To even the most cursory student of history, it is clear that Western involvement in the Middle East has always been about power and profit and never about the benefit of the people living there.
The West has been directly meddling in the affairs of the Arab world since the Crusades (and you could argue that the Romans and Greeks take the precedent back into antiquity) and at no stage have we ever improved the lot of the people of the region, whatever their faith.
Our leaders and media love to paint the Arab world as some sort of alien threat, sneering men with beards threatening to destroy our way of life and consign our women to burkhas and genital mutilation while bombing our schools and public buildings indiscriminately, based on nothing but irrational religious hatred.
Much less often are we reminded that Muslims are by and large peaceful people, religiously committed to family, charity and hard work, while crimes like genital mutilation, the repression of women, dictatorships and executions occur just as much in Christian or even secular states.
Similarly, we are quite happy to overlook despotic, religiously extreme regimes that are happy to do business (i.e. sell us oil and take on Western contracts) with us. How generous we are!
Of course, the West has to suspect a faith that basically outlaws the practice of profiting via interest on your money, seeing as our entire economic model is built on unsustainable growth… unless there are those of that faith quite happy to treat with our exploitative and greedy ways, of course.
The truth is this – there are extremists in every faith and political discourse and largely they can be outfaced by being nicer, because without a clear enemy to push against, extremists have no emotional hold over their followers and tend to remain isolated , bitter individuals who are a limited danger.
However, from interfering in foreign countries via sanctions, arming one faction or another and otherwise using our influence right up to air strikes and putting troops on the ground, our foreign policy does not protect us from terrorists, it creates them.
Let us be under no illusions, the decision to re-enter the Middle East is based on two motives, neither of them to do with protecting the UK from terrorists or helping with a humanitarian crisis.
Firstly, we’ve gone back in because we feel the need for a nice little proxy war where the West can show off it’s martial might against Russia. We’ve angled for similar confrontations in Syria and Ukraine but shied away from such a direct face off and instead settled for a little exercise in destruction against a group we ourselves once nurtured and armed.
Yes that’s right, we’re responsible for Islamic State’s military potency. You can trace our hands in it back to the period where we armed Saddam Hussein’s Iraq against fundamentalist Iran, then when we armed them to fight against the nasty Bashar al-Assad in Syria (who, along with Iran is now someone we can work with all of a sudden…)
Of course, now IS has expanded from a local insurgency against someone we didn’t like to a regional insurgency which is affecting our tame puppet government in Iraq and threatening to secure control of some oil… we can’t have that.
That brings us neatly to the second reason that we’re going in with bombs a-dropping. IS are now in control or contesting a significant proportion of the northern Iraqi oil fields – fields currently being overseen by the aforementioned puppet government and the western contractors installed after the invasion of 2003.
Make no mistake, I’m not saying that IS are nice people or that there is nor a humanitarian disaster on the ground, but the reasons for war are not positive ones, else we’d have mobilized troops to stop some of the many other civil wars causing death, destruction and humanitarian catastrophe on a scale that’s almost inconceivable to us in the West (here’s a list.)
In the process of pursuing military action, the UK government is diverting funds from public spending (you know, things like benefits, schools and hospitals etc.) and spending them on warplanes and bombs.
The net effect is to increase the danger of terrorist attacks on the UK as we radicalise otherwise peaceful folk who’s homes and families get bombed, or those previously normal UK residents who see people of like race and faith BEING bombed on TV, compounding a humanitarian crisis in the area, increasing international tensions between the West and Russia and generally making sure that the whole area remains in a state of turmoil.
At the same time, the media do their best to whip up anti-Muslim hatred while preferred contractors in the military, oil and ‘redevelopment’ sectors rub their hands in glee at all the lovely public money they’ll be getting sent their way.
It’s like a real life version of the ‘perpetual war’ that framed the backdrop for George Orwell’s 1984…
All of this is done in the name of power and profit, to the detriment of the unfortunates living in the area and indeed to those in need of public services and welfare in this country. This is unsupportable and we must make our voice heard that we do not approve of our leader’s decisions, motivations and actions.
A friend of mine has tried to organize an anti-war event in Glasgow next week and I’d urge you to attend, spread the word and do the same for any similar events you hear of.
Similarly, it’s worth signing and sharing any online petitions you come across and keeping an eye on pages like http://www.stopwar.org.uk
IS are worth working against, just as all extremist organisations who are responsible for murder and human rights abuses are, but there are better ways to do it than dropping bombs from the sky.
Truly attempting to assist in the economic and social recovery of such countries without seeking to dominate their politics, demean their religion and asset strip them for our profit is what needs to happen, not yet more military action which only fuels a relentless cycle of hatred and suffering.
The cost of war is too high and we must communicate this to those who claim to represent us.