Cameron’s War

THE TORY government is poised to enter the fray in Syria this week following David Cameron’s victory in parliament with the support of 66 Blairite Labour MPs and the venal Liberal Democrats. Seven Tory MPs took the principled stand and opposed the war motion and another seven abstained. Their number would probably have been greater had not the Labour leader made the vote a forgone conclusion by bowing to Blairite pressure and allowing a free vote on Cameron’s proposals to bomb Syria.

The majority of Labour MPs stood by Jeremy Corbyn and the vast majority of the working class, who are opposed to any further British military interventions in the Middle East. After the vote Corbyn said: ”The fact of the matter is, David Cameron’s case was not convincing, lacking either credible ground troops or a plan for a diplomatic settlement. Since he first made his case for airstrikes in Syria, last Thursday, opposition has mounted; in the country, in parliament and in the Labour Party.

“It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Prime Minister realised opposition to his ill thought-out rush to war was growing — and he needed to hold the vote before it slipped from his hands. I have argued, and will continue to do so, that we should re-double our efforts to secure a diplomatic and political end to the conflict in Syria. British service men and women will now be in harm’s way and the loss of innocent lives is sadly almost inevitable.”

Nevertheless, Corbyn’s decision to give his MPs a free vote rather than imposing a three-line whip gave Cameron a free hand to play the war-lord and pose as a statesman in the international arena. If past experience is anything to go by this Syrian gambit will all end in tears. Riding on the coat-tails of US imperialism is a dangerous and costly game. Blair tried it in Iraq and Cameron’s previous Coalition did it in Libya, and we all know what happened then.

Cameron conjures up 70,000 strong “moderate” Syrian rebels, ready to fight ISIS as well as Assad, that only exist in his imagination; while Hilary Benn on the Labour turn-coat side compares ISIS with Hitler’s Nazis and Mussolini’s fascists without saying anything about Turkish and US aid nor the immense support of the feudal Arab princes of oil that largely made ISIS possible in the first place.

The Prime Minister, of course, knows all this. What Cameron doesn’t reveal are the real motives in sending the RAF into Syria.

The first is to restore British imperialism’s prestige amongst its Nato allies and to ensure that Britain gets a seat at the international peace conference that will eventually be called to end the fighting in Syria.

The second is to impress on Britain’s Arab allies — the feudal tyrants in Saudi Arabia and Qatar — that they can rely on British imperialism to support anything they do as long as they keep the big oil corporations happy. The RAF Tornados are equipped with Brimstone missiles, one of the few things we still make in Britain. The Saudis have already bought some and doubtless they can be persuaded to buy some more when they see what the RAF can do in Syria.

But what can the RAF do? For over a year the Americans and French have been bombing selected ISIS positions in Syria and Iraq with little or no effect. ISIS has retained its grip over parts of eastern Syria and much of central Iraq, including many of its oil-fields, regardless. Many believe that is because US imperialism doesn’t want to destroy ISIS but only cut them down to size because it’s the Assad government Washington wants out — not ISIS nor the other reactionary terror gangs the Americans have covertly supported over the past four years.

At the end of the day a handful of clapped out old RAF Tornados isn’t going to make a ha’pence worth of difference in the struggle to defeat the “Islamic State” in Syria. That job is being done by the Russian air force and the Syrian Arab Army that fights for President Assad’s elected and legitimate popular front government in Damascus.