The opposition to another war has its usual crowd of seasoned anti-war activists, from Lindsey German and John Rees to George Galloway and Tariq Ali. Yet the push for intervention has attracted a considerably broad range of opposition voices. Somewhat surprisingly Glenn Beck, Nick Griffin and Nigel Farage have all come out in opposition to any intervention in Syria albeit for reasons we can only describe as nutty. Nick Griffin claims we must take the side of the Assadian abattoir because a war with Syria is only a stone’s throw away from a war with Russia – a country he designates as the “last great bastion of the white race” - though I’m sure Putin will be glad to hear Mr Griffin is on his side. As for Farage it is, no doubt, more about the huge sacrifices of ‘our boys’ out in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as an extension of his calls for serious austerity. Of course, if it weren’t so damn costly (to us) it would be fine to rush in and drench ourselves in the blood of the Syrian people. It looks like another way for the UKIP to soak up the puddles of Tory disenchantment. And naturally Glenn Beck frames the events in terms of a coming apocalypse because there are to be ”no winners in the West” from sending guns to Syria’s Islamists.
At the leading newspapers of reaction we can find major columnists who have all come out in stern opposition and criticism of David Cameron and his hawkish posturing. Only weeks ago Con Coughlin was scathing about the naïveté of Peter Oborne in his latest book on Iran’s right to enrich uranium (a case refreshing in its incongruity to the hysteria around its subject) and yet Coughlin and Oborne were unified against the prospect of another war in the Middle East. At The Daily Mail, the reactionary Peter Hitchens was quick to express gratitude to Parliament for the outcome and had nothing but ferocious contempt for Cameron’s adventurism and went as far as to call for the PM’s resignation. Even the interminable Lord Tebbit came out to damn Cameron for this and suggested it would Cameron’s fault if he was ousted over this. This isn’t the first time the Right has turned out to oppose a war, Iraq had right-wing opponents such as Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan. It shouldn’t be a surprise in a sense, solidarity is not a value of the Right given that the system they represent already exists and has far from any serious competitors or enemies on the horizon poised to supersede it.
Meanwhile it is the self-appointed guardians of social democracy who have taken a more vocal line of support. Paddy Ashdown and Shirley Williams turned out to pen a war-hungry article with Simon Hughes and Nick Clegg in The Evening Standard. Though I am never disappointed in Simon Hughes and the lows to which he will stoop. It was sad to see Shirley Williams on board for war as she had taken a noble stand over Iraq, then one may recall that she voted for the Health & Social Care act (so it’s hardly the first betrayal). The opposing article was written by Tory MP Douglas Carswell, it was a modestly sceptical piece of writing which stood in stark contrast to the delusions of the Liberal chickenhawks. Paddy Ashdown seems to honestly believe that the only way to strengthen international law is to take the side of the Obama administration, which has been blunt that the intervention will be made outside of the UN and thereby violating international law. As if this wasn’t cretinous enough Lord Ashdown had a hissy fit as soon as the government couldn’t get its way. The list of reasons to torment these people to the end of the earth gets longer by the day it would seem.
This article was written for The Third Estate on September 2nd 2013.