British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has suggested the UK could join US military action against the Syrian government without parliamentary approval. Johnson said he and PM Theresa May agreed that in the event of another chemical attack by the Assad regime, it would be hard for the UK to refuse any request to join military action.
No evidence has been provided that the Syrian government was responsible for the recent attack. If anything, as with the previous alleged chemical weapons attack in 2013, available evidence and logic would suggest it is the US-backed terror groups trying to topple the government that are responsible and that the situation is part of the psych-ops being used to rally Western public support for direct military action against the Syrian government.
Nevertheless, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Johnson said:
“If the United States has a proposal to have some sort of action in response to a chemical weapons attack, and if they come to us and ask for our support, whether it is with submarine cruise missiles in the Med or whatever it happens to be, in my view, and I know this is also the view of the prime minister, it would be very difficult for us to say no.”
It appears the decision to bypass parliament and press ahead has already been made. Indeed, he continued by implying parliament might indeed be sidelined in the push to attack Syria. Asked if any UK strikes against Syria would need parliamentary approval, Johnson said:
“How we exactly implement that would be for the government and for the prime minister to decide. But if the Americans were once again forced by the actions of the Assad regime and they asked us to help, it would be very difficult to say no.”
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, has rejected such action by stating:
“We don’t need unilateral action. We need to work through the UN, but above all we need to bend ourselves totally to getting a political settlement in Syria.”
Johnson has gone out of his way to portray Corbyn as weak and indecisive on military questions:
“There is a real risk that the government of a very great country could be handed over to a guy who has been hostile to Nato all his political career … who would disarm us of nuclear weapons, and a guy who has said he would not advocate a shoot-to-kill policy in the event of an Islamist terrorist putting innocent people’s lives at risk.”
He adds that Corbyn as PM would be “calamitous” in an “age of uncertainty” with growing threats from Russia, North Korea and Islamic terrorism.
“In recent years we have seen an increase in the global tally of deaths from wars. We and our allies face threats from countries with a nuclear weapons capacity, and from those trying to acquire that capacity…”
“For the first time for many years, some countries are trying to change European borders, not by agreement, but by force. And, as we have seen across Europe in recent months, we face a continued battle against terrorism and the hateful ideology of Islamic extremism.”
Highlighting Corbyn’s refusal to consider using the nuclear deterrent, he argues:
“There can be no more important task for a Government than to keep people safe – and we must be prepared to do everything necessary to do so.”
Boris Johnson reading from the neocon script
Before proceeding, if Johnson and others wish to attack Corbyn for his rejection of nuclear weapons and play some kind of point-scoring morality game, is it he and not Corbyn who is placing humanity in danger; it is he and not Corbyn who should think long and hard about the implications of threatening millions (or billions) with nuclear annihilation; it is he and not Corbyn who should consider his dangerous anti-Russia rhetoric that is helping to push the world closer towards a nuclear precipice.
There is no evidence linking the Syrian government to the recent chemical weapons attack, yet Johnson follows the lead of the Trump administration and its false narrative that has used that incident to intervene in Syria in an attempt to sway the war in favour of its terror groups.
Former US marine Ken O’Keefe says you have to be a bought-off “prostitute” or “the dumbest of the dumb” to believe the narrative coming out of Washington (humanitarian intervention to ‘protect’ people from Assad) that the US really cares about the lives of ordinary citizens. The US-led West and its allies in the Middle East set out to destabilise Syria and remove Assad from power, which has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrians. Although the corporate media like to portray the whole situation as constituting a ‘civil war’ and Western intervention being based on ‘humanitarian’ concerns, it is clear by now that the US is waging a ‘dirty war’ to destroy Syria for geostrategic gain.
Johnson is one of those “prostitutes” O’Keefe speaks of. Like a toy monkey, he beats on cue the false narrative coming from Washington’s neocon regime about Syria, ‘Russian aggression’ and Putin’s desire to reshape Europe.
We have seen an increasing tally of deaths due to various wars and the worlds is more unstable, as Johnson notes. What he fails to admit is the US and its client states, including Britain, have been responsible for the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. US imperialist wars of aggression have resulted in death and destruction and failed states. Johnson misrepresents the situation by attempting to hide the reasons for US militarism behind a fragile narrative of Islamic terror (which undoubtedly exists but which should be regarded within the machinations of US empire and attacks on Islamic dominated countries), evil dictators and Russian aggression.
Johnson also throws in the North Korean ‘threat’ for good measure despite the fact that small country has been involved in a rearguard action against a very real and overwhelming US threat for decades. The US has already decimated that nation once.
What Johnson is serving up to the British public is the same old recipe of lies and hypocrisy that his predecessor William Hague offered and what current Defence Secretary Michael Fallon excels in. The aim is to try to keep the majority of the public on board with the dangerous ‘great game’ the US is playing to secure its stated objective of remaining the dominant global force and weakening/destroying Russia. Washington will not allow multipolarity and aims to crush any perceived threats (not least the undermining of dollar hegemony) to its global supremacy.
