Ever since the neocons began to gain control of US foreign policy in the mid-1990s one country outside the US has been their staunchest supporter. That country is Britain, which has unswervingly followed neocon dictates in its foreign policy ever since Tony Blair was elected Prime Minister in 1997.
Britain has been party to every one of the neocon wars. It joined in the attacks on Yugoslavia in 1999, on Afghanistan in 2001, on Iraq in 2003, and on Libya in 2011. It has strongly supported and colluded in the campaign of subversion against President Assad of Syria, which is the reason for the Syrian war.
The British government has argued alongside the neocons for the doctrine known as R2P – the so-called “right to protect” – which they say gives a privileged group of Western countries – basically the US, Britain and France, but sometimes also Germany – the right and even the duty to wage war around the world and to overthrow governments they don’t like without the prior authorisation of the UN Security Council.
Tony Blair in a now notorious speech delivered in 1999 in Chicago articulated this whole neocon view most coherently, arguing for the repudiation of the whole of the so-called Westphalia doctrine of state sovereignty in international relations, which has existed since the seventeenth century and which forms the basis of the UN Charter, in favour of a new doctrine of limited sovereignty which would empower the Western powers to intervene and wage regime change wars wherever they chose to.
Britain along with the US has since the 1990s also been alongside the US and France Israel’s foremost ally, taking a grotesquely unbalanced pro-Israeli position in Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, which Blair absurdly was at one point supposed to mediate.
Britain has also been a relentless opponent of Russia’s, supporting NATO expansion, backing sanctions against Russia, and giving wholehearted support to the Maidan coup in Ukraine. The British political class, the British media, and the numerous NGOs based in Britain, have been amongst the most vicious critics of Russian President Putin, so that Britain’s preposterous Foreign Minister Boris Johnson won’t even travel to Moscow after he said he would do so.
Within the EU Britain has been one of the strongest supporters of confrontation with Russia, calling for example for Russia’s disconnection from the SWIFT international interbank payment system. It has pushed for EU expansion into eastern Europe (including Georgia and Ukraine), for the adoption of neoliberal economics, and for restrictions to be placed on workers’ rights.
The financial community in the City of London has become alongside Wall Street the champion of unrestrained financial globalisation, taking the process of deregulation even further than Wall Street has done.
One individual in Britain has stood full square in opposition to all of this. That person is Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn has staunchly opposed all the regime change wars – in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria – supports a just peace for the Palestinians, has criticised Ukraine’s Maidan coup which he blames on NATO, opposes NATO expansion, and has been an unrelenting critic of neoliberal economics and a defender of workers’ rights.
To get a sense of his positions on all these issues, see this in some ways critical article about him in Wikipedia.
The result of these years of unbending opposition to neocon and neoliberal policies is that Jeremy Corbyn has earned for himself the pathological hatred of Britain’s entire political class, first and foremost of the Blairite establishment of his own party.
The fact that Jeremy Corbyn in the face of all this hatred now stands within two percentage points of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain whenever the next British election happens, is a political fact of enormous significance.
Already this is having a practical effect. With the immense authority Corbyn has achieved by winning 40% of the vote in an election in which the political class were convinced he would crash, and in which he has deprived the Conservative government of its majority, there is now no possibility of Britain joining in any more neocon and regime change wars.
There was for example some talk before the election of Britain joining in an attack on Syria which was expected to be launched by Donald Trump. With Corbyn adamantly opposed to any such move, with the Conservatives without a majority, and with many Conservative MPs known to be hostile to the idea, the possibility of anything like that happening now no longer exists.
Whether the neocon ascendancy in Britain can ever be reconstructed at any point in the future is another matter. In the meantime Corbyn’s success in the British election shows the disenchantment of the people of Britain with the neocon policies the elite has foisted on them, so that millions of British people have now voted for the one politician in Britain who on the basis of his previous record can be trusted to oppose them, despite the frantic efforts of the British elite to scare them from doing so.
Coming so soon after the victory in the US of Donald Trump, it is difficult to see in this anything other than the beginning of the end for the whole neocon project.