Jeremy Corbyn prescribes a security and foreign policy with integrity and human rights at its core

July 25, 2017

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Professor Paul Rogers’ reference to the Corbyn’s Chatham House speech in May, in his recent article: ‘Corbyn’s Labour: now look outwards’ prompted a search for a transcript, found on The Spectator’s website.

In his Chatham House speech, Jeremy Corbyn set out how a Labour Government he leads will keep Britain safe, reshape relationships with partners around the world, work to strengthen the United Nations and respond to the global challenges we face in the 21st century. Edited extracts follow, added emphasis and links.

In his final televised 1950s address to the American people as President, Eisenhower gave a stark warning of what he described as “the acquisition of unwarranted influence by the military-industrial complex.” “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry”, he said, “can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

You are either for or against what is presented as “strong defence”, regardless of the actual record of what that has meant in practice.

Too much of our debate about defence and security is one dimensional. Alert citizens or political leaders who advocate other routes to security are dismissed or treated as unreliable.

My generation grew up under the shadow of the cold war. On television, through the 1960s and into the seventies, the news was dominated by Vietnam. I was haunted by images of civilians fleeing chemical weapons used by the United States. At the end of the cold war, when the Berlin Wall came down we were told it was the end of history. Global leaders promised a more peaceful, stable world. It didn’t work out like that. Today the world is more unstable than even at the height of the cold war. The approach to international security we have been using since the 1990s has simply not worked.

Regime change wars in Afghanistan Iraq, Libya, and Syria – and Western interventions in Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen – have failed in their own terms, and made the world a more dangerous place.

This is the fourth General Election in a row to be held while Britain is at war and our armed forces are in action in the Middle East and beyond. The fact is that the ‘war on terror’ which has driven these interventions has failed. They have not increased our security at home – just the opposite. And they have caused destabilisation and devastation abroad.

Last September, the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee concluded that the Libyan intervention led to political and economic collapse, humanitarian and migrant crises and fuelled the rise of Isis in Africa and across the Middle East. Is that really the way to deliver security to the British people? Who seriously believes that’s what real strength looks like?

We need to step back and have some fresh thinking. The world faces huge problems. As well as the legacy of regime change wars, there is a dangerous cocktail of ethnic conflicts, of food insecurity, water scarcity, the emerging effects of climate change. Add to that mix a grotesque and growing level of inequality in which just eight billionaires own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion poorest people and you end up with a refugee crisis of epic proportions affecting every continent in the world, with more displaced people in the world than since the Second World War. These problems are getting worse and fuelling threats and instability. The global situation is becoming more dangerous.

A Labour Government will want a strong and friendly relationship with the United States. But we will not be afraid to speak our mind. The US is the strongest military power on the planet by a very long way. It has a special responsibility to use its power with care and to support international efforts to resolve conflicts collectively and peacefully.

No more hand holding with Donald Trump.

The new US President seems determined to add to the dangers by recklessly escalating the confrontation with North Korea, unilaterally launching missile strikes on Syria, opposing President Obama’s nuclear arms deal with Iran and backing a new nuclear arms race.

Waiting to see which way the wind blows in Washington isn’t strong leadership. And pandering to an erratic Trump administration will not deliver stability. When Theresa May addressed a Republican Party conference in Philadelphia in January she spoke in alarmist terms about the rise of China and India and of the danger of the West being eclipsed. She said America and Britain had to ‘stand strong’ together and use their military might to protect their interests. This is the sort of language that led to calamity in Iraq and Libya and all the other disastrous wars that stole the post-Cold War promise of a new world order.

I do not see India and China in those terms. Nor do I think the vast majority of Americans or British people want the boots of their young men and women on the ground in Syria fighting a war that would escalate the suffering and slaughter even further. Britain deserves better than simply outsourcing our country’s security and prosperity to the whims of the Trump White House.

A Labour Government will conduct a robust and independent foreign policy – made in Britain

A Labour Government would seek to work for peace and security with all the other permanent members of the United Nations security council – the US, China, Russia and France. And with other countries with a major role to play such as India, South Africa, Brazil and Germany.

