Category: UK
Communist Party champions Corbyn’s Labour, says it won’t stand election candidates

Communist Party champions Corbyn’s Labour, says it won’t stand election candidates
The Communist Party of Britain (CP) has confirmed it will not stand its own candidates in the general election, telling its supporters to get behind Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign.

The Marxist-Leninist group also called on “all leftwingers” to vote for Labour on June 8.

“In every general election since the formation of the CP in 1920, we have stood our own candidates, not least in 2015 when we fielded nine,” said the party’s general secretary, Robert Griffiths, in an open letter published in the Morning Star.

“Now, on this occasion, we will not contest any seats, although this does not signal any withdrawal from the electoral arena in the future.”

Speaking to RT, Griffiths highlighted that these were “extra-ordinary conditions.”

“The Labour Party has its most left-wing leadership in modern history and is under attack from all sides for putting forward policies that are in the interest of working class people,” he added.

While the far-left group is backing a potential Labour government, Griffiths and his fellow members were not so keen on the much-discussed ‘progressive alliance’ between Corbyn and the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Greens.

“This is why a clear and unambiguous call for a Labour vote everywhere is so essential, rather than muddying the water with frivolous chatter about a ‘progressive alliance’ with the pro-EU, free-market fundamentalists of the Green, Liberal Democrats, SNP and Plaid Cymru parties,” Griffiths told RT.

The conservative press took interest in the story, including former UK Independence Party (UKIP) sponsor Arron Banks’ website, Westmonster. The journalists at the “anti-Establishment news” outlet might have to brush up on their politics knowledge, however, after branding CP members “hard-left trots.” The Communist Party of Britain is a Marxist-Leninist organization, its politics lying closer to those of Joseph Stalin than Leon Trotsky.

US Syria Airstrike Like Alice in Wonderland, ‘First the Verdict, Then the Facts’
President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, April 6, 2017, after the U.S. fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria Thursday night in retaliation for this week's gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians.

US Syria Airstrike Like Alice in Wonderland, ‘First the Verdict, Then the Facts’

© AP Photo/ Alex Brandon
Middle East

Get short URL
Nikolai Gorshkov

In a serious setback to the promise of an impending peace process in Syria the United States have hit a Syrian airbase alleged to have carried out a chemical attack on a rebel held town, without any proper investigation of the incident.

Only a day before the US strike, international donors in Brussels, as well as Syrian and Western politicians and experts in London were discussing ways of helping Syria to kick-start reconciliation and reconstruction.In a suspicious coincidence, an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria killed dozens and injured many more people.

The US reaction was exactly what participants in the London conference on Syria were warning against.

Baroness Caroline Cox, an independent member of the House of Lords:

“There’s a lot of questions about allegations of the use of chemical weapons, a lot of queries about who really was responsible, how it happened, and it seems that the British government and international media — at least in the West — have immediately cast the blame where they choose to cast the blame, rather than waiting for an independent investigation, which will be the right thing to do.”

Former US Congressman Dennis Kucinich could not help but compare the US reaction to Alice in Wonderland:

“There is a scene where there is a judgement taking place and someone shouts out: ‘first the verdict, then the facts!’ And this is what’s happening right now — the verdict is being rendered without an inquiry, without any effort to find out what the facts are. It’s very suspicious,” Mr. Kucinich said.

“Syria and every country is entitled to the presumptions under international law, which mean that they are entitled to a day in court without the rough judgement of military power, which paradoxically would kill more Syrians because of an event that killed Syrians.”

To the former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, the real scandal is that:

“…the British government no longer appears to care about terrorist groups holding stocks of chemical weapons like sarin. We don’t know for sure, but it seems quite possible that the reason for the explosion was that a chemical weapons dump was bombed by the Syrian Air Force, but these dangerous chemicals [are] being held by jihadi groups. This is at least as likely, in fact, I think more likely an explanation than the claim that the Syrian Air Force bombed with chemical weapons.

“If this is true than it’s an absolute scandal that the British government is excusing the possession by al-Qaeda-related groups of sarin! Not long ago the British government claimed that it was a top priority to prevent sarin and similar products falling into the hands of terrorist groups! And yet here we have the British government excusing their possession and trying to shift the blame onto others. This is the real scandal.”

