The Diplomat of Islington North

By David Paxton (@canyouflybobby)

Diplomacy (noun): the work of maintaining good relations between the governments of different countries

Diplomat (noun): a person who represents his or her country’s government in a foreign country : someone whose work is diplomacy

A week ago Labour leadership hopeful Jeremy Corbyn gave a long interview to Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy. This section, on his calling Hamas ‘friends’, immediately started doing the rounds due to Corbyn’s apparent loss of temper.

By just using that single word ‘friends’ against him Guru-Murthy left available to Corbyn the defence he decided to make. He said:

I spoke at a meeting about the Middle East crises, in Parliament, and there were people there from Hezbollah and I said “I welcomed our friends from Hezbollah” to have a discussion and a debate.

Later he said:

I’m saying people I talk to, I use it in a collective way saying ‘our friends were prepared to talk’. Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No. What it means is, to bring about a peace process you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree.

On the surface this is almost plausible. This was indeed what a diplomat might say, it is the language of diplomacy. Political activist, satirist and comedian, Heydon Prowse seemed to agree and said:

What an idiotic line of questioning. Doesn’t c4 understand the concept of diplomacy

We had a brief discussion about his view. It didn’t go well.

In reply to Alan Johnson’s open letter to Corbyn addressing his previous praise for members of Hezbollah and Hamas, the website Left Futures carried a piece called Reactionary and Dishonest. In it is a more fleshed out version of Corbyn’s defence:

…the all too common view that anybody who supports dialogue and diplomacy with Hamas and Hezbollah must necessarily wholly endorse their politics as well.

Jeremy Corbyn was ahead of his time in recognising the need to talk to Sinn Fein and the IRA in 1984 when he invited Gerry Adams to London, and the same is true in relation to Hamas and Hezbollah. This farsighted act was subject to a furious barrage of criticism at the time, and yet now over 30 years later the importance of such acts of dialogue and goodwill in bringing an end to the Troubles could hardly be more uncontroversial.

…Corbyn also understands that peace can only be achieved through mutual respect and diplomacy.

I think it worth examining this notion that Jeremy Corbyn is a lone, extra-governmental diplomat bravely ahead of his time in seeking peace and that we cannot draw any other conclusion from his conduct.

BFFs

As mentioned, only the word ‘friends’ was brought up in the interview and without full context, Corbyn’s explanation has legs. Try this:

“We are gathered here for an important meeting of opposing views. On my right are some friends from the Black Panther Party and on my left are friends from the Ku Klux Klan. Hopefully by coming together as friends we can… etc”

That could get in under the excuse of being ‘diplomatic’.

Now try this:

“It is my pleasure and my honour to host an event where my friends from Stormfront will be speaking. I also invited friends from the Ku Klux Klan to speak but unfortunately the FBI won’t allow them to travel so it will only be friends from Stormfront. The Ku Klux Klan is an organisation dedicated towards the good of American people and bringing about long-term peace and social justice, and political justice.”

How does that sound to you? I don’t believe the latter example would be consistent with Corbyn’s claim “I use it in a collective way saying ‘our friends were prepared to talk'”. It goes well beyond standard diplomatic niceties.

Here is a video of the offending speech, see for yourself. He said exactly that about Hamas and Hezbollah and he was being very friendly indeed.

If he profoundly disagrees with them why claim the bit about social and political justice? Hamas’ form of ‘political justice’ is to execute their political opponents. Hamas’s ‘social justice’ is to murder people for being gay. Hamas’ ‘long-term peace’ includes a Charter clause calling for the destruction of Israel and the divinely ordained killing of Jews. And feeling ‘honoured’ to host holocaust deniers means either A: Corbyn thinks ‘honour’ means something it doesn’t or B: He has some fundamental problems with his morality.

To go as far in his praise as Corbyn does is grotesque and hints far more at outright support than the forced diplomatic nicety, while holding his nose, which one might tolerate or expect. Who would possibly say such a thing if they were not ‘friends’ or did in fact ‘profoundly disagree’? I think he is being deceptive in the Channel 4 interview and this should be taken into consideration by those so willing to repeat the claim that Corbyn is the straight-shooting candidate of unflinching honesty and integrity.

Who invited you anyway?

Yes, peace talks without a unconditional surrender require compromise, they require some holding of noses. After a successful peace has been forged such actions can indeed appear noble and worthy. However, this realisation can also be used to cover a multitude of sins and just talking, per se, is not necessarily a worthy and noble act.