Reverse the failed ‘bomb first, talk later’ approach to security

I am often asked if as prime minister I would order the use of nuclear weapons. It’s an extraordinary question when you think about it – would you order the indiscriminate killing of millions of people? Would you risk such extensive contamination of the planet that no life could exist across large parts of the world? If circumstances arose where that was a real option, it would represent complete and cataclysmic failure. It would mean world leaders had already triggered a spiral of catastrophe for humankind.

The best defence for Britain is a government actively engaged in seeking peaceful solutions to the world’s problems 

Labour is committed actively to pursue disarmament under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and we are committed to no first use of nuclear weapons. But to protect the safety and security of our people and our country, my first duty, I know I will have to work with other countries to solve problems, defuse tensions and build collective security.

I am not a pacifist. I accept that military action, under international law and as a genuine last resort, is in some circumstances necessary. But that is very far from the kind of unilateral wars and interventions that have almost become routine in recent times. I will not take lectures on security or humanitarian action from a Conservative Party that stood by in the 1980s – refusing even to impose sanctions – while children on the streets of Soweto were being shot dead in the streets, or which has backed every move to put our armed forces in harm’s way regardless of the impact on our people’s security.

And as the security threats and challenges we face are not bound by geographic borders it is vital that, as Britain leaves the EU, we maintain a close relationship with our European partners alongside our commitment to NATO and spending at least 2% on defence. Deep cuts have seen the Army reduced to its smallest size since the Napoleonic wars. From stagnant pay and worsening conditions, to poor housing, the morale of our service personnel and veterans is at rock bottom.

Working with our allies to ensure peace and security in Europe, we will work to halt the drift to confrontation with Russia and the escalation of military deployments across the continent.

There is no need whatever to weaken our opposition to Russia’s human rights abuses at home or abroad to understand the necessity of winding down tensions on the Russia-Nato border and supporting dialogue to reduce the risk of international conflict. We will back a new conference on security and cooperation in Europe and seek to defuse the crisis in Ukraine through implementation of the Minsk agreements.

The next Labour Government will invest in the UK’s diplomatic networks and consular services. We will seek to rebuild some of the key capabilities and services that have been lost as a result of Conservative cuts in recent years.

A Labour Government will refocus Britain’s influence towards cooperation, peaceful settlements and social justice, while Theresa May seeks to build a coalition of risk and insecurity with Donald Trump. To lead this work, Labour has created a Minister for Peace (Fabian Hamilton, MP for Leeds North East) who will work across the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. We will reclaim Britain’s leading role in tackling climate change, working hard to preserve the Paris Agreement and deliver on international commitments to reduce carbon emissions.

The life chances, security and prosperity of our citizens are dependent on a stable international environment. We will strengthen our commitment to the UN. But we are well aware of its shortcomings, particularly in the light of repeated abuses of the veto power in the UN Security Council. So we will work with allies and partners from around the world to build support for UN reform in order to make its institutions more effective and responsive. And as a permanent member of the Security Council we will provide a lead by respecting the authority of International Law.

There is a clear choice at the next election

Do  we continue with the failed policy of continual and devastating military interventions, that have intensified conflicts and increased the terrorist threat, or be willing to step back, learn the lessons of the past and find new ways to solve and prevent conflicts. As Dwight Eisenhower said on another occasion: If people “can develop weapons that are so terrifying as to make the thought of global war almost a sentence for suicide, you would think that man’s intelligence would include also his ability to find a peaceful solution.”

A Labour Government will give leadership in a new and constructive way and that is the leadership we are ready to provide both at home and abroad. In the words of Martin Luther King “The chain reaction of evil – hate – begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark days of annihilation”. I believe we can find those solutions. We can walk the hard yards to a better way to live together on this planet.

See the video here: Chatham House speech and/or read the full text with more on Syria, arms exports and nuclear weapons downloaded from The Spectator.

 

 

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Update on Israel-Palestine

February 18, 2017

The UN Security Council has been urged by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, to take decisive action now to end the country’s occupation of Palestinian territory. 

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Hagai El-Ad, executive director, told an informal council meeting Friday on “Illegal Israeli Settlements: Obstacles to Peace and the Two-State Solution” that Israel has controlled Palestinian lives in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem for the past 49 years “and counting”.

