Tuesday 27 August 2013

You cannot be Syrias?

You’re walking down the street and you see two hooded youths going at each other, being goaded on by other hooded youths. From where you are you can safely stand and watch… so you do. More people join the fray and although there are clearly opposing sides it’s not entirely obvious how many there are. Two, three, four even and what is more inexplicable is just what exactly the fight is about. Now there are casualties, knives have been drawn and wrecking bars are being wielded.

You have no idea who these people are, what they want or what they are truly fighting about but you do have a gun. Do you, A) Charge in, firing wildly, hoping they will stop? B) Pick a side and lay into the opposition with your mighty weapon? C) Wait and see – if there is a winning side, should you help it finish off the others, or should you level the field by supporting the underdog?

Then one side appears to have used a weapon considered even more ‘evil’ than bombs and bullets and scimitars and stones. Chemical weapons of mass destruction have reared their ugly heads once again. Does this ring any bells?

There is a saying attributed variously to Churchill/Lincoln/Twain/Eliot/Johnson? That “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt “. In Syria perhaps we should be heeding this sage advice.

I rarely comment on Middle Eastern affairs because, quite frankly, I don’t understand them. This I have in common with every US and British & European foreign minister, prime minister, defence secretary… How do I know this to be true? Because even the participants do not understand. They are driven blindly to war by ingrained instincts which predispose them to believe in an almighty and vengeful god, who they call peaceful and good even as they hack each other to pieces in his name.

This is an instinct we are slowly outgrowing in the west, but it could take a few more centuries of theological evolution before the islamics finally drop the veil and let fall the scales from their very scaly eyes. That’s if they haven’t killed each other before then.

The Telegraph reports, “Britain faces a choice between military strikes against Syria or allowing tyrants around the world to use chemical weapons ‘with impunity’, William Hague has said. However, Mr Hague risked angering MPs by suggesting that it may not be necessary to recall Parliament prior to launching military action.” Meanwhile President Assad has said in an interview with a Russian newspaper that any intervention in his country was doomed to fail.

But is the supposed chemical attack a put-up job? In this world of conspiracy theory and counter conspiracy theory who knows what is really real? And is it possible, as some suggest, that behind the scenes various jihadists are trying to foment another great war to help usher in a new, islamic world order?

Our lands are filled with people with a real or imagined stake in this region and their young men are becoming increasingly radicalised. The hands of our security services are full as they impotently try to prevent amateur terrorist attacks on our own soil. While muslims are free to fight other muslims we are damned if we are complicit in the demise of a single islamic soul, however much good we think we are doing.

Twitter is alight with warmongers and naysayers and deniers and pacifists. Not one of them has the answer but at least the more sensible recognise that they don’t.

@David_V_Smith said “To say that the use of force is never the answer is as bone headed as saying use of force is always the answer.

@ChrisClandestin said “To anyone who thinks a Syria intervention is justified, please cast your mind back to the tricks, lies & propaganda that took us into Iraq.

So what do we do? I know I’m always right but I’m fucked if I know. I simply do not possess the necessary information to make a reasoned judgement. You’ll excuse me then while I stay out of this debate and get on with looking after Number One. 

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