A necessary evil, why I am in support of British air strikes in Syria

IS troops
(source – AP hosted by the Daily Mail)

Let me make one thing incredibly clear before I continue, I am not happy about writing this post. I understand that what I am going to say will be deeply unpopular amongst a lot of people, and I completely sympathise with why people are rightfully extremely angry with the government for the decision made last night, but I cannot bring myself to agree in light of the incredible evidence that I see that indicates that air strikes are the only option possible at the moment. I lament at the fact that bombs in the name of my state will be falling over Syria as they do over Iraq, bombs that will inevitably kill innocent people. I lament over the fact that children will be orphaned, parents will have to bury their sons and daughters, and blood will be shed because of the decision made on Wednesday night. I lament at the fact that there will be more suffering to come because of the horrific situation that engulfs Iraq and Syria. I do not stand here as someone who wants to glorify war. War is morally abhorrent, violence is morally abhorrent. However, what is also morally abhorrent is standing by and doing nothing when genocide and suffering are occurring, inaction is as much a move in war as action. In this post I will list the reasons why I feel that air strikes in Syria are a necessary evil, and why inaction will lead to far greater suffering than air strikes could possible cause. No matter what you call them, ISIS, ISIL, IS, Daesh (I personally like Andrew Neil’s IS aka Islamist Scum), the force that can be known as Islamic State cannot be left alone.

Preface, the current situation.

It goes without saying that finding accurate information in the fog of war is exceptionally difficult. Most statistics and maps are debatable, but the overall indications of the nature of the forces involved in this conflict are very clear. For the purpose of this post I will be using the Institute For The Study Of War’s (ISW) map on the recent situation:ISW ISIS map September 15th 2015
It goes without saying that the exact extent of IS’ control of certain regions is debatable, but the overall picture is a dire one indeed. No matter how debatable the exact numbers, it cannot be ignored that IS control extremely large sections of both Iraq and Syria, and pose a major threat to both Baghdad, the capital of Iraq and Damascus, the capital of Syria.

Reason one – the nature of IS forces in Syria/Iraq – oversimplified rhetoric in a complex war.

One of the key factors in the debate over military interventions in Syria that has often been completely ignored is the very nature of IS. The debate on all fronts, be it the news/media, the commons or activist groups has grossly simplified and overlooked vital information on the actual formation, spread and behaviour of IS forces. This has been exceptionally dangerous for a number of reasons. Firstly, the opposition to air strikes often cite the fact that we are already engaged in air strikes in Iraq and that these are “not working” or “failing to destroy IS completely” as adequate reasoning to avoid air strikes in Syria. Secondly, the proponents of air strikes have failed to convince the public on a policy extension (being simply the expansion of air strikes into what is now left of Syria) that should have been extremely simple to effectively convey. What the debate has fundamentally missed out is the fact that IS are active in large numbers in both Iraq and Syria, and that historically IS have shown incredibly aptitude in moving large numbers of troops with relative ease across the now arbitrary border should they be struggling on a particular front. This accurately highlights the main issue with air strikes in only Iraq, IS have and will simply move the bulk of their troops in the region into Syria, where the number of air strikes is considerably lower at the moment. Likewise, IS will be able to move anti air equipment between what remains of the two states with relative ease, which poses a great risk to future air strikes and the pilots involved. Air strikes are needed on both sides of the border to keep IS regiments pinned down in their current positions, and to disrupt the flow of supplies and weapons between the two, preventing IS from reinforcing fronts at their own will, opening up a far greater chance for the Peshmerga to not only survive, but actually stand a chance of regaining significant territory.

Furthermore, part of the propaganda that IS push as a means of recruiting new troops is the idea of pan-Islamism, that is the breakdown of borders and the construction of a single Caliphate (that being the “Islamic State”). If British forces are simply acting on one side of the border between Syria and Iraq, it reinforces the idea amongst people in the region that pan-Islamism is a better option, IS will be able to spread rhetoric of the Kafir (unbelievers, in this case western forces) prioritising targets based on arbitrary nationalities, that the life of an Iraqi is worth less in the eyes of the west than the life of a Syrian. This narrative would greatly reinforce the ideas of pan-Islamism and Ummah (the end goal of pan-Islamism, a global Islamist community).

