Not wishing to be outdone by Donald Trump, foreign secretary Boris Johnson has said that Britain should return to the Middle East.
“British foreign policy is not the problem—it is part of the solution,” he said.
He claimed the problems in the Middle East “have been exacerbated not so much by Western meddling as by our aloofness”.
Britain is not aloof in Yemen. In the last year alone it has sold more than £1 billion to the Saudi Arabian dictatorship, which is waging a brutal war in Yemen. Thousands have died and millions face famine because of it.
It is not aloof in Iraq and Syria. Between January and April Britain has dropped 129 Paveway IV bombs, 37 Hell Fire Missiles, and 20 Brimstone Missiles. Its unmanned drones bring assassination from the skies.
And this comes on top of George Bush and Tony Blair’s invasion of Iraq in 2003. They murdered one million people, dropped chemical weapons on Fallujah and tortured prisoners at interrogation centres.
Johnson postured that jihadism has the “addictive power of crack cocaine” and signalled a further crackdown on Muslims.
In reality, Isis grew out of the sectarianism and chaos caused by the US and British occupation of Iraq. And Britain has a much longer bloody history in the Middle East.
It was a Tory foreign secretary who signed the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which laid the basis for Palestinian oppression.
After the First World War the Sykes-Picot Agreement divided up Iraq and Syria between Britain and France. That carve-up still casts a long shadow over the region.
Britain has repeatedly whipped up sectarianism between Sunni and Shia Muslims to divide opposition to their rule.
And Winston Churchill, Johnson’s great hero, dropped chemical bombs on Kurds in northern Iraq in the 1920s.
The likes of Johnson and the right wing press cling to imperial delusions about Britain’s role in the world. Talking up Britain’s role in fighting terrorism is part of posing as a “global Britain” in the wake of Brexit.
Johnson also wants to endear himself to Tory nationalists. As he made the speech his father Stanley left I’m a Celebrity—Get me Out of here, asking, “Is Boris still PM?” A gaffe. Perhaps. But leadership manoeuvres are part of Johnson’s calculations.
Johnson complained, “We willed the end, and failed to will the means, leaving the pitch wide open for Russia and Iran.”
But Britain’s low level involvement in Syria was not due to a lack of political will. The Tories have shown that they will happily murder people in the Middle East. It is a sign of the decline of British power.
Johnson should remember that the Middle East was also one of the graveyards of the British Empire. Britain, France and Israel were humiliated after invading Egypt in 1956.
It caused an almighty crisis for the establishment. The once Tory supporting Observer newspaper slammed the Tory government as “gangsters” trying to “reimpose 19th century imperialism of the crudest kind”.
“We had not realised that our government was capable of such folly and crookedness,” wrote its editor David Astor.
Today most people know Johnson is capable of folly and that this Tory government is crooked from top to bottom. It’s filled with warmongers who lay waste to the Middle East, then scapegoat Muslims to try and break opposition to their foreign wars.
We have to build a mass movement against their racism and warmongering—and drive them out of office.