I always felt that if I’d been alive in the 1940s I would have supported the war against Hitler’s Germany.
But last night, listening to Hilary Benn’s speech in the Westminster debate on air strikes against Syria, where he compared the hideous activities of ISIS to the Nazis of the 1930s and 40s, I started to question whether we really should have gone to war with Germany at that time.
This is not because I have Nazi sympathies, but because ever since then, “fighting the forces of fascism” has been used as an excuse for numerous invasions where the real motivation seems to be taking control of the invaded country’s resources.
However if Britain had not gone to war against Hitler, the Nazis would have invaded and possibly conquered. I am glad that the people of Britain and America fought against Germany in the Second World War (including my own father, who was training as an officer in Jamaica and Canada at this time, but the war ended before he was sent to Europe.)
We’re the invaders now
Thinking about this brought me to the depressing realisation that we are all fascists in the West. Our countries are now the ones doing the invading and the regime change.
In the 21st century the NATO governments have invaded a succession of countries, effecting regime change in each one: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine and now Syria.
We’re not committing the mass genocide that Hitler’s Nazis enacted (arguably) – though when British-made weapons are trialled against Palestinian women and children it appears that we’re just distancing ourselves more than the openly aggressive Nazis did.
We have our own warmongering Hillary
Our leaders talk self-righteously of humanitarian efforts, of replacing tyranny with democracy and of fighting the forces of evil as they bomb and plunder. Hilary Benn drew on the historical socialist struggles of the International Brigade against the forces of General Franco in the Spanish Civil War to win support for air strikes.
Referring to Hillary Clinton, Professor Jem Bendel of the University of Cumbria said in his blog that “we have our own warmongering Hillary too”.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond warned of terrorist threats from ISIS in the run-up to Christmas, effectively using the brutal violence of the terrorists to achieve his own desired outcome. It’s not surprising that many commentators see ISIS as proxies for the West, not dissimilar to the use of the brutal Freikorps by the Weimar Republic in Germany after the First World War.
The UK government recently adopted the name Daesh for ISIS, apparently because it is an insulting term. I wonder if the real reason is to try and deflect the embarrassment of this group of killers having an English name.
Vicious cycle of barbarity
A distinct pattern has emerged since 2001. Terrorist groups carry out atrocities, then a country or countries are invaded in order to “fight terror” – but the terrorism is never conquered. Instead, more terrorism ensues, especially towards the people of the invaded country, who also have to suffer bloodshed from the invading forces.
Regime change in the invaded country is always a part of this vicious cycle.
So when people say that the Paris attacks are the reason that we must bomb Syria, I fail to understand. The Paris attacks were unimaginably horrific. Why would we want to inflict a similar nightmare on more innocent people?
Why would we want to perpetuate the cycle of violence and bloodshed which, as recent history shows, is always the result of such attacks?
One politician who said that the Paris attacks had influenced his decision to vote for air strikes against Syria is Simon Hoare, Conservative MP for North Dorset.
Hoare told the Western Gazette that his decision to back air strikes in Syria was made “two minutes after Paris”. He told the local newspaper that out of 130 emails he had received from constituents on the subject, 99.9% were against military action, adding:
“I am sent to parliament to exercise my own judgement. If voters disagree with me they can get rid of me at the next election. That’s the nature of our system.”
This is the system that we are allegedly trying to inflict on puppet governments throughout the “Fertile Crescent”. The real aim is, I believe, to take control of more of the world’s resources.
It’s often said that socialism and fascism are two sides of the same coin – both systems favour strong State control. In this case I believe we are on the side of the fascists.