David Cameron has worked in PR. He knows about selling other people’s ideas. As I type this, David Cameron is addressing parliament, and he’s trying to sell an idea. The idea he’s trying to sell is this: Let’s send Britain’s mighty war machine into Syria. He wants to bomb The Enemy. The Enemy is very bad. The Enemy is so wickedly nebulous no one is entirely sure what to call them. This week David Cameron is calling The Enemy Daesh. Last week he was calling them ISIL, or ISIS, or Islamic State. A couple of years ago he was calling The Enemy Bashir Assad, but now it’s turned out that actually this was wrong, and now he wants to bomb Bashir Assad’s enemies because his enemies bombed our friends in France because our friends in France were bombing them. When The Enemy bombed our friends who were bombing them it was an Act of War! So now we need to bomb the enemies of our friends who are also the enemies of our enemies because this is the only way to get peace.
Do something! Doing something is very important. The only action that is doing something is bombing. Every option other than bombing is, as Cameron has noted, doing nothing. You may, Jeremy Corbyn, suggest a number of options. You may suggest cutting off the funding to extremist paramilitary groups. You may note that Western nations pump money into Saudi Arabia, and considering that Saudi Arabia openly funds Islamist related groups, you may extrapolate that if we stopped giving Saudi Arabia money and bombs then Saudi Arabi would stop being able to give money and bombs to the people we then want to bomb because they have money and bombs. You may, Jeremy Corbyn, suggest quite specific courses of action involving diplomacy. You may note that we have made a right fucking pig’s ear of the Middle East with every single intervention we’ve taken bar none in living memory. But, Jeremy Corbyn, all of this is doing nothing. And we can’t do nothing. Do you want to do nothing? DO you? What’s wrong with you? You either drop bombs or you’re a terrorist sympathiser. It’s all very simple really.
We need bombs to sing and drop. We need warhead mounted cameras, sending back their grainy, cross-haired P.O.V. to our grim-faced, serious-voiced news reporters. Those cross-hairs like a video game! So sexy, so definitive; precisely delineating everything that falls within their right-angles as The Enemy. British bombs are different from everyone else’s bombs. British bombs kill terrorists. American bombs drop on hospitals and Russian bombs drop on everyone, but British bombs kill terrorists. Or make them, I forget which. Just drop them! Do something!
By 10.30pm this evening our elected representatives will have represented us by voting to do something. I’m sure that whatever they do it will be the right thing. Whatever Jeremy Corbyn does will be the wrong thing. The Metro newspaper yesterday pointed out that Corbyn was taking us to the ‘brink of war’ by not putting forward any motions to take us to war. It’s Corbyn’s fault if we go to war and Corbyn’s fault if we don’t. He’s a very talented man.
David Cameron’s friends in the arms industry have been hoping for this attack since they first went window shopping in the Middle East with Cameron back in 2012. Today’s vote is the third time Cameron has tried to embark on his one good chance at a war. Every proper PM gets their war! Third time lucky David! As John Crace pointed out last week, Cameron has no justification for his bombing campaign other than 'why not'? A curious mandate to use to kill people. We live in topsy turvy times where the Daily Mail is cautioning against war, whilst the Guardian is busy pursuing irrelevant points about the Labour whip. Trying to write about the madness of it all, trying to unpick the hypocrisies, inventions, contradictions, fallacies, logical inconsistencies and sheer bullshitteries, is a weary madness in itself. But this debate should boil down to a simple question: what is the aim of dropping bombs on Syria? If the aim is the stopping of extremism in the Middle East, then I can tell you now, with absolute 100% certainty, then this bombing campaign will fail. It cannot succeed. Military experts and informed commentators have lined up to point out time and again that without more planes than we have, or without a genuine force on the ground, a bombing campaign is worse than useless.
FYI, we have two to four planes ready to go into Syria – not quite enough to make up a Red Arrow display. A pisstake. We have no force on the ground. We have Cameron’s vague numbers of troops who may or may not be hard line Islamists. Again, a pisstake. This campaign – as it is - cannot and will not work. It is an empty, dangerous and vainglorious gesture from Cameron, a chance for him to finally regain all those international statesman points he's lost by alienating himself in Europe. He desperatly dreams of being a global player. A big man with his finger on the big button. A man like Tony Blair! What a dream. And he comes accompanied by Labour MPs using war as a political weapon with which to attack Corbyn (and quite possibly murder their own party in the process). It's entirely possible that our craven MPs will tonight kick off a war that will spiral out of control. Like Iraq, like Libya. Bombing, as we plan to, is not any sort of solution. I want this written in stone. I want it indelible, and I want everyone who disagrees to remember when this all goes to shit, then remember it again a few years later when next they mindlessly agitate for the spilling of a stranger’s blood in a faraway land they don’t understand. This is not a solution, it is a continuation. People like to wheel out the Einstein quote that, to paraphrase, doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results is madness. And if you are expecting bombing Syria to solve the problem of Islamist extremism, then, yes, you are mad. If, however you are expecting the result of bombing Syria to be the stroking of Cameron's ego and the sale and manufacture of more bombs, well, that's not madness at all.