15 March 2018

The Salisbury chemical attack: whatever the truth socialists should not support Putin

Russian society and politics should not be supported by socialists, irrespective of whether Putin is responsible for the Salisbury chemical attack.

I have little more than contempt for those so-called socialists who are using the Salisbury chemical attack to paint Russia as a paragon of virtue vis-a-vis the western capitalist states.

Russia under Putin is a politically corrupt kleptocracy which promotes a chauvinistic foreign policy. It seeks to undermine the western capitalist countries, not by promoting socialism, but by feeding the poison of the fascist right: support for Brexit and Trump, support for ultra-right wing parties in Europe, and hostility to lesbian and gay rights at home and abroad. Put simply everything that is wrong in North America and the EU is more wrong in Russia. Thus the argument for backing Putin rests on nothing more than the false argument that our enemy’s enemy is our friend.

Received wisdom says the Russian state was responsible for the Salisbury attack. And on the balance of probabilities that is true. Yet an element of doubt must remain: what reason did Russia have to mount a clumsy assassination attempt against a retired Russian spy in exile? And why was it done in such a way as to obviously implicate Russia?

Jeremy Corbyn is right in saying that this incident needs thorough independent investigation.There is nothing to be gained in unnecessary confrontation with Russia - even more so if it turns out that Russia is not responsible and has been set up.

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