And so the war continues. This is not a new war we have entered today. This is the same war. A permanent war.
Two years ago Cameron attempted to take us into war as allies of ISIS against the Syrian government. Today, having apparently worked out which side we should be on, he takes us into a war against ISIS, supposedly now as allies of the Syrian government. Just like he asked us to believe that ISIS forces were “moderate” two years ago, we are now expected to believe that the 70,000 Syrian rebels are all “moderate” too.
It was only one month ago that Cameron said Russia’s bombing campaign will “lead to further radicalisation and increased terrorism.” But now, because it has become politically convenient to warmonger once more, Cameron calls all those who oppose indiscriminate bombing as “terrorist sympathisers”. His chilling attack echoes the words of Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg Tribunal: “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and then denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger.” We therefore witness the perverse situation in which it is the man leading the campaign against war who is branded the extremist.
But in a world that has become so extreme, the term ‘extremist’ has now lost all meaning. Bashar al-Assad is an ally despite having murdered many times more civilians than the extremists. Saudi Arabia is is an ally despite having carried out a far greater number of beheadings than the extremists. Turkey is an ally despite buying oil from the extremists to fund their operation. We consider ourselves a ‘peace maker’ despite continuing to supply arms that end up in the hands of the extremists. ISIS hasn’t come from nowhere. ISIS isn’t funded by nobody. ISIS doesn’t sell it’s oil to nobody. ISIS doesn’t receive it’s arms from nowhere.
Yet the debate is reduced to a ridiculous binary choice: ‘bomb’ or ‘do nothing’. There are many better alternatives to bombing. We can cut off their supply of arms. We can cut off their supply of money. We can resolve the civil war through a political settlement to minimise the chaos in which ISIS thrives. And we can support humanitarian action to support refugees rather than pushing them back into the hands of ISIS. There is only one rule in conflict: do what your enemy LEAST wants you to do. Today we are doing what they MOST want us to do.
We’re now in the fifteenth year of the ‘War on Terror’. The UK has taken part in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria. Given the current terror threat it is obvious that these wars have not achieved their aims. But no amount of bombing can destroy an ideology. The ‘allied’ forces have already dropped many thousands of bombs on Syria, but the ideology only grows stronger. Over the course of this bombing campaign ISIS numbers have increased from an estimated 20,000 in 2014 to around 80,000 this year. Saudi Arabia alone has 84 F15E Strike Eagles, 70 F15C Eagles, 16 F15D Eagles, 72 Eurofighter Typhoons and 80 Panavia Tornados – as well as the Paveway laser-guided bombs and Brimstone missiles which we sold them. But we are expected to believe that the 8 Tornados we will use to strike Syria are going to suddenly change the situation and propel 70,000 anti-ISIS fighters into taking the country.
But we’ll drop bombs nonetheless and so the cycle of hate continues. Allies react to extremism by bombing middle eastern targets. Middle eastern targets are destroyed and civilians die. The actions of the allies angers people whose lives have been destroyed. Some of these people become radicalised by extremist groups. Allied based manufacturers supply arms to the extremists. Extremists use applied supplied weapons to attack western targets. And the cycle of hate starts once again.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Yet the cycle of hate shows no signs of being broken. Because the war must go on. The Permanent War.