Baroness Cox has raised her concerns before Parliament, looking at “the British government’s support for the so-called rebel opposition groups, many with Islamist or ISIS [Daesh] related ideologies.”

“These issues need to be raised, discussed, recognized and addressed,” she said.

Dennis Kucinich pointed out that US action in Syria is a violation of international law.

“Any strike upon Syria would compound that and would violate the UN Charter and the Annexes that do not provide for any excuse for aggressive warfare. In addition to that, the Congress of the United States has not authorized any military action. In fact, the President cannot establish that Syria is a threat to national security of the United States,” Mr. Kucinich said.

“I am hopeful that interlocutors between the United States and Russia will find a way to deflect the aggressive intent of what the President said, and will be able to provide a vehicle through international law and through the international justice process by which President Trump can communicate his displeasure. I think it would be far more appropriate to use available international fora, including the world court, to send a message, than to send a message through a military strike.”

Former Ambassador Ford warned against applying double standards in such situations:

“We do know that in Mosul on the 17th of March, the Americans bombed a house where there were approximately 200 civilians. This is documented — this is not a claim. Even the Americans accept that their planes were operating in this area. And yet this is just shrugged off: “oh, this is just collateral damage,” and no one calls for investigation there. Well, I say there should be investigation into both Idlib and at the same time, into the Mosul bombing of 17th March, when an even greater number of people were killed.”

Dr. Marcus Papadopoulos, editor of Politics First, believes that without listening to the Syrian government’s side of the story, we won’t get a complete picture.

“The conflict in Syria is not black and white as is being projected by the British government; it is a lot more complicated than that,” Dr. Papadopoulos said.

“Coverage of the Syrian government by the British press has been very negative but if you read comments sections of British online publications, you’ll see that the British people are not as susceptible to being brainwashed by their media and by their government as they were in previous years. For example, during the wars in Yugoslavia and leading up to Iraq. I think the British people are a little bit more aware now that their media and government are more than capable of lying to them and lying to them on a huge level.”

The tide is turning, said Ambassador Ford and Western powers can only delay the inevitable.

“The trajectory of the conflict over the last five years shows that the Syrian government and its allies are gradually getting on top of the foreign backed rebels, mercenaries, and I expect that this will continue whatever the British government, whatever the American government tries to do to put spokes in the wheel.”

Tears of a Clown Over Syrian Deaths
(Front row L-R) Denmark's Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen, Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, Switzerland's Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Than and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah pose along with other delegates for a group photo during a conference on Syria and the region at the Europa Building in Brussels on April 5, 2016

Tears of a Clown Over Syrian Deaths


Get short URL
Finian Cunningham

Boris Johnson, Britain’s foreign secretary, likes to clown around, even by his own admission. So much so, it seems, that when news emerged last week of an alleged massacre of children choking from chemical weapons in Syria, Johnson was still up for jolly-good fun.

Take a look at the above picture again. This was taken at a summit in Brussels last week when some 70 nations assembled in the Belgian capital pledging financial aid for war-torn Syria. Britain’s top diplomat Boris Johnson was central to the proceedings.

On the very same day, it emerged from Syria that more than 80 people, including dozens of children, were killed in an alleged chemical weapons incident in the town of Khan Shaykhun, Idlib Province. The politicians in Brussels immediately made political capital on the deaths.Johnson and other Western leaders, including US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, have cited those deaths as “evidence” of Russian “complicity.” Western media have been non-stop peddling the claims that Syria and Russia are to blame – without a shred of evidence.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Moscow this week to lay down an “ultimatum” to Russia to withdraw its military support for Syria.

Within two days of the chemical weapons incident, US President Donald Trump ordered his warships to strike Syria with 59 cruise missiles, which resulted in several civilian deaths, including children. Where are the Western tears for those children? Or supposed Western principles for international law?The emotional denunciations that have emanated from Boris Johnson and others over the chemical weapons incident, accusing Syria of barbarity, were instrumental in creating a political cover for Trump’s subsequent military strikes.

What actually happened in Khan Shaykhun is not yet known. Russia and Iran have condemned the US missile strikes as unlawful aggression against a sovereign state, and they have called for an impartial investigation into the previous chemical incident.

