As Britain inches towards war again (A Realist Perspective)

One can almost hear the war drums beating again, as Britain prepares for a parliament vote to decide on war in Syria. David Cameron proceeded with his half-hearted case about war in Syria, and why Britain should join with US and France in bombing ISIS in Syria, an argument which was as logically incoherent as a kitchen sieve with water. The Labour party on the other hand in completely in disarray, and with civil war about to break out, and an incompetent and ideologically pacifist leader in Jeremy Corbyn. Such is the situation, that when Corbyn this time is actually raising extremely valuable points, no one is listening to him, as the atmosphere inside Labour is so vicious. Cameron leads a country from one Middle East misadventure to other, with the majority of the country remaining opposed to it, but there is no one to stop him.

Let’s first analyse the case for war. To be frank, there is none. The argument that Britain would change the course of this war, is laughable to any political researchers. United States, Russia, France are the three heavyweights bombing every inch of the cursed land. Iran is actively involved in ground operations, as is Hezbollah and the Kurds. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar is providing arms to anti-Assad rebels. Not just Britain, India, China every country of the world cannot do anything, if they simultaneously keep bombing Syria day and night, because the fundamental problem is there is no fixed opposition. The Syrian war is like the Spanish civil war, with various antagonistic forces battling it out for supremacy, and with no sign of a joint effort to root out ISIS. Iran wants to contain ISIS as long as their regional influence in and around Southern Iraq and Baghdad is maintained, Turkey is bombing the Kurds, perhaps the only secular fighting force successful against the ISIS, Russia is not interested in anyone else, other than preserving Bashar Assad in his throne, and US is bombing ISIS because there is an election coming, and neither party can afford to look weak in national security.

Which brings to the second point, this is a humanitarian intervention, which is even more contradictory, as the inevitable question rises, why did no one do anything when 250000 civilians were butchered in the last four years? Also, isn’t this the strangest irony, that Britain wanted to have a parliamentary vote, last time, they were voting to bomb Assad, and in two years’ time, they are voting again to bomb ISIS who are the pitted against Assad? Does it mean that the calculations last time were wrong, and Cameron was leading the country to war on false pretexts? Also, what difference will handful British planes make, when the Americans and Russians combined have made over 60000 sorties in the last two years, which didn’t change the map of Syria? Is there no other way of joining this battle other than flying Tornados over an overcrowded Syrian sky? There is, and Canada is showing the way, by taking in sexual and religious minorities, and gay refugees from Middle East. Britain can also do a lot more, without bombing Syria, just to say they are members of the big boys club.

Unfortunately these questions are not answered, and the man who actually raised these questions, is now facing a revolt in his own party. It is hard to be a fan of Jeremy Corbyn, simply because for a Political Realist perspective it is hard to be a pacifist, and there are reasons to believe there are sometimes a just war to be fought. Secondly it is excruciatingly hard for a moment to believe that Corbyn will ever support a war, even when the entire United Nations join together calling to battle Islamic State. Not to mention, he lacks credibility talking about Islamist Jihadism, with his tainted past. However,  he is right and raises some extremely important questions, which states how misleading Her Majesty’s government is when it comes to Syrian war. These are strange days, when Daily Mail, and Guardian both jointly ask Torys to not rush to war, reflecting essentially the skeptical mood of the island. But who’s there to listen.

The war against ISIS will not be won by more bombs. It will be won, by containing them, cutting their economy, isolating them, making a border so that they stay inside the infected zones of Middle East. There needs to be increased vigilance, increased surveillance, increased intelligence gathering, and increased Humint, Sigint and Osint operations inside Syria and Iraq. It is to be done, by identifying the cancer or Islamism spreading in the Western societies, and countering it, with propaganda and policing. And finally, it will never be won with Western nations and even Russia bombing Middle East, as it will only feed in the Christian crusader myths propagated by ISIS which will be used to fill their rank and files. A scorched earth military campaign can defeat ISIS militarily, but first of all, no state will carry on such a campaign in this day and age, secondly, it will still not solve the mentality of these people and make them democratic and liberal overnight. Only muslim Middle eastern nations can solve this problem, and for that, if they need to have their own version of a Thirty years war, then so be it. I opposed the Libyan intervention before, and time proved it right, as Libya is now a breeding ground of Jihadism, and the base camp of the refugee crisis. As a Realist, let me be on record to say that Britain and West should stay out of Syria.

(Sumantra Maitra is a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Nottingham. You can find him on Twitter @MrMaitra. This is his personal opinion.)


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