Jeremy Corbyn - who could possibly become British Prime Minister at the next election - felt obliged to write something about the anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday. What he said is outrageous. At least it's outrageous on a certain reading. The problem is, I don't know how else to take it. Indeed many people have taken it in exactly the same way I've taken it.
Here's Corbyn's short tweet:
“My thoughts are with those whose lives were shattered on 9/11/2001 - and in the wars and terror unleashed across the globe in its aftermath.”
It's crystal clear that Corbyn felt a strong need to politicise these commemorations. And he did so in a particular way.
Let's be clear about that interpretation.
i) Corbyn states that his “thoughts are with those whose lives were shattered on 9/11/2001”.
ii) He then says: “and in the wars and terror unleashed across the globe in its aftermath”.
What connects the first clause with the second? They must have some kind of connection otherwise the whole sentence would be a non sequitur.
Why would a terrorist attack which was “the victims' blow to the motherland” (as Chomsky once put it) - and after which tens of thousands of Muslims celebrated on the streets - have “unleashed war and terror across the globe”? After all, this was a successful act of terror for al-Qaeda and tens of millions of other Muslims.
That must mean that what followed 9/11 - not 9/11 itself! - “unleashed terror and war across the globe”. What followed 9/11? The intervention in Afghanistan in October 2001 and the Iraq War in 2003. Thus in a tweet seemingly to commemorate the victims of 9/11, Corbyn couldn't stop himself from pointing the finger at Blair and Bush (plus another 23 states!) and indeed at all “Western capitalist powers”.
Not surprisingly, many people responded to Corbyn on his own Twitter page. An Andrew HK, for example, said:
“Why not just leave it at those mourning victims on 9/11 today? Awful political point scoring, you should be ashamed.”
Jonny Will Chambers also wrote:
“The real terror was unleashed on New York on that very day. Something you seem to have forgotten. Shameful.”
It's not in the least bit surprising that Corbyn said what he said. He's on the extreme edge of the socialist Left. Even many in his own party, the Labour Party, think this and that's precisely why they've tried so very hard to get rid of him.
Corbyn and the Stop the War Coalition (StWC)
His most recent role was as Chairman of the Stop the War Coalition.
Jeremy Corbyn MP was the Chairman of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) from 2011 until September 2015. A week after his election as leader of the UK Labour Party (in September 2015), he announced that he was stepping down from the role. Nonetheless, he also said that he'd continue to support Stop the War.
First things first.
The StWC is not against “war” - it's against “capitalist wars” fought by “Western imperialist powers”. Wars fought by Islamists, Muslims, communists, African states, etc. are never condemned unless – yes, you guessed it – they can be linked to Western dirty deeds.
Thus Jeremy Corbyn himself is not – repeat not – a pacifist! (It's a disgrace that certain tabloids and commentators have described him in that way.) Instead, he's a self-described "anti-imperialist campaigner" who's working within the system he ultimately wants to destroy.
The founders of Corbyn's StWC were all members (or former members) of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). (It was only the other day that I saw Corbyn share a platform with SWP and Unite Against Fascism leader Weyman Bennett, who was once charged with 'conspiracy to commit violent disorder’.)
Since we're on the subject of the StWC, it's also worth mentioning the strong connections between its leaders and activists and the Iranian theocratic state. Various StWC leaders have presented programmes for Iran's Press TV channel; along with other Islamist outlets. George Galloway, for example, is also an important leader of the Stop the War Coalition.
One other leader - and a founder - of the StWC (its 'national officer') is John Rees. (He's also a founder and leader of the very recent Trotskyist front-group – The People's Assembly.) Rees also effectively works for the Iranian state and does its propaganda business via Press TV and the Islam Channel. (Here's a link on John Rees's work for the Islam Channel.) Indeed recently John Rees took part in the infamous press conference held by the Islamist group CAGE in which Britain's 'Jihadi John' was both defended and supported.
Stop the War and Jeremy Corbyn are against military intervention in Syria for two main reasons:
i) They are strong supporters of Iran. Iran is a strong supporter of Bashar Assad's regime in Syria. (Here is John Rees saying “Don't Attack Iran!''.)
ii) “Western capitalist states” would be carrying out the military intervention in Syria. Therefore that's automatically wrong because, according to Marxist logic, it will be exclusively driven by the “inevitable laws of capitalist accumulation and imperialism”.
Jeremy Corbyn and the Stop the War Coalition aren't against military intervention in Syria because they're against war or against violence. They're certainly not pacifists. Indeed they are Trotskyists and communists who have a strong commitment to what they themselves call “revolutionary violence”. What's worse, this also partly explains their tacit defence - and sometimes support - of Islamic terror.