“The Tories have learnt nothing from failed interventions & instead are committed to an era of permanent war.”Claudia Webbe MP
Anti-War politics are more important than ever writes Claudia Webbe MP.
March 26 marked six years of the Saudi-led war on Yemen. Many of the weapons used in this war – which has now created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis according to the UN World Food Programme – have been sold by the UK Government, and the Tories are continuing these sales even now the US has suspended them.
March also marked ten years since the start of disastrous war on Libya and 18 years since Bush and Blair’s illegal war on Iraq.
The fact that this year also marks thirty years since the end of the first war on Iraq, and twenty years since the start of George W Bush’s “War on Terror” including the seemingly never-ending intervention in Afghanistan shows just how aggressive the foreign policy of the US and UK governments have been in recent decades.
The disastrous humanitarian consequences of these interventions show the need for a different approach, and with the Government recently publishing its defence and security review, it is vital the Left puts forward our own internationalist foreign policy agenda.
Additionally, discussions are taking place around US foreign policy following Joe Biden defeating the thankfully departed Trump – and occurring around Britain’s role in the world following Brexit – meaning that now is a vital time to talk about what the labour movement’s international outlook should be.
The starting point to this progressive international outlook and foreign policy agenda for me is to recognise that we live in tumultuous and challenging times.
Humanity faces multiple global crises. From the coronavirus pandemic, to the growing climate emergency, to (in many parts of the world) a developing economic crisis and the accompanying poverty and inequality that brings.
Alongside these, wars and conflicts rage across the globe even though the UN called for a global ceasefire last year.
Yet the Government’s security review barely mentions these crises and instead focuses on dramatically increasing Britain’s nuclear weapon arsenal, ripping-up obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and risking starting a new nuclear arms race just at a time countries all around the world are backing a global ban treaty on nuclear weapons.
Combined with the Government’s massive increases in military spending announced earlier this year, this would suggest the Tories have learnt nothing from the failure of the aforementioned failed interventions and instead are committed to an era of permanent war.
An alternative approach to provide real security would be based on tackling these crises, conflict resolution internationally and tackling the roots causes of war and terrorism.
It would mean delivering global justice including by tackling poverty, supporting refugees and real international action to tackle climate catastrophe.
We must continue to speak up for this progressive international agenda and against war, even when the establishment and their media try to squeeze out our voices.
We also need to be clear that Trump’s failure to win re-election – and the defeat of his nationalistic, militaristic and anti-China rhetoric – doesn’t mean that peace campaigners can take our foot off the pedal.
Whilst we have seen the welcome developments around the US pulling back on providing arms for Saudi Arabia to use in the war on Yemen – something the UK Government should follow suit in – we have also seen already an airstrike in Syria, a firm commitment to uphold illegal sanctions on Venezuela aimed at ‘regime change,’ and this is within just a few months of Joe Biden coming to office.
There is also no sign of an end to what many have termed the “new cold war” against China. This has not just involved rhetoric in recent years, but hostile policies too, including in terms of building up US military bases and alliances.
Opposing this new cold war on China is not about agreeing with – or not criticising – the Chinese Government. It is about opposing a new global arms race and dangerous confrontation, which would have damaging impacts on the whole of humanity.
Under Boris Johnson, the UK Government followed the dangerous and reactionary stance of the US Trump administration around the globe in terms of foreign policy – and this is what we need to change.
We need a push for peace.
This means we must come together to loudly say the time has come for our Government to stop spending so much money on weapons of war and destruction – including nuclear weapons – and instead spend it on keeping us secure by tackling the pandemic, climate change and the other crises we face.
- Claudia Webbe MP is the Member of Parliament for Leicester East and writes a monthly column for Labour Outlook.
- You can follow her at https://www.facebook.com/claudiaforLE/ and https://twitter.com/ClaudiaWebbe