The drum beat for war driving Britain into joining the bombing campaign in Syria is more about politics than any real military strategy. Given that the UK has only eight very old Tornados based at Akotiri in Cyprus available for Iraq and Syria, extending their role into Syria is clearly a political rather than military act.
The political objective seems to have two dimensions, to show our fealty to the USA and, to split the Parliamentary Labour Party from its leader. Sadly the PLP is well populated with Neo-Cons who buy into the Americans world view enabling the media to exaggerate any split.
This has been convenient for the PM as it conceals why he needs Labour support. He cannot command the votes of his own party. Not all of the Parliamentary Conservative Party are Neo-Cons there are still a few genuine Conservatives left amongst them!
Of course the flagship policy of the Neo-Cons, the one that Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz promoted and was championed by Bush and Blair was “the War on Terror”.
Iit was always morally dubious that the “war on terror” was to be being fought using terrorism. My Chambers dictionary defines terrorism as “the systematic and organized use of violence and intimidation to force a government or community, etc to act in a certain way or accept certain demands.”
So we find ourselves again as we did after the attacks on the Twin Towers in the position of attacking the random bombing, shooting and killing of civilians by the random bombing, shooting and killing of civilians. Something we have been doing in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen in fact anywhere in drone range. We seem not to have learned from our own experience that people do not respond well to terrorism.
So how is this “War on Terror” going? Well the Institute for Economics and Peace a think tank founded by Australian tech entrepreneur Steve Killelea produces a fascinating Global Terrorism Index.
This year’s Index was released recently and the headlines are not good. It reports that by non-state actors:
* 32,658 people were killed by terrorism in 2014 compared to 18,111 in 2013: the largest increase ever recorded with Boko Haram and ISIL jointly responsible for 51% of all claimed global fatalities in 2014
* Countries suffering over 500 deaths increased by 120% to 11 countries, 78% of all deaths and 57% of all attacks occurred in just five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria
* Iraq continues to be the country most impacted by terrorism with 9,929 terrorist fatalities the highest ever recorded in a single country. Think about this for a moment. Almost ten thousand dead in Iraq over a decade after Saddam Hussein was captured.
* Nigeria experienced the largest increase in terrorist activity with 7,512 deaths in 2014, an increase of over 300% since 2013.
These are the deaths many more have been injured. In countries with poor health services and none existent welfare support. What is more, terrorism is spreading. The number of countries that suffered more than 500 deaths has more than doubled, increasing from five in 2013 to 11 in 2014. The new additions were Somalia, Ukraine, Yemen, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Cameroon.
Remember that these are just the numbers killed by non-state actors. State sponsored terrorism, if the word means anything, must apply to the killing of British citizens in Syria by drone. The argument that this targeted lawless assassination was self-defence is stretching that notion beyond belief.
It is not just a huge human cost the economic cost of terrorism reached its highest ever level in 2014 at US$52.9 billion, an increase of 61% from the previous year’s total of US$32.9 billion, and a tenfold increase since 2000.
What we do seems only to make things worse. The more violence we exert the worse things get, the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria, since 2011 is the largest influx in modern times. Current estimates now range from 25,000 to 30,000 fighters, from roughly 100 countries. This flow is not falling but growing over 7,000 arriving in the first six months of this year.
In presenting this gory data, Steve Killelea said, “Since we can see a number of clearly identifiable socio-political factors that foster terrorism, it is important to implement policies that aim to address these associated causes. This includes reducing state-sponsored violence, diffusing group grievances, and improving respect for human rights and religious freedoms, while considering cultural nuances.”
Instead of this sensible and logical course of action we are turning our society into a surveillance state destroying our civil liberties and freedoms. We need to bring the majority of Muslims onto our side yet we promote the idea of two opposed camps - Islam and the West – and fail to tackle the jihadists' propaganda of our rampant Islamophobia.
Worst of all we fail to stem the source of the most reactionary version of political Islam by doing business with and forming alliances with those states most active in the propagation of this reactionary religious ideology. Then acting like neo-colonial and self-interested powers we support the most authoritarian, corrupt and venal states and wonder why they alienate their own people.
Jeremy Corbyn is right we have to tackle the underlying causes, there is no military solution, there has to be another way. If anyone asks you how goes the “War on Terror”? Tell them we are losing it.