The Commons debate on bombing in Syria – an exercise in futility

Syrians search for survivors amidst the rubble following an airstrike in the Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo (Picture: Getty)

I’ve just listened to a couple of hours of debate. David Davis (unsurprisingly) came up with what was needed – some actual facts:

  • Daesh recruitment has doubled over the recent period of Iraq bombing and there is no sign of that air campaign reducing it, and every sign of the opposite. I.e. the current efforts are already making things measurably worse.
  • There is no ‘special hardware’ or aircraft that the UK can provide for Syria that is not already available (equivalent or better) to the existing group bombing in Syria.
  • and the one that really matters: the US bombing effort today flies around 7 sorties a day compared to (I think I heard) 120 by the Russians. This is because there is virtually no-one (well organised ‘moderate’ army of 70,000 anyone?) on the ground to call in an allied (= anti-Assad group) strike, whereas the Russians have Assad’s army calling them in.

Conclusion: adding a few more aircraft from the UK to the Syria side bombing effort is entirely useless because the constraining factor – even if anyone believes this bombing has some value – is not air-power, it’s ground presence – there is none.

Davis also said that the UK government should instead be demanding (not ‘requesting’, Mr Speaker) of its so-called NATO ally Turkey to plug the $1bn oil/arms trade on the open Syria/Turkey border, and similarly to demand of Saudi Arabia and certain other states to stop funding terror groups in Syria and Iraq. We should call some of our so-called ‘allies’ to account.

We can put these points together with those of Dr Julian Lewis (chair UK parliamentary Defence Committee), who earlier provided the over-arching arguments demonstrating the more general uselessness of bombing without any kind of grand alliance on strategy leading to peace and re-construction, to have a reasonably full picture of just how meaningless the motion (or at least the bombing part) being debated in the Commons today actually is.

The real danger in all this is that a positive vote for bombing will occur, and as a consequence many will feel that by that act they have discharged their duty to UK citizens, the French and that evasive chimera, the ‘international community’ to do something about the imminent threat and long-term disaster looming from within Iraq/Syria.

This will be swiftly followed by a period in which no sensible evidence-based debate or strategy is formulated at all, due to mental exhaustion from dealing so passionately today with such weighty matters.

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