John Major, who happened to be the actual prime minister and leader of the government, did a difficult and presumably correct thing in starting talks with the IRA. It was a careful and deliberate process that was straining against the idea that rewarding violence with power and representation might lead to more of the same. Do I have to laud Corbyn with the same praise when he invites IRA representatives to the Commons a fortnight after the Brighton bombing? This isn’t the brave and principled putting aside of grievance, this is rewarding and forgiving brutal terrorist violence directly following its most clearly anti-democratic expression by saying that the more they bomb the more they should be given a seat at the table. Imagine your young child is throwing a nasty tantrum in the supermarket because you refuse to give him sweets. Corbyn’s unilateral intervention is the equivalent of the unwelcome shop assistant butting in and saying ‘don’t be a meany, look at his little face, give him a Mars Bar.’ It’s undermining, it’s unwelcome, it’s not really his business. But these aren’t sweets in a supermarket, this is a murderous terror campaign.

This is not to say that a backbench MP cannot engage in dialogue that has little to do with his own constituents. However, in this case it is undermining the position of his own, and successive, governments at a time when its citizens were being murdered.

Corbyn’s stands on Israel and Northern Ireland require no holding of the nose and no compromise. He supports their positions. Ultimately the Northern Ireland peace process was about changing the means and agreeing to disagree on the ends. In Israel any future dealings with any groups will require the same. The difference between those outcomes and approaches and that of our renegade diplomat is that he wants an end to Israel and have it replaced with a Palestinian majority state. He also wants the reunification of Ireland. He supports the aims of these groups and doesn’t seem to think the means should exclude them from anything.

The Diplomacy of Adrian Mole Aged 66 & 1/4

Owen Jones said:

I’ve known Jeremy for years, and have shared numerous platforms with him on issues ranging from peace to social justice. He is the very antithesis of the negative caricature of an MP: he’s defined by his principles and beliefs

Great. Corbyn has taken several positions on foreign affairs and so one would expect some common themes running through these positions that can tell us what he is about. Let’s try and define him.

He met with the IRA, but fine, some will consider this just Jezza the Diplomat diplomating, as he is wont to do. But at a Troops Out meeting in 1987, Jeremy stood for a minute’s silence to “honour” eight IRA terrorists killed at Loughall. That event brought about the end of activities of an Active Service Unit from the East Tyrone Brigade that had been blowing up police stations and executing those present. What principle and belief can we deduce from that?

From Andrew Gilligan’s Telegraph piece (worth reading in full):

Jeremy Corbyn was helping Sayyed Hassan al-Sadr celebrate “the all-encompassing revolution,” the 35th anniversary of the ayatollahs’ takeover in Iran. In his talk, entitled “The Case for Iran,” he called for the immediate scrapping of sanctions on the country, which had not then promised to restrict its nuclear programme, attacked its colonial exploitation by British business and called for an end to its “demonisation” by the West.

Corbyn has repeatedly praised members of Hamas. They kill gays, deny the holocaust and speak of starting a fresh one. He calls them a force for social justice.

He praised the leadership in Venezuela while the oil-rich country was being run into bankruptcy and the freedom of the press was being eroded.

Corbyn asserts that despite the wishes of the Falklands islanders, expressed through the ballot box, and despite a fascist junta invading them causing British servicemen to fight and die, the islands should be owned by Argentina.

Corbyn wants an end to Israel, the most democratic and law-bound state in the region. The call for a single state solution with a Palestinian majority is, under present circumstances, a call not just for the end of a Jewish state but for the end to those living within it. It is conceivable that some might believe protecting the racial or religious identity of a state is in principle wrong. However, choosing to ignore the unique circumstances and history of the Jews and decide this principle cannot be bent in their case, that they cannot expect a nation where they are a majority, while wanting them to be at the mercy of those who openly call for a new genocide is, at the very best, immoral.

Corbyn believes that the 1973 Chilean coup was ‘run’ by the CIA.

In that same Jones piece he said:

he was protesting against Saddam Hussein when the west was arming him

A more cynical person than I might well consider changing the word ‘when’ to ‘because’ to add greater truth to that statement.

Taken on their own each of these could be a difference of opinion or a forgivable misjudgment. But combined as a life’s work?

So is there a theme in Corbyn’s choice to consistently side with theocrats, homophobic thugs, genocidal fascists, murderers, terrorists, demagogues, deniers of freedom and exponents of oppression? Is there a belief in evidence when he praises the people who believe his own constituents are legitimate targets for car bombs and suicide vests? I think there is: Whatever his own government (Labour or Tory) wants, he is against. Wherever The Man is represented Corbyn is sticking it to him. And this stands in contrast to the slogans and lofty ideals spouted at the rallies he is so often seen at.