If we wish to counter IS’ military equipment, supplies and personnel streams between what is left of Iraq and what is left of Syria, as well as challenge IS’ ability to push propaganda that in the region could convert more innocent people into fighters in the name of a pan-Islamist ideology, then we must be targeting both sides of the border with air strikes.

Reason two – the nature of IS’ movement – redefining the conventions of terrorist tactics.

ISIS captured vehicles
(source – an ISIS social media image reported on by VICE news)

Now I must analyse exactly what has allowed IS to expand at such an incredible rate compared to other recent violent Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda, and how air strikes have been of vital importance to preventing further rapid expansion. The main two factors in allowing IS to expand at such an eye watering rate across Iraq and Syria are the ex Baathist generals radicalised following the dissolving of the former Baathist Iraqi army and the initial culture of underestimation and the subsequent inaction of the international community.

Firstly on the factor of the ex Baathist generals. Following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime in April 2003 (with the official end of US major operations regarding the invasion being declared by President Bush on the 1st of May 2003), the absolute failure of a transitional government of Iraq signed the absolute failure of the Coalition Provisional Authority Order 2 on the 23rd of May 2003, implementing the immediate disbanding of the former Baathist Iraqi military, security and intelligence infrastructures. Immediately following this was the imprisonment of numerous former Baathist generals. Due to the fact that most of these Baathist generals were incarcerated more as prisoners of war than for any war crime, they would eventually be released. However, during their imprisonment, a number of these generals were radicalised into the violent and expansionist Islamism of the then relatively small IS. Following their release, these generals would prove to be an incredible asset to the then small IS, and arguably the most important factor in their expansion. These generals were exceptionally experienced, many of them had served in the 1980 to 1988 Iran-Iraq war, the 1990 to 1991 Gulf war and then the 2003 war in Iraq, and as a result were able to providing tactical assistance to the then fledgling IS, mainly in the form of troop movement tactics. Unlike groups such as Al-Qaeda, that were engaged in Guerrilla military movements from the very beginning, IS used the experience of the radicalised ex Baathist generals to organise their forces into something more akin to a conventional army, using traditional formations when moving forces such as column formations. This allowed IS to move the vast bulk of their forces extremely quickly at short notice to whatever front they were most suited, thus allowing them to overpower the utterly useless and totally corrupt new Iraqi army or the already weary forces of Assad’s regime in Syria, capturing vast amounts of territory (allowing for further bolstering of their funding sources, which will be discussed below) and military equipment from the US armed new Iraqi army.

Secondly on the culture of apathy in the international community. Following long and bloody campaigns in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the citizens of many states have quite understandably grown into a state of war weariness. A consequence of this however has been a lack of action by the international community towards small violent Islamist groups, waiting only until IS had not only taking incredible amounts of land, consolidate far greater forces, established complex lines of funding, started to attract radicalised youth from across the globe and began using absolute barbarity as a means of propaganda before they deemed them to be enough of a threat to warrant intervention. If IS had been tackled when the first signs of them using conventional military tactics to take control of territory had appeared, we would not be in the incredible mess that we face today. The culture of apathy in the international community is completely understandable, no one wants their electorate to lose faith in them over another military intervention, however it cannot be denied that is has been a serious factor in the rise of IS. The international community finally deeming IS too great a threat to ignore however, leads on to my final point in this section, why air strikes are important in preventing further expansion when taking into account military tactics.

