Cameron Wins Vote to Bomb Syria

Okay, Cameron’s finally got his way, and MPS have voted by something like a majority of 179 to bomb Syria. Mike and very many other bloggers, activists and journalists have repeatedly stated that this will not make Britain safe, or end the tyranny of ISIS in Syria. My fear is that it will only play into their hands. By killing civilians – innocent men, women and children, who just happen to live in the enclaves taken over by the Islamist State – we will just increase radicalisation by seeming to bear out ISIS’ claim that they are really the defenders of Muslims and Islam against Western aggression, while everything is the complete opposite.

Cameron has been so desperate to join the ten other countries in bombing Syria, that he libelled Corbyn, and the rest of the opponents of bombing, as ‘terrorist sympathisers’. This also includes the 65 or so members of his own party, who held fast to their opposition to Blairite wars and voted against it.

Mike’s written an excellent piece taking apart Cameron’s slander here, at

He also produced this little meme, showing how closely his rhetoric resembles the tactics used by Hermann Goering and the Nazis to whip up popular enthusiasm in Germany for war.

Goering War and Pacifism

Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric. This will not keep us safe, and it will be used by ISIS and their sympathisers to radicalise young and disaffected Muslims. The Iraq invasion was supposed to keep us safe from al-Qaeda. It has done everything but. The country has been seriously destabilised and is riven by sectarian fighting, out of which has come ISIS. And the Islamists have also used the war to promote themselves as Islam’s true defenders. Various radical Islamic groups have declared that the war was ‘a war on Islam’ or a ‘war on Muslims’.

This simply wasn’t true, except in the limited sense that it was supposed to be part of the war against al-Qaeda and Islamism, Islam as practiced and distorted by murderous fanatics. Even George Bush, who authorised and promoted it, denied that it was a war on Islam. Indeed, parts of the Christian Right in America were angry that Bush refused to let certain Christian charities and organisations in to help in the work of reconstruction, or to try to gain converts after the invasion.

Greg Palast in his book, Armed Madhouse, makes it very clear that the reasons were chiefly economic: the Libertarians wanted to create a free market utopia, where they could try out their stupid and fallacious ideas of transforming the country into a low tax, free trade zone. And the American and Saudi oil companies simply wanted to steal the country’s large oil reserves. There were also geopolitical considerations. Back in the 1990s, the Repugs in America and the Likud in Israel planned an invasion of Iraq to stop Saddam Hussein supplying arms and other aid to the Palestinians.

Unfortunately, the Islamist claim does have a kind of specious validity due to the very vocal support of some Republicans, who do seem to see it as part of a general campaign against Islam, and who make little difference between ordinary Muslims and violent extremists. You can bet that their words will be used in Islamist propaganda.

I can remember reading Akhthar’s article, Be Careful with Mohammed, back in the 1990s during the controversy over Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. Akhthar was one of the leaders of the groups demanding the book’s suppression. The article is basically one long rant against Christianity, democracy, and western society in general. There were other pieces written by Muslims explaining why they found it offensive and arguing for its banning, which took a much more conciliatory approach to wider, non-Muslim society. Akhthar’s book wasn’t one of them. At the end was a short appendix with the title, ‘What Western Intellectuals Think About Islam’. This consisted of a series of quotes from leading western intellectual figures criticising or denouncing Islam. These were presented in isolation, and without any context. They were deliberately included to try and persuade his readers that western society and its leaders uniformly despised Islam, and that they should stop listening to them and support him and his clique as the Prophet’s righteous defenders.

From what I remember of the quotes, some of them were probably responses to atrocities committed in the name of Islam by terrorist groups or despotic states like Gadaffi’s Libya or Iran. Or Saudi Arabia. Regardless of their original context, Akhthar cited them purely for his own political, radical Islamic agenda. Now I don’t recall Akhthar himself demanding Muslims take part in a terror campaign. He was simply trying to make his Muslim audience hate non-Muslim, mainstream British society, and create further alienation and disaffection. I think it’s because of this, and similar radical Islamic propaganda, that the term ‘Islamism’ was devised: to make a distinction between Islam and the terrorists. This was to protect ordinary Muslims on the one hand, and prevent the words uttered by politicians and other public figures on the other being twisted to add specious verisimilitude to the Islamists’ own propaganda. The anti-Islamic Right have also criticised Western intellectuals and political leaders for not criticising or denouncing Islam in the wake of successive terrorist attacks, as they do not share the belief that there is a difference between Islam and Islamism. Indeed, they are extremely critical of the use of the term, and the promotion of the distinction between the two.