This therefore isn’t the CV of a great diplomat or a campaigner for peace and human rights. Nor do his pretensions for a role in international relations add up to a statesman of value and importance. He’s not even a gifted amateur. This is merely adolescence dragged out into late middle-age. He is less Otto Von Bismark than Otto from The Simpsons. Laughable in a pub bore but fairly tragic at the forefront of a political party with a noble history. Corbyn should be seen as what he is, a 66 year old teenager using the stature of his MP status to make a bigger noise than a man of his ability otherwise could or should. If you are looking for the next Clement Attlee, keep looking.

To observe the likes of Corbyn is to see the worst of the modern Left, where being seen to fight is more important than achieving the goals congruent with their slogans. Seemingly unaware of the victories the Left have won already, the need to keep sidestepping left has meant they’ve come out the other side and are now friends, allies and enablers of facists, racists, murderers and thugs. And worst of all, they expect a halo for being so.

19 thoughts on “The Diplomat of Islington North

    • Assuming you’re not a troll, it’s attitudes like yours which has fucked the British left.

      Go back to your street corner, sell some copies of the ‘Socialist Worker’, and dream of a revolution that will never happen, you Poundstore Pol Pot.

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  1. Can you imagine Hamas and Hezbollah sharing the same room? I don’t think they’d be “friends” for long. Even with JC holding the referee’s whistle.

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  2. One of your main points above seems to rely on an assumption of moral equivalence between the KKK and Stormfront on the one hand, and Hamas and Hezbollah on the other.
    I just wondered if you could think of any significant differences between these two pairs of groups which might affect an honest comparison of their moral standing, and therefore the strength of your argument re Jeremy Corbyn’s statement.
    Thanks.

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    • “One of your main points above seems to rely on an assumption of moral equivalence between the KKK and Stormfront on the one hand, and Hamas and Hezbollah on the other.”

      I don’t think it does. The use of those two groups is to reveal the actual nature of the language he used compared to that which he claimed. If you are uncomfortable with that paragraph being said by a politician when it is about groups who are unambiguously bad then it shows the dishonesty of him saying it was strictly for diplomatic purposes only. That is the value of using those two. If he was actually just calling them ‘friends’ in the way a diplomat apparently might then when that same language applied to the KKK should still be A OK no?

      However, I still hate Hamas and Hezbollah.

      “I just wondered if you could think of any significant differences between these two pairs of groups which might affect an honest comparison of their moral standing”

      Yes. during my lifetime Hamas and Hezbollah have killed a great number of people more than either of those two groups.

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      • “I don’t think it does. The use of those two groups is to reveal the actual nature of the language he used compared to that which he claimed. If you are uncomfortable with that paragraph being said by a politician when it is about groups who are unambiguously bad then it shows the dishonesty of him saying it was strictly for diplomatic purposes only. That is the value of using those two. If he was actually just calling them ‘friends’ in the way a diplomat apparently might then when that same language applied to the KKK should still be A OK no?”

        Sorry, maybe I’m being a bit thick – you might have to explain things better to me.

        You’re saying that because his language wouldn’t have been appropriate for diplomatic purposes if used about the “unambiguously bad” KKK, he was being dishonest in claiming that he had been using diplomatic language about (the non-unambiguously bad?) Hamas and Hezbollah?

        But he wasn’t referring to the KKK, he was referring to Hamas and Hezbollah, and the only way your statement makes any sense is if you believe there to be an equivalence between the two, which would then highlight how innapropriate his language had been.

        Either you believe them to be equally bad, in which case your point stands, or you believe them to be qualitatively different, in which case you have to explain why, despite this difference, you still can’t refer to them using “diplomatic language”, as Jeremy Corbyn did.

        “Yes. during my lifetime Hamas and Hezbollah have killed a great number of people more than either of those two groups.”

        That’s sort of my point. You could say that the British Army have killed many more times the people killed by the KKK, but it doesn’t really tell us anything or allow us to make any moral judgements about their motivations or actions. For that you need context and history.

        In the 1950s the US government overthrew the democratically elected govt of Guatemala ushering in decades of dictatorships which, while receiving the active support of the US, killed an estimated 200,000 civilians. If a British politician in the 1980s had said “It is my pleasure and my honour to host an event where my friends from America will be speaking”, would this have implied “fundamental problems with his morality” and thus make him unfit, in your view, to be the leader of a major political party?

