Bombing Syria, the pros and cons

Support us and go ad-free

Unsurprisingly, David Cameron is once again pushing for a British military campaign in Syria. He insists it is the right thing for Britain to do, but has failed to convince the country that this is the case. In order to assess the strength of the prime minister’s argument then, it is worth looking at some pros and cons of carrying out more air strikes in the Middle East.

The pros

  1. Bombs will kill some Daesh (Isis) soldiers and leaders (though it won’t kill the group’s ideology, which has supporters around the world).
  2. It will satisfy some people’s desire for revenge (while encouraging their devaluation of the lives of civilians that will no doubt lose their lives).
  3. It will temporarily reduce Daesh’s material capabilities (while failing to address how the group gained such capabilities in the first place).

The cons

  1. Daesh wants military escalation – which will inevitably lead to destruction and civilian deaths – and it wants division in the West based on religious grounds. This will make it easier for it to recruit more supporters.
  2. Intelligence agencies and analysts say that terrorist groups like Daesh simply feed off Western errors to recruit more followers.
  3. The West’s interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya didn’t solve anything. In fact, they made matters worse. We need to learn from these experiences.
  4. A focus on air strikes will distract citizens from the role Western governments and their allies have played in creating Wahhabi extremism and fuelling its growth. This essentially means letting these regimes off the hook, and allowing them to continue pursuing the destructive policies that have led to the situation the world is in today. Bombs will do nothing to address the social and political causes of extremism – which are often linked to the West’s previous actions in the Middle East.

What are the real solutions?

Considering the points made above, the reasons not to support air strikes seem to be far more compelling than the reasons to support them. So what is the alternative?

Below are just a few key ways to weaken Daesh:

  1. Pressure the Turkish State to stop its attacks on progressive Kurdish communities, reach a peace accord with the anti-Daesh fighters of the PKK, and to end its blockade of Rojava, whose forces are also on the frontline in the fight against Daesh.
  2. Stop covering up for Turkey’s evidenced complicity with the expansion of Daesh.
  3. Stop backing the wrong regimes in the Middle East, like the Kurdish nationalist regime in Iraq and the ethnoreligious chauvinists in charge of Turkey. Instead, recognise and support the progressive and democratic alternative presented by Rojava.
  4. Look at why Daesh members have been radicalised – such as the exploitation of marginalised, oppressed, and destroyed communities by missionaries of the intolerant ideology of Wahhabism – and act to address these problems. This is not just a petition of anti-war activists. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked the USA and Russia to unite to “address some of the root causes of terrorism”.
  5. Seriously reform Britain’s foreign policy with regards to the likes of Saudi Arabia and Qatar – which have spread the Wahhabi ideology that inspired Daesh. As Quotidien d’Oran columnist Kamel Daoud has said, “Daesh has a mother: the invasion of Iraq. But it also has a father: Saudi Arabia and its religious-industrial complex”.
  6. Push for a permanent settlement of the ‘Palestinian Question’. In other words, stop ignoring the crimes of the Israeli state, which fuel the perpetuation of conflict in the region.
  7. Reach a political settlement in Syria immediately. And this should involve all regional and international players in the conflict.

An incredibly courageous stance will be needed from our politicians if these actions are to be taken. Such a position would almost certainly threaten Britain’s access to cheap oil from despotic regimes in the Middle East. It would also leave British arms manufacturers with less business in the region. But we should not be afraid of the consequences of doing the right thing. As Cameron has said himself:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

the threats to our interests and to our people are such that we cannot afford to stand aside and not to act

And he is completely right. Action desperately needs to be taken to reduce the threat from Daesh and to end the war in Syria. But that action is not Cameron’s planned campaign of British air strikes. As argued by The Canary previously, the actions needed are complex and profound political changes, which Cameron does not seem prepared to make.

That is why we must ensure that our voices are heard by participating in local or national protests against the government’s desired military escalation in Syria and by telling our MPs exactly how we feel about the situation.


Featured image via Ronny Przysucha/Wikimedia Commons

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed