The debate on whether or not to approve airstrikes over Syria is on my mind. Like many of you, I have read and watched the news, listened to the opinions of our politicians and discussed this issue with friends, family and colleagues. The solutions to the issue appears to be binary with the debate simply falling to a “yes, let’s bomb Syria” or to a “no, let’s not bomb Syria”as the viable solutions. The debate is rather contentious as inhabitants of both sides of the argument believe the other is a complete idiot for thinking the way they think. For instance, Prime Minister David Cameron who is literally itching to give the go ahead to bomb Syria has ignorantly branded those who pose against him “Terrorist Sympathisers” in a private meeting with his own cabinet. For which he has not apologised for the comment despite being given several opportunities. Alternatively, Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn sits on the other side of the fence believing that bombing Syria is not an appropriate response in a way to irradicate ISIS/IS/ISIL. I want to make my position on this matter clear; I believe that we, The United Kingdom should not vote in favour of authorising Air Strikes over Syria.
Let’s be honest we live in an age whereby using our mobile phones, we can communicate with a friend halfway around the world in the same amount of time we can contact a friend next door. Furthermore, we live in an age where cars can run on electricity and we also live in an age where people are beginning to accept and value Justin Bieber (I would like to make my position on this matter absolutely clear; I am not a #Belieber). However, there is no such thing as a bomb so smart that it always hits its target, even supposing the target is legitimately, legally and correctly identified. Some 20 civilians were killed in a US strike in Raqqa only last week. The US ‘has acknowledged that its rules to avoid civilian casualties are looser in Syria’ than elsewhere. As the current UK backed Saudi bombing of Yemen shows civilian casualties will be, as they are in every modern war, the majority of those killed. UK airstrikes maybe small in number as they are in Iraq, in which case they will be militarily ineffective and therefore pointless. If they are significant, they will kill civilians.
Bombing will also likely increase the growing issue of refugees emanating from Syria. Let’s not forget that Syria is already the reluctant recipient of bombs that are already being dropped on them from other countries. These bombs destroy. They destroy homes, they destroy schools and they destroy hospitals. The bombs irradiate and destroy the landscape and the communities of the people they wish to “save”. I ask you, what good is it if you have have no home, no school and no where to seek health care if everything is destroyed?
For my money, I feel that David Cameron is literally itching to give the go ahead to authorise an air strike. When I was a child growing up in Bollington, some of my friends were older than me. In the summer during light nights my Mum would call me in and say it was time for bed. I remember bleating “but the sun is still out” and in my final attempt I would try to guilt and persuade my Mum “but my friends are still playing out”. I feel that David Cameron is a lot like this child, he see’s all the other leaders playing out and dropping bombs.
“Aww, why can’t I join in and drop bombs” sulks David pushing out his bottom lip whilst throwing his favourite teddy, George at the bedroom door.
“Because David, you have to listen to Mummy. Mummy wants what is best for everybody.” Mummy spoke slowly and clearly as she attempted to reason with David. “Mummy thinks that it’s not nice to drop bombs on people because other boys and girls who we don’t want to get hurt can get hurt. Therefore, we don’t always know who we are hurting, do we?”
“No.” David conceded. He sat for a moment in quiet contemplation, as Mummy began to leave the room feeling like the argument was won, David realised he was being reasoned with and he quickly moaned “But, I really want to bomb Syria, all the bigger boys will think I’m cool”.
Mummy closed her eyes, shook her head then looked at David and thought to herself “what have I done?” She turned the light off and closed the door leaving David alone and in the dark.
(A poor attempt at satire, I know. Stewart Lee would have his head in his hands in shame. However, just in case, Mummy is a euphemism for what seems to be the majority of the British public).
People who oppose my decision who set up camp in the “Bomb Syria” side of the argument are likely to reason; “But Tom, don’t you get it? The point of the bombs is to iviserate the terrorists. We need to kill the terrorists before they can do more harm to us. Look what happened in Paris”. Folks, bombing is literally the best recruiter the ISIS/IS/ISIL could wish for because it totally confirms their picture of the West as a lawless, colonial armed camp determined to wipe out Muslims. The IS recruited more than 6,000 new fighters in the first month of US bombing in Syria last September, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported: ‘A number of rebel commanders who oppose IS while continuing to fight the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad have warned that the strikes are increasing local support for the jihadists’.
So what should we do? So far the options are bomb Syria or don’t bomb Syria and have more “boots on the ground”. To me, both options are immediate but no option appears to have any longer term plan attached to it. Whatever the intervention is, it must include a long-term plan which looks to ensure prosperity for the people of Syria.
Furthermore, should we be concerned that we live in age of austerity where we can’t afford to support those who need benefits such as JSA, DLA/ESA child tax credits, we cant afford police officers, we privatised the probation and prisons due to costs yet we can afford £10m to pimp a military aircraft for Mr Camerons travels, we can afford billions on Nuclear deterrants oh and don’t forget the money we can spare to assist in dropping bombs in Syria. But don’t forget we’re all on this together! I am concerned with Camerons label of “Terrorist sympathisers”. It shares similar tones of George W. Bush’s famous quote in an address to a joint session of congress on 20th September 2001 “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists”. With this quote, Bush challenges the patriotism of Americans to coerce the public to vote to get what he wanted. Cameron has literally tried the same tactic in some ways I feel whereby he is attempting to challenge the morality of the people who oppose him suggesting that they and indeed, me, are aligning ourselves with terrorist. A desperate move Cameron.
Also, am I right in thinking that 2 years ago, our Prime Minister David Cameron wanted to bomb Assad and today we are joining forces with him? What must we look like on a political stage if we flip flop so quickly on who we bomb and align ourselves with?
In closing I say this, you can not kill what is already dead. In the minds of those associated with terror and among the ranks of ISIS/IS/ISIL, they are already dead as they are prepared to not only die for their cause but are willing to sacrifice themselves in the name of it. If they are killed by our bombs not only do we provide fuel to fire of retribution and hatred for the west, but we also martyr them.
If we drop bombs and kill innocent civilians we also give a reason to those innocent civilians to hate us. For instance, if a bomb kills a young boys Mother, Father, Brothers and Sisters that may be all the justification a young man needs to join ISIS/IS/ISIL. In the attempt to kill the terrorists with bombs, we also run the risk of recruiting more.