On the Edge in Ukraine

                    “On the edge in Ukraine”

Diary of an ex-Corbyn foot soldier (March, 2022) 

Dictionary definition of “foot soldier”: “…a dedicated low level follower…” 

Michael Murray: murraymicha@gmail.com; FaceBook: Michael Murray London

(1) The politics of the last atrocity

(2)  NATO and the Ukraine

(3) Stop The War on the Left!

  1. The politics of the last atrocity

Conor Cruise O’Brien was a former Irish Labour Party Minister and, at a critical time, analogous to the present situation in the Ukraine, the UN’s man on the spot, in the early ’60sat the time of the British and other European-led attempt to engineer the mineral-rich Katangan secession from the newly independent Congo. (LINK: “To Katanga and Back,” Conor Cruise O’Brien, FaberLinks, 2011 Amazon Books)  

It was he, a decade later, as the“troubles” kicked off in Ireland, who coined the phrase “the politics of the last atrocity” to describe the politicians and media response to violence which did not address the context of the violence outwith a holistic context dealing with the origins, history and, invariably, complex implications and competing interests of, and for, all sides.  

It took a retired Us Army Colonel, Douglas MacGregor, on the Fox News Tucker Carlson Show to cut through the crap and get to the core of the Ukraine issue, all within a three minute interview:

“The first thing we have to do about it is acknowledge that Putin’s – and his government’s –  basic point which they’ve been making for 25 years is valid. 

“They don’t want US forces and missiles and NATO troops immediately across the Border in eastern Ukraine. We didn’t want them in Cuba, he doesn’t want them in eastern Ukraine. 

“We should acknowledge that and stop pretending it’s a non-issue.” 

(Link: “Biden refused to acknowledge what’s important to Putin, now he has to watch the invasion.” 23 February, 2022 Fox News)

(2) NATO and the Ukraine

“The fraught situation (Ukraine) has nothing at all to do with the rule of international law, the sovereignty of national borders or the spread of democracy. And, certainly not even remotely with any kind of threat to the safety and security of the American homeland posed by Russia.”

That is the view of David  Stockman, who had been, in turn, a two-term Michigan Congressman, Director of the Office of Management and Budget under Reagan, followed by a 20 year stint in Wall Street. 

It all goes back to late 1990s, he writes, and the winding up of the Soviet Union and its military alliance, the Warsaw Pact, when Nato, for all intents and purposes ought to have been wound up. But instead it took on itself an extended role: “..policing  the far-flung precincts of the planet, as if the cold war had not ended – and extending Washington’s hegemony to each and every vacuum left behind by the vanished Soviet Union, its former satellites, allies and vassals.

“Foremost amongst its projects was the perpetuation of Nato….. rather than its indicated dismantlement ….and this was the way out for the military industrial complex … In effect, Nato became the political marketing department for the defence industry.

“That was true with respect to weapon purchases by old Nato members, who no longer faced any serious security threat; new members from the Warsaw Pact who wanted to prove their bona fides – and the Pentagon itself which soon had twenty nine Mutual Defence obligations to plan for, when in fact it should have had zero such obligations.”

It would be remiss of Labour Affairs not to give a  flavour of the rhetoric employed at the time, and now, to dress up this endeavour. 

“(The Republican Party) is the party of peace through strength …. We believe the safety and prosperity of the American home and workplace depend upon ensuring our national security in a dangerous world….We vigorously support restoring the promotion of democracy worldwide as a cornerstone of US foreign policy. Democracy is the best guarantee of peace and will ensure greater respect for fundamental human rights and the rule of law.  

As Stockman says:“It was as if Nato was some enlightened instrument of spreading democracy when, in fact, it was an excuse for rekindling a global arms spending spree.”  

And spending spree it was – and remains, as Stockman’ s  article, reference below, shows.

The combined “Defence” spending across Nato membership in 2020 was $1.027 Trillion. $310 billion comprises the non-US Nato members’ share, which rose from $277 Billion in 2017 – the year Trump entered office. 

Having begun as a Nato-sceptic he soon changed his tune when the Military Industrial Complex protection racket had a word in his ear and he began to hassle member states to commit to even higher levels of expenditure. The accession of Montenegro and North Macedonia, bringing the total membership to 30, added to the take.  

And the US-Europe transatlantic partnership makes no bones about which partner is on top:

“Europe’s security is indispensable to the security of the Us.” adding: “American leadership is absolutely indispensable to the security of Europe.”  

The Military Industrial Complex, says Stockman,  has been taken over, lock, stock and barrel, by war-mongering neocons. And the implications for the Ukraine? 

“As per the current, red hot confrontation on the so-called “contact” line in the breakaway Donbas republics, it might be supposed that Vlad Putin is not the paranoid aggressor he’s cracked up to be.

