The instinct among parts of the left to cheerlead the right’s war crimes, so long as they are dressed up as liberal “humanitarianism”, is alive and kicking, as Owen Jones revealed in a recent column on the plight of the Uighurs at China’s hands.
The “humanitarian war” instinct persists even after two decades of the horror shows that followed the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the US and UK; the Western-sponsored butchering of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi that unleashed a new regional trade in slaves and arms; and the West’s covert backing of Islamic jihadists who proceeded to tear Syria apart.
In fact, those weren’t really separate horror shows: they were instalments of one long horror show.
The vacuum left in Iraq by the West – the execution of Saddam Hussein and the destruction of his armed forces – sucked in Islamic extremists from every corner of the Middle East. The US and UK occupations of Iraq served both as fuel to rationalise new, more nihilistic Islamic doctrines that culminated in the emergence of the Islamic State group, and as a training ground for jihadists to develop better methods of militarised resistance.
That process accelerated in post-Gaddafi Libya, where Islamic extremists were handed an even more lawless country than post-invasion Iraq in which to recruit followers and train them, and trade arms. All of that know-how and weaponry ended up flooding into Syria where the same Islamic extremists hoped to establish the seat of their new caliphate.
Many millions of Arabs across the region were either slaughtered or forced to flee their homes, becoming permanent refugees, because of the supposedly “humanitarian” impulse unleashed by George W. Bush and Tony Blair.