The war against ISIL is ill-defined and when the enemy is on our doorstep, it sometimes takes greater courage to step back than blindly move forward
On Wednesday the 2nd of November, a ‘Great British decision’ was made to launch airstrikes on ISIL targets in the Syrian capital of Raqqa.
Parliament was split, Labour was split, the media were split, and the country was split on whether this decision was the best thing to ensure Britain’s safety. In the political world, an interesting divide leading up to the vote was whether under a free vote the Labour Party, presided by left-wing veteran Jeremy Corbyn would side with their own leader or the Prime Minister. This split was not only symbolic in terms of the Syrian vote, but was part of a much greater struggle for Corbyn to find his feet as a representative of his party.
Usually, I would consider Jeremy Corbyn’s views to encapsulate everything that modern-day British politics does not need. His defence propositions, pacifism and blatant fantasist views on international relations to me signify a danger to the security of Britain, should he ever come to power. Syria, and the proposition of airstrikes has however quite surprisingly shed a new light on Corbyn.
Points from the Conservatives and the 66 pro-strike Labour MPs about how valiant Britain must be in the face of terror, and how we have a responsibility to protect democracy as a leading member of the Western world, are both credible and true. Their decision however, to launch airstrikes on Raqqa and ISIL targets seems to ignore the complexities of modern warfare. No longer are the days where military esteem and capability of power defeats the weaker enemy. Now America, France, Russia and Britain — a surprisingly familiar alliance — are launching airstrikes on ISIL targets, but this attempt to hit extremism at its heart does not account for the danger these terrorists pose on our doorsteps.
Allying with powerful neighbours and wiping out a nation-state may have been at one time a way of winning wars and achieving security, however when the enemy is in our countries, in our cities and in our towns, the story is not so straightforward. The enemy has become an ideology rather than a state; if you take out a state, you take out a state, but if you attempt to quell an ideology, its contempt for what it opposes will continue to grow and radicalise.
An appropriate question therefore is, if not bombs then what else? This is an extremely intricate and complex question that I simply do not know the answer to, and I think these airstrikes exist to mask the fact that neither do our world leaders. Corbyn somewhat unsurprisingly has laid out his argument on the table. At the heart of Syrian discontent is the Civil War, there are attempts to sort that and perhaps blocks can be put together to try and stabilise a volatile and fragmented state. Bombs however will not solve the Syrian crisis, after all, we are not fighting Syria we are fighting an ideology that claims to have its roots there.
Corbyn and his opinions are in many respects the Antichrist of modern British politics, however, he seems to be presenting arguments on the Syrian vote that I believe should marry with common sense. We are fighting an idea, something that poses a far more complicated threat than traditional state-on-state conflict.