So we’re dropping bombs in Syria now, which you’ve probably heard about unless you don’t read the news or use social media, in which case you wouldn’t be reading this anyway. Now I’m no IR expert, I changed my degree because I’m really not, but I do want to make some reflections on the responses to the ‘politics’ of this as such.
Now, I sat on and off for the vast majority of Thursday watching the House of Commons debate. And it depressed me, for several reasons.
On a personal level, I will not shy away from the fact that, yes, it does depress me that we are bombing Syria. I don’t believe that bombing Syria is the answer, but not because I’m necessarily ‘anti interventionist’, but because I don’t believe we should be nonchalantly doing things by halves. We should have considered all of our options, including a full scale ground war, which will not happen in my opinion, because of lack of political motivation to do so. I don’t want people to lose their lives when they could have been saved by a better solution. However, and this is the crucial point, neither do politicians who voted for air strikes yesterday.
Yvette Cooper, Stella Creasy, Tom Watson, Hilary Benn and the 393 others who voted “aye” yesterday are not monsters. They are not blood thirsty murderers and they are not war mongerers. They are people, who made a decision that they believed was right for the people of Britain and the people of Syria. I don’t believe anybody in that chamber wanted to bomb anyone, but they made a difficult decision, and they made it in the belief that that was what was best. If I had not watched that debate, or attended talks, or researched it, I would be staunchly anti intervention. But when presented with the arguments from both sides, it becomes a difficult decision and no one can deny that. It’s complex. It’s nuanced. Inaction does not mean no one dies here; that dichotomy must be destroyed on the radical left.
Just because maybe you, or I, disagree with those decisions does not give people the right to attack MPs over twitter, or protestors the right to go outside Stella Creasy’s home. There is a distinct difference between disagreeing with the decision to drop bombs on Syria and abusing MPs. Anger, sadness, frustration, infuriation; all of these are natural feelings for someone who was against the decision yesterday, believe me, I felt all of them. But there is no excuse to abuse MPs who were democratically elected and believed they were doing their best. At the end of the day, yes they are elected to represent the people, but they are often the experts.
People were dying before we were dropping bombs and they will continue to die after. My heart was breaking for Syrians before the vote, and it continues to break now. I believe that to be the case for many MPs too. And just because some MPs voted for intervention doesn’t mean they necessarily care about Syrians any less. In a perfect world, we would stop the arms trade and there would be no weapons or wars. We would all sit round a table and resolve our differences. But this isn’t WWII. We aren’t going to create the UN 2.0 out of this. This is a threat like no other and unfortunately, something has to be done. People are beheaded, raped, tortured and murdered by ISIS on a daily basis whilst the world sits back and uncomfortably turns it’s head. Yes, we can do our bit and help refugees, but there are many who don’t even have the means to leave. What do we do about them? Let them die?
To believe that this decision was easy, is naive. To believe that those MPs don’t think twice about dropping bombs, is unfair. To live in a world where terrorism exists and people die on a daily basis, is truly abhorrent. No, I don’t agree with dropping bombs on Syria, but it’s time to stop, and think, that maybe people, with the same aims, might just come up with different solutions.