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What Do Americans Think of Corbyn's Foreign Policy

21/09/2015 16:11 BST | Updated 21/09/2016 10:12 BST

Jeremy Corbyn is hardly a household name in the United States, but his election win has pricked some ears on this side of the Atlantic. Few US reports about Corbyn's victory have focused on his domestic goals. His economic and social policies are almost never mentioned except when contextualizing the new leader as a 'socialist'. Instead it is Corbyn's extreme foreign policy that is raising American eyebrows.

Corbyn's foreign policy is a melting pot of paranoia and contradictions that have alienated even the most leftward Americans. He is inherently suspicious of perceived US imperialism, a suspicion that has led him to support an odd mixture of terrorist organisations and despotic regimes. His endearing words for Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia come in contrast to a conspicuous silence when talking about Britain's natural allies. In particular his comparison of US military action and ISIS in Fallujah have been widely reported in the US, in none to endearing terms.

To the Americans I have talked to Corbyn is like an adolescent child rebelling against anything and anyone ordinary. Determined to support the under-dogs and rebels, paranoid that everyone else is hell-bent on imposing Neoconservatism. The problem is that the groups he has ended up supporting because of this contradicts many of the genuinely progressive ideals he claims to stand for.

By appearing on Iranian state TV, a country where homosexuality is punishable by death, Corbyn makes a mockery of his 'principled' stance against homophobia. When Corbyn calls for warmer relations with Russia, and describes Russian media as more 'objective' than its Western counterpart, he contradicts his defence for democratic causes. And when Corbyn calls Hamas - an organisation whose founding charter calls for the extermination of a race - "friends", he contradicts any suggestion he is anti-racist. These contradictions are all too noticeable to the American audience.

Such contradictions are typical of Corbyn's Labour, convinced that their answers are not only undeniably correct, but morally absolute.

There are credible grievances within the Corbyn camp and I am by no means claiming the US or Israel is flawless in everything it does. The problem is that if you end up in a pattern of defending anti-establishment groups simply because they are positioned against the traditional status-quo you end up shielding a world-view which contradicts your own.

"If our global alliances are going to be alliances with Hezbollah and Hamas and Hugo Chavez's Venezuela and Vladimir Putin's Russia, there is absolutely no chance of building a world-wide alliance that can deal with poverty and inequality and climate change and financial instability, and we've got to face up to that fact." said Gordon Brown during the Labour leadership campaign.

Here's a controversial perspective for Labour's conspiracy theorists: I believe we should side with democratic countries, which endow their citizens with rights. We should promote and work towards representative politics and economic progress. This means dropping the anti-American nonsense and respecting Israel, the only functioning democracy in the Middle East, not resolutely, but at least objectively. We should stand up for our allies, as well as looking for solutions with our enemies.

Mr Corbyn could do with a gentle reminder that there is no grand conspiracy; no US-Israeli plot for global domination; no secret group determined to impose capitalism on the world. It is time Corbyn's Labour stepped out of its cartoon world and into the complexities of real life geo-politics.

When I was a student I sat through several lectures which dissected the nature of Western democracy. The discussions came up with some interesting arguments: Democracy works for the rich who are far more likely to vote, leading to inherently unfair policies; Regular elections create unstable countries without the ability to long-term plan, etc.

Sitting in the room you could easily conclude that a benign dictatorship was preferable to a healthy democracy. This is an exciting path to go down, you feel intellectually superior, as if you have discovered the faults in everyone else's logic, seen the light, so to speak.

But, don't let the blood rush to your head, you have not. If the alternatives to democracy and capitalism were superior to what we have, would we not have adopted them by now? If Russia, Iran and Hamas were better strategic partners than America and Israel, would we not have partnered with them long ago? The British people are not ignorant, they have considered the alternatives to the way things are, and en-masse, over hundreds of years, elected to keep broadly the same set of values, ideals and allies.

Perhaps it is time Labour stopped fighting against the way things are, and started aiming for practical, progressive steps to improve them. Maybe then they could move from being a party of contradiction and protest towards one of governance with respect on both sides of the Atlantic.