Last week saw the rapid and frantic unfolding of the Syria crisis, as the country was plunged ever deeper into yet more turmoil, barbarity and chaos. The mainstream media response has, as usual, been to champion the illegal and potentially disastrous consequences of the U.S’ actions, and to use the opportunity to undermine Corbyn, and promote the split between him and the right-wing of the Labour Party.
In the space of less than a week, we saw a horrific chemical weapons attack in Syria — which reportedly killed up to 80 people, allegedly carried out by the Assad regime. This was quickly followed by a U-turn on U.S. foreign policy by President Trump. Previously the Trump administration had made it quite clear that they had no intention of removing Assad from power or involving the U.S. in furthering the war with Syria. And then came the gas attack, and then came the U.S. retaliation strikes — which Reuters reports have killed nine civilians (including four children). The U.S. strike while relatively minor and constrained (by western forces standards) none the less, may have actually benefitted ISIS, who have reportedly attempted to gain in the area since the U.S. strike.
The U.S. action is widely considered to be illegal: with almost all legal experts in agreement that it is both a violation of international and domestic law. The western political reaction to the U.S. strikes has been almost uniform with western leaders and politicians all throwing their weight and support behind the U.S., and the mainstream media generally applauding them too.
It is within this context that Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged for a United Nations (UN) led investigation into the gas attack, so as to determine who is most likely to have been responsible for it, and then take appropriate action with the backing and agreement of the international community from there.
This is most likely because Corbyn is aware that both of the two main sides of the Syrian conflict (the Assad regime and ISIS) have previously used chemical weapons according to Human Rights Watch. Therefore without some sort of investigation, it is impossible to know exactly what has happened. Corbyn has called for a diplomatic solution to put an end to the suffering of the Syrians in what has increasingly become a desperate situation.
Corbyn essentially stands as a lone voice of sanity among the political class and in a broader sense the media itself which has paid little attention to the legality of the U.S. actions, or the possibly dire consequences of the U.S.’ haphazard approach.
Rather than discussing the important issues which Corbyn raises, the mainstream media has focused on the split that the situation has caused within the Labour Party itself. The situation illustrates how even the most serious of humanitarian crises are exploited by the mainstream media, and the right-wing of the Labour Party to discredit Corbyn and the principles of international law in general.
On the 5th of April, following the Syrian gas attack in Khan Shaykhun (south of the Syrian city of Idlib) the U.S Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley presented pictures of children killed in the attack to other western diplomats at the United Nations Security Council. It is estimated that between 50 to 80 people died in the attack.
The US, the UK, and France placed a resolution before the security council condemning the attack and asking for an investigation into it. At the time there was no call for armed action as the there was disagreement about who carried out the act.
This is because both the brutal Assad regime and the other side in the war: ISIS have previously used chemical weapons, despite the fact that the Syria government had agreed to not to use chemical weapons following another chemical attack that they allegedly carried out in 2013.
The Russians who are allied with Assad in Syria also called for an independent investigation into the incident the next day at the UN — this was rejected by the U.S., UK, and France — because the two sides could still not agree on the methods by which such an investigation would be carried out — the next day, much to everyone’s surprise the U.S. launched missiles at a Syrian army base in Idlib.
The Russians have since postured and condemned the U.S.’ actions. Russian troops were stationed at the Idlib base the U.S targeted — however, the U.S informed the Russians ahead of the strike, to tell them to evacuate the area. Yet, despite this, it is quite clear that a certain line diplomatic line has been crossed between U.S/western and Russian relations. Given the buildup and increasing tensions between the nuclear-armed Nato forces, and nuclear-armed Russian forces along the Russian border, the situation feels particularly unpredictable in nature.
The one (potentially) decent thing about the Trump presidency was the fact that he didn’t seem to be calling for war with Russia — well, let’s hope that remains the case after last Friday’s surprise attack.
The U.S attack was championed by leaders, politicians and the media in the west — despite the disregard for international law, and despite the fact the only way to ever even possibly know who is behind the attack is to have an independent investigation of some kind — not blunderbuss our way into potentially escalating conflict, and benefiting ISIS in the process.
A spokesperson for Downing Street said:
The UK government fully supports the US action, which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks.
This is precisely why Jeremy Corbyn has proven himself to (once again) be the only sane voice — calling for an investigation and for the de-escalation of tensions — within the fevered war madness.
Yet, the media has focused on the split that this has caused within the Labour Party itself, rather than the serious issues which lie behind it.
