British main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn questioned Turkey’s reliability as a NATO member, cautioned against a NATO intervention in the case of a regional war that involved Turkey.
Mr. Corbyn, a former chairman of Stop the War Coalition, renewed his skepticism over NATO’s role in today’s world and said an attack on a NATO ally does not have to mean committing British troops.
Speaking at an event at Chatham House in London on Friday, Mr. Corbyn said he would not automatically send U.K. troops to support a NATO ally which came under attack. He clarified his position on Channel 4 News and again refused to commit sending British troops to defend a NATO ally under attack from a country such as Russia.
The Labour leader offered a completely new approach to foreign policy, proposing a triple commitment to defense, development, and diplomacy. He said he sees the military option as the last resort.
“Article 5 of the NATO treaty says there is as duty to support any other nation-state that is under threat. That doesn’t necessarily mean sending troops — it means diplomatically, it means economically, it means sanctions, it means a whole range of things,” he said.
He particularly referenced Turkey as a case in point for his caution over committing British troops, and over NATO’s possible involvement in a crisis. He said that “relations between Turkey and its neighboring states are not good.”
“Would we automatically want to get involved in a war that had been provoked by somebody’s actions? I think you have to nuance it and think it through.”
Turkey and Russia came closer to a military concentration in late 2015 when a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian warplane, prompting fears of a broader military conflict involving NATO and Russia.
The incident sent rippling waves across European capitals. NATO also deployed 6 Patriot batteries operated by the U.S., Germany, Netherlands, which was then replaced by Spain, in Turkey to protect it against missile threat from the Syrian regime. Amid the regional turbulence, NATO allies have grown skeptical and concerned over Turkey’s active engagement in some regional conflicts either through its proxies or its own military incursion in Syria.
The Labour chief also shrugged off his portrayal of as a pacifist by the British media.
“The best defense for Britain is a government actively engaged in seeking peaceful solutions to the world’s problems. But I am not a pacifist,” the Labour leader said during his speech to an audience of international relations experts and media members.
For him, military action is in some circumstances necessary but only under international law and as a last resort. “But that is very far from the kind of unilateral wars and interventions that have almost become routine in recent times.”
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