Editor in Chief of Naked Politics
Recently, a terrorist mass shooting took place. These attacks were perpetrated by a religious fundamentalist, acting in accordance with his faith when showering bullets on innocent people.
But I’m not talking about the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, or even an attack by Islamic extremists at all. I’m actually referring to a recent “Christian” anti-abortionist extremist, who went into an American Planned Parenthood clinic and shot to death three people and seriously wounded nine others with a semi-automatic rifle.
If you are an American, you are twice as likely to die from a right-wing so-called Christian terrorist like this man, than because of a Muslim extremist. Despite this, the American government has been bombing ISIS non-stop and has since been joined by 13 other counties, including us. You would think that bombing a country along with countless civilians so intensely as to turn entire towns to dust, might make world leaders question whether we really are the good guys. I’m sure Darth Vader came up with similarly convincing arguments as to why Alderaan should be bombed to smithereens.
It always amazes me how quick politicians are to subscribe to such basic, primal instincts of defending ourselves, despite the reams of historical (much of it very recent) evidence that directly counters the idea of rashly and indiscriminately bombing a country to ensure our own safety. David Cameron’s case for bombing IS in Syria is weak. He has presented no real long-term strategy for how to restructure Syria to ensure its stability for the future. This is also the Prime Minster who whilst raring to engage in bombing knowing it will kill innocent civilians and decimate whole communities, in the same breath advocates a pathetic immigration policy that effectively tells Syrian refugees they are not welcome here. His foreign and immigration policies are diametrically opposed, like two drunks brawling in a nightclub. One policy does not really facilitate the other.
The idea that choosing not to bomb Syria means you are choosing to sit back and do nothing is false; yet that is exactly how this whole debate has been framed. There are many different, more effective avenues open to us, such as the use of Special Forces on the ground, trying to work with our so-called allies in the Middle East Saudi Arabia, and finding out how ISIS is being funded in the first place. There also needs to be (prior to joining this war) a long-term strategy to achieve long-term goals of social, political and economic stability. You cannot bomb ideas, but we can help to create a climate where those ideas are less likely to catch on.
Isn’t the reality that this deliberate de-contextualisation, a refusal to see the nuance and complexities of why terrorism occurs in the first place, (I’m looking at you Katie Hopkins) is at the heart of this issue? Even a man as educated as Cameron, found it impossible not to slur those in disagreement as terrorist sympathisers. We live in a world of immense inequality; most economic opportunities are in the west. The system is rigged to benefit a few countries, with the exception of only China and a few oil rich Middle Eastern countries being able to buck that trend. Much of the Middle East is still marred from colonial exploitation and Muslims living in the west face much discrimination and Islamaphobia. Whilst this rampant poverty and inequality remains, people will be ripe for radicalisation. Perhaps this is a wake up call to completely review the world order and strive for a more egalitarian world.
Don’t be fooled, joining in the bombing of Syria is merely a hollow political gesture, a symbolic act of solidarity with France. But it is the innocent men, women and children, who fear ISIS even more than we do, who will be paying with their lives for this empty symbol of unity with France. A refusal to learn from the past to understand the solutions for the present and think more innovatively about how we defeat this monstrosity will be our un-doing. The politicians who have voted in favour of bombing have blood on their hands.