IS have changed their behaviour on multiple occasions during their growth as an organisation, from adopting conventional military formations, to adopting ever escalating barbarity in a propaganda war aimed at shocking and radicalising. One of the biggest changes in IS’ behaviour however was immediately in the aftermath of various actors in the international community, such as the US, finally intervening and engaging with IS using air strikes. Whilst the column formation is exceptionally apt at moving large numbers of troops and equipment from front to front, it is also extremely vulnerable to disruption from air strikes. This is especially a problem when looking at the terrains of Iraq and Syria, which are for the most part comprised of plains (with the odd exception such as the Golden Heights, which are currently under occupation by Israel despite being recognised as Syrian territory), compared to say Afghanistan, which is much more mountainous. Whilst the nature of the terrain in Iraq and Syria initially aided the rapid expansion of IS, air strikes have forced them to abandon their conventional military tactics and revert to guerrilla formations, entrenching themselves in the towns that they have captured, unable to move large numbers of troops and equipment without the risk of massive losses to air strikes. To put it plainly, whilst it is true that air strikes are ineffective in actually destroying entrenched IS forces, they are exceptionally effective at completely stagnating the groups movements, and pinning them down into specific and known locations, weakening them on all fronts. It is a necessary evil that we must extend these air strikes into Syria to pin down further sections of IS’ forces, and prevent movement of troops and equipment across what remains of the border.

Reason three – the nature of IS’ funding – Turkey’s dirty oil trade.

ISIS oil convoy
(source – pictures from Russian aircraft hosted by Almanar news)

It is now important to analyse the lifelines of IS and how they have managed to finance themselves, and why the traditional methods of restricting funding that worked wonders against the Taliban and Al Qaeda simply are ineffective against this new threat. Obviously, a great deal of funding is required in warfare, anti air strikes activist groups such as the Stop The War Coalition have had absolutely no problem in highlighting the incredible costs of the Hellfire Missiles that would most likely be deployed in Syria and are currently deployed in Iraq, that is $70,000 per warhead, roughly £46,000, or the Storm Shadow Missiles, £790,000 per warhead. Likewise, the government have absolutely failed to convince the public that these costs can be justified in times of austerity, a complete failure on their behalf. Whilst I hope the justification of these costs will be outlined by the overall message of this post, I would now like to address the funding of IS, as the costs of conflict will obviously apply to them as well, even Jihadi rats get given paycheques. So how have IS managed to secure funding for their violent expansion? And why is it that conventional intelligence based attacks on funding have failed so spectacularly?

The first source of funding that IS use is governance of the territory they now hold themselves. Al Qeada sourced the vast majority of their funding from wealthy overseas Islamists (mainly from the Wahhabi majority Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia), and whilst for IS this is a source of income (the evidence to suggest that there is systematic funding from Saudi Arabia, a supposed ally of the west, is both incredible and deeply sickening), it is a relatively small source compared to the two main revenue sources. Unlike Al Qaeda, IS are using taxes and levies on the citizens of the territory they now hold as a source of income. To put it plainly, IS are putting in place de facto state structures, implementing a complex system of taxation as a major source of funding. IS even implement a “Christian tax” (providing said Christians are lucky enough to still be alive), in which Christians basically pay a tax for their lives, a bribe for IS to leave them in a peace.

Secondly to this is extortion of businesses and families. Much like many armed groups throughout history, IS have proven themselves effective in intimidating the local population into handing over large amounts of money to fund their activities. The problem here being that the territory IS controls has quite a lot of people living there, between 2.8 and 5.3 million people. Now obviously these two sources of funding cannot be cut off using air strikes, unless someone was mad enough to suggest that we simply level the entire region and kill everyone in it, but the results of these taxation and extortion systems, bolstered by the fact that IS have left most of the infrastructure in tact in the area (unlike Al Qaeda with the areas they had control of) are that the conventional method of relying on intelligence services to identify and cut external funding sources, whilst a pain and setback for IS, will not cause sufficient damage to their funding streams to act as a feasible sole tactic.

So how then can air strikes actually be effective in tackling IS’ funding streams? The answer, as with most issues sadly in the area, lies in oil. IS make incredible amounts of money from the black market oil trade, mainly with Turkey (again, another of our supposed allies!). The black market oil trade is of upmost importance to IS, the group gains an estimated $500million a year (more information here). Whilst IS do make more money from taxation and extortion than they do from oil revenue, cutting this source of funding would be a major blow to the funding of their operations, and prevent them from so effectively reinforcing so many fronts, opening up greater scope for opposing ground forces to regain territory and secure further cuts in their funding by cutting them off from the citizens that they exploit. Air strikes provide a vital role in this equation by being able to quickly and effectively target the convoys that transport the oil to the Turkish border to be sold on the black market, keeping this source of revenue firmly confined within the oil fields in which it originates. Targeting IS’ ability to establish itself on the black market will also deprive it of a claim to legitimacy in the eyes of the capitalist ruling classes of the west, something that I will address further on. For economic reasons regarding IS’ funding, it makes perfect sense to deploy air strikes in the area.