They have quoted from some of the worst members of the right-wing of the Labour Party, such as former Murdoch employee and current MP Micheal Dugher, who rather disgustingly joked about the Syrian gas attacks.
Deputy Leader Tom Watson also joined in the let’s go to war brigade — the BBC reported that Watson told the Birmingham Mail that the strikes:
appear to be a direct and proportionate response
And that and chemical attacks on civilians:
must have consequences.
This kind of disregard for diplomacy, law, and simply put: sanity would be shocking if it wasn’t for the fact we’ve become accustomed to it through the Iraq War debacle.
It feels as if the same script is being repeated by the political class. Let’s just go in and take out the dictator, don’t worry about evidence — just trust us, we need to do this on humanitarian grounds.
It is perhaps the humanitarian argument that is the most laughable of all. When Trump launched his strikes he gave a brief speech in which he said.
Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women, and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.
The “beautiful babies” have also been killed our bombs — in fact, in March this year the U.S. lead coalition (including our forces) killed more civilians in Syria than Assad, the Russians and ISIS. No doubt, babies were among 70 child victims of these attacks.
The U.S. (with our ever obedient support) is also responsible for using depleted uranium (DU), and white phosphorous in both Iraq and more recently Syria. The consequences of which are horrific, causing awful birth defects, and a huge increase in rates of cancer. The use of such weapons is also illegal under international law.
Children of Iraq born with painful deformities due to the U.S.’ use of DU and white phosphorous
Causing effects that are said to be worse those of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the U.S. after the Japanese had all but surrendered at the end of World War II.
The only hope for Syria is to somehow find a diplomatic solution — the Russians will have to be an ally in this — there’s is simply no other viable alternative at this point.
The West has previously rejected an offer by the Russians to broker a peace deal in Syria in 2012 (the beginning of the conflict) which could have seen Assad being replaced. Whether or not this was a serious offer, it still should have been investigated — the civilian death toll has is a testament to that.
Of course, the jihadist opponents of Assad such as Al-Nusra Front (al-Qaida in Syria), ISIS and the other many similar Islamic millitant groups fighting for power in the region have all been largely created, funded and supported by the west, and its allies: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, etc.
The democratic forces in the region, such as the secular Kurdish group the PKK — who have shown themselves to be quite effective at fighting ISIS, remain on the U.S. and British government’s terrorist list (although groups linked to them have been tacitly supported by the U.S.)
All of this gets largely left out of the mainstream debate. Instead, the mainstream media focuses on the split within the Labour Party, and they fail to present the reasons why the split is happening. This isn’t really a matter of objective opinion, it’s about following the law, and trying to avoid escalation of the war.
The mainstream media has failed to even talk about the legality of the U.S’ actions — this should be our starting point, instead, it doesn’t even form part of the “debate”.
President Trump, of course, marketed himself as the “law and order candidate” — not when it comes to basic, or domestic law apparently — then the law can be whatever the power elites want.
Corbyn really shows a strength here, the political wind in the west is blowing in the direction of the U.S.’ illegal actions. Even leaders who were doing the same as Corbyn just a few days ago in calling for an investigation, such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Quickly changed their minds after the strikes began — where is the call for an investigation now?
This really is a testament to the moral fiber of Corbyn — and he is right to stand by this very basic principle.
Whether or not you like Corbyn, at least we have somebody in the mainstream political discourse who isn’t afraid to the do the right thing or at least challenge the power structure.
That’s yet another reason to support Corbyn, and of course, another reason why the establishment is determined to terminate him.
The suffering of the Syrian people cannot and will not be solved by more bombs being thrown around by imperial powers — whether it be Russia or the west. It is time to stop the delusional thinking that we can bomb democracy into people whenever we feel like it. The complexities of the Middle East are barely understood by the western forces who bomb them, that’s exactly why Iraq and Afghanistan quickly descended into chaos.
After 6 years of fighting the death count from the Syrian conflict currently stands at 47,000 — of which the majority have been killed by the Assad-Russian coalition and of which 207,000 are said to be civilians, with 24,000 being children and 23,000 being women. This madness cannot go on — but we should not make things worse at the same time.
Let’s hope more leaders take notice of Corbyn — sadly I wouldn’t bank on it.
WATCH: Members of the United Nations Security Council from the international community condemn the U.S. missile strike. The UK and Germany support the attack, as do other middle eastern regimes that we consider to be our allies: Turkey, Saudi Arabia. Others from the international community, such as Bolivia were less enthusiastic….