In defence of Jeremy Corbyn’s brave and lonely stand on calls for war against Iran

Peter Oborne – Middle East Eye June 17, 2019

Jeremy Corbyn. Click to enlarge

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is once again in the doghouse with the British media and the political establishment.

His offence? Once again it’s for doing his job.

According to the political editor of the Sunday Times, Tim Shipman, Corbyn is speaking up for the “theocratic terrorists” of Tehran.

Common sense

According to Tory leadership candidate and home secretary, Sajid Javid, Corbyn is “never on the side of the country he seeks to lead”. Javid adds that Corbyn “wouldn’t even qualify for a Home Office building pass”.

Another leadership contender, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, called Corbyn pathetic and predictable“. Hunt added: “Why can he never bring himself to back British allies, British intelligence or British interests?”

The purpose of my column this week is to come to the defence of Jeremy Corbyn. I believe that he is doing his job as leader of the opposition by standing aside from the growing clamour for war against Iran.

Corbyn is right to challenge claims emanating from the White House about Iran. His call for Britain to “act to ease tensions in the Gulf, not fuel a military escalation,” is common sense.

A voice of caution

This is not the first time that the Labour leader has been the voice of caution when the British political class have rushed towards war. He took a brave and lonely stand when the British political establishment followed George W Bush into the Iraq disaster.

He was vindicated by events when he warned against the invasion of Afghanistan. He was one of only a dozen MPs who voted against David Cameron’s terribly misjudged intervention in Libya.

Remembering that, by contrast, Sajid Javid, Boris Johnson, Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt, Rory Stewart and others fully supported that foolish and disastrous adventure.

There is no question in my mind that Corbyn (and his shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry) are making important and urgent points.

It’s only in the UK that expressing alarm about the bellicose Iranian policy of Donald Trump is regarded as unpatriotic. Germany and Japan have both made it clear that they don’t regard the evidence of Iranian involvement produced so far as conclusive.

No appetite for war

Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, made similar remarks to Corbyn’s over the weekend.

She told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that Americans have “no appetite for conflict with Iran”, adding that President Trump was being provocative: “He comes in and undoes [the nuclear deal] and inflames the US-Iranian issue. Why? What is the purpose? I am not going to accuse anybody of instigating anything, but for not having a policy that would smooth the waters.”

I detect no appetite for war here in Britain either. So why is the Tory party collectively determined to back Donald Trump and his national security adviser, John Bolton, at a time when it looks very much as if they are seeking to engineer a war in the Gulf?

Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid, next to Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on 23 October, 2018. Click to enlarge

Haven’t we learnt our lessons? We, in Britain, made a terrible mistake when we backed George W Bush over Iraq. I find it difficult to understand why we should be so determined to uncritically support Donald Trump as he embarks on his latest nightmarish experiment in the Gulf.

Of course, the British press is partly to blame. Tim Shipman, political editor of the Murdoch-owned Sunday Times, tweeted that Corbyn’s policy was to “blame America, speak up for theocratic terrorists and dismiss credible evidence from our Intel partners”.

This is a grotesquely unfair misrepresentation of what Corbyn actually said. The Labour leader was essentially urging caution.

Defying FCO

I am a Conservative, but I am afraid that this failing Conservative government is open to the charge that it has ceased to act in the British interest. Here is an important example: earlier this year, Hunt and Javid joined forces to designate the political wing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation.

I can reveal that Hunt made the designation in defiance of official FCO advice. According to senior sources inside the Foreign Office, officials warned Hunt that the decision would damage British interests and create difficulties for British diplomats serving in Lebanon.

It would reduce Britain’s influence. Hunt was reminded that Hezbollah form an important part of the elected Lebanese government.

Not only that. I can also reveal that officials in DFID say that their work has been made close to impossible. They say that you have to work with Hezbollah officials in the government if you want to get things done. They can’t any more.

As one close observer told me: “The situation wasn’t perfect but it reflected the reality on the ground because Hezbollah is a core part of the Lebanese system which cannot be ignored. If you cut off all ties to Hezbollah you cut all the ability to influence it or cajole it.”