        Given context and history, can you think of any reasons why it might be appropriate to use “diplomatic language” about Hezbollah and Hamas, but not appropriate to use it about the KKK or Stormfront?

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      • Yes. With the greatest respect you are being. Just a bit.

        I am highlighting a discrepancy between what he said in the Channel 4 interview and what he said during the rally.

        It is quite clear to me that him saying it was just a collective way of referring to a group and that you have to talk to people even if you profoundly disagree with them etc. doesn’t adequately explain the language I quoted him as using. It was more than niceties.

        Now, for some who don’t think Hamas and Hezbollah are so bad, that language might not have registered as clearly. So I swapped them with people they might very well dispise. The problem you seem to be having is realising that that is valid because he is being questioned from a perspective of them being unsavoury already. It is offering it from the perspective of somebody who thinks they are beyond the pale.

        “You’re saying that because his language wouldn’t have been appropriate for diplomatic purposes if used about the “unambiguously bad” KKK, he was being dishonest in claiming that he had been using diplomatic language about (the non-unambiguously bad?) Hamas and Hezbollah?”

        Pretty much. Diplomatic language can be used when speaking to people you profoundly disagree with. So it should work for the KKK as well as Hamas no?

        “Given context and history, can you think of any reasons why it might be appropriate to use “diplomatic language” about Hezbollah and Hamas, but not appropriate to use it about the KKK or Stormfront?”

        No. I cannot. In fact I would suggest the opposite is more likely. However, the whole bloody point is that he wasn’t using diplomatic language. He was using supportive language.

        “That’s sort of my point. You could say that the British Army have killed many more times the people killed by the KKK, but it doesn’t really tell us anything or allow us to make any moral judgements about their motivations or actions. For that you need context and history.”

        Sure. I see where you’re coming from. The context and history of Hamas and Hezbollah don’t sway me any. I am aware of it and still think them brutal, un-redeemable murderers and detrimental to the cause of the Palestinians and peace. I don’t need to go into detail here but to cut a long story short, I hate them.

        As for the America and Guatemala, no. I don’t think that would render someone unfit to lead a major party. I don’t think that is a particularly useful analogy.

        Tell me, do you honestly suggest that what Corbyn said was merely a diplomatic nicety with people he profoundly disagrees with?

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    • what difference, all are violent homophobic racist thugs using their insecurities as a defence for intolerance, \it is extremely racist for white middle-class socialists to believe that Muslims are too backward to abhor violence and intolerance which is why most people would not describe H%H as friends

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  3. Sorry for the delay in replying – I’m a member of one of them “hard-working families” you’ve probably been hearing about.

    I’m still not sure of the point you’re making. You do seem to be saying that, for you, the KKK and Hamas are indeed morally equivalent. They aren’t. The former are a fringe racist terrorist hate group with their origins in slavery *and nothing more*, they would certainly never be in a position of having diplomatic relations with foreign politicians. The latter, like it or not, forms the democratically elected government of Gaza and emerged from the historical experience of the Palestinian people, an experience which could not be more different to that of racist Southern whites.

    http://www.ifamericansknew.org/history/origin.html#1948

    They are extremists, but then a seige tends to breed a seige mentality.

    “As for the America and Guatemala, no. I don’t think that would render someone unfit to lead a major party. I don’t think that is a particularly useful analogy.”

    It’s not really an analogy; it’s a direct comparison, and a very instructive one at that.

    Those on the Right who would criticise Corbyn’s speech about Hamas and Hezbollah would have had absolutely no problem with a politician referring warmly and supportively to a delegation from the American government at the exact time that government was arming, funding, and training death squads committing mass murder and genocide across central America and elsewhere. It would in no way harm that politician’s electoral chances or their standing with the right wing press (and blogs, had they existed).

    You yourself, champion of human rights that you are, have said that you wouldn’t deem it much of a problem for a prospective party leader to make such a speech. Why is that? The scale of loss of human life was far far greater than anything done by Hamas or Hezbollah, and thousands of the people concerned died in the most horrific ways imaginable. Why are the lives of Hamas’s victims worth so much more? Is it because these were crimes committed by one of the current Official Enemies? We are at war with Eastasia, we have always been at war with Eastasia, that type of thing?

    You imply that the only reason Corbyn opposed Saddam when he was a Western ally was *because* he was our ally. I disagree. I think he, in common with many others on the Left, feels that when our government supports regimes which are committing great crimes, we are implicated and that the support is given to some extent in our name.

