standards, and he declared that “we will not be silenced by these people. We will win through. We will defeat them, and we will win that decency that we want in this world.” This moves Corbyn’s attitude from traditional British Euro-scepticism to the type of view found more commonly on the extreme right of British politics.

As discussed above, this opposition to the EU (and in its earlier forms, the EC and the EEC) is based on both economics and politics.

By the late 1970s, there was sustained concern over the state of the UK economy. Underinvestment meant it was not competitive globally and, in particular, imports far outstripped exports. [105] This weakness led to a number of divergent proposals. To the right, the solution was to reduce workers’ rights, end the influence of trade unions, and diminish the role of the state. [106] To some on the left, the solution was partially to remove the UK economy from the international trade networks while it rebalanced itself and dealt with these structural issues. Those in the latter camp, organized as the New Cambridge Economics group, took a mostly left-Keynesian view of the economy and saw protectionism as a temporary move to be implemented while major reforms were enacted. [107] Once the Thatcher government started to carry out its economic policies, some on the left (especially the Tribune Group and the CPGB) created an Alternative Economic Policy, which tended to support converting the economic isolation proposed by the New Cambridge Group into a permanent state for the economy. [108] In effect, the only way to ensure the economy could work for most people was by having a degree of separation from the world economy. Since even at the time, this was the opposite of the EEC’s approach, this inevitably meant calling for the UK to withdraw from membership.

The other historical strand to Labour Euroscepticism was political. Some of this was a framing, shared with the Conservative right, about loss of “sovereignty” and having to accept decisions made outside the UK, but it went deeper. In effect, in their view, the EEC/ EU is, and has been, a capitalist institution that acts as one of the agents of Western imperialism. In addition, there is a (flawed) belief that EU membership is incompatible with a broadly social-democratic domestic economic policy.

Thus, whether Corbyn personally voted Leave or Remain in the Brexit referendum of 2016 is irrelevant; what matters is that his view of both international politics and international economics means he can see no reason why the UK should remain a member of the EU. [109] While in the 1970s, there were those who saw a shift to some form of trade barriers as a sensible short-term response to deep-seated problems, that is not Corbyn’s understanding: He actually wants a degree of permanent economic isolation from the wider world economy.

Fundamental opposition to NATO has also been a consistent strand in Corbyn’s approach. In part this simply reflects the traditional Soviet description of NATO as a tool of imperialism. More recently, as discussed in connection with Russia, a typical argument of those around Corbyn is that NATO is responsible for the various wars in Georgia, Crimea, and Ukraine. This is said to be due to its expansion, which first entailed incorporating the former Warsaw Pact states (such as Poland), and subsequently involved offering cooperation agreements with former constituent parts of the USSR. Underlying this idea is a view that Russia (as the legal successor to the USSR) has a sphere of interest that still includes the former Soviet republics and members of the Warsaw Pact. [110] In turn, this approach opposes these states’ developing their own foreign policy and trading links. [111] Of note, not only are these arguments stock in trade for those around Corbyn, but they also form part of the views of the newly emboldened nationalist right in Europe and are staples for RT and other pro-Kremlin news agencies. [112]

Sec 14. IMPLICATIONS FOR THE U.S.

As stressed in this paper, Corbyn’s model of international relations is not one of international cooperation, universal human rights, and cooperation on issues such as climate change or the growing global refugee crises. He is suspicious of existing multilateral institutions, he has no commitment to the human rights of those oppressed by regimes he supports, and his ability to broker international cooperation on anything is doubtful.

If Corbyn becomes prime minister, the U.S. will be faced with a former ally that sees Iran, Russia, and Venezuela as close allies and is supportive of the Assad regime in Syria. This goes well beyond seeking to correct the problems that have been caused by too-close ties with the Saudis, Israel, or right-wing governments in regions such as Latin America.

There is a core theme to this re-framing of the UK’s foreign policy. It is supportive of the Putin regime, and thus a Corbyn-led government is likely, at the very least, not to support wider efforts to respond to Putin’s aggressive acts. Furthermore, there are clear security implications. A number of Corbyn’s close officials are former CPGB members who are quite open about their nostalgia for the USSR and make clear their belief that the Putin regime is some form of successor to the Soviet Union. There can be no guarantee that intelligence shared with a Corbyn government will not simply be transferred to Russia.

This was particularly clear in the immediate aftermath of the Skripals’ poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok by Russian security forces. Corbyn called for all the intelligence to be shared with Russia, despite the strong risk of revealing sources and methods, even if the information was partly redacted. In addition, because of the misuse of intelligence to support the attack on Iraq, he clearly placed more trust in the assertions of the Russians than in those of Western intelligence agencies even, presumably, after he had been briefed confidentially on what the UK government knew. If he was prime minister, he could choose to share such information.

Sec 14.1 RELATIONS WITH THE REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC PARTIES.

If Corbyn becomes prime minister and President Trump is still in power, the two will likely disagree fundamentally about a transfer of UK support from Saudi Arabia and Israel to Iran and about other issues, such as Venezuela. However, there are points of agreement—perhaps surprising, given their notionally separate political backgrounds. Both are suspicious of multilateral bodies, in particular the European Union, and both are sympathetic to Putin’s Russia. It is unlikely these shared elements will offset their major ideological differences, but it may mean the UK will play a disruptive role in multilateral organizations similar to that adopted by the Trump administration, even if there is little practical cooperation.

A Democratic administration may also find it hard to work closely with Corbyn. It might be more accepting of a policy of distancing the UK from the Saudis (possibly even from Israel, though this would cut across a consistent strand in U.S. foreign policy). However, it is unlikely that any shift to support Iran will be welcomed. Equally, it is unlikely that a Democratic president will share President Trump’s ambiguity toward Putin’s regime, making this a potentially major breach in traditional UK-U.S. cooperation.

The extent to which these issues become major disputes or minor disagreements will probably depend on how far a new Democratic president personally disagrees with the policies followed by the Clinton and Obama administrations. Presumably someone who was part of those administrations, and shares their wider worldview, will find it hard to work with Corbyn. Someone who has some reservations about the foreign policy choices in those years might find it easier to work with him at a policy level, but concerns over the sharing of confidential information will remain.

Sec 14.2 NATO.

As noted, Corbyn comes from that section of the British left where opposition to NATO membership is common. It is unlikely that a Corbyn-led government would actually withdraw from NATO, at least in the first five years after an election before a new round of voting, but it could change how the UK interacts with the organization. Such a government would be unlikely to allocate additional funding to conventional defense spending, although some in the Labour Party would be prepared to use resources that would be freed up if the Trident is not renewed. In international cooperation, a Corbyn government will limit the availability of British forces, perhaps to instances where there is a clear humanitarian need.

However, the main change will be at the level of policy formulation and how the UK interacts with the US and its traditional allies. A Corbyn-led government would be, at the very least, far more understanding of the demands of Putin and the Kremlin regime. Thus, in any instance where there was a need for speedy decision-making, or a robust defense of one of NATO’s eastern members, this would not be forthcoming. As noted previously, even when Corbyn and his advisors have criticized Russian actions, this always comes with a caveat, the presentation of a context that explains what happened. No such subtlety is used when critiquing Western actions or responses.

Sec 14.3 SECURITY.

As noted in the section on Russia, there would be serious security implications to dealing with a Corbyn-led government In response to the poisoning of the Skripals, his initial demand was to share the intelligence reports with the Russians, as they had the right, in his view, to verify the claims. This is troubling on two levels. First, again, there is the automatic distrust of the West and the willingness to find a legitimate explanation for Russian actions. Second, such material, even if redacted, would have allowed the Russians to work out both the sources and the analytic methods used to gather the material.

In the circumstances, he could do nothing but demand this transfer of material. At worst, he (or his advisors) could have passed on the summary material they were given. As prime minister, he would have far more freedom in this regard. The U.S. intelligence agencies would have to operate on the basis that any material provided to a Corbyn government could be passed to the Russians (or Iranians). This is a radical departure from the practice that has been maintained for the last sixty years, regardless of the notional political differences between the UK and U.S. administrations.

Sec 14.4 ISRAEL AND ANTI-SEMITISM.

A final major shift will be in the UK’s actions toward Israel. In the main the British, reflecting wider EU foreign policy, have been less pro-Israeli than is the norm in U.S. politics. The extent of this divergence has varied over different UK administrations, but acceptance of Israel’s right to exist, even if linked to strong reservations about its actual policies, has not even been a matter of debate.

As noted, Corbyn will not just alter this policy bias, but there are deeper concerns. To many around him, Israel is the key imperialist state, and anti-Semitism has become common among his supporters. In domestic political terms, there is now substantial evidence of just how widespread this has become with concerns about growing antisemitism widespread in the UK’s Jewish community. In international terms, it means that any revision of UK policy toward the Middle East will not just be a reversion to a more skeptical position about Israeli policies, but a change to fundamental opposition to the state of Israel.

When this is linked to a shift in support from Saudi Arabia to Iran, the result for the U.S. will be a traditional ally whose foreign policy now fundamentally diverges.

[LK= As noted above Israel and hard line Zionists have the opportunity to respond to less support by being more realisitic and less trimphalist. Although Corbyn’s divisive politics will make this harder as the auhtor describes.]

Sec 15. SUMMARY.

The basic framework of Corbyn’s model of international relations is fairly clear. States and/or movements that contest the power of “imperialism” are worthy of support. Thus, a movement such as Hamas is not to be criticized or treated as a terrorist organization, as it is also “an organization that is dedicated toward the good of the Palestinian people and bringing about long-term peace and social justice and political justice in the whole region,” as Corbyn said in 2009. [113] His policy choice is to support Hamas, not Fatah, as in Northern Ireland he identifies with Sinn Féin but not the SDLP.

This model of international relations, in the form of StWC, opposed not only the U.S.-UK intervention in Iraq, but also a range of international actions before and since. The underlying framework is that such intervention is a priori bad, and there is no distinction drawn between disastrous interventions such as Iraq and those that did stop something far worse from happening, such as Kosovo or Sierra Leone. [114] Such a model allows no nuance: The actions and institutions of the “West” are wrong, but no such outright barrier is offered to aggression by the Putin regime: Its actions in Crimea or Ukraine need to be carefully studied and caveats offered to avoid outright condemnation so, as with the old CPGB’s response to Soviet actions, there is some criticism, but also a pedantic use of context to justify the actions. If this fails to be sufficient, then the old claim that the ‘West’ was worse can be used.

More worryingly, this mindset fails to make a distinction between a favored state and its inhabitants. If people under a regime deemed to be anti-imperialist revolt, they are quickly dismissed as pawns of imperialists (or, as discussed above, as terrorists) and readily demonized. [115] Equally, Corbyn’s criticism about the intervention in Libya is not that it was mishandled, and that the post-conflict situation predictably slipped out of control, but that it was, in his words, “regime change”—and this is the core of the complaint. [116] If a regime can in some way be considered progressive or antiimperialist, [117] then it should be supported, regardless of what it does to its own people.

