On Bombing Syria. Or Not. 


There is a petition going around online encouraging a vote, in the UK Parliament, against air strikes against ISIS in Syria. 

One friend suggests that if stung by a wasp the smart response is not to throw stones at the nest. Indeed not. You wrap an old potato sack around a garden fork, soak it in petrol, light it and use that to destroy the nest. 

That’s the problem with Cameron’s proposal. Air strikes are just throwing stones. It’s not that they are too much, it’s that they are not enough. And a petition in response to it? That’s almost funny. Signing a petition never changed anything. It’s just one step up the activism scale from changing your profile picture. 

This week’s debate is ludicrous. It’s being defined and described as being about ‘bombing Syria’. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about fighting ISIS. Whatever you call them. Wherever they are. 

The current deal is as if we can fight them in Yorkshire but not in Lancashire. 

If you do not think we should be engaging ISIS at all, that’s a different argument. But I would ask, “Where do they need to get to before you would engage them? Kenilworth?”.

Maybe you think there’s a negotiated peace to be secured, that these people (these men mainly) whose delusional, faith-based, sectarian, apocalyptic world view wants you dead (seriously) can be talked around. So long as we are nicer to them. Sign the petition. 

Sometimes we act too late rather than too soon. We could have fought the Taliban (in the cause of women’s rights alone) in 1995, before they controlled all of Afghanistan and created the safe haven for Al Qaeda training camps and the 9/11 plot. 

We could have responded to Hitler’s actions in Czechoslovakia in March of 1939 rather than giving him six more months to prepare, while we talked and talked trying to avoid what was an inevitable fight, waiting to act until he invaded Poland. 

Later, did Parliament have to agree to fight the Nazi blitzkrieg in neutral Belgium, rather than France, when that was the unexpected route his Panzers took? No. Of course not.

Two years ago a similar situation to today. The vote was similarly not about ‘bombing Syria’. It was about fighting / bombing / punishing Assad. It was a bad idea.

This week’s argument and debate should be about whether or not, and how, we are going to fight ISIS. And if we have a decent, executable plan and sufficient resources (including human resources) that we are prepared to expend. 

Not about where we are going to fight ISIS. That’s the bit they get to decide. 

It is not the same question being put to Parliament two years later. It’s a different question requiring different answers. 

More bombs falling innaccurately on Syria or anywhere else is unlikely to be the answer we are looking for. Possibly it’s already too little and too late. And I’m not saying I would would vote for it as currently proposed. 

But it’s ludicrous to sanction fighting ISIS in Iraq but not in Syria. 

Or Kenilworth. 

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