As a critic of Jeremy Corbyn and the hideous Stop The War Coalition that he is so proud to represent, I am nevertheless tiring of the vast manipulations of the perfectly reasonable things he says. When Corbyn referred to Hamas as “dedicated to peace and social justice“, his words were clearly in context, could not be manipulated, and require a frank rebuttal given the nature of Hamas. A Labour Leader should not be referring to a fascist group of thugs as being dedicated to social justice. He abandoned every sense of liberalism the moment he referred to Hamas as “dedicated to social justice”. But – as with his words on Bin Laden’s death – often his language is entirely manipulated by my fellow critics, and it’s spectacularly frustrating, given how easy it is to criticise him without having to descend into manipulative absurdities.
So when news broke of a strike in Raqqa that killed Emwazi, I waited to see what Corbyn would say, and how his words would be used to imply something separate from what he actually said.
Corbyn’s statement on Emwazi’s death says:
“We await identification of the person targeted in last night’s US air attack in Syria. It appears Mohammed Emwazi has been held to account for his brutal and callous crimes. However, it would have been far better for us all if he had been held to account in a court of law. These events only underline the necessity of accelerating international efforts, under the auspices of the UN, to bring an end to the Syrian conflict as part of a comprehensive regional settlement.”
– In came Guido Fawkes.
There are several issues I take with this. The headline purposely lacks context and plays on the emotions of the reader. Jeremy Corbyn – already dismissed by Guido’s fellow conservatives as a terror sympathising Britain-hater (usually by those making excuses for a Saudi regime that funded the Taliban as it killed British soldiers) – thinks it’d be “better” if a terrorist was alive. That’s it. No context. The language is purposely vague because it strikes a chord. Had he been honest, the headline would have read that Corbyn thinks it’d have been better if Emwazi was held to account in a court of law. You know, like other murderers. And so that leads me to my second observation. We might assume from Guido’s context-less headline, that the Guido Fawkes’ blog thinks anyone who has committed murder should not in fact be tried in a court of law, and should be killed, because taking a murderer through court is essentially admitting that we like that they’re alive. Imagine every headline reading “Court thinks [Insert murderer’s name] is better off alive, handing shameful life sentence!” The Guido Fawkes blog hates British values of law. See how easy it is?
Corbyn’s statement of course invites criticism. It is true that it is our principle belief in the supremacy of law and order, that we must uphold at every possible opportunity, regardless of whether Fawkes would rather just kill people than see them tried. However, I see two options with Emwazi. Firstly, the US conducts an operation after months of planning and tracking, to arrest Emwazi, get him out the country, and bring him to trial. This is spectacularly difficult given that Emwazi was in the IS stronghold of Raqqa, and would inevitably result in prolonged gunfight, almost definitely casualties, a wonderful IS opportunity to propagandise, and a big chance that Emwazi would get away, given that troops would be engaged in fighting long before getting to him. The US would also need to get him to a secure location in order to then get him out the country. The risks are huge. The second option, was a targeted drone strike on an enemy combatant, who had already murdered US citizens. This response also has the benefit of minimal risk of civilian casualties, and coincided with a Kurdish push to take back land lost to IS in the past. I see no reason to favour the former, and every reason to press ahead with the latter option, as the US did, successfully.
Legitimate criticism of Corbyn’s pacifist position does not require descending into vast manipulations for conservative political point scoring.