Should the Labour Party ever support military intervention?

Under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn it appears unlikely that Labour will ever support military intervention or the use of military force. Corbyn is famous for his anti-war views and during the leadership hustings memorably said he could not imagine a situation where he would send British troops abroad. Therefore is this now a position which will now be adopted by the whole Labour Party.

Corbyn is clearly not the only figure within the Labour movement who feels this way. The Labour Party is still haunted by the spectre of Iraq and is now incredibly cautious about any further military intervention, shown in the last Parliament with their position on Syria. This view is shared by the general public who are war weary. The Iraq debacle has taken its toll and the public are sceptical about further military excursions. Corbyn’s positions on other defence and military issues could well be damaging, but on this subject he is likely to have the support of the public.

The world however is changing and is rarely black and white anymore. New threats are emerging which will have to be investigated and tackled and it would be foolish to rule anything out. There are also certain principles inherent to the Labour Party which may mean at times military intervention is a policy they should support. The Labour Party has prided itself on standing up for the vulnerable and defending those who cannot defend themselves. There is a number of different ways that you can do this, but there may come a time when military force or intervention is the only option to achieve these principles. Labour as a responsible opposition also have a duty to consider sensibly everything the government brings forward before just opposing it.

The Labour Party is a broad church made up of many different opinions and on this subject like many others there is likely to be disagreements. Corbyn has clear ideals in this area and they are to be respected, but there will be times when his instincts may be wrong as situations will rarely be clear-cut. Foreign policy is an ever changing beast and no-one can truly predict what will happen in the future and politically you must give yourself room to manoeuvre.  This means it would be the wrong move to ever totally rule out military intervention and the Labour Party as a whole must resist any move in this direction.

Article by Mike Hough

Photograph – The Irish Times

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