Here we go again

Blog #1

Suddenly here we are again. Everyone seems to agree that it seems inevitable that the government will try (again) to persuade the House of Commons that we should bomb Syria. The general view seems to be that there are Labour MPs who will support this. How can this possibly be?

Let us quickly review the situation. Probably something over half of Syria is controlled by President Assad, a nasty thug who seems very happy to bomb his own people. We do not support Assad, we want him out. Around 20% of the country is now held by IS, a really nasty group who we now see as being an existential threat to the UK. Other bits of the country are controlled by the Syrian Al Quaida and other Islamic groups. I believe we are backing one or more of these groups, which have a zero chance of actually winning this multi-faceted civil war.

Currently Assad’s army is bombing pretty much everyone including civilians. IS bombs pretty much everyone including civilians. Al Quaida tries to stage occasional massacres to show they are still in the game. The US is bombing IS and occasionally civilians by mistake. The Russians are bombing everyone who is opposed to Assad including civilians. Clearly the government feels there is still room for more bombs to be dropped on someone – and civilians, as is bound to happen. We will be told that this will, in some obscure way, make us safer, and that the massacre in Paris justifies this; many will feel that we will be acting like a strong country again.

Inevitably this is all being presented as a patriotic move, and Corbyn’s refusal to join in this lie will be seen by our ludicrous press as a sign of his lack of patriotism. All very predictable, all very depressing. But it has to be challenged. The real thing that tips the whole affair into farce is that two years ago we wanted to bomb Assad rather than Assad’s enemies. 

Over the weekend the people who know what they are talking about have been queuing up to tell us that bombing will not work alone, The most succinct was this morning when some General or other said that “bombing prepares the battlefield but doesn’t win you an inch of territory.” In other words (assuming we can find anywhere left to bomb) all we can do is prepare the way for some ground troops. Who are these to be?

But even more seriously, if we can do some bombing and if we can find some ground forces we want to work with and if they wipe out IS…. What then? What we actually need is not another excuse to drop bombs but a foreign policy. What exactly do we want to happen to the landmass of Iraq/Syria? This is a big question. And the main players are Saudi Arabia and Iran, followed by Russia and Turkey. And this is where we could actually do something useful. These are the players that need to be brought round the table to agree how this tract of land can be governed with some stability. We could broker such talks and that would be a positive mood.

But drop more bombs, kill more people? Stupid, wasteful but (relatively) easy.


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