    The Right love to bang on about personal responsibility (especially while they’re shredding the social safety net) and they also are very fond of reminding us that we live in a democracy. Well, if we are meant to have some influence on our government then we become accountable for what our government does and the regimes to which it offers support.

    “My own concern is primarily the terror and violence carried out by my own state, for two reasons. For one thing, because it happens to be the larger component of international violence. But also for a much more important reason than that; namely, I can do something about it. So even if the U.S. was responsible for 2 percent of the violence in the world instead of the majority of it, it would be that 2 percent I would be primarily responsible for. And that is a simple ethical judgment. That is, the ethical value of one’s actions depends on their anticipated and predictable consequences. It is very easy to denounce the atrocities of someone else. That has about as much ethical value as denouncing atrocities that took place in the 18th century.”

    Noam Chomsky

    “Tell me, do you honestly suggest that what Corbyn said was merely a diplomatic nicety with people he profoundly disagrees with?”

    To be honest I don’t know what his true meaning was. It might be quite clear to you, but that’s a subjective assessment – where does diplomatic language end and supportive language begin? If you want to win people over and influence them you may use very warm language.

    Whenever I have heard him speak he has generally seemed to me to be extremely polite and respectful and the words to which you refer may simply have been a reflection of his manner.

    I am sure to some extent he does support the aims of Hamas in that he would like to improve the lot of the Palestinian people and I suspect this is what he means by their being dedicated to long term peace and justice. To suggest he *supports* Hamas in their persecution of gay people in Gaza is ridiculous given his history of defending gay rights in this country when it was a deeply unpopular thing to be doing. Perhaps he feels that supporting long term peace and reconciliation is the best way to help LGBT people in that area? Or perhaps he’s actually turned into a closet homophobe who’s delighted Hamas are doing his dirty work for him. Which is more likely, do you think?

    I think Jeremy Corbyn is a decent man who wants to help bring about peace, and believes that one way of facilitating that process is to bring people together to talk. As a North London MP (probably with substantial numbers of Palestinian, Lebanese and Jewish constituents) he has decided to use his position of influence to facilitate such meetings. Of course he could just carry on like one of the rest of the bland careerist pod-people we have become used to in parliament, hoovering up expenses and blithely voting through whatever atrocious piece of legislation is put before them by the government. I know what sort of politician I prefer.

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    • It was an analogy.

      I think it fails for several reasons though this is a distraction from the main point.
      However, for now, I will merely suggest I am able to forgive a lot when the wider aim is preventing the threat of Communism which at that point constituted an existential threat. Also I don’t think the death toll in total over the whole period bears any reflection on the intention of the US and in moral terms intention matters This however is a complicated issue and rather beside the point I think.

      “You do seem to be saying that, for you, the KKK and Hamas are indeed morally equivalent.”

      Broadly yes. I despise both. Both are supremacists. Both violent. But again, this is not really relevant I have explained more than once now why I used them and it was for the benefit of those that don’t see them as equivalent. The usage was valid for the reason I suggest and was effective too.

      “The latter, like it or not, forms the democratically elected government of Gaza and emerged from the historical experience of the Palestinian people”

      Sure, no election since although seeing as they have murdered their opponents they should have an easy time of this democracy lark. What democrats they are. Nazi’s emerged from the historical experience of the German people. The KKK emerged from the historical experience of Southern Democrats during restoration. The Mongol hordes…. Shall I go on? Or can we just accept that people are actually responsible for their moral choices and if we are to make excuses and blame circumstances all the time you are going to have to own a lot of other shit too. Have at it.

      “You imply that the only reason Corbyn opposed Saddam when he was a Western ally was *because* he was our ally. I disagree. I think he, in common with many others on the Left, feels that when our government supports regimes which are committing great crimes, we are implicated and that the support is given to some extent in our name.”

      Sure. But he is a friend to too many who are ghastly but happen to be anti-American/West. Evidence for this is everywhere but the ease with which he can say ‘of course ISIS do bad things but likewise so did America in Fallujah’ [paraphrased] is a fine indicator. That quote, to me, is pretty stupid and rancid and speaks of somebody of that Stop the War ilk. We must be the worst. We cannot be better than anyone. It means you start making comparisons that don’t stand up to any logic. To speak of ISIS atrocities and Fallujah in the same sentence is startlingly wrong. Logically, factually and morally.

      “The Right love to bang on about personal responsibility (especially while they’re shredding the social safety net) and they also are very fond of reminding us that we live in a democracy. Well, if we are meant to have some influence on our government then we become accountable for what our government does and the regimes to which it offers support.”

