2015 is going to be a dangerous year

by Rob Marchant

No, not because there is a general election coming and, given how balanced on a knife-edge the whole thing is, the stakes are unusually high and any false move will likely be enough to do for Labour’s hopes. Although that, too, is true.

At our year-end stocktaking, perhaps it behoves us to climb into the helicopter and look at where we are in time and place.

And if there were a year to bring home to European and US citizens that their current leaders do not really seem up the job of world statesmanship, 2014 was it. In terms of foreign events, it has been a fairly astonishing year.

First in the list of astonishing feats has been that the bullying leader of a major military power – and the world’s sixth largest economy – could take two sizeable bites out of a neighbour’s territory, with scant response from the developed world, other than an outbreak of gratuitous harrumphing and some fairly limited sanctions.

An action and reaction that reminded anyone with a sense of history of nothing so much as the gradual nibbling away of Czechoslovakia in 1938 by Germany, one of the main preludes to the Second World War. And of Chamberlain’s memorable response, that it was “a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing”.

Second, that the US should delude itself that there was a realistic hope of sensible negotiations with Iran over nuclear weapons, with the US negotiating hopefully that the country might see fit to give up something that international law said they were not supposed to have in the first place. The Iranians, surely, cannot believe their luck that it has gone this far.

Third, that the West’s abject failure to act in Syria three years ago has, predictably, come back to bite it in the horrific form of Islamic State, happy to assassinate the innocent merely to send us all a crazed message.

During the course of the next 12 months, we could easily see development in one or more of these threats: a total meltdown in Iraq and neighbouring Middle Eastern states; a nuclear Iran, toward which Israel might well lose its patience, in the absence of meaningful American support; and a renewed Russian campaign against the rest of Ukraine, or even a Baltic state or two.

And the nightmare scenario of all these is surely this last: Russia invades – or pseudo-invades – Latvia, Estonia or Lithuania, followed by no meaningful response by the West. Geopolitical stability is all about action and response; credible threats and credible responses. If NATO retaliation against an attacked member state can no longer be relied upon, then this – albeit flawed and imperfect – cornerstone of post-war world stability will have ceased to have meaning. The start of a dizzying, terrifying era of “open season” will have begun.

It is difficult to believe that Putin is not eyeing his expansionist options, which he has until early 2017 to put in place, if he wants to take advantage of weakness at the White House while the winds are blowing his way.

And so we turn to Labour. It is certainly true that our party has scarcely been leading the charge to confront these threats. Hopelessly compromised by its unwillingness to confront an increasingly vocal pro-Islamist lobby within the British left, and its unshakeable faith that Britain’s foreign policy since 9/11 has been wholly wrong, it has danced a wobbly jig towards Guardianista neo-isolationism on all fronts, peppered with the odd, obligatory condemnation of violence.

As for the whipped vote in favour of recognising Palestine, while neglecting the fact that a significant part of its geography is governed by murderous extremists whose values are not at all as far from Islamic State as many would like to think (see the Hamas charter here), well, the less said about that, the better.

Yes, we are only in opposition. But this is not good enough for a party aspiring to govern.

It is not that David Cameron has particularly covered himself in glory on the foreign policy front and, at times, he too seems compromised by the neo-isolationists in his own party. But, at the moment, even as a party member, one almost fears the arrival of a Labour government in such dangerous times. Not to mention, as if to add insult to injury, the labour movement leaders who have traditionally helped Labour to counter-balance the isolationists on the party’s left, to look outward, to look out for their brothers abroad; they now figure among the most vocal proponents of this new isolationism.

No, one can only hope that, should the wind blow in our favour in four months’ time – and, let’s face it, accepting that it would likely have been largely lucky electoral arithmetic that had brought us there – that the weight of office would somehow infuse our party’s leadership with a new seriousness, one that its last four years of foreign policy have notably lacked.

As the chimes ring in 2015, if you hear a faint grating sound in the background, it is surely the tectonic plates of world geopolitics, edging towards a new, more dangerous configuration, in which some momentous decisions will need to be made by grown-up politicians.

And if, in the background, you can hear another, even fainter grating sound, it may just be the sound of Ernie Bevin, figurehead of Labour’s once-proud internationalist tradition, turning in his grave.

