Democratic bombs: Cameron pleads case (again) for bombing Syria

Richard Sudan
Richard Sudan is a London-based writer, political activist, and performance poet. His writing has been published in many prominent publications, including the Independent, the Guardian, Huffington Post and Washington Spectator. He has been a guest speaker at events for different organizations ranging from the University of East London to the People's Assembly covering various topics. His opinion is that the mainstream media has a duty to challenge power, rather than to serve power. Richard has taught writing poetry for performance at Brunel University.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron © Eric Gaillard
British PM David Cameron is preparing to present his case to Parliament for bombing ISIS in Syria, an objective he believes has been bolstered by the UN resolution put forward by the French and unanimously passed.

What is the backdrop, and does the current political climate bear any of the hallmarks of failed ‘interventions’ which have been undertaken by the British government over the last 15 years?  Let’s have a look.

The current drive to bomb Syria, a country already ravaged by civil war, is all about removing Daesh (supposedly) and nothing to do with destabilizing the country and forcing regime change, to put in place a government more suited to the UK’s long term geopolitical interests.  Of course not.  Perish the thought.  

Cameron’s campaign, we are led to believe, must be about looking after Syrian human rights even though his government ignores some of the gravest human rights abuses. For example, he happily welcomes human rights abusers like Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu to London, while allowing the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, one of the most oppressive regimes in the world.

According to Cameron, the UK is committed to getting rid of Daesh, even though NATO members like Turkey have been aiding the group without reprimand. At the same time, Britain’s allies among the GCC nations have sat back and allowed Daesh to slaughter Muslims, while the only legitimate player in dealing with the threat of terror groups in Syria at the invitation of the government, Russia, has been routinely demonized in Western media.  Now a Russian plane has been shot down by Turkey.

This is the backdrop to Cameron’s watered down and transparent narrative.

Indeed, Cameron tried two years ago to call for airstrikes against Syria, but failed to secure the support needed in the House of Commons.  Now the focus has shifted from the government, to forces fighting the Syrian army, among them Daesh, the mercenaries who have claimed responsibility for the recent Paris shootings.

In sum: According to Cameron, there is an existential threat named Daesh (which has conveniently been allowed to proliferate unchallenged by all the states in a position to eliminate it and starve it of support including Israel and Saudi Arabia and Turkey, with Israel actually treating some of Daesh’s fighters in its hospitals before releasing them) running rampant in Syria, and while there is no need to talk about those states allowing the flow of fighters, weapons, and mercenaries crossing back and forth into Syria, the answer (yet again) is apparently, to go and drop more bombs on Syria.  Democratic and humanitarian bombs obviously, because they will be coming from the West.

Smoke rises after what activists said were cluster bombs dropped by the Russian air force in the town of Maaret al-Naaman in Idlib province, Syria. © Khalil Ashawi

Apart from the fact that the neoliberal policy of bombing nations to achieve peace has been an utter failure (surprise) the move also betrays actual solutions on the ground: No one wants to talk about the fact that certain states in the region, which happen to be allies of the US and UK are for some strange reason unwilling to touch Daesh, and at the very best appease them.  No one wants to talk about strengthening an allegiance with Kurdish forces already fighting Daesh, or about standing alongside Russia as equal partners to defeat Daesh-Russia which has notably had more success in hitting Daesh’s strongholds than the US has managed in years.  And no one wants to talk about who is buying oil from Daesh from the areas they control.

The whole thing is a mess, and all the while, ordinary Syrians are being forced to abandon their homes and seek safety elsewhere.  And it’s not as if refugees, particularly Syrians, are being depicted fairly in the media.  There is a witch hunt in the media at the moment, with the recent tragic Paris shootings being blamed and viewed through the narrow lens of the label ‘Syrian refugee’.  Syria is a huge and diverse nation with many ethnicities and faiths and to place an entire displaced people in the same box as terrorists is very deceptive and dangerous.  God forbid, any one of us could be unlucky enough to be a refugee one day.

