'Not in my name' – topical once again

15 April 2018

'Not in my name' – topical once again

Foto: SP

SP youth organisation ROOD (RED) recently staged actions against the bombing of Syria and Iraq, Under the slogan 'Niet in mijn naam’ (Not in my name) the young supporters of the SP protested vigorously against the violence, violence whose principle products are refugees and destitution. Their actions became topical once more on Friday night, with the bombing of Syria. Yesterday, my colleague Sadet Karabulut, SP spokeswoman on international affairs in the national Parliament in The Hague, published an opinion article on the attacks.  Our group in the European Parliament, the United European Left, also condemned the air raids. We have not forgotten George W. Bush's statements when he began the attacks on Iraq in 2003. A few bombing raids would solve everything. The opposite turned out to be the case. Trump is now doing and saying the same things. But bombs don't produce any winners, and certainly don't bring peace. What they do bring is widespread misery. And if there is a winner, as even the Netherlands' most respected mainstream newspaper the Financieel Dagblad (a sort of Dutch FT) argued under the heading  'Kremlin reaping profit from attack on Syria', it will be Putin, who will be thanking Trump for his actions. 

It was just like hearing Bush again when Trump said that the mission had been a great success. Today he added that the Americans would be staying in Syria until all threats, whether from chemical weapons or Islamicist forces, have been dealt with. It's said that a donkey never trips on the same stone twice, but this is just what Trump is doing.  The bombing cannot be justified as an attempt to weaken Assad's position. He has virtually the entire country under his control and no longer needs to launch attacks with chemical weapons. But evidently Trump wanted to display his authority. At the same time he now finds himself stuck in a conflict that is going to last a long time yet, if his aim is to knock Assad off his perch.  Or will Trump eventually change course and make a deal with the man whom he currently, and correctly, still abhors? What alternatives does he have? 

If you condemn the attacks, your opponents quickly lump you in with Putin and his supporters, yet the only person who has done Putin an enormous favour is Trump himself. As the Moscow correspondent for the Financieel Dagblad, Joost Bosman, has written, it's the Kremlin that's profiting from the  attack on Syria. As was the case with George W. Bush, Trump didn't wait for the UN. Indeed, specialists from the UN had just left for Syria in order to look into the use of chemical weapons. And that's precisely what makes the US President so vulnerable: in the middle of all the world's chaos there is only one thing that we can cling to, one thing that can save us, and that is respect for international law. And that's just what Trump has breached. How proud one could have been if western leaders had put the law above the use of weapons. Yet the only head of government who has even paid lip service to the law is the conniving Putin, a man who doesn't show much respect for human rights either internally or internationally, but who now all of a sudden appears 'reasonable' on the TV.

Next week in Strasbourg our political group, the United Left (GUE/NGL) will be making our voices heard, beginning on Monday at the opening of the session. The bombs are not falling in our name. It would be good if the social democrats were to follow this line, taking their example from British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. It would also be a fine thing if the Greens, unlike the Dutch Green Left, remembered that they were once against unnecessary military violence and also joined us. A left front in Strasbourg against the bombing would send an excellent message, especially as French President Emmanuel Macron will address the plenary. I'll be there.

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