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Jeremy Corbyn Tries the Truth

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Part I -- Speaking the Truth

On 26 May 2017 Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of British Labour Party, made a speech which dealt in large part with security and foreign policy. Much of his presentation was surprisingly accurate. Here is what he said:

-- There is a cause and effect relationship "between wars our governments supported and fought in other countries and terrorism here at home." For instance, the 22 May 2017 Manchester bombing, which killed 22 people, may well be connected to the United Kingdom's involvement in the overthrow of the Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi and the subsequent civil wars.

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--This cause and effect relationship is not a matter of speculation. "Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed to these connections."

-- Past governments have not been willing to address these connections, and now the people of the UK are confronted with a "war on terror that is simply not working."

-- "We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism." Therefore, Corbyn promised that, if he were to become the leader of the British government, he would "change what we do abroad."

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Corbyn's speech is unusual because political leaders rarely point out that policies supported by major special interest groups (such as the Zionists, Saudis and the arms industry) are really catastrophic errors. More rarely still do they say so in public. In the case of terrorist attacks, almost every Western leader has blamed "radical Islam" (leaving out, of course, any reference to Saudi Wahhabism). The public at large has gone along with this view because it echoes the media message that constitutes the source of their knowledge on most non-local subjects. The media outlets have never told them that the murderous foreign policies of their own governments contributed to terrorism coming to their shores. And now, along comes Jeremy Corbyn's message that British policies abroad have something to do with British tragedies at home.

Part II -- The Reaction

Such a fundamental challenge to policy can be traumatic, so Corbyn's political foes have responded with indignation. For instance, Ben Wallace, Minister of State for security in the present Conservative government, labeled Corbyn's remarks as "crass and appallingly timed." The word "crass" means rude or vulgar and it is hard to see how stating a truism in acceptable English qualifies as crass. Just so, why characterize Corbyn's timing, coming shortly after the Manchester terror attack, as "appalling"? Should the Labour Party leader have waited for a lull in such attacks so that his point would be missed by the British public? Wallace also indulged in wrongheaded denial. He charged Corbyn with being ahistorical in his assessment of terrorist enemies. He stated that "these people [the terrorists] hate our values, not our foreign policy."

It is depressing that conservatives throughout the Western world have learned so little -- if anything at all -- since 2001. That is the year George W. Bush delivered the grotesquely misleading line that Ben Wallace now echoes. Right after 9/11 Bush proclaimed the terrorists do what they do (at least in the West) because "they hate our freedoms." Anyone who is familiar with the attitudes of Middle East militants, religious or secular, knows that the vast majority do not care what sort of values and freedoms we practice in our own countries. However, they do care about the damaging foreign policies we impose upon their countries.

Tim Farron, the British Liberal Democratic leader, also went after Corbyn for using the moment of the Manchester terrorist attack to make "a political point." Apparently, though, it's a point that Farron has missed. What is important about Corbyn's statement is that it properly contextualizes not only the Manchester attack but most of all other terrorist attacks in the West. Corbyn's message is an accurate historical analysis that has political implications.

Part III -- To What Avail the Truth?

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Politicians obviously have self-interested reasons for denying that they have misinterpreted, miscalculated, and then persisted in bad policies that have resulted in death and destruction for their own countrymen as well as others. No doubt a sort of special interest-induced myopia allows some of them to believe that if they only stick to their strategy they will prevail.

This is certainly the case with the American president Donald Trump. After the latest terror attack in London he let loose a Twitter broadside telling the world "we must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people." This lined up nicely with Prime Minister Theresa May's public comment that the British government has been "too tolerant" toward terrorists. These words have little real meaning. They are more likely code words for continued Western violence in the Middle East, which Mr. Corbyn correctly identifies as the reason there are terrorist attacks in our part of the world in the first place.

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Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign
Policy Inc.: Privatizing America's National Interest
; America's
Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli
Statehood
; and Islamic Fundamentalism. His academic work is focused on the history of American foreign relations with the Middle East. He also teaches courses in the history of science and modern European intellectual history.

His blog To The Point Analyses now has its own Facebook page. Along with the analyses, the Facebook page will also have reviews, pictures, and other analogous material.

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