Veterans for Peace UK, a voluntary ex-services organisation of men and women whose main aim is to educate today’s youth on their views of the true nature of war, have been throwing their medals away outside Downing Street in protest of the decision to bomb Syria.
Ex SAS soldier Ben Griffin, who led the protest on the 8th December 2015 stated; “Bombing is not the answer; it is the cause. It was our attack in Iraq that led to the formation of ISIS.” Griffin who had already binned his medals prior to the protest, which, he had won for serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and Macedonia, described the act as a “powerful and incredible” experience. The point of the protest was to be a meaningful gesture to dissuade any future generations from aspiring to win medals by going to war. However, a popular view with serving military is that the act of throwing away medals was downright disrespectful to those who sacrificed their lives in the fight, regardless of their political views.
Then we have in, the ‘pro-bombing’ camp, George Osborne, who told the council of foreign relations; “Britain has got its mojo back and we are going to be with you as we reassert Western values, confident that our best days lie ahead,” when speaking of the UK joining nations launching strikes against the terror group in Syria. The chancellor explained that it was “a source of real pride” that the House of Commons had voted by a large majority to take action.
Osborne’s speech however, may only be fuelling the fire for those who think that the war in Syria is driven by ulterior political motives. It has been suggested that if Britain did not follow Russia, France, America and now Germany’s lead to start bombing then we wouldn’t look relevant as a country. Some have implied that the reason why countries seem to be falling over themselves to join in on the bombing, after Russia stepped up to the plate, is actually to restrict Russia from increasing its influence.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbin has been firm in his stance against action, yet his own Shadow Foreign Secretary, Hilary Benn does not agree with his views. When David Cameron called on parliament to “stop using past mistakes as an excuse for indifference and inaction,” Benn made a stirring speech, which caused MPs from all sides to applaud. Addressing Labour directly during the House of Commons debate on British intervention, Benn stated; “And what we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated…we must now confront this evil. It is now time for us to do our bit in Syria and that is why I ask my colleagues to vote for this motion tonight.”
Some arguments for airstrikes in Syria:
- With the increase in terror attacks both in the UK and abroad, England needs to show solidarity with the NATO members who are already staging airstrikes.
- Airstrikes on oil fields could destroy ISIS’s means of funding which, finances the terror attacks and attracts volunteers.
- With seven terror plots in the UK foiled in the past twelve months, the threat is a serious one and is intelligence alone enough to deal with the situation, or should the problem be cut out at its roots?
- Cameron argues that airstrikes will weaken IS enough to stop its advance and for territory to be seized.
- The UK is already bombing IS in Iraq.
- The brutality of ISIS provides a humanitarian rationale to stop the group.
How long can we use past mistakes as a reason for inaction?
Arguments against airstrikes in Syria:
- With other countries already bombing Syria, would our contribution make a difference?
- Despite the fact that the UK has precision-laser guided Brimstone missiles, civilian casualties are inevitable.
- Would airstrikes create a rise in Jihadis who are looking for revenge for our contribution?
- Airstrikes will make the UK a target.
- There is no plan in place for what to do after the bombing has ended; this caused issues after the fighting was over in the 2003 Iraq war as well.
- More bombing will mean more refugees and Europe is already struggling to cope with the large amount of people who have left to start new lives there.
- Bombing is not enough, in order to truly make an impact we need boots on the ground.
So what do you think? Are you for or against the UK taking action in Syria? Use the online poll below to have your say.