See this article published on Youth Journalism International.
Obliterated towns and villages, a quarter of a million civilian deaths, and young faces exposed to the barbaric atrocities of warfare. Unfortunately, these scenes of global dissonance are real for many Middle Eastern communities witnessing the rampage of Daesh. As the death toll increases, the extremists’ abominable threat to humanity must come to an end. However, destroying the moral high ground through airstrikes is surely no way to a peaceful global society.
Wednesday evening saw Prime Minister David Cameron and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn lead British MPs into one of the most divisive votes of the decade. Westminster representatives voted 397 to 223 in favour of pursuing airstrikes on Daesh militants. As the richest terror organisation in the world, having yielded a gross income of over 2.9 billion US Dollars in recent years, this extremist pandemic must undeniably be fast terminated. However, the means by which infected Middle Eastern communities are inoculated against this political disease has proven to be a contentious issue amongst British voters. Yesterday evening’s decision, after an impassioned debate, showed that there is growing confidence in Syrian airstrikes amongst MPs, crushing the caliphate. However, after news of airstrikes during Thursday morning, a significant proportion of the electorate made its discontent known, after weeks of preceding protest.
The case for the use of weapons in order to deplete the influence of Daesh is blatantly flawed. Politicians have devilishly branded use of weapons as a quick fix to this new age of Islamist insurgency, wiping out key leaders and reducing the ability of forces. But the legacy of such intervention would have huge consequences, a truth which lurks behind Cameron’s façade of diplomatic strength.
2003 interventions against the similarly repulsive regime of Saddam Hussein still taint British society today. Haven’t our politicians noticed that an identical situation exists in comparing Iraqi invasions with possibilities in Syria today? Iraqi intervention has, in the long run, meant more harm than safety, with retaliation coming at the expense of innocent civilian destruction. Many of our politicians, and albeit those of coalition nations, relax knowing that livelihoods of innocent civilians will be annihilated. Strategists claim that the latest technology can reduce destruction, but there is no guarantee that airstrikes won’t cause despair amongst guiltless individuals. An alarming 1.7 million were killed due to brutality of Western attacks in Iraq. Furthermore, over the first three years of intervention, almost a third of all deaths were deemed to be the result of Western forces. And twelve years on Iraqis are still subdued by the air of plight. Every day, civilians cast their eyes over the houses, schools and other institutions which once were, now reduced to rubble.
Questioning the legitimacy of this intervention is vital. A vast number of voters simply cannot see sense behind the UK Cabinet’s decision. Government for the people instead of with the people has never become more obvious. 66 of 218 Labour MPs sitting in the House of Commons voted in favour of airstrikes, whilst only 13% of the Labour party’s subscribed electorate supporters firmly supported such intervention. Values of social democracy which the Labour party claims to stand for have been challenged outright. Of course, democracy will always create losers, favouring the majority decision. However, the British government has wholly disregarded the views of its people in presiding over such a contentious issue. Pollster YouGov revealed slashed electorate support for airstrikes this morning with only a mere 48% in support of David Cameron’s Daesh policy. It is abhorrent that Labour members and, of course, Conservative government members, have disregarded the views of large numbers. There can surely be no clearer showcase of governmental bureaucracy as our elected representatives fail to act on opinions of the people.
There is simply no obvious equilibrium. Airstrikes would lead only to a very short-term gain, and long-lasting disparity. The consequences of a smashed-up society are evidently too great for much of the British population to stomach. In aiming to defeat Daesh, the same dangerous legacy as that of Iraq will haunt us in coming years, and further terror attacks on our now vulnerable nation are imminent. Whilst intrusive, in these extreme circumstances, close surveillance tactics should be employed instead, amongst strategies in order to limit the presence of Daesh in our global community. The virtues of discussion, and not those of violent weapons, should be embraced by all. Dialogue can and should build bridges, leading citizens of all backgrounds into a more prosperous and peaceful humanity.
The Prime Minister’s vehement labelling of opponents to airstrikes as ‘terrorist sympathisers’ is unacceptable. Advocates of peace are those who retain the moral high ground, and those who promote the safe world which we all aspire to. David Cameron has removed the bandage of a wound which will continue to bleed for years to come. Global harmony has been pushed years further away, an unforgivable move.