In response to an FT article by Gideon Rachman on 2nd December 2015, entitled 'Britain's Syria debate is more about symbols than substance'
“The people demonstrating against British participation in the bombing of Syria are not all cautious rationalists who doubt the efficacy of military intervention. They include people such as Ken Livingstone, the former London mayor, who has said that the terrorists who bombed his own city in 2005 'gave their lives" to protest against the invasion of Iraq; and George Galloway, the former MP famous for his sycophantic praise of Saddam Hussein.
If Britain embraces the Livingstone-Corbyn-Galloway view of terrorism and the Middle East it would be a powerful symbol of moral confusion and weakness”
You define the argument in typically blinkered terms Mr Rachman. This is not an either/or consisting of 'cautious rationalists' and 'terrorist sympathisers'. Some of us think we shouldn't be there, that we have done nothing more than make it worse, and lie about reasons for doing so.
Speaking personally, I am sick to the back teeth of our so called 'democratic' governments wrapping up hidden agendas in fake morality and flag waving. The US/UK destabilised Syria in an attempt to replace Assad, just as we did in Iraq and Libya. Why Syria? Our attempts to remove Assad were initiated after, and as a result of, his refusal to allow the Qatari pipeline to flow through Syria. This refusal, and his alliance with Mr Putin, upset the Saudi/Sunni bloc for obvious reasons...but more crucially he tilted the balance of power in the proxy war between the US and Russia. This receives almost no analysis in our media. Similarly, for the past few months, you and others, have ignored the growing body of evidence that 'ISIS oil' has been flowing through Turkey. When Turkey shoots down a Russian jet, you don't ask the obvious questions - 'why would Turkey shoot down a Russian jet that is absolutely no threat to the sovereignty of Turkey?', 'Why would the US not condemn Turkey's action?', 'Isn't this how WW1 started?' Similarly, you don't ask the question 'Why would the US NOT condemn the beheadings and tyranny that are a daily occurrence in our great 'ally' Saudi Arabia?'
Until we face up to what we've been up to in the Middle East, we will continue to make the same mistakes, each time telling ourselves that this time it's different'. It isn't different - it's about power and 'empire', and it's been escalating for decades. E.G.:
We ignored Saddam's atrocities for years...so long as he was 'our monster'. When he was using his chemical weapons against Iran that was OK with us...but when he looked like he would sell oil in euros, the US suddenly had an outbreak of conscience and a desire to uphold human rights. Fast forward another decade, and President Bush needed a scapegoat for 9/11. Despite the evidence pointing to the Saudi connection, suddenly Iraq was a hotbed for Al Qaeda and WMD. That lie is still having its unforeseen consequences - A significant number of Saddam's ex thugs are now draped in black and firing US weapons.
We have been playing God, and lying about it for decades. The Mujahideen became Al Qaeda...Al Qaeda became ISIS. That's what you don't write about Mr Rachman, and that's what we need to face up to. Until we do, a few more bombs bearing union jacks will solve nothing, but it will give much succour to the nut jobs in Washington and the nut jobs in Moscow, some of whom think they can actually win a global war - nobody wins a global war Mr Rachman - it's global.
Gideon Rachman replied:
Too much to reply to here in detail. But I think the points you make are marred by an overly conspiratorial world-view...You say "Our attempts to remove Assad were initiated after, and as a result of, his refusal to allow the Qatari pipeline to flow through Syria.". Really? I'd never heard that one - nor heard it expressed in many conversations with policymakers and observers of the situation. Do you really think it had nothing to do with the fact that there was an uprising going on against Assad within Syria itself? Your whole critique seems to regard the people of the Middle East as entirely passive victims of evil western policies. Its a bit more complicated than that, I think
Overly conspiratorial? There is always that possibility. On the other hand it is also possible that I'm asking questions that you are not. I've no doubt you've read the history books and compared the accounts given at the time with what is released when all the players are long gone. Occasionally we get 'the truth' at the time, E.G.: Watergate. But history didn't stop with Watergate - politicians lie, journalists are duped.
Re the Qatari pipeline, if you have really 'not heard that one', then maybe you have not done as much research as you may think you have.
Re our NATO ally Turkey's involvement with arming ISIS - How about this from the Vice President of the United States of America, Joe Biden. These comments were made at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in October 2014. They were made during a Q & A. Referring to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the Vice President said:
“They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad—except that the people who were being supplied were al Nusra and al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”
He was of course, 'forced' to apologise for telling the truth a few days later, when Turkey got terribly upset and denied it, the UAE claimed to be 'astonished' and there was deafening silence from Saudi Arabia - no change there then.
I may indeed be overly conspiratorial Mr Rachman. On the other hand you may be overly naive.