As discussed above, this is a consistent theme. Milošević’s Serbia was deemed a socialist state struggling to hold together the popularly supported concept of Yugoslavia. Thus, first the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and later the conflict in Kosovo were framed as foreign-inspired revolts against a just state. More recently, the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime is dismissed and their suffering ignored, since the regime is seen as anti-imperialist. The same pattern is developing in Corbyn’s response to the civil unrest in Venezuela.

Thus, Corbyn relies on his specific opposition to the Iraq War and his long support for some anti-imperialist movements to claim his approach to international relations is far more decent than that inspired by the traditional models. In practice, it results at best in a different set of acceptable and unacceptable regimes, and in little or no sympathy for those unlucky enough to be the victims of a regime viewed as acceptable. As noted above, none of the leftist strands that inform Corbyn’s model of foreign policy had a concept of universal human rights —and this shows in their practical application.

Working from these findings, we can start to make some judgments as to the likely foreign policy preferences of a Corbyn-led government.

However, first it is useful to acknowledge that many who support him have expectations that this will be a focus on human rights, climate change, and international cooperation over the refugee crisis. As with elements of his domestic policy (where an end to economic austerity is widely supported), many will vote for a Labour government in the hope that it will rebalance the UK’s foreign policy away from too close links to U.S. interests —a dogmatic position that can be as misleading as the automatic anti-Americanism of much of the far left —reduce UK support for regimes such as Saudi Arabia, and challenge Israel’s policies in the Middle East.

The reality is they will largely be disappointed. If we take just one issue, yes, a Corbyn-led government will be more willing to challenge Saudi Arabia over its domestic and international human rights abuses, but this will come at the cost of a closer relationship with Iran. Whether Iran or Saudi Arabia is actually worse is a moot point, but the UK will not challenge both —instead, it will simply switch partners. In Latin America, again, it is debatable whether the Maduro regime is worse than some of the right-wing authoritarian states that the U.S. and its allies have propped up over the years. This really doesn’t matter; it is failing its own people. Under Corbyn, the UK will take a position where the injustices inflicted by Maduro on the Venezuelan people will not be its concern. This is realpolitik, admittedly with a different list of favored states than at the moment, but it is every bit as uninterested in the abuses committed by British allies as the current UK government. The British people will no doubt be assured of the benefits of quiet diplomacy in influencing Iranian policy, in the same way that such tactics are currently held to affect the behavior of Saudi Arabia.

In addition, Corbyn’s distaste for established international bodies does not bode well for the UK’s ability to cooperate on key international issues. That many of these bodies need reform and reflect vested interests is true, but they exist and can be used. Equally, they often reflect the dominant norms of their constituent parts. Many leftwing supporters of Brexit point to how the EU handled Greece by imposing economic reforms and massive cuts in social spending as a reason to leave the EU. This does reflect the economic orthodoxy of the current EU. However, electorally the EU (both as a parliament and in terms of its member states’ politics) is currently dominated by the center-right. In the past, the center-left has dominated, leading to very different policies, but a Corbyn-led UK government will do little or nothing to restore that situation.

Corbyn’s attitude toward the EU reflects his views on both international politics and economics. In terms of international politics, he sees the EU as just another tool by which imperialism can enforce its desires. In terms of economics, it is the antithesis of the protectionist, managed trade model that was the core of Bennite economics in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Thus, his strong preference for the UK to leave the EU is not just a feeling that the 2016 referendum should be respected —it happens to fit both his political and economic models of international relations. He has no interest in retaining EU membership, regardless of all the warnings about the economic consequences.

So the UK’s foreign policy under Corbyn will be different: more suspicious of international coordination, more suspicious of established international structures, and with a new list of regimes that the UK will seek as likely allies. And it will be much the same. The UK will have as little interest in the human rights abuses of Russia or Iran as it currently has in those committed by Saudi Arabia. This will be framed as progressive but, in reality, it is a turn toward insularity —at a time when the world needs global solutions.

At this stage, it is not clear how much this rhetoric will influence practical actions. Corbyn’s views are a minority in the parliamentary Labour Party and, given the fragmented nature of British politics, it is most likely he will be in charge of a government lacking an overall majority or will be in a formal coalition with smaller parties. In either case, his partners are unlikely to support some of his policies, not least because the other non-conservative parties in the UK tend to be pro-EU and mostly supportive of the current international order. Lacking a majority of his own MPs and dependent on the votes of parties such as the Liberal Democrats or the Scottish and Welsh nationalists, Corbyn may find his scope to reshape British foreign policy limited. However, while there may be barriers to what he can do in practice, his stated views and opinions will suddenly carry far more weight outside the UK than they do at the moment.

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Sec 17. ENDNOTES.

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[83] Milne, S. 2014c. It’s not Russia that’s pushed Ukraine to the brink of war [Online]. London: The Guardian. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/30/russia-ukraine-war-kiev-conflict [Accessed 20 June 2019].

[84] Milne, S. 2014a. The clash in Crimea is the fruit of western expansion [Online]. The Guardian. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/05/clash-crimea-western-expansion-ukraine-fascists [Accessed 20 April 2019].

[85] Milne, S. 2008. This is a tale of US expansion not Russian aggression [Online]. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/aug/14/russia.georgia [Accessed 21 April 2019].

[86] Milne, S. 2015a. The demonisation of Russia risks paving the way for war [Online]. The Guardian. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/04/demonisation-russia-risks-paving-way-for-war [Accessed 22 April 2019].

[87] Milne, S. 2014b. In Ukraine, fascists, oligarchs and western expansion are at the heart of the crisis [Online]. The Guardian. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/29/ukraine-fascists-oligarchs-eu-nato-expansion [Accessed 20 April 2019].

[88] Raby, D. L. 2006. Democracy and Revolution: Latin America and Socialism Today, London, Pluto Press.

[89] Penfold-Becerra, M. 2006. Social Funds, Clientelism and Redistribution: Chavez’s “Misones” Programs in Comparative Perspective. World Bank Conference on Inequality, 2006.

[90] Raby, D. L. 2006. Democracy and Revolution: Latin America and Socialism Today, London, Pluto Press.

[91] UNICEF 2005. Progress for Children. UNICEF. 2010. “At a Glance: Venezuela.” UNICEF. http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/venezuela_statistics.html [Accessed 14 August 2010] [ LK= UNICEF site being updated. Alternative link:  https://www.unicef.org/about/annualreport/files/Venezuela_COAR_2010.pdf ].

[92] Weisbrot, M. 2008. Poverty Reduction in Venezuela: A Reality Based View. ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America, 11-8. VIII, no. 1 (Fall 2008): 1–8.

[93] Rodrik, D. 2006. Goodbye Washington Consensus, Hello Washington Confusion? A Review of the World Bank’s “Economic Growth in the 1990s: Learning from a Decade of Reform. Journal of Economic Literature, 44:4, 973-987, Saad-Filho, A. 2007. Life beyond the Washington Consensus: An Introduction to Pro-poor Macroeconomic Policies. Review of Political Economy, 19:4, 513537, Williamson, J. 2005. The Washington consensus as policy prescription for development. In: Besley, T. & Zagha, R. (eds.) Development challenges in the 1990s: leading policymakers speak from expertise. World Bank Publications.

[94] UNHCR. 2019b. Venezuela Situation [Online]. Geneva: UNHCR. Available: https://www.unhcr.org/uk/venezuela-emergency.html [Accessed 5 June 2019].

[95] Houeix, R. 2019. Maduro’s long standoff against Venezuela’s parliament [Online]. Paris: France 24. Available: https://www.france24.com/en/20190202-maduro-standoff-guaido-venezuela-parliament-usa-trump [Accessed 11 June 2019].

[96] BBC. 2019. Venezuela’s Maduro proposes early National Assembly vote [Online]. London: BBC News. Available: https://www. bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-48345335 [Accessed 11 June 2019].

[97] Press Association. 2019. Chakrabarti defends Jeremy Corbyn’s Venezuela remarks [Online]. London: The Guardian. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/feb/03/shami-chakrabarti-defends-jeremy-corbyn-venezuela-remarks [Accessed 5 June 2019].

[98] Stephens, P. 2019. Ideology blinds Jeremy Corbyn to Venezuela’s plight [Online]. London: Financial Times. Available: https://www.ft.com/content/83424336-2a29-11e9-88a4-c32129756dd8 [Accessed 5 June 2019].

[99] Worrall, P. 2017. FactCheck: Corbyn on Northern Ireland [Online]. London: Channel 4 News. Available: https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/factcheck-corbyn-on-northern-ireland [Accessed 20 May 2019].

[100] Ibid.

[101] McCormack, J. 2019. European elections: Sinn Féin says vote chance to reject Brexit [Online]. London: BBC. Available: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-48260047 [Accessed 24 May 2019].

[102] Eaton, G. 2018b. The meaning of Corbynism [Online]. New Statesmen. Available: https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2018/03/meaning-corbynism [Accessed 4 May 2019].

[103] Pack, M. 18 June 2018. Jeremy Corbyn’s views on Brexit: a long held stance on Europe. Available from: https://www.markpack.org.uk/153744/jeremy-corbyn-brexit/ [Accessed 24 May 2019].

[104] Kempsell, R. 2019. Jeremy Corbyn called for European Union to be ‘defeated’ in explosive rally speech [Online]. Available: https://talkradio.co.uk/news/exclusive-jeremy-corbyn-called-european-union-be-defeated-explosive-rally-speech19021129836#koWu8ciIBrItWkbL.99 [Accessed 29 May 2019].

[105] Cuthbertson, K. 1979. Macroeconomic Policy: The New Cambridge, Keynesian and Monetarist Controversies, London, MacMillan.

[106] Hutton, W. 1996. The State We’re In, London, Vintage.

[107] Sassoon, D. 1997. One Hundred Years of Socialism: The West European Left in the Twentieth Century, London, Fontana.

[108] Aaronovitch, S. 1981. The Road from Thatcherism – The Alternative Economic Strategy, London, Lawrence & Wishart.

[109] Shipman, T. 2016. All Out War: The Full Story of Brexit, London, William Collins.

[110] Williams, P. & Harris, J. 2001. State Succession to Debts and Assets: The Modern Law and Policy. Harvard International Law Journal, 42:2, 255-417.

[111] Pop, V. 2009. EU expanding its ‘sphere of influence,’ Russia says [Online]. Brussels: EU Observer. Available: https://euobserver.com/foreign/27827 [Accessed 11 June 2019].

[112] Kirchick, J. 2017. Russia’s plot against the West [Online]. Politico. Available: https://www.politico.eu/article/russia-plot-against-the-west-vladimir-putin-donald-trump-europe/  [Accessed 11 June 2019].

[113] Stop the War Coalition. 2009. Meet the Resistance – Jeremy Corbyn MP [Online]. YouTube. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQLKpY3NdeA  [Accessed 30 April 2019].

[114] Cockburn, P. 2013. Special report: We all thought Libya had moved on – it has, but into lawlessness and ruin [Online]. London: The Independent. Available: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/special-report-we-all-thought-libya-had-moved-on-it-has-but-into-lawlessness-and-ruin-8797041.html [Accessed 1 May 2018].