With the 50th anniversary of the occupation approaching next year, El-Ad said: “The rights of Palestinians must be realised, the occupation must end, the UN Security Council must act, and the time is now.” He stressed that the council “has more than just power: you have a moral responsibility and a real opportunity to act with a sense of urgency before we reach the symbolic date of June 2017 and the second half of that first century begins.”

btselemAmericans for Peace Now, a sister organisation of another Israeli rights group, Peace Now is also campaigning for an end to Israeli occupation. Lara Friedman, the group’s director of policy and government relations said that when Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation signed the Oslo peace accords 23 years ago, the settler population in the West Bank was 116,000, At the end of 2015, it was almost 390,000.

“I urge you here today to finally take action in the Security Council to send a clear message to Israel that the international community stands by the two-state solution and unambiguously rejects policies that undermine it – including Israeli settlement policies,” Ms Friedman said.

US deputy ambassador David Pressman told the meeting that “the United States remains firmly committed to advancing a two-state solution … [and] we are deeply concerned about continued settlement activity”. He recalled that last week the United States condemned new Israeli settlements and said that since 1 July more than 2,400 settlement units have been advanced in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This makes “a viable Palestinian state more remote”, he said: “In short, we need to start implementing the two-state solution on the ground right now”.

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Earlier this week, at a joint briefing with Netanyahu in Washington, US President Donald Trump asked the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold off on building new Jewish settlements on land claimed by Palestinians..

Trump promised to strike a deal that would bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “I’m looking at two-state and one-state… I can live with either one. The United States will encourage a peace and really a great peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, but they have to negotiate it themselves”.

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Blix: Middle East, NATO expansion, Russia, China & arms proliferation

December 5, 2014

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hans blix

Hans Blix headed the International Atomic Energy Agency for 16 years, aiming to cut the world’s nuclear arms build-up and contribute to the international legal infrastructure governing nuclear energy, conventions about safety and plant waste disposal.

His inspections found no trace of weapons of mass destruction before the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq and his verdict is: “The US went in to create democracy but they found no weapons of mass destruction and created anarchy . . . The invasion was illegal. It was in violation of the UN charter . . . I do weep still over the result of the mad rush by Bush and Blair to go to war. Tragically, the US and UK trusted their own faulty intelligence more than the inspection reports we gave.”

He suspects that the Bush administration, which he says didn’t give a “damn” about the UN, counted on war from the outset, and that a March deadline had been picked because of the extreme heat.

wmd blix coverSince he left the IAEA in 2003, Blix has been chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (WMDC), an independent body funded by the Swedish government and based in Stockholm, opposing the world’s stockpiling of arms. He deplores the tremendous increase in military spending in China, Africa, Brazil, Indonesia and the Arab world:

“In 2012, the world spent some $1,700bn on the military – it all looks pretty black . . . Why do oil-rich Middle East states spend the money coming out of the ground from oil on the latest weaponry that will be obsolete in 10 years? There are 20,000 nuclear weapons ready to blow up. Nato has 200 of them, yet everyone knows they are useless. We must double our ambitions to stop war and stop the weapons build-up which is a bloody waste of the world’s resources.”

He roots the current crisis in Nato expansion:

“It was not subtly done. It’s the expansion that has triggered the [Ukraine] crisis. What Russia has done in Crimea and the east is unacceptable; at the same time the Russians fear being encircled. They won’t accept Ukraine in Nato.” Blix is urging the Swedes to stay out of Nato: “Embedding in Nato will increase tensions in the Baltics. Russia will take measures in response.”

A fine setting for the warlords

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Using an expression which indicts the UN Security Council’s permanent members, he insists that the integration of Russia and China is crucial in international affairs:

“You need what I call the five warlords plus Germany in the UN – the junta of the big warlords”.

To read more about his work go to the informative Wikipedia entry, and for additional news of his taste in food, furnishing and art, find ‘Hans Blix – the diplomat with a disarming nature’ in the FT magazine.