But immediately, last Tuesday, Western governments and media began blaming the deaths on Syrian government forces dropping toxic munitions. Britain has absurdly accused Russia of being responsible for “all the civilian deaths” last week in Syria owing to its support for Syria.

The only initial “evidence” on the Khan Shaykhun incident were videos and claims made by “activists” belonging to the so-called rescue group known as the White Helmets.That Western-funded group has been shown to be integrated as a “media outlet” for the Nusra terrorist network and have been implicated in fabricating propaganda videos, such as during the liberation of Aleppo at the end of last year, in order to smear the Syrian government and its Russian ally.

The Damascus government denies categorically that its air force used chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun last week, or at any previous time. It says, besides, that its chemical weapons arsenal was destroyed in a United Nations-monitored process under a 2013 decommissioning deal brokered by Russia.

Russian military has said that the incident at Khan Shaykhun may have been caused by the Syrian air force bombing the militant base using conventional weapons, which could have resulted in an accidental release of toxic materials stored in an arms depot used by the insurgents. Alternatively, the militants could have deliberately deployed toxic chemicals on unwitting civilians for the despicable purpose of a false-flag propaganda stunt.The prompt video recording of dying children gasping for breath and the rapid dissemination of the images by Western media outlets raise suspicions. The same nefarious stunt involving mass murder by militants with lethal Sarin nerve agent was carried out in August 2013 near Damascus. To this day, Western governments and media continue to blame the Syrian government forces for that atrocity, when it has been convincingly demonstrated that it was actually perpetrated by the foreign-backed militants precisely for propaganda purpose.

In any case, what actually occurred at Khan Shaykhun last week remains to be seen.

Nevertheless, based on dubious information, Western governments and media have since last week asserted, apparently without the slightest doubt, that the incident was a horrific “war crime” carried out by the Syrian government. The West has also accused Russia and its President, Vladimir Putin of “complicity” since Moscow is the principal ally of Syria.Britain’s Boris Johnson said this week while attending the G7 summit in Italy: “If you think about the position of Vladimir Putin now, he’s toxifying the reputation of Russia by his continuing association with a government which has flagrantly poisoned its own people.”

Johnson is the lead voice lobbying the West to slap more economic sanctions on Russia as “punishment” for the alleged atrocity at Khan Shaykhun.

Tellingly, he says there is a “window of opportunity” for Russia to withdraw its support for Syria and to assist Western powers to negotiate a “peaceful” settlement in Syria’s six-year war by removing President Bashar al-Assad. In other words, this “window of opportunity” is not for Russia, but rather it is for the Western powers to achieve their objective of “regime change” in Damascus.

Washington and London are shamelessly using the deaths of Syrians to push their criminal agenda of regime change. First in the form of unleashing American military force directly in the Syrian conflict – a conflict that the Western powers instigated in the first place by using proxy terror groups. And secondly, by pressuring Russia into abandoning its Syrian ally with claims that Moscow is complicit in war crimes.The whole US-British double-act is nothing but a sordid charade to cover up for their own complicity in waging a covert war on Syria. The trumping up of war crimes charges against Syria and Russia over the alleged gas attack in Idlib last week is a sordid pretext to further the West’s aggression towards Syria.

Russia has rightly dismissed the British foreign minister as a clown whose antics are a flagrant bid to play politics over Syrian deaths.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth of thousand words. The image of Boris Johnson joking around with other world leaders in Brussels last week – as with his fooling around with other members of the G7 this week – shows a person who obviously does not believe in the gravity of what he is publicly claiming about “war crimes” in Syria.

As children were choking from exposure to lethal chemicals, Johnson was all-too-evidently more concerned with joking. And playing politics for his master in Washington.Concerns about war crimes in Syria are real enough. But, primarily, those concerns should be directed at Washington, London and other Western governments, along with their regional allies in Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who have sponsored and armed terrorist proxies to ravage that country. The continued bombing of Syria by US, British and French warplanes, as well as now cruise missiles, resulting in thousands of civilians being killed is another category of monumental war crime.

Western ultimatums to Russia over alleged war crimes are a base distortion of the truth about what is happening in Syria. One day, Western leaders should face prosecution for their crimes. Maybe then, just maybe, the stupid grin will be wiped off Boris Johnson’s face.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

The Terrible Seeds of the Attack on the British Parliament

Flowers are laid at the scene after an attack on Westminster Bridge in London, Britain, March 22, 2017.