From Ukraine and Syria to Libya and Afghanistan, the US is involved in geostrategic wars and conflicts, which, aside from resource plunder, are increasingly fuelled by a crisis of capitalism: war and militarism are the defining features of advanced capitalism as it increasingly struggles to find much profit in little else.
When you have nothing else to offer the public – only living under the tyranny of a dying capitalism – repeating the mantra ‘there is no alternative’ and instilling fear is all that’s left. And, if it is not about Putin or some other made up threat, it is about Jeremy Corbyn.
When your policies have already jeopardized national security by inflicting terror on other countries; when you have already sold the economy to the lowest bidder and have attacked welfare, unions and livelihoods; when you have allowed massive levels of tax evasion/avoidance; when you and your neoliberal policies have allowed national and personal debt to spiral; when you have driven up the cost of living by handing over public assets to profiteering cartels; when you have flittered away taxpayers money to banks; when you allowed the richest 1,000 people in the UK to increase their wealth by 50% in 2009 alone while you impose ‘austerity’ on everyone else – then what else can you offer but to roll out a good old dose of fear mongering about Corbyn simply because you have no actual argument?
Conservative Party hypocrisy and crony capitalism
Although certainly not exclusive to the Conservative Party, given how New Labour operated, hypocrisy and crony capitalism come natural to it. Millionaire Owen Paterson, a sitting MP and former environment, food and rural affairs minister, was a member of David Cameron’s cabinet of millionaires. The Conservatives have been for decades waging a war on working people in the UK, which is currently sold as ‘austerity’. And the outcome has been predictable.
See this about rising food poverty and increasing reliance on food banks in the UK. See this about the five richest families in Britain being worth more than the poorest 20%. See this about one third of Britain’s population being in poverty.
According to this report, almost 18 million people cannot afford adequate housing conditions; 12 million are too poor to engage in common social activities; one in three cannot afford to heat their homes adequately in winter; and four million children and adults are not properly fed (Britain’s population is estimated at 63 to 64 million).
Welfare cuts have pushed hundreds of thousands below the poverty line since 2012, including more than 300,000 children.
But Paterson really feels the pain of the poor – in faraway lands that is. He will even travel around the world to attend conferences to shout about his concern for the poor on behalf of transnational agribusiness interests. His indifference to poverty in the UK is in marked contrast to his concern about the poor abroad. The indifference suddenly becomes transformed only when there is an opportunity to line the pockets of the global agritech companies.
Then there is Liam Fox who belongs to Theresa May’s cabinet. Writing in The Guardian, George Monbiot describes how a discredited Fox has been central to cementing firm links with US corporate interests via The Heritage Foundation. The story Monbiot outlines is one of Fox’s associations with US banking, oil, agribusiness, pharmaceutical and tobacco interests which have pursued an ultra-conservative economic agenda based on deregulation and the capturing of legislative processes.
Monbiot notes that The Heritage Foundation is now at the heart of Trump’s administration. Under Theresa May, the trade treaties that Fox is charged with could plug the UK into US food and environmental standards, which tend to be lower than Britain’s and will become lower still if Trump gets his way.
Monbiot concludes that this is part of what Brexit was about: European laws protecting the public interest were portrayed by Conservative eurosceptics as intolerable intrusions on corporate freedom. Taking back control from Europe means closer integration with the US. The transatlantic special relationship is based on political and corporate power. That power is cemented by the networks Fox helped to develop.
Aside from Paterson and Fox, there are many other examples that could be provided to highlight the hypocrisy and grubby backroom deals that the Conservatives excel in, not least the ongoing privatisation of the NHS. The unaccountable, interlocking directorate of financial-corporate interests that are driving the neoliberal agenda in Britain are many and are deeply embedded within the Conservative Party and more generally within the corridors of Whitehall power.
Jeremy Corbyn Britain’s best hope
Corbyn offers an alternative that challenges the ‘Washington consensus’. He stands on an anti-war and anti-austerity platform, is committed to investing in the public sector, wants to get rid of Britain’s nuclear weapons and says he wants to renationalise profiteering public sector utilities.
Jeremy Corbyn is a credible alternative to the current crop of mainstream politicians – whether Blairite Labour, Conservative or Lib-Dem – not just because of what he says but because of the reactions he elicits from this bunch of discredited and corrupt pro-austerity, pro-war, pro City of London/Wall Street, union-bashing, welfare cutting handmaidens to the rich that have ruined the economy and have helped to devastate countries across the globe with their penchant for militarism.
Whether Corbyn could actually stem the tide of militarism and neoliberalism if elected PM is highly debatable, given the pressure he would face to tow the Establishment line and the forces lined up against him (see this). He would however at least offer a degree of hope for positive change. The only danger to Britain and the world is US militarism and its wars of aggression, not Jeremy Corbyn. But Boris Johnson’s rhetoric and that of his millionaire cronies in government depends on the British public remaining blind to the chains that enslave them.
Colin Todhunter is an independent writer