Sunday, September 13, 2015

Corbyn and the pacifists

(23 Aug) One interesting snippet regarding Jeremy Corbyn, who has become the leading contender for leadership of the UK Labour party (1), from the FT: "Born in Britain's West Country to idealistic parents – peace activists who met campaigning for an end to the Spanish civil war" (2). That raises an interesting question: how could the Spanish Civil War have ended earlier? By those who were fighting on the Republican side surrendering? It was not as if the fighters could simply lay down their arms and be "forgiven" by the dictatorship (forgiven that is for fighting in defence of a government that, for all its flaws, was democratically elected) and return to normal life. After the fascists captured Badajoz, men with rifle recoil marks on their shoulders were sought out for execution (3). 

In the last 5 years, a similar situation existed in Libya and still exists in Syria. In Libya in 2011, for example, some western journalists were detained and held where they could hear the sounds of captured opposition fighters being tortured by the Gaddafi regime. They knew what they were fighting against and that they had little option other than to continue. 

To return to Jeremy Corbyn, he has been criticised for sharing a platform with Hamas and Hezbollah, though he claims not to share their aims. Another leadership candidate says Corbyn was opposed to Poland joining NATO and he wants Britain to leave NATO. And of course he is against Trident, Britain's nuclear deterrent. The Times in its leader, 22 Aug ("Wrong again"), says that Corbyn opposed not only the invasion of Iraq under George W. Bush in 2003, but also the intervention in Kosovo under Bill Clinton. There is another point that Corbyn has made, regarding Syria and Iran, but that requires a more detailed response.

(1) Corbyn has gained the support of the biggest Trades Unions, who seem to believe, following Labour's poor (disastrous in Scotland) performance in the May election, that having a clear-cut radical candidate is the best way forward. What should be remembered, though, is that, in the 2010 leadership contest, Ed Miliband adopted a position that was seen as more left-wing and thereby gained the support of the unions, enabling him to defeat his brother David, who was a far more credible Prime Ministerial candidate. 

(2) 'The far-left outsider leading the field', George Parker, Financial Times, 1 Aug 2015.

(3) Beevor, p148; See also ; Jay Allen's report in the Chigaco Tribune, 30 Aug 1936. After the fall of Barcelona in January 1939, as many as 10,000 people are said to have been killed. Mussolini ordered that all Italians in the Republican army who were captured should be shot immediately" (Beevor, p367). After the "end of the war", it is estimated that the figure for executions and political killing up until 1943 was nearly 200,000 ( p390, Ch XXIX: "The Fate of the Defeated ..", Antony Beevor, The Spanish Civil War, 1982, Cassell Paperback, 1999). 
Update 12 Sep
(11:40) Corbyn wins (BBC R4).  

More details are coming out: Corbyn founded the Stop the war coalition in 2001 ahead of Afghanistan. The Argentinian president has congratulated him, since he would like to open negotiations on the Falkland / Malvinas Islands. Corbyn  is seen embracing Hugo Chavez in archive footage shown on BBC News.  

Earlier, The Times, unearthed various columns Corbyn wrote in the Morning Star: for example, he takes the view that NATO "is trying to find a role for itself". 

(23:20) The Morning Star is to publish a Sunday edition for the first time. The editor of the Morning Star:, described as a "left-wing paper" (formerly known as the mouthpiece of the British Communist Party), is featured on the BBC News24 review of the press.

Published 13 Sep 2015