LONDON — England once controlled one of the world’s largest empires, and as the British prime minister, David Cameron is eagerly carrying on that tradition of colonialist empire-building today.
Since Cameron became prime minister in 2010, the United Kingdom has escalated its participation in the global war on terror, supporting the United States’ aims to destabilize the Middle East and control its resources, while also furthering the U.K.’s own imperial agenda. Under Cameron, Britain took an important role in destabilizing Libya, and now seeks to do the same in Syria.
This collaboration to control the Middle East has a long history. Nu’man Abd al-Wahid, a contributor to MyMPN, the MintPress News blog, argued in September that England encouraged the United States to take control of Saudi Arabia after World War II. Al-Wahid wrote:
“[F]or the British, the issue was how to financially cut the Americans into the Middle East. As such, if the Americans were to be appropriately cut in, they would, it was thought, inevitably burden more imperial responsibility for policing the Middle East without threatening other British interests.”
Today, the Cameron administration is furthering both countries’ mutual interests, using the threat of terrorism to justify everything from drone assassinations to support for overthrowing multiple governments in the region.
Cameron’s ‘cynical’ drone war
Matt Peppe, another MyMPN blogger, noted last month that Cameron was quick to condemn the murder of a Jordanian pilot, Moaz al-Kaseasbeh, while at the same time supporting the drone assassinations of two British citizens in Syria, who were executed without due process.
Although Peppe acknowledged it was legally and ethically wrong to kill the pilot, who could be considered a prisoner of war, and the manner of his death — being burned alive — was barbaric, it seems no more barbaric than England’s treatment of its own citizens and other victims of bombing campaigns:
“ISIS would have no legal grounds to kill al-Kaseasbeh, but it was cynical and sanctimonious for the Western coalition to react with such outrage when he was killed. Those same countries have embraced and celebrated summary assassinations and executions on a scale far more massive than anything ISIS could ever be capable of.”
Kevin Gosztola, the managing editor of Shadowproof, a media outlet focused on government accountability, agreed in his analysis of the 2015 British drone killings, which were the first of their kind openly carried out by the U.K. He noted that the Cameron administration has refused to offer legal justification for the killing. It’s also not declared war on Syria, nor has it received legislative approval for the actions:
“The strike against British citizen Reyaad Khan, the ‘target of the strike,’ was committed without approval from Parliament. British citizen Ruhul Amin, who was killed in the strike, was deemed an ‘associate’ worthy of death.
Cameron admitted it was the first instance in the ‘War on Terrorism,’ where the government had used a ‘British asset’ to conduct a ‘strike in a country where Britain was not involved in a war.’”
Cameron is now publicly calling for the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and his open support for the overthrow of Syria’s elected government bears some similarity to his support for the removal of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, whose violent death created a power vacuum that left Libya in chaos.
By examining the U.K.’s actions in Libya, it may be possible to illuminate Cameron’s plans for Syria.
From Libya …
The U.K. has been shocked by a series of allegations made by Lord Michael Ashcroft in “Call Me Dave,” an unauthorized biography of Cameron, published on Oct. 5 in collaboration with journalist Isabel Oakeshott. Once a major donor to the Conservative Party, Ashcroft in recent years has become a vocal critic.
While most media attention has focused on the scandalous claim that Cameron took part in a sexual act with a dead pig as part of an initiation into an Oxford student secret society, the book also contains allegations that Cameron took a leading role in the mishandling of Libya, which were made to the authors by Michael Ancram, a former chairman of the Conservative Party:
“Mr Ancram tells the authors — Lord Ashcroft and journalist Isabel Oakeshott — that Mr Cameron’s decisions over Libya have left the country ‘ungovernable … with vast amounts of weapons from Gaddafi’s arsenal moved south of the border, arming Boko Haram.’
A senior American government insider allegedly said the White House felt ‘f****ed over’ by Mr Cameron on both Libya and Syria, while General Sir David Richards allegedly told the Prime Minister that being in the Combined Cadet Force at Eton did not make him qualified enough to make decisions over complex military operations and the tactics employed in them.”
