Bombing Syria? Really? (Part 1: What did it take government 10 hours to say?)

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.

6 thoughts on “Bombing Syria? Really? (Part 1: What did it take government 10 hours to say?)”

  1. People keep saying they are a threat. To people in the U.S. I say … they are 10,000 miles away and their pickup trucks don’t have snorkels tall enough to drive across the Atlantic.

    Daesh is part of a Sunni-Shia struggle, in other words a religious war. who would want to inject themselves into somebody else’s religious war. This is crazy. The British need to support the French who were attacked? Terrorists attacked the French, not an army. And the French are big boys. Send them some money to help defray their security costs if you want to help. Armed conflict is not the answer.

    By bombing Daesh, we are continuing a pattern in which the residents of the Middle East will think of westerners as people of war and nothing else. The Saudi’s have a military larger than France’s. Why aren’t they controlling Daesh? Because they are Sunni, like Daesh. They are actually providing support for Daesh. Why is Iran involved? Iran has troops on the ground! Oh, Iran is Shia. Why is this so puzzling and why do western nations think they have to do something?

    How about we stack arms on the borders of the warring regions with a note that says “call us when you are done.” That would be about as effective as what we in the West are doing.

    1. I think it’s pretty naive to say they don’t pose a threat to our national security. The problem is they are an ideology, so Daesh-sympathisers are actually Daesh. So cells of Daesh don’t even have to migrate into a country, they can pop up given the right message and recruitment.
      But, as you say, they are not a state. How do you bomb something that is not a state without guaranteeing innocent deaths?
      How do you bomb people who claim a massive victim narrative without validating their whiny complaints?
      It’s ridiculous and I think everyone knows it. Politicians are not dumb, which makes you wonder what their interests are when they make decisions like this…

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