In an attempt to create a clear line of division between political stances, we have witnessed folks on both sides of the aisle adopt positions that often seem either radical or ridiculous. The takedown of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani is just the latest example of parties blindly following fault lines to their electoral destruction.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of the British left. While it is understandable that those who follow a more socialist path would wish to create distance between themselves and the actions of President Donald Trump’s administration, the sheer fervor with which elected politicians now embrace the deceased terror mastermind appears almost savage.
Anti-War or Anti-Trump?
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell (Jeremy Corbyn’s number two) and frontbench Member of Parliament Richard Burgon attended a Stop the War rally in Whitehall joined by approximately 150 protesters. Trump masks and anti-Tory paraphernalia were in abundance as the Labour Party representatives gave impassioned speeches.
Referencing the Iraq War and Britain’s role in the conflict, McDonnell said:
“It’s so easy, so easy to happen as a result of the foreign policy of aggressive imperialism that the US now has resorted to yet again under Donald Trump … And it’s not good enough for the UK government just to appeal for a de-escalation, what we expect the UK government to do is to come out in total and outright condemnation of this act of violence.”
Burgon, the Shadow Justice Secretary, insisted that the U.K. use its political and diplomatic weight to get the Iran nuclear deal “back on track.”
Burgon has long been a supporter of avoiding any sort of conflict with Iran, which is certainly not a bad position to take. Yet he also has a track record of anti-Israel sentiment and of lying about his stance. Labour has been embroiled in scandal after scandal regarding anti-Semitism to the point where major Jewish groups have officially cut ties with the party.
In 2016, Burgon spoke at a Labour Party meeting and declared that “Zionism is the enemy of peace.” On national television, he flatly denied ever having made such statements, insisting that newspapers were being less than honest. However, video evidence of his comments show that he was the one being untruthful.
Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn appears to have close associations with a number of terror groups. From taking part in wreath-laying ceremonies for Black September, the terrorist group responsible for the Munich massacre at the Olympics in 1972, to attending meetings with Palestinian terror groups, Corbyn, many believe, at best has a poor sense of judgment.
Corbyn was quick to condemn the attack against Soleimani and to call out President Trump for the “assassination,” stating:
“The US assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani is an extremely serious and dangerous escalation of conflict in the Middle East with global significance.
“The UK government should urge restraint on the part of both Iran and the US, and stand up to the belligerent actions and rhetoric coming from the United States.
“All countries in the region and beyond should seek to ratchet down the tensions to avoid deepening conflict, which can only bring further misery to the region, 17 years on from the disastrous invasion of Iraq.”
Yet this goal of “ratcheting down” tensions in the region appears thin gruel when we understand that Corbyn was paid a princely sum to appear on Iranian television. On one occasion, he lambasted the BBC for suggesting Israel has a right to exist.
Astonishing video of Corbyn going on Iranian state TV to attack the BBC for saying that “Israel has a right to exist” and for saying “Israel is a democracy”. Corbyn prefers being paid to back Iran’s stance that Israel should be wiped out. pic.twitter.com/hZbyYkjxjT
— Oliver Cooper (@OliverCooper) November 29, 2019
An Unbalanced Scale
While the political left becomes feverish when opposing actions taken by the Trump administration, it is also worth considering that the political right often follows the opposite path with the same level of fervor. It is not enough for people to assume that an act carried out by a politician they support is automatically a good or wise one.
When war is on the brink and peace appears on a distant horizon, it is to the people that our elected leaders must turn. Do the people want to be involved in another war? Do the people feel that another Middle Eastern engagement will benefit stability at home? It is all too easy to be on the wrong side of history, and rushing to judgment, on either side of the debate, all but ensures we will repent at leisure.
Read more from Mark Angelides.