Rob Marchant is an activist and former Labour Party manager who blogs at The Centre Left


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32 Responses to “2015 is going to be a dangerous year”

  1. swatantra says:

    One of the main problems will be what to do with the leaders of islamic State and Al Quida and Taliban when they are finally defeated as surely they will be, as night follows day. We’ve seen this scenario befote with the evil Khmer Rouge and many got off scot free through the agencies of the CIA. The CIA/USA were instrumental in setting all of them up, and have now the problem of bringing them down. They were set up as a strategy for beating Russia in the Cold War Games which America lilkes playing and is still playing in the ME with its allies like Israel and Turkey. Why should Putin have to put up with missiles pointing at Moscow based in Turkey. I wouldn’t. Maybe Obama has realised this crap game the USA have been playing and is begining to change foreign policy; bringing in Cuba from the cold.
    America must stop supporting facists in E Europe because they are Anti-Commie.
    America must stop supporting Israel in the ME because it might be the last bastion of ‘democracy’ in the ME. America has to realise that the Arabs don’t do ‘democracy’

  2. Landless Peasant says:

    It’s going to be a dangerous year alright. There will be mass riots in every part of the UK. It’s going to kick off big style. People have had enough.

  3. Strange that the problems with IS in Iraq has absolutely nothing to do with Blair and Bush’s invasion of the country and the disastrous post invasion administration. Then again we should know the neocons like Marchant are never wrong.

  4. Tafia says:

    Strange that the problems with IS in Iraq has absolutely nothing to do with Blair and Bush’s invasion of the country and the disastrous post invasion administration. Then again we should know the neocons like Marchant are never wrong.

    Strange bit of denial there. It was Blair and Bush interfering in Iraq & Afghanistan for their own agendas as opposed to what those countries people wanted that in turn encouraged these sorts of groups to grow. Then that in turn encouraged O’Barmy, Cameron and that short arsed french git whose name escapes me at the moment to start encouraging then interfering with the Arab Spring and it’s subsequent follow-ons such as Syria.

  5. John Reid says:

    Landless peasant, serious question, are you a clever parody like Dave Spart, millie Tent or owen Jones?

  6. Dan says:

    Rob, I think you are wayyyyyy over-doing it on Russia here mate. Crimea might have won Vlad some props amongst the nutters in the region (and back home) but will, I think, turn out to be a massive strategic blunder in the long term. You entirely fail to mention that the Russian economy is currently zooming towards the shitter — in the last 24 hours alone we’ve had reports of Inflation now in double digits (at least) and the Russian state pumping liquidity into their banks. With oil prices forecast to remain v.low for at least another 6 months, they’ll be burning through their (admittedly huge) cash reserves. Which kind of rules out any more adventuring around the baltic.

    Also, regarding Mr Peasants comment that….

    “It’s going to be a dangerous year alright. There will be mass riots in every part of the UK. It’s going to kick off big style. People have had enough.”

    Nope, sorry this is a fantasy. There will be no mass riots. There will be no revolution. There will be no hordes of flag waving discontents storming through the streets of Exeter, Kings Lynn or Darlington.

  7. swatantra says:

    Rob is right. Its going to be a Year of living dangerously, Thats why the Govt we elect in 2015 really matters. Do we integrate into Europe and achieve solidarity and strength, or do remain an insignificant off shore island. The future of Britain really is in the hands of maybe just 25 000 voters.

  8. Tafia says:

    Six opinion poll findings from 2014. A very interesting read.

    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/9115

  9. bob says:

    swatantra: What missiles based in turkey, they were removed years ago, nuclear gravity bombs yes under USAF control, if they were removed, all the Americans have to do is sail an aircraft carrier into the eastern Med, and what do you have in the deep magazines, yes nuclear weapons.

  10. Landless Peasant says:

    No Mr. Reid, I am the real deal, and just one of millions.

  11. Tafia says:

    No Mr. Reid, I am the real deal, and just one of millions.

    Off you pop then cock, because if you don’t vote you don’t exist, and if you don’t like what’s on offer but lack the courage to petrol bomb the police then you are irrelevant and nobody is listening. And why should they.

  12. Ex Labour says:

    Rob

    As far as your first three points are concerned you are way off beam.

    Firstly Russia has gone back into what is essentially areas which regard themselves as Russian. A friend of mine’s family still live there and they are fiercely pro-Russian and actually welcome Putins actions. It should also be said that Rusia had repeatedly asked the EU socialists not to expand EU borders into the old soviet block, but the arrogant EU elites persisted in doing this, hence the reaction. Sanctions are working and the Russian economy is tanking right now.

