OCTOBER 27TH, 2022 by https://www.mintpressnews.com/
One of the biggest problems for the left, as it confronts what seems like humanity’s ever-more precarious relationship with the planet – from the climate emergency to a potential nuclear exchange – is that siren voices keep luring it towards the rocks of political confusion and self-harm.
And one of the loudest sirens on the British left is the environmental activist George Monbiot.
Monbiot has carved out for himself a figurehead role on the mainstream British left because he is the only big-picture thinker allowed a regular platform in the establishment media: in his case, the liberal Guardian newspaper. It is a spot he covets and one that seems to have come with a big price tag: he is allowed to criticize the corporate elite’s capture of British domestic politics – he occasionally concedes that our political life has been stripped of all democratic content – but only, it seems, because he has become ever less willing to extend that same critique to British foreign policy.
As a result, Monbiot holds as a cherished piety what should be two entirely inconsistent positions: that British and Western elites are pillaging the planet for corporate gain, immune to the catastrophe they are wreaking on the environment and oblivious to the lives they are destroying at home and abroad; and that these same elites are fighting good, humanitarian wars to protect the interests of poor and oppressed peoples overseas, from Syria and Libya to Ukraine, peoples who coincidentally just happen to live in areas of geostrategic significance.
Because of the vice-like corporate hold on Britain’s political priorities, Monbiot avers, nothing the corporate media tells us should be believed – except when those priorities relate to protecting people facing down ruthless foreign dictators, from Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Then the media should be believed absolutely.
Monbiot’s embrace of the narratives justifying Washington’s “humanitarian” interventions abroad has been incremental. Back in the late 1990s, while generally supporting the aims of NATO’s war on the former Yugoslavia, he called out its bombing of Serbia as a “dirty war”, highlighting the ecological and economic destruction it entailed. He would also sound the alarm – if ambivalently – over the Iraq war in 2003, and later become a leading proponent of jailing former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair as a war criminal for his involvement.
But as the ripples from the Iraq war spread to other parts of the Middle East and beyond, often in complicated ways, Monbiot took the good will he had earned among the anti-imperialist left and weaponized it to Washington’s advantage.
By 2007, he was swallowing wholesale the evidence-free narrative crafted in Washington and Tel Aviv that Iran was trying to acquire a nuclear bomb and needed to be stopped. In 2011, he was a reluctant supporter of the West’s campaign to violently depose Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, turning the country into a failed state of slave markets.
In 2017, he legitimized President Trump’s grounds for bombing Syria and minimized the significance of those air strikes, which were a gross violation of international law. Washington’s rationalizations for the attack – based on a claim that President Assad had gassed his own people – started to unravel when whistleblowers from the United Nations’ chemical weapons inspections agency, the OPCW, came forward. They revealed that U.S. intimidation of the OPCW had led to the inspectors’ findings being distorted for political reasons: to put Assad in the frame rather than the more likely culprits of jihadists, who hoped a false-flag gas attack would pressure the West into removing the Syrian leader on their behalf.
Monbiot has staunchly refused to address the testimony of these OPCW whistleblowers, while at the same time implicitly maligning them as being responsible for feeding “conspiracy theories”.
In the case of the Ukraine war, Monbiot has insisted on adherence to the NATO narrative, decrying any dissent as “Westplaining”. Throughout this shift ever more firmly into the imperial NATO camp, Monbiot has besmirched prominent anti-war leftists, from the famed linguist Noam Chomsky to the journalist John Pilger, as “genocide deniers and belittlers”.