By KD Tait
THE US, French, and British attack on the Syrian regime’s chemical warfare facilities, ostensibly in retaliation for the recent chemical attack in Douma, was little more than a cynical attempt by the Nato powers to avoid being made to look totally impotent by the Syrian dictator – whilst carefully avoiding a direct military clash with his protector, Russia.
The airstrikes were not intended to protect Syrian civilians, nor even to seriously hamper Bashar al-Assad from liquidating the remaining opposition areas with the kind of legal, conventional high explosives that the US, Britain and Israel have used to equally devastating effect elsewhere in the region.
In reality, for all their talk, the West is indifferent to victims of Syria’s civil war, aside from ensuring as few of them as possible make it to Europe. The British and French governments – the most enthusiastic proponents of bombing – have admitted the fewest Syrian refugees of any of the major EU powers.
In most of Syria, it true, it is Assad, with his Russian and Iranian allies who bear responsibility for the mass slaughter of those who rose up against his bloody dictatorship. But the Nato powers and their ally Turkey have done their share of brutal bombing in northern Syria, including the Kurdish area of Afrin.
And beyond its borders Saudi Arabia is waging a genocidal war in Yemen, with the assistance of the Nato powers and without comment from the western Media. Likewise Israel’s ongoing murder of demonstrators in Gaza is studiously ignored.
After the horrific war crimes committed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, we have every reason to treat with contempt our rulers’ claims to be intervening to protect civilians or “deterring” criminals like Putin and Assad. The leaders of the US, Britain and France, along with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, are just as criminal as their rivals in Moscow, Damascus or Tehran.
The UK’s involvement in the Middle East, first as its colonial ruler, then as junior partner of US imperialism, has entrenched a dynamic of bloodshed, dictatorship and sectarianism that has stained the map with the blood of generations.
Theresa May’s decision to bypass Parliament in order to avoid the humiliation suffered by David Cameron in 2013 is proof of the Tories’ contempt for democracy, and an indication of Britain’s future as an even more craven satellite of US imperialism.
The overriding task for socialists in Britain is to revive a massive antiwar movement, like that of the early 2000s, able to force the UK to withdraw its troops, close its bases, and end its support for dictators like Egypt’s General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
It is the working class in Britain that has the power to stop the slide to war, force the government to take in Syrian refugees, and build links of solidarity with socialist and antiwar activists in the US, Russia, and the Middle East.
Socialists should not abandon the antiwar movement to pacifists who think Britain can play a neutral role, nor to one-sided ‘anti-imperialists’ who excuse the crimes of Britain’s rivals.
Still less should Labour MPs or trade union leaders support Britain’s merchants of death in the name of ‘protecting jobs’, let alone provide left cover for the Nato protection racket as Paul Mason does.
Instead we should fight for Labour to break with its tradition of support for British imperialism and lead a campaign of political and industrial action against Britain’s war machine:
- No more wars
- Bring all the troops home
- Close all foreign bases
- Leave Nato
- End all arms exports
- Nationalise the arms industry under workers’ control
Transforming the labour movement and building parties committed to the replacing the dictatorship of British capitalism with the rule of the working class is the most effective action British workers can take in solidarity with the workers of the world.