In the name of decency: the contortions of the pro-war left by Richard Seymour
In January 2005, following the torture and murder of the Iraqi trade unionist Hadi Saleh, ‘Labour Friends of Iraq’ issued an open letter demanding the Stop the War Coalition condemn the murder (which it already had1), and drop its support for the right of Iraqis to resist the occupation. Among the signatories were former members of the New Left Review editorial board Branka Magas, Quintin Hoare, Norman Geras and Chris Bertram. Columnists Nick Cohen and David Aaronovitch, as well as Paul Anderson of the Labour left Tribune, also signed. Not all of the signatories were in favour of the war on Iraq, but all were agreed that support for the anti-imperialist resistance was out of question.
This was the first of a series of initiatives in which left wing supporters of the ‘war on terror’ sought an alliance with those of its opponents who had no principled objection to imperialism. Later initiatives such as Unite Against Terror and the Euston Manifesto confirmed this alliance, gaining the support of such figures as Christopher Hitchens, one time International Socialist. Indeed, many of the pro-war left’s most strident adherents were both anti-imperialists and revolutionaries in the past. For a variety of reasons, these people are now united by the conviction that in the current geopolitical realities, support for imperialism is a left wing position. In this, they are allied with liberals and social democrats who have a history of support for imperialism.
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