We Need Restraint Not More Bombs
We are all dismayed by the events in Paris. Yet, have we been equally dismayed by the daily events in the Middle East where our own governments are dropping bombs? I am deeply sympathetic to the French people affected by the recent violence. I am deeply sympathetic to the people in Syria, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in the whole Middle East Region. I understand why there is hatred. I understand why people want to kill. However, killing more and more will not bring the killing to an end. Only restraint, understanding, wisdom and compassion will do that.
We are caught up in a tit-for-tat world and each retaliation only provokes more of the same. Every bomb we drop generates a new group of people who hate us. Every atrocity increases the likelihood of more. It is like fire spreading. Let us all pray for restraint and ask wisdom of our leaders.
A Little Political Analysis
Who are Islamic State? They are basically the Sunni Muslims who were driven out of power by the invasion of Iraq. Since we invaded their country, do we expect them to be our friends? They have been more successful than was expected in establishing a new proto-state by becoming the most effective element in the opposition to the Assad government in Syria, but were not our own governments also supportive of that opposition? In effect, there is a civil war going on in the Middle East, mostly between Sunni and Shia Moslems. The West has changed sides several times in its interference in this regional conflict. Sometimes it is anti-Iran and therefore anti-Shia, then it is establishing a Shia government in Iraq and so being anti-Sunni, then it is opposing Assad and being anti-Shia again, then it is dropping bombs on the most effective anti-Assad faction and becoming anti-Sunni again. It is difficult to escape the impression that the basic logic of Western policy is to keep changing sides frequently so as to generate the maximum amount of chaos and ensure that nobody in the Middle East ever become powerful enough to establish peace and order and become a rival to Western interests. If we carry on like this, what can we expect? Do we think that exporting chaos, destruction and death to a whole region is never going to come home? And now that some of it is coming home, do we think that we can re-stabilise the situation by escalating the strategy that is responsible for the trouble in the first place?
What Will Happen?
If we go on like this we can only expect the situation to worsen, both in the Middle East and in Europe. No analyst I have read thinks that Islamic State can be destroyed by bombing alone, even if this were desirable, and no Western country seems likely to commit ground troops, so why are we fighting a war we cannot win? Apart from the horror of the killing involved, it makes little or no political sense. The only power that is at all likely ever to commit ground troops to the defeat of Islamic State is Turkey and the expansion of Turkey in the region would probably only lead to sudden, startled Western suspicion of Turkish intentions and a new arena of conflict. Perhaps the whole region will be carved up by Turkey and Iran. It has happened before.
Alternatively, there will be ever increasing fragmentation, chaos and killing. In the short run we need restraint, but I am pessimistic. The tit-for-tat may continue to escalate. If it does we shall lose civil rights, become paranoid, elect extremist governments and much that has been achieved in Europe in the past generation will be lost. I hope this pessimism is unfounded. All spiritual people should now be urging restraint. Many are doing so. Let us pray that wise voices prevail.
Add a Comment