Here comes another mini-series. This time, discussing the UK government’s decision to bomb Syria (if you don’t want to miss an installment, follow me). I am going to keep this relatively short, because I am less well versed in politics. I want to give people who really do understand these ideas the opportunity to set me straight on the issues and for me to update, add to or amend the course of this mini-series, just in case.
On 3rd December 2015, the UK government gathered to discuss the option of military airstrikes against Daesh/ISIS/ISIL*. The bombing was described as an extension of our current
foreign policy campaign in Iraq, which I feel overtly trivialised the issue. It also raised an important problem, in my mind, which is that we’re spending a lot of time discussing borders, and Daesh is not. The vote, which happened after the 10 hour debate, supported the airstrikes and, in case anyone though the government was hesitant, our planes left the hangars for Syria within 1 hour.
But what, exactly, did it take the UK government 10 hours to discuss?
Supporting the proposition
We need to respond to terrorism. As the attack on Paris showed, we in Europe are vulnerable to terrorism and, for the sake of our national security, we must act now.
ISIS is an affront to our freedom, our ideals, our security and our way of life. They must be stopped.
We need to show support to our allies, the French, who recently suffered an attack. Imagine if our roles were reversed and they refused to support us.
We’ve learned our mistakes from Iraq, and can now bomb a country without innocent casualties.
Opposing the proposition
Yes, action is needed. Airstrikes are not the right answer, and for many reasons. What we really learned from Iraq is that we cannot bomb without killing innocent people, because our information is necessarily uncertain; Daesh is not a state and this is a dynamic and very different type of war, the information we use to bomb locations will be even more scant and unreliable than it has been in the past; bombing Syria may focus Daesh’s attention on us and increase their recruitment opportunities, which will decrease our security, not increase it; it simply hasn’t worked in Iraq and it is foolhardy to think it may work this time.
Daesh is well funded because it has control of oil fields. Someone must be buying that oil and it is diplomatic efforts that can cease that and cut off Daesh’s funding.
And that was it, really. The pro-bombing discussion highlighted the need for action but didn’t really explain why bombing is what that action must be; it all felt a bit emotional, listening to the live debate (which I did). The anti-bombing team said bombing doesn’t work and there are feasible alternatives. Everyone agreed action was necessary, no one was a “terrorist sympathiser” (as David Cameron, our Prime Minister, suggested and refused to apologise for).
* I’m going to call them Daesh, because a Syrian political commentator explained what Daesh means; it has tribal and primitive connotations.