Terrorists come from many nations.  Syria has not destroyed and broken nations like Iraq and Libya in half causing poverty and a refugee crisis.  Syrians are actually the victims of terrorism, at the hands of Daesh and the nations which allow them to proliferate and grow.

It isn’t enough that the likes of the grotesque racist and Islamophonic Katy Hopkins can be given a platform to millions to suggest that we’d be better off shooting refugees than helping them.  This week we saw the Sun also suggest that many Muslims are sympathetic to the views of ISIS.  The cycle of insanity continues.

And while the media is nevertheless trying to characterize and suggest Syrians and refugees are more likely to commit terrorism when they are not, evidence is emerging all the time which suggests that the perpetrators of the Paris attacks cannot be viewed simply as Syrians or refugees, or even hating ‘our way of life’.  They were EU citizens and bar owners, visited strip clubs just like former terrorist Maajid Nawaz.  The picture is murky, and the truth will likely emerge gradually as the months unfold.

Along with war drums beating louder from Downing Street, the usual suspects among the corporate media, and the Murdoch owned press, have been stirring up hatred against Muslims, and refugees with inflammatory language. Equating Muslims with terrorism, and whipping up anger towards refugees, many of them also Muslim, has create a climate we’ve seen replicated throughout history for political ends.

Just like all the other familiar hallmarks we’ve seen in the past in the run up to a disastrous neoliberal war of aggression in recent years, the demonization of governments like the Syrian government, devoid of any real global context, the allowing of a monster (in this case Daesh) to grow and expand to create a climate for war, we’ve also in recent days seen one other familiar twist.

According to one UK government review, there is now cause to believe that Daesh is seeking to obtain a nuclear weapon.  This of course would be of grave concern (who they would obtain one from would also be of concern as the weapon could only conceivably come from one direction).

I wonder if when the bombs drop and they go in, they will find a weapon. This time.  We heard the same in the run up to Iraq, but no WMDs were ever found.

At least if Daesh got its hands on a nuclear weapon, Israel and her allies among the GCC countries would be safe as Daesh doesn’t seem intent on attacking them or any other regime which brutalizes Muslims.  Daesh is too busy killing Muslims to care about that.  Daesh, which calls itself ‘Islamic State’ doesn’t seem to want to extend its caliphate into any of Britain and the US’s allies which seems a bit strange.

The sequence of events, in the run up to David Cameron’s push to bomb Syria, is very familiar ground.  The threat of Daesh (like ‘Al-Qaeda’) has emerged, and has been allowed to strengthen, precisely because of the conditions created by 15 years of Western bombs being dropped on the Middle East.  The idea that it makes sense to drop yet more bombs rather than working directly with the Syrian army, the Russian army and Kurdish forces to starve Daesh of its lifeblood is insane, and actually when looking at it in this way, betrays the truth of the situation.  The bizarre spectacle of a NATO member, Turkey, continually attacking Kurds, themselves fighting back against the onslaught from Daesh, while other NATO leaders stand idly by feigning ignorance shows how morally bankrupt of logic and morals the current political status quo is.

Just like in 2003, in the run up to the Iraq war, Londoners will march on Saturday to oppose the British government extending airstrikes into Syria.  Millions marched in 2003 and were ignored.  It’s hard to imagine enough pushback to come from the British people to prevent a repeat of the tragedy and crime of the Iraq war.  More bombs falling on Syria, and Western nations standing shoulder to shoulder with so called moderate rebels which are no better than Daesh and with proven and demonstrable links to them is not the answer.

Starving Daesh of its political support and immunity, its flow of weapons and the market for its oil revenues clearly is.

Dropping yet more bombs on Syria, lumping in the Syrian government with Daesh, is exactly what the monsters who committed the Paris tragedy want.  We need to align with the forces already fighting Daesh, not align with Daesh itself.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.