      Sure, ok. Though I suspect after saying this AND saying Hamas are democratically elected you will probably fail in insisting the Palestinian population live up to the reir responsibilities for the crimes of Hamas.

      I don’t support what Noam Chomsky said there. However, I don’t see hwy it is relevant.

      “To be honest I don’t know what his true meaning was.”

      Ok. Well I suggest it was more than a diplomatic nicety. And just to go over this yet again, that is why I used the KKK so you could see that. Because he also played up the idea that he might not like them at all. But to be honest I think you probably do have more of a sense than you are letting on. It’s wrong to suggest bad faith but I think we both know he wouldn’t say that to merely any two parties he was bringing together to chat. Bet he wouldn’t say it about Donald Rumsfeld. But then we will never know.

      “To suggest he *supports* Hamas in their persecution of gay people in Gaza is ridiculous given his history of defending gay rights in this country when it was a deeply unpopular thing to be doing. Perhaps he feels that supporting long term peace and reconciliation is the best way to help LGBT people in that area? Or perhaps he’s actually turned into a closet homophobe who’s delighted Hamas are doing his dirty work for him. Which is more likely, do you think?”

      I think the former. But I didn’t suggest he supports them in their persecution of gay people. He merely supports and legitimises them WHILE they persecute gay people. If you are ok with that because you think this is the long term strategy to LGBT rights in the region then, well, it’s a view, but pardon me if I reject it out of hand. If he thinks that then he is pretty foolish.

      “Of course he could just carry on like one of the rest of the bland careerist pod-people we have become used to in parliament, hoovering up expenses and blithely voting through whatever atrocious piece of legislation is put before them by the government. I know what sort of politician I prefer.”

      Yes. Like the ones who were being murdered by the IRA, or had attempts made against their lives and yet still brought about ACTUAL peace in Northern Ireland. I know which I prefer too.

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      • I find these attacks quite interesting. Everything you say about Hamas is equally true about Saudi Arabia. Expect they also kill single mothers in the name I’d Islam. Strangely enough we don’t have any problems with that. Could that be because we sell them lots of weapons?
        They have anti gay policies too.
        They are also anti-Israel too.
        They are in league with IS.
        They are the home of the most extreme form of Islam which express extreme hatred of Jews which also happens in a Saudi school in London.
        It’s the some of Al Qaeda too.
        Yet “we” welcome them as friends.
        You attack Corbyn for dealing with Hamas and others. Yet the British government and others deals with people equally vile.
        Oh yes, let’s not forget the Saudi Arabia isn’t even a semi democratic government.
        Hamas has grown because we continue to ignore the issues in the region. As for the two state solution. Honestly it’s utterly ridiculous. The West Bank and Gaza Strip are miles part. They can’t be governed that way.
        A federal system or a loose coalition (Separate armies and flags, but joint president with no powers) seems the only viable option. Given that Israeli Arabs have more children that Israeli Jews a long term solution is needed now.

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  4. “It was an analogy.
    I think it fails for several reasons though this is a distraction from the main point.
    However, for now, I will merely suggest I am able to forgive a lot when the wider aim is preventing the threat of Communism which at that point constituted an existential threat. Also I don’t think the death toll in total over the whole period bears any reflection on the intention of the US and in moral terms intention matters This however is a complicated issue and rather beside the point I think.”

    >OK it was an analogy. Why does it fail?

    > The governments overthrown weren’t “communist”. They didn’t represent an existential threat to the US. They were moderate social democrats of the type you might find in post-war Europe. Modest land reform for landless peasants really wasn’t going to bring the world’s most powerful nuclear-armed superpower to its knees. It’s Orwellian double-think to suggest that to protect democracy it was necessary to destroy democracy and human rights while in the process abetting mass murder.
    You do not judge actions by their claimed *intentions* – Hitler and Stalin both thought what they were doing was for the good of humanity – you can only judge the moral worth of actions by their *predictable consequences* in the real world. The death toll was the entirely predictable outcome of the actions taken and those actions should be judged accordingly.
    This is not a distraction, it’s very much to the point – you are making a massive deal about the morality and judgement of Jeremy Corbyn, and yet you are holding him to a completely different standard than British politicians who might over the years have had all kinds of warm words for representatives of governments who have been implicated in far worse abuses of human rights than Hamas. It’s a simple double standard.
    It’s interesting how US policy in Latin America and elsewhere is allowed to be a “complicated matter” and “beside the point”, as though the situation in Israel /Palestine was extremely straightforward and not complicated at all.
    If you want to understand a people who really are faced with an “existential threat” please read:

    http://www.ifamericansknew.org/history/origin.html

    “Sure, no election since although seeing as they have murdered their opponents they should have an easy time of this democracy lark. What democrats they are. Nazi’s emerged from the historical experience of the German people. The KKK emerged from the historical experience of Southern Democrats during restoration. The Mongol hordes…. Shall I go on? Or can we just accept that people are actually responsible for their moral choices and if we are to make excuses and blame circumstances all the time you are going to have to own a lot of other shit too. Have at it.”