Regardless of the veracity of Ashcroft’s porcine accusations, the media record backs up Cameron’s involvement in bringing about the fall of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. For example, in March 2011, Cameron openly argued for arming Libyan rebels, even as the British military took a leading role in the bombing campaign that led to Libya’s civil war. From the Daily Mail:
“Britain is actively considering arming the Libyan rebels after their leaders pleaded with David Cameron for weapons to beat Colonel Gaddafi.
Members of Libya’s opposition told the Prime Minister yesterday they could defeat the dictator in days if the West beefs up their firepower.
They also demanded that Gaddafi stand trial for his crimes, as diplomats appeared at odds over plans to offer the Libyan dictator safe passage into exile.
Foreign Secretary William Hague and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both said arming the rebels would be legal. But Britain and America were pitched into a row with Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who said UN Resolution 1973 did not allow the arming of the rebels.”
Four years after the fall of Libya’s government, the country is in chaos, with ISIS making significant headway in the region as a result. In March, MintPress correspondent Catherine Shakdam quoted Adnan Al-Raheji, a Yemen-based journalist and political analyst:
“Interestingly, Libya’s fall to ISIS appears but a repeat of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan — all of which saw heavy U.S. military intervention and all of which saw, at one point or another, millions of dollars poured toward the funding of West-backed militias. It appears once again that those so-called moderates Washington and Western powers have been so keen on enabling and empowering have fed the very terror monster we were told they would destroy.”
… to Syria
After Syria descended into a civil war between Bashar Assad’s forces and various rebel groups, many of which have ties to ISIS or al-Qaida, Cameron seems intent to further the destabilization by overthrowing Assad’s elected government. While he had previously called for Assad’s direct removal, he’s now demanding that Assad step down and face war crimes charges. The Guardian reports:
“On the eve of a UN general assembly meeting, the prime minister emphasised his belief that Assad, who is backed by the Kremlin and Iran, has ‘butchered his own people’ and fomented the rise of Islamic State in lawless areas of the country. He also signalled that he still believed Assad should be prosecuted for war crimes if he is proven to have broken international law by unleashing chemical weapons.”
But Cameron has killed British citizens with drones in Syria, and, as of June, he still called for the arming of so-called “moderate” rebels:
“We should be on the side of Syrians who want a democratic and peaceful future for their country and one without the man who is using chemical weapons against them.”
While arguing for a “peaceful” and “democratic” future for Syria, Cameron is also arming the groups that seek to overthrow its elected leader, despite previous attempts to arm Syria’s rebels resulting in groups that have repeatedly fallen apart at the first sign of opposition or even joined al-Qaida or ISIS. His arguments also ignore evidence that Syrian rebels have used chemical weapons supplied by Saudi Arabia.
Jeremy Corbyn and England’s nuclear arsenal
One possible hope for putting the brakes on David Cameron’s warmongering, and, by extension, British support for America’s endless wars in the Middle East, is Jeremy Corbyn, an outspoken anti-war activist recently elected to lead England’s Labour Party.
At the Conservative Party Conference this month, Cameron called Corbyn a “terrorist-sympathizer” and claimed the Labour leader had called Osama bin Laden’s death “a tragedy.”
Cameron apparently based these remarks on Corbyn’s objection to the execution of bin Laden without due process, from a 2011 interview with an Iranian news program called “The Agenda”:
“In the interview, the then-Labour backbencher, introduced as a ‘outspoken rebel in the Labour party’s ranks,’ says it was the lack of trial for Osama Bin Laden that was the ‘tragedy.’
‘There was no attempt whatsoever that I can see to arrest him, to put him on trial, to go through that process,’ he tells the interviewer.”
Corbyn has consistently argued against war and for the rule of law, but Cameron’s actions in Libya, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, working with both the U.S. and our allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel, have led to countless tragedies in the region and millions of deaths.
While Corbyn has said he would never use a nuclear weapon if he becomes prime minister, Cameron recently reaffirmed his willingness to do so, cementing his reputation as one of the world’s top warmongers:
“‘If you … believe like me that Britain should keep the ultimate insurance policy of an independent nuclear deterrent, you have to accept there are circumstances in which its use would be justified,’ Mr Cameron told BBC One’s Andrew Marr show on 4 October.”
At the beginning of October, Cameron announced he would serve out the remainder of his term as prime minister through 2020, but would not seek a third term.
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