So the British government tonight made the decision to extend military action to Syria after a 10+ hour debate which included: 12 requests for apologies from Mr Cameron for his ‘terrorist sympathisers’ comments regarding those who opposed his movement; and a surprise division between Hilary Benn, shadow foreign secretary and future Labour leader, and villain of the moment, Jeremy Corbyn.
I have mixed feelings, as a past post shows, and many people of my generation seem to be in the same boat. Of the important questions that we ask, the most prominent is what happens to Syrian civilians?
When asking this question in general conversation, you are mostly confronted with tuts and eye-rolls. People jeer as you bear the standard of the “bleeding hearts club.”
I always despair when I get this reaction; firstly because political opinions naturally differ and holding a different one to the one seemingly dominant should not be seen as outlandish. In fact, revolutionary thought arises from the fringe. But I mostly worry about our nations ability to truly sympathise with other humans. Our exuberant willingness to mete out violence to combat violence is incredible. In an era where the treasury doesn’t have money to pay for its elderly or invest in its education and healthcare systems, spending remains frivolous when it comes to military muscle. Admittedly, Britain has drastically downsized militarily in recent years, but this decision is sure to set us back 10s if not 100s of millions. That is providing Jeremy Corbyn is wrong in his concerns that this decision is ‘mission creep’. If he is correct, you can expect this number to rise.
I think on the whole, the British people are tolerant, and we undeniably have a history of tolerance towards immigration and multiculturalism. This decision does not reflect this tolerance.
My apparently clear anti-bombing thoughts start to cloud when questioned with an alrernative. This is the key point for our generation to remember. We do have to do something. The arguably less destructive alternative,”boots on the ground”, is completely unpalatable, and with good reason. To try to save as many human lives as possible, we have to try to assist the groups resisting Daesh already. Our most effective way of doing that is from the air, with the most technologically advanced airforce in the world. In doing so, a strong diplomatic front is needed to remove the political vacuum, and the al-Assad regime, and to change how Daesh is viewed by potential recruits.
Ultimately, I feel that the money would be better invested elsewhere. I can’t get past the idea that civilians will be murdered by both Daesh and now us. And I fear that we have given Islamic State exactly what they want; war. By extending military action to Syria, we have declared war on an ideology that cannot be destroyed by bombs.
But what is the alternative? Those decrying that this is an avoidable decision, what do we do?
An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. – M. K. Gandhi
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