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Peace activists condemn Biden air strike and Labour’s military pledges

PEACE campaigners today condemned US President Joe Biden’s first bombing raid in the Middle East while Labour’s new management announced its “unshakeable” commitment to Nato and nuclear weapons.

Stop the War Coalition (StWC), which is holding its annual general meeting tomorrow, said that there was “no justification” for the air strikes launched just 35 days after Mr Biden was inaugurated.

The Thursday night strikes, aimed at groups the US said were responsible for attacks on its troops in Iraq, led to multiple deaths – with 22 fatalities recorded by a war monitor.

Mr Biden is “following in the footsteps of his predecessors” who have all executed military action in the Middle East, StWC said.

The group’s convenor Lindsey German said: “Decades of US intervention in the region are cast-iron proof that bombing raids do nothing to bring about peace.”

As the air strikes were launched, Labour’s shadow defence secretary John Healey pledged “unshakeable” loyalty to the US-led Nato military alliance and “non-negotiable” support for Britain’s nuclear arsenal in a speech to the Royal United Service Institute.

Nuclear weapons had been a contentious issue while Jeremy Corbyn was Labour leader because of his opposition to them. 

He is a life-long supporter of nuclear disarmament who has voted against renewing Trident.

At the StW meeting tomorrow, Mr Corbyn, an independent MP after having the Labour whip withdrawn by his successor, is to stress that there are global problems – such as pandemics, environmental destruction, and inequality – that war cannot fix.

“The public consensus is changing, 120 countries have signed the Treaty on the Prevention of Nuclear Weapons at the UN this year. Three out of five people in the UK think we should join them,” he will say.

His newly founded Peace and Justice Project is set to campaign against the arms trade, militarism and nuclear proliferation.

But under the leadership of Sir Keir Starmer, Labour is returning to support for British militarism and subordination of our foreign policy to the United States.

Labour is also pledging to reverse Tory cuts to defence spending.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) general secretary Kate Hudson said Labour’s support for nuclear weapons is “out of touch with public opinion,” pointing to CND polling showing that 83 per cent of party voters and 77 per cent of the public support a total ban on all nuclear weapons globally. 

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Arms Trade said that it is “disappointing” that Labour is “clinging to a military-centred view of security” that is “reliant on weapons of mass destruction.”

The SNP is using Labour’s commitment to Trident against Scottish Labour, as the submarines are on the banks of the River Clyde and the cost of keeping them is set to rise to £200 billion.

Scottish Labour leadership hopefuls Monica Lennon and Anas Sarwar have been challenged by the SNP to “prove they will be more than just a branch office manager and diverge from the UK party’s support for nuclear weapons.”

A spokesperson for Mr Sarwar said: “Scottish Labour’s policy has been agreed by party conference and that debate will not be reopened.”

The leadership result will be anounced online tomorrow at 11am.

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