Al-Aqsa: deepening internationalisation of tensions

November 10, 2014

al aqsa mosque

The Al-Aqsa mosque, in the Old City of Jerusalem, is the third holiest site in Islam. The site on which the silver domed mosque sits, along with the Dome of the Rock, is the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif), the holiest site in Judaism, the place where the Temple stood before being destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. An earthquake destroyed most of al-Aqsa in 1033, but two years later a Shia Fatimid caliph built another mosque which has stood to the present-day. Today, the Old City is under Israeli control, but the mosque remains under the administration of the Waqf, a Jordanian/Palestinian-led Islamic trust.

A few days ago Jack Moore reported in the International Business Times the words of Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel, quoted in the Middle East Monitor; “Ariel told Israeli radio station Kol Berama – controlled by the Jewish extremist movement Shas – the status quo could not continue at the Al-Aqsa Mosque as it ‘was built in the place of the holiest place for Israel’ “.

Ariel added that the construction of a third Jewish temple at the site is the primary demand of the Torah “as it is at the forefront of Jewish salvation”.

The Waqf said that Israeli security forces damaged the mosque’s doors, burnt carpets and broke glass during the confrontation. The Waqf said two people were injured inside the mosque, and that Israeli security forces used foam-tipped bullets, stun grenades and tear gas against protesters.

Ben Lynfield in the Independent and others report that right-wing Israelis, including some members of the Knessett, have increasingly asserted Jewish prayer rights in the al-Aqsa mosque compound which has been an exclusively Muslim prayer area since the seventh century, adding that Moshe Dayan, Israel’s Defence Minister during the 1967 Six Day War, decided to keep it that way after Israel occupied Arab East Jerusalem.

Deepening internationalisation of tensions at the Jerusalem holy site

John Reed in the FT reported that Jordan withdrew its ambassador from Israel on Wednesday after Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinians at al-Aqsa mosque, marking an escalation – and deepening internationalisation – of tensions at the Jerusalem holy site.

Jordan: official complaint against Israel with the UN Security Council

Two days ago Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour ordered the filing of an official complaint against Israel with the UN Security Council. In 1994, Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel, unpopular with the Jordanian public, more than half of whom are of Palestinian origin. Abdullah Ensour warned last week that the treaty was under serious threat after Israel temporarily closed the mosque along with other holy sites in Jerusalem..

Since this was drafted, the Middle East Monitor reports that Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu referred, last Friday, to “oppressive regimes and occupiers, at the top of which is the Israeli government”. He pledged to do whatever it takes for Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and Al-Aqsa Mosque. “We have given the required orders; we will launch initiatives everywhere, the UN being the first place in the world for supporting Al-Quds”.

John Reed reported in the FT that Hamas’ al-Qassam military wing said, in a statement quoted by the AFP news agency, “Al-Aqsa is the detonator that will cause a volcano to erupt in Israel’s face.”


Some hope for constructive dialogue: Putin and Psaki

October 27, 2014

Neil Buckley (FT) reports (October 24th & 26th) that President Vladimir Putin attended a meeting of foreign academics and journalists at the Valdai International Discussion Club in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. This summary adds excerpts from the Associated Press report by Vladimir Isachenkov with contributions from Matt Lee in Washington.

putin at valdai sochi 

President Putin said that the US has been undermining the post-Cold War world order and stressed the need for a new system of global governance. (AP) He criticised the United States for what he called its disregard of international law and unilateral use of force.

On October 26th, Buckley added to his account of Putin’s charges: “US had repeatedly violated the rules through military action – sometimes with NATO or European allies – in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and instigating often ill-fated “coloured” revolutions. Along the way, President Putin alleged, it had even used Islamist terrorists and neo-fascists as instruments. That had made the world much more dangerous. Americans were ‘constantly fighting the consequences of their own policies, throwing all their efforts into addressing risks they themselves created’ “.

He insisted that Russia has no intention of encroaching on the sovereignty of its neighbours, alleging that US support for ‘an armed coup’ against former president Viktor Yanukovich in February triggered Crimea’s breakaway from Ukraine and the current conflict. (AP) “Russia is not demanding some special, exclusive place in the world,” he said. “While respecting interests of others, we simply want our interests to be taken into account, too, and our position to be respected.”