Reason four – The nature of the Kurdish forces – solidarity is one thing, support is another.

Peshmerga forces
(source: Basnews hosted by Carl Yonker – The Times Of Israel)

This next section is mainly aimed at the primary argument of many “left wing” activist groups, that the solution to IS is already deployed in multiple areas on their north fronts in both Iraq and Syria, the Kurdish Peshmerga (Peshmerga translating as “those who face death”) forces. The argument being that the Peshmerga are the ones that we (as the working class, not as the British government) should be backing and arming, and that these forces will ultimately be the final nail in IS’ coffin, retaking all their occupied territory and establishing an independent Kurdistan. Whilst I for one want to stand in solidarity with the Peshmerga forces, they are fighting bravely on multiple fronts and in the wake of Turkish and Russian bombs that target them just as much as the Al-Nursa controlled FSA or IS, this argument, whilst well intentioned, is idealistic and fundamentally flawed on three levels, on the current state of the Peshmerga, on the nature of support and on the views of the Peshmerga themselves.

On the current state of the Peshmerga. I struggle to put into words how dire the situation for the Peshmerga looks at the moment. Raw number on both IS and the Peshmerga are extremely hard to calculate, and thus open to considerable debate, but 2014 estimates on the size of the Peshmerga placed them at about 190,000, and Kurdish estimates put the number of IS troops at 200,000. Whilst on paper the difference of ‘only’ 10,000 troops may not seem to be that much, what is important to stress in this battle are the nature of the Peshmerga forces and the nature of the IS forces. To put it bluntly, the Peshmerga are grossly under equipped and ill organised compared to a united IS force that has access to modern US weaponry. Due to the results of the absolutely catastrophic post 2003 Iraq war plan of dissolving the former Baathist army and constructing a new one from scratch (arguably one of the most stupid military decisions of all time), then arming it with the latest US weaponry and vehicles, those results being that this new army eventually succumbs to total corruption and the ex soldiers and generals of the former Baathist army have joined IS because they simply had no other options other than starve. When the new Iraqi army was confronted by IS, they turned tail and ran. These people weren’t soldiers, they were investors in a totally corrupt hierarchy of extortion and exploitation. They were not suited to fight the well organised and disciplined IS, bolstered by ex Baathist troops, and thus large numbers of them simply dropped their weapons and fled, leaving IS access to a large, modern arsenal. That was those lucky enough to run. Those captured by IS were divided into two groups, the Sunni and the Shia. The Shia were mercilessly executed, and the Sunni were given the choice, join or run. Many chose the former and were swiftly incorporated into IS’ disciplined structures, thus furthering IS’ numbers and arsenal. The ultimate result of this is that IS is now not only extremely large, but it is well organised and exceptionally well equipped. The Peshmerga on the other hand are not only fighting with Kalashnikovs so old they are jamming and falling apart (this being supposedly the most reliable rifle in the world being testament to just how old they are), but they are also controlled by two rival parent organisations, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The lack of cooperation between these two groups is deeply restricting their ability to effectively tackle IS, and whilst they have held their own and made some gains in territory, I cannot bring myself to place sole faith in these groups as the single solution to the conflict.

For further reading on the circumstances that aided the rise of IS, such as the corruption within the new Iraqi army, and their capture of US military equipment I urge you to read Patrick Cockburn’s 2015 book “The Rise of Islamic State: Isis and the New Sunni Revolution”.

