The Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a speech delivered days after the Manchester attack, that the government’s approach to tackling terrorism and the war on terror “isn’t working” and spoke of reforming UK foreign policy and the prisons system.
His comments drew immediate criticism from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, with Sir Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, accusing Corbyn of “very muddled and dangerous thinking” that implied blame on Britain for somehow bringing the Manchester terror attack on itself.
Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, intensified the attack, saying Corbyn’s comments were “absolutely monstrous”. Speaking alongside the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, he said it was “absolutely extraordinary and inexplicable in this week of all weeks that there should be any attempt to justify or to legitimate the actions of terrorists in this way”.
At this moment in the election campaign, there is value in taking a snapshot of what the repercussions of the ‘War on Terror’ has meant for the countries that are the victims.
The war in Afghanistan (2001–14) directly resulted in the deaths of 149,000 people in Afghanistan and Pakistan -according to estimates by Costs of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute. That figure includes US military members, contractors and opposition fighters – as well as at least 26,270 civilians in Afghanistan and 21,500 in Pakistan.
These figures illustrate the drastic human cost of the US led ‘War on Terror’ just in Afghanistan since 2001.
Iraq Body Count (IBC) has compiled the world’s most comprehensive set of casualty figures for deaths in Iraq since the invasion in 2003. The IBC 2012 annual report provides an insight into a conflict in which over 114,000 people have died. They are almost certainly an under-estimate.
Corbyn’s speech highlights a stark issue which Muslims have been battling for over two decades. Muslims from across the world have been saying at every opportunity, in every legitimate platform possible, that the War on Terror is not working. The War of Terror has caused terrible devastation internationally and domestically; countless lives have been taken by savage conflicts, that has ultimately achieved no sustained or positive outcome. It is only when a British political leader states the same that the media or other politicians take note. Statistical data and research papers from reputable organisations have not had the same effect which the speech of Corbyn has had in bringing this narrative out openly.
Corbyn’s political annihilation upon his comments on British Foreign Policy demonstrates that no matter what political position you are in, a system that is predicated on inherently colonial tendencies to exploit the land, labour and resource of other countries will never accept the implications of its actions when joining bombing coalitions or other aggressive foreign policy actions. It is the fikrah (idea) of Capitalism to protect itself and its Tareeqah (method) is colonialism. This is something, that no matter how principled Corbyn is, he will sadly be unable to change.