This is a cross post by John Rentoul from The Independent.
Professor John Newsinger is senior lecturer in history at Bath Spa University. He has written a book review for a supposedly serious academic journal, Race & Class. It is subscription-only, but the review starts thus:
Studies of the Labour party have overwhelmingly focused on its domestic successes and failures, in particular on its contribution to the development of the welfare state. This has been very much at the expense of its colonial, defence and foreign policies. Such a focus was always a mistake, but, today, it is surely completely untenable. Even the most parochial of commentators, whether academic or otherwise, is hard-pressed to continue this neglect of Labour’s sorry international record. Blair’s wars changed everything. The uncomfortable fact that the Labour party’s longest-serving prime minister is widely regarded as a war criminal, as a man drenched in blood, who nevertheless succeeded in becoming a multimillionaire on the back of his crimes, has made such neglect intellectually dishonest, to say the least.
From such a parochial and intellectually dishonest start, his conclusion is depressingly predictable, and the author of the book nominally in question, The Labour Party and the World, Vol. 2: Labour’s foreign policy since 1951, Rhiannon Vickers, provides a convenient “useful idiot”:
Vickers even argues that Blair’s support for the war derived from his ‘missionary zeal to make the world a better place’. Great powers do not go to war for such reasons. They sometimes say they do, but this is to appease domestic public opinion, and they are lying.
The reality is that Labour governments have consistently aligned themselves with, and subordinated themselves to, the US, sacrificing each and every principle in the process. Most recently, Labour support for the US war on terror even involved complicity in torture. Once again, this is not to say that Vickers ignores the real world, but, rather, that her account does not have any explanatory power as far as the real motives informing Labour’s foreign policy are concerned. Subordination to the US is a policy that British governments follow with grim determination because this is perceived to be in the best interests of British capital.
I don’t suppose that the book reviews are peer-reviewed, but someone must have thought that this was worth publishing and charging money for.
Professor Newsinger has form. A few years ago he wrote this, also in a “book review” for Race & Class:
The starting point for any serious consideration of terrorism as a global phenomenon is recognition that the most dangerous terrorist organisation at work in the post-1945 period has been the Central Intelligence Agency.
He went on to argue, as Michael Ezra pointed out, that the CIA is a “multi-billion dollar criminal conspiracy” that is “in the service of the US empire”.
I am all for academic freedom, but it is worrying that such feeble-minded punk Marxism is allowed out during the day