[115] Bolton, M. & Pitts, F. H. 2018. Corbynism: A Critical Approach, Bingley, Emerald Publishing.

[116] Corbyn, J. 2017. Jeremy Corbyn speech at Chatham House. Labour Party.

[117] Hamad, S. 2017. Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘internationalism’ is a myth [Online]. TRTWorld. Available: https://www.trtworld.com/opinion/jeremy-corbyn-s-internationalism-is-a-myth-7537 [Accessed 21 May 2019].

Published By: Hudson Institute 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Fourth Floor, Washington, D.C. 20004 202.974.2400 http://www.hudson.org

Disgraced Academic Prof Tim Anderson, Assad, Kim Jong-Un and the Australian Far-Right.

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Disgraced Academic Prof Tim Anderson, Assad, Kim Jong-Un and the Australian Far-Right.

[Posted By Lara Keller 19/3/19 Updated 20/3/19]    anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

Disgraced racist Australian pro-Assad propagandist-academic Prof Tim Anderson tweets that Murdoch’s Media is responsible for the Christchurch Massacre of Muslims, by his fellow countryman, the deranged far-right extremist Brenton Tarrant, whose manifesto is obsessed with an ill informed and paranoid fear of the replacement of White Europeans by Muslim immigrants. Tarrant repeatedly refers to Muslims as violent threatening “invaders”.

This atmosphere of fear has been encouraged by people like Tim Anderson who are part of the non-Western imperialist media, promoting the foreign policies of the authoritarian Russia-Chinese regimes. His propaganda has portrayed the Arab Spring struggles against brutal kleptomaniac dictatorships in Syria and elsewhere, as the illegitimate wars of Islamist Extremists against benign “independent” states.

This is why far-right groups want to hear propagandists like Tim Anderson. His propaganda presents the Assad Regime as a benign regime of semi-westernized “White Arabs” that keep Sunni Muslims under control for their own good. Protecting them from hordes of foreign radicalized Sunni Muslim extremists easily recruited and armed by  the Saudi Monarchy intent on grabbing power through terror.  This is an outrageous racist distortion. It ignores the nature of the web of dictatorships in the Middle East, where the Assad regime has the worst reputation in a field of terrible regimes (being Sunni, Shia or secular makes no difference). This disgusting, insulting rubbish is promoted by a minority of academics, like Anderson who abuse the reputations of the universities that employ them. See Tim Anderson’s Dirty War on Syria for a destruction on his propaganda smearing the Syrian Revolution and exonerating Bashar Assad.

He has promoted his book of apologia for Assad =directly= to far-right and far-left groups. Here he is addressing far-right fruitcakes in 2016 https://youtu.be/hcZkFCquDVo (the full version of his pro-Assad rhetoric is available at https://youtu.be/QAxT4-0OugY (start 50 mins) and second part https://youtu.be/8Dn0o0sZcgk).

He also appeared with well known fascists outside the Russian Consulate when diplomat Andrey Karlov was murdered in Ankara in 2016. In August 2017 he was in North Korea with his fellow dictator apologist “independent journalist(?)” Eva Bartlett. Anderson praised Kim Jong-Un’s resistance to US aggression, while Barlett praised the egalitarian welfare the state provided for North Koreans.

In this propaganda world their are no brutal kleptomaniac dictatorships apart from those linked to the West, where all evil emanates from. Evidence is misused, abused and selected to give an impression that this is true. All these distortions are backed up by “whatabout” the Western elite’s crimes. We know about these, we care, we oppose, and it is ridiculous to imply this lessens the crimes of the other non-Western elites. What all this “whataboutism” means in conclusion, is bugger to all the elites Western or not-Western. Still people in the West are expected to respect people like Anderson’s radical progressive integrity. Call people like Anderson and his followers for what they really are, apologists for dictators who rule to extort by the use of terror. They can no longer hide under the cover of freedom of speech, anti-war, solidarity or egalitarianism. They promote crimes against humanity, and abuse freedom of speech to undermine society. Indeed they use freedom of speech to promote torture.


Poppy Day clergyman Rev Andrew Ashdown is ‘apologist for Assad’.

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Poppy Day clergyman Rev Andrew Ashdown is ‘apologist for Assad’.

[Posted By Lara Keller 3/3/19 Updated 20/3/19]  anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

[Source= https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/poppy-day-clergyman-rev-andrew-ashdown-is-apologist-for-assad-qm5h89lfs ]

Author= Dominic Kennedy, Investigations Editor, November 8th, 2018.

[Start Article]

Villagers have objected to a clergyman who condemned Britain’s bombing of Syria being chosen to lead their Armistice centenary service.

The Rev Andrew Ashdown, regarded by the Foreign Office as “a very public Assad apologist”, will conduct an act of remembrance at the war memorial in a village where his wife is the vicar. Parish councillors are reviewing whether they will lay their wreath during his service.

The stone cross commemorates six men from Chilworth, outside Southampton, who died in the Great War and seven in the Second World War.

The village was built around a manor house owned by the Willis Fleming family, whose son Richard died the day after his 20th birthday on August 4, 1916, when fighting in Egypt.

Anne Burrows, a member of the church council, said that the selection of Mr Ashdown was “disrespectful and insulting to those who have given their lives for this country”.

Mr Ashdown is a pivotal figure in a group of senior Church of England clergy and members of the House of Lords who regularly make pastoral and fact-finding visits to Syria, meeting Assad and his important ministers.

The Times has disclosed that the Foreign Office believes Mr Ashdown “and his cabal offer the regime plenty of unwelcome opportunity to criticise UK policy and present the Church of England and Lords as onside”. Lambeth Palace has distanced itself, saying the visits were private.

Mr Ashdown was in Syria in April when the RAF attacked Assad’s chemical weapons facilities in response to the gassing of Syrian civilians.

He changed his Facebook profile page to “Don’t Bomb Syria”, and sided with a statement by Syrian Christian leaders accusing Britain of unjustified and “brutal” aggression. He argued that Britain’s previous interventions in the region had created catastrophes.

Mr Ashdown’s wife, the Rev Victoria Ashdown, is vicar of Ampfield, Chilworth and North Baddesley. She wrote in an email this week: “Any political views any clergy hold have no bearing whatsoever on their ability to lead a public service . . . The parish council have been advised this by the diocese and those that do not wish to attend obviously have the free will not to.”

A spokesman for the group of parishes said there were three local war memorials and they needed all working clergy and lay ministers to ensure services at each at 11am.

John Woodcock, the independent MP and secretary to the parliamentary group Friends of Syria, said that it turned his stomach to have the commemorations led by a man he regarded as “a propagandist for a brutal Syrian regime that revels in mass murder”.

dkennedy@thetimes.co.uk

[There were 27 comments, have ignored several that are not useful in understanding reaction to Assad Apologist Revd(?) Andrew Ashdown. The numbers in brackets are recommendations from other people on the site.]

Ed: Utter nonsense. He is not defending Assad, he is defending all those who would be massacred or driven away if Assad’s local enemies take over and establish Islamist regime. (3)

Dave Draycott [Reply to Ed]: If you only criticise one side and ignore the crimes of the other you’re giving support to the latter. People will get killed if Assad loses. I’ve got news people will be killed if Assad wins. Again Assad has killed between over 360,000 and half a million. And he may move to extinguish the one flickering light of hope the Kurds with the help of Turkey. Here’s the thing you can refuse to wage war and still end up with blood on your hands. (1)

Dave Draycott: I certainly see where the writer of the article is coming from. Over 360,000 and under some estimates over half a million people have died in the Syrian Civil War. The vast majority of these have died in Assad’s torture chambers or under a hail of barrel bombs some containing chemical weapons. The Assad dictatorship and its Russian allies has targeted hospitals, schools and market places to maximise the terror of these attacks and all this began when Syrian civilians began to peacefully demonstrate for their liberty during the Arab Spring. The dictatorship responded with lethal force and as they say the rest is history.
….
The West under the shadow of Iraq responded minimally. As a result Assad became emboldened and focused his fire and started using chemical weapons, Obama had announced his red lines but bottled it. Most of the moderate opposition were wiped out or fled. Assad used more chemical weapons. Finally the West decides to bomb the Islamist fascists of ISIS and Trump bombs a chemical weapons base. At this point the good clergyman and others unmoved by the earlier slaughter find themselves gripped by righteous indignation.
….
What is that acrid smell? Chemical weapons? Naaah, can’t be we’re too far away from Syria. It’s the stench of hypocrisy.
….
And this guy and some of his pals didn’t restrict themselves to objecting in this country. No they have made uncritical jaunts to a regime that has killed hundreds of thousands to condemn the West whilst being uncritical of a mass murderer. In the 20’s and 30’s there were similar visits to the USSR by the ‘well meaning’. Lenin called them useful idiots. I think the people who live in the village have every right to object. (2)

This space is reserved: NO one who supports Assad can possibly be considered a Christian. They should have flown a long time ago. (3)

Spencer G Spencer: [Faux Radical Social Media Cod History ……] (2)

Benjamin Waterhouse: So a Christian clergyman stands up for the only Arab government that protects Christians, so what’s the story again? (10)

Chris Marrington [Reply to BW]: The story is the local congregation don’t want him to lead the service. Our opinions don’t really matter. Whether we agree with them or not, they have every right to choose someone they respect. Religion and politics are always a toxic mix and nobody should be surprised that a political propagandist who wears a dog collar isn’t going to fly well in the shires. (-)

Jan D [Reply to BW]: Before posting comment it’s best to be informed of the subject. Admittedly, it’s complex with the political and religious maps and the demographics a rich tapestry, but some basic facts would suffice for anyone wishing to contribute to the debate. (1)

Gill Winn: What is the matter with the Times? I had thought it a respected newspaper. To go for a personal vendetta on people who are trying their best to help people see part of the complexity of the situation in Syria? Most of the family I have know who fought in both the 1st and 2nd World War have been furious the way leaders try to make ‘heroes’ of people they have put into the situation – often without proper equipment. War rarely solves anything – just increases bitterness. And for this writer to be so vicious against people who are trying to show us how human beings are suffering is dreadful. It seems to me it is a pity we cannot put our leaders into a boxing ring to fight each other. I have a feeling if we did – we would find negotiations happening a lot sooner. (6)

Pavlov’s Dog: Good for him [Asdown], I say. The west’s record of meddling in Middle Eastern matters is on a spectrum from folly, through disaster to human catastrophe. (11)

Jan D [Reply to PV]: The West’s various forays in the region aren’t directly comparable – whether Libya, Kuwait, Afghanistan or Syria. However, we’re damned if we do or don’t and on that point Blair was correct.
….
Had we not ‘meddled’ in Syria then consider the risk to future geostrategic interests were Iran to be the region’s prevailing power. With the revolutionary zeal of extremist political Shia, Tehran already owns Beirut, Baghdad and Damascus – Yemen, not yet in the battle for the Arabian peninsula. (1)

Pavlov’s Dog [Reply to JD]: If we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t, then surely we don’t.
….
That way, we may be damned, but we retain moral authority, we don’t spend billions of pounds we don’t have, we don’t lose hundreds or thousands of service personnel, and we don’t invite Islamist terrorism into our country – and if it arrives anyway, we have the aforementioned moral authority to crush it without mercy. (-)

