We should not bomb Syria

Bombing in Kobani, Syria

Bombing is indiscriminate. It kills civilians: men, women and children. Those traumatised and bereaved by our bombings will become recruits to Daesh if only because they are the dominant power in the region.

Bombing Syria simply to join forces with our allies is not a rational approach to solving the conflict.

The bombing will only add to the mayhem of a war of tribal and ideological conflict and revenge. Our own revengefulness will only exacerbate this.

As the situation deteriorates, the power of Daesh is likely to increase. There is no way to ensure that “moderates” will win the day. There are no moderates in this situation.

Further bombing will further destroy what remains of civil society in the region. This will make the process of recovery and restitution even less achievable than at present. We have no plan for restoring civil society in Syria. Our bombing will enlarge the vacuum that Daesh will fill. We must learn from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.

Bombing will also increase the number of people fleeing to seek refuge in other countries, including our own.

The way to peace is to refuse to arm any of the parties fighting in Syria and to use strategic means to resolve the conflict. This will mean putting people on the ground – not just soldiers but intermediaries: a United Nations peacekeeping force including members from Muslim countries. Any plan must be rationally evaluated to ensure it will not exacerbate the situation.

The Voice of the People

The dreadful news from Iraq, overtaking in its monstrousness even the deepening horror of Syria, has rightly recalled that moment eleven years ago when two million British people – one in thirty of the population – marched in London to protest against Blair’s leading the UK into joining the US to invade Iraq. The official rationale for this was to defeat terrorism! At the time, I wrote this poem addressed to Blair:

The voice of the people is heard in the land

We don’t want your ancient enmities

Your new crusade

Bin Saddam

We don’t want your paranoid scaring

Terrorism on a flying carpet bomb

You have to get them first

Before they square the Circle Line

We don’t want your puerile patronage

Head teacher of the universe

Calling out the naughty boy

To put away his catapult

We don’t want your ecclesiastical certainties

Giving the Pope an audience

Knowing God is on your side

We don’t want your gunboat diplomacy

Dealing with the other

As in the nineteenth century –

The time for that is past.

The people are ahead of you.

We are beyond

Final solutions.

March 2003

As always, Robert Fisk gives a good analysis of the inner dynamics of the latest conflict, especially its financing.   As he says, “Apart from Saudi Arabia’s role in this catastrophe, what other stories are to be hidden from us in the coming days and weeks?”