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.