To bomb or not to bomb
In the same sense that a broken clock gives the correct time once every twelve hours I find myself, much to my amazement, agreeing with Jeremy Corbyn. Britain probably shouldn’t bomb Syria.
There’s a kharma aspect to the man who has voted more than five hundred times against his own party and then fails to to have one hundred of his party vote his way when he eventually becomes leader. Four more votes like that …
Nevertheless, and undoubtedly for totally dissimilar reasons I have to agree with him about Syria.
Why do it?
Why will Britain, most likely bomb ISIS? Is it to show that they are really, really pissed off? I suspect the Islamists know that and hope for it.
I’m a great believer in the principle that wars should be avoided. If they can’t be avoided they should be won.
The unasked question is whether Britain so pissed off that they will be willing to devote the time and resources and ultimately boots on the ground to complete the job? If not, what is the point. Is this theatre to impress ISIS or the voters at home, demanding action.
Israel ultimately failed to win the Second Lebanon War because it relied on airpower for victory but delayed sending in troops until the world powers would not let them proceed. The lesson was that an army can cause tremendous damage to an enemy from a distance but if the enemy is fanatical enough and willing to sacrifice everything they will not be defeated without soldiers on the ground.
There was much talk of teaching them a lesson. It took a long time for Israel to realise an F-16 is a poor pedagogical tool. A note to the United Kingdom Parliament a Eurofighter Typhoon is unlikely to be much better.
The day after
For some strange reason there seems to be very little debate about the aims and strategy of this mission. Assuming the aim is to defeat ISIS who now control an area of Syria and Iraq larger than the United Kingdom what happens the day after – and who decides?
Britain isn’t alone in the fight. Will this be a coordinated effort with Russia, Iran, America, France, Turkey, the Kurds, the Iraqi government, Bashar Assad and/or the Free Syrian army and probably others I have forgotten or will all be working, more or less independently and trying to keep out of each other’s way?
Each of those forces has their own idea of how it should end and they are not identical. Does Britain want to return Assad, a noted butcher and terrorist supporter in his own right to power? Does Britain want a democratic experiment as tried and failed in Iraq? Does Britain want and will it protect an independent Kurdish state – and what should be its borders? How long will the British be prepared to stick around to make it work?
Until these questions are answered Jeremy Corbyn, who probably isn’t asking those questions either, is probably right. Britain should stay out of it, militarily and investigate other avenues.
- Jeremy Corbyn faces humiliation as more than 100 Labour MPs plan to defy leader over Syria air strikes, Peter Dominiczak, Steven Swinford and Ben Riley-Smith, The Telegraph, 27 November 2015
- Jeremy Corbyn’s voting in Parliament, TheyWorkForYou, undated
- The UK debates bombing Syria, Peter Gelling, globalpost, 2 December 2015
- ¹Tom Janssen, Trouw and the Netherlands Press Association, 28 November 2015
- ²Taylor Jones, Cagle Cartoons and the Hoover Digest, 20 November 2015