Friday, 4 December 2015

War!

A sizable portion of my SocMed timelines, both on Twitter and Facebook are filled with the ‪#‎notinmyname‬ hashtag and passionate pleas about not bombing people. I agree with all of them. Bombing people is wrong. Killing people is wrong. Killing little children is wronger still. These messages and proclamations are accompanied by graphic images of dead children, lamenting widows and dismembered bodies, bodies of people with horrific burns and wounds that would chill most Stephen King and SAW fans. A lot of these images are from unrelated events from decades ago - another time, another place, another reason and quite frankly completely unconnected to where we find ourselves today. War is horrible. War is undesirable. But for every conflict to be caricatured with a 1972 image of the Napalm Girl, is unfair. This is not the same thing.

That we have to go into Syria is about revenge for the events in Paris is just lazy thinking. It's an easy narrative to sell.

If that were the only reason for Britain joining in with the international, United Nations sanctioned offensive against ISIS/Da'esh/ISIL, I'd have been the first one to condemn it, but it is not. Britain's (and France's) colonial past and the West's knee jerk reaction to 911 lends itself to this kind of convenient labeling. This is nothing of the sort.

Forget for a moment that Wednesday's vote ended up in a win for the government, forget for a moment that those against any action against Da'esh are still hung up on the Tony Blair and Iraq debacle, nostalgic about the peace and prosperity under Saddam Hussein and his courage, his strength, and his indefatigably. Forget all that. Think for a moment about the ground as it lies now, in December 2015.

That Da'esh presents a clear and present danger to the West and the West's way of life, is but a small fraction of the wider spectrum of the danger posed by theocratic orthodoxy and absolutism. I don't say this to defend Western foreign policy, but to attack the extreme religious right. Da'esh, RSS, Westbro, Taliban, Pakistan, Khalistan - one way or another, they're all after the same basic things: Convert or die, comply or die, we're better than you, and because you don't believe as we do, you will have to be killed. We want to segregate and insulate ourselves. We're not "humanity", we're right. We're God's chosen ones. Our way is the right way and therefore it must be the ONLY way.

I'm not sure that's the kind of world I want to live in or raise my children in.

Leave aside my wishy-washy, hippy, make-love-not-war philosophy, and leave aside the overwhelming support in the British Parliament for action against Da'esh, there are some very real and practical things we have to consider:

(a) A total of 7, yes SEVEN bomb plots in trendy Guardanista infested London hotspots were foiled in the past year. It could have been you there, typing away on your iPad, about how the people that protect us are the bad guys before your corpse is identified from the teeth they pick from the Haymarket pavement outside Tiger Tiger, so your kids know their Dad died a noble death. In the hands of the very people they thought they were a voice for.

(b) An ideology cannot be defeated by military force. The pen IS mightier that the sword. You can kill people, but you can't kill an idea. I agree, however, remember how the world dealt with Nazi fascism? It merely exists today as a fringe movement with zero power. We crushed the head of the snake and we spent the next 5 decades hunting down those that seemed to have got away. The Nazis weren't a death or Satanic cult - they just did what they believed to be right. Today however, none of the theocratic ideologies, based on centuries old theology are questioned, scrutinised, ridiculed or challenged. They call the shots, despite the strife they bring. What's worse, is that we let them - and we protect and help propagate them.

(c) Followers of ISIS/Da'esh/ISIL - and others - from religions other than this twisted, misappropriated brand of Islam - believe they're in some kind of moral crusade. They're not. They're medieval, barbaric, Timur-e-Lang-esque hordes of plunderers in search of glory, justifying their blood lust with scripture. They're not the only ones. Any religio-policitcal movement is exactly the same - it's just that some of them have more money (and therefore, firepower) than others....

(d) Most people living under these oppressive religio-politico regimes beg and are desperate for intervention from anyone that can make a difference. They speak in simple terms, their desperation is a basic instinct. They want out, and the best the West's white-guilt-ridden sensibility can do is force us to act in ways as if to say, "No, you can't get out. This is your culture. Stay put. Stay where you are. We like you there. It makes us feel better. And intellectually superior. And more civilised. You are exotic barbarians after all."

Many South Asian people I speak to are dumbfounded by the fact that more white people are offended by the term "Paki" than the Pakistanis themselves. It may have been strongly offensive at some point a generation ago, but the only reason it remains offensive today is the constant reminder and force-feeding of its historic connotations to a generation who couldn't care less.

(e) And there is no conspiracy. Yes the world NEEDS a steady supply of hydrocarbons, and a lot of it lies under the sands of the Middle East. The world's economies are built on reliable supplies of petroleum. We're not escaping that fact any time soon. Despite the billions we could pump into alternative sources of energy, we're NOT going to match the Petro output. The world as we know it would collapse - if you think we live in turbulent times now, imagine mayhem a hundred times as much. A lot of the present-day strife hinges on the prevention of oil shocks that could result in events too drastic to even comprehend. Another topic, another time maybe.

So what has all this got to do with Britain's leaders voting to bomb Syria? You need to know a few things:

(1) We're not bombing Syria. We're bombing ISIL/Da'esh in locations we KNOW to be their strongholds. If you do not know that, if you think Britain is invading Syria, you shouldn't even BE in this debate. Just get a Stella and a bacon butty and go to sleep. Or tell your prayer beads - our boys on the frontline could use your prayers. This isn't shock and awe. We're sending 8 planes. It's not even a pin prick.

(2) We're ALREADY engaged in military action against Da'esh in Iraq. You didn't know that, did you? You just read "British Politicians Vote To Kill Muslim Children In Syria" in your confirmation-bias-laden Social Media timeline... Da'esh is spread over a third of Iraq and a fair bit of Northern Syria. They flit over and and back without any recognition of national borders, while we pussyfoot around arbitrary lines in the sand in a sandstorm. Their strong-hold is in Raqqa, in Syria. We're not invading another country - we're just chasing the guys who would behead you if they caught you because of your passport or the fact that you like the occasional Bacardi Breezer, or keep your head uncovered, or happen to be Shia, or Ahmadi, or Ismaili, or sane, or a woman too old to fetch a decent price in the flesh markets of the so-called paradise.

(3) In the last 400 sorties the RAF have conducted in Da'esh controlled Iraq, there have been ZERO civilian casualties. Not a figure you hear bandied about a lot, is it? Or a figure you choose to ignore completely? It'd be stupid to claim that there will be no collateral damage, there will be, but you know what? Inaction will kill more people and radicalise even more.

(4) This is not a war against Islam and you have to be completely screwed up in the mind to think so. It's a fight against a murderous cult with a medieval mindset. Trust me, this is not Omar Kahayyam land. If he were alive today, Da'esh would have killed him and uploaded a video of it.

(5) Parliament did the right thing this week. ISIS/ISIL/Da'esh has to be taken out. I predicted their rise a long time ago, and was derided for it - and I hate that I am right. I predicted (well, speculated) that the Arab Spring could end this way, and it did.

But hey, what do I know? There are people who have degrees and years of study who know better. I only have experience and a life I escaped. Twice. I only know what I see and people I talk to.

It's a pity the books don't talk of those stories.
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