Britain is debating a nullity like airstrikes against Isil because it sounds good

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL November 28, 2015
ISIL militants taking positions on Iraq-Syria border

ISIL militants taking positions on Iraq-Syria border

Honestly, one has to laugh. There’s the British prime minister David Cameron solemnly declaring that he has “examined (my) conscience” and determined that urgent action is needed to protect Britain from “military attacks” by Isil.

There are MPs of Britain’s Labour Party up in arms that their (un)Dear Leader Jeremy Corbyn is not militaristic enough to offer enthusiastic support to the Prime Minister’s conscience-ridden position. (What did they expect? He’s a peacenik qua peacenik.)

And the urgent British action everyone is talking about is, wait for it, air strikes. Something that has been going on for more than a year. The Americans, the French, till recently, the Canadians and now, controversially, the Russians, have all been merrily sending military planes loaded up with bombs to drop over parts of Syria. Mr Cameron’s case for Britain to join the anti-Isil bombfest is rather skewed in logic. He argues that the UK is already a “top-tier” target of Isil and he cannot “sub-contract” its security to its allies. He wants a parliamentary vote on the issue next week.


Air strikes did not prevent the Paris attacks. They have not dislodged Isil from the territory it holds. They will not make Britain (or anywhere) safe from the reach of people inspired by the extremist group’s ideology. For all that the Americans say, (President Obama and his secretary of state John Kerry no less), air strikes are not a military strategy, they can only be a tool of war. (Click here to read my op-ed in The National on this subject).

This is why it is the British Labour leader who makes the most sense. Consider the clarity of his position in his letter to Labour MPs about David Cameron’s proposed air strikes over Syria:

“In particular, the Prime Minister did not set out a coherent strategy, coordinated through the United Nations, for the defeat of ISIS. Nor has he been able to explain what credible and acceptable ground forces could retake and hold territory freed from ISIS control by an intensified air campaign.

In my view, the Prime Minister has been unable to explain the contribution of additional UK bombing to a comprehensive negotiated political settlement of the Syrian civil war, or its likely impact on the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK.

“For these and other reasons, I do not believe the Prime Minister’s current proposal for air strikes in Syria will protect our security and therefore cannot support it.”