Jan D [Reply to PV]: ‘Moral authority’ – ha ha, you jest? That apart, maybe you didn’t give much thought to my note on Iran/the future. The statistical chance of any significant terrorism in [Britain] doesn’t begin to compare with Iran’s extremist political Shia rulers and the policies of a new ‘caliphate’ that they could foist on the Middle East and the world.
….
For volatile state rulers and their whims of truculence, take your pick and look at – Tehran, Trump’s DC, Moscow, Damascus or Pyeongyang. (1)

David Needham: Remembrance day, should be exactly that . I am sick of politicians and religious groups hijacking it.
….
I would love to not see any politicians at the Cenotaph and no religious ceremonies on that day.
….
Politicians start wars, religions world wide have caused wars and yet they stand there in their dark suits speaking meaningless platitudes.
….
It should be a day for veterans to parade , remember muckers who didn’t make it home . The public can attend if they wish and give some acknowledgement and tributes to those who have served and paid the price.
….
It should not be a photo Op for politicians. Its bad enough having to watch Corbyn act sincere , once a year without suffering the rest.
….
The Queen or her representative (I pick Harry) Should lay a wreath on behalf of the nation. Then allow the vets to march past.
….
Personally , I will be bulling up my shoes, cleaning my medals and trying to look smart for my muckers who didn’t make it home. Because they would have done the same for me, were our fortunes reversed.
….
LEST WE FORGET (11)

WonkoTheSane: [No platforming is bad…..] (6)

Paul Newbold: Didn’t the Foreign Office under William Hague want the RAF and RN to effectively provide air cover for ISIS, cast as generic ‘rebels’? (1)

SeriaLuncher: No doubt he will be commemorating Assad’s chemical bombers and torturers. (7)

Tony Howard [Reply to SL]: Nonsense. (4)

MouseParty: I guess this how our programmed society reacts to an honest man’s attempt to expose our government’s hypocrisy. The war and bombs we bring to foreign lands are no different from anyone else’s. (7)

Rosemary Greenlaw [Reply to MP]: It’s inappropriate on Remembrance Sunday, however. (1)

Innocent Bystander: It is a Hobson’s choice. In Syria and Iraq, minorities feel much safer in a dictatorial regime, as compared to a religious fundamentalist regime, who are in most cases equally if not more brutal. (10)

Jan D [Reply to IB]: Iraq’s dysfunctional government doesn’t give sufficient representation for minority Sunnis. Tehran owns Baghdad and Damascus. Decades of the Assads’ brutal dictatorial regime was the cause of Syria’s civil uprising. (1)

Kevin Laughlin: A good example of the muck that gets thrown at you if you are prepared to make a case that bombing women and children is a bad thing. (21)

SeriaLuncher [Reply to KL]: The biggest killer of women and children is Assad, the Butcher of Damascus. That is who you’re talking about right? (3)

Kevin Laughlin [Reply to SL]: Is he? (1)

Joseph Wyndham: So you can take part in Remembrance but only if you are on message with the politics of the day? Absolute poppycock. Sounds like the best man for the job. (9)

[End Article]

Definitions of terms and scope (Assadists Reference – By Kester Ratcliff).

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Definitions of terms and scope (Assadists Reference – By Kester Radcliff).

[Posted by Lara Keller 17/9/18 Updated 16/4/19] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

[From web page by Kester Ratcliff, Original Source = https://archive.fo/VQXiq]

[Start]

‘International’ — I’m categorising the propaganda circulating among Syrian, Lebanese, Iraqi, Iranian and Russian direct participants, political or armed, in the war in Syria as ‘domestic’ propaganda, mainly to limit the scope because otherwise I would never finish this, but also because I lack the linguistic skills to research those directly myself. I hope some colleagues may join me to work more on that later. I have done a little bit of comparing and contrasting ‘domestic’ and ‘international’ sides of Assadist propaganda narratives here.

‘Assadist’ — I chose primarily this term rather than the narrower term ‘pro-Assad’, because some of the public figures in this list explicitly deny being pro-Assad but still persistently repeat core lines of regime propaganda narratives. I have used both terms, as distinct but overlapping categories—all pro-Assad people are Assadists (they repeat Assadist propaganda claims), but not all Assadists are in their own view pro-Assad; e.g. Joshua Landis denies being ‘pro-Assad’, however he persists in repeating some core elements of the regime’s propaganda narratives and in associating himself with Assadists.

‘Propagandist’=a source or a major repeater of propaganda claims. I include both sources and major repeaters as ‘propagandists’, because a) separating them would require an arbitrary definition of the boundary which would probably tend to let a lot of ‘sources’ perceived as sources by their followers off the hook, because they are really mostly just repeaters; and b) I believe that the habit of careless speech, including repeating propaganda, even if the person lacks a conscious intention to lie or cause harm, is morally culpable, because it is neglectful of moral duties to others in speaking about them.

Limitation: In this references directory I focused mainly on individual public figures who create or repeat propaganda, not corporate entities or media sites, mainly because others (1,2,3,4,5) have already worked more on network analysis of media sites already, as there are fewer of them and it is somewhat easier to collect the data, and because otherwise I would never finish.

Corporate Assadist propaganda example (3):

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Propaganda and disinformation I think can be defined as distinct phenomena, but with a large overlap. Disinformation is one way of doing propaganda, but not the only way. I think of disinformation as concealing false fact claims in a complex layered mixture of truths and falsities. Propaganda usually includes disinformation but also uses other unreasonable means of persuasion, coercion, and erosion of the public goods necessary to resist totalitarianism.

‘Propaganda’ in this context I think means mainly unreasonable persuasion tactics, but I consider the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency’s DIDI definition of ‘information influence activities’ (p.9) also highly reasonable.

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Reasonable means and attempts to persuade people are not propaganda.

Strategic communications can include propaganda, but strategic communications can also be entirely reasonable and ethical in its means as well as its objects. Strategically selecting which news to report can also be reasonable persuasion when the purposes of selectively reporting, the intention to persuade and the limited scope are fairly clear and upfront.

‘Reasonable’ in this context I think means acting with a basic minimum standard of respect for the people represented in news or opinion and for the audience, not objectifying and instrumentalising the subjects, and not trying to persuade the audience of points which they would probably not accept if they were presented with the same factual, causal or moral claims explicitly and with at least some evidence or proper reasoning. Propaganda, I would say, by definition, attempts to persuade people by hiding the most relevant and important factual, causal and moral claims among true but not logically relevant facts or with irrelevant but emotionally stimulating verbal padding.

It is true that the UK FCO has funded some Syrian civilian opposition media organisations, and that is strategic communications, but in general I don’t think media funded by a State or regime, even if it has broad strategic purposes, is necessarily ‘propaganda’ — e.g. cases where State funding of public broadcasting would not be propaganda — a) a functioning democracy requires at least a minimum degree of commonality of the public sphere, I think that is a valid fundamental reason for publicly funded broadcasting, and if, or to the extent that, it does not practice unreasonable, dishonest or coercive means of persuasion, it is not propaganda; b) post-conflict transition from a society subjected to totalitarianism for 40+ years, as in Syria or Libya, requires growing civil society institutions, including developing a genuinely free democratic media, and in that sense it is strategic to fund civil media in transitional societies trying to emerge from conflict, without the funders necessarily even aiming to persuade people of anything in particular.

‘Disinformation’ means a complex strategic combination of truth and lies, designed to seem more credible than simple misinformation. Disinformation always starts with an element of truth that is used as an anchor to make the lies mixed in seem more credible. ‘Disinformation’ is not the same thing as ‘misinformation’, which is rather simply false. Disinformation is always a layered mixture of truth and lies, so it is to be expected to find some truth in it. The difficult problem with disinformation is that readers need to be more knowledgeable about the specific subject than what they’re presented with in order to be able to pick apart the truths and lies as they’re woven together. Many people imagine they know enough to be able to filter disinformation programming for real news, but that is mostly a Dunning-Kruger effect. [LK: ie “usually we do not know enough to know we do not know enough”]

Examples may make it clearer than further abstract definition at this point —

Disinformation, e.g. — Da’aesh obtained about 12% of its military equipment when they captured Mosul and obtained weapons that had been supplied by the USA to the Iraqi army —this part is true (Conflict Armament Research report, Weapons of the Islamic State, 2017; and a brief summary of that report, by Joanne Stocker in The Defense Post), but quickly layered up with — ‘America (and regional allies) secretly instigated, supports and controls Da’esh’ — this part is false (references);

Propaganda, e.g. — “NATO’s Islamist jihadis” — this is concealing a moral judgement into the terminology describing people, rather than justifying that judgement reasonably. There is a grain of truth in each of the three terms used but overall the description is very misleading. To dissect exactly how much of this description is true and how much is factually false or an unjust judgement on the people it refers to requires a long, complicated discussion with another reference list(s), [LK: author’s links here all appear to be informed arguments against given propaganda example] but ‘a lie can be halfway around the world while the truth is still getting its boots on’, so simple propaganda repeated often has a competitive advantage in the consumerist ‘marketplace of ideas’, which is also a competition for the commodity of attention, since information now is only valued inasmuch as it agrees with consumers’ subjective preferences, or if it is entertaining, without any sense of duty to be fairly objective about the Other. [LK: author elsewhere points to lack of interest in ordinary Syrians among consumers of pro-Assad propaganda, and so lack of interest in researching issue]

[End]


 

The Internet Research Agency: behind the shadowy network that meddled in the 2016 Elections. Author Alexander Reid Ross.

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The Internet Research Agency: behind the shadowy network that meddled in the 2016 Elections.Author Alexander Reid Ross (21/2/18)

[ Posted by Lara Keller 6/4/18 Updated 21/4/19 ] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

[Source = https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/02/21/internet-research-agency-behind-shadowy-network-meddled-2016-elections ]
[Web Archive = https://web.archive.org/web/20180312114400/https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/02/21/internet-research-agency-behind-shadowy-network-meddled-2016-elections ]

[Start Article]

Special counsel Robert Mueller, Jr., indicted 13 agents from the Saint Petersburg based Internet Research Agency last Friday, but the shadowy figures behind the organization remain obscure.

Tracing those involved leads to an intriguing web of far-right paramilitary groups, think tanks and institutes directed by a trans-national, far right network of oligarchs, politicians and media figures.

The Internet Research Agency was founded and led by Evgeny Prigozhin, a catering industry mogul known by some as “Putin’s chef.” Prigozhin met Putin as his financial success through the St. Petersburg gambling business brought increased influence and lucrative state contracts. Two years after conceiving of the Internet Research Agency during the protests of 2011, Prigozhin opened the “Kharkiv news agency” in opposition to the 2013 Euromaidan movement.

Prigozhin is also tied to the conception and funding of a semi-private military company called “Wagner” known to have operated both in Ukraine and Syria under Dmitry Utkin, a man notorious for his “adherence to the aesthetics and ideology of the Third Reich.” Wagner Private Military Company is said to be co-sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Defense and to have participated in the military occupation of Crimea. The U.S. sanctioned Prigozhin in 2014, stating, “a company with significant ties to him holds a contract to build a military base near the Russian Federation border with Ukraine.”