    Secondly its the only viable option for the US, EU and UK to negotiate with Iran. Having been there on many occassions the population really dont want any aggrovation with the west. There is now a regime who are at least prepared to talk and you know the old saying about “jaw jaw”.

    Thirdly, as one who has lived and worked in the middle east I have said on here before that we need to be careful of what we wish for in terms of ME leaders. Assad was telling everyone that the insurgents were not proponents of democracy but rushless bloodthirsty terrorists. But did we listen…..err no. Now we have appalling events taking place in the name of Islam. The west wanted to be politically correct and support Assads enemies in the name of democracy. Hows that worked for you Rob ?

    As for the rest of your conclusions and comments they are pretty much spot on.

  13. swatantra says:

    @ bob, hence Russia’s interest in the Baltic and Crimea. If the US is going to use Sea Power more then its important that Russia has the means. Britain has to disengage itself from NATO and Trident and sever its links with America to show that we Britain are not an enemy (or friend) of Russia; their enemy is the USA. We Britain will remain neutral, and hopefully the rest of Europe will follow our example.

  14. John Reid says:

    Landless I accept millions don’t vote,but how many of those far to the left of labour who aren’t SNP Plaid or greens does that make up, less than 1 million for sure. Or do you think the millions who don’t vote will be rioting after the election,Lol.

  15. Tafia says:

    Sanctions are working and the Russian economy is tanking right now.

    And luckily for us, UK banks are on the hook for over 200bn of loans that will be scrap if Russia defaults, precipitating a major banking crisis in the UK. And if it does default, it will be some time around early summer – a nice welcome present to an incoming government.

  16. bob says:

    “@ bob, hence Russia’s interest in the Baltic and Crimea. If the US is going to use Sea Power more then its important that Russia has the means. Britain has to disengage itself from NATO and Trident and sever its links with America to show that we Britain are not an enemy (or friend) of Russia; their enemy is the USA. We Britain will remain neutral, and hopefully the rest of Europe will follow our example.”

    In the words of the 80s TV comedy and the west on Breshnev stating’ countries who are neutral will be like this steak, rare medium or well done’.

    Russia at the moment is developing its ‘blue water’ again but slowly, they are putting more resources into ground and air forces with new equipment and professionalising them. When the Berlin Wall fell that was the time of greatest danger because the ‘balance of terror’ stopped.

    Just because you are neutral as in the asinine labour nuclear free city idea, does not stop fall out or your enemies disregarding the idea at the borough boundary. Look at Liverpool, we were ‘nuclear free zone’ would hardly have stopped a couple of 1mt hydrogen bombs as we are a major seaport for the reinforcement of Europe.

    Your stance is unwise if not foolish.

  17. @ExLabour: 1. Some minor success with sanctions is not at all incompatible with Putin continuing to do exactly the same; also, Russian economy tanking largely because of oil, not sanctions. Worry is that Putin shows no signs of stopping *despite* economy tanking. In fact, worse it gets, more he needs a nationalist distraction.

    2. There are plenty of alternatives to attempting “dialogue” with Iran. What is more, as and when they get the bomb, Israel is unlikely to sit back and think that’s just dandy.

    3. Assad pretended opponents were Islamist terrorists long before they actually were. But our inaction created a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  18. Tafia says:

    1. Some minor success with sanctions is not at all incompatible with Putin continuing to do exactly the same; also, Russian economy tanking largely because of oil, not sanctions.

    Some German manufacturers (including car manufacturers) are considering shifting production into Russia from Germany because of the falling Rouble. A rouble is a rouble in Russia, and cars built by a Russian workforce and sold in Russia for Roubles won’t go up in price,. Whereas making them in Germany, funded in euros means that as the Rouble deteriorates the price escalates.

    The US and UK cvan whine all they want aboout south east Ukraine, for the Germans it remains Vorsprung Durch Technilk.

  19. Tafia says:

    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/9124

    “First poll of 2015 from Opinium
    3 JAN 2015
    The Christmas polling break is over. Opinium have the first poll of 2015 out tonight, conducted for the Observer. Topline figures are CON 32%(+3), LAB 33%(-3), LDEM 8%(+2), UKIP 17%(+1), GRN 4%(-1). The poll has a sharp drop in Labour’s lead, down six points since a fortnight ago, but the previous poll was that rather incongruous seven point Labour lead, so part of the change will just be a correction after an unusual poll.”

