CONVENTIONAL wisdom dictates that foreign affairs and military matters are twin Achilles’ heels for Jeremy Corbyn, but no-one appears to have told him this.
His masterly rejection of the mindless “bomb now, talk later” attitude struck by successive governments in Britain underlined the necessity of a different approach.
Theresa May and Boris Johnson sought disgracefully to impugn Corbyn’s patriotism and his willingness to defend this country.
May floated an image of “proud and patriotic working-class people” supposedly deserted by Corbyn.
She and Lynton Crosby may be unaware that Kipperin-chief Paul Nuttall already markets his party as representing “patriotic working-class people,” which confirms the further Ukipisation of the Tory Party.
Johnson, who never lets the truth get in the way of a good slur, insists that the Tories ensure that Britain is “properly defended” while a Corbyn Labour government “would simply chuck away our ability to defend ourselves.” No-one doubts that Corbyn is opposed to nuclear weapons and regards ordering “the indiscriminate killing of millions of people” and “extensive contamination of the planet so that no life could exist across large parts of the world” as nothing less than a “complete and cataclysmic failure.”
He would, along with a substantial section of Labour’s membership, have preferred a non-nuclear defence but accepted that he must abide by existing party policy.
But he understands that a major part of defending the country and its people involves not being involved in “bomb now, talk later” adventurism that plays well with right-wing tabloid editors but achieves nothing positive.
Britain’s record of military intervention, with the US and Nato allies, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya has been disastrous for those countries, for the hundreds of British troops killed there and for this country’s reputation throughout north Africa, west and central Asia and beyond.
Even those who support imperialist efforts to impose regime change recognise the failure of the so-called “war on terror.”
They see Britain’s military capacity reduced to an unusable submarine-launched nuclear strike force designed to induce respect on the world stage and warplanes capable of “sending a message” to perceived enemies but lacking the ground troops to follow up aerial barrages.
Corbyn has consistently opposed the fruitless overseas wars launched by New Labour and Tories at the behest of Washington.
He was one of just 15 MPs who stood up against David Cameron’s war in Libya, which helped create internal chaos, a new front for Islamic State (Isis) and free rein for human-smuggling gangs to send tens of thousands of desperate people to their deaths in the Mediterranean.
There are always negative consequences for military decisions driven by government desire to appear “strong,” backed by MPs too cowardly to deny their backing. Those questioning Corbyn’s capacity as a strong leader should contemplate his inner strength to resist the House of Commons lynch-mob atmosphere and to stand firmly for what he believes in.
Casting him as somehow weak for preferring to encourage dialogue and to involve the United Nations sits uncomfortably with the memory of Tory MPs and others who rejected sanctions against apartheid South Africa in the midst of bloody repression of schoolchildren’s protests.
Corbyn’s righteous strength, shown clearly when he demonstrated against apartheid and again now in rejecting “hand holding with Donald Trump,” contrasts with the pusillanimous sycophancy of May and Johnson. Britain’s security is better guaranteed by Corbyn, a man who can say No, than by Tory White House toadies.