AS heads of state and government begin arriving in Britain this weekend for the annual Nato summit, they might expect military matters to feature prominently in the general-election campaign here.
How wrong any such assumption would be. True, there are the crude Tory and tabloid attempts to portray Jeremy Corbyn as a Putin puppet who would leave Britain defenceless should he ever assume high office. But otherwise, there has been little or no debate about military or “defence” policy.
Partly, this is because there is near unanimity between almost all the main parties in this election.
The Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems and the Brexit Party all support Nato membership, the retention and renewal of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system and a military spending level of at least 2 per cent of GDP.
The SNP now supports the continued membership in Nato of a nominally independent Scotland, complicit in its nuclear policy (“mutually assured destruction” or MAD) but with someone else hosting the nuclear submarines and taking an early hit.
The Green Party rejects this whole militarist agenda, but sees withdrawal from Nato only as the “long-term” objective of a Green government.
Plaid Cymru also rejects nuclear weapons and higher military spending, but appears to have fallen silent on the question of Nato membership, whereas previous leader Leanne Wood was outspoken in her opposition to it.
“No to Trump — No to Nato” demonstrations will greet Nato leaders when they arrive for a royal nosh-up with Britain’s top arms salespersons at Buckingham Palace on December 3 and the next day in Watford for the summit.
Demonstrators should concentrate their fire more on Nato and its reactionary role in international affairs than on Trump with his odious views on other issues.
As the leader of the world’s most violent rogue state since 1945, Trump has so far been one of the less murderous of US presidents.
Powerful elements in the US military-industrial complex are unhappy that he has failed to provoke a war with Iran or North Korea, even beginning a military withdrawal from Syria to let Nato ally Turkey do more of the dirty work.
French President Emmanuel Macron complains bitterly that the US commander-in-chief is failing to provide more aggressive leadership — not least in west Africa — to the “brain-dead” alliance.
Political leaders in eastern Europe and the Baltic region would prefer to beat the war drum against the much-vaunted “Russian invasion” which, like its Soviet counterpart in the cold war decades, never arrives.
Reportedly, Trump has other priorities. He intends to continue his campaign to shift more of the arms spending burden on western European member states — particularly Germany — having just announced a cut in the US contribution to the Nato budget.
Less controversially, he also wants more resources poured into combatting “cyber-terrorism.”
Whichever agenda predominates, the Nato summit intends to drive forward Western imperialist expansion and intervention in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, in tandem with the EU and its burgeoning military structures.
To their credit, both the Greens and Plaid Cymru acknowledge and oppose the militarisation of the European Union.
In their naivety, however, they do not see this as part of the inevitable transformation of the monopoly-capitalist EU into an imperialist United States of Europe.
What can we do in Britain in addition to supporting CND, the Stop the War Coalition and the British Peace Assembly on December 3-4?
Only one potential prime minister in the general election has made clear that he will never press the nuclear button to murder millions of innocent civilians in distant countries.
Jeremy Corbyn has also consistently opposed the British, US and Nato military interventions that have brought such horror to the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
It’s high time we heard that voice of sanity coming from 10 Downing Street.
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