Monthly Archives: August 2013

Srebrenica, Halabja and Syria today?

I feel very concerned about what is considered to be the ‘lefts’ view, or the ‘anti-war’ view on Syria.

The Stop the War movement, in particular, was stained with its association with people such as Galloway, who was a friend of Saddam and who still proclaims his friendship with Assad. In spite of my reservations about the leadership of the Stop the War campaign, I was very active in opposition to the invasion of Iraq. But what is happening in Syria is not a simple repetition of Iraq.

After the shameful invasion of Iraq in particular, but on every occasion, it is right that we are sceptical, even cynical, about what we are told by those who advocate war. And we should be aware of the undemocratic nature of all armies – their records of atrocities, secrecy, dishonesty and lack of democratic accountability.

However, I feel a lot of the ‘Hands Off Syria’ agitation is, however, motivated by narrow nationalist considerations. There is little mention of Assad’s war on his own people and what could or should be done about it. Socialists cannot allow themselves to be seen as only concerned about British interests as the ‘anti-war’ UKIP are. The more that we argue, as we should, that imperialist oil interests and arms manufacturers should get their ‘Hands Off’ Syria, the stronger we should also call for the international workers and socialist movement to put their ‘Hands On’ – in support of the Syrian people.

In Beeston North Labour Party next week, we will be discussing the situation in Syria. This is my contribution to that debate based on a somewhat long earlier Facebook ‘status update’


How many of us remember Srebrenica – when Mladic commanding the Bosnian Serb militias massacred 8,000 in a concentration camp in 1995, while a UN Dutch ‘peace-keeping’ force watched and did nothing? I can’t help feeling as we watch what is happening in Syria that this could be another Srebenica moment.

It could be a Halabja moment as well, when a similar act of mass murder using chemical weapons was committed on over 3,000 Iraqi Kurds. That act was pretty much ignored by the West because it was carried out by someone who was considered to be an ally at that time, Saddam Hussain.

The UK are doing nothing in response to the gas attack in Syria. We don’t know what the US will do. We have to be aware of the history of US interventions – in Iraq, Vietnam, and many, many other countries. We can have no trust or confidence that the material interests of the oil companies and other imperialist considerations won’t determine the nature of their intervention – particularly if military action is sustained and less in the public eye. There have been many examples in previous interventions that show the inherent brutality and racism of the US army: atrocities in Vietnam like Mi Lai; in Iraq at Falujah and Abu Graib.

It is crazy that there appears to be no military force on Earth that can be trusted to go to the assistance of the people of Syria. It is crazy but true. Continue reading