    >In terms of “historical experience” the point I was making was that the historical experience of the Palestinians is fundamentally *different* to that of racist southern whites, and also to the Mongol Horde etc. Does it never occur to you question why a given group of people might turn to violence? Is that violence an expression of naked state power, as in Central America, or ingrained racism as in the KKK, or is it a reaction of a desperate people to a desperate situation, as in Palestine. Perhaps you just think that nature has contrived to create a huge cluster of constitutionally “bad people” on the Gaza Strip who simply don’t have same degree of moral fibre as yourself.
    Do you ever consider how you might react if the Zionists had picked *your* country, where your ancestors had lived for a thousand years, for their new homeland, obliging you, your children and grandchildren to rot in camps or, in many instances, to die. I have, and I’ve no idea how I might react to that scenario.

    The US is the most powerful force the world has ever seen, the Palestinians are by any standards a poor and powerless people.You seem to hold the relatively powerless to an entirely different standard than you do the very powerful. You’re prepared to forgive actions resulting in 100s of thousands of deaths. Sure, it’s regrettable that all those people had to die and their elected governments overthrown , but what understanding can those little people have of the weighty affairs of international statecraft? If they did understand they’d know that their sacrifice was worthwhile. They’d also appreciate that any connection between the policies of their overthrown governments and reduced profits for US corporations was entirely coincidental.

    “Sure. But he is a friend to too many who are ghastly but happen to be anti-American/West.”

    >Who are you thinking of?

    “Evidence for this is everywhere but the ease with which he can say ‘of course ISIS do bad things but likewise so did America in Fallujah’ [paraphrased] is a fine indicator. That quote, to me, is pretty stupid and rancid and speaks of somebody of that Stop the War ilk.”

    >Have you got a link for that, I can’t find anything?

    “We must be the worst. We cannot be better than anyone.”

    >A straw man, I think.

    “Sure, ok. Though I suspect after saying this AND saying Hamas are democratically elected you will probably fail in insisting the Palestinian population live up to the reir responsibilities for the crimes of Hamas.”

    >Well, I wasn’t making a point about the quality of Gazan democracy, just that Hamas formed the elected government of a region (responsible for public services, infrastructure, defence, foreign relations etc) in contrast to the KKK; a fringe racist hate group with no responsibility for anything. I was pointing out that you couldn’t really compare the two.
    I imagine the average Gazan has enough on their plate surviving day to day rather than trying to influence their government whereas the citizens of rich western democracies have more time and resources. I expect there are many opponents of Hamas in Gaza, and I expect their position is weakened every time the Israelis kill a child. Do you think the use of artillery, helicopter gunships, and fighter jets against the IRA in West Belfast, levelling whole neighbourhoods, would have weakened the IRA or strengthened them, in terms of local support?

    “I don’t support what Noam Chomsky said there. However, I don’t see hwy it is relevant.”

    >It’s relevant because he’s pointing out that in a democracy we are far more accountable for what our government does than what anyone else’s government does, which is a coherent ethical argument and directly relevant to the accusation that Corbyn only criticised Saddam because he was our ally.

    “I think the former. But I didn’t suggest he supports them in their persecution of gay people.He merely supports and legitimises them WHILE they persecute gay people. If you are ok with that because you think this is the long term strategy to LGBT rights in the region then, well, it’s a view, but pardon me if I reject it out of hand. If he thinks that then he is pretty foolish.”

    >So in effect you agree with Corbyn when he says that it is possible to “profoundly disagree” with Hamas on some matters, agree with them on others, while at the same time welcoming them to talks.
    I think he is trying in his own limited way to bring about a peaceful settlement. Now, you may think that’s naive and doomed to fail, but it’s a worthwhile cause and it does not make him a bad or wicked person. Peace only ever comes about through talks and bringing people together, and if a settlement is ever reached in Israel/Palestine it can only be good for the human rights of the people who live there, because extremism thrives under conditions of conflict and desperation.

    “Yes. Like the ones who were being murdered by the IRA, or had attempts made against their lives and yet still brought about ACTUAL peace in Northern Ireland. I know which I prefer too.”

