The Daily Smackdown: Jeremy Corbyn’s Anti-Americanism

Instead of calling for a more “independent” foreign policy, Jeremy Corbyn should simply admit that he hates America and wants Britain to sever links with our closest ally

Jeremy Corbyn took to Facebook over the weekend to demand that Britain chart a new, more “independent” foreign policy.

This came off the back of a speech that Corbyn had wanted to deliver last week blasting Britain’s close alliance with America, but was forced to postpone because of the Paris terror attacks.

Corbyn finally gave the speech he was itching to give at the Labour Party’s South West Region conference in Bristol, where he said:

The third pillar of our vision for Britain is a different kind of foreign policy – based on a new and more independent relationship with the rest of the world. A relationship where war is a last resort.

For the past 14 years, Britain has been at the centre of a succession of disastrous wars that have brought devastation to large parts of the wider Middle East. They have increased, not diminished, the threats to our own national security.

Few would now seriously argue that Western interventions in Iraq and Libya did anything other than deplete our resources and further inflame the region. But Corbyn’s professed desire for a “more independent relationship with the rest of the world” is pure nonsense.

Jeremy Corbyn does not want Britain to pursue a more “independent” foreign policy. He is simply unhappy with our existing foreign policy and allegiances – where Britain recognises the many shared mutual interests we have with the Anglosphere and other Western powers, and seeks to build on those natural alliances which inevitably form where there is such a close fit of culture, history and legal systems.

If Jeremy Corbyn really wanted Britain to pursue a truly independent foreign policy, his first act as Labour leader would not have been to cravenly roll over and submit to the rabid europhiles within his party, who insisted that he follow their lead and slavishly promise to campaign for Britain to stay in the European Union come what may.

This decision is all the more surprising given Corbyn’s subsequent willingness to enrage his own backbenchers – and even his shadow cabinet – on almost every other question, from air strikes on Syria to hiring controversial and divisive staff and flip-flopping on George Osborne’s fiscal charter. Clearly Jeremy Corbyn is happy walk his own path on nearly every policy other than the pressing question of Britain’s future sovereignty.

How can Corbyn claim to want Britain to pursue an “independent” foreign policy when he has committed Britain to remaining in the EU and being part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy? How can Britain claim to be an independent diplomatic force when the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, is more active and visible on the world stage than our own Foreign Secretary?

You can argue the rights and wrongs of whether Britain should pool so much of our diplomatic clout into a single European voice – over which we exert only 1/28th of the influence. But the one thing you absolutely cannot do with a straight face is to call the resulting foreign policy an independent one.

But of course Corbyn does not really want Britain to pursue a truly independent foreign policy. What he really means by this dog-whistle to Stop the War types and extremism sympathisers is that he wants Britain to specifically forsake the United States of America, and cease our friendship and co-operation with our closest ally in the world.

Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t look at the special relationship between Britain and America and see an unparalleled alliance which spilled blood and treasure in defence of democracy twice in the last century, and whose embrace of the free market has pointed the way for other nations around the world to achieve prosperity.

No, Jeremy Corbyn looks at the special relationship and sees Britain yoked against her will to the Great Satan – an awful, dystopian, capitalist war machine, economically and militarily subjugating the countries which Corbyn would much rather call his friends. He sees no good in the United States because his “friends” in Hamas, Stop the War and the far Left in general spend every waking hour ranting about just how evil and immoral America is.

Yet on Europe, Corbyn is firm: Britain should remain a member of this relentlessly tightening political union come what may – regardless of David Cameron’s cosmetic renegotiation, and regardless of the direction the EU is heading in the future. The Labour leader succumbs to the same negative, pessimistic view of Britain’s capabilities and international stature as the other europhiles, believing that Britain is too pathetic and ineffectual to do what Australia and Canada manage to do every day – engage with the world as an independent nation.