The Terrible Seeds of the Attack on the British Parliament

© REUTERS/ Hannah McKay


Get short URL
Alexander Mercouris
Westminster Attack (48)

The attack on the British Parliament is a terrible tragedy and a hideous crime.

On March 23, Daesh terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the deadly Westminster attack in the British capital.

This fact should underscore a bitter truth that Western political establishments persist in resisting.  This is that it is impossible to fight terrorism effectively in Europe if it is supported — however discretely — in the Middle East.

The origins of today’s Jihadist movement go back to the 1980s when Western governments, including the British government, actively supported the Jihadist war against the Soviet backed in Afghanistan.  This war radicalised a whole generation of young Muslims in Europe and the Middle East, with the active support of Western governments.  I well remember the articles and documentaries supporting the Jihadist struggle in Afghanistan which proliferated in the Western media at this time, which included turning a blind eye to Jihadi atrocities in Afghanistan and to the role Jihadi groups were playing in heroin trafficking, which caused an explosion in heroin addiction in the West (especially in Britain) at that time.

More pertinently, this support for the Jihadi movement in Afghanistan led to the British authorities turning a blind eye to the establishment of a Jihadist network in mosques and community centres across Britain.  There were rumours at the time — never fully confirmed or denied — that an implicit agreement had been reached between the British authorities and Jihadi leaders that the British authorities would tolerate their activities in Britain provided they undertook no violent action on British soil.To add to the toxic brew, it was also roughly at this time that a wave of funding from the Gulf region transformed the teaching of Islam in British mosques and Muslim community centres, changing Wahhabist/Salafi doctrines from a marginal influence within Britain Islam increasingly into its mainstream.

The British authorities have struggled to get on top of these Wahhabist/Salafist Jihadist networks that were established in Britain in the 1980s ever since.

In recent years the British authorities have made their problems worse by embracing the Jihadist struggle against President Assad’s government in Syria.  Instead of recognising President Assad and his government for what they are — a bulwark against the spread of Jihadi terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere — the British authorities have been relentless in demanding President Assad’s overthrow, so that just as in the 1980s they supported the Jihadist struggle against the government of Afghanistan, so today they have been de facto supporting the Jihadist struggle against the Syrian government.

Needless to say this has given fresh life to the Jihadist networks which have become established in Britain, further radicalising a section of British Muslim youth, and legitimising Jihadism amongst them.

The result is that there has been a regular trickle of British Muslim volunteers joining the Jihadi struggle in Syria, where they have learnt to bear arms and become further indoctrinated in Jihadist ways of thinking.  To the British government’s embarrassment some of them have become so radicalised that they have become suicide bombers.

To compound the folly of all this, at the same time that the British government has been de facto supporting the Jihadists’ struggle in Syria, it has also been acting in a way that can be made to fit in with the Jihadists’ narrative of a Western/Christian plot against Islam.

In 2001 and 2003 Britain participated in the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Britain has become an increasingly uncritical supporter of Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories, and more recently Britain has joined the US’s anti-Daesh coalition in Iraq and Syria, even if its actual military contribution to the anti-Daesh struggle has been minimal and ineffective.The result unsurprisingly is that Britain, along with other Western countries, now finds itself home to an indeterminate number of angry, violent and deluded people, who it simultaneously supports and fights against.

That this is a recipe for disaster should hardly require explanation.  Tragically that disaster has now  happened.

If Jihadi terrorism is to be defeated — something by the way which is fully possible — then the point has to be grasped both in Britain and the West in general that terrorism is not terrorism only if it happens in London or Paris or Brussels or Nice.  It is also terrorism if it happens in Aleppo or Mosul or Grozny or Damascus.  Jihadi terrorism has to be fought everywhere it happens, not simultaneously opposed and supported in order to achieve some nebulous geopolitical objectives of no interest to the Western public.

Unfortunately we seem in Britain to be as far away from that realisation as ever, and until it finally comes there can be no confidence that the tragedy in London will be the last one.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

The SNP and class politics
| March 24, 2017 | 9:42 pm | class struggle, political struggle, Scotland, UK | No comments

The SNP and class politics

Monday 20th
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

THIS paper has a proud history of advocating the national and democratic rights of the Scottish and Welsh people.

