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Trump and May have put us on the brink of war

The argument that we can’t sit back and that we have to do something is a lie, writes LINDSEY GERMAN. Western powers have been intervening in Syria right from the beginning

THE WORLD stands on the brink of a major escalation of war and the responsibility for this lies with US President Donald Trump and Theresa May.

Trump, who talked only two weeks ago of withdrawing US troops from Syria, now tweets that his missiles are coming.

May, the woman who has no parliamentary majority and is only hanging onto power through alliance with the racist and right-wing DUP, is urging some sort of military action to “punish” the Syrian regime.

The fact that we have been through repeated military interventions before, all of them ending in failure, does not seem to deter the serial warmongers. 

This time their clamour is for military strikes on Bashar al-Assad’s Syria in response to the alleged chemical attack in Douma last week.

There can be no justification for any chemical weapons attacks, which are barbaric and brutal. This is just the latest in the long years of suffering by the people of Syria, but there is absolutely no evidence that military intervention will do anything but make the situation worse. 

In addition, any military intervention now can escalate into a much wider conflict.

Already there are many states involved directly or indirectly in the Syrian conflict — the US, Britain, France, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.

Israel bombed Syria this week in supposed retaliation for the attack, while having killed 28 Palestinians in the previous week.

The intervention by all these states is not about concern for the Syrian people but about who carves up the country and the wider region.

Saudi Arabia, which is also involved in a brutal bombing war in Yemen, wants to destroy the Iranian regime, as does Israel. In this they are backed by Trump.

All this is truly frightening enough, yet even more so is the possibility of open conflict between nuclear armed powers, with Russia retaliating against any such attack.  

So the world is in a really dangerous place his weekend — perhaps the most dangerous at any time since the Cuba missile crisis in 1962, when the cold war conflict led to a danger of nuclear war between the two superpowers.

We should not be surprised by the response of the usual suspects.

May is willing to ramp up war, partly because she always supports these increasingly desperate imperial interventions and partly because she is desperate to distract attention from her own weakness, failed policies and deep unpopularity. Unfortunately, she is not alone.

We have been regaled with demands for this intervention from a series of politicians, generals and “experts” who have spent the past nearly two decades telling us that more war and militarism are the secret to human rights, democracy and stability.

These people told us that intervention in Iraq would transform the Middle East. They just didn’t tell us it would be for the worse.

They backed war in Libya in 2011 and have repeatedly called for intervention and regime change in Syria.

Perhaps most despicable of this crew are Tony Blair and his partner in crime Alastair Campbell, back and demanding intervention in another war, joined predictably by his loyal coterie of disciples on Labour’s right like John Woodcock and Phil Wilson.

They reach for their guns every time and in this they have as little understanding as the gun lobby in the US which marks every new high school killing with assertions that the only solution is more weapons.

The argument repeated ad nauseam is that we can’t sit back and that we have to do something. The whole premise is a lie.

Western powers have been intervening in Syria right from the beginning of the civil war and have armed, backed and fought alongside the opposition.

We hear much about the loss of David Cameron’s vote for war in 2013, but little about the fact that Parliament voted to bomb Syria in December 2015 and have been doing so ever since. The US military controls swathes of Syrian territory. 

Those who want military intervention now and bemoan its lack in the past tend to ignore the country where such intervention was carried out in 2011.

Libya was bombed supposedly for humanitarian reasons, leaving 30,000 dead from the bombing and continuing civil war.

Its real aim was regime change, which it achieved, but at dreadful cost to the lives of millions. Any honest assessment of that episode — voted for by all but a handful of MPs — would conclude that a repeat in Syria would have similar consequences. 

This is, no doubt, one reason why May wants to avoid a vote in Parliament, as well as fear of suffering what happened to Cameron when he was defeated in 2013.

She would like to reverse the recent convention of Parliament voting for war, as would the military. It should be a matter of democratic principle that this is not left to a tiny cabal of Tory ministers but is voted on by MPs.

However, it should also be a matter of democratic principle that these MPs seriously assess past evidence rather than lapping up MoD briefings and crying crocodile tears for the Syrian people, most of whom are refused entry to Britain when they try to come as refugees. 

It is clear that most people in Britain are opposed to or highly sceptical about May’s war plans. They also fear Trump and his Secretary of State John Bolton, a man who has been consistently hawkish about intervention and who wants to target Iran. 

Perhaps most frighteningly, none of them has any strategic plan for what will follow this endless war and bombing. This is particularly obvious with the US administration, as expressed through Trump’s tweets.

This is how major wars start and it is in the interests of everyone to campaign against these policies. We need an immediate ceasefire and attempt at a political settlement.

We also need an anti-war government led by Jeremy Corbyn that can argue for a very different set of foreign policies and a reversal of the drive to war of the past two decades. 

In the meantime, we have to lobby, to contact all our MPs, to get on the streets and we need a mass movement to do that. 

Lindsey German is convener of the Stop the War Coalition. 

Stop the War Coalition is holding a protest outside parliament from 5.30 on Monday April 16. Go to stopwar.org.uk for full details of this and local protests, and to join or donate.  

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