(AP) President Putin accused the U.S. and its allies of trying to “tailor the world exclusively to their needs” since the end of the Cold War, using economic pressure and military force and often supporting extremist groups to achieve their goals. He cited the wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria as examples of flawed moves that have led to chaos and left Washington and its allies “fighting against the results of their own policy.”

A string of US-led military interventions from Kosovo to Libya was listed with the comment:

“This is the way the nouveaux riche behave when they suddenly end up with a great fortune – in this case, in the shape of world leadership and domination. Instead of managing their wealth wisely … I think they have committed many follies.”

See the Washington Post: a brief history & picture gallery of key military interventions by the United States.

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President Putin asserted that Russia was a strong country and could weather the measures. He advised the US and Russia to draw a line under recent events and sit down with other big economies to redesign the system of global governance along “multipolar” lines.

Noting that since the US had ridden roughshod over existing rules – for example when it invaded Iraq without UN Security Council backing – he suggested the UN could be “adapted to new realities”, while regional “pillars” of a new system could help to enhance security. President Putin warned that the alternative could be serious conflicts involving major countries: (AP) “hopes for peaceful and stable development will be illusory, and today’s upheavals will herald the collapse of global world order”.

Hopeful?

Alexander Rahr, a leading German expert on Russia and Putin biographer, said he believed Moscow was “not looking for confrontation”. Realpolitik might yet come into play, notably because of the crisis in the Middle East. “America needs Russia’s help in dealing with ISIS,” he said. “That might start to change things.”

Moscow was ready for “the most serious, concrete discussions on nuclear disarmament” and to discuss rules on when military intervention in third countries was permitted, President Putin said. In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that the U.S. has been able to work with Russia on a range of issues and hopes to engage with Moscow again on areas of mutual concern.

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Safeguarding Syrian chemical weapons: an opportunity for Russia-NATO cooperation?

September 13, 2013

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It is reported that President Bashar al-Assad has signed a legal document confirming that his government will comply with an international ban on chemical weapons. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s office said that it has received a letter from Syria’s government saying Assad has signed a legislative degree providing for accession to the 1992 Convention on the Prohibition, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.

NATOWatch_logoIf so,  in their NATO Watch comment, Andreas Persbo and Ian Davis have mapped a way of strengthening the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which has verified the destruction of more than 80% of the world’s declared stockpiles of chemical weapons.

OPCW has just over 100 inspectors who are already thinly stretched thinly around the globe and the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission which previously provided in-house expertise, was disbanded by the Security Council in June 2007.

However, with the assistance of its archived website, its structure could be revisited and set up at relatively short notice.

A joint Russian-NATO CWC Disarmament Task Force is also suggested; there are precedents of operational cooperation between NATO and Russia, one being the participation of the Russian Navy in NATO’s anti-terrorism patrols in the Mediterranean.

What do the two sides have to offer in terms of capabilities for a joint disarmament mission in Syria? The NATO Response Force has a Czech-led Multinational Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Defence Battalion of around 500 – 600 troops, with a readiness time for deployment of 5 – 20 days, depending on the decision of the North Atlantic Council and the Russian military has considerable experience in handling chemical munitions and leverage with the Assad government.

The prospective prizes?

“(A) tentative route map out of the mess in Syria but also a broader strategic, normative and political rapprochement between NATO and Russia and a re-invigorated United Nations”.

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Dr Andreas Persbo is the Executive Director of the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (www.vertic.org) and Dr Ian Davis is the Founding Director of NATO Watch (www.natowatch.org).


Read the full text here: http://www.natowatch.org/node/1199

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Reprisals: “incompatible with the purposes and principles of the United Nations”

September 2, 2013

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Rev Dr Anthony Harvey from Willersey wrote to the Financial Times recently making these  points:

In 1964 the UN Security Council condemned all reprisals as “incompatible with the purposes and principles of the United Nations” (resolution 188), and in 1970 the UN general assembly affirmed without dissent that states have a duty to “refrain from acts of reprisal involving the use of force” (resolution 2625).

To proceed with the planned reprisals against the Syrian regime would be to act in defiance of a growing international consensus that such acts of retaliation can no longer be justified on pragmatic, moral or legal grounds.