[NEW UPDATE. The Guardian has just published the letter below, so I’ve edited the intro here.] As the ersatz angst over Jeremy Corbyn’s links to Stop the War UK flares up once more in the endless plotting of Labour factionalists, my post-Paris blog post about “reaping the whirlwind” has raised its “disreputable” head again. With the latest mentions continuing the universal misrepresentation of the post, I wrote the letter below to the Guardian, in yet another wan attempt to set the record straight:
To the Editor:
As the author of the original “reaping the whirlwind” blog that was briefly reposted (without my knowledge and with a tweaked headline) by Stop The War UK, I can assure Tristram Hunt and all the other MPs who have used the piece as a political football that it did not say or imply that the people of France or “French policy” were to blame for the Paris attacks. Every public reference to the post has been a complete mischaracterisation of its content.
The post states clearly that we in the West, all of us, are paying for the consequences of many decades of collusion with and manipulation of religious extremism by our leaders in order to advance various geopolitical goals. Is this even a controversial — much less “disreputable” — statement? For example, does anyone, even the prime minister, dispute that the rise of ISIS stems directly from 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US and UK? The post also dealt with other historical follies, such as creating an international jihad army to draw the Soviets into Afghanistan (a ploy that Zbigniew Brzezinski has proudly admitted), and the decades-long support of religious extremists such as Saudi Arabia.
Even some supporters of bombing Syria say that our past crimes and follies in the region make us responsible for taking action now to rectify their horrific consequences. One can argue whether new military action is the best way to do this; I don’t think it is. But the views in the blog post are not beyond the pale of human decency, to be shunned at all cost. On the contrary, they have been part of mainstream political debate for years.
I’m not a member of the Labour Party or STW or Momentum or any other political group. It has been disheartening — though highly instructive — to see how the opinions of a private citizen can be so twisted by a political system that puts the struggle for petty partisan advantage above all else.