Iraq/Syria nightmare is horrific with a barbarism that few expected to witness again. America, in the absence of action from the UN, is undertaking its role as a world policeman. They have sacrificed more of their sons and daughters to the cause of democracy in other countries, than any other nation in the world.
The Commons is again being asked the wrong questions. It is not whether ISIL should be attacked. That will happen with US plus Muslim states. The question is should UK be involved?
Another West/Christian attack on an Eastern/Muslim group will deepen the division between the two opposing worlds. ISIL tactics aim to provoke Western retaliation in order to initiate world conflict.
Continuing the asymmetric conflict between hi-tech Western air power on groups defenceless against these sophisticated weapons will increase their only choice of retaliation by terrorism.
The Iraq War aimed to destroy the terrorist threat in 2003. Then it was minor. Now barbaric Jihadist groups are committing atrocities in Somalia, Nigeria, Algeria, Kenya, Pakistan and the Yemen. Air war against ISIL in Iraq/Syria offers only partial solution and could intensify Jihadist terrorism elsewhere.
The UK is trapped by a 19th century illusion that Britannia rules the world. Punching above our weight means dying beyond our responsibilities. Blood price of 632 UK deaths and £40 billion cost of Iraq/Afghanistan wars was too much to pay for politicians' vanity.
The UK should act independently and not be dominated by decisions of the US or any other Government.
Seduction of young British Muslims, born and educated here, into the horrors of Jihadism by internet propaganda that creates twisted idealism, is the greatest threat to the UK. Our involvement in the air attack will strengthen the mythology of the Jihadists and recruit more UK volunteers to their cause.
The US and a dozen other countries including Muslim ones, plus Assad’s Syria are attacking ISIL. They will eventually defeat them after it becomes a ground war. The vote on Friday is whether the UK orders its forces to join them. Why should we?
Since the Vietnam War we have been in lockstep with the USA on wars. Credit is due to Harold Wilson for keeping our combat troops out of Vietnam's hopeless war. He avoided the deaths of thousands of British soldiers. Since then we have stopped behaving as an independent country – until August 29th last year. The votes of backbench MPs stopped David Cameron from charging into Syria all guns blazing against Assad and allied with Free Syria Army, ISIL and the Al Nusra Front. Now he asked the Commons to ally ourselves with Assad to defeat ISIL. What a difference a year makes.
Many countries including Canada and the Netherlands pulled out of the Afghan war as casualties became indefensible. We continued because our policies were determined in Washington. We have already lost the lives of 632 UK soldiers and spent £50 billion in the two wars that created the present situation in Iraq and left the Taliban strong in Afghanistan. I voted or spoke against both. They were the best decisions of my political life.
We are a small country but the 4th highest spender on defence in the world. The result is that we spend beyond our interests and die beyond our responsibilities. It’s time we escaped from infantile policies that believe we can win hearts and minds with bombs and bullets.
This is not a question of being wise before the event. In late March 2003, I wrote to Tony Blair PM about Iraq:
“Our involvement in Bush’s war will increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks. Attacking a Muslim state without achieving a fair settlement of the Palestine–Israeli situation is an affront to Muslims, from our local mosques to the far-flung corners of the world. A pre-emptive attack of the kind we have made on Iraq will only deepen the sense of grievance among Muslims that the Western/Christian/Jewish world is out to oppress them. This will provide a propaganda victory to Osama Bin Laden and can only increase his support and the likelihood of more acts of terrorism.
In the Commons you repeated that it is an article of faith to you that Britain and the USA should have a common foreign policy. Fine when there is an American President such as Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Carter or Clinton: disastrous when it is a right wing fundamentalist Republican such as Bush."
Tony Blair still does not recognize that his untruths in 2003 persuaded the Commons to vote for a war which deepened the divide between West and East and between Christian and Muslim. That deep sense of injustice convinces some Muslims, born and educated in the UK, to volunteer to join ISIL and commit acts of mediaeval barbarism.
When the war drums are beating, party leaders change their personalities. Prime Ministers talk in a different way. They dust down the Churchillian rhetoric and boom out the war jargon. They walk in a different way and strut like petty Napoleons. This is their great chance to write their page in history. Sadly, it’s usually a bloody page with our soldiers making the sacrifices. As in all wars, politicians lie and soldiers die. Only now are we learning the full truth on the political horse trading and vanities that led to the deaths of 16 million people in WWI.
I am not a pacifist and I believe that WWII was justified, so was the attack on Idi Amin and the Sierra Leone and Kosovo UK involvement. Our military are brilliant on humanitarian missions. That’s where we should concentrate our strengths. We can achieve great things in the Middle East without joining in another war.
That is why I will be voting against the Government’s motion on Friday.