Analysis by U.S. Strategic Command from 2015, revealed that Prigozhin’s Internet Research Agency was an important site in a larger network. Its $1.25 million per month budget and some 80 employees helped its “Translator Project” act as a force multiplier for a host of pro-Kremlin sites, articles, and people linked to syncretic think tanks and institutes bridging far-right interests from Russia to the U.S. as an extension of “hybrid warfare.”

Perhaps most interestingly, the Translator Project allegedly set up fake far-right and left-wing groups like “Secured Borders,” “Blacktivist,” “United Muslims of America” and “Heart of Texas,” advertised them, and deceived hundreds of thousands of people into joining them. In one astonishing case, unwitting members of a Russian troll page were led to stage an armed, Islamophobic protest in Houston.

The strategy: managed nationalism and hybrid warfare

A clue as to the strategy of the Internet Research Agency can be found among the leading members under indictment. Around the time their employee Anna Bogacheva allegedly visited the U.S. in 2014 to gather intelligence, she registered a PR firm called IT Debugger with Mikhail Potepkin, a former leader of the violent, far-right youth brigade, Nashi.

Developed along with several other youth brigades linked to the Kremlin during a short period between 2004 and 2005, Nashi formed part of what then-First Deputy Chief of the Presidential Administration Vladislav Surkov called “managed nationalism.” Concerned about a possible “Color Revolution” in Russia, Surkov hoped to simulate an opposition movement and keep the public under the Kremlin’s control.

“Managed nationalism” and Surkov’s analysis of “network structures” paved the way for a strategy penned in 2013 by Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff of the Armed Forces of Russia. Now known as the Gerasimov Doctrine, The New York Times called it “RT, Sputnik, and Russia’s new theory of war.” In Gerasimov’s words, “The focus of applied methods of conflict has altered in the direction of the broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other nonmilitary measures—applied in coordination with the protest potential of the population.”

By the time Hillary Clinton received the official nomination of her party, strategy papers produced by the Kremlin-linked think tank Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) had specifically called on the Kremlin to dedicate such “applied methods” to “a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama,” according to Reuters.

An Elite Club”

Longtime political operator in the Russian far-right, Aleksander Dugin, has worked for most of the past three decades to develop syncretic, left-right cooperation among anti-liberal opposition groups throughout the world. His influence on, and involvement in, “managed nationalism” and the Gerasimov Doctrine is consistent with his agency in the network that influenced the 2016 elections.

Shortly after Gerasimov published his doctrine, Dugin’s efforts came to a head. He sent his associate Georgiy Gavrish a memo listing a number of pro-Russia political leaders on the European far right and left. Intent on making Moscow the “New Rome” of a spiritual empire of federated ethnostates from Dublin to Vladivastok and stretching south to the Indian Ocean, Dugin’s main aspiration lay in consolidating support networks for the Kremlin and developing ideological unity for his “Eurasianist” geopolitics.

Dugin’s efforts produced a “think tank” called Katehon with influential board members including a senior member of Putin’s Yedinaya Rossiya party and Leonid Reshetnikov, then the leader of the RISS. Reshetnikov is infamous for complaining in February 2016 that WWII was “orchestrated” by “the upper crust of the Anglo-Saxon elite” and is believed by officials to have sponsored a coup attempt that October to prevent Montenegro from joining NATO.

Another member of Katehon’s board, Lyndon LaRouche associate Sergei Glazyev, co-founded the far-right Rodina (Motherland) Party with Dugin, which in 2014 to 2015 led conferences and coordinating groups including members of the racist “alt-right”” and the U.S. left that helped prepare the networks Dugin sought.

At the helm of Katehon’s board sits Dugin’s associate Konstantin Malofeev. Known as the “Orthodox Oligarch” for his far-right political positions and proximity to the Russian Orthodox Church, Malofeev was sanctioned by the U.S. for allegedly bankrolling the pro-Russia separatists in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea where Wagner Company operated. Aleksandr Borodai, the first prime minister of the Donetsk Republic, and Igor Strelkov, its first minister of defense, served as Malofeev’s former PR man and security chief, respectively.

The U.S. connection

Many of the crucial connections between the Katehon network and the Western far-right can be found through their mutual commitments to the anti-LGBQT hate group, World Congress of Families. When Stephen Bannon delivered a speech on the merits of Dugin and fascist occultist Julius Evola in June 2014 to high-level members of the World Congress of Families in the Vatican, he effectively endorsed the guiding “Eurasianist” spirit behind Katehon.

Bannon’s speech came in the middle of a four-year period during which Robert Mercer paid him to work for an anti-Clinton group. Also the primary funder of Breitbart News, Mercer was a member of the secretive Council for National Policy (CNP), which supported Trump staunchly during the 2016 elections and is heavily involved in the World Congress of Families.

The CNP has a long history of bridging U.S. and Russian far-right interests, dating back to when its founder Paul Weyrich and executive committee member Robert Kriebel helped launch the career of pro-Russia lobbyist Edward Lozansky — a man who would take a leading role in feeding the troll armies of the far right nearly 30 years later.

Deeply connected to the U.S. far-right, Lozansky founded a dubious think tank eventually named the American University in Moscow “on the same floor as the Heritage Foundation.” Through his organizations, Lozansky has hosted conferences and an annual event known as the World Russia Forum. Featuring speakers like Chuck Grassley, Jeff Sessions and Dana Rohrabacher, the World Russia Forum and Lozansky’s Russia House enjoy a high profile inside the Beltway of Washington, DC. However, there is a more obscure side to the Russia Forum and its related American University in Moscow.

Lozansky’s syncretic fellows

Lozansky’s American University in Moscow has become a crucial hub for the cultivation of editors and journalists behind key “fake news” sites propagated by the “Translation Project.” The list of “Fellows” at his institution is a rogues gallery of syncretic pro-Kremlin spin doctors:

Other pro-Kremlin Fellows listed by Lozansky’s American University in Moscow, Darren Spinck, James Jatras and Anthony Salvia are partners in pro-Kremlin groups like the American Institute in Ukraine and the PR group, Global Strategic Communications Group, which sold its services to Rodina during a period when Rodina’s deputies signed a petition to ban Jews from Russia and the party was proscribed from the Duma elections for virulently racist campaign ads.

Aside from contributing to Global Independent Analytics with Armstrong, Jatras also served as a witness for the defense at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic and is featured on a number of YouTube videos posted by Katehon.

The red-brown creep

Lozansky has a long and extensive relationship with Dugin, hosting him at influential conferences in 2004 and 2005, along with red-brown propagandist Aleksandr Prokhanov, Rodina leader Dmitri Rogozin, and other éminences grises of the U.S. and Russian far-right.

In September 2008, Lozansky joined Dugin for a conference with far-right figures such as fascist creator of the European New Right Alain de Benoist, Duginist Israeli far-right leader Avigdor Eskin and Israel Shamir, a holocaust denying antisemite who would later become the Russian emissary for Wikileaks. Within a few weeks, Dugin and Lozansky appeared together on the TV program “Three Corners” for a discussion on the merits of “soft power.”

“In our world (we are talking about the information space) ideas can also play a bigger role,” Lozansky cautioned, “even more important than guns and missiles.”

A week after the Crimea crisis touched off in April 2014, Lozansky’s heavy frame was hunched over a long conference table across from Dugin in a cramped, stuffy conference room. They were discussing the role of media in the “New Cold War.”

The next September, Lozansky moderated a roundtable discussion at the World Russia Forum to consider a “Proposal to Establish ‘Committee for East – West Accord.’” Co-moderated by American University in Moscow Fellow Gilbert Doctorow, the roundtable featured leading Duginist Andrew Korybko, as well as a number of professors from U.S. and Russian institutions. The U.S. side of the Committee would be spearheaded by professor and contributing editor of The Nation, Stephen F. Cohen, along with an influential board including former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and former ambassadors William vanden Heuvel and Jack Matlock.

That month, Cohen’s associate Doctorow helped editor Charles Bausman create the antisemitic website Russia Insider. Soon after, Doctorow joined alternative journalism site Consortium News, which accepts tax-deductible donations for Russia Insider as a fiscal sponsor. Doctorow and Lozansky went on to write three articles together in the Washington Times. Russia Insider features a contact form to get in touch with Lozansky through their website. However, when Hatewatch wrote to Lozansky using Russia Insider’s contact form, we received no response. Within 24 hours, Lozansky’s website, RussiaHouse.org, mysteriously went dark.

An information shell game

While the Kremlin’s propagandists disseminate half-truths, distortions and lies, they rely on sites like Consortium News, Russia Insider, Global Independent Analytics and The Duran to adopt their narratives and “launder” them so that “the original source… is either forgotten or impossible to determine,” according to expert on the far right Anton Shekhovtsov’s latest book, Russia and the Western Far Right. This project utilizes what national security site War on the Rocks calls “‘gray’ measures, which employ less overt outlets controlled by Russia, as well as so-called useful idiots that regurgitate Russian themes and ‘facts’ without necessarily taking direction from Russia or collaborating in a fully informed manner.”

By election season, the network of “less overt” sites had developed behavior patterns and positions spurred on by the troll factory: they supported the illegal Crimea referendum, denied the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime and denigrated Syria’s humanitarian White Helmets. They also often operated as connectors to far-right sites like Breitbart News and conspiracy-theory site, Infowars, which crossposted more than 1,000 RT articles between 2014 and 2017 and published two interviews with Dugin last year.

Such apparent unity of action and intent may have also occurred because the “fake news” sites boosted by the Translation Project have significant audience overlap, as well as institutional crossover. For example, the syncretic site 21stCenturyWire crossposts stories from Consortium News and features interviews with its founder, the late Robert Parry. Created by former Infowars associate editor, Patrick Henningsen, 21stCenturyWire’s archived stories trade in antisemitic Soros and Rothschild conspiracy theories and a battery of Kremlin-supported stories maligning the White Helmets in Syria.

Regarding 21stCenturyWire’s stories, analytics engines found “evidence of coordination of timing and messaging around significant events in the news cycle” among “many known pro-Kremlin troll accounts, some of which were closed down as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the US election.” Given its Kremlin support, it is unsurprising that 21stCenturyWire hosts an alt-right podcast called Boiler Room, as well as an interview with Dugin, himself, while publishing Korybko as a “special contributor.”

There are many more similar sites on the web and, despite the indictments of 13 members of the Internet Research Agency, the echo chamber of cutouts, fake profiles, front groups and conspiracy sites that duped hundreds of thousands of people across the political spectrum shows no sign of relenting. In the 48 hours before time of writing, Russia Insider, 21stCenturyWire and Duginist site Fort-Russ were all trending domains and URLs on the Russian “botnet.” Only an informed public will be able to take down the crisis of “fake news” and its illiberal progenitors.

Alexander Reid Ross is a Lecturer in geography at Portland State University. His latest book Against the Fascist Creep was named one of the Portland Mercury’s best books of 2017.