    Watched Umanna on TV earlier. They really need to do some work on him – he just comes across as a teachers pet sort of boy, big cry baby,wimp, and a fanny.

  20. Landless Peasant says:

    @ Tafia

    “if you don’t vote you don’t exist”

    Oh but I DO vote, just not for Blue Labour! If Labour want my vote they first have to offer me something, and I’m still waiting….

  21. Henrik says:

    @Landless Peasant: I suspect Labour are probably not going to court you for your vote, as embracing your desired outcomes would get your vote, but probably lose five others, for whom your outcomes would not be desirable.

    You’re probably right to look outside the party of the public sector, the welfare-dependent and the liberal intelligentsia for an outfit espousing your ideals.

  22. Kevin T says:

    So what do all the anti-Putinites want us to do? Restart the cold war with Russia or actually get into a hot war with the world’s second largest nuclear power? As has been pointed out, the Ukraine issue is actually a longstanding territorial dispute over specific regions (with large Russian populations) and it has 2 sides to it. You can side with Ukraine while at least acknowledging the Russians are not acting unilaterally and without provocation. No serious observer believes Russia is “taking bites” out of Ukraine with a view to conquering the country, like Germany did with Czechoslovakia. Surely this is a situation where the world should be encouraging negotiation and trying to calm the sides down, rather than take sides and cheerlead.

  23. John P Reid says:

    Landless peasant,blue labour is a think tank,inspired by the last days of the Attlee Gov’t, to use community projects to add additional resouces to the state funding society,

    Blue Labour isn’t the current labour party,

  24. Landless Peasant says:

    @ John P. Reid

    Blue Labour is the result of undue influence of Traitors like Blair and Glasman et al. The reason I no longer vote Labour. Too much like the Tory scum. Both support Benefit Sanctions. Green for me, unless of course we have a candidate for Class War or SWP that is.

  25. John Reid says:

    Landless peasant, I suggest you look up SWP rape apologists
    , Glasman, and Blair aren’t the same at all, an idiot could have told you that,Blair isnt wasnt and never will be blue labour

  26. John P Reid says:

    In the 31 years 7 months 10 days between the 1951 and the 1983 Geneal elections labour lost 5.6m votes, it’s now 31years 7 months 10 days since the 1983 election when labour got 8.4m votes, labours last election we got 8.6 m votes

    Next election it’ll either be A Tory overall Or the Tory Minority and theyll go it alone have another election 6 months later, and financially throw the kitchen sink at it, where labour can’t afford 2 elections

  27. Tafia says:

    John Reid Landless peasant, I suggest you look up SWP rape apologists

    In his defence, I suggest you look up paedophile rape gangs in Labour Rotherham, Labour Rochdale, Labour Keighley and others of vulnerable children supposed to be under Labour-supervised authorty control.

  28. Tafia, o.k fair point I’ve been hounded, nearly expelled from the labour party, for calling those labour party members to be expelled and prosecuted, I can’t say what Landless view iS on the SWP, but where labour councils covered things up, the SWP HAD A SHARIA LAW STYLE COURT

  29. Also Swatantra said on leftfutures the other day, John Mann and Simon Danzanks should use parliamentary privilege to name those ex MPs who they have evidence of peadophiles, my reply was ,Parliamentary privilege could then also be used to reveal those on the SWP’s Kangaroo court ,jury who found their colleagues not guilty of rape when two women approached their leaders said they’d been raped and the SWP leaders told them ,that the police couldn’t be trusted, we’ll have our own report to see if your allegations are true

    Or Rotherham labour council,to see with the police if they covered it up or whether they can face prosecutions and name them

  30. paul barker says:

    I was interested by John P Reids comparison of the Election results in 1951, 1983 & 2010. However, using only 3 data points distorts the picture. If we look at all the Elections 1951 -2010 there is a clear trend for the two-party vote to fall by about 1% every 2 years. Because of Militant/Benn/SDP & so on the 1983 result went way off trend, the two-party vote share falling by 11% over a single term.
    I think 2015 will be like 1983 with a big fall in the two-party vote share.

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