Monday 4 January 2010


As the War on Terror spreads decisively into Yemen and Somalia there can be little doubt that military personnel from the leading Nato powers will increasingly become involved in military training and planning, and in armed actions against insurgent Islamists in both countries. Civilians – men, women, and children – will become the victims of this widening war as the Nato forces and their local allies engage in battle against Al Qaeda and associated Islamist groups. This much is certain.

What is also a foregone conclusion is that most left wing organisations, most self-declared Anti-Capitalists, will condemn the forces fighting against Al Qaeda and the Islamists. They will condemn Nato and its allies as murdering brigands and will highlight, throughout the radical press and the socialist blogosphere, every single civilian death; the suffering of every victim of ‘imperialism’ and the bloody machinations of the ‘American Empire’ will be recorded in graphic detail.

We can also be equally certain that the same socialist newspapers and blogs will entirely ignore the daily mass killings wrought by Islamists in Iraq, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, and anywhere else these heavenly warriors are able to establish themselves. Insofar as the sectarian bombings, the violent assaults on government employees, and the random murder of members of the public on trains, in the air, or on the streets, are acknowledged by radical commentators, the leftwing response will be to blame the Americans and their allies.

All responsibility for the carnage will be laid at the door of something called ‘imperialism’. The Islamists will escape censure or any serious opposition from the modern phoney or ersatz left, because, by and large these leftwing newspapers have forgotten their prior historical commitment to women’s rights, freedom of religion, and equal rights for all. Despite, the fact that the Islamists are waging the War for the express purpose of, among other things, establishing the fundamentalist rule of fundamentalist Islam, most ‘socialists’, ‘communists’ and ‘radical’ liberals will shrink from outright and unconditional condemnation of Islamist fighters. Instead they will engage in elaborate apologetics for insurgent Islam.

If those on the left believe that the strategy of the Western powers is oppressive and flawed, it is up to the radicals to engage in a thorough critique, which must also include a set of coherent alternative ideas about how to win the War against Islamism. Calling for troop withdrawals, and explicitly refusing to take sides in the War, will consign the radical left to oblivion.


One day after the initial posting of the above Ann Talbot of the World Socialist Web Site had this to say:

"The real target of the US and UK military is not Al Qaeda, but the Yemeni civilian population. The use of air power against civilians is a modern version of the British tactic of bombing the villages of rebel tribes. This state terror has been taken to a new level of destructiveness, but the purpose is strikingly similar. The intention of the US is to extend its colonial control over this strategic region. Britain, the former colonial power, is intent on securing its share of the spoils."

Quite what Ann Talbot imagines the "spoils" are going to be is anyone's guess - I suggest that if pressed on the subject she would start to talk airily about "oil" and "regional domination" rather than any specific "spoil" she could actually put her finger on. But this pales into insignificance against the poisonous allegation that "The real target of the US and UK military is not Al Qaeda, but the Yemeni civilian population."

If this allegation could be simply dismissed as the product of a fevered Trotskyist imagination all would be well, but I suspect that some version of this unfounded and profoundly reactionary assertion will inform much of the ersatz left's arguments in the coming months.


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