In a multinational state, a degree of national autonomy is vital for any people wishing to express their own distinctive culture and identity. As nations, Scotland and Wales also have the right to determine their own futures, up to and including separation from England or Britain.

These are questions of principle to which we adhere without qualification.

However, when and how people should exercise their rights is a matter of judgement. As Lenin put it, advocating the right to divorce is not the same as proposing that a particular couple — let alone all couples — should actually get divorced.

For socialists and communists, the fight for social justice and the transformation of society are paramount considerations. Would Scotland’s separation from Britain assist the working class in achieving a radically fairer society? Would it take the people of Scotland — let alone England and Wales — further down the path to a socialist society? Would it help create the conditions for socialist revolution?

The Morning Star is not convinced that Scottish or Welsh separation in current conditions answers these questions in the affirmative.

Moreover, there is a strong case for arguing that separation would divide the political class struggle — and what has been a largely united labour movement over the past 120 years — in two if not in three. This might create problems for the monopoly capitalists whose interests dominate the British state, but they would remain united in their ownership and control of the economy in all three nations.

Most seriously for the working class, separatism weakens class consciousness and class politics, as shown by the SNP spring conference in Aberdeen at the weekend.

There, the platform politics were entirely those of identity and grievance. Every significant problem faced by the Scottish people is, apparently, the fault of the Westminster government and the union. Capitalism with its class division of society was not mentioned. Big business is blameless.

The SNP does not advocate socialism, nor steps towards it, nor even real independence.

What kind of “independence” craves for continued membership of the European Union?

This is the same EU whose rules have forced the Scottish government to hand over its Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) infrastructure projects to private-sector finance and control. The cost of resulting delays and extra unitary charges will have to be met by the Scottish government, the NHS and local authorities over the next 30 years.

Five major projects must be retained on the publicsector balance sheet, diverting £1 billion from other spending plans.

Despite all SNP pledges to the contrary, PFI is back with a bang in Scotland, where the public will end up paying more than £9bn for SFT projects — three times their capital value. Scotland’s official auditors are investigating.

Yet so desperate is the SNP to leave Scotland’s biggest single market by far, namely Britain, and stay in the marginal European one that it emits not a squeak of protest about these EU diktats.

Its “independence” in the EU means no Scottish sovereignty over public finances, the movement of capital, international trade, the importation of super-exploited labour, VAT or public-sector contract compliance; a Scotland bossed around by the EU Commission and European Central Bank, inside an EU wedded to Nato.

How different that is from the perspective of progressive federalism in a Britain where wealth and power is redistributed to the working class in every nation and region.

London attack demands West get serious about fighting terrorism
| March 24, 2017 | 9:37 pm | Analysis, political struggle, Syria, UK | No comments Wight

John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
London attack demands West get serious about fighting terrorism
Four dead, including a police officer, with forty injured, seven of them seriously – this is the human toll of yet another terrorist atrocity on the streets of a major European city, on this occasion London.

The banality of such attacks by now, their dreary regularity, should in no way be allowed to minimize their impact on multicultural societies and cities, where millions of people of all faiths and none live cheek by jowl, as they have done for decades. The risk the fabric of those societies may be ruptured, if not in time ripped apart, is a pressing one, and every effort must be made by politicians, religious leaders, the media, and all people of goodwill to ensure that it does not happen.

Sadly, we have now come to accept that these attacks are a matter of when not if, despite the security measures and efforts expended by police and intelligence services to prevent them before they occur.

And by now, predictably, whenever such attacks erupt, political leaders and establishment voices rally round with the same tired platitudes praising the bravery of the police and other emergency services, assuring the public that ‘we’ will not be defeated by terrorism, that the motives involved in such deranged attacks are either the fact they hate our freedoms, the fact that we live in open societies, and that we cannot and must never allow them to turn against one another.

So-called security experts are rolled out across the media to dissect and analyze the nature of the threat posed by this menace. Flags are flown at half-mast and a minute of silence is observed. And of course, as is now customary, people will superimpose the flag of the country where the attack takes place, in this case, the UK, on their Twitter or Facebook profiles as a gesture of collective defiance and national solidarity.