Patrick Simpson and Grant Stern contributed research for this article.

[End Article]

While Russia bans books, the useful idiot Corbyn swallows its lies whole. By Anne Applebaum 2015.

corbynPic - Copy

“While Russia bans books, the useful idiot Corbyn swallows its lies whole.”
By Anne Applebaum, The Sunday Times, August 9 2015

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[ Source=The Sunday Times, 9/8/15, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/while-russia-bans-books-the-useful-idiot-corbyn-swallows-its-lies-whole-dwq6c2gg75j ]

IN THE year 1968 the brief “thaw” was over in the USSR. President Leonid Brezhnev was consolidating his power. Demonstrators were chanting communist slogans in Paris; in Berkeley they were putting up posters of Mao and Che. Meanwhile, Robert Conquest was methodically collecting memoirs, letters and articles written by people who had actually experienced communist terror, served in communist prisons and witnessed communist show trials.

For it was in 1968 that Conquest, who died last week aged 98, published his seminal book The Great Terror. A history of Stalin’s purges in 1937-38, The Great Terror appeared at a moment when the subject matter was remarkably unpopular not only in the USSR but in the West.

It was also a moment when the subject matter was remarkably hard to research. Soviet archives were unavailable; the only “official” sources peddled the regime’s propaganda. But Conquest, who first visited the USSR as a young communist in 1937, knew the difference between propaganda and reality. Having served as a British intelligence officer in Bulgaria during the war, he also understood very well how much violence and terror had been required to achieve the Sovietisation of central Europe, and the Stalinisation of Russia before that.

Perhaps because he was a poet as well as a historian — among other things a composer of witty limericks — Conquest was always interested in the human costs of that violence, too.

So he read and quoted witnesses such as the Poles who had escaped Stalin’s camps during the war, the Ukrainians who fled the USSR in 1945, and former communists such as Alexander Orlov, an NKVD officer in Spain who defected when he realised all of his colleagues had been arrested.

Orlov’s own book, The Secret History of Stalin’s Crimes, was considered dubious at the time. But as Conquest observed: “Just because a source may be erroneous or unreliable on certain points does not invalidate all its evidence.” Edward Gibbon himself had, he noted, argued that “imperfect and partial” evidence may contribute to a broader story.

At the time, Conquest’s own book was considered somewhat dubious by more fashionable historians. But it gained a following, as well as many famous readers, among them Margaret Thatcher. And, of course, it was smuggled into the Soviet Union and translated into Russian, where it was read avidly by a generation of people who knew the official version of history was fake and were desperate to learn more.

Not all of them were dissidents either. Some 40 years ago, the KGB searched a Moscow apartment belonging to a Russian friend of mine. They rifled through his possessions, tipped over a desk or two and finally picked up one of the books in triumph.

It was his contraband copy of The Great Terror, by Robert Conquest. “Now we’ll get to read it,” they told him.

In the 1990s, after the Soviet Union finally collapsed, archives proved Conquest right, not only about the terror of 1937-38 but also the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33 — the subject of his book The Harvest of Sorrow — the camps of Kolyma and much else.

Documents have helped us to be more precise about dates, numbers, decisions and motives in Stalin’s USSR. But the outline of the story has not changed. As it turned out, the witnesses were largely right — and the western fellow travellers were as wrong as their Soviet counterparts.

The trajectory of Conquest’s career is worth remembering right now, particularly as the Russian government returns, once again, to the time-honoured practice of banning books. Not long ago, the school district of Yekaterinburg decided to take a stand against “Nazism”. In order to do so, the authorities instructed school libraries to ban not the works of Hitler or Joseph Goebbels, but the works of Antony Beevor and John Keegan. Both are British military historians who have written objectively, and not always flatteringly, about the Red Army and especially the campaign of rape and terror that it carried out during the conquest of Berlin.

And just now, as Russia is gearing up its propaganda machine, which is far more sophisticated than the Soviet version ever was, to attack the “Nazis” in Ukraine and the threat from a “Nazi revival” in the West, anything that contains too many facts about what actually happened during the Second World War is going to be suspect.

If Russia’s urge to reshape its history is back, so is the old-fashioned western admiration for brutal regimes, and on all sides of the political spectrum. Just as some on the far left once sought to excuse and explain Stalinism, a range of people on both the modern far left and far right now seek not only to excuse and explain Putinism, but to support the official Russian state version of its own history, as well as the history of recent events in Ukraine.

Jeremy Corbyn, would-be leader of the Labour party, is the latest in a long line of useful idiots. Corbyn has recommended that his Twitter followers watch the Russian propaganda channel, Russia Today, which he has described as “more objective” than other channels. Never mind that Russia Today interviews actors who claim to be “witnesses” and invents stories — for example, that a Russian-speaking child was crucified by a Ukrainian.

Corbyn is also one of many on the European far left as well as the far right who appears to have swallowed wholesale Russia’s lie that war in Ukraine has been created by Nato, rather than by the “separatists” who have invaded eastern Ukraine and are paid, trained and organised by Russia itself. Or maybe they have pretended to swallow the lie because it suits their own anti-American or anti-democratic agendas.

In some cases it even suits their own financial interests. Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, has been lent millions of euros by a Russian bank. With so much money at stake, it’s not surprising she isn’t bothered by the deaths of more than 6,000 people in a totally unnecessary war. National Front leaders regularly visit Moscow. One of Le Pen’s advisers went to Crimea during the “referendum” there last year, to serve as one of the election observers who came to rubber-stamp the process.

Conquest would have known what to say about this — and in fact he did say it, writing in The Spectator in 1961: “There is something particularly unpleasant about those who, living in a political democracy, comfortably condone terror elsewhere.”

He would also have known what to do about it: go back to the sources, listen to people, find out what really happened, write the truth and then act accordingly. “In a jungle full of totalitarian monsters,” he wrote in that same article, “liberal democracy needs teeth.” More than half a century later, that’s still sage advice.

Anne Applebaum is the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Gulag: A History

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Notes:

  1. This 2015 article questions the specific claim that Corbyn recommends RT “Russia Today” Applebaum vs Corbyn – Spinning History (See http://gashead.net/applebaum-vs-corbyn-spinning-history/ ).
  2. Another 2015 article on the subject of Jeremy Corbyn, Putin, “Useful idiot” theme. Is Jeremy Corbyn Putin’s latest ‘useful idiot’ in Europe? ( https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/jeremy-corbyn-putins-latest-useful-idiot-europe-1515028 ).
  3. A left-wing case against Jeremy Corbyn. 2015. James Bloodworth: A left-wing case against Comrade Jeremy Corbyn.https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/james-bloodworth-left-wing-case-against-comrade-jeremy-corbyn-1513969 ).
  4. Totally neutral image: holyCorbyn - Copy

The multipolar spin how fascists operationalize left wing resentment.

multipolar - Copy

The multipolar spin how fascists operationalize left wing resentment.

[ Source= The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment. By SPLC ]

[Posted By Lara Keller 17/3/18 Updated 22/4/19]  anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

(This article was originally posted on Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog but was taken down after threat of litigation by Max Blumenthal. It is reproduced here in full. Source= Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist, The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment, from removed SPLC post. March 15,  2018.)

[Start Article]

During his recent tour of Europe, disgraced former Trump strategist Steve Bannon declared “Italy is in the lead.”

Amid the historic resurgence of the Italian far right that returned right-wing populist Silvio Berlusconi to prominence, Bannon fantasized about “the ultimate dream” of unifying the anti-establishment Five Star Movement with the far-right League (formerly the Northern League) through a populist movement. Bannon’s international vision of nationalist populist movements is locked into the Kremlin’s geopolitical ideology of a “multipolar world.”

The League is tied through a cooperation pact to Putin’s Russia, and its deputy in charge of relations with foreign parties, Claudio D’Amico, explicitly called for a “multipolar world” in Katehon, a think tank created by fascist ideologue Aleksandr Dugin. Following the ideological line Dugin put forward in his text, Foundations of Geopolitics, Katehon calls for uniting a “Eurasian” bloc in constant struggle against “Atlanticist” countries. For Dugin, the “21st century gamble” is to create a “multipolar” confederation of “Traditionalist” regional empires united under Russian sovereignty that will overthrow the “unipolar” empire of “postmodern” democracies.

Shortly after Putin’s election in 2000, the Kremlin released a set of foreign policy guidelines calling for a “multipolar world order” against the “strengthening tendency towards the formation of a unipolar world under financial and military domination by the United States.” Escalating with the Ukrainian Orange Revolution in 2004, the Kremlin’s production of soft-power networks throughout Europe and the United States involves- think tanksloansforumspropaganda outlets and cooperation agreements with far-right parties like the Austrian Freedom Party and the League. From Russia to Iran to Western Europe and the U.S., this international movement uses conspiracy theories and “gray material” to warp the political spectrum into a populist referendum along “geopolitical” terms set by fascist engagées.

Red and brown polarities.

As a recent major report on syncretic networks exposed, the modern fascist movement’s obsession with geopolitics emerged in force amid the post-Cold War antiglobalization movement. In 2002, a front group formed out of the U.S.-based Workers’ World Party known as the International Action Center joined forces with the Assisi-based “Campo Antimperialista.” As Duginists infiltrated the Campo, opening a journal called Eurasia that garnered the influential involvement of Campo participant Costanza Preve, the International Action Center continued their cooperation.

Soon, a similar Russian group called the Anti-Globalist Resistance began to repost the Campo’s dispatches. Sharing support for Milosevic with the Campo and the International Action Center, the Anti-Globalist Resistance emerged simultaneously with the same tendency to fight globalization by linking far-right to hard-left. In 2008, they brought the Campo to Moscow for the third “All-Russia Anti-Globalist Forum,” introduced by long-time U.S. fascist Lyndon LaRouche [alt better link Lyndon LaRouche]. The next year’s conference included Duginist leaders like Leonid Savin and retired General Leonid Ivashov [alt better link Leonid Ivashov], along with LaRouche and Holocaust denier Israel Shamir.

As their work continued, the Campo and Anti-Globalist Resistance drew more anti-globalization activists into their syncretic orbit. In 2012, a group came together at a Campo Antimperialista event in Assisi and developed what would become the Syria Solidarity Movement. The movement’s steering committee came to include top figures from groups from the U.S. hard left, including the Workers World Party, its affiliate, ANSWER and a spinoff of the latter group called the Party of Socialism and Liberation.

After changing their name to the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, the group drew people from the Syria Solidarity Movement’s network to a conference called the “Right of Peoples to Self-Determination and Building a Multipolar World” in 2014. A delegate from the International Action Center attended, along with delegates from another Workers World Party front group called United Anti-War Coalition, including an editor with the Black Agenda Report named Margaret Kimberly. Among the conference’s other attendees were Michael Hill of the neo-Confederate League of the South and the Texas Nationalist Movement, as well as the far-right Republika of Srpska and National Bolshevik Italian Communitarian Party.