Jeremy Corbyn’s foreign policy simultaneously views Britain as being so weak and pathetic that our only pathway to influence on the world stage is to have the same sliver of influence over a common European Union foreign policy as tiny Malta or Slovenia, but also so potentially dangerous to the world that we must terminate the one alliance which has been the bedrock of our foreign policy since the second world war.

It is a risible, childlike worldview – one which would be funny if only a Corbyn premiership would not see Britain giving moral and tangible succour to some of the most odious regimes in the world.

Corbyn is right to point out our own moral failures in foreign policy, such as our close partnership with the brutal Saudi regime, working closely with that dictatorship in exchange for scraps of intelligence about the various terror plots that they are themselves funding and encouraging. But he undermines his own point by letting his actions and statements imply that there is any moral equivalence between regimes like Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Or as Nick Cohen put it in this week’s Spectator:

Corbyn, along with too much of ‘progressive opinion’, has a mistrust bordering on hatred for western powers. They do not just condemn the West for its crimes, which are frequent enough. They are ‘Occidentalists’, to use the jargon: people who see the West as the ‘root cause’ of all evil.

Their ideology is in turn genuinely rootless. They have no feeling for the best traditions of their country, and their commitments to the victims of foreign oppression are shallow and insincere. They rightly condemn western support for Saudi Arabia. But if the Saudis were to become the West’s enemy tomorrow, their opposition would vanish like dew in the morning sun.

Before concluding:

Jeremy Corbyn and the left he comes from cannot campaign for office by saying what they really think or they would horrify the bulk of the population. They say enough to keep their ‘base’ happy, and then dodge and twist when they speak to the rest of us. Far from being authentic, Jeremy Corbyn is one of the most dishonest politicians you will see in your lifetime.

If Jeremy Corbyn wants to be taken seriously as a straight-talking, honest politician he should admit that he has absolutely no desire for Britain to pursue an independent foreign policy – or an independent anything else, for that matter – and that all of this posturing is just his way of signalling to a certain audience that he disapproves of one country in particular.

Jeremy Corbyn: Anti-Austerity, Anti-America.

That’s a campaign slogan people might actually believe.

Jeremy Corbyn - Stop the War - Anti American

Further reading:

The anti man

The threat of Jeremy Corbyn’s radically anti-American agenda

Jeremy Corbyn isn’t anti-war. He’s just anti-West

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Seumas Milne Bashes America

seumasmilne

Seumas Milne rides to battle against the United States

It must be a slow news day, because Seumas Milne has taken to his Guardian column to denounce the presence of US military bases on British soil. You might think that resuscitating a dusty old left-wing fall-back piece like this might at least warrant some new angle on the story, or at least be based on some recent newsworthy transgression by the American military that we host here. You might think so, but you would be disappointed. Milne apparently just got out of bed feeling vaguely smug and anti-American, and decided to repeat the same predictable talking points, namely:

1. They came to help fight Nazi Germany in 1942 and the war ended a long time ago, so what can they possibly still be doing here?

2. America has dragged us into unnecessary and failed wars (Iraq was clearly a calamitous mistake, but why this warrants booting 10,000 US servicemen from our shores is never explained by Milne, unless it is supposed to simply be an act of vengeance) but we can absolve ourselves of these sins by closing down their bases here.

3. The British security elite are desperate to maintain a lopsided special relationship with the US, and only tolerate their bases on our soil as the price of achieving this goal.

4. Being so chummy with the Americans makes us less safe. Rather than being proud of our alliance with a country that symbolises democracy and individual freedom (however self-tarnished this image is becoming as a result of the unconstitutional activities of their national security complex), we should actively disown them to curry favour with fundamentalist theocracies who foment terrorism.

