Left apologists

The Labour left gives unanimous support to imperialism's blue berets

THE WAR in Bosnia has exposed the pro-imperialist heart of the Labour left - and the spineless nature of the ‘revolutionary’ left, which lives permanently under Labour’s shadow.

Last Wednesday saw a specially recalled session of parliament, in order to debate the crisis in Bosnia. Unsurprisingly, there was near total agreement on the need for a continued UN presence in Bosnia, with the magnificent British Army to the fore. Hugo Young of The Guardian (June 1) summed it up with the extremely apt analogy, “Their consensus was in its way, Falklandesque.”

The Falklands war saw the Labour left, led by their darling Michael Foot, transformed into the most enthusiastic advocates of imperialist war, which they dressed up as a “socialist” war against fascist Argentina.

They clearly believed that the imperialist British Army was the ‘lesser of two evils’, if not a positive good, in its struggle against Argentinian proto-imperialism.

The left Labourite Tribune continued this tradition of ‘socialist’ imperialism, in the Bosnian context. Over three years ago Tribune was getting agitated by the fact that Western imperialism had not already intervened in an ‘effective’ enough manner. For our CND-supporting Tribunites, imperialist sanctions were not enough. They also wanted “Western military relief for Sarajevo” (May 29 1992).

The likes of Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone and Vanessa Redgrave (former firebrand of the Workers Revolutionary Party) have given their backing to imperialism, albeit behind its fig-leaf known as the United Nations - and particularly its British contingent.

Tony Benn’s central concern was that possible action by the United States would hinder Britain’s own noble efforts, warning that ‘our’ troops could not continue doing ‘humanitarian’ work in UN blue berets while US pilots in blue berets launched ‘un-humanitarian’ air strikes. This is ‘Little Englandism’ of the worst sort, posing as opposition to US imperialism.

According to Militant (June 2), workers are “horrified at the scenes of troops chained up as human shields”. The West went ahead with the bombing “without any thought of the safety of their troops and now express outrage at the hostage-taking.” This is nothing but chauvinism dressed up as anti-imperialism.

However, the SWP just throws up its hands in despair and passes the buck to the Labour Party. Socialist Worker (June 3) wails that “ordinary” Serbs, Croats and Muslims are not revolting against the war and their own leaders, and concludes sheep-like, “This is the kind of argument Labour Party leaders should be putting - rather than backing the Tories”.

All sides in the Bosnian war are reactionary, especially the United Nations. Genuine revolutionaries do not sow progressive illusions in imperialism, ‘humanitarian’ or otherwise. The bottom line is that we fight for the defeat of all sides and for the transformation of a reactionary war into a revolutionary war.

Frank Vincent