Wednesday 2 December 2015

Let's call these airstrikes what they are. Virtue signalling.

We're going to see a lot of comparisons with the existing air operation, the one about to start and the one of Libya. None of which are directly comparable.

Libya is unique in that there was an immediate humanitarian concern that could be reasonably affected by air power in a short time and there was every advantage in ensuring warplanes, SAMs and other ordinance was knocked out of action lest they end up put to use elsewhere.

Eventually though, regime forces soon learned how to evade airstrikes by blending in. After which, there was a high rate of aborted missions. The whole effort went off track as military stalemate was achieved. People then started asking "now what?" which was answered by removing Gaddafi. You can argue the toss as to whether that was a good idea. On balance I think it probably was (with a boatload of caveats) but there is no real endgame in Syria.

Firstly I don't see how we would identify ISIS forces unless they are directly engaged in hostilities, and if we can then it won't be for long as they adapt and blend in. We can disperse them and operate long enough so that it can't reform as an effective fighting force, in which case it will go dormant or move to the next most vulnerable spot (possibly Lebanon). What then?

There is also every possibility elements of it will merge with the rebels we are supposedly supporting. We won't have any idea who we are engaging with by that point. The downside of scattering ISIS is it very much removes the opportunity for the Syrian tribes to rise up and slaughter them so in a lot of ways, we are offering ISIS an exit strategy to a surge that cannot succeed anyway.

More to the point, we can't do anything useful like we did in Libya by getting rid of all the heavy ordinance in the region, because it's all under Russian protection and we don't have complete air superiority in the region. We'll be asking Russia for flyover permissions.

The moral posturing over this is seriously stupid and if you look on Twitter right now, the politicians and hacks are applauding the likes of Hilary Benn for a florid and rousing speech with absolutely no grounding in the very dangerous realities of what we are about to undertake.

All this high talk of "they hate us for our values" and "defeating fascism" is unmitigated crap. It's an opportunist surge which is nothing new under the sun in the middle east and most tribes lending their support to it see it as a vehicle for either seizing the spoils of war or doing a houseclean of the old order. Some with just cause. The threat that it does pose to us is managed by surveillance, not airstrikes.

Effectively ISIS is the new Al Qaeda style media demon to distract us - and what a pitiful public memory we have that we haven't learned any of the lessons. That the commons could vote it through on the basis of virtue signalling shows that our politics is now broken beyond repair, and our culture so twisted that representative democracy just cannot be trusted as a decision making mechanism anymore.

That the media is now pouring over the debate video looking to see how it affects the power divide in the Labour party and how many times Cameron was asked to apologise rather than examining the ramifications of a decision to go to war ought to be seriously alarming. This is very much bread and circuses. Just how SW1 parochial can you get? We're actually going to war in a very tight spot were Russia is also fighting. And nobody in our media thinks that's apparently a bad idea? No - better write a piece on how "brilliant" Hilary Benn's speech was. Pathetic. Sickening.

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