The premier antiwar movement in Britain, the Stop the War Coalition, are in a bit of a bind.
They owe their existence to campaigning against the invasion of Iraq. They actively campaign on the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Yet for years they were silent on Assad’s slaughter of Syrian civilians. For the first years of the Assad dictatorship campaign of mass murder not a word of criticism was heard from Britain’s Stop the War Coalition.
They were always very quick to criticise British and US governments, but could barely mumble a single scornful word against Assad.
Nevertheless, this time around they have learnt their lesson.
So instead of shuffling their feet and talking about anything else they have issued a statement on the crisis in Ukraine and Russia’s military involvement in the Crimea.
It is a pitiful piece, that could have been written by one of Putin’s trusted advisers. It is basically soft propaganda for the Russian regime, full of disjointed arguments and non sequiturs
The Economist has thankfully fisked it:
“8) The historical divisions within Ukraine are complex and difficult to overcome. But it is clear that many Russian speakers, there and in the Crimea, do not oppose Russia. These countries have the right to independence, but the nature of that independence is clearly highly contested. There is also the reality of potential civil war between east and west Ukraine. The very deep divisions will only be exacerbated by war.
This comment is perhaps the easiest to rebut: Ms German is mistaking the Ukrainian protest movement for the aggressors in the current crisis. The new government in no way threatens Russian-speakers in the Crimea. Moscow, not Kiev, is the preeminent belligerent thus far.
9) Those who demand anti-war activity here in Britain against Russia are ignoring the history and the present reality in Ukraine and Crimea. The B52 liberals only oppose wars when their own rulers do so, and support the ones carried out by our governments. The job of any anti-war movement is to oppose its own government’s role in these wars, and to explain what that government and its allies are up to.
Ms German does not enlighten us on how, precisely, the British government is guilty of “war” against Ukraine or Russia. She also fails to explain why the “job” of an “anti-war” movement is to attack its own passive government while parroting the arguments of a thuggish, illiberal power threatening its neighbour with invasion.
10) The crisis in Ukraine has much to do with the situation in Syria, where major powers are intervening in the civil war. The defeat for intervention last year has infuriated the neocons. They are determined to start new wars. After the US failures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, the neocons are looking for a defeat of Russia over Ukraine, and by extension, China too. The situation is developing into a new cold war. The rivalry between the west and Russia threatens to explode into a much larger war than has been seen for many years.
Again, Ms German conveniently ignores interventions in Syria by those “major powers” that she finds more palatable than the US or Britain—Iran and Russia. That, and her comment about China, suggests a preference for illiberal non-Western powers over liberal Western ones. It is an oddly one-sided comparison: she delights in listing Western flaws (real and imagined) while unquestioningly accepting anti-Western dogma. For one who leads an organisation committed to “stopping the war”, it is a fatal error.”
Update 1:I have commented on Russia’s role in Syria before.