    >Eh? I was drawing a distinction between MPs who are there to actually try and improve people’s lives (Corbyn has consistently stood up for the poorest, weakest and most marginalised people throughout his time in Parliament).and those there to toe the line, climb the career ladder, claim expenses, accept donations, and line up cushy directorships and consultancies, of which there are far too many in all parties, while voting for destructive legislation of which they had little to no understanding (eg the Health and Social Care Act 2012). I don’t think these were the sort of politicians who helped broker peace in NI, nor did I say all MPs are scumbags with the exception of Jeremy Corbyn, and that no MP had ever done anything worthwhile.

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  5. Corbyn: “All wars have to end in some kind of political compromise.”

    This is historical nonsense. Many – possibly most – wars are brought to conclusion by military means followed by unavoidable political acceptance by the losers.

    If Corbyn is serious about ending the war(s) in Iraq and Syria by political compromise, then I would like to know how</i he thinks that can be done, and under what circumstances he thinks that ISIS would sit down for talks, and just what kind of a compromise with them would be (a) legitimate and (b) workable.

    Perhaps this:

    Diplomats: "Okay ISIS, you can keep these bits of Syria and Iraq and do what you like with the people in those areas (yes, we know it will mean the oppression and even extermination of minorities, but that's just a compromise we'll have to make) – but no further, okay? "

    ISIS: "Sure. Thanks a lot. Of course we won't try expanding our glorious Caliphate. You have our word. Can we offer you a Yazidi sex slave before you go?"

    If not that, then what?

    The only circumstances I can see in which ISIS even want to have a political compromise is if they are in such a bad way militarily that it looks like their best option. Indeed, it's surely no co-incidence that the first time there were even mutterings from the ISIS side about some kind of agreement was in the wake of its heavy defeat at Kobani. They don't want to compromise, they want to conquer. The only thing that can be sanely and practically negotiable with them is how they surrender. In the meantime, they have to be hit hard. If they are not hit hard, they won't even be interested in any 'compromise' but the surrender or their enemies.

    Likewise, re Northern Ireland: Corbyn's defenders seem either not to know about or have chosen to forget that the IRA only came to the table after it had been reduced militarily almost to the point of collapse. One ought to also recall that Corbyn was in a minority of MP's who voted against the Anglo-Irish agreement a few years earlier, because at that time the IRA still fancied its chances of military victory.

    Corbyn is either very naive or simply being disingenuous. Possibly a bit of both.

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  6. Back to the analogy (and I’m a complete outsider looking in here), doesn’t the analogy breakdown re. KKK and Stormfront as those two groups do not have elected members of their home state govt. Diplomatic language when used in this context is simply an acknowledgement of their diplomatic status in global politics as political bodies with elected representatives (however a detestable and unfortunate state of affairs them having such status).

    I would be interested in your view on this.

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    • If that is the measure then yes the analogy breaks down at that point. Although that really isn’t the purpose of it.
      If we were to use your criteria then I’m not sure how a backbench MP figured at all in diplomacy.
      Islington North offers no diplomatic status and receives none. And Corbyn is not representing the government. He fails as an official diplomatic entity as much as KKK and Stormfront.
      My use of them was merely so people can assess the language he used in the terms he laid out. I.e. Somebody you profoundly disagree with.
      I would also note that ‘elected representatives’ is in fact not a solid criteria for diplomatic status. Then only democracies should be able to claim this now and through history and that isn’t the case.

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  7. Interesting article. I would love to see another article on David Cameron’s obsession with doing deals with the murderous “ISIS” like Saudis and the human rights abusing Chinese. The media seem to overlook these facts.

    You also paint Isreal as the poor recipients of horrendous attacks, have you seen the maps of how big Palestine was pre-Isreal compared to now? Who are the terrorists exactly?

    My farther and grandparents are all Irish and lived through the troubles and let me tell you the British Army have a lot to answer for. Are you aware of “The black n tans”?

    Unfortunately the main stream press and history writers like to paint the involvement of the British army in various wars across the world as Nobel patriotic crusades of justice and truth. Which is why I don’t blame you for your views as they have been quite cleverly shaped a certain way. The same can be said about how we feel about Israel.

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    • Of course I know who the Black and Tans were. I also managed to study Irish history at university.
      However, even without that, I think it is perfectly well known that much British behaviour in Ireland was, well… beyond the pale. So to speak.
      It is perhaps our greatest sin. And I am well aware of that when I wrote this. I don’t however think it has too much relevance is all.

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