I don’t want to overly romanticize the International Brigades which fought against the forces of General Franco in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s.
The Brigades were a creation of the Soviet-sponsored Comintern (Communist International) and were used to strengthen the Stalin regime’s position in Spain as opposed to the more democratic elements fighting the armies of Franco and his German and Italian allies. (George Orwell was among the foreigners who fought in other militias against the Francoists.)
Nonetheless many of the International Brigades volunteers fought bravely. They suffered many casualties and most believed sincerely that they were fighting for freedom and against fascism.
With this awareness, I can appreciate Hilary Benn’s reference to the International Brigades volunteers in his memorable speech to the House of Commons supporting airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria.
But I can only be astonished by this assertion from Matt Carr, which has appeared on the Stop the War Coalition website:
To evoke the international brigades in support of Cameron’s bombing campaign requires real audacity, bad faith, and an indifference to history or the political realities of the 21st century. Benn does not even seem to realize that the jihadist movement that ultimately spawned Daesh is far closer to the spirit of internationalism and solidarity that drove the International Brigades than Cameron’s bombing campaign – except that the international jihad takes the form of solidarity with oppressed Muslims, rather than the working class or the socialist revolution.
So the murderers, rapists and enslavers of Daesh are the outgrowth of a movement in solidarity with oppressed Muslims?
To paraphrase Bob Dylan, how many times can a shark be jumped?
Update: Matt Carr’s piece has disappeared from the Stopper website, as have several appallingly stupid and offensive items over the years. But sorry, Stoppers; you can still find a cached version here.