Three positions as National Union of Students debates Syria

Submitted by AWL on 13 September, 2013 - 11:32

On 16 September, the national executive council of the National Union of Students will debate Syria.

There are three motions: one from Workers' Liberty member Rosie Huzzard; one from the broadly New Labour leadership of NUS; and one from the Stalinist Socialist Action group. (You can read all three here.)

Rosie's motion opposes the US bombing Syria while also opposing Assad, his foreign imperialist backers and the sectarian opposition militias. It argues for solidarity with democratic and working-class organisations in Syria, as well as support for Syrian students in the UK.

The leadership motion says that NUS should "maintain at this stage no position on intervention". This is presumably because of the disagreement among the different right-wing factions in the Labour Party about the issue.

The idea that a union cannot take a position on controversial issues is wrong. This is particularly the case since it seems like the NUS leadership motion will hinder, rather than promote, debate about such issues among NUS's affiliates and members.

Those in the NUS leadership "group" who see themselves as left-wing, anti-war and internationalist should vote for Rosie's motion, not for the "no position" one.

The Socialist Action motion is a pro-Assad motion posing as anti-war. All it says is that it is against US intervention. It says nothing about Assad's war, backed by Russia and Iran, because in fact Socialist Action supports that war.

If Socialist Action were honest, this is what they might have written:

NEC Believes:
1. That Bashar al-Assad's government is waging a progressive struggle to defend Syria's national independence.
2. That all those in Syria opposing the Syrian government are, whatever their motivations, weakening this struggle against imperialism.
3. That Russia, Iran and Hesbollah are supporting Syria's anti-imperialist struggle.
NEC Resolves:
1. To support the Syrian government's struggle to defend Syrian independence.
2. To support Russian, Iranian and Hesbollah intervention in Syria.

If someone genuinely believed that a motion condemning US intervention, and saying nothing else, was adequate, that would be wrong. But it's important to understand that something else is going on here: Assad supporters covering their politics under the banner of being anti-war.

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