Mon, Sep 14, 2015 - Page 9 News List

Western bombs will not defeat IS: Only a wider peace deal can draw its poison

If British MPs authorize military action in Syria, they are voting to escalate both the war and the refugee crisis

By Seumas Milne  /  The Guardian

Illustration: Yusha

There is no disaster in the Arab and Muslim world, it seems, for which the West’s answer is not to drop bombs on it. As the refugee crisis in Europe has driven home the horror of Syria’s civil war, that has been exactly the response of the leaders of the UK and France. British Prime Minister David Cameron has long been pressing for a new vote in parliament to authorize a UK bombing campaign against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

Now he has been joined by former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey and a gung-ho Murdoch press, while British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has signaled he also wants attacks on the “evil regime” of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to deal with the refugee exodus “at source.” French President Fracois Hollande has announced he also wants to extend air attacks from Iraq to Syria, using the terrorist threat at home to justify the escalation.

On both sides of the Atlantic, neoconservatives and liberal interventionists are back in full cry with demands for no-fly zones and troops on the ground. The Sun has even badged its coverage “For Aylan” — after the drowned three-year-old whose image dramatized the suffering of Syrian refugees — while demanding an intensification of the war and denouncing Labour’s leadership candidates as “cowards” for refusing to sign up for immediate attacks.

So keen has the British prime minister been to get on with bombing Syria, he revealed British drones had already incinerated two British IS members in the city of Raqqa last month. Cameron pleaded self-defense on the grounds that one of the militants had been plotting to carry out “imminent” terror attacks in the UK. Since the events targeted for these alleged attacks had already taken place by the time the man was killed, the claim was clearly nonsense, but the UK has now followed the US and Israel down the road of lawless extra-judicial killings that has become a hallmark of the 14-year-old “war on terror.”

In the case of the US, it is a road that has already led to thousands of deaths, including those of many civilians, as dodgy intelligence and “signature strikes” have killed and maimed huge numbers of innocents along with targeted fighters. From Pakistan to Yemen, US drone attacks have been a major recruiter for al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

After a dozen years of drone attacks, the Taliban is again rampant in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda is thriving in Yemen. The UK’s drone attack also made a mockery of the decision by the UK parliament in August 2013 to oppose military action in Syria — in that case targeted at the Damascus government rather than at the rebels fighting it.

However, British pilots have also been taking part in US bombing raids on Syria. So evidently, the democratic niceties did not count for a lot. Nor do the legal ones, since there is no legitimate basis for attacks on Syrian territory without authorization from Damascus or the (nonexistent) threat of imminent attack.

Most bizarre is the insistence that the west has not actually intervened in Syria

In any case, the US-led bombing campaign against IS in Iraq and Syria clearly is not working. Thousands of IS fighters have reportedly been killed, along with hundreds of civilians, but a year after the raids began, the terror group has actually expanded the territory it controls.

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