The following year, the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia met with a purported Cherokee Nation elder named “Mashu White Feather” and a representative of the Uhuru Movement, also connected to the Black Agenda Report. They then organized a state-funded conference that drew members of the fascist Italian group Millenium [alt better link Millenium], Mutti’s associate Antonio Grego, and a leading member of the far-right Rodina party, as well as representatives of separatist groups like the Texas Nationalist Movement and the Catalan Solidarity for Independence party. The now-notorious troll factory, the Internet Research Agency, would later invite the Texas Nationalist Movement to join an armed, Islamophobic protest launched by the fake “Heart of Texas,” while also inciting counter-protestors.

This network map shows the flow of movement building from parties to front groups to participation in and creation of syncretic coalitions.

The Syria connection.

The Syria Solidarity Movement lists on its steering committee a host of syncretic figures like DuginistNavid Nasr and an Australian representative of the fascist-modeled Syrian Social Nationalist Party affiliateMussalaha. Before a report revealed her associations with Global ResearchRon Paul and the right-wing British Constitution Party, conspiracy theorist Vanessa Beeley held a position on the steering committee as well.

As an editor at the alt-right-associated conspiracy theory site, 21stCenturyWire, Beeley’s repeated conspiracy articles attempting to link the White Helmets to al Qaeda and George Soros earned her a visit with Assad in Damascus and senior Russian officials in Moscow; however, they have been thoroughly debunked. A defender of right-wing Hungarian president Viktor Orban, Beeley promotes antisemites like Gilad Atzmon and Dieudonné, even speaking at a conference hosted by the latter in partnership with notorious Holocaust denier Laurent Louis. Regardless, the Syrian Solidarity Movement and the associated Hands Off Syria Coalition recommend Beeley’s work.

Along with members of the Syria Solidarity Movement, delegates who attended the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia’s “Multipolar World” conference sit on the Hands off Syria Coalition’s steering committee. Showing its commitments and affinities, in January 2016, the Hands Off Syria Coalition published a “Multipolar World Against War” statement signed by the leader of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, Alexander Ionov.

Similarly, the Hands Off Syria Coalition website publicizes self-described Marxist, Tim Anderson, who has an interesting record of attending far-right conferences. In 2015, Anderson attended the far-right Brandherd Syrien Congress, and the next year he was at Defend Our Heritage’s Leura Forum, chaired by a leader of far-right party Alternative for Germany. Following that, Anderson’s pet project, Center of Counter Hegemonic Studies, convened a conference that brought in Paul Antonopoulos, an editor for the Duginist website Fort Russ.

The Hands Off Syria Coalition advertises Anderson’s book, The Dirty War on Syria, which is published by syncretic conspiracist site Global Research. Multiple “Research Associates” of Global Research sit on the “scientific committee” of the Campo-linked Duginist journal Geopolitica, and the site lists as its “partner media group” the Voltaire Network. Publishing LaRouchite and Duginist articles, the Voltaire Network boasts the Syrian Social Nationalist Party’s Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs as its Vice President. One of the Voltaire Network’s leading contributors is Mikhail Leontyev, an associate of Dugin who has moved from prominent media personality to the role of spokesman for Russian state oil company, Rosneft. The Syria Solidarity Movement publishes Voltaire Network articles by founder Thierry Meyssan, a contributor to Campo-linked journal Eurasia who associates with Holocaust deniers and open fascists, among others.

Hands Off Syria Coalition steering committee member Issa Chaer joined Meyssan on a panel at the Second New Horizons conference in Iran in 2012. Conference speakers that year included World Workers Party member Caleb Maupin, Alt Right journalist Tim Pool, Holocaust denier Kevin Barrett, and Duginists like Voltaire Network associate Mateusz Piskorski, German editor Manuel Ochsenreiter, Leonid Savin, and Claudio Mutti the leading fascist infiltrator of the Campo Antimperialista. The banner image for last year’s New Horizon features Aleksandr Dugin.

Multipolar propaganda.

According to the metrics search engine BuzzSumo, most of the leading articles with the terms “multipolar world” and “multi-polar world” in the title come from an interconnected network of sites, including Global Research, The Duran and Sign of the Times. With an estimated six million unique daily views per month, the biggest and most influential in this network is the Russian state-run media site Sputnik News.

Billing itself as pointing “the way to a multipolar world that respects every country’s national interests, culture, history and traditions,” Sputnik frequently publishes PiskorskiOchsenreiter, Mutti’s fellow Campo infiltrator Tiberio Graziani, commentator Andrew Korybko and Fort Russ editor Joaquin Flores. Furthermore, Sputnik has joined RT in consistently using dubious sources affiliated with the Syria Solidarity Network to attack the White Helmets and throw doubt on the Assad regime’s war crimes, for instance its use of chemical weapons.

A syncretic hub on Sputnik, anti-imperialist John Wight’s podcast, “Hard Facts,” promotes the same figures associated with the pro-Assad network in the West, including Beeley, Anderson, and Nasr. Perhaps most interestingly, Wight also hosted trans-national far-right figure, Edward Lozansky during the 2016 election and again early the next year.

With more than 30 years of involvement in the U.S. and Russian far right, Lozansky is perhaps most known as the creator of the American University in Moscow. Boasting a number of Fellows involved in pro-Kremlin media outlets like The Duran, RT and Russia Insider, the American University in Moscow appears to be an ideological center in the concerted social media campaign associated with the Internet Research Agency to boost anti-Clinton, pro-Kremlin propaganda in the U.S. Lozansky also hosts conferences with known fascist ideologues and an annual “Russia Forum” featuring far-right politicians and left-wing media operators from Russia and the U.S.

During both of his pro-Putin, pro-Trump interviews with Lozansky on “Hard Facts,” Wight advocated “a multipolar alternative to the unipolar world,” insisting, “we’re talking about a struggle for a multipolar world to replace the unipolarity that has wreaked so much havoc since the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.”

The most important anti-imperialist hub on Sputnik, however, is hosted by Brian Becker, whose fellow party member and brother sits on the steering committee for the Syria Solidarity Movement. The leader of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Becker regularly hosts Fellows of the American University in Moscow on his Sputnik podcast, “Loud & Clear.”

“Loud & Clear”‘s Lozansky-affiliated guests include far-right PR man Jim Jatras, Mark Sleboda of the Dugin-founded Center for Conservative Studies, the Ron Paul Institute’s Daniel McAdams and Alexander Mercouris of the syncretic conspiracist site, The Duran. The program also provides a platform to a variety of explicitly far-right guests, including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, antisemite Alberto Garcia Watson, alt-right figure Cassandra Fairbanks and militia movement leader Larry Pratt.

Aside from marginal guests, Loud & Clear can bring on some heavy hitters. During his two appearances on “Loud & Clear” in late 2017, bestselling author Max Blumenthal called the red-brown radio show “the finest public affairs programming” and declared, “I am increasingly turning to RT America for sanity.” No stranger to Sputnik, Blumenthal also went on “Hard Facts” that August, claiming that notorious ISIS militant Mohammed Emwazi was ushered into the Syria conflict by the CIA via a “rat line” from Saudi Arabia.

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This Venn diagram suggests that certain syncretic groups exist as containers for the intersection of right and left wing groups, ideologies.

Highway to the Grayzone.

Around the same time he went on “Loud & Clear,” Blumenthal appeared on Tucker Carlson‘s FOX News show to defend RT — his second time on the far-right show that year. Blumenthal’s RT appearances have been praised by white nationalists like Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr., who murdered three people outside of a Jewish Community Center in 2014, so his courting of the right on FOX drew considerable backlash.

Two months later, Blumenthal offered up a staunch defense of “Russia’s position in the world” to author Robert Wright in an interview on bloggingheads. Admitting that Putin’s Russia remains far from left-wing, Blumenthal justified support for the country’s authoritarian conservative government as “part of the multipolar world.”

“If you believe in a multipolar world,” Blumenthal told Wright, “you believe in détente, you believe in diplomacy.” He specifically mentioned Becker’s Party for Socialism and Liberation and groups like it, arguing that they “tend to get all the major issues right regardless of their ideology or agenda.”

Blumenthal was not as clear of a spokesperson for Kremlin geopolitics before he appeared at the same RT gala as disgraced former National Security advisor Michael Flynn and the Green Party’s Jill Stein in December 2015. During that occasion, he joined a panel called “Infowar: Will there be a winner” alongside Alt Right anti-Semite Charles Bausman of Russia Insider. A month later, Blumenthal’s pro-Kremlin position crystalized with the founding of the Grayzone Project.

Grayzone is a collaborative project also featuring journalist Benjamin Norton, who cosigned the Hands Off Syria Coalition’s points of unity statement along with Beeley and others. After going on “Loud & Clear” with Duginist Mark Sleboda and Infowars regularRay McGovern, Norton plugged the Party for Socialism and Liberation on a podcast episode titled “Hands off Syria.” With other Grayzone contributors, Norton has been criticized for downplaying war crimes and helping publicize false theories about rebels contaminating Damascus’s water supply.

When reached for comment by email, Norton retorted, “I know your goal is to outlandishly smear anyone who opposes US imperialism and is to the left of the Clintons as a ‘crypto-fascist,’ while NATO supports actual fascists whom you care little about.”

Grayzone is perhaps best known for Blumenthal’s controversial two-part article attacking the White Helmets, which brought accusations of plagiarism from Beeley. Grayzone contributor Rania Khalek had, Beeley insisted, “pumped me for information on the [White Helmets] and then Max wrote the article.”

While Blumenthal may have repeated some of Beeley’s theories, Beeley cannot be seen as a credible source. Regardless, Khalek has since used a questionable interview sourced from Beeley as evidence that the White Helmets “were deeply embedded in al Qaeda.”

Grayzone recently announced their move from independent news site AlterNet to The Real News Network, a left-wing site with a penchant for 9/11 truther inquiries. Neither Blumenthal nor Khalek responded to efforts to reach them for comment.

Right uses left.

Through its amplification of an interlinked, multi-centered network organized around institutions like Lozansky’s American University in Moscow and the Voltaire Network and conferences like Moscow’s “Multi-Polar World” and Tehran’s “New Horizons,” syncretic networks associated with Dugin’s Eurasianist ideology have combined distortions and ambiguities into a geopolitical narrative meant to confuse audiences and promote authoritarian populist opposition to liberalism.

The “gray measures” used to deny the Kremlin’s influence operations may seem dubious when delivered through channels like Sputnik that are, themselves, political technologies of far-right political influence. When cycled through “narrative laundering” of secondary and tertiary networks enhanced by trolls and coordinated influence operations, however, propaganda is “graywashed” of its dubious sources and presented as cutting-edge journalism.

As shown with Figure 3, think tanks like Katehon and connected Russian Institute for Strategic Studies develop strategies for media spin and online promotion through influence groups and botnets. These think tanks engage in feedback loops with Russian state media channels and linked syncretic news sites, amplified through social media with the help of botnets, and eventually reaching more legitimate sources often freed of their dubious sourcing. The results are explored by a recent study from Data and Society called Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online: “Online communities are increasingly turning to conspiracy-driven news sources, whose sensationalist claims are then covered by the mainstream media, which exposes more of the public to these ideas, and so on.”

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A conceptual model made in Vensim intended to present the workings of “Graywashing.”

The problem with multipolarism, aside from assuming polarity as a useful prescription, may be that it supports not the emergence of Russia as a world power but the rise of the Kremlin’s authoritarian conservative political ideology. In this, multipolarists tend to support other authoritarian regimes and movements from Iran to Syria to Italy. Although anti-imperialists may believe that these measures land them on the right side of history, taking stock of the fascist movement suggests that the strategy of opposing a liberal order through red-brown populist collaboration makes the left a willing accomplice.

[End Article]


The Church of England Vicar and the Enthusiastic Public Relations Spokesman for Assad’s Syrian Genocide.

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The Church of England Vicar and the Enthusiastic Public Relations Spokesman for Assad’s Syrian Genocide.

[Posted by Lara Keller 7/2/18]

We all should all know and care, and mostly don’t, that since 2011 the Assad regime in Syria has responded to demands by the Syrian people for an end to brutal exploitative dictatorship by committing genocide. Indeed not knowing and not caring has enabled him to do this with Russian backing. This is industrial scale oppression, with the Assad regime responsible for around 95% of the causalities. The regime has murdered at least 200,000 Syrians, 10,000s of men, women and children have been tortured to death, and millions have been impoverished, besieged and often starved.

The regime even before 2011 had a reputation in the region for the most oppressive security system in the Middle East, which is cursed by self-serving dictatorships. Hafez Assad took advantage of a turbulent era in Syrian history to launch a military coup in 1970. He had a clear plan to setup an elitist dictatorship built on a large security apparatus that systematically used the threat of torture to control Syrians. His inspiration was Ceaușescu’s infamous Romanian regime. Naturally Hafez passed the private estate previously known as Syria to his son Bashar in 2000, and nothing really changed in the core values of the regime.

The reaction of progressives in the West has often angered and sometimes utterly disgusted me. A small army of apologists have emerged to support Assad. Not all of them from the usual candidates for dictator-philia from the far right and the far left. In the UK for example there are people from the Anti-War movement, Pro-Palestinian groups, the Green Party, the dominant Corbyn wing of the Labour Party, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, a handful of journalists and even clergy from the Church of England. Some of this can be explained by casual ignorance. Some by wilful ignorance, based on supporting “issues” that feel right and so avoiding problems outside of core concerns.

The attitudes of many Anti-War and Pro-Palestinian groups has become a damaging bitter mockery. At an anti-war demonstration against Western intervention in Syria I saw a banner from an English group from safest Dorset with “Everybody Deserves Love” splashed on it. It is impossible to support pacifism in the face of a regime run by criminal thugs who have no concept of shame. Pacifism does not work when children are tortured to death in front of their parents, when hospitals are double tapped by Russian jets and Sarin is used to paralyse the lungs of civilians. Indifference is not love. Zionists are killing and oppressing ordinary Palestinians, while Assad’s militias are killing ordinary Syrians. Both groups are mostly Sunni Muslim Arabs. What exactly is the difference between Zionism and Assadism?

There is a secondary line of defence when the apologists claim that the Western media is lying. All the evidence of the Assad holocaust of many types and thousands of sources is just denied as one great incredible conspiracy. There are even widely circulated crudely absurdist claims that the buildings in the blitzed opposition areas where blown up by the opposition, or that the White Helmets rescue works are evil murderers.

There is the more subtle argument that the regime is not responsible for Sarin gas attacks, because it is winning and does not need to use methods which might provoke hostile Western intervention. The reality is that foreign Shia militias and Russian military are winning against an isolated armed Syrian opposition abandoned by the West. Assad struggles to get Syrians to fight for him, but needs to show his military are a strong force capable of perpetuating Assad clique control. Hence his testing of the international reaction to the use of Sarin in reconquering Idlib province.

There is the argument that the opposition to Assad is and has always been composed of Fundamentalist Islamists. Armed groups run by extremists (like HTS, formerly al-Nusra) have become powerful, because the regime used military force to crush an initially peaceful protest against dictatorship, while the West gave very limited supplies to the moderate armed opposition. The extremists – well-financed by other Middle East dictatorships like the Saudis – were allowed to fill the vacuum, as occurred in post-Gaddafi Libya. Leaflets and speeches do not stop modern weaponry.

This leaves the apologists who are not ideological cranks and who do have a detailed knowledge of Syria. A good example is the Reverend Andrew Ashdown, a vicar in the Church of England. He has been organising tours of the Holy Land for thirty years, and has often visited Syria before 2011 and since. He enthusiastically pushes in lectures, articles, broadcasts and social media, the key points of the Assad regime PR campaign:

(i) Assad regime is popular with the vast majority of Syrians.
(ii) Opposition to the Assad regime is confined to fundamentalist terrorists.
(iii) Evidence that the regime is responsible for mass murder and mass torture is fabricated. The Assad Holocaust does not exist.
(iv) Assad’s Syria is not a kleptomaniac brutal police state.
(v) Assad is the protector of minorities in Syria. In particular Christians.

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The Church of England is perceived as a morally concerned organisation that can be trusted but is rather spineless. Ashdown uses the appearance of a vicar to give his Assad PR credibility. The church has been contacted many times, and has done very little to stop this abuse of its reputation. He is no longer a parish vicar, but still has the permission of his bishop to conduct Anglican services. He still lives in a comfortable house provided by the church. His wife the Reverend Victoria Ashdown is a vicar of the parish of North Baddesley (between Southampton and Romsey in Hampshire, UK) and publically supports his stance on the Assad regime. She reposts his social media statements, and has even posed in front of the two star Syrian flag (used exclusively by the regime) for her parish Facebook Account.

There are many Christians in the Church of England who are rightly concerned about the survival of Christian communities in the Middle East against attacks by fundamentalist islamists. They mostly know very little about the Assad regime and make the mistake of believing Assad PR and reluctantly supporting the regime. It obviously helps in the deception that a knowledgeable Church of England vicar like Andrew Ashdown is doing the PR. Andrew Ashdown has detailed knowledge of the regime, and so has no reasonable excuse of ignorance.

Where is Christian love in the Assad regime and its holocaust? Christianity is not tribal. God is not a Christian. In Assad’s Syria the leaders of minorities (including Christians) are approved and effectively appointed by the regime, owe their privileges to it, and in return police their communities. The regime even uses housing policy to segrate and divide Syrian society. Christians are used rather than protected. The perception – supplied by people like Ashdown – that Christians support dictatorships in the region gives fuel to the anti-Christian bigotry of the fundamentalist islamists.

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God gives us spiritual life, despite our religion or lack of it. Respect for that life in others is the obvious root of Christian love. The Assad regime is the absolute reality of total contempt for this. Anglicans Priests are prevented from joining far right organisations like in the UK like the British National Party and the National Front. Why is Ashdown allowed to do PR for a brutal dictatorship responsible for genocide? The church can and should stop him and his wife “officiating at services” and enjoying the financial and accommodation support of the church, until they are able to completely and publically repudiate their belief and support for the Assad regime. Why is the Church of England vicar and the enthusiastic Public Relations spokesman for Assad’s Syrian Genocide the same person?


Here is a sample of his grossly deceptive self-promotion used in a recent lecture tour of Scotland:

“Rev Andrew Ashdown is an Anglican priest. He has been travelling and leading groups to the Middle East for over 30 years. For years he has engaged with Christians, Muslims and Jews in Israel-Palestine conflict and he has met with many religious and political leaders in Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria……….”

Typical Andrew Ashdown Facebook Post: Andrew Ashdown, September 5, 2017

“A year ago today I had the privilege of meeting President Assad. It was an in-depth two hour open and honest meeting where many challenging subjects were discussed, and we were met with great courtesy. But, we were vilified for meeting him. BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 News all slated us. The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Times all criticised us for meeting a ‘monster’. I was slated in the Church Times. And ever since, I have been put very much at arm’s length by the Church hierarchy and by my own Bishop. The fact that we met and brought messages from many religious leaders in Syria was ignored. But I have no regrets. And I make no apology to anyone for meeting the President. I am glad we did so. One year on, even Syria’s enemies are acknowledging that the President will stay, and are ending their support for the western-backed multiple Al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups who have brought such death, destruction and havoc to the country, and who are being defeated on all fronts by the Syrian Army with the help of Russia and Hezbollah. And wherever they are being defeated, a semblance of ‘normal’ life is returning to communities – and people are returning too. The progress in Aleppo particularly in the past months has been immense, and its citizens are clearly delighted and relieved to be free of the groups (that the west supported) that terrorised the city for so long. President Assad’s personal popularity with a large majority of the Syrian people is immense. I hope and pray that a peace will be achieved soon. Peace has been so elusive partly because of the international community’s refusal to put aside their own agendas, to listen to the Syrian people, to stop fuelling the violence, and to engage the people who actually have power in the country. Healing will take much longer. But the will and the resilience of the Syrian people does make it possible. It is not up to us to dictate Syria’s future, and violence achieves nothing. If only we could accept that, and encourage a genuine process of dialogue, peace and reconciliation for the sake of the Syrian people. History has always proven that the path of peace has been achieved by talking, not by bombing! It is a shame that we have been vilified for talking – whilst other Church leaders and politicians have openly supported the path of bombing.”

Criticism of Pro-Assad Apologists Collection:

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Criticism of Pro-Assad Apologists Collection 

[Posted By Lara Keller 6/6/17, Updated 7/3/20] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

Collection of articles and illustrations about the West’s disgusting Pro-Assad Apologists. [or see whole category Criticism of Pro-Assad Apologists Collection]

Posted 2020    (1)

Jeremy Corbyn’s pacifist illusion.

Posted 2017    (4)

ORB International Surveys in Syria are Probably Worthless.

Dear Sir Mark Rylance, Listen To Syrians, Not Stop The War Coalition.

God save us. God save Syria.

It is absurd for Syrians not to have representative government.

Posted 2016    (9)

Excellent summary of West progressives’ betrayal of Syrians  (Mark Boothroyd)

Criticism of detached myopia of West-centric expert Marc Lynch on Syria.

Stunning Article Syria’s Voice of Conscience Has a Message for the West.

Examination of Pro Assad Attitudes in Briefing Paper for UK Labour Party MPs.

UK Labour Party’s Dishonest Leaked Briefing Paper To MPs Prior To Syria Debate on 11/10/16.

Supporting non-action on Assad Death Machine, this is reactionary …..

Topple The Bogus Sick Angels Of Hard Left.

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

Two Great Articles On “Engaging” with UK “Stop The War Coalition” and their Betrayal Of Syrians.

Posted 2015   (9)

Three more brilliant articles on “one eyed” insane anti-imperialism in Syria.

A great article on “one eyed” insane anti-imperialism in Syria and Libya.

“Stop The War Coalition” (STWuk) is exactly the problem.

Two excellent articles on one eyed insane “anti-imperialism”.

Excellent article on Syrian Solidarity by Charles Davis.

Assad Regime: Arguments Against Non-intervention.

Time to look at misjudgements about good intervention. UK Guardian Editorial 2013.

Assad’s UK Apologist’s [2013] part 2.

Assad’s UK Apologist’s [2013].