The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) has recently come under heavy pressure for refusing to protest the relentless Russian bombing of Aleppo and its blatant targeting of civilians and aid convoys. Unfailingly apoplectic about western military intervention or activity, the unforgivable silence of the StWC over the industrial war crimes of the Russian regime has been deafening. Perhaps the Guardian’s recent provision of an open platform to Russian ambassador Alexander Yakovenko, who pontificated in detail on the virtue of Russian bombing in Syria, has assuaged the StWC’s conscience? I think not.
Fortunately, the regressive left’s hypocrisy and constant attempt to monopolise virtue in the Twittersphere and beyond is beginning to be found waning. The more we probe, the deeper we realise how warped, hysterical and neo-orientalist the StWC and their followers are. This was brought into sharp focus by Maajid Nawaz on his LBC radio show over the weekend. During the show a number of supporters of StWC rang in to defend their position.
One caller in particular, David Wilson – a former press officer for StWC, claimed the organisation is only focused on seeking to influence the actions of the British state, hence their lack of protest over Russian intervention. Maajid criticised this response, pointing to their numerous protests against Israel and the US. At this point the mask finally slipped and Wilson revealed his ugly and distorted worldview as he went on to explain how Israel is a mere pawn of US imperialism and entirely dependent on US aid. He huffed and puffed, and begrudgingly implied that, in the view of the StWC, western powers and Israel are worth protesting against but others are not. Essentially that violence on behalf of some is permissible, but not on behalf of others. Rightly so, Maajid Nawaz concluded the conversation by saying that the organization should be renamed ‘Stop the Western Coalition’. David Wilson hung up.
Christopher Hitchens once remarked: “To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as “antiwar” when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side.”
In truth, the StWC refuse to protest against Russia because the coalition has been largely in favour of Russia’s wars in recent years. In 2008 they came out in defense of the Russian aggression against Georgia, blaming US hegemony instead. They were also very dismissive of anti-Kremlin protests in Kiev, whilst being largely supportive of the annexation of Crimea which, again, was the result of ‘western imperialism.’
In Syria, Assad’s army, with Russian and Iranian backing, is responsible for the deaths of well over 100,000 civilians since the conflict began. StWC refuses to protest this but is quite happy to protest US and UK military actions that have largely focused on supporting Kurdish forces taking territory from ISIS. In fact, many of their Iraqi and Iranian members left them back in 2001 when a motion condemning islamist terrorism was defeated. I guess any Syrian members they had have left now too.
Finally, facts and ground realities are of limited importance to the self-indulgent leaders of groups like the StWC. These are largely white, middle-class and privileged individuals from the shires who just can’t quite let go of their student days. Their activism is largely risk-free and confined to coffee shops and book fairs of Islington and Camden. Yet, the anger is as raw as their privileged ivory towers.
Solipsistic and out of touch, they are not the ones who will suffer the consequences of their prescriptions, and they have little support from those that will bear the brunt of it. Holding up the occasional ‘Refugees Welcome’ banner outside Hackney Town Hall will not make up for a life-time of supporting the very dictators, which made refugees flee their countries of origin in the first place. They will not be remembered them fondly and nor should they be.
The British left has always been infected with this strain of delusional Russiophilia. A group of people that hate everything their country stands for and in turn hate themselves for the privileged lives their country has given them. They are, in the words of George Orwell, “Sometimes squashily pacifist, sometimes violently pro-Russian, but always anti-British“.