I detest ISIS and the murderous ways in which it seeks to promote its misinterpretation of Islam as much as anyone else with a modicum of sense. But is bombing ISIS controlled territory in Syria the right response?
We are being told by Cameron, by his MPs and sadly by some Labour MPs that bombing missions are the only sensible and ethical response to the terror which ISIS has unleashed in Syria and two weeks ago in Paris. It is, we are told, the only way ISIS can be defeated in Syria. More than that we are being assured that the decision to bomb ISIS is the only way we can ensure the safety of the British people and the security of our cities. Well, I for one, have great doubts about whether bombing ISIS will achieve those objectives.
It seems to me that the best that bombing in Syria can do is blast a few of the easier ISIS targets and temporarily get them to withdraw from the immediate vicinity we happen to bomb. They will then regroup elsewhere for business as usual. I don't believe that defeating ISIS, ensuring they withdraw enitirely and permanently from Syria and are unable to merely transfer their operations to Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East, will be possible without a huge input of ground forces to carry on where the bombers have left off. But, of course, Cameron and none of the apologists on the Labour benches are telling us that are they? And where are these ground forces going to come from?
With the possible exception of the Kurdish forces, the paucity of effective forces within Syria, means the ground forces will have to be imported. I think it is unlikely that such a force can be assembled under the auspices of the United Nations. Assad is unlikely to agree to such a move. If it includes Russian forces Obama is likely to apply a veto. And Putin is likely to do the same if American forces are involved. Turkey will object if the Kurdish forces are enrolled. And so on? So it will be left to a fragile alliance of a few countries to provide an army of invasion with absolutely no backing from the United Nations and with little in the way of international legtimacy.
If the bombing by itself achieves very little, as I suspect, will the MPs who supported it then be prepared to go the whole hog and send in contingents of Britsh troops? We may not expect the duplicitous Tories to own up to that possibilty but I would expect a greater degree of honesty from Labour MPs. But perhaps some of those who are so keen to defy Jeremy see the whole thing as as a ploy to remove him and don't realy care about the wider issues. Despite that possibilty, I would still ask them if they are prepared to follow up the bombing with another vote to send in troops?
But will bombing, either by itself or coupled with ground forces, achieve either the stated or unstated objectives. And are we even being told what the real objectives are? Finally what will it all cost?
The recent history seems to suggest that little will be achieved from military intervention in Syria. It didn't achieve much in Afghanistan where the Taliban remains much the same force it was all those years ago. It certainly hasn't justfied the costs in money and British military lives. Iraq is much the same story. We removed a despot, left chaos in its place and served as midwives for the birth of ISIS. But it was a good war for the American corporations like Haliburton who made huge profits and for all the arms dealers who have found profitable markets since from all the warring Iraqi factions. And no, we never did find the Weapons of Mass Destruction Tony Blair told us existed. There's also the residual question of whether that outing was legal. Ten years on we are still awaiting the answer to that from the Chilcot enquiry. And as if our previous efforts had been at all successful, we followed up with a bombing campaign in Libya. End product one less despot and a shedload more chaos. So was any of this really worth it? And will bombing in Syria produce a different story? It certainly doesn't seem that any success it has in denting ISIS' immediate objectives will contribute overmuch to creating a country and a society which will permanently and significantly improve the lives of the Syrian people.
And what will the bombing cost the UK treasury? Surprisingly, none of those wanting the bombing to commence have much to say about that. Suddenly, debt reduction at all costs no longer seems to be the overiding consideration it is when the Tories are cutting welfare and local services to the bone. Now it seems they have found the chequebook again and are writing blank cheques. Sadly that chequebook wasn't available when the Tories were considering the plight of the Syrian refugees. If nothing else an expansion of bombing will certainly create even more refugees for Cameron and the Tories to ignore. But how are the Labour MPs so determine to hide under Cameron's cloak going to justify the costs? Are they going to go along with their new pal Dave when he insists on further cuts in benefits and services for their constituents in order to pay the bills for the bombing? If so maybe they should just own up to that now so we can see where their sympathies really lie.
Finally, will bombing ISIS in Syria make Britain more secure from terrorist attacks? Will anyone on the Government benches, or their cohorts on the opposition benches, be prepared to provide a cast iron guarantee of that, or promise their immediate resignations from Parliament if they are proved wrong? Of course they won't, because the chances are that their decision will make it more, not less, likely that Britain will become an even bigger target for the Jihadists. France' s decision to send in their bombers certainly did little to make Paris more secure. And that should not be seen a cheap jibe which suggests I have no sympathy for those who lost their lives two weeks ago. Maybe their muderers would have struck even if the French Government had not been involved in bombing ISIS. But the central point is bombing will not ensure our security. As much as some Labour MPs seem prepared to mock Jeremy Corbyn for his unwillingness to share their gung ho aspirations I believe we can only do real justice to the victims in Syria and in Paris by seeking an effective long-term solution to Syria's problems and those in the neighbouring countries. Bombing just diminishes the efforts we are willing to make to find real solutuions and delays still further any willingness to find real solutions.