Seizing the opportunity to attack Corbyn, criticism of his comments flowed from all the usual suspects

Jeremy Corbyn is once again under fire for daring to speak out against sending more and more weapons to Ukraine. In an interview with Al Mayadeen, a Beirut-based TV channel, Corbyn said more arms would only prolong the war, and urged the West to push for peace.

Britain has been one of the largest suppliers of arms to Ukraine and has committed £2.3 billion in military assistance since the war began in February. This is in addition to helping train Ukrainian armed forces. But fuelling a fire is no way to extinguish it. As Corbyn said, “Pouring arms in isn’t going to bring about a solution, it’s only going to prolong and exaggerate this war.”

The Russian invasion, which both Corbyn and Stop the War have repeatedly condemned, has been raging for five months. At present the fighting has reached stalemate with neither side making much in the way of advances. Ukraine’s President Zelensky has himself acknowledged that the war will ultimately end with a peace deal. This is the way all wars eventually conclude, so why wait? Doing so merely prolongs the suffering and increases the devastation and death toll.

In his Al Mayadeen interview Corbyn highlighted how the war has already resulted in thousands of Ukrainian and Russian deaths, as well as many thousands of refugees. His comments that Russian soldiers, many of whom are young conscripts, are being killed, has been met with derision by the right-wing press. So too have his suggestions that peace negotiations are urgent.

As the war develops into a proxy war between nuclear armed powers the consequences could not be more serious. Corbyn’s plea, hardly unreasonable, is that “for the safety and security of the whole world” it is peace not war that should be pursued.

And of course, the world, not just Europe, is suffering from the impact of this war. The dramatic fall in grain exports from Ukraine is causing massive suffering in countries in Africa and the Middle East, as well as increasing food prices here in the UK.

That successful negotiations took place to re-establish grain exports show dialogue is possible. But still there are no real efforts by Western powers to engage in a peace process.

Praising the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, for his recent trip to Russia to talk to Putin, Corbyn expressed hope that the UN would take a lead and be “much more centre stage” in negotiating an end to this war. He suggested other international bodies, such as the African Union or the League of Arab States, could play a part if the UN were unable to secure a ceasefire.

But such suggestions are unwelcome in the British media. Seizing the opportunity to attack Corbyn, criticism of his comments flowed from the all usual suspects, including the Labour Party.

Starmer has shown nothing but loyalty to the government in his stance on Ukraine and is even more bellicose than many on the government benches. He has forbidden Labour MPs from criticising NATO, even though NATO’s aggressive expansion played a critical role in the build up to the current hostilities, and the Alliance continues to be central to the West’s ongoing, provocative role.

Corbyn’s comments align with the position taken by Stop the War, hardly surprising as he is the former Chair and current Deputy President of the Coalition. Starmer has missed no opportunity to use this as a means to further attack the organisation. The Labour leader has made it clear that if Corbyn was ever to have the Labour whip restored it would be on condition that he distances himself from Stop the War, regardless that his original suspension was over an entirely different matter, and regardless that both Stop the War and its anti-war stand remains popular among Labour members.

It is clear that the war in Ukraine could go on for a very long time. Once again suggesting an alternative path has sparked outrage, with accusations that Corbyn and Stop the War are Russian stooges spouting pro-Putin lines. But Stop the War has consistently pointed out that world leaders should be looking for solutions not prolonging the war, failure to do so only adds to the misery and destruction of Ukraine.

05 Aug 2022 by Terina Hine

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