Unfortunately, even such linguistic delicacy has not prevented the growth of Islamist terror, intolerance and murder. Part of the reasons for the growth has been the continued military campaigns by the West in Iraq and the Middle East. I am not saying by any means that we should not strike back against ISIS with our armed forces. I am saying that we need to be extremely careful to avoid playing into their hands. And I’m afraid that Cameron and the supporters of the bombing campaign against Syria have just done so.

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8 Responses to “Cameron Wins Vote to Bomb Syria”

  1. Cameron Wins Vote to Bomb Syria | Beastrabban’s Weblog | Vox Political Says:

    […] Source: Cameron Wins Vote to Bomb Syria | Beastrabban’s Weblog […]

  2. Andy Says:

    Forgive me for asking but in what document did Cameron libel Corbyn and others?
    It must be remebered that it is we who are being attacked by Daesh and while I view any loss of civilian life as regretable I take the defence of my country and fellow citizens to be of paramount importance. Benn was quite right last night, we cannot just do nothing in response to these terrorists who hold our country in such contempt.

    • Florence Says:

      The problem is not that we should nothing, but that we must be careful not to rush into doing something+anything for the sake of it. That is the problem with the Cameron approach, without defined objectives, and defined plans showing how that will be achieved, and the frankly derisory claim of 70,000 ground troops, who are as likely to shoot at western troops as they are to support them, there is an incoherence to the whole approach. Not to mention that the UN resolution does not make these attacks legal, so any deaths will be counted as war crimes. If there was to be a fully credible response, it needs to be through international efforts, starting with their supply lines and pay-masters. The bombing of the oil facility today is merely in response to the fact that the Russians have made more headway there in 7 weeks than the Allies in 7 years. Plus the Russians have been invited to take action in Syria, so their action is legal. Take heed of the words of John McDonnell – great speeches cause great mistakes. We can be swept up in righteous rhetoric, for all the right reasons, and still make bad decisions.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Yes, I dare say that most of the people, who voted against bombing Syria also share your concern to strike back at Daesh/ ISIS/ISIL/ bloody murderers. But unless you have a sure plan how to defeat them, doing the wrong thing could makes things much worse. I’ve already posted over here The Young Turks’ suggestion that we use Special Forces to target ISIS’ leaders. You could also do a lot to stop them by simply blocking their funding. The also suggested forming a coalition with the other forces in the region that want to stop ISIS, like Iran and the Saudis. That’s going to be difficult, but it would be an excellent move against them.

      As for libelling Corbyn, I got that wrong. It wasn’t libel. It was slander. Cameron described Corbyn and others, who opposed bombing, as ‘terrorist sympathisers’ in a speech in parliament. Go over and have a look at Mike’s report over at Vox Political through the link above.

  3. Andy Says:

    I would indeed lıke to go over to Mike’s Link and, perhaps make a comment but unfortunately he does not take constructive comments very well, especially if they are at variance with his views. He has, it seems, disposed of his toys from the pram and blocked me; he did not have the courtesy of advising me of hıs actıon.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Okay, I can’t comment on why he banned you. I meant simply that if you want to know why he accused Cameron of slander, read the article. Be aware that as Mike is a journalist, he does know what legally constitutes slander. It’s one of the subjects they teach on journalism courses, though it seems to be regularly ignored by certain parts of the press, like the newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch. Cameron’s declaration that everyone who didn’t want Britain to bomb Syria, was a ‘terrorist sympathiser’ was widely reported in a number of papers. There’s a letter also criticising Cameron for his comment in the ‘I’ newspaper today.

  4. joanna may Says:

    Surely cameron isn’t above the law? can’t he be prosecuted? if not then what sort of message does that send out to others?

    • Andy Says:

      I think I am right in saying that within the Houses of Parliament the laws of libel and slander are “suspended” which is why, on occasion,a member is challenged to repeat a statement outsıde of the palace.
      However I do not think it is libel to print something on hearsay information that an individual has allegedly said and one of the biggest problems is that the onus in court is on the accused to prove their case…and it can be expensive.
      Beastrabban I am aware of Mike Sivier’s background – he has referred to it in many blogs – which makes his ıntolerant attıtude to my comments all the more disappointing.

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