‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.’ – Edmund Burke. So here I am, doing something.
I don’t tend to get political on this blog, but perhaps it’s time to do just that. I disagree with the whole notion of war. I wonder how, as a species, we have not evolved beyond this outmoded, archaic concept. I also vehemently disagree with the brand of war that has been touted by our leaders in the UK in the past decade or more. Beyond this innate dislike of violence, murder, and death, I also strongly feel that war will not stop the issues we are having at the moment – it will almost certainly make them worse. There is a vote tomorrow on further airstrikes in Syria, so I lobbied my local MP (a Conservative), to ask him to vote ‘NO’ to more war. He replied saying, amongst other similarly patronising things: ‘when I hear talk about alternative paths, withdrawing arms from the region or working through Middle Eastern intermediaries, I am far from convinced. This narrative is at heart naïve…’
What follows in this post was my reply to him (originally via email).
Dear John (if I may),
Thank you for your response to my message regarding further strikes on Syria.
That was an automated email from a petition site, but I’d like to address you frankly, person to person, in the hopes that you will give some thought to what I’m about to say ahead of tomorrow’s vote.
I’d like to pick up on your ’fundamental belief that the first responsibility of government is to protect its citizens.’
This is indeed a key role of any government. Another is to protect the future of its citizens and the country they hold dear. However, the future of the UK, and all European states, is being put into jeopardy for the sake of knee-jerk reaction, for masculine bravado, for the sake of saving face. We are creating a monster with our short-sightedness.
I’ll explain what I mean by picking up on another of your points: ’It is plainly difficult for people to grasp that removing ISIL has an immediate impact on the motivation and resources associated with jihadi fighters who may already live among us in this country.’
We can airstrike ISIL until the cows come home, but it won’t stop the problem. You already know this. In fact, as you’ll also know, it’s EXACTLY what they want. They want antagonism, war, the vilification of Islam and Muslims by the West – because then they’ll have people flocking to their cause, a whole new swathe of extremists. With very little effort on their behalf, because we are literally doing all the work for them by playing the hero/villains in their set piece. Do you realise (I’m guessing that you must, as it’s your job to know such things) that this is the UK’s fourth war on a Muslim country in 14 years? Just let that sink in for a moment, and ask yourself why. But you already know very well the answer to that, too.
I’m going to say this very clearly: ISIL cannot be destroyed with bombs.
An idea, an ideology, cannot be destroyed using bombs. And that is what they are wielding.
Instead, it is up to us to work against that desire for war and terror, to nurture peace (yes, peace, that boring, unfashionable concept that seems to have been sadly forgotten by our politicians), oneness, support, caring. Yes, protect the UK – but by God do it with intelligence – both the military and emotional kind – not with bombs that are physically and emotionally tearing a country apart.
You say: ’However, at the heart of terrorism is an ideology that hates Britain and the west. There is no interest in coexistence and no prospect of dialogue or negotiation with ISIL and, when I hear talk about alternative paths, withdrawing arms from the region or working through Middle Eastern intermediaries, I am far from convinced. This narrative is at heart naïve about the nature of the ideology and those who follow it. Their only strategy is to obliterate the west and lead us into ever greater war.’
Things are nowhere near as clean-cut and binary as you and the government would have them be. The issues are no longer black and white, but a very murky grey, with France, USA, and now the UK certainly not cast as heroes in this conflict. It would be naive, indeed, to think that they are. We are doing wrong, too. The naivety here is not mine, but anyone who can believe that further war is justified.
Do I have a solution? No, I’m afraid I don’t. But I know what I, and millions of others in the UK don’t want – and that is more war. Peace will always seem like the weaker, less glamorous option against decisive action and martial prowess, but it has its own beauty to those that strive to attain it, and I personally would opt for it every single time.
I note from the biography on your website that you are a Christian, and that you regularly attend your local church. I am not a Christian myself, but I know enough of the teachings of the Church to know that this is certainly NOT what Jesus preached. Not in the slightest. As we approach Christmas, bear in mind the destruction that will be wrought on families on the other side of the world if we vote yes to this. How will their Christmas compare to yours?
When you vote tomorrow, vote with your conscience. Consider whether more killing, more destruction is really the answer or whether – as has been proven to be the case – this tack is simply is NOT working. It has not worked in the past, and neither will it work in the future.
We must strive to find an alternative solution.
So ignore me if you will, ignore all of your advisors, ignore the Prime Minister – but listen to your heart, listen to your conscience, and do what you judge to be right.
You can lobby your MP too, using this link: http://stopwar.org.uk/resources/petitions/stop-the-bombing-of-syria-now-lobby-your-mp-now
Stop the War Coalition: http://stopwar.org.uk/
John Glen MP: http://johnglenmp.com/?page_id=2