The decision to designate the political wing of Hezbollah was therefore not in the British interest. It looks like it was made in order to please the United States as well as our allies in the region – above all the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.

No lessons learnt

The determination of parts of the Trump administration to launch a war against Iran may lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths and cause fresh chaos in an already vulnerable region.

War can potentially lead to the closure of the Straits of Hormuz, causing the oil price soaring to several hundred dollars or more and precipitating a depression in the West. Do we really want that? If Jeremy Hunt was doing his job properly he would be following the example of Corbyn by urging caution.

I do accept that Corbyn could have been more careful in his language. He should have expressed scepticism rather than hinting at disbelief at what the United States is saying.

But the fact remains that the only British politician who has issued a sensible word of warning against the rush to war against Iran is the Labour leader, and he is being pilloried as a result.

And his critics are entitled to point out that while he has been very quick to condemn human rights abuses by western allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, he has failed to criticise human rights abuses by Iran.

The Conservative government, like the Bourbons after the French Revolution, has forgotten nothing and learnt nothing from the Iraq invasion of 2003.



3 responses to “In defence of Jeremy Corbyn’s brave and lonely stand on calls for war against Iran”

  1. You mention Tim Shipman, this man is mossad, and as jewish as they come
    and no doubt related to Dr Harold Shipman the mass murdering jewish doctor
    who as women were dying robbed the jewelry from their fingers and often raped them.
    Officially 250 women were murdered by him, unoficially it could be double that.
    In his prison cell he was visited by 5 or 6 queers on his birthday who took turns to hold him and rape him no one batted an eye lid as his screams were heard all over the prison, next day he hung himself.
    Jeremy Corbyn has caught the mood of the british people who refuse to be trciked into a war on iran, let israel fight its own wars
    well said corbyn

  2. is this real that these people Teresa May and Jeremy Hunt stand for British Intelligence, In the eyes of the World they are Proven Failures, when more than 80 per cent of the World are Saying exactly what Jeremy Corbyn Is saying, they are now a total waste of Space, there is no Country that is not Handcuffed to the USA who will listen to any of these Total British Twats.

  3. Questions To All You British

    When does your representative democracy start? I am a little confused. Do your elected leaders start representing you before or after you go to war with Iran?

    How does your democracy work? I don’t get it. Do your political leaders do what is best for the majority of the country that elected them? Or is like in America? User pay first.

    You know, do the rich pay the House of Lords to push through war support in the House of Commons, you get war, and then when your RAF bombs Iran, the Government comes out and tells you Brits you are at war with Iran, and then you all go running with full support to enlist in the military to support your Queen and country?


    What happens first are those very same clowns that faked the Skripal case come out again and what? Fake the death of the Queen (she is getting on a bit you know, maybe they don’t have to fake it all, and just egg it on just an itsy bitsy tiny bit) and it is blamed on those pesky Persians that live around London or Manchester, and you all raise up in a hue and cry and go marching to enlistment offices and go off to war against those flea ridden camel riding Persians?

    I am confused. When does democracy start working in your country? Or is it that you people don’t do democracy anymore? You just like being led by a leash by your upper class warmongers looking for more profit. I do understand that many of your “old” money upper classes need some quick money otherwise they are going to lose all those grand Victorian Estates that they got long again, thanks to back then Indian and South African donations back in the 19th century (bless those Indian and Boks hearts for “giving” all that wealth! Weren’t they treasures!). I suppose you can’t go back to Indian or South Africa and ask, how did Oliver put it, “More :(”

    Hey, if you go to war, have you built your Iranian concentration camps yet! You can’t have a war with Iran and leave all those flea-ridden Persians running around can you?

    You are going to attack Iran aren’t you? You’re not afraid? There is no need to be, all those Iranians in Britain are true British converts, that routine with them going to the Mosque is just out of habit. You don’t have to worry about anything….Allah, oh excuse me scratch that last word (HTML support would help again admins!), I meant to say, Queen And Country is only what all those born again British(scratch that)English(scratch that)Anglo-Persians are concerned about!

    So who’s first out of you Brits to go and enlist?
    Your Queen needs you!