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Unquestionably one of the main reasons for Jeremy Corbyn's popularity and for the influx of new members to the Labour Party once he became leader was his consistent opposition to Britain's military adventures overseas. Yet very little of this appeared in the much admired 2017 election manifesto. It is true that in the very first paragraph of the section 'A Global Britain' (the heading 'Global Britain' could also be found in the Tory 2017 manifesto) we find a commitment to 'end support for unilateral aggressive wars of intervention' and, under the heading 'Diplomacy' there is a call for suspending arms sales to Saudi Arabia until there has been 'a comprehensive, independent, UN-led investigation into alleged violations of International Humanitarian Law in Yemen'. But the main firm commitments in the section on Defence are to combatting Daesh (by 'all lawful action necessary'), supporting NATO and Britain's defence industry, and to renewing Trident. Pride is expressed in the fact that 'the last Labour Government consistently spent above the NATO benchmark of 2 per cent of GDP' while 'Conservative spending cuts have put Britain's security at risk.'

Nothing is said about the uses to which Britain's military expenditure have been put over the last, say, twenty years, a period in which Britain collaborated in the destruction of three states - Iraq, Libya and Syria - to which we might add Afghanistan, though it had already been reduced to chaos by the proxy USSR/US war in the 1980s, followed by the internecine warfare of rival Islamist groups that had previously enjoyed US support. The Taliban had only just managed to secure some degree of national unity and the first prerequisite for the existence of a state - a monopoly of armed power - when the country was plunged back into chaos by the US led 'war on terror'. A war on terror that has brought Daesh into existence and spread Al Qaida inspired groups throughout the Middle East.

It is not at all obvious that any military action taken so far from our borders could contribute to our own defence or security. Even if we agree that Saddam Hussein, Bashir Assad, Muammar Gaddafi, or the Taliban were very wicked people who deserve to be overthrown it is surely obvious that we and our allies have proved incapable of replacing them with anything better. Even by purely military standards our achievement has been unimpressive to say the least. Frank Ledwidge's important book Losing Small Wars describes how easily we were defeated in Basra and in Helmand, earning the contempt of our US allies. Some of us hoped that with Corbyn becoming leader of the Labour Party this record of disgrace would come to the centre of British politics but so far Labour has maintained the traditional discretion in such matters.

There was what could have been an historic moment when in July 2016 the Chilcot Report into the conduct of the war in Iraq was published and Jeremy Corbyn issued a public apology for the Labour Party's role in promoting it. What could have been a dramatic turning point in Labour's foreign and defence policy was however sabotaged when the Parliamentary Labour Party chose that moment to launch its vote of no confidence, plunging the party into an unnecessary and damaging leadership contest. Since then, Corbyn seems to have decided that discretion is the better part of valour when it comes to defence policy. Hence the reticence of the manifesto and the fact that the defence portfolio has been given to Nia Griffiths who is not exactly articulating any sort of radical new approach.