Beyond Old Empire Fantasies
One of the central arguments put by the global anti-war movement of 2003 was simply this: bombing Iraq will only create more terrorists, and threaten to engulf the entire region in a quagmire of conflict. Back then, of course, we also knew that this being carried out under the guise of the ‘war on terror’ was always a lie. A form of weaponised propaganda that would allow a US led war for oil, geopolitical dominance and the implementation of the Project for a New American Century. ‘Full spectrum dominance’ was the order of the day, channeled through a White House run by hawkish military expansionists, fully backed by the UK.
The brutal reality for what all this meant on the ground is at this point so devastating as to be incalculable. I tried my best to summarise the impact of the Iraq war here on the publication of the Chilcott inquiry. If this was a ‘war on terror’ then has been the amongst the most spectacular military failures in history.
This may be most vivid in the Iraqi city of Mosul. It has been under the most bloody ISIS insurrection, after a decade of war on occupation, after a decade of sanctions. The city now lies in ruins – a ghost town. The Independent reported this week that in the region of 40,000 civilians perished in the battle to take the besieged city from ISIS.
Iraq is the site of war crime after war crime. And it had absolutely zero to do with 9/11 – the pretext used to stoke the population of the US and U.K. in to supporting the war. The lies and disinformation were interwoven into the idea of a never ending war on terrorism, that would be used to advance military objectives in the interests of imperialism, while dividing and and taking away the civil liberties of the domestic population.
It’s now clear that the whole strategy failed, even in their own terms. Iraq was meant to be a quick war, as part of a range of actions taken to secure global hegemony. A stepping stone onto other shock and awe invasions. Now, we have Trump. The years of demonising Muslims has come to the fore, alongside an ever increasing security state, more repressive than defensive. Thus the Bush doctrine has taken us to a point where the US President talks brazenly in terms of Muslim bans. This is uncharted territory.
Indeed, a new Pentagon study concludes that the post World War 2 order may be collapsing, and with it the primacy of US power. They offer the same ‘solutions’ you are used to: more surveillance, more military expansion and more propaganda. The report states that the authority of the US is in decline and that his takes place at the same time as a broader destabilisation in the world system.
The notion of US power in decline is a debate, with key thinkers in global strategy have different views. But one thing is certain – the world is changing, and is subject to volatility and various forms of unpredictable conflict, and a serious weakening of the 1990s neoliberal order.
Britain is also in a period of decline – but we can say it is even sharper. An American vassal, it is now a rudderless state desperately trying to hold on to the coat-tails of US President Donald Trump. This is not a stable situation, but one full of danger as the British State seeks to show itself as a major power. Indeed, the newly elected chairman on the UK foreign affairs committee replacing Crispin Blunt (with Michael Goves blessing) supports the Saudis in Yemen, regrets the nuclear deal with Iran, and opposed UN condemnation of West Bank settlements.
It’s time to stop relying on the same old empire fantasists in the British establishment to design our foreign policy, whether it be on Brexit or on the Middle East. It is in this context that a group of academics and researchers have been brought together to form a think tank dedicated to articulating a radical new foreign policy. This work takes on a wide range of issues, not just the recent wars. Based in Scotland, New Foreign Policy will organise lectures, conferences, reports and media putting forward a humane, anti-imperialist, pro-social justice foreign policy. This will require developing an entirely new foreign policy with new thinkers leading the way, with their ideas backed by research and evidence and used to institutionalise a radical alternative to the legacy of failure and exploitation left behind by the foreign policy establishment.
The first event brings together a range of academics, researchers and campaigners to dissect the failure of the ‘war on terror’. By exposing hypocrisies and examining the legacy of this war, the expert speakers will set out a new path. And, as the backlash against Muslims grows as a result of more than a decade of demonisation hard wired into the foreign policy imperatives of Anglo-American imperialism, we will discuss how this can be tackled. From Prevent, to media propaganda, to the far-right and the state the event is designed to leave no stone unturned.
Themes include: war, counterterrorism and the state, islamaphobia, civil rights and political freedom, media, propaganda, social movements, ISIS and the far-right. Each plenary will be addressed by an expert panel of speakers, including Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar, sociologist Professor David Miller, Smina Akhtar, an expert on the UK Government’s counter-extremist Prevent strategy, Narzanin Massoumi, a leading researcher and author of a book on Muslim women, leading theorist on movements of the far-right, Neil Davidson and author Tom Mills.
The time for a new foreign policy passed a long time ago. Indeed, hundreds of years. But at the same time, there is now, as Tony Blair infamously said, a period in which the world is in flux. In that flux we must build strength and capacity for the ideas that our rulers have sought to subordinate for their own agendas, buried in drive to war, selling the weapons of war, and empire building. You can be part of this unique event, by joining the discussion on August 5th. Tickets, full speakers biographies and session titles can be found here.