In other words, these by now ritual attacks are met with the same ritual response before the media, and everybody else moves on, having learned absolutely nothing – or at least nothing that is worth learning.

The deranged individual – or indeed individuals, as it may turn out – carried out his deed on the basis of a sick, twisted and dangerous ideology. As with the countless others like him who have come and gone, and the others who are yet to appear, he was an alienated human being who sought and found meaning in this ideology – one that values death more than life, and which holds at its heart a Manichean worldview in which modernity and Islam are deemed incompatible.

However, this is only one side of a two-sided coin, which is where we come to the heart of the matter. For this sick and dangerous ideology of religious extremism and fundamentalism is in the last analysis the product of the even sicker and more dangerous ideology of Western regime change.

The idea that you can set fire to countries in the Middle East, collapse their societies and traumatize entire populations, sow carnage on a biblical scale, and not expect any reaction in the form of blow-back, is utterly insane.

Even worse is the notion that you can impose the cultural and political norms of Western liberal democracy on other parts of the world, regardless of regional, cultural and historical specificities. Countries and societies do not develop according to blueprints drafted in Western capitals. They are not the product of a preconceived Western-centric moral paradigm. They develop instead according to concrete economic, social, and cultural factors – factors which themselves are a product of specific histories.

When Theresa May and members of her cabinet regale the British people with Churchillian rhetoric about fighting terrorism, they insult those who actually have been and are fighting terrorism and have been consistently demonized by the British, French, and US governments in the process. Syria, Iran, and Russia are the countries that are on the front lines resisting this menace, yet rather than offering support or assistance to them in this struggle, the West has been doing its utmost to impede and undermine their efforts.

Let us envisage for a moment the following scenario. Instead of deploying British troops to Estonia with the aim of keeping the big bad Russian bear in check, imagine if those troops had instead been deployed to Syria as part of a multinational force fighting alongside Russia, Syria, and Iran against Daesh and other Salafi-jihadi groups. Imagine if Russia, France, the UK, US, and every other country in the West and the Middle East that is sincere about confronting and defeating this menace established an international coalition to coordinate their efforts, one that confronted terrorism in all its particulars – i.e. militarily, ideologically, and so on.

Imagine in such a scenario how different the world might be, and how much progress would be made when it came to dealing with an equal opportunities scourge that knows no borders when it comes to unleashing the slaughter of the innocents.

In the meantime, while we are waiting for such a world to materialize, perhaps British Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Trump may wish to consider asking Saudi Arabia’s King Salman a few questions the next time their closest Arab ally and longstanding customer for arms deigns to pay them a visit – questions, for example, concerning the role of Saudi state-funded Wahhabi preachers in spreading a message of religious extremism and sectarianism to the faithful: questions concerning their fixation with slaughtering ‘infidels’ and ‘apostates’.

Until they do ask such questions and act according to the answers, then neither the UK or the US are serious when it comes to combating terrorism.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Britain Needs to Get Off High Horse on Russia
| March 10, 2017 | 7:27 pm | political struggle, Russia, UK | No comments
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson delivers a speech on the first day of the Conservative party annual conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham, central England, on October 2, 2016

Britain Needs to Get Off High Horse on Russia

© AFP 2017/ Adrian DENNIS

Get short URL
Finian Cunningham

For a small nation with a has-been imperial past, British rulers appear to still suffer from the delusion of strutting around the globe as if on a high horse.

Now less of a splendid steed and more like a broken-down hobby horse rocking on its overblown pretensions.

Senior British government figures are reportedly due to visit Moscow in coming weeks, supposedly to normalize relations between the two states. But given the haughty attitude expressed this week by the British government towards Russia it does not bode well for an improvement in diplomatic ties.Britain’s foreign secretary Boris Johnson and defense minister Michael Fallon were telling media reporters of the agenda they would be bringing to Moscow.

Russia, they said, will have to “keep its nose” out of European elections and show that it “can be trusted.” Johnson and Fallon trotted out a litany of alleged Russian transgressions, without providing a scrap of evidence to substantiate. Just haughty assertions articulated with the usual irritating British accent of self-assuredness.

