On The Folly Of Cameron’s War

It does not matter what I may think, intellectually, about the morality of war or even what I am fully aware Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour, had to say about turning the other cheek and loving one's enemies, I have to accept that I am not, in reality, a pacifist. If someone was to hit me, I would hit that someone back. If a friend of mine got into a fight, I would join in on my friend's side even if my friend was in the wrong. If my wife was attacked I know I could kill her attacker. Therefore, I cannot condemn David Cameron's desire to wage war in Syria from a position of moral superiority in the way that Jeremy Corbyn has earned the right to do. However, condemn it I do because, even to a belligerent, seasoned scrapper like myself, bombing Syria is obviously a very stupid and self defeating course of action.

It is stupid primarily because it will not work. Only a prolonged and costly land war stands any chance of removing ISIS from their so-called caliphate and even if they were defeated they would still cause death and destruction around the world through random acts of terrorism and be a cancer in the body of whatever community their remaining members hide within.

It is self defeating because, far from defending the citizens of the United Kingdom and its allies from acts of terrorism, it would vastly increase the risk of terrorist attack. The attacks in Paris which were obviously the ISIS response to the French bombing campaign, show that to be the truth. It is one of the main tasks of any government to protect the citizens of its nation from harm. A declaration of war against ISIS on their turf by the UK government would, at this moment in time, not add anything to our protection. Quite the opposite would be true. Civilians would be at a greater risk of being killed or injured by suicide bombers and the government would also be placing our forces personnel (who are citizens with the same rights to be protected from harm as the rest of us) into life threatening situations once again and this time for no apparent reason other than the prime minister's craving for other world leaders to see him as a mighty warrior. Cameron's desire to send others to war in order to impress his political peers has a lot in common with his previous desire to stick his private member's bill (so to speak) anywhere he was told to in order to impress his elitist student peers whilst he was at university.

ISIS wants the West to attack them in Syria. The last thing they want is for the West to respond to terrorist attacks calmly, patiently and diplomatically. Therefore, not launching a full out, collateral damage causing, bombing campaign against them is not backing down to the them. Again, quite the opposite is true. Not bombing them would really piss them off.

However, I am, as I said, no pacifist and I am not advocating a zero response to the carnage ISIS has been responsible for on NATO soil. I would fully support any surgical procedures designed to remove the malignancy without destroying the surrounding flesh. I also think that we should be prepared to do deals with agencies that do not want to harm us in order to reduce the risk of being attacked by agencies that want to hurt us very much indeed. As a utilitarian I believe that removing our support from the Assad regime for ideological reasons alone was a terrible mistake that has led to the death or displacement of many innocent people and the destruction of the only haven of religious toleration and mutual respect in the Middle East, even if that haven was only relative. I notice that we have not removed our support of the Saudi princes who are just as dictatorial as Assad but of far more danger to the West than any Syrian ruler ever has been. If we are going to act ideologically then we should do so consistently.

For all our sakes, David Cameron should stop re-reading the "Boys' Own" comics of his Eton schooldays and pick up something a little more useful to his present occupation. "The Prince" by Niccolò Machiavelli would be a good start. What the world needs now is politics - devious, behind the scenes, manipulating, intelligent politics - not warmongering which, and let's be honest here, is the first resort of the politically inept.

Comments are closed.