There’s a lot of talk of the recent debates over the Cameron regime’s proposed Syrian adventure being a good thing and that we are learning from the mistakes of Iraq and Libya.
No we aren’t. The vast majority of voices we are hearing are in favour of a military solution. While the wisdom of bombing is being questioned, it is the wisdom of ‘bombing only’ that is being questioned, with even a young lady from the Adam Smith Institute calling for working “with countries all over the world” in a Grand Coalition, arguing that boots on the ground “probably is necessary”.
The lesson we seem to have learned from Iraq is that anyone can be an armchair general. Suddenly everyone from Ken Livingstone to Charlie Falconer is an expert military strategist. Of all the moonshine I have heard about some kind of military solution, the least ridiculous is that of George Galloway, who has proposed providing military support to President Assad, President Putin, the Syrian Kurds, the Iranians, and Hezbollah.
And then there are the non-military solutions. The SNP want a political solution as does Jeremy Corbyn.
But, you see, that won’t work either. Oh, we all know deep down that the military strategies won’t work. Cameron says there are 70,000 moderates in Syria to help defeat ISIS when there are likely fewer than 7,000. The airstrikes don’t actually hit ISIS, but instead hit hospitals. And the more we intervene, the more “blowback.” But even the political solutions won’t work. Why? Because the political solutions rely on states and terrorist groups to talk to each other, find common ground, and make peace.
But one government may be buying oil from ISIS. Another government may be giving arms to ISIS. Another government may be attacking ISIS’ enemies for them. The web is a tangled one and it won’t be solved by the British government suggesting everyone sits down and sings a few choruses of kumbayah.
So what do we do? Of course, we must do something. We don’t have the luxury of doing nothing. ISIS have killed a whopping 30 British citizens. “ISIS have killed your neighbours” as the young lady from the pseudo-libertarian Adam Smith Institute has said. Therefore, we must destroy them! We must act. We must act now!
But what can we do? Not only is bombing a public good, in that it costs more than it is individually worth to us, but it probably won’t do any good. We can sit around talking military strategy until the cows come home. And we can call for another UN resolution until our voices become hoarse.
Ultimately, we can do nothing worth doing. Indeed, we should stop doing whatever we are currently doing. We should stop our air missions to Iraq. We should stop funding and arming ISIS as we probably are. We should also stop taking in any more refugees from the region. Finally, we should repeal all of our gun control legislation. Do this and you’ll soon find the terrorist threat diminishes.
I accept that this is unlikely. I accept that the chattering classes are experts at deluding themselves and deluding those stupid enough to believe them that Britain is still a hegemonic power or at the very least that Britain must “punch above her weight.” I accept that we are ruled by people who are either evil or stupid. But fortunately, it is still legal to fantasise about a Britain that keeps its mitts to itself.
In short: if in doubt, do nowt.