Saturday, September 05, 2015

Jeremy Corbyn goes a tad too far, but his views on use of Armed Forces deserve respect

I am not a pacifist. That said like Jeremy Corbyn I would need persuading before unilaterally launching British troops into action. For me the key word here is "unilaterally". If Britain is required as part of a proper Alliance and with due political endorsement to be part of a military operation we should do it. The "proper Alliances" I'm thinking of here are those of the UN, NATO and - I hope - the European Union. (I would prefer the EU to be our main military association not NATO via a beefed up European Defence Force. But that is another point for another time.) If the UN launched an attack on ISIS which had been properly endorsed by the Security Council I would support Britain being part of it. The Iraq War did not have that proper endorsement and was predominately an American NeoCon initiative. I agree with Corbyn that we should apologise for having been sucked into it. It was wrong.

As far as "unilateral" action by the UK alone is concerned like Corbyn I can conceive of no circumstances under which that might be necessary. The oft-parroted cry that "something must be done" (by Britain) as another conflagration occurs in a faraway country of which we know nothing is dangerous tub-thumping. In a post-Imperial world our duty to "do something" on our own is extremely limited. The Falklands is about the only territory that it is both under threat and Britain's responsibility. However if Argentina did invade again there must be doubt as to whether on our own we have the capability to take them back. Should we nevertheless launch a death or glory mission ? I would say not. 

Where I differ from Corbyn is that I can quite envisage British troops being involved in (as I say) properly authorised allied actions. Also the troops are available and used for civil actions to deal with emergencies like floods or terrorist attacks - quite rightly.

Jeremy Corbyn has a better understanding of Britain's role in the modern world than many. There are those who see us of being capable of gun boat diplomacy as if Victoria was still on the throne. He knows we cannot be a policeman on our own - and he is right. 


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