War, what is it good for?

WAR

1st December

 

I am writing this on the eve of the parliamentary vote that if ‘AYE’ will commit Britain to adding its military might to the French, American, and Russian air strikes against ISIL in Syria. I have been pondering the complexity of the issue. Listening to and reading the contributions from the many commentators exposes the lack of a consensus and the mess both politically and militarily that is Syria. Do I have an opinion? Everyone has an opinion though few seem to reflect that of those who have fled the country seeking sanctuary from the murder and mayhem.

The overarching opinion of the pundits suggests that air strikes alone are futile, and from refugees that they are indiscriminate. The death toll continues to rise while the Assad Regime, which unleashed this murderous intent, survives. Refugees see no resolution from the conflict without the removal of Bashar Assad’s Regime.

A British Army Officer, retired, added his voice to the call for military intervention on BBC’s Radio 4.He reinforced his argument sighting the success of British military action in providing an outcome in N.Ireland that led to the Good Friday Agreement. Jesus wept as did I in frustration at the blinkered view of one qualified in warfare not peace. The British Military intervention over a 30 year period, supported by the government, judiciary, and police, promoted a flawed policy that saw: the imprisonment and death of innocent victims, the nurturing of terrorist and paramilitary objectives and boosting of their ranks, and elements of which still haunt our society today.

Each successive British government from Jim Callahan’s (1970’s) to Tony Blair’s Labour Party (1990’s) had open lines of communication with the IRA and UDA. Thatcher stated that she would not negotiate with terrorists, while behind the scenes diplomacy and negotiation was key to a long-term solution to the open sore that ailed our society. The recent death of Fr. Gerry Reynolds brought focus on those who had worked diligently, out of the spotlight, in pursuing a resolution to a fractious war, with a common consensus that terrorism could neither be beaten nor succeed in it’s objectives. From this potted local history perspective I would conclude that, in my opinion, the ‘War on Terror’, now in its 15th year, is unwinnable.

What approach to take with a disparate grouping of murderous barbarians, ISIL, Boko Haram, AQ, Shabaab, and others no doubt, when the general consensus is that air strikes will have no positive outcome. The ‘boots on the ground’ proposal offers its own set of complexities, while diplomacy may be a rank outsider but ultimately it will have its moment.

Are the real criminals in all conflict not those who manufacture and supply weapons that are designed to eliminate human beings whilst making profit for CEOs and shareholders?

 

2nd December: We are at war. I will probably take some flak for my views but that will harm no one.

 

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To beard or not to beard

beard1

Yes we seem to have averted a total meltdown of regional government as in “we’ll all throw our toys out of the pram”. This is a common occurrence at Stormont’s non-functional and divided administration. Not to drag you down some winding path but do keep in mind this is about that bit of facial hair i.e. the beard.

The near collapse was the result of a murder in the nationalist redoubt of Short Strand, Belfast. In brief, two former IRA assassins had a falling out, one shot the other dead and was then shot dead by unknown gunmen. This, in turn, shot the Stormont administration in the foot with the accusation by the DUP that the IRA’s military machine was still functioning contrary to the Good Friday Agreement. Has the issue been resolved? Well let’s just say they are still drawing their salaries.

Remember the Beard?

I recently grew a beard not as a metro male statement but to add some volume to my thinning visage Stay with me now as this is relevant to the precursor as, hopefully, will become clear. The potential tsunami of political uncertainty that threatened to sweep the country caused tightened security at ports and airports. On a recent return from Scotland through the seaport of Cairnryan we were subjected to security not see since the bad old days. The slow progress of the traffic into the port did not immediately suggest a security alert. As we reached the barrier the beard marked me out as a potential suspect. In the psyche of the ever vigilant security operatives a beard is the trademark of all terrorists, freedom fighters, jihadists, therefore: documentation? check; search boot (trunk)? check; underbody of vehicle? check. Is this a bout of paranoia or the minority oppression flag being raised? Maybe, but there again, maybe not.

Let me take you on a brief tour of those bad old days alluded to previously, days of high security when N.I .was at the nadir of political upheaval. If I wore a beard I was often stopped by Police or army demanding ID and sometimes searched. Returning from my mother’s funeral in Scotland through the same port I was sitting in the middle backseat of the car, bearded. I was the guy asked to step from the car and ID,ed Travelling through Manchester airport on return from the States, bearded, having cleared emigration I was followed to the baggage carousel by two special branch officers, ID’ed and questioned. Six O Clock in the morning is not a good time for me. I was not polite.

Clean-shaven my saintly and angelic coupon caused me no intrusions. So beware all metro males, the beard is a changing face.