The debate about whether we target ISIS via bombs in Syria is a very odd one.
Bombing is not the answer. And I’m not sure what the question is.
I don’t think the answer to the situation in Syria is to add more bombs and complexity to a situation which already has thousands of bombs going off and is hugely complex.
It really is crazy to react hastily to the Paris outrage, just as it would be to react hastily to a London outrage or an outrage in my home town. People are being killed by the hundred all over the world. Just because they get killed nearer to home should not warp our cool judgment.
We should come back to a few basic questions. Why are young men wanting to commit suicide to create terror? Why are ISIS winning territory in Syria and Iraq?
One of the answers is that President Assad is killing thousands of his own people regularly. Bombing ISIS in Syria is likely to help President Assad. Another is that the Iraqi army tend to turn and run when faced with an onslaught.
We are already bombing ISIS in Iraq. (Indeed the United States, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, France, and the United Arab Emirates are already bombing inside Syria). I am not sure what difference it will make if we bomb them in Syria except for making a hellishly complex situation even more hellishly complex.
I think we are asking the wrong question. Whether or not we bomb ISIS in Syria is probably irrelevant in the long run. We need to understand and address the basic question: Why is this shit kicking off in the first place? The answer is probably because we bomb people in the Middle East. So bombing them even more is unlikely to solve any problems and will probably make the situation even worse.
Sooner or later we will have to talk to ISIS. And we should also be talking more to some of our allies, such as Saudi Arabia, about their human rights abuses too.
I give you this from the BBC’s Security correspondent Frank Gardner:
…in the short to medium term (bombing Syria) would increase – but not initiate – the terrorist threat to UK.
I highly suspect that by increasing bombing we are doing exactly what ISIS want us to do.
Please read this article by Jürgen Todenhöfer. He writes:
A bombing strategy employed by France – which, potentially, will now be joined by Britain – will above all hit Syria’s population. This will fill Isis fighters with joy. Hollande could only make them happier if he were to send in ground troops as well: western boots on the ground in Syria is the ultimate Isis dream. Instead of mainly killing Muslims, they are desperate to live out their imaginary apocalyptic showdown between good and evil, in which they can at last fight against the US, the UK and France – on the ground.
Generally, we should stop kidding ourselves that our airborne intervention in the Middle East solves any problems and does anything other than making situations worse. We can help with humanitarian aid and with constructive dipolomatic dialogue. But as far as the old days of bombing the hell out of deserts and civilian populations (as “collateral”), in the words of Dragon’s Den, we’re out (or at least we should be).