Not too long ago, Cameron issued a joint statement claiming that Russian bombing in Syria would “only fuel more extremism and radicalisation.” December 2nd saw our government cheer on the fourth war in the Middle East in fourteen years.
Watching the news reports on my comfortable sofa, snuggled up in a blanket, it was hard to put what I felt into words. Physically repulsed, I traipsed Twitter and Facebook hunting for a comment or sentiment that could put my internal screaming into coherent words. Numbed out, I changed the channel and watched a comedy. These wars are something we can switch off from at will.
I am not a terrorist sympathiser for being disgusted by this. Being unable to stomach the cyclically ignorant foreign policy that our government seems to implement time and time again. On average, about five people are killed in Britain each year by terrorism. That is the same amount as those who die from bee and wasp stings. Any innocent civilian death is horrifying, and violent terrorism should not be condoned under any circumstances. However, the perceived threat level that our government continually insists on has truly been submerged by the waves of hysteria. Meanwhile, it is estimated that at least 1.3 million lives were lost through the war on terror. Countless innocent civilians, never asked for consent or granted any kind of trial. Children, spouses and friends’ blood stains the hands of our foreign policy over the Middle East.
Any civilian death is horrifying. By that logic, we should be more afraid of what our government is doing in the Middle East than what ISIL could possibly to do us. Still, we do not learn. We assume that our bombs are hitting villains, evil souls who have no potential to be reasoned with. This is only true an alarmingly rare amount of times. We pretend that the formation of ISIL has nothing to do with us; we ignore the historic trading of arms and catastrophes of previous invasions. We shirk any notion of blame and continue, as ever, cheering on the onset of war. This is not to say that what ISIL is doing is not unacceptable. It is. But history has showed us, time and time again, that fighting violence with violence does little to quell the fires of extremism. The issue is overwhelmingly complicated, but rather than seek new ways we revert back to the blissful ignorance of bombing campaigns.
Coming from a family who remembers bombing from the West clearly, it’s difficult to forget the implications that another government voting to bomb your country can have. Even if the outcome is largely positive, it’s hard for any country to move past the feelings of futility and helplessness that leave a lingering aftertaste long after the weapons have left. We did not ask Syrian civilians for their consent, and yet it seems incredibly likely that they will be the main ones to suffer from this.
It is difficult to try and process such overwhelming decisions made by a democratic government. We change the channel, we try and write, we eventually forget amidst the bustle of our daily lives. I can only hope that the gentle slide back to normality will not be too far away for the people of Syria.