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The Stop the War Coalition should do us all a favour and disband

Its original aims might have been noble, but it no longer represents mainstream opinion, and has been hijacked by the far-left

Rob Marchant
Sunday 31 August 2014 23:27 BST
A man, wearing a 'Stop the War Coalition' jumper, marches against government plans to station surface-to-air missiles on the roof of their rented flats near London's Olympic Park.
A man, wearing a 'Stop the War Coalition' jumper, marches against government plans to station surface-to-air missiles on the roof of their rented flats near London's Olympic Park. (AFP)

Earlier this month, Stop the War Coalition’s (StWC) website published an article explaining why fears of ISIS massacre were a deliberate exaggeration, worked up by Western governments in order to drag us into another war in Iraq: “a false story of a massive Yazidi crisis”.

But, of course, it wasn’t. Soon afterwards, there were real, brutal attacks on the Yazidis which sacked the village of Kojo, killing and abducting its inhabitants. Not thinking that anyone might have saved the original wording of the article, this claim about there not being a Yazidi crisis mysteriously disappeared without remark.

We could be generous, and conclude that this was merely a very poor analysis of the situation, rather than a desperate attempt to make it fit the desired narrative, and one which Isis would naturally have delighted in. Let us also leave to one side for the moment the risible idea that Western governments are somehow dying to get into another war in the Middle East, when the reverse is clearly true. It is difficult to remember a period of post-war history in which world leaders were less interested in intervening anywhere. Just this weekend Obama said he had no strategy for Isis in Syria, while Ed Miliband has tip-toed around the prospect of intervention in an op-ed for The Independent this weekend.

But the remarkable thing about the story is that it reveals the logical contortions which StWC has been reduced to. In 2003, the argument was simple: the West should get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a legitimate view, whether or not you agreed. Many who did not share the Stoppers’ far-left or pacifist leanings showed sympathy, and a highly successful rally was held in London which was attended by a broad range of politicians and public.

Then came 7/7. StWC condemned the bombings, but – and there was invariably a “but” which followed condemnation of a terrorist act – “The only way to end the bombings is to withdraw from Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine”.

But the terrorism predates both Afghanistan and Iraq; today, the West has withdrawn from both countries. And yet, this week, an American journalist was brutally beheaded in Iraq. If there is one thing which is abundantly clear, it is that terrorist acts will not end through the “right” actions by the West. And so the slide began.

Later came Syria, which tied them up in knots: the aggressor, Bashar al-Assad, was clearly committing genocide against his own people, but he was also someone with whom some of StWC’s members had expressed sympathy. For example, at one of its meetings last year it gave a platform to Assad cheerleader Issa Chaer.

The Stop the War Coalition of today does not represent mainstream or even consistent opinion, if it ever did. Its leaders are hardly mainstream: its former chair, Andrew Murray, is still a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain; there are long-standing historic links to the Socialist Workers’ Party; and vice-president Kamal Majid is a founding member of the Stalin Society. Uncle Joe, you may remember, was not a great valuer of human life, although I am sure Mr Majid would disagree.

However noble the aims which some supporters of Stop the War may have once attributed to it, it is nowadays little more than a pressure group of the far-left, with some highly dubious, inconsistent and sometimes borderline-deranged views.

On Syria and again on Isis, StWC have shown they don’t really want to “stop the war” at all; just the cherry-picked wars they disagree with (normally those which involve the US or Israel). In the meantime, they are prepared for genocide to continue, as long as it's Arabs killing other Arabs.

If StWC really wants to help the inhabitants of the Middle East as much as it purports to, it needs to get its priorities straight. Better still, it could just disband altogether.

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