Last night saw a highly engaged House of Commons as the government triumphed in its endeavour to extend airstrikes against ISIL into Syria – with 397 MPs favouring such a move. Simultaneously, there has understandably been a lot of public opposition and fear surrounding the concept of “bombing Syria”.
Perhaps it would firstly be wise for opponents to calm down the hysteria and terminology of “bombing Syria”. This is a war neither on civilians nor on an entire country. We are merely embracing our role in the broader effort to defeat the threat ISIL poses to the world, by extending already ongoing airstrikes with our advanced precision and targeting capabilities. Capabilities which the world has called upon Britain to employ to further this effort.
Defeating ISIL is an inexpressibly important cause, life-or-death to many, that we can and should feel compelled to invest in. It is a cause recently defined more clearly by the United Nations in the days following the Paris terror attacks. By recognising and declaring ISIL to now be an “unprecedented threat to international peace and security”, the UN was wise to then call unanimously on the world to do everything in its power to fight it. After all, this is not a random group of unorganised terrorists, which we will always suffer, rather it is an ever-expanding, determined fundamentalist jihadi group. A group gripped by a desire to spread its ideology, kill infidels, heretics and apostates, keep and trade girls as young as 7-years-old as sex slaves (setting fire to females who disobey or mass-murdering old Yazidi women) and finally by incessant plot to kill countless more innocent people of every religion and race.
Likewise, Britain joining in airstrikes in Syria against them isn’t some random bomb drop. It comprises technical, strategic targeted strikes which aim to minimise civilian casualties as much as possible, as they have been incredibly successful in doing. Indeed, as of September, the RAF had killed 330 ISIS fighters with zero civilian casualties.
All we can do is pray that civilian casualties are avoided by every country striking ISIL (looking at you especially, Russia), that every one of our actions would be wise and prudent and, ultimately, that peace would somehow abound with minimal life loss in this web of violence.
As desirable as avoidance of any military action whatsoever would be, how could we engage in diplomacy and negotiation with terrorists of this type? Are we to reason with a group irrationally committed not only to our destruction but to destruction of basic decent values? Would proponents of those panaceatic diplomatic efforts suggest we appease ISIL? I do wonder how that would go. Would giving them a bit of land in return for releasing a couple of slaves and hostages be a credible first step, as peace processes go? Basically, stopping them by dialogue seems pretty unrealistic, let alone when anti-ISIL forces are burdened by conflicting diplomatic aims.
Heartbreakingly, hundreds of thousands of innocent lives are at risk when the world fails to unite to further humanitarian assistance and military action to weaken ISIL. Ideally, countries closer to and in the present so-called “Levant” territory could and would do more, but newsflash: it is not happening and a web of different alliances and misplaced priorities preclude it from happening in the near-future, it seems.
Any inaction on our capable behalf is morally unjustifiable in my opinion. If we can start diminishing the capacity for ISIL to kill, enslave, brutalise, radicalise or harm just one person, would it not be worth joining our allies in the effort?
Needless to say, it also saddens me that it requires attacks on Western soil before many of us start caring about what persecuted civilians in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Northeast Nigeria, Sudan, Lebanon etc etc. have suffered continually at the hand of extremism. Many British observers and politicians alike do, by now, regret our previous inaction in Syria. An inaction by big world powers from which only ensued more and more brutal attacks, atrocities and deaths by Assad’s regime, for example. (Which is of course still overwhelmingly the biggest cause of civilian deaths in Syria.)
It would be foolish to believe that Islamic fundamentalism could ever be stopped by military force, but it is equally foolish to think that we should not act to contain it, and/or to believe we can sit by idly as they grow and radicalise relentlessly.
Everyone is entitled to their differing opinion but if it is innocent life we want to protect, it should be Britain’s fine intervention we advocate. When we must resort to military action to pursue reestablishment of “peace and security”, it should not be something to begrudge. Let’s avoid condemning a vote that simply commits us to helping out the broader effort to break down the organisation, capability, power and size of a barbarous death cult.