Sunday, 28 September 2014

ISIS to bomb or not to bomb

So Parliament has voted in support of limited military action against ISIS in Iraq. And it has done so with a thumping majority and general public support. Only 43 MPs opposed the proposal. So it is fair to say that there are few dissenting voices. This is surprising because it appears to be extremely dangerous and poorly considered.

There is no doubt that ISIS is bad. They are a violent, brutal and oppressive group who are intent on removing any opposition without mercy or humanity. It sickens us when we see thousands or ordinary people fleeing for their lives. We reel with horror at the thought of their terrifying videos of the execution of western hostages. Of course ISIS is not only brutal regime that cuts heads off. Saudi Arabia beheaded 19 people earlier this year for offences including sorcery and including one ‘criminal’ with mental health issues –

These killings get less exposure because the ones they kill are not so close to us. This doesn’t in any way justify ISIS, but there is no great clamour to bomb Saudi Arabia because are our friends.

Buy my main concern is that there is no clarity at all about who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. It changes by the day. Not long ago we supported anyone who opposed the Assad regime in Syria, which included ISIS. Now we are bombing the same group. The whole dilemma was brilliantly summed up in a recent letter to the Daily Mail –

There seems to be such a desperate need to do something, to bomb someone that we just have to wade in regardless.

We cannot forget that the West has some responsibility for this whole mess. We invaded Iraq in 2003, in the face of huge opposition, to eradicate weapons of mass destruction which did not exist. However brutal Saddam Hussein was, the outcome of our intervention has been nothing short of a disaster. In fact this seems to have been a feature of western interventions in a region so rich in those resources that we need to maintain our lifestyles.

Many people support this military action because ISIS persecutes Christians. And we should be shocked by the behaviour of any group that kills and oppresses others purely because of their beliefs. There are in fact many groups who are in danger because of this violent group –

Persecution of anyone because of their beliefs is wrong. It is no more wrong just because it is directed at members of our particular group. Would there be the same public support if the horror of ISIS was limited to the Yazidis?

The Christian way should always be one of peace and reconciliation. I cannot think of any example where Jesus advocated military action. I would not go as far as to say that war is never an option. But on this occasion it seems that we are enthusiastically supporting it because ‘something’ has to be done. But the outcome is likely to be massive aggravation, radicalisation of many young Muslims and a never ending spiral of violence in a volatile region.

So for all of these reasons I am well and truly behind the small minority in parliament who voted no.


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