‘To air strike or not to air strike Syria? – That is the question’ by Ciaran Mc


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This week the British government rolled out their “comprehensive case” to extend military action on Syria. Previously in 2013, 30 Conservative MPs rebelled against Prime Minister, David Cameron, when he proposed launching bombing raids on Syria, albeit against the Assad regime and not ISIS. That vote failed. This time around Cameron has made it clear that he would only proceed with military intervention if there was a “genuine consensus in Parliament.” (Ah, I thought this had to be the case anyhow) Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon believes the government do not have enough votes from MPs to back air strikes against ISIS. Does this mean Cameron will accept this “consensus”? Of course he won’t! The consensus has to suit him and his agenda – No doubt, the government will continue to press their case as it looks likely a Commons vote will take place within weeks. Where do the parties stand in relation to air strikes?

The majority of the Conservative Party are supportive of the Prime Ministers stance and would vote to back extending British air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria. It has been predicted in the media that 15 Conservatives would still oppose the extension of British air strikes, leaving Cameron dependant on votes coming from, in particular, the Labour Party.

The Labour Party is more divided over intervention in Syria. Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn has stated he “cannot support UK air strikes in Syria.” He has emailed all MPs stipulating this. With 70,000 responses it is clear, this is a fundamental and divisive issue for the party. The shadow cabinet looks quite divided on the issue with “significant disagreements.” Lord Faulkner, Shadow Justice Minister, who supports the Government revolution on air strikes, believing “ISIL pose a threat to the region … it is wrong we aren’t participating in Syria.” Not all Labour members agree with him.

  • Will Jeremy Corbyn whip party members or allow a free vote in the Commons on extending military intervention into Syria?
  • Either way what damage will this do to the party and the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn?
  • If the Labour Party can’t agree a collective position on this issue, what signal does this send to the electorate?

Britain is already involved in bombing raids on Iraq. To date, the Royal Air Force (RAF) have already been involved in 376 air strikes over Iraq – can someone please outline how successful these air strikes have been, to date? Surely their success can be measured against Cameron’s proposal to extend into Syria. Britain is already providing intelligence and logistical support to allied flying missions over Syria. Currently, the United States, Australia, Canada, France and Russia are flying bombing missions over both countries targeting ISIS – is Cameron’s proposed intervention to progress bombing missions into Syria based on the notion that Britain doesn’t want to be left out? Is he gravelling to the leaders of the said countries?

Startling statistics on this week’s Politics Show were exposed. The US and its Allies operating under the banner “Operation Inherent Resolve” have conducted more than 8505 air strikes against ISIS targets since last year. That’s 5580 in Iraq and 2925 in Syria. More than 16075 targets have been destroyed including more than 4517 buildings, nearly 4942 fighting positions and 485 military tanks and vehicles. A number of statistics were missing:

  • How many of these attacks were genuine ISIS targets?
  • How many ISIS militants were killed?
  • How many civilians were killed?
  • What impact are these air strikes having on the growth of ISIS militants ?
  • What are these air strikes actually achieving?

Admiral Lord West stated on the Politics Show, “No matter how good you are, there will be innocent people killed, but they are dying anyway, because of ISIL. But it comes to a stage where you have to move forward and do things even though that sort of thing happens. That cannot be a reason not to destroy ISIL.” “Things and thing” hmmmm – So kill civilians because they are already being killed? Is this genuine justification for extending British air attacks to Syria?

Apparently, most experts ( I would Imagine non experts would generate the same conclusion) agree that air strikes alone will not destroy ISIS – that ground forces will be needed:

  • Why won’t the US, France, Russia, Canada, Australia and Britain send ground troops in on the advice of experts? (Perhaps Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam prop up)
  • How long will it take for the above to ally with the Assad regime (that barbaric regime that used chemical weapons on its own people, some 250,000 people have been killed and 11 million displaced), when Cameron in 2013 wanted to extend military action on same?

With the US having launched 2703 bombing strikes in Syria and with 154 strikes carried out by France, Bahrain, Syria, Russia, Australia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – do we really need any more countries bombing Syria? What difference will British air strikes have on Syria? Will Britain extending bombing attacks on Syria as a facile gesture, save Syria and bring an end to ISIS? Will it serve to strengthen ISIS? David Cameron – what will it achieve? Enlighten me!

David Cameron recently stated, his responsibility was to “keep the British people safe.” What about innocent people in Syria and Iraq? By voting to extend air strikes on Syria, will it make an attack on the UK imminent?

It is pretty clear the British government and those already engaged in Syria and Iraq need a coherent, wider strategy aimed at rooting out ISIS – does such a plan exist? Most certainly not! 14 years of military action abroad has already illustrated they should only be undertaken in “pursuit of defined and attainable objectives.” Will air strikes attain the objectives of destroying ISIS? So, to air strike or not to air strike Syria? That is the question!

3 Responses to ‘To air strike or not to air strike Syria? – That is the question’ by Ciaran Mc

  1. Croiteir (@Croiteir) November 29, 2015 at 8:02 pm #

    It is an absolute imperative that ISIS is attacked on. The question that if you bomb them will they attack back is easily answered – yes. The real question is if you do not attack them will they attack you – I believe the answer to that is also yes.

    We sat back and watched them attack the minorities in Iraq and Syria and did nothing. The message was learned, We were weak. We still are.

    The morality of hoping that if we do not bother them they will not bother us is nonsense. They will. It is what they are. The frog will be stung by the scorpion no matter what.

    The raison d’etre of ISIS is the formation of a caliphate. To do that they need territory, without it, by their own standards, they will have failed and will lose credibility amongst their own. It is an absolute necessity to prevent this. That means armed intervention, even by proxy, to deny them territory.

    Will civilians be killed, more than likely, will they be killed if we don’t attack, absolutely, and in greater numbers. This is not an argument for bombing, as is presented in the piece, but an argument against not bombing.

  2. Emmet November 30, 2015 at 9:51 am #

    Armed intervention by proxy does not work and never has. The policy of backing armed fringe groups always backfires. Remember al Qaeda and Isis were both helped by the CIA. Look at the mess in Libya. Bombing them is ineffective. When they are close to defeat they will pose the greatest threat to the west. Russia,the Kurds and Syria will destroy Isis eventually. The Middle was that emerges will not be ‘western’ friendly. The more intervention we instigate the bigger the mess we leave behind. Violence breeds only violence; a simple concept humanity is yet to realise.

  3. ben madigan November 30, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    I agree “The raison d’etre of ISIS is the formation of a caliphate”.

    One could argue they have already done this and are busy defending it on all sides.

    Even if ISIS is bombed to smithereens the ideology will live on, as it derives from their Holy Book.

    To make sure it doesn’t we have to recognise that ISIS is a complex problem requiring complex solutions which need to go far beyond bombing or even “boots on the ground”