Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Parliament prepares to vote on airstrikes

As Parliament buzzes with nervous MPs, preparing to vote on airstrikes in Syria, ISIL watches and waits. Like some carcinoma, a cancerous growth or an ink blot strewn over the Middle East, ISIL is already under siege.

A broad coalition of countries, Britain included, are already bombing Iraq to smithereens, in a bid to isolate what the Prime Minister has repeatedly called a "death cult".

Why does Britain's possible involvement in Syria matter? One of the things that could be a real gamechanger, if we enter into strikes on Syria is our capabilities.

Britain possesses Brimstone missile systems. Brimstone missiles are rocket-powered, and radar-guided. It is understood Brimstone missiles are good at hitting small targets.

Proponents for UK involvement will argue that we might be able to target high-profile targets, and effectively decapitate ISIL in a matter of days.

However, things start to get messy, when you inquire into the government's plans for a post-conflict Syria. There are supposedly 70,000 moderate fighters, willing to aid us, once we start bombing Syria.

However, the government has actually admitted that extremists might have joined the ranks of these "moderates". The situation on the ground in Syria is far from black and white.

We have to remember that Syria has been at war with itself; a bloody civil war for about four years. Attempts by the government to launch strikes against President Assad failed in 2013. Now a death cult has exported terror from one continent to another.

Boko Haram and al-Shabaab pledged allegiance to ISIL, a few months ago. They're now essentially an extension of ISIL, inflicting pain and misery on a new horizon.

MPs are debating about airstrikes right at this moment. As many as 50-99 Labour MPs are likely to defy Mr Corbyn, and vote with the government, for air strikes. As we saw in 2003, the big two parties are still broad churches of opinion, with a lot of overlapping ideals.

We're going to hear people attempt to make compelling arguments today, about why we should entangle ourselves in another costly intervention, to root out a menace that was essentially created out of the chaos, caused by our last entanglement in the Middle East.

We're also going to hear people insist that bombing is not the answer; not now, not ever. The problem with adopting a resolute pacifist stance is the following. If you value your life, how long are you willing to endure someone slapping you in the face, and if you believe you shouldn't strike back to stop them, what words can you say to stop them?

What seems to have disappointed some is the fact that Hilary Benn, son of Stop the War campaigner and former MP, the late Tony Benn, is in favour of strikes.

Despite the headline-grabbing drama of Mr Corbyn seeming to lose control of his party over this issue,  most Labour MPs are actually likely to vote alongside him. The stumbling block is just the sheer numbers. The rebellious Labour MPs are all it takes for the government to get its majority in the vote.

Thousands took to the streets, to protest against strikes, last week, echoing the estimated 3 million people who came out in protest against Tony Blair's Iraq invasion vote.

Our political system is stuck in a sticky Catch 22: either we strike Syria, and risk pushing another country over the brink, or we don't strike, and have to come up with another way of combatting ISIL.

The clock is ticking.

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