Michael Rosen, great children’s author, supporter of Stop the War even though he wishes to deny it, and former candidate for RESPECT, the party of George Galloway, who called Saddam Hussein ‘indefatigable’, posted 5 interesting questions tonight. Rather in the style of the conspiracist who asks questions (to which the answer is always ‘No’), he sought to affirm the Christ-like purity of Jeremy Corbyn’s integrity and ability to save lives. It’s part of the ‘always-on-the-right-side-of-history’ narrative. The problem is that one needs to look at the facts. These were my responses.
Rosen: How many lives lost because of who Corbyn met?
Me: Question 1 is almost impossible to answer but it is unlikely that it would have been less than it otherwise would have been because we have no record of JC ever brokering a peace.
Jeremy Corbyn, founder of Stop the War. Photo courtesy The Independent.
Rosen: How many lives lost from wars started or supported by the Tories?
Question 2. Let’s start at 1991, the Iraq War 1 which JC opposed. It is difficult to estimate how many Kuwaitis would have died had Saddam been allowed to annex the country. Based on his previous war and genocide records it would have been some large percentage of Kuwait’s 2 million population.
1999 Kosovo intervention, which JC opposed, stopped the genocide. 1.8 million lived in the area.
2000, Sierra Leone, which JC again opposed saved that country of 4 million from further civil war. Figures on how many lives were saved are hard to come by.
2001 Afghanistan which JC opposed. Had his advice been taken, the Taliban would still rule the country and AQ would have had a secure base from which to grow, train operatives, launder money and organize world-wide terrorist attacks in complete security.
2003 Iraq. Violent death figures are disputed between 100,000 and the high and generally disregarded estimates of 1 million. The war itself was very short and relatively low in death figures. The insurgency, organised by ex-Ba’athists and the precursor group to IS, then loosely linked to AQ, was the cause of the brutality which followed: Pilger said that western leftists had ‘no choice’ but to support the insurgency. The population of Iraq in 2003 was 26 million: today it is around 34 million. So, many more Iraqis are alive, highly likely because better conditions have been created in which Iraqis can live. The size of the diaspora pre-2003 would account for only half the rise in population. Violent deaths pre-2003 outnumber by an order of magnitude those after 2003.
2011 Libya I don’t have figures.
2013 Syria. JC opposed the no-fly zone suggestion for safe areas for civilians. Assad has since killed his own people in the hundreds of thousands. Exact numbers again are difficult in the fog of war. Ca. 500,000 is often quoted but the methodologically conservative SNHR numbers about 200,000. This is not to mention the internally and externally displaced who number ca. 10 million. It is highly likely that the no-fly zones would have saved Syrian lives, cowed Assad and deterred Iran and Russia from helping Assad and his Chemical Weapons and bombing of medical facilities campaigns. JC repeats the mantra of calling for ‘talks’, yet he knows that whenever Assad and Putin agree to them, there are spikes in Assadist violence and killing of the population. JC deliberately obfuscates this recurring fact.
Homs, ‘capital’ of the Syrian revolution: not CGI but obliterated by Assad. Photo courtesy BBC.
Rosen: And Corbyn is the one who is supposedly ‘dangerous’?
On question 3 given that record, yes, there are thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands and more who would not exist if JC had been the decision-maker.
Rosen: How many dictators or terrorists have the Tories one moment been against, the next moment been for, the next moment against again! (sic)
On question 4, I can’t think off-hand of 1 terrorist group which the Tories have supported, although I am happy to be proved wrong. Repulsive régimes, yes. Yet instead of grandstanding in such a morally easy way about how revolting, say, KSA is, one does have to conduct a rational, informed discussion about the implications of withdrawing arms sales. Who would KSA go to for their arms? China, Russia, USA, France, Italy? What would be the foreign policy and balance of power implications, as well as those for the UK in terms of jobs and energy security?
Rosen: And Corbyn is the one who is supposedly dangerous?
On question 5 it is not fake news to describe JC as a fellow traveller with the IRA, a shill for Iran and a man who equates the murder of 3,000 people with the lack of a trial for Osama bin Laden. He does not, or pretends not to, understand the degrees in a moral compass. Nor does he comprehend that intention with regard to action tells us what we need to know about the actor. It is an awful fact that in the world bad people will continue to do appalling things if you leave them be. And their intention will be to continue killing because, weak as their polity is, that’s what they’re good at. Sometimes terrible things have to be done to them in order to stop them, but also in order to produce a better society. It’s a simple fact that the replacement of Assad with, say, Emmanuel Macron as President of Syria would immediately lead to better outcomes for Syria. Methods and intentions matter: JC always obfuscates them.’
I could have been harsher. I could have pointed out that JC always considers who has been murdered before determining his political response to it. But that would have been blindingly obvious. Perhaps I should have. If you have the misfortune to be tortured, killed or a member of a genocided group which is tortured, killed or genocided by a client of the Soviet Union, Russia, an Islamist or anybody vaguely anti-democratic, you are not worthy of effective support. It’s a pattern of behaviour and it’s as simple as that.
If a man, even before he obtains state power, is capable of thinking that, then he is capable of thinking anything. And that is why I cannot, and I hope you should not, support Jeremy Corbyn.