[Marxism] British peace activist made the difference?

Paul Flewers trusscott.foundation at blueyonder.co.uk
Fri Sep 6 12:01:39 MDT 2013

It's rather droll to see Britain's would-be führer trying to take credit
for the parliamentary vote last week that has kept Britain out of any
US-led attack on Syria. Griffin is pretty much a bad joke in Britain these
days, his party is in the doldrums, and the main fascist threat is via the
English Defence League. The first many of us heard about Griffin's jaunt to
Syria was from non-UK media sources.

The Stop the War Campaign is also certain that its own agitation has helped
shift public opinion against involvement in Syria and played a role in
getting the 'no' vote. See, for example <
Governments in Britain have long ignored public opinion on going to war,
not least Blair's, which totally ignored the biggest demonstration in
British history back in 2003 against a war in Iraq.

Public opinion, I feel, has only played a minor role here. What I think the
vote represented was a reflection of the considerable disquiet felt in key
areas of the British state towards getting involved in yet another war that
threatens to disrupt the Middle East. During the war on Iraq I was working
in a college in London which has close links with the military top-brass
and foreign policy establishment, and at a big meeting on the subject just
before the war several academics with these links spoke -- and not one of
them came out in favour of the war, they all spoke of the problems that
they foresaw, problems which surely came to pass.

Talking to various people at the college over the following years, I
ascertained that there was considerable disquiet in important parts of the
state machine, not on the basis, of course, of anti-imperialist sentiments
or pacifism, but because of the question (to use our vernacular): what has
British imperialism gained from these wars? Military top-brass do not wish
to get involved in fruitless conflicts; diplomatic staff who spent years
cultivating links across the Middle East do not want to see all their good
work wasted.

I suspect that these sentiments have seeped their way into political
circles in Britain and have manifested themselves through this
unprecedented vote. What I feel it might represent is a move towards an
alternative imperialist policy, away from armed interventions that merely
lead to more problems for the imperialist states towards policies based
more upon open realpolitik. There will have to be a suitable adjustment of
the ideological aspects, a shift away from the kind of 'we can't stand idly
by' and 'red lines' stuff of 'humanitarian intervention', but -- and here
is where public opinion will be addressed -- this won't be that difficult,
because there has been in Britain a fair degree of cynicism developing
across the political spectrum in respect of this idea, and few people here
believe in it any more.

Paul F

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