Has anyone seen Boris Johnson? If you have put the news on on the telly, you may have noticed that the world is teetering on the brink of catastrophe because Donald Trump has decided that his best route to victory in this year’s US presidential election is to start a war in the Middle East. This is, not so funnily enough, exactly what he warned that Obama would do when he was seeking a second term in office. Back then Trump said such a move would be a disaster and a sign that the president was unable to negotiate, and that the president would start a war for purely selfish reasons. So at least we know that he’s not wrong all the time.
Back in the UK, that supposedly leading player on the world stage, the state that prides itself on punching above its weight and being too big and too important for its ambitions to be contained within the structures of the EU, there’s been not a word from Boris Johnson. He’s been sunning himself and getting drunk in a luxury resort island in the Caribbean, the playground of millionaires, minor royals, and social climbers with more money than morals. In his absence, we’ve been left with Dominic Raab to represent us, and if that sentence doesn’t fill you with terror then probably nothing will. Being represented by Dominic Raab at a time of world crisis is like finding yourself lost in the wilderness with a very angry Uber driver with a throbbing vein in his forehead who’s missed his last three sessions of court ordered anger management classes.
Dominic has assured us that the UK is “on the same page” as the USA over the murder of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani. We’re on the same page as a narcissistic arsonist who is setting fire to the planet in order to pursue his own selfish personal electoral interests and avoid facing possible prosecution in a number of looming court cases because as soon as he’s no longer president he loses his legal immunity. So that’s reassuring. How’s that punching above our weight thing working out for everyone in Scotland?
The Americans have claimed that Suleimani posed an “imminent” danger, but they haven’t said what this meant and haven’t provided any evidence. We’re just expected to take Donald Trump’s word for it. I hold no candle for Qassem Suleimani. The military leader of the hardline faction in a country which systematically abuses human rights is most likely not going to be a “nice person” by any rational definition of the term. However assassinating him as he arrived in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government – a government which is supposedly an ally of the USA and the UK – is a crime, pure and simple. If the Iranians had assassinated a leading British or American government figure as they arrived on a visit to a third country, this would be cited as evidence of state sponsored terrorism. It doesn’t magically stop being terrorism just because Donald Trump was the one who ordered it.
We’re now waiting to see how the Iranians will respond, which they most assuredly will. The world has become a far less safe place, and it wasn’t exactly secure to begin with. The American administration took this step without consulting or informing any of its allies. The UK didn’t know about it in advance. We shouldn’t be surprised. After all, you don’t consult with the poodle before you decide to go for a walk in the war park. Trump has threatened that if the Iranians do retaliate, his forces will target Iran’s interests, not just military interests but also sites of cultural importance. That’s a war crime, yet the UK is “on the same page” and is not condemning any of this.
Yet again we are seeing the UK being dragged into foreign adventurism in far away countries where we have no business being, this time in order to boost the electoral prospects of an American president who is mired in serious allegations of criminal behaviour. This is what punching above our weight really means. It means providing a fig leaf of internationalism to the behaviour of an out of control American president who thinks of nothing and no one but his own selfish interests. British citizens will die for this. Countless more people in the Middle East will die for this. And for what? Four more years of Donald Trump and pathetic cheerleading for his adventurism from British politicians who are taking the UK ouf of the EU because they are desperate to enrich themselves by opening up the UK to the predations of American corporations and desperate to avoid the tax supervision regulations of the EU. The UK only punches above its weight when it comes to prioritising the selfish private greed of the wealthy.
And where is Boris Johnson throughout all of this? He’s still in Mustique on holiday. He is apparently flying back to London on Sunday. In 2011 when he was mayor of London he refused to cut short his holiday in Canada when London was burning in the riots of that year. In 2020 he’s refused to cut short his holiday in Mustique when Donald Trump has set the Middle East on fire. He’s got his majority in the Commons, as far as he’s concerned the hard work is done. Although to be honest, nothing much will change whether he’s lying hauf-cut on a sunbed in Mustique or fnaugh-fnaughing in front of a camera in a BBC studio in London.
What will this new war achieve for the UK? More glorification of the armed forces, more poppies and parades, and more ignoring the needs of the wounded or those traumatised by their service who’re left homeless and begging on the streets. It will create more hatred for the UK abroad, and more death and destruction in places where the UK has no business being.
The UK’s constant warmongering and its willingness to go to war whenever an American president blows the war whistle for the poodle is an important and pressing reason for Scottish independence. We are constantly being told by British nationalists that Scotland depends upon the UK armed forces to defend it in a dangerous world, but the truth is that being a part of the UK makes Scotland a more dangerous place because it makes Scotland a part of and complicit in the actions of a state that doesn’t believe in peace. In the 313 years that Scotland has been a part of the UK, there have only been some 70 years when the UK was not engaged in military action somewhere in the world. That is not the record of a state which is devoted to peace. It’s the record of a state that sees military violence as something to be embraced.
An independent Scotland can create a defence force which is appropriate to the needs of Scotland, and appropriate to the needs of a country which believes in peace and which doesn’t enthusiastically involve itself in the dangerous adventurism of Whitehall or the Pentagon. Being a part of the UK doesn’t defend Scotland, doesn’t make Scotland a safer place. All it does is to make Scotland a part of a network of militarism which has no interest in what is best for Scotland or what is best for peace. Independence will not only make Scotland a safer place, it will be a small step towards helping make the world a safer place too. Independence means fewer Scots dying and killing in far away lands.
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