Supposed transgressions ranging from plotting a coup in Montenegro, destabilizing the Western Balkans, and hacking into the US elections, as well as those of Germany and other European states.

“The Russians are up to no good,” asserted Johnson to reporters with his inimitable buffoonery and bombast. While the equally supercilious Fallon added: “There is a growing body of evidence now that there has been a step-change in Russian behavior and Boris will leave them in no doubt as to our firmness on that.”

Funnily enough, the British ministers didn’t see fit to detail what this alleged “growing body of evidence” was.

Earlier, last month, British defense secretary Fallon accused Russia of “weaponizing misinformation” and of trying to “destabilize NATO.”

To which the BBC quoted the Kremlin as saying in cool and measured response: “We’re very disappointed that minister Fallon is so aggressively disposed; we are sure that such an accusation against our country is unfounded. We don’t see how a minister that has such a senior post can carry out such unfounded accusations that are based on nothing at all.”

Or in short, this British senior cabinet member is an unprofessional dolt.

The Kremlin added graciously: “We hope that in time, Great Britain will in some way take a constructive approach that will lead to a normalization in relations between our two countries.”

That, in essence, is the problem, as Russia calmly pointed out. British politicians are evidently stuck in a Cold War mindset, whereby Russia is cast as some kind of geopolitical miscreant. How is it possible to normalize relations when Russia is viewed with such pejorative contempt?

Another germane problem is Britain’s political culture of overweening arrogance and hypocrisy. So, Britain’s foreign secretary Boris Johnson is coming to Moscow to see “if Russia can be trusted” and to “show our firmness.” What utter British arrogance.

Before his untimely death last month, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin would often remind his British and Western counterparts of their own states’ criminal depredations from illegally interfering in the affairs of foreign countries, from wars in Iraq and Libya, to covert regime-change operations in Syria and Yemen.It is incredible, not to say nauseating, to hear Britain accuse Russia of “aggression” in Ukraine, when it was Britain and other NATO members that plunged that country into the abyss of violence with their support for the coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014.

It was Russia’s diplomatic intervention in Ukraine that produced the Minsk accord to settle the conflict, but which has been continually undermined by American and British support for the Kiev regime and their Neo-Nazi brigades in their onslaught against the people of eastern Ukraine.

British troops are instrumental in the unprecedented build-up of NATO forces in the Baltic states and other eastern European countries bordering with Russia. And yet British ministers talk of Russia “needing to show that it can be trusted.”

A normalizing of relations between Western powers and Russia is indeed urgently needed to avert the catastrophic dynamic of military tensions. Britain’s top diplomat Boris Johnson this week said that the West did not want a new Cold War with Russia.

“We are not in a new Cold War with Russia,” said Johnson. “Neither in the UK, nor our friends in the rest of the EU, nor in Washington, is there any appetite for a new Cold War.”

Well, if Britain wants to avoid a new Cold War, then it should halt immediately from making unfounded, provocative accusations against Russia, alleging that it is “up to no good.” Britain and other NATO members should stop winding up unnecessary tensions in eastern Europe with hysterical claims of “imminent” Russian invasion.Attaining normal relations with Russia, if that is what Britain truly wants, is not possible based on one side’s reckless slandering of the other with unfounded claims. Especially when that side – Britain – is guiltier than any other in inflicting transgressions against international law.

This is not about engaging in moral relativism. It is about British authorities coming to terms with their own past and present egregious violations of international law. Their illegal war in Iraq caused over one million deaths; their ongoing material support for Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen is causing millions of children to be starved there. How can any nation with such blood on its hands dare to lecture others over alleged violations, and based on such little evidence?

Moscow sights
© Sputnik/ Grigoriy Sisoev

The trouble with Britain is that not only are its ruling politicians stuck in the old Cold War of demonizing Russia, they are stuck in an even more distant era of empire when Britain ransacked and raped the globe out of some kind of pernicious superiority complex.In today’s multipolar world, international relations need to be negotiated on the basis of equality of nations.

British politicians coming to Moscow riding on high horses of self-righteousness and moral superiority belong to a bygone era of empires and serfs. It is not going to work.

And if Britain persists in such delusions of grandeur, it is in for a rude awakening. Little Britain needs to get off its hobby horse and walk like the rest of us. But don’t hold your breath for that to happen.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.