September 25, 2014 by Paul Goldsmith
As we await the fate of Alan Henning, a taxi driver who took time off over Christmas last year to deliver aid packages to Muslims under seige by Syria’s President Assad and now threatened with beheading by ISIL (who claim to represent Muslims – go figure), our politicians have had to seriously consider a military intervention to deal with ISIL’s advance over the Middle East. On Tuesday, the USA launched those air strikes, in conjunction apparently with four Arab countries. Tomorrow, Parliament has been recalled in order to debate the UK’s involvement. There are a variety of arguments for and against airstrikes. Yes, it will probably stop the advance, but it will do so at a potential price. But those who claim it will stop ISIL spreading terrorism have another think coming.
On the one hand, Western intervention in this battle would be far more legitimate than previous interventions in Iraq. For one thing, the Iraqi government have specifically requested help. So have the Kurdish government in the north. But let’s not forget that one of the reasons ISIL are getting some traction in Western Iraq is because of the sectarian policies of the Iraqi government, dominated as it is by the Shi-ite majority, who thought it would be a good idea to marginalise the Sunni minority both in terms of government positions and in terms of benefits from their political programme. But that’s not the point here – we seem to be agreed in the West that the world will not become a ‘better’ place if ISIL’s Caliphate advances so we could argue it is in our interests.
But it won’t stop terrorism. For one thing, if military action against ISIL isn’t properly backed and joined by Muslim countries (Turkey is wavering and countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar are encouraging it but not intending to join) then, in the words of Jon Stewart, the US commentator – the planned military intervention is looking “awful Christiany”.
It isn’t wild speculation to suggest that the minute a single Muslim person dies from the airstrikes or any type of military intervention it will be presented, not just by ISIL, as nothing short of a new crusade. Given ISIL’s record in human rights, I have little doubt that they are planning right now to almost literally hold up women and children as human shields then make sure their deaths are broadcast to the world. Cue the likes of Owen Jones and Seamus Milne ranting at rallies about Western imperialism and the ultra-left wondering around in “We are all ISIL now” t-shirts. Actually, I’m probably being a bit unfair on Jones and Milne and the ultra-left there – but don’t be surprised if it happens.
As Stewart also pointed out, 9/11 was planned and carried out by four young men in an apartment in Denver, Colorado. Our dealings with ISIL are unlikely to stop things like that happening, and, depending how they are presented, are more likely to create more motivation for terrorist actions to happen. Having spent the summer on the receiving end of attacks on my people for their response to the activities of a murderous bunch of lunatics hell-bent on killing my people and not bothered about (in fact almost celebrating) their own people dying, I can tell you nuanced arguments get lost once innocent people are dying.
So, unless Muslim nations join and stay in the coalition that is acting against ISIL, I’m afraid we might be better to stay away. Because we could just make things worse.