After a ten-hour debate in Parliament, the British Government has just voted to join the USA and France in their bombing of Syria. Amid popular and widespread anti-war protests and fierce pro-war propaganda from the press, the vote was tipped to be a close call- but David Cameron has won by a majority of 179. The Prime Minister spent today’s debate spouting fear-mongering war rhetoric and daring to call his anti-war opponents “terrorist sympathisers.”
This verbal abuse spectacularly backfired on Cameron after angry Brits took to social media to point out public opinion polls aren’t on his side. The country is divided on this issue, but the number of those in favour of attacking Syria has fallen from 56% to 48% in recent weeks. Still, Cameron refused to apologise.
Many in the UK are wary. We remember the lies over Saddam Hussein’s WMD, and due to Cameron’s unpopularity, we trust his reasons for going to ‘war’ even less than we trusted Tony Blair’s. Even in the post-apocalyptic fear generated by the Paris attacks, many people simply aren’t falling for the same tired old line (if we want to stay safe, we must engage in pre-emptive strikes against the bad guys). Fourteen years after the ‘War on Terror’ began, most of us with a rational mind can clearly see what a dismal and bloody failure it has been.
The UK Stop the War campaign group has listed 6 reasons why attacking Syria is a terrible idea. Please share them with anyone who still believes that bombs equal peace.
1. Bombs kill civilians
‘There is no such thing as a bomb so smart that it always hits its target, even supposing the target is legitimately, legally and correctly identified,’ John Rees writes on stopwar.org.uk.
Ignore the mainstream media’s subtle choice of words: The fact that innocent women, children and babies die in airstrikes is not a matter of ’could’ or ‘might’. No: civilians will die. Fact.
2. It will increase the flow of refugees
It’s strange how so many people who oppose immigration are the first to stand up and demand we bomb the countries they are fleeing. The irrationality of the right wing is reflected in this statistic, reported by Rees.
‘Over the last year of US bombing the number of Syrian refugees has rocketed from about 2.7 million to over 4 million.’
3. Bombing is the best recruiter IS could wish for.
The dead civilians mentioned above will certainly radicalize more young men to join the very beast we’re supposed to be destroying. As Rees points out:
‘The IS recruited more than 6,000 new fighters in the first month of US bombing in Syria last September, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.’
He quotes Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, which reported: ‘A number of rebel commanders who oppose IS while continuing to fight the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad have warned that the strikes are increasing local support for the jihadists’.
4. It won’t work.
Rees reports that the US made over 1,600 bombing runs in less than year in Syria.’ Did it change anything? No. It didn’t.
5. It will prolong the war on both sides.
Here’s where it gets confusing. Rees writes: ’In 2013 Cameron lost a vote to bomb Syria…but then he wanted to bomb Assad. That would have benefited the Islamic State. Now he wants to bomb the IS, but that is bound to help Assad.’
Forgotten exactly who the enemy is? You’re not the only one.
6. More Western bombing will mean more Russian support for Assad.
Rees expresses concern that since the US and UK want to cut Putin out of peace plans (and the subsequent carving-up of the oil reserves, no doubt): ‘Any UK bombing will mean another twist to the arms race in the Middle East.’ Let’s think about this: we are all supposedly fighting against IS, but the Turkish downing of a Russian jet was a senseless act of war by the allied forces against Putin. If the UK joins its American and French allies against Russia, we run the serious risk of a third World War.
And nobody- no matter what their political persuasion- wants that.