Posts Tagged ‘air strikes’

Why is it right to carry out actions against ISIS in Iraq, but not in Syria?

28/09/2014, 05:26:50 PM

On Friday 26/09/14, the House of Commons debated military action against ISIS. The vote was in favour, but only in Iraq. In a particularly pointed parliamentary contribution , Pat McFadden eloquently articulated the challenges in stopping anti-ISIS operations at the Syrian border and the wider issues in how the debate has been framed. At Uncut, we felt this speech deserved a broader readership, so here it is – Atul Hatwal (editor)

by Pat McFadden

“The immediate decision before us in this debate is about military action, but behind that, this is about values. This is not a war against Islam. Islam is one of the great world religions, which is practised freely, without any harm to anyone, by millions of people in this country and around the world. This is not about Islam, but about co-existence.

Co-existence is absolutely fundamental to our society—the ability to elect Governments who are freely chosen by the people, equality of rights between men and women, freedom of speech and freedom of religion are fundamental—but ISIS rejects every tenet of it. That is why ISIS kills, with impunity, fellow Muslims, Christians and Yazidis; engages in sexual exploitation of, and the trade in, women; and cares nothing for anyone who does not sign up to its single truth. This is not about Islam, but about co-existence.

The shadow of past decisions—particularly the 2003 decision to invade Iraq—is a long one in debates such as this one. That is because there is a live debate about the degree to which we are responsible for creating or fomenting violent jihadism. It is important to be clear about that. I accept that past decisions have angered jihadists and perhaps encouraged some people to join them, but it is a fundamental mistake to think that we are responsible for violent jihadism. Let us not forget that the bombing of the World Trade Centre on 11 September took place two years before the invasion of Iraq. Syria, until recent days, has been a byword for non-intervention by the west; yet it is now the headquarters of the global jihad.


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There’s more to helping Syria than air strikes

02/09/2013, 12:37:09 PM

by Lee Butcher

Parliament has spoken. Cameron’s rushed attempt to convince the nation of the need for intervention in Syria has failed. The reason and culprits will be debated for a long time to come yet. Whether intended or not a signal has been sent out to our international partners that if they want our support they are going to have to provide compelling reasons for doing so; in failing to do so Barack Obama and David Cameron have damaged their cause, for that they only have themselves to blame.

While I will not dwell on the possible reasons for the failure of that vote, the issue of chemical weapons is worth briefly addressing if for no other reason but to question the consensus that something must be done because of their use. The talk of the near century old norm to stop their use rests on rather dubious historical ground. A recent and notable example is Britain’s support for Saddam Hussein during his war with Iran between 1980 and 1988, a period which saw him deploy large scale chemical attacks against the Iranians and against civilians in Halabja.

As cynical as that policy was there is little evidence that it was followed by a sudden outburst of chemical weapons use by other powers because we failed to oppose him. On the moral grounds of action, it is worth questioning a morality which regards being killed by a bullet or a bomb (a cause of death responsible for over 100,000 people) as being better than being gassed. This is something which the supporters of this action will have to address themselves. As far as helping potential chemical victims, an alternative suggestion worth considering can be seen in this opinion piece from the New Scientist magazine.

The Labour party ought to now consider where next for engagement with the Syrian crisis and what Plan B from the government we can support. In seeking a limited response to the use of chemical weapons the government have opened up heartfelt moral concerns about the on-going suffering in Syria. Those who have voiced such concerns must realise last week’s vote, even if won, would not have addressed them. Their concerns inevitably widen our view on the crisis.

The government, Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander should embrace this new found interest in Syria. Now that military options are limited we should see this as an opportunity to focus our minds on what else can be done for the Syrian people. If that occurs last week’s vote may well have a positive outcome for Syria.


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