How the Left Became Cheerleaders for US War and Imperialism

One of the biggest problems for the left, as it confronts what seems like humanity’s ever-more precarious relationship with the planet – from the climate emergency to a potential nuclear exchange – is that siren voices keep luring it towards the rocks of political confusion and self-harm.

And one of the loudest sirens on the British left is the environmental activist George Monbiot.

Monbiot has carved out for himself a figurehead role on the mainstream British left because he is the only big-picture thinker allowed a regular platform in the establishment media: in his case, the liberal Guardian newspaper. It is a spot he covets and one that seems to have come with a big price tag: he is allowed to criticize the corporate elite’s capture of British domestic politics – he occasionally concedes that our political life has been stripped of all democratic content – but only, it seems, because he has become ever less willing to extend that same critique to British foreign policy.

As a result, Monbiot holds as a cherished piety what should be two entirely inconsistent positions: that British and Western elites are pillaging the planet for corporate gain, immune to the catastrophe they are wreaking on the environment and oblivious to the lives they are destroying at home and abroad; and that these same elites are fighting good, humanitarian wars to protect the interests of poor and oppressed peoples overseas, from Syria and Libya to Ukraine, peoples who coincidentally just happen to live in areas of geostrategic significance.

Because of the vice-like corporate hold on Britain’s political priorities, Monbiot avers, nothing the corporate media tells us should be believed – except when those priorities relate to protecting people facing down ruthless foreign dictators, from Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Then the media should be believed absolutely.

Monbiot’s embrace of the narratives justifying Washington’s “humanitarian” interventions abroad has been incremental. Back in the late 1990s, while generally supporting the aims of NATO’s war on the former Yugoslavia, he called out its bombing of Serbia as a “dirty war”, highlighting the ecological and economic destruction it entailed. He would also sound the alarm – if ambivalently – over the Iraq war in 2003, and later become a leading proponent of jailing former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair as a war criminal for his involvement.

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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