Yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn relaunched the Labour Party’s election campaign and gave a foreign policy speech in the wake of the Manchester bombings. Mr. Corbyn suggested that there is a correlation between Britain’s interventionist wars in the Middle East and the spate of terror attacks on U.K. soil. Unsurprisingly, the Conservative Party reacted with outrage and accused the Labour leader of exploiting the recent tragedy to gain political capital and that he was making excuses for terrorism.
Discussing Britain’s foreign policy, Jeremy Corbyn suggested that Britain’s interventionist wars in the Middle East are a contributing factor when it comes to the growing number of terror attacks across the country. Mr. Corbyn went on to claim that a number of experts within the intelligence community shared his view. Corbyn’s comments are substantiated by a Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) report prepared in 2003, which warned the then government that military action in Iraq would significantly increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks against the U.K. and her allies. The assessment was initially a sensitive and classified document but was later declassified.
“The threat from al-Qaeda will increase at the onset of any military action against Iraq. They will target Coalition forces and other Western interests in the Middle East. Attacks against Western interests elsewhere are also likely, especially in the US and UK, for maximum impact. The worldwide threat from other Islamist groups and individuals will increase significantly.”
The Labour leader committed to tackling terrorism by making changes to policy both at home and abroad. At home, Corbyn plans to reverse the cuts made by the current government, where police forces have seen their numbers reduced by 20,000 and the armed forces by one-fifth, where the number of serving officers and personnel has dwindled to less than 85,000. He also added that terrorists are often radicalized in a prison setting and vowed to ensure that the Prison Service is properly resourced, funded and trained to deal with the issue.
Understanding the causes of terrorism was also a key theme in Corbyn’s foreign policy speech.
“Protecting this country requires us to be both strong against terrorism and strong against the causes of terrorism. The blame is with the terrorists, but if we are to protect our people we must be honest about what threatens our security.”
Boris Johnson, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, described Mr. Corbyn’s comments as “monstrous” and refused to accept that Britain’s foreign policy is in any way flawed.
“Whatever we do, we can’t follow the logic of the terrorists and start blaming ourselves or our society or our foreign policy.”
A week after the London bombings, however, Johnson drew similar parallels and suggested that the Iraq war had created a pretext for retaliation by Islamic fundamentalists. In fact, the comments made by Johnson were so similar to those made by Corbyn, that Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence, mistakenly attacked Johnson’s comments in a Channel 4 News report, in the belief that they came from Corbyn himself, arguing that they should “not be allowed to make excuses”.
Speaking from the G7 Summit in Sicily, Theresa May also fiercely defended her government’s policy and attacked the Labour leader for speaking out so shortly after the bombings in Manchester.
“Jeremy Corbyn has said that terror attacks in Britain are our own fault – and he has chosen to do that just a few days after one of the worst terrorist atrocities we have experienced in the United Kingdom.
“I want to make one thing very clear to Jeremy Corbyn, and it is that there can never be an excuse for terrorism, there can be no excuse for what happened in Manchester.”
Jeremy Corbyn reiterated throughout his foreign policy speech, however, that the bombers were solely responsible for the recent atrocities but noted that the war on terror has failed and that a more intelligent approach is required to combat terrorism and keep the public safe.
[Featured Image by Ben Prutchnie/Getty Images]