Britain, France and the United States have conducted overnight airstrikes on Syria, a country that has already been subject to atrocious acts, a country so ablaze with conflict that it has already spawned the biggest refugee crisis in the world.
And the worst of it? Theresa May did this without consulting parliament, showing her sheer contempt and disdain for democracy and due process. Given all the recent talk of sovereignty and democracy, it is truly shocking that Theresa May has launched military action without consulting our democratically elected representatives of parliament.
Then again, if the decision did go to parliament, it’s not a sure thing that May would have won – the Conservative party is nearly as divided as Labour on the issue. Were she to lose a vote, it would be a devastating blow to her on an international scale. Probably why she has chosen not to consult our MPs regarding the matter.
May, possibly trying to evoke her inner Iron Lady and create her own Falklands War poll boost, or in the act of kowtowing to Donald Trump due to our precarious post Brexit world standing, instead held a “war cabinet, as if heavy losses had been sustained in Ypres during 1917, or a new-age blitz had begun above the skies of London. She seems not to have even considered how we get out of this war once we have started it? What if there’s a screw-up like we’ve seen in previous conflicts? What happens then?
I am not a pacifist, I understand that military action must sometimes be used as a last resort. But to launch action without consulting our democratically elected members of parliament, without allowing them to carefully scrutinise the accuracy of any evidence and the pros and cons of taking such action? That shows that we have learnt nothing from the mess we left behind in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
A war on Syria could be dangerous, very dangerous – but there is no getting through to warmongers. They have not learnt the lessons of history.
Hundreds of thousands died in Iraq, a vacuum of power was left that served as the breeding ground for ISIS and their brand of horrific extremism. Libya is still in an atrocious state of civil war after we decided to drop bombs in a slapdash fashion. We have destabilised the entire region and proved the catalyst for the growth of a distrust, and even blind hatred, for the west. Yet anyone who calls for an air of caution or discussion is labelled as the one with the extreme position, this is what has happened to our politics in the “post-truth” era.
“Something must be done” the cabinet cries, not a single air of caution or voice of reason around the table. “We are still a major world player, we haven’t forgotten the glory of the empire” the Brexiteers chirp in with. But no case has been presented to the country as to why bombing Syria would be beneficial, likely because no good can come of it.
I have not heard a single expert explain how dropping bombs on Syria will advance the cause of peace or lead its dictator, Bashar al-Assad, to back down – but then again, are we still in a place where we have “had enough of experts”?
Asad is a monstrous dictator, responsible for the brutal murder of his own people. But unless the west is planning a full-scale invasion, he will be left in power. So action is more tokenistic that it is practical. He has already shown from previous attacks that targeted airstrikes will not deter him from his wicked ways – he is emboldened by support from Russia and Iran.
It’s the sheer hypocrisy surrounding the issue that really riles me. We seem happy to drop bombs and kill and displace innocent civilians. But in 2016, 294 MPs voted against accepting 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children from Syria. If the excuse to bomb Syria is that we care about the well-being of civilians then we must be willing to accept refugees caused by the conflict, otherwise, our actions are simply hypocritical.
We also seem more than content to stand by while Syrian women and children and killed by barrel bombs and other “conventional” uses of force, yet only when chemicals are used do we act outraged by what is going on in Syria. Until late the issue has been more or less buried in the archives of the media, despite the war raging on in Syria.
Also, why just Syria? We still sell weapons to Saudi Arabia who kill civilians in Yemen, we still sell weapons to Isreal who kill civilians in Palestine. The selective outrage and hypocrisy are difficult to look past.
I have managed to get this far into the article without mentioning escalating tensions with Russia, but the magnitude of the rehashed Cold War situation we find ourselves in means it would be foolish not to make a few important points.
The squaring up of two nuclear powers, the assertion from Trump that missiles will be fired, and Russia claiming they will shoot them down – that is war. That is the shift from proxy war to nuclear war. The political squaring off is not unlike 1914 one might observe.
Donald Trump is utterly unaware of reality. He doesn’t realise the gravity of the situation. He is a danger not only to his country but to the entirety of humanity.
What happens if we shoot down a Russian plane or vice versa? Surely we should all be concerned about escalation, especially when the rhetoric coming from both sides has been so heated and full of malice.
More than two years have passed since I wrote my previous article – Syria: We must now watch history repeat itself. Yes, then our action was aimed at pushing back ISIS in the region, but the clamour for military action without proper thought about the consequences still remains – the easiest way of being seen to be doing something. I wrote that “there will be (terrorist) attacks on the streets of Britain” in retaliation, and have proved to be right in that regard.
Again we have deployed military action without clear objectives and in the face of public opinion. Each bomb costs and approximated £800,000, obscene when so many in this country are struggling to feed themselves are we are told time and time again that we have no money for public services, health and education. The magic money tree rears its head whenever war is involved.
I feel sorry for the people of Syria, not only are they lead by a despotic leader and caught up in a brutal civil war – they also find themselves caught up in the self-interest and potential World War III crossfire going on between America and the west, and Russia. Added to this, refugees fleeing the worn-torn country are made into a weapon for far-right nationalists and racists.
With the absence of any call for diplomatic solutions, attempts to try and get all the major players around the table, and our selective outrage as earlier explained, our intervention in Syria is not driven by morality, it is driven by pragmatism and self-interest.
Have we already forgotten Iraq and other conflicts in the region? We never learn.