The Guardian on Saturday carried an opinion piece by Natalie Nougayrede which argues that unless we participate in the attacks on ISIS ‘rebels’ in Syria, that Russia will not be persuaded to redirect their firepower from the moderate ‘rebels’ towards the ISIS fighters. This may well be one of the drivers behind the thinking of our politicians who appear committed to dropping British bombs and firing the infamous Brimstone missiles at ISIS in yet another nation. My recollections of 2003 are that even after Tony Blair and his cabinet ignored the wishes of 2M of us who marched, calling for an end to the gathering war clouds over Iraq, that there were arguments that only by going to war could Blair moderate the actions of the warmonger in the Whitehouse. It is clear that these arguments made no difference to the catastrophe in Iraq. It seems unlikely that the case that Ms Nougayrede is making will moderate President Putin, any more than Tony Blair moderated George Bush.
We know from his statement in the House of Commons that the decision by David Cameron to call for a vote on war in Syria came after he had examined his conscience. This is presumably the same conscience that he examined before he overruled his advisers and released public money to fund Kids Company. The decision to go to war is one that will demand more than bombs and missiles. The £1Bn which Cameron claims to have identified to pay for this action may well be sufficient. However just as he gave away £3M to Kids Company, days before the charity closed its doors, the problem with allocating a sum to fighting on other lands is that without a plan, no amount of budgeting can be trusted. We know that the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan was £20Bn. The cost of the Libyan conflict was measured as a mere £212M in 2011. However we also know that the ongoing impact of Libya continues to demand a heavy price today.
It seems certain that our Government intends to go to war and the numbers of Conservative and Labour MPs willing to support the action means that the bombs and Brimstone missiles will be loaded onto our planes. If Syria costs the same as Libya, then we will spend 21 times as much on the conflict as the Chancellor announced to be spent on Homelessness in the UK or 14 times as much as he collects in from the Tampon Tax. However this is not simply a matter of money. Each bomb and missile has the potential to end the life of a terrorist planning an attack on the UK, just as it has the potential to kill or maim innocent people. The stream of refugees already fleeing Syria will not be deterred by each of these explosions, and the reverse may well be the case. The human misery caused by these explosions has the potential to create a breeding ground for far more terrorists to be formed than the few that can be destroyed by the bombs that do drop. The decision to drop bombs is too important to be taken by Politicians alone. For that reason the attempt by Jeremy Corbyn to invite party members to express their views is to be welcomed, even if the responses come too late to make a real difference.