Thursday, 3 December 2015

Why I don't condone the Syrian airstrikes

It probably isn’t difficult to guess my political position by now – yes, I’m Conservative. Centre-right, albeit more towards the centre. Yet, I find it hard to swallow the Conservative Party’s decision to conduct airstrikes in Syria. No, I’m not a “terrorist sympathiser”, neither am I a Corbyn sympathiser. I hate terrorism to the gut; I hate how religion is being abused, how it creates stigmatism, and how lives are being taken so lightly. And that is precisely why I do not condone spending 508 grand to fuel the violent war that ISIS is trying to wage.

We declare war on terrorism. But terrorism is not just ISIS. Terrorism is not just radicalised human beings whom we ought to get rid of. Terrorism is an idea. You can’t kill an idea with bombs and bullets. In fact, you can’t kill it at all. What you can do, though, is to contain it. Not with threats of violence but by showing the world how absurd it is, by dwindling its support, and ultimately, making it crumble away. 

The aim of Islamic terrorism is jihad. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as a holy war fought against people who are a threat to Islam. It also defines war as an armed fighting between two or more groups. When the Conservative Party reciprocates to ISIS’ call for a violent war, it is precisely fulfilling ISIS’ raison d'être. A violent war cannot be waged if there is only one party involved. They are terrorists. They are suicide bombers. They are ever ready to put their lives, and the lives of their people, on the line. That is what they are “called” to do. But you’re politicians. You’re the government. You’re not called to fight this war, and neither are your people, nor your soldiers. You’re called to protect your people. You think you’re doing so, but you’re just fighting a losing battle. As Jessica Stern aptly points out, it is a huge paradox. “The more we fight it, the more its appeal grows.” You’re giving the enemies of the West an idea that they can relate to. Radicalised citizens are springing up all around the world. In Europe, in America, in Asia; everywhere.

In a propaganda video that ISIS reportedly released, they declared that your numbers only increase them in faith. They said that they are counting your banners, awaiting the fulfilment of their prophecy, that it would reach 80 in number. Why are you being so obedient? Why are you playing into their hands?

Of course, you shouldn’t be sitting back and doing nothing. But there are things you can do apart from taking revenge. There are things you can do with the 508 grand, apart from conducting the airstrikes. Among all the things that UNILAD has suggested, you could also, instead, fight this war against terrorism with investments in education. Win the hearts of young people, against the forces of terrorism. You could fight this war by investing in the lives of local Syrian people. Win their hearts with care and concern. Show them that you’re practising the democracy that you preach, that the tactics you adopt are different, that you’re not merely a party involved in the holy war. You could fight this war by sending more aid to the victims of terrorism, and to their families. It is support and comfort that heals, not revenge.

As French journalist, Nicolas Henin (who was held captive by ISIS), puts it, “The winner of this war will not be the party that has the newest, the most expensive or the most sophisticated weaponry, but the party that manages to win over the people on its side.” Frankly speaking, I don’t have the answers to how you could win people over. But all I know is that violence and revenge is not the way.

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