Owen Jones’s anti-colonialism reflects a dead ideology

Owen Jones's Independent article today confirms that the old Left wing notion of anti-interventionism still rules the roost in some circles. That ideology is dead, explains Raheem Kassam

French jets take towards Mali
On 14 January 2013 10:53

The Left’s desperation to find new attack lines against the British government is becoming more and more evident as we progress through this parliament. More often than not, they are so devoid of ammunition that they have begun to war with themselves over the verbiage used to describe transsexuals, and whether their militant cohorts should or should not be able to circumvent legal processes to defend their institutions.

So it comes as no surprise therefore that on the day in history when Churchill, Roosevelt and de Gaulle met in Casablanca to thrash out the plan for the next phase in the war against Nazi Germany, the Left’s orator-in-chief, Owen Jones, has set out a wholly incoherent position on France and Britain’s role in the developing conflict in Mali.

Jones, true to form, begins by suggestively offering that “Britain is now involved in yet another military conflict in a Muslim land” – as if the fact that al-Qaeda terrorists attempting to takeover ‘Muslim lands’ is somehow Britain’s fault. No, what Owen is trying to imply is that (“once again!”) Britain is waging war on Islam. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.

And so Jones positions himself precariously between ostensibly advocating for Mali to fall to Al-Qaeda, utilising his pulpit in the increasingly puerile pages of the Independent newspaper to assert that it is colonialism and the Libyan intervention that is to blame for the Mali crisis. Jones states:

“Mali’s current agony has only just emerged in our headlines, but the roots go back generations,” before going on to contradict himself by offering, “this intervention is itself the consequence of another… The Libyan war”.

Even if we take his points at face value, that the French caused ethnic rivalries during its colonisation of Mali, and that the Libyan campaign served to bolster the Tuaregs thereafter – what justification is this for seemingly opposing an intervention against a terrorist outfit intent on creating for itself, as we have seen elsewhere in the world, a state for itself to run roughshod over?

Of course there is none. While Jones is correct to point out that good and evil as objective concepts is an impossible leap, he forgets that in a world of grey areas, there is better, and there is worse. He cites Amnesty International, that old bastion of integrity, to help his claim that we are assisting the Malian government that Jones calls, “far from human-rights-loving democrats.”

But in addition to the subjective nature of Leftist carping on human rights (see Gaza, Venezuela, Cuba to name a few), where does Jones get off juxtaposing the Malian government’s limited human rights abuses (by his own words, a result of French colonialism rather than an inherent evil) with the terrorist tactics of Al-Qaeda in Mali? While there are examples of illiberal measures being used in Malian prisons, is it not Jones’s assertion (or certainly that of his ilk) that we should not measure non-Western countries by Western standards?

Freedom House is an organisation that seeks to do just that, however. And still ranks Mali as ‘free’ – one of only 9 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to obtain such a high ranking. But Jones doesn’t want facts to muddy the waters of his anti-colonialist, anti-interventionist rantings.

The crucial point that Jones fails to focus upon is that the intervention in Libya has proved that the most nefarious elements seek to hijack both Islam and long-lasting ethnic rivalries in the region, the latter of which was nowhere near as pronounced in recent years until Al-Qaeda sought to ‘divide-and-rule’, in the words of Jones’s charge at the French of 1892.

We would perhaps be better placed returning today to Casablanca of 1943, wherein Roosevelt, Churchill and de Gaulle pronounced that the allies would accept nothing less than the “unconditional surrender” of the Axis powers – a position that the West has repeatedly asserted with regard to Al-Qaeda, and one that Owen and his cohorts would do well to get used to.

In the meantime, the Left must look within and find out whether it stands against terrorism, or whether its dead reflections on colonialism will continue to shape its worldview, opting to fear terror, as Jones concludes upon, or whether it is once again ready to stand full force against it. 

Raheem Kassam is the Executive Editor of The Commentator

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