By Joshua King
Why Bombing Syria is a Bad Decision
Picture taken from: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/68/RAF_Harrier_GR9.JPG
A ludicrous decision was made last week in the House of Commons that bombing Syria would somehow be in the interests of the United Kingdom. Past British gung-ho foreign policy embarrassments have seemingly been wiped from the memory of 337MPs in favour of a knee-jerk emotion led response after the dreadful Paris tragedy.
The common rabble during the debate from ‘pro-bombers’ consisted of differing variations of: ‘Daesh is bad, therefore we should bomb them.’ Of course anyone who provided any thoughtful critique of this thesis was unhelpfully labelled as a ‘terrorist-sympathiser’ by Prime Minister: David Cameron.
To be clear- Daesh are bad. They are not just bad; they are that sort of scorn of the earth evil that can only be achieved in the rare cases where insanity and merciless force meet. Negotiation will always be off the table.
However simply agreeing Daesh is bad is not enough to automatically justify dropping bombs on an already broken nation.
Death of innocent civilians will put Britain at higher risk
Collateral damage is impliedly accepted whenever one advocates bombing. With every mistakenly killed civilian is another set of Daesh recruits- family and friends of the deceased desperate for revenge. Over 400 civilians have reportedly been killed since September this year as a result of Russian bombing alone. 6,000 Daesh recruits joined in the first month that the US began bombing Syria last September.
This brings a two-fold threat: firstly, that Daesh will gain new members in Syria as a direct result of British bombs. Secondly, that there will be an increased risk of terror on Britain’s soil. Indeed the first terror attack as a result of the Syria vote has already happened in London only days after the decision. And it looks like this may only be the beginning of a new reality for the citizens of Britain since the start of the bombing, according to intelligence agencies. Just because Britain is already at risk of terror does not mean that Britain should have chosen to further inflame those chances unless strictly necessary.
It is true that in the air Britain offers superior accuracy over its other ‘pro-bomb’ counterparts with its Brimstone missile system; consequently it may be said that there is a lower chance of civilian casualties. However simply because the number may be lower than otherwise, we can be certain that the number of unintended casualties at the hands of Britain will be higher than if it had not chosen to drops bombs on Syria at all. The small advantage of Brimstone is far from being solely justifiable for the case of bombing. Indeed, no ‘pro-bomber’ will say that the US or France should not be bombing in Syria simply because they do not possess Brimstone.
Admittedly, whenever a nation engages in any kind of aggression it accepts a risk of retaliation; and any nation assured it is actually causing more damage to the enemy than it is causing detriment to the success of its objectives should not be deterred. However this situation is very different from bombing a nation-state where the civilians are already behind the enemy. In Syria the support of the civilians is pivotal to the miracle-like hope of any long term peace and stability in Syria. While British air-strikes will certainly hit some oil-fields and kill some Daesh soldiers- how many of you reading this can say that you are absolutely assured that Britain’s bombing campaign will still make Britain, Syria, and the world any safer (if not more dangerous) as a result?
Lack of significant effectiveness
There is little to suggest that Britain’s bombs will be of any significant importance in the fight against Daesh. Idris Kobani, a senior spokesman for the Kurdish soldiers fighting Daesh on the ground has stated that air-strikes were making little impact in driving them back. Ground support is what is required to make any significant difference, according to Kobani. However Cameron has already ruled out boots on the ground in Syria, seemingly acknowledging (for the time being) that he knows it is a red line with the British public.
In order to remedy this clear hole in the ‘pro-bomb’ argument, Cameron said that 70,000 opposition fighters were on the ground with whom Britain could coordinate its air-strikes. The claim is false. So false that it was even labelled as this government’s ‘dodgy dossier’ (in reference to Tony Blair’s highly disputed evidence in the lead up to the Iraq war in 2003) in a marvellous speech by an MP from Cameron’s own party, Julian Lewis. Senior Ministry of Defence figures even warned Cameron that the claim was misleading, according to the Sun. If you were still unsure, a spokesman for Downing Street has since been forced to clarify a step-down of Cameron’s claim.
While it is true to say that a lack of a significant impact in the fight against Daesh does not automatically invalidate the case for air-strikes, we come back to the question of whether our (limited at best) impact would be worth the almost guaranteed consequences to Britain, Syria and the world’s detriment.
Absence of any strategy, confusion of allies
Before any act of aggression one must certainly be sure of who one’s allies are and of what one’s strategy is. Indeed the fact that in just over two years Cameron has gone from wanting to help Daesh to bombing them shows an inherent absence of strategy or credible long-term objectives. Even if Daesh were to be defeated, Syria would still be left in the hands of a totalitarian dictator who has quite possibly used chemical weapons on his own citizens. Either a Daesh or Assad victory equates to a loss for Britain and the freedom-loving world. Even If the West were by some miracle able to defeat Daesh and oust Assad, installing a substitute leader which is any better would be highly improbable, just look at the results of the Arab spring nations for reference.
In addition, Britain’s ally Turkey has been the subject of strong accusations that it is enabling Daesh by buying its oil. This combined with the the downing of a Russian plane by Turkey has made relations between the two nations very tense to say the least. Britain has no idea who its friends and enemies are, and even more dangerous is potentially in a position to be caught between the escalating tensions of two nations that it is supposed to be fighting alongside.
Britain, nor any other country bombing Syria has an exit strategy in place, let alone any credible strategy for the aftermath of the bombing campaign. In short, the situation is filthy and Britain has just agreed to join in the mud-pit.
More costly than you could imagine
Lastly is the matter of price British taxpayers will have to foot. I am a firm believer that when it comes down to national security, no price is too high. However if you are still unsure about where you stand, the incredible nature of the figures is something worthy of your consideration. These are the costs that come out of your pay-cheque after all.
In an article by Sky News, it was cited that the MOD’s report into of the cost of flying each RAF Tornado jet alone is €49,000 per hour. The jets would usually do a mission in a pair and the average mission is said to last between 4-8 hours.
After that is the cost of the missiles, with an expected cost of four Paveway bombs at €31,000 each and two of the (previously mentioned) Brimstone missiles at €146,000 per unit as well as the much more pricey Storm Shadows at over €1.1million per missile. While it is true that every bomb may not be used on every mission, I’m sure you can appreciate the incredible scale of the costs to the British taxpayer.
These are just some of the reasons why bombing Syria is a bad decision.