The column is not worth quoting at length, but here is an excerpt:

But whose interests are actually served by such a role? No doubt arms contractors are delighted, but it’s hard to argue that it benefits the British people – let alone those on the receiving end of the US and British military. Politicians and securocrats claim it gives them influence over US policy, but they struggle to produce the evidence on the rare occasions they’re asked to explain how. “The foreign policy elite still have a strong idea,” as the Chatham House analyst James de Waal puts it, that intervention based on “values” is an “innate part of what the UK is all about”. In fact, what successive governments have done is mortgaged Britain’s security and independence to a foreign power – and placed its armed forces, territory and weaponry at the disposal of a system of global domination and privilege, now clearly past its peak.

Milne wonders what the Americans would think if we had a military base on their home soil. Aside from the fact that British officers and military personnel routinely serve alongside their American counterparts both at home and in the field, I think that the Americans would be only too happy to see British military spending increased to such a level where we could afford more overseasbases (though whether this itself would be desirable is another matter). The reason for the lack of RAF bases in North Dakota is not that the British are the victims of some one-sided game in which the US gets to play and we have to sit on the sidelines, but everything to do with the fact that we choose to deprioritise defence in sacrifice for other goals, and all the other things that our caring government does for us. And look how that’s working out.

But this is where Milne really reveals his argument for what it is:

Britain’s fake patriots who bleat about the power of the European Commission are more than happy to subordinate the country’s foreign policy to the Pentagon and allow its forces permanent bases on British soil.

Firstly, our foreign policy clearly is not subordinate to the whims of the Pentagon, as the British parliamentary vote against taking military action in Syria made abundantly clear. Try as he might to build a convincing narrative of the British being led by the nose, two conflicts (Afghanistan and Iraq) over thirteen years are not enough to establish the damaging precedent that he wants to portray.

And secondly, I strenuously object to being labelled a fake patriot by Milne, but so bankrupt is his argument that insults are likely the only weapon left in his arsenal. Fake in relation to what, Milne’s more enlightened, cerebral left-wing patriotism? What Milne carefully chooses not to see is the fact that British government policy and the day-to-day experience of British life are influenced far more by the goings-on in the corrupt, undemocratic European Commission than they are by the garrisons of American military personnel on our soil – troops, incidentally, who are there to underwrite our common security objectives. If anything, it is an indictment of the European Union that Milne slavishly and unquestioningly adores that they punch more weight in this country by undemocratic diktat than do the “hostile American occupiers” against whom he childishly rages.

I’m sure that Milne thinks himself terribly persuasive in his closing paragraph:

But the withdrawal of British troops from Germany and this year’s planned renewal of the US-British defence agreement offer a chance to have a real debate on the US military relationship – and demand some transparency and accountability in the process. There is no case for maintaining foreign military bases to defend the country against a non-existent enemy. They should be closed. Instead of a craven “partnership” with a still powerful, but declining empire, Britain could start to have an independent relationship with the rest of the world.

But why should these two things be mutually exclusive? In Milne’s crazed imagination, the fact that we enjoy such a close alliance with a great country like America is shutting us off from good relations with other countries, or, as he puts it, having an “independent relationship with the rest of the world. This would probably come as a great surprise to the British ambassadors representing our country in foreign capitals across the globe, and to everyone working at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London toward the same ends. Exactly what relationship with the rest of the world does Milne think we are missing out on by failing to snub and humiliate our closest ally in the way that he proposes? Which are the countries in whose bad graces we currently dwell, who will suddenly warm to us if we send the Americans packing? North Korea? Venezuela? Iran?

I propose to Seumas Milne that he is trying to make an argument in reverse. He is clearly upset about British-American military cooperation and about our alliance in general. He would doubtless prefer to see us much closer to Europe, and have us actively working to further undermine American hegemony. But the American military bases and other visible manifestations of our close alliance are not a cause but an effect. In the case of Britain and America, an alliance such as ours is what you inevitably see when two countries, one larger and one smaller, have so much in common in terms of culture, economic ties and global interests. If Milne wants the US bases to close, he is making the wrong argument. Rather than bleating about Iraq and Afghanistan, he needs to begin convincing us that we are a different country than the one we think we are.

I don’t fancy his chances.