The second reason the idea of the working classes across the globe supporting the Peshmerga falls flat in convincing me that it is a reliable argument against air strikes is the nature of the support that is being suggested. Basically, the idea seems to be floating around is that the working class of the UK, and indeed the working classes of states across the globe, will suddenly unite against the common enemies of both IS and of the capitalist regimes in which we live, and suddenly drum up the millions, if not billions, of pounds that can be sent to the Peshmerga to fund the modern weaponry and equipment needed to combat IS. Now, it is obvious to see the appeal in this line of thinking, not only would it deal with IS, it would also establish a stable, secular and at least social democratic state in the middle east, and finally it would have united the working classes across the world to fight for their rights against the capitalist systems in which they live. Sounds wonderful right? Well, there is one minor problem, this approach is utterly devoid of any grounding in reality. As a trotskyist of some sort, I am more than aware that the working class of the UK, which on the scale of things actually has pretty decent conditions for building class consciousness (certainly in comparison to more authoritarian and oppressive regimes such as China), is completely and utterly fragmented. The idea that the working class can be united quickly enough in the UK, let alone in countries like China, to provide support for the Peshmerga is utter madness. IS are not going to sit there, polishing their stolen US assault rifles in a state of inactivity whilst socialist activists overseas run around trying to unite the working class, waiting for us to succeed and send vast amounts of weaponry and equipment to the Peshmerga before they act. No, IS are going to continue to attack the Peshmerga regardless of what the international working classes do, air strikes will offer far more immediate support for the Peshmerga than the working classes will be able to. For as much as I would like to support this line of thinking, I feel that it is utterly utopian and is not even remotely feasible in the light of the immediate threat to the innocent that IS pose.

Finally, the biggest reason as to why I cannot simply buy into the rhetoric of the working class as an independent body uniting and supporting the Kurdish Peshmerga as being a compelling argument to opposing air strikes is that the Peshmerga themselves have requested British air strikes. How can we claim to be standing in full solidarity with the Peshmerga if we are opposed to something that Karwan Jamal Tahir, the Kurdistan Regional Government High Representtive to the UK, has called a “lifeline“? It is morally inconsistent to stand in solidarity with a particular group when opposing something that is vital to their very survival. I personally feel that I cannot talk of solidarity without listening to the requests of the group that I am standing in solidarity with, and they have clearly requested these air strikes. It would be a failure on my behalf to not support air strikes as a result of this.

Reason five – The nature of the FSA – the fallacy of 70,000 moderates.

FSA troops
(source – Phil Moore hosted by Russia Today)

A further argument against air strikes is that as well as the grossly under equipped and ill organised Peshmerga, another force exists to combat IS in the region that we could support instead of resorting to bombs, the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Brought into the international limelight in the summer of  2012 when a small group of poorly armed rebels managed to chase out the far better equipped and trained troops of the Assad regime from the town of Al-Bab, the FSA were originally hailed as the only legitimate force in the region, a secular force that supported democracy and human rights. Unfortunately, this didn’t last, and slowly but surely the far better funded Islamist fighters of groups such as the Al-Nusra Front (the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda) took over the ranks of the FSA, marginalising and shrinking the secular forces within until nothing but a handful of regiments remained. Finally, in Spring of this year, the final US backed moderate group in the FSA, Harakat Hazzm, disbanded. The argument that there is a strong, moderate FSA that we can rely on is not confined to anti air strikes activism, David Cameron himself has claimed that there are 70,000 moderate fighters that we can align ourselves with in the fight against IS. The problem with this is that these 70,000 fighters are far from a single coherent group; they are in fact comprised of up to 120 different groups. Furthermore, a significant chunk of these groups have no interest in fighting IS, they too far removed and too busy fighting Assad’s forces. Finally, many of these groups are far from moderate, displaying ideological tendencies more in line with Al-Qaeda than with the original FSA that was glorified by the international press as the secular saviours of the region. To put it plainly, the FSA is now nothing more than a fragmented mess, with some of the largest and most well organised groups either part of the Al-Nusra Front or similarly deplorable Islamist groups. The idea that support of the FSA is a viable option and a coherent argument against air strikes is utterly insane.

Reason six – The forces of global capital – preventing legitimisation of IS in the eyes of the global market:

ISIS oil
(source – presstv.ir)

This next section is aimed a narrative of certain “far left” activist groups, that support of air strikes in Syria is imperialism and against the interests of the working class. I have already been accused of siding with the ruling classes over my view that air strikes are a necessary evil. Firstly, I would like to take a brief moment to stress that not every situation in international relations is about class struggle, and sometimes there are genuine common enemies in which both the working classes and ruling classes across the globe should stand against. IS are one of these common enemies. The ideology of IS, violent and expansive Islamism, is as much a threat to the ruling classes of any state they choose to attack as it is a threat to the working classes of said states. With that in mind I would like to remind readers of my points on the Peshmerga, the working classes are simply too fragmented and disorganised to provide any serious immediate assistance to the Peshmerga. Air strikes are the necessary evil that can provide this instant support.

However, there is a second level of class analysis that needs to be taken in regards to IS, the prospect of them gaining legitimacy in the eyes of the global ruling classes. Because IS are able to trade vast amounts of oil on the black market, they are starting to offer ample business opportunities for the more morally dubious actors within the ruling classes of certain states, we can already see evidence for this in Turkey. If IS are left to continue their oil trade, growing support for legitimisation or at least apathy towards the group will start to take hold. If this is to go on for long enough then we may very well see an international community that is at least apathetic to IS, leaving them be to rule as they please. We have to destroy the ability of IS to sell oil on the black market, not just as a means of cutting their funding but also as a means of depriving them of their one route to de facto legitimacy. If there is a class struggle to be waged regarding IS, it should be the destruction of their means of winning over aspects of the ruling class whilst there is still a cross class consensus on intervening against them. Air strikes will be key in the disruption of IS’ ability to produce and sell oil on the black market.

Side point – The actions of activist groups – fear mongering, intimidation and naïve denial of agency.

Stop the war protesters
(source – Thomson Reuters hosted by Business Insider)

Whilst I have worked to try and outline the reasons in which I feel air strikes are a necessary evil, I feel I must dedicate a section of my post to address the utterly deplorable actions of certain activists and activist groups in the run up, and aftermath, of the vote to extend air strikes into Syria. I am not for a single second saying that all anti air strikes activists have been acting in such juvenile ways that I will address here, there have been many thousands of fantastic activists, whom whilst I disagree with have conducted their work in campaigning against air strikes in a passionate and commendable way, and have done a great service to their cause. As I stressed at the start of this post, I completely understand and sympathise with the anger at the government for wanting to pursue an extension of air strikes, and the disappointment in Labour MPs that have voted in line with the governments policy proposals. What I do not sympathise with however are some of the utterly disgusting cases of intimidation and bullying that certain groups have engaged in towards MPs and those that take a pro air strikes position. Former home secretary Alan Johnson summed it up marvellously in his speech to the House of Commons during the incredible ten and a half hour debate on the extension of air strikes, remarking “I wish I had the self-righteous certitude of our finger jabbing representatives of our new and kinder type of politics who will no doubt soon be contacting those of use who support this motion tonight“. The vile behaviour of certain activists is most horrifically summed up by the treatment of Stella Creasy, a Labour MP whom voted for air strikes. She was not only sent pictures of dead babies, then subject to utterly sexist comments implying that the fact she doesn’t have children has caused her to vote in the way she did, but finally has become a target for deselection. The activists that engage in this sort of behaviour should be utterly ashamed of themselves, they are as much of a burden on the Labour party as the relentless attacks of the tabloids.

Secondly, I would like to briefly address the intellectually void and to be honest downright insulting arguments about radicalisation that have been thrown around. A lot of groups have parroted the narrative that air strikes in Syria will cause some mass wave of radicalisation amongst British muslims, and they as a community will isolate themselves from the rest of British society. This is insulting towards British muslims for two reasons. Firstly, it assumes that all British muslims act as a homogenous group,  and any action of the government is going to have them following each other around in instantaneous reaction like lemmings. Secondly, this narrative deprives British muslims of any agency in the matter, it assumes that they as individuals are so intellectually feeble that they cannot critically assess the vile Islamist ideology and actions of IS and come to the conclusion themselves that these people are absolute animals, that if the government targets said animals they will instantly convert to violent and expansive Islamism in defence of a group that shares some traits of the worlds second largest religion with them. It is utterly insulting to reduce British muslims in such a way that the groups that push this narrative sound like they are describing preprogrammed robots. The vast majority of British muslims are not only regular people like you or I, but they are equally as disgusted by the actions of IS and equally capable of reaching the conclusion that this group should be opposed and stamped out.

Finally, I would like to briefly address the absolutely laughable stance of the mainstream media over the vote to extend air strikes into Syria. Whilst the media should have been focused in greater detail on the deeper aspects of the conflict that I have attempted to outline in this post, such as the nature and construction of IS and the Peshmerga, as well as variables such as the now non existent border between Iraq and Syria, or the black market oil trade, as parts of the debate on whether or not extending air strikes is an appropriate course of action, the media was instead, as usual, living in an anti Corbyn fairyland. Whilst the media’s attacks on Corbyn are nothing new, there hasn’t been a single day something negative has been said towards him since he became leader, the speculations that Corbyn apparently can’t control his party or that there will be some grand split in the Labour party over this vote are utterly ungrounded. Corbyn allowed for a free vote on the matter, completely rejecting the whip system and allowing Labour MPs to vote with their consciousness. This was absolutely the right approach to take in my opinion, and the idea that this somehow has undermined Corbyn as Labour’s leader is nonsensical. As someone whom advocates the abolition of the whip system within parliament and parliamentary parties, I fully support Corbyn’s decision to follow this path and stand in solidarity with him against the utterly void media attacks.

Conclusion – the necessary evil.

RAF Tornado Jet
(source – Getty Images hosted by The Independent)

I hope with this post I have been able to outline the main reasons for why I feel that extending air strikes in Syria is a necessary evil to stop the violent and expansionist theocracy of the so called Islamic State. Whilst I find the idea of using bombs sickening to the stomach, I feel that there is no other way available at the present time to limit the activity of these brutal and violent Jihadi rats and prevent them from expanding their territory, spreading more suffering to many millions of people. I have attempted to outline that due to the nature of IS forces themselves, their military tactics and experience, the nature of the terrain in Iraq and Syria combined with the disorganised and ill-equipped nature of the Peshmerga, and the fragmented and unreliable nature of FSA groups, that inaction or well intentioned but flawed notions of supporting moderate groups is simply inconsistent and ineffective. I have attempted to outline that due to the nature of IS’ funding, reliance on exploitation and taxation of the citizens in the territory they control and trade of oil on the black market, traditional intelligence methods of finding the sources of external funding that worked so well against Al-Qaeda simply will not be enough to cause any real disruption. I have attempted to outline the seriousness of the situation in terms of class politics, that if IS are allowed to trade freely, they will gain at least an attitude of apathy from various actors in the global community. Finally, I have attempted to outline that air strikes are the only immediately effective means of protecting the Peshmerga forces, disrupting IS’ ability to trade oil and of keeping IS forces pinned in their current positions. What I am not trying to outline is that air strikes will be the be all and end all of this conflict. Air strikes will not defeat IS. Air strikes will not repair the utterly broken region. Air strikes will not implement an effective, stable and just government post conflict. Finally, air strikes will not bring back the dead and undo the suffering of the living, air strikes will not heal the wounds of this war. How these issues will be addressed are extremely important questions, but that is another debate for another post. What I have hoped to prove here however, is that air strikes are necessary to prevent further a level of suffering so great that I cannot bring myself to even attempt to put it into words, a level of suffering that the morally void animals that fill the ranks of IS are willing and capable of unleashing upon the region and the wider world. I completely understand that people don’t want more conflict, that people don’t want more bloodshed, and that people don’t want our military to be involved in any more brutal wars. I sympathise with that fully, I believe that violence is evil. Air strikes are evil, but they are a necessary evil to prevent a suffering that would stain the consciousness of humanity for many generations to come. That is why I begrudgingly have no choice but to support the extension of air strikes into Syria.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s