On 4 October David Cameron said Russian air strikes in Syria “will lead to further radicalisation and increased terrorism.” Yet he has just led a huge majority in parliament that voted to commence UK air strikes in Syria.
Assuming this isn’t some quite breathtaking cognitive dissonance, it is exactly the kind of contrived double standard that summarises this government’s foreign policy. Cameron will target his “enemies” with evidence, but when it comes to the UK or its “allies” the fingerprints have been dusted off.
Since we began the “war on terror” in 2001, terrorist attacks have soared by 6500%, according to data from the US state department. Analysis from journalist Paul Gottinger showed a direct trend between US military intervention and increased terrorism. 74% of terror casualties happened in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan or Nigeria in 2014. US air strikes or military occupations were undertaken in all of these countries except Nigeria in that year.
Here, Cameron’s hypocrisy is due to geopolitical power games. Russian air strikes will exacerbate terrorism, but when we bomb Syria, it is in the name of safety. Yet since the US-led bombing campaign in Syria – which we’ve now joined – began in August 2014, as many as 975 civilians have died, according to an independent monitoring group.
Again, it is symbolic geopolitical posturing leading us to war in Syria, not a genuine desire for peace or a solution. Calls from an emotional Francois Hollande are seemingly the chief reason for UK airstrikes. While loyalty among mates is commendable, we’re not just lending Hollande a tenner for the taxi home. The decision could have disastrous consequences for civilians living in ISIS (Daesh) occupied cities, further destabilise the region and endanger British forces.
Cameron has not made clear how joining a bombing campaign, which has so far seen Daesh gain territories, is going to help. Especially when the US government’s own figures show a direct link between military intervention and increased terrorism.
If Cameron were to approach our foreign policy with the same scrutiny he reserves for Russia, perhaps we wouldn’t be undertaking a mindless revenge crusade with no clear endgame. We are responding to terrorism with terrorism, thus fueling the cycle of perpetual war – all because Cameron wants to be seen to be doing something by France and the US.
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