The Media Attacks Corbyn’s Opposition to Conflict Escalation

On August 20, Ben Myring spoke at Politics.co.uk about Corbyn’s foreign policy being “genuinely radical” (in contrast to his economic policies, which were said to be only “moderately left-wing” or even “centrist”). Leaving NATO, he said, would be “extraordinarily dangerous… isolationism”. Supposedly, Corbyn’s “opposition to the current coalition bombing campaign” in Syria was “utterly at odds” with his “supposed solidarity” with ‘Kurds’ (a term ignorantly used to suggest that the politics of all Kurds was the same). What Myring ignored, however, was the alternative to Western military intervention, which would be to pressure NATO member Turkey into reaching a lasting peace deal with the PKK and opening a humanitarian corridor into Rojava, through which the YPG/YPJ defence forces could receive reinforcements and fight ISIS effectively all by themselves. Myring’s stance, in short, was that Western intervention was the only option, as ISIS would simply “overrun the Kurdish-defended areas” in northern Syria if the West did not intervene. Corbyn, therefore, would indirectly support the defeat of Rojavan forces, according to Myring. His policy of non-intervention would allegedly “be the greatest betrayal of all” (rather than the West allowing Turkey to continue with its blockade on Rojava and to break its ceasefire with the PKK).[1] In reality, though, it was the West’s commitment to Turkish oppression of progressive Kurdish communities that was the real betrayal, along with the immense ignorance displayed by Myring and other commentators regarding the situation in the Middle East.

On August 21, The Guardian published a piece about Corbyn’s promised apology over the Iraq War under the incredibly misleading headline “Iraqis dismiss Jeremy Corbyn’s planned apology for 2003 invasion” (which suggested that Iraqi citizens might actually want even more war). In reality, though, the actual content said nothing bad about Corbyn, suggesting mainly that, in the views of Iraqis, the damage had already been done and that Britain should take a more active role in the future in helping to resolve the current situation in the country (which, of course, could be done in a number of ways). In fact, the apology was always meant primarily for British citizens rather than the citizens of Iraq. Nonetheless, it is worth pointing out here that the Iraqi people “contacted by the Guardian” tend to agree with Corbyn on the devastating effects that the invasion had. Sunni Sheikh Aref Mukhaiber, for example, said: “This apology means an international obligation to fix the damage in Iraq. They are responsible for the disaster we are in right now… If they hadn’t listened to the Americans, we wouldn’t be in this situation”. Baghdad resident Ahmed Mansour, meanwhile, argued: “It wasn’t a war on terror then… But it sure is now. This is the best self-fulfilling prophecy”. For Haditha inhabitant Ashour Tarboushi, Britain was “the reason we have Isis in Iraq”, and should “fix the problem they have caused”. At the same time, teacher Abdulaha al-Sa’idi stressed: “Look at the sectarian society we have today. The roots of all of this lie in that war – it’s like building a house on wrong foundations or without foundations”. Finally, bookseller Mohamad Abbas insisted: “What we have today is a direct result to the war and what the British and the Americans did… They toppled a state and didn’t build another”.[2] In short, none of these comments were against Corbyn. Instead, they criticised Britain’s choice to accompany the USA in the 2003 invasion in the first place, blaming it for the birth of ISIS.

[1] http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2015/08/20/comment-corbyn-s-foreign-policy-would-sacrifice-the-kurds-to

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/21/iraqis-dismiss-jeremy-corbyns-planned-apology-for-2003-invasion

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