“After all, who is the $1.027 Trillion of combined NATO spending directed against other than Russia?”   

(Link: “George Kennan Warned Nato Expansion would lead to this,”  David  Stockman, 22 February, 2022  antiwar.com)

(3) Stop The War on the Left!

Stop The War (STW) was founded in 2001 in response to the US-led clamour for an open-ended “war on terror” following the“9/11”  atrocities. It’s part of a long tradition of labour based peace movements, as old as the party itself.

Its online Home Page says it opposes “the British establishment’s disastrous addiction to war and its squandering of public resources on militarism.”  With regard to the present conflict it has called for the withdrawal of Russian troops and an immediate ceasefire. 

It also said:“We refute the idea that NATO is a defensive alliance, and believe its record in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and Libya over the last generation, not to mention the US-British attack on Iraq clearly proves otherwise.” 

And, more pointedly: “Nato,” it says, “should call a halt to its eastern expansion and commit to a new security deal for Europe which meets the needs of all states and peoples.”

There’s plenty of room within Labour’s “Broad Church,” for those anti-war sentiments you’d be forgiven for thinking.  

But you’d be wrong. The Labour Party acted immediately to threaten with the withdrawal of the Labour whip the eleven Labour MPs who’d put their signatures to an STW leaflet, ordering them to withdraw their names. 

The measured and responsible position of  STW is in line with the most progressive thinking on the conflict from within the US Establishment itself, as reported above, and globally, as evidenced in the position being taken by the majority of the world’s population, excluding the developed “West.”  

In the Labour Party itself – even in the heated debates about the planned Iraq invasion – the likes never happened. 

Keir Starmer chose to depict the STW statement as a veritable treasonable act. The STW, he asserted, did not represent a benign voice for peace: 

“At best they are naive, at worst they actively give succour to authoritarian leaders who directly threaten democracies. 

“There is nothing progressive in showing solidarity with the aggressor when our allies need our solidarity and – crucially – our practical assistance now more than ever.”

Starmer claiming the STW is “showing solidarity” with Russia’s actions in Ukraine is outrageously disingenuous, as a cursory look at the offending statement will confirm.

And there’more:  “The small number of Labour MPs that signed the STW statement have all now withdrawn their names,” an official Labour statement has said,

“This shows Labour is under new management. With Keir Starmer’s leadership there will never be any confusion about whose side Labour is on – Britain, Nato, freedom and democracy – and every Labour MP now understands that.”

When the Labour Party’s youth section expressed solidarity with the STW, Labour Youth’s committee, an elected body which believed it had some degree of autonomy within the Party, according to the Rulebook, found it had had its tweet account confiscated and annual conference unceremoniously cancelled.  

Neither of the above actions have gone down well with Labour activists. The abject response of the MPs to their humiliating treatment by the leadership has left many flabbergasted. After all, these are the people, from their leadership position in the parliamentary social campaign group, who appeal to under pressure party members to stay and fight back. Some fight they’re putting up!

In the process they’ve hung out to dry the other MP signatories who haven’t withdrawn their names: Claudia Webb – and Jeremy Corbyn, from whom the Labour whip continues to be wrongfully withheld, (Link: December Labour Affairs Jeremy Corbyn banished as Labour MP – one year on

By the same token, they’ve hung us out to dry too: the members; and, particularly, members and supporters of Stop The War. 

We learn in the Huffington Post that though Starmer’s  immediate audience was the Parliamentary Labour Party, he went on to say: “any member who attacked the organisation (ie NATO) would have their Labour Party membership (my emphasis,MMscrapped.” (Huffington Post, “Labour MPs who attack NATO will be kicked out of the Party, says Keir Starmer“ – a headline replicated across the British press, 28 February, 2022.) 

No prizes for guessing which “member” is number one in Starmer’s sights. 

The false and unsubstantiated ‘antisemitic’ smear having done its job of sidelining Corbyn and Corbynism within Labour, stand by for the  final act in the Labour Party-Corbyn drama: the “coup de grâce” under the convenient cover of the fog of war. 

But we’ll always have Windsor in June and the knighting of Tony Blair, instigator of another illegal invasion of a sovereign country resulting in the death, wounding and displacement of millions.

Why do I say “illegal”?  Because Keir Starmer, at his most forensic, said so when he argued: “Flawed advice does not make the unlawful use of force lawful.” (Keir Starmer:“Sorry Mr Blair, but 1441 does not authorise force.” Guardian, 17 March, 2003)

But that was then, when he was above “the politics of the last atrocity” – and this is now.  

You can be sure the RSVP is in the post. And it will be Putin that Labour clamours to send to the Hague to be tried as a war criminal – not Tony Blair.

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