In March 2014, a year before he was elected leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn was invited onto the BBC’s ‘The Big Questions’ program to debate whether or not the west should go to war over Ukraine. Watching that debate today reveals to us all that Corbyn had an incredible insight into what could happen if the EU continued to bend to pressure from NATO and how the situation could potentially develop into a global economic disaster.
The show starts with LibDem MEP, Sir Graham Watson, saying that it’s our “moral duty to stand up to Russia” and telling us that “we must go in and defend the Ukraine.” He proposes sanctions but is also adamant that we should consider military action, which rather startles the host, Nicky Campbell, who questions the sanity of going to war with Russia. Campbell then turns to Corbyn for his thoughts…
“What my colleagues there were saying, it seems to me like a recipe for war and incredibly dangerous. I’m not supportive of Russian military action and I do think there has to be a peace process and there has to be a process of de-militarization of the Ukraine and sticking to the original non-nuclear agreement but I would also say this – the hypocrisy of the west is unbelievable on this! Where was the legality in the war in Iraq, where was the legality of so many other interventions made elsewhere and if one reads, very carefully, what all the Ukrainian forces are saying, yes there is a very nasty far-right force in Ukraine at the present time which is part of the government, there is also a more liberal grouping in the Ukraine, there is also a very large Russian grouping in the Ukraine who obviously have some loyalties toward Russia. Does Ukraine break up? That’s a matter for the Ukrainian people but the idea that we should move the whole thing, in rhetoric, towards some kind of military war against Russia seems to me an absolute disaster!”
Another panelist then suggests that we’re already in a pre-war situation because it’s not just about the threat to Crimea. He sees a threat to the Crimea as a threat to European security in general. Corbyn responds…
“I think the wider issue is that the EU has got very close to NATO. NATO has been pushing very hard to expand eastwards. Inevitably Russia is going to get very nervous if NATO sets up bases all around its borders, that in turn encourages Russian militarism. Can’t we go back to the point where Ukraine was a nuclear-free country that was not going to be a member of any alliance, either with Russia or with NATO and start to de-militarize and de-escalate the situation and allow a proper debate, much longer than a week, for people to decide their own future in Ukraine. It seems to me that there’s a terrible danger of a rush to a combination of an economic and a military war and goodness knows what the consequence of that will be… the UN, clearly if it takes a one-sided decision it’s going to get vetoed by somebody so, clearly, it cannot take that. Therefore it falls to the UN to try and bring the sides together and pursue a process of de-militarization but I’m quite alarmed by the way in which the NATO general secretary seems to be ramping up the ante all the time. It’s not his job to go around promoting wars, he’s meant to be answerable to a number of different governments. He appears to be behaving as though he’s some free agent that could say and do what he likes and develop this very very dangerous scenario. Ukraine has been the war ground of Europe for two centuries… millions have died in Ukraine from famine, from war, from occupation and from disasters.. let’s not visit that apon them again! Let’s try to de-escalate, de-militarize and bring about some kind of dialogue and peace process which will guarantee a peaceful future for those people and for Europe”
Watson then remarks that military interventions would have to be a last resort but he also asks what should be done if negotiations fail and Russia doesn’t pull back it’s troops. Corbyn’s response to this question…
“I’m not sure the Russian people, having lost so many in Afghanistan in the past want to see Russian lives lost in the Ukraine, any more than people in this country want to see us going into some ludicrous, futile, war which would have to end up with a political settlement. All wars end with a political settlement. Let’s start from the point of a political settlement, not start from the point of building up armed forces, moving fighter jets to Poland, mobilizing the fleet and all of these kinds of things… negotiate through.. and secondly.. the west has no moral authority whatsoever to lecture on this after the drone strikes, after Iraq, after so many other internal coups and conflicts around the world. Surely we should hand the thing back to the UN to try to bring about some kind of peace process and de-escalate the rhetoric, which is in danger of plunging us into a catastrophic war with nuclear implications”
I suddenly find myself wondering if the US arms industry might have had a hand in removing Corbyn from power. Imagine what a different place the world would have been today if Labour had won the 2017 general election and a Corbyn led government had sent mediators in to negotiate peace instead. I also can’t help but wonder if we’d have been able to avoid the current looming economic crisis (or at least lessened it), given that a Corbyn government would have invested heavily in renewable energy and started moving us away from gas and oil dependency – I’m sure the gas & oil companies are mightily relieved he isn’t running the government. I’m also convinced the US pharmaceutical giants are equally happy he isn’t running the show as he’d have made sure the NHS was off the table and he was also planning to create a publicly owned and funded pharmaceutical industry – imagine how much we could have saved by avoiding buying in pharmaceuticals from private companies (not just the Covid vaccine either).
In conclusion, I have to surmise that the people currently in public office, both here in the UK and over in the US and certainly in many European countries must be all bought and paid for and that includes most of the opposition parties as well.
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