Friday, September 04, 2009

Ground control to Major Eric

Luna17 draws attention to the resignation of Eric Joyce MP as PPS to the defence secretary, Bob Ainsworth. Joyce, a former major in the British Army, has always been one of the more emetic Blairites, a New Labour votary who spent months before the war on Iraq relentlessly propagandising on its behalf. He was the man sent out to clobber the (comparatively few) parliamentary sceptics in debates. So one wouldn't expect that his resignation is to do with anything so unparliamentary as principle. He is in fact resigning because, as he puts it:

I do not think the public will accept for much longer that our losses can be justified by simply referring to the risk of greater terrorism on our streets.

Nor do I think we can continue with the present level of uncertainty about the future of our deployment in Afghanistan.

I think we must be much more direct about the reality that we do punch a long way above our weight, that many of our allies do far too little, and that leaving the field to the United States would mean the end of NATO as a meaningful proposition.

And he goes on to propose:

It should be possible now to say that we will move off our present war-footing and reduce our forces there substantially during our next term in government.

We also need a greater geopolitical return from the United States for our efforts.

This is a serious strategic objection. Joyce is frightened that the war may be lost, and points toward ongoing divisions that - as he says - endanger NATO "as a meaningful proposition". That the stakes are this high, that a schism among the occupying powers can bring down the organisational basis of the Euro-American alliance and eventually result in America's defeat, is something that ought to give antiwar campaigners a bit of spirit